Greenman's Occasional Organ

Ecosocialist. Syndicalist. Critical Techno-Progressive.

Friday, February 29, 2008

1st March - Action for Freedom of Assembly

The tide of authoritarian legislation continues this week with further pronouncements from the ruling clique on welfare and migration and arrogant dismissal of demands for a referendum on the Euro-state "Lisbon Treaty". It is good that some are beginning to take action against elements of this arrogant government's programme- good signs this week were the large lobby over the referendum question and the two spectacular symbolic direct action protests over climate-change-promoting airport expansion. A further worthwhile series of protests are to take place this weekend around the attacks on freedom of assembly. -

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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Greenpeace and PS Actions

Lots of stuff on the 'net on this week's UK actions by Plane Stupid and Greenpeace at Westminster and Heathrow.

More info on the Heathrow action here along with the usual hate-filled ranting comments from the deniers and fascists, that Greenpeace have left up - presumably so that we can get an idea of the moronic thuggishness of many of the opponents of green activism.

Derek Wall comments on the Parliament protest here.

Joss Garman of Plane Stupid commented on the Heathrow protest on the Guardian CIF pages.

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Earthquake - Spooky !?

Did the earth move for you too?

We just had an earthquake/tremor ovenight in England, it was pretty unpleasant as it seemed (from here) to gradually grow in intensity - we woke up with the feeling of something huge and loud coming closer and closer which wasn't a nice experience.

The BBC report is here.

I don't want to go all conspiracist, but it does seem a little spooky that apparently a former nuclear weapons storage site that has since been used for explosives testing was very near the reported epicentre of the 'quake'! See here -

(Note - the "green syndicalist" who posts on Indymedia is not me, but someone I know.)

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Monday, February 25, 2008

Weekly Links - 25/02/2008

One of the big upcoming environmental and social struggles in the UK will be the battle against the opening of a new wave of incinerators run by the big waste transnationals. In line with other measly targets influenced by corporate lobbying the government is setting a very unambitious long term target for waste reduction, re-use and recycling and is allowing local authorities to hand highly lucrative 25-year-plus waste contracts for the waste giants to build a new generation of incinerators. This amounts to a license to pollute and waste valuable resources that could be put to better use - very few of the planned incinerators will have even the figleaf of CHP (Combined Heat and Power) and will just extract a relatively small amount of energy from waste in the form of electricity. One particularly glaring example of this madness is the incinerator planned by Veolia for the Nottinghamshire Waste PFI at Rainworth near Mansfield. This is in the heart of Sherwood Forest, on the edge of the planned Regional Park and on a former colliery site that had restoration conditions written into its development (and so should not be counted as "brownfield".) The local protest group is called PAIN (People Against Incineration) and they are doing a great job mobilising for the Environment Agency's Pollution Prevention and Control License consultation and the local authority's planning proposal process.
More on Waste from Friends of The Earth here.

Various interesting articles to link to on the Guardian CIF site over the last week or so including Peter Tatchell on Greens and the Unions, John McDonnell on Northern Rock, Tony Juniper on Branson's aero-biofuel lark, and Theo Hobson on Disestablishment.

On the Green front, London Mayoral candidate Sian Berry has become a patron of the Fair Pay Network. It seems that Channel Four have been censoring her. Green Party Male Principal Speaker Derek Wall has been unwell - get well soon Derek!

In blogs of interest, I came across this Merrick Godhaven post from last year about the pilot's union, BALPA and climate change. Merrick's blog is hosted on the interesting site.
Jim reflected on the number 500 for his 500th post last Friday. The Socialist Unity Blog had an interesting post from John Nicholson on a "Convention Of The Left" planned for Manchester in September. Noel at the Green Room has been looking into the current Jersey Care Home story with the help of the blog of Jersey Green Senator Stuart Syvret.

Finally, the media is covering the forthcoming formal opening later this week of the Svalbard seed bank that I mentioned in a blog post last year.

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Sunday, February 24, 2008

"Homo Consumens"

"Homo Consumens is the man whose main goal is not primarily to own things, but to consume more and more, and thus to compensate for his inner vacuity, passivity, loneliness and anxiety. In a society characterized by giant enterprises and giant industrial, governmental and labor bureaucracies, the individual, who has no control over his circumstances of work, feels impotent, lonely, bored, and anxious. At the same time, the need for profit of the big consumer industries, through the medium of advertising, transforms him into a voracious man, an eternal suckling who wants to consume more and more and for whom everything becomes an article of consumption - cigarettes, liquor, sex, movies, television, travel and even education, books and lectures. New artificial needs are created and man's tastes are manipulated. (The character of homo consumens in its more extreme forms is a well known psycho-pathological phenomenon. It is to be found in many cases of depressed or anxious persons who escape into overeating, overbuying, or alcoholism to compensate for the hidden depression and anxiety.) The greed for consumption, an extreme form of what Freud called the "oral-receptive character," is becoming the dominant psychic force in present-day industrialized society. Homo consumens is under the illusion of happiness, while unconsciously he suffers from his boredom and passivity. The more power he has over machines, the more powerless he becomes as a human being; the more he consumes, the more he becomes a slave to the ever increasing needs which the industrial system creates and manipulates. He mistakes thrill and excitement for joy and happiness and material comfort for aliveness; satisfied greed becomes the meaning of life, striving for it a new religion. The freedom to consume becomes the essence of human freedom."

Erich Fromm, "The Application of Humanist Psychoanalysis to Marx's Theory" in Socialist Humanism:An International Symposium (New York: Doubleday, 1965) Pre-dating the latest works of Oliver James by 40 odd years!

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Friday, February 22, 2008

Support Bhopal Survivors

I was contacted by a member of the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal asking if I might publicise their campaign on my blog and I am happy to do so. Bhopal Survivors have just set off on a long walk to Delhi to highlight their fight for justice and to pressurise the Indian Prime Minister to act on promises he made two years ago:

Bhopal. February 20th, 2008 -- Bhopal's survivors set off on an arduous 800km walk to Delhi to assert their basic, fundamental rights to justice and a life of dignity and health. You can read an account of the first day of walking here.

When they finally reach Delhi, Bhopali victims of Dow & Union Carbide will remind Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that promises he made two years ago concerning economic, social and medical rehabilitation, and provision of clean drinking water, are yet to be met.

The unfolding disaster in Bhopal has to end now. Experience tells us that the colossal effort of survivors in making this gruelling journey will not persuade Indian politicians to fulfil their duty to justice and to humanity.

What will persuade them is you. Please act now.

Here is a personal account of the Bhopal disaster:

Here is a daily blog and photos of the march:

The campaign are asking for support in the form of messages to the Indian Prime Minister -

I am happy to offer my support, thanks to Prakash Narayanan for alerting me to the ongoing campaign.


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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Friday Feb 22nd - Work Your Proper Hours Day

Friday 22nd February is this years' "Work Your Proper Hours Day" - a campaign promoted by the TUC to raise awareness of unpaid overtime and the importance of "work-life balance". More information here.

Long hours are not good for us; they cause stress; they're bad for our health; they wreck relationships; they make caring for children or dependents more difficult; and tired, burnt-out staff are bad for business.

Nearly five million people in the UK regularly do unpaid overtime, giving their employers an average £4,955 of free work a year. If you're one, why not take some time to reflect on how well (or badly) you're balancing your life?

This is one day in the year to make the most of your own time. Take a proper lunchbreak and leave work on time to enjoy your Friday evening - You deserve it!

I don't know about you, but I don't need any encouragement to take a long lunchbreak and go home early on Friday! However, if this campaign makes some of our more stressed or workaholic workmates think more about the effect their work patterns are having - and how through being organised they might change them if they feel compelled to work that way against their will - then it is a good thing.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Academies - Privatising Public Education In Britain

On Saturday 8th March the South East Regional TUC, working with the Anti Academies Alliance are hosting a National Conference Against Academies at Congress House, Great Russell Street, London.

There are now over 80 Academies operating around the country, and another 50 are due to open in September. The Academies are run by a variety of sponsors including millionaire "philanthropic" businessmen and religious organisations (sometimes jointly). They represent a major power shift in education, taking away even the semblance of democratic control represented by local education authorities. The sponsors own land and buildings, appoint the majority of governors, and make decisions about what is taught, who is employed and who is admitted.

Academies put staff pay and conditions at risk and where they "succeed" often do this through setting easier exams and excluding far more pupils than other local schools (which they are allowed to do without the penalties the other schools would incur).

The consultations that occur around the setting up of Academies are often the kind of fake-democratic sham that we have come to expect when the word "consultation" is used by government bodies these days.

More information can be found here -

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A Left View Of Green Party Spring Conference

Derek Wall of Green Left has posted his report on the Green Party Conference at the Socialist Unity blog.

Needless to say, as is usual on that site, a "full and frank" debate has commenced!

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Monday, February 18, 2008

Fromm on Nationalisation

So Northern Rock is to be nationalised, the first major nationalisation in Britain since the 1970s. No doubt a lot of nonsense will now be spouted, indeed is being spouted by the Tories already. But then Tories are well known for spouting nonsense, as are the spin merchants of New Labour. Some on the left should know better though. Perhaps heed should be taken of wise old Erich Fromm, writing back in 1960:

The misinterpretation of socialism as a purely economic movement, and of the nationalization of the means of production as its principal aim, occurred in the right wing and in the left wing of the socialist movement. The reformist leaders of the socialist movement in Europe considered it their primary aim to elevate the economic status of the worker within the capitalist system, and they considered as their most radical measures the nationalization of certain big industries. Only recently have many realized that the nationalization of an enterprise is in itself not the realization of socialism, that to be managed by a publicly appointed bureaucracy is not basically different for the worker than being managed by a privately appointed bureaucracy.

Erich Fromm, Let Man Prevail, New York, 1960.

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Sunday, February 17, 2008

Blogs and Links on Sunday 17/02/08

After being a little late last week due to writing up the Campaign Against Climate Change TU Conference, I am now back to the regular Sunday appearance of my links.

Speaking of the CACCTU conference, there are photographs from a Green Party Trade Union Group participant at the Green Party TU Group blog.
A new ecosocialist blogger from Birmingham has also blogged on the conference and I am pleased to add the new blog, redgreen reflection to my links column.

I have also added a couple of other blogs to the links, the quirky and infrequent Durruti Column and Liam Mac Uaid's blog for a view from the left of Respect Renewal.

Meanwhile Green Left supporter Peter Tatchell recently blogged on the situation in Pakistan and the regime's US backed assault on the people of Baluchistan.

Some excellent stuff over at former Green London Assembly member Noel Lynch's blog The Green Room, with posts on the Mayoral hustings, lone parent income support restrictions, "greener" vehicles, and the Green candidate in the 3rd March Highgate by-election in London.

Workplace and Union Struggles
The IWW and various other groups have organised a series of workshops on 22nd March in London on "How To Enforce Your Rights at Work". More info from Hackney Independent and London Coalition Against Poverty here.

Wildcat action secured a quick win and management return to negotiation on the bins in Brighton this week.

Nottingham City Council are trying to force some of their library staff into uniform against their will and at public expense - let them know how you feel (particularly if you are from Nottingham) here.

The RMT have warned of possible action over pensions at Network Rail, in Birmingham the unions have announced 26th February as the next day of action against the actions of the City Council and members of the offshore workers OILC have voted to merge with the RMT.

The President of the Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions is scheduled for a UK speaking tour from the end of the month into March. More info on dates etc here.

6th March 2008 is scheduled as a day of solidarity with jailed and repressed workers in neighbouring Iran, where union organisers Mansour Osanloo and Mahmoud Salehi are imprisoned and in ill health.

In Ireland, Green Party ENVIRONMENT Minister John Gormley faces a potentially embarrassing High Court challenge over a decision made by his predecessor to allow the M3 motorway to be built over an historic site near the Hill of Tara.

A Venezuelan representative addressed the England and Wales Green Party Conference earlier this week about their conflict with US oil giant ExxonMobil - more here.

Green Politics

Derek Wall gave his keynote speech to the Green Party Spring Conference in Reading, by all accounts a stirring one.

By all accounts Sian Berry gave a very good account of herself in the "Green Alliance" hustings for London Mayoral candidates. I particularly liked her introduction -

"First I'll speak for five minutes and tell you about my ideas. You've heard them before, they're the Green policies - things that will build a London that is not only a greener place, but also a better, more affordable place to live.

Then, after me, these men will stand up in their suits and agree with me."

The Lib Dems must be worried as they launched a nasty and inaccurate attack piece through former Clegg adviser Blincoe on Guardian CIF.

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Saturday, February 16, 2008

Green Conf Emergency Motion Slams Health Privateers

An emergency motion to Green Party Spring Conference in Reading has voiced strong opposition to the inroads of health privateers such as United Health Europe into UK public healthcare:


The Green Party is extremely concerned to learn that a private American health firm (United Health Europe) has won control of three GP surgeries in London. We fear that this is the first step in an attempt to corporatise health care in the UK.

We believe that this is being done without any proper consultation with the citizens of the UK, who as stakeholders are the true owners of the NHS. We also fear that this paves the way to monopolistic malpractice and profiteering if it allows retail and pharmacuetical conglomerates such as Boots and Tesco to have any control over the salaries, judgements and activities of GP's and other primary health care providers.

We pledge our full support to opposition to this disgraceful step and any others like it by Gp's patients and pensioner groups and trades unions in the health sector.

We call on the Green party spokespersons nationally, locally and regionally to promptly issue public statements condemning this corportatisation and call upon the Green Party press office to give such statements maximum promotion.

More here.

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Friday, February 15, 2008

Green Party Spring Conference Updates

The Green Party of England and Wales Spring Conference is taking place in Reading until Sunday. Here are some links for updates -

The Green Party Health spokesperson is today responding to the Darzi Review here.

Caroline Lucas MEP will be giving her keynote speech today - previewed here.

On the Fringe today Martin Bell is addressing a meeting on integrity in public life.

A range of my fellow Green bloggers are blogging from the conference at the Red Pepper Green Party Conference group blog - Green Despatches.

A series of discussion documents from voices inside and outside the party are to be found at Caucus which seems a very positive and outward looking development. Top marks to Jim and those who have assisted him with that project.

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Venue Announced For Spring Republic Conference

The venue for the Spring Conference of British Republican campaign group Republic from 1pm to 5pm on Saturday April 19th has been announced -
Republic's third Spring Conference is being hosted at Crickhowell House - part of the National Assembly of Wales - courtesy of left republican Plaid Cymru Assembly Member and Republic supporter Leanne Wood.

In December 2004 she was the first assembly member to be ordered out of the chamber for referring to the Queen as "Mrs Windsor" during a debate. She later said: "I don't recognise the Queen, I called her that because that's her name."

Leanne's website.

Guest speakers also include Assembly Members John Griffiths (Labour) and Bethan
(Plaid Cymru). (Bethan's Blog and Website) The launch of the new "Challenge the Oath" campaign will be the theme of the conference.

For full details of the Conference, and how you can shape the Conference agenda if you are a Republic member, visit

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Weekly Links - 12/02/2008

A belated section of links this week due to the Climate Change Conference and the report I did on it at the weekend. Jim at Daily (Maybe) has posted links to series of reports and discussions on the conference.

The battle against biofuels is hotting up as reported on the Green Party website here. This report from last week's Independent outlines some of the reasons why this campaign is necessary. Derek has blogged on this in the last few days, as well as pressure for a more rigorous UK target for emissions reductions.

The Green Party of England and Wales Spring conference is later this week and all being well I will link to some reports etc over the weekend. The timetable is here.

A Green Left comrade alerted me to this Amnesty International urgent action to prevent a stoning in Iran.

Elsewhere Andy at the Socialist Unity Blog reports on the campaign for a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty.

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Monday, February 11, 2008

Protest Against Health Privateers In Nottingham

The following is a press release from Nottinghamshire, Mansfield and Nottingham Trades Council:


Virgin Healthcare have announced their plans to take advantage of the government's "Public Private Partnership" reforms (aka backdoor privatisation) at a launch event being held at Nottingham Castle on Tuesday 12 February 2008.

Nottinghamshire, Mansfield and Nottingham Trades Council (NMNTC) has called a noisy lobby and protest outside the event, from 6.30pm. There will be people attending from a number of trade unions, including UNISON, UNITE, University and Colleges Union, and many others. The local Keep Our NHS Public campaign will also be attending, as will members of various political organisations. There will be banners, placards, megaphones, and most importantly, ordinary people protecting their NHS.

The reason we are taking this action is that the NHS and public health is too important to leave to the private sector. Ordinary people fought for decades to win and defend our NHS, paid for with our money. Now private companies such as Virgin want to make a profit from our health. Why should our taxpayer's money be syphoned off as profits to private individuals? Why is the government allowing and encouraging the breakup of the NHS?

NMNTC is committed to public services being kept public, and not holding them to to the whims of "the market" or shareholders. In recent weeks we have seen the disastrous effects of privatisation in action, with privatised power companies bringing in massive price rises. Virgin Trains have repeatedly increased prices above inflation. How long will it be before the same thing happens if we let our healthcare be handed over to such companies? Michael Moore's film "Sicko" has just shown us what a private health system looks like, do we want the same thing in the UK?

Join us from 6.30pm on Tuesday 12 February at Nottingham Castle to tell Virgin we don't want their healthcare - we want OUR NHS. Keep our NHS public!

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Sunday, February 10, 2008

Campaign Against Climate Change TU Conference Report

I attended the CACCTU conference yesterday and it was one of the best day conferences I have attended. 250-300 people from a variety of Unions, political and environmental groups took part in the day and (despite some wrangling over the lack of time to debate and amend the final resolution) there was a very good atmosphere of a historic coming together of greens, the labour movement and the left. This was similar to those high points of the global justice movement like the "Teamsters and Turtles" of Seattle.

It was good to meet comrades, colleagues and fellow workers old and new.

There was unity of purpose around building a meaningful broad based movement with working people's organisations in a prominent role - and agreement on specifics like the importance of workplace action ("greening the workplace") and taking the arguments around what needs to be done into every workplace and organisation.

There was debate around issues like how to relate to workers in nuclear, coal, energy and aviation industries and the practicalities of how the economies of the world might be shifted - but this was generally good natured and open minded. There was still a little Trotty "interventionism" (always amusing to hear some plummy voiced, upper middle class, very recent ex-student declaiming with absolute certainty what the Working Clarrss need to do) but generally members of the various sects were in very best non-sectarian behaviour mode.

The morning plenary at the University of London Union was chaired by London Green MEP Jean Lambert and welcomed by CACCTU Coordinator Phil Thornhill with dry wit. Frances O'Grady, Deputy General Secretary of the TUC talked about a "just transition to a low carbon economy" and called for a windfall tax on the £9 billon profits of the energy companies since 2005 to fund energy efficiency measures to benefit the poorest. She also talked about green workiing practice and how to make Climate Change campaign work "part and parcel" of our everyday work as trade unionists.

The next speaker was Caroline Lucas, Green MEP and the Green's best hope for their first MP in Brighton Pavilion at the next election. Caroline is Honorary Vice President of the the Campaign. She said that climate change is as much a question of social and economic organisation as it is an environmental question. She talked about global equity and the contraction and convergence model. She talked about how moving to a zero carbon economy would create more work, quoting New Economics Foundation work on jobs per terawatt of various forms of energy production. She condemned the mixed messages coming from the UK govt and said that they were jeopardising the predicted new jobs in renewable energy. She also mentioned the "Finance For The Future Group" and their idea of a "Green New Deal" involving massive investment in green jobs. She concluded that our campaign and the unfolding situation present a clear challenge to the unsustainable dominant economic model and raised the demand for social and environmental justice.

The first speaker from an individual union was Fire Brigades Union General Secretary Matt Wrack. He talked about how climate change was already affecting his members through increased grass and heathland fires and flooding. He talked about the threat to public services and livelihoods and said that the evidence of climate change was clear evidence of massive "market failure". He called for a broad campaign at national and international level and the empowerment of working people in planning and implementing the best solutions. He said that Hurricane Katrina showed what we could expect to be the result of continuing neo-liberal policies.

Mark Serwotka from the PCS could not attend, but his replacement, Chris (whose surname I did not catch) gave a stirring speech and focussed on promoting a "bargaining agenda" and creating sustainable workplaces. He called for green reps and a wider environmental agenda for the unions, whilst recognising the tricky questions for some unions around aviation and nuclear power.

The speaker from the Universities and Colleges (UCU) union was Linda Newman who talked about UCU passing policy and forums for sharing best practice. She said that UCU were trying to get the employers in their sector to recognise the carbon footprint of their workplaces and siad that their new HQ was going to be a sustainable building.

Christine Blower for the NUT (National Union of Teachers) said that schools accounted for 2% of UK CO2 emissions, but 15% of overall public sector emissions. She said that 14% of the emissions that schools created were accounted for by the "school run" and called for more walking buses to good, local, schools. She said, that after New Labour's "Education, Education, Education" slogan we had to focus on "Mitigation, Adaptation, Education"

Michael Meacher MP echoed Caroline Lucas on job creation and detailed some of the areas where massive investment was needed in renewables and energy efficiency measures. He backed the Friends of The Earth "Big Ask" demands on the Climate Change Bill - that there should be a tougher target of at least 80% reductions by the target date, annual targets for emissions and inclusion of aviation and shipping in the calculations. He said that the government needed to realise that dealing with climate change was not a "bolt on" option, that it called into question the entire economic status quo.

There were 6 workshops covering carbon trading and market mechanisms, greening the workplace, alternative energy, sustainable cities, sustainable transport and global treaties.

I went to the ones on energy and global treaties. At the energy workshop Nick Rau from Friends of The Earth gave a positive and upbeat account of current technological developments in this field and talked about FOE's recent report on how energy production might be transformed over the next 20 years. Phil Ward, energy spokesperson of Respect (Renewal) and the ISG gave an interesting and detailed illustrated talk on how energy use might be cut and talked in ecosocialist terms of a move from exchange values to use values.

The global targets workshop was chaired by Green Party Cllr Romaine Phoenix and had representatives of the TUC, CWU (Jane Loftus) and Suzanne Jeffrey from Respect. Jane Loftus talked about the importance of international networking and the CWU's attendance at the World and European Social Forum meetings. The TUC rep, Environment Officer Philip Peason talked about how the US unions were coming round and how the Australian unions had helped sway the US reps at Bali. He said that whilst the US unions had joined together with corporations to block the Clinton administration from signing up to Kyoto, he felt that the US unions were now more likely to agree to a new global agreement under an incoming Democrat administration. He echoed Frances O'Grady on the need for a "just transition". He also talked about reforestation, for example in Indonesia where the unions were losing thousands of members a year due to deforestation. Suzanne Jeffrey said that the US had previously distorted the science and blocked action on behalf of their corporations, but their new strategy was to agree that something needed to be done but try to shift the blame onto China and India. She said the debate around this was vitally important as it was clearly an issue of social justice and the US arguments ignored per capita emissions in favour of meaningless National emissions.

There was debate over Carbon Capture and Storage with an audience member pointing out to Philip Pearson the New Scientist article this week saying that the US government was pulling the plug on much of the research in this area - and suggesting that much of the hype around CCS had been promoted by the Fossil Fuel industry corporations to justify continued emissions, with no intention of actually implementing CCS. The TUC man replied that there were 8,000+ locations around the world emitting 100,000 tons of CO2 a year and the TUC believed we had to deal with CCS and promote its development - if only for export to China where their economic expansion had largely made use of coal fired power stations.

In the closing plenary Jonathan Neale gave a very moving speech on the challenge we faced and the possible consequences of climate change for humans and all other species on the planet. Neale has a book due out in May, "Stop Global Warming - Change The World".

Defeated left Labour Party leadership contender John McDonnell gave a passionate speech focussing on airport expansion and the campaign against the 3rd Runway at Heathrow in his constituency. He urged maximum support for the coming demonstration in May on this issue.

Elaine Graham Leigh of Respect talked about not allowing the movement to be divided (somewhat ironic given the recent events in Respect!) and quite rightly said we should be suspicious of dodgy solutions, particularly those that relied on market forces.

Derek Wall, Green Party Principal Speaker, ecosocialist and Green Left supporter quoted Dorothy Sayers and Marx and then gave an inspiring rundown on TU involvement in green campaigns from the Australian Building Workers union's "Green Bans" to the National Union of Seamen in the UK acting against nuclear dumping at sea. He talked about the positive examples in Latin America and the need for a new social and economic paradigm.

The motion was then voted on after an amendment was accepted (mentioning the next Climate March in December). There was some annoyance in certain quarters that the motion was not fully discussed or other amendments allowed, but the proposers of other amendments were allowed to read them out whilst the organisers explained it was not meant to be a detailed policy motion but an action motion to set up and prepare for the development of a permanent CACCTU group.

Tony Kearns of the CWU gave the rousing final speech in which he echoed some of Derek's comments about the need for a different economic settlement and the inspiration of worker's conversion programmes like the Lucas Aerospace plan in the 1970s. He called for everyone to go out and build the movement and take it into every workplace.

The Climate Change Trade Union group will meet on 1st March to take things forward nationally.

One of the next mobilisations on a relevant topic is the protest against Brown's policies on Biofuels outside Downing Street on Tuesday April 15th - Biofuels are now a major threat as corporate interests sense megaprofits to be made and further rainforest destruction looms, as well as diversion of land previously used for food production pushing up world food prices.

Overall, a very good day. Green Trade Unionists, ecosocialists and green syndicalists will be participating in the growth of this positive initiative and try to ensure that all keep focussed on common goals rather than the unfortunate manouvering for political advantage that has disfigured so many broad based campaigns.

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Friday, February 08, 2008

8 February 1886 : "Black Monday"

Today is the anniversary of the events that became known as "Black Monday" - a riotous episode in London following the calling of a meeting of the unemployed in Trafalgar Square by the Tory-subsidized "Fair Trade Association". The Social Democratic Federation, one of the main left parties of the day, turned up intending to take the meeting over. William Morris and the Socialist League felt this was likely to be a "faction fight" and so did not attend in a formal way, though many Socialist League members were there to observe. An hour before the FTA meeting was to commence the socialists took over the square and the massed crowds of unemployed workers, largely from the East End, were addressed by the SDF leadership from the balustrade of the National Gallery. They then headed off with a crowd of around 10,000 towards Hyde Park. This took them past various clubs and aristocratic hang-outs - when they passed the Liberal Reform Club, some of the servants pelted them with shoes and nail brushes. The crowd threw stones in return. The unemployed were hooted by Tories at the Carlton Club and jeered in return. As the mass progressed up St James St they discovered metal bars and loose paving stones and many of the Club windows were shattered. In Picadilly people started looting shops.
When the SDF leaders and entourage arrived at Hyde Park another inflammatory round of speeches was given and the groups of rioters turned their attention Eastwards up North Audley St and Oxford Street, breaking windows and looting as they went.
The riot led to a public panic rather like the hysteria that followed some of the Mayday events of the 1990s, or the 1980s inner city riots. Whole areas of London saw shops putting up their shutters, rumours flew of a vast "East End Army" moving across the City towards the prosperous West.

The above shows us how there is nothing new under the sun...

An interesting viewpoint is the response of William Morris, reported in the excellent biography William Morris by Fiona MacCarthy. Morris wrote his view of the events to the Rev. John Glasse of Edinburgh, and his opinions tend to contradict the impression of fluffy green liberalism sometimes ascribed to him by latter day admirers.

As to Monday's riot, of course I look at it as a mistake to go in for a policy of riot, all the more as I feel pretty certain that the Socialists will one day have to fight seriously. Because though it is quite true, that if labour could organize itself properly the enemy could not even dream of resisting, yet that organization could not possibly keep pace with the spread of discontent which will accompany the break up of the old system, so we shall be forced to fight......
Yet I do not agree with you that Monday's affair will hurt the movement. I think it will be of service: any opposition to law and order in the streets is of use to us, if the price is not too high ......For the rest an English mob is always brutal at any rate until it rises to heroism. Altogether taken I think we must look upon this affair as an incident of the the Revolution, and so far encouraging: the shop wrecking was partly a grotesque practical joke (quite in the English manner)at the expense of the upper classes.
(p534, Faber and Faber, Paperback edition 1995)

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Thursday, February 07, 2008

Remploy And Blood Service Workers Fight On

The dispute over the closure programme at the Remploy factories (originally set up to provide employment for disabled ex-servicepeople and since providing employment for many disabled people from a range of backgrounds) continues. The disgraced ex-Minister Peter Hain stitched up a so-called compromise deal that was cover for the management to carry on with a slightly adjusted closure programme. Workers from Remploy factories in Aintree and Birkenhead went on strike on Wednesday and Thursday of this week. The workers at these factories will strike again on 13th and 14th February and will be joined by workers from the Remploy factory in York. Official strike ballots are in the pipeline at Hartlepool, St Helens, Treforest, Ystradgynlais near Swansea and Brynammon in South Wales.

The workers are not just striking for themselves, but future workers who may need their jobs - something which bemuses management who witter on about the "generous" terms and redeployments (sometimes to less skilled and less rewarding work) on offer.

More from Unite/Amicus and the GMB Union.

In the Blood Service dispute the picture is becoming clearer after the release of the report on the NBS "restructuring". The radical industrial unionists of the IWW are campaigning hard on this issue alongside the TUC affiliated unions and have an update on their UK website here.

You can also keep up to date at the Save Our Blood Service blog.

The campaigning so far seems to have led to at least some success -

The outcry from hospitals, staff and the public at the dangerous and stupid proposals has meant that in the north and south-east, the board have been forced to scrap the idea of supercentres. One excellent victory that we can claim is that the Newcastle centre is now to remain fully open, and Sheffield also keeps many more functions.But the axe still hangs over essential labs at centres across the country.

So, in short, the struggle continues.

These two groups of workers are fighting vital battles in the contested areas of healthcare, disability and dignity and should have maximum solidarity and support.

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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Quote of the day

"We shall choose Ithaca, the faithful land, frugal and audacious thought, lucid action, the generosity of the man who understands. In the light, the earth, the earth remains our first and last love. Our brothers are breathing under the same sky; justice is a living thing. Now is born that strange joy which helps one live and die, and which we shall never again renounce to a later time. On the sorrowing earth it is the unresting thorn, the bitter food, the harsh wind off the sea, the ancient dawn forever renewed.

With this joy, through long struggle, we shall remake the soul of our time, and a Europe which will exclude nothing. Not even that phantom Nietzsche who, for twelve years after his downfall, was continually invoked by the West as the ruined image of its loftiest knowledge and its nihilism; nor the prophet of justice without mercy who rests, by mistake, in the unbelievers' plot at Highgate Cemetery; nor the deified mummy of the man of action in his glass coffin; nor any part of what the intelligence and energy of Europe have ceaselessly furnished to the pride of a contemptible period. All may indeed live again, side by side with the martyrs of 1905, but on condition that they shall understand how they correct one another, and that a limit, under the sun, shall curb them all. Each tells the other that he is not God; this is the end of romanticism.

At this moment, when each of us must fit an arrow to his bow and enter the lists anew, to reconquer, within history and in spite of it, that which he owns already, the thin yield of his fields, the brief love of this earth, at this moment when at last a man is born, it is time to forsake our age and its adolescent rages. The bow bends; the wood complains. At the moment of supreme tension, there will leap into flight an unswerving arrow, a shaft that is inflexible and free."

Albert Camus, The Rebel

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Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Rice Visit Protest

The following is from the Stop the War Coalition:

p: 020 7278 6694


Condoleezza Rice is coming to London for a panic summit with the US's number one ally in the War on Terror. The reason? Afghanistan is now a disaster as bad as Iraq.

Canada is threatening to pull out of Afghanistan altogether, Germany has
refused US orders to go south, and the British army is being fought to a
standstill by the Taliban.

Stop the War is asking for people to come and protest at Downing Street to
demand all the troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan and for an end to the
'special relationship'. We have been told Rice will be going to Downing Street between 12 and 3.30.
Please bring banners.

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Sunday, February 03, 2008

Weekly Links - 03/02/2008

A mixed bag of sites this week, in what could be an interesting period both domestically and internationally.

Green Politics
Green Left, the ecosocialist and anti-capitalist current of the Green Party of England and Wales have a new website at

Like many Greens with a left and workplace orientation I am looking forward to the first Campaign Against Climate Change Trade Union Conference in London on Saturday 9th February.

London Green MEP Jean Lambert is on a fact finding mission to Israel and Palestine with other MEPS this week.

In Scotland the Green MSPs have been commenting on the consultation on a Climate Change Bill.

Lastly on the Green front, the blog of GPEW Male Principal Speaker Derek Wall carries an alert regarding protests against the US Secretary of State who is visiting the British Prime Minister on Wednesday.

Around the blogs
Some excellent thought provoking blog posts to link to this week -
Jim at Daily Maybe and Louise at the S.U.B. report on the media and political feeding frenzy of attacks on the disabled and benefit claimants.

Andy at the Socialist Unity blog has this week posted the debate on political strategies between Hilary Wainwright and Mark Perryman that appears in the current Red Pepper.

Dave Osler at Dave's Part has been reflecting on the situation in Kenya.

Anton Vowl at "Enemies of Reason" had an enjoyable rant on Friday at the duplicity and idiocy of the Mail, Express and the more excitable of their readers on the subject of immigration.

At the Climate and Capitalism blog, Daniel Denvir reports on developments on the green left in Ecuador.

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Friday, February 01, 2008

Stop Heathrow Expansion!

A date for your diary:
Stop Heathrow Expansion.
Rally at Westminster Central Hall - 7PM.
We need to fill the hall!
E-mail your views directly to:
Check these sites:

This is from the Stop Heathrow Expansion website:

Why oppose expansion?

It is not necessary
78% of businesses in London oppose it (London Chamber of Commerce Report 2006). There is no hard evidence to show that the UK economy will suffer if Heathrow doesn’t expand. Indeed, the evidence suggests that proximity to a major airport is not the critical factor when businesses are deciding where to locate. A low-tax economy and the availability of a well-trained work force are usually more important. The Government’s own report, Transport and the Economy, (1999) found that, in a mature economy, which already has a well-developed transport system (such as the UK), any increase in economic growth from improved transport is likely to be modest (The Plane Truth: Aviation and the Environment, published by the Ashden Trust).

It will contribute to climate change

Aviation already accounts for 13% of UK global warming emissions and is the fastest-growing contributor to climate change. The Government’s plans to expand Heathrow, and many other airports across the country, undermines its stated objective to reduce climate change emissions.

It will destroy communities
It is often assumed that it is only transient communities living in poor housing who live near airports. Nothing could be further from the truth as far as Harmondsworth, Sipson, Harlington and West Drayton are concerned – the places that will be directly affected by the proposed expansion. These are settled communities where many people have lived all their lives, a lot of them having worked at the airport. And, because they are parallel to the airport, they are not overflown. Thousands of people will be forced out of many of these communities, as expansion plans will require the demolition of schools, pubs, shops and at least 750 homes.

It will destroy people’s quality of life
Aircraft noise will become a problem for many more people. At least 150,000 people will be under the flight path to the new runway, most of them experiencing aircraft noise for the first time. And the prospect for people living under the existing flight paths is frightening: a plane every 90 seconds virtually throughout the day.

HACAN and NoTRAG (No Third Runway Action Group) are not alone in opposing further expansion at Heathrow. Never before has there been such powerful – and such united – opposition to expansion at the airport.

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