The entrails left by profiteers. Life is cheap

As I understand all life derives from a single source and we can see that we are just a part of this evolution. Yet the mass market of food production takes little into account about what is necessary for a quality of life among animals and crops produced. Since we are inextricably linked human life and welfare will be deeply affected. Profits are all, welfare nowhere as we can see by the entrails left by profiteers. Life is cheap to them.

Chicken is cheap – probably cheaper than chips – yet its production leaves many question with the entrails – literal as well as in fact – leave a trail of harmful and deadly bacteria. The agencies charged with ensuring we have a supply of nutrious, healthy food are seriously challenged. One or two articles and programmes have documented intensive production. It is characterised by low wages, shocking working conditions with health and safety of workers difficult to spot. The problem is we don’t know where our food is sourced. If we did we wouldn’t want it.

This week President Obama landed in UK, prospective trade agreement TTIP in hand. Stay in the EU in trumpeted, otherwise UK will be at the back of the queue for trade agreements. Isn’t that precisely what we want? TTIP would take away any ability to challenge the filthy part of the food industry when corporate interest takes over from ours with ability to take even governments to court if they question damage to health by, not only tobacco, but harmful food production. Thanks, but no thanks Barack.

The Steel Industry Game

In 2007 Tata brought up the British Steel Industry. This I learn now was several times bigger than itself and, with the collusion of banks, pulled off the deal. This is the Steel Industry Game played by corporate interests and governments with peoples’ lives as the pawns. Jobs and community infrastructure are nowhere in the reckoning. In India this could be seen as the tables turning on colonial history.

Games began in earnest in the 1970s as industry after industry was closed, jobs lost and communities shattered. To those in charge of us it didn’t matter that an economy based 80% on heavy industry with just 20% service industry was about to be turned on its head. Manufacturing could be outsourced to far away with people on low or no wages being exploited. Unions had become too strong to handle having won decent wages and working conditions supported by health and safety legislation. The “enemy within” had to be stopped at all costs in the class war that ensued. The power of workers demonstrated at the Battle of Saltley Gate in 1972 should never be repeated as the Battle of Orgreave over a decade later made clear as violently repressive measures were used on unarmed demonstrators.

MPs enjoying their Easter hols were slow to wake up to Tata’s announcement that it was going to decide to off load British Steel by 31st March 2016. Hell, that’s today! The first to come back was Jeremy Corbyn requesting a recall of Parliament and visiting Port Talbot where he alone was able to make calm and considered suggestions on action, including nationalisation of the industry whole or in part. David Cameron appeared rather lame as he dismissed requests for the recall of Parliament and nationalisation but claiming nothing had been ruled out.

Tory Education Policies Unravelling

The infamous budget speech from George Osborne has not left the news headlines since its delivery weeks ago. “Austerity” was a term dreamed up to blind people from the reality of Tory policy which was avowedly to shrink the state. Local accountability has certainly shrunk with nowhere to go to question those now running our precious and hard won services.

Education has been overshadowed by proper concerns over what is going on in health, with threats there of increasing privatisation which, with TTIP proposals, could end up with multinational concerns running NHS services. In Birmingham Perry Beeches School was held up as an example of the brave new world, its head teacher, Liam Nolan, elevated to the position of “super-head”. Perry Beeches attempted to produce clones across Birmingham with “Perry Beeches II, III and now V”. “Super-head” has now become a bit big for his boots. Although he has for now retained his position of Head Teacher, his designation of CEO and Accounting Officer of a Trust set up to run the whole empire has been withdrawn, his second six-figure income having drawn fire. The Trust has been paid well over a million pounds annually, with Mr Nolan protesting that £200,000 was too little to reward his brilliance.

Like health and other public services essential to our well being, education is not served by being forced into a market place which discriminates between the well-off and the majority who live from their labour and ability to get employment. Speeches as the National Union of Teachers and NAS/UWT Conferences this Easter serve to show how Tories are now being challenged with a national protest on 16th April and teachers supporting junior doctors with strike action. Jeremy Corbyn, Labour leader, was well supported at the NUT Conference in Brighton while Education Secretary Nicky Morgan had a torrid time in Birmingham speaking to NAS/UWT delegates. Her assertion at the outset that there would be no u-turns in her proposals looks particularly vulnerable in the light of Osborne’s back tracking on benefits following his budget announcement.

Extract from Nicky Morgan’s speech.

What does Nicky Morgan know about Education?

What does Nicky Morgan know about education, or anything else come to that? Her abysmal performance on a recent Any Questions showed her floundering about her own Chancellor’s budget proposals to attack the most vulnerable. Two news stories today ask what qualifies her to foist inappropriate testing on our children and press ahead with her “irreversible” decision to force all schools into becoming Academies.

It has long been blatantly obvious what the Tories were about with education giving all assets away to private ownership, putting it in the hands of many who, like Nicky Morgan, understand little about education or children and how they learn. The 11 plus test used to brand children as failures with living with that idea into adulthood. Now Morgan proposes what teachers are saying is totally inappropriate testing at 7 as well as 11. They believe many adults would have difficulty in understanding the questions children will be expected to answer. In many countries formal education begins at 7 and children have happier experiences of learning through play. In UK private tutors are converting their homes into school rooms to coach the young of pushy parents demanding their children perform to order. How damaging this is to the many is about to be proved once again.

Why it has taken so long to hear the assertion that Tory policy on education is asset stripping is puzzling, except the last Labour Government also promoted Academies. At last Jeremy Corbyn Labour Leader, has said it at the NUT Conference. Nicky Morgan is due to speak at the the NAS/UWT Conference. She should meet with an appropriately hostile reception. Hopefully they will have read the DFE’s own figures on the performance of the the academy chains which are very clear that the Government’s assertion that they will improve schools is utter rubbish. It leaves us in no doubt at all that the Tories’ plans for schools, as with other privatisations, is purely ideologically based as more and more tax payers’ finances are handed to organisations with no mandate or accountability. Typically those at the head of the underperforming chains are paying themselves telephone number salaries. Their schools are allowed to employ unqualified staff and worsen the working conditions of teachers. Morgan is dismissing the parent governors, once welcomed unpaid into schools to carry out very difficult tasks. Now rubbished she wants them replaced by the “experts”, presumably those engaged in foisting proposals as stupid and uncomprehending as hers on our invaluable education system. Indeed what does Nicky Morgan, and many other politicians including Labour imitators know about education?

Socialist Labour Party Policies for Education.

EU substitutes Syrian threats to security with Turkish

Same old incomprehension from governments as EU substitutes threats to security with Turkish as Syrians are sent back from Greece to Turkey and Turkish are given free passage. Just who are enemies and who are friends? Friendship seems to be synonymous with anyone regarded as economically useful never mind  who they associated with. Profit making is blind to any problems arising as Russia Today reveals.

We must and have welcomed refugees. The majority have fled the horrific situation arising from political expediency from the likes of Bush and Blair in stoking up with wars predicated on ancient conflicts between “Christians” and “Muslims”. The use of such blanket ideas as “terrorism” were intended to serve the interests of those leaders by uniting the nations they led by fear promising protection from such enemies. The series “The Power of Nightmares” shows how we have been misled by people who should now be on trial for the war crimes following their horrendous bidding, backed (if not led) by an international arms industry pushing for permanent war. The death and destruction that has followed has been infinitely greater than could be mustered the “axis of evil” that George W. Bush’s administration invented with the aid of the likes of Rumsfeld, Cheney and Milton Friedman and the Chicago School promoting the “Shock Doctrine” to be unleashed on the invented enemies they needed to save us (in the “World of Capitalism”) from.

The distorted vision seems to created a reality as we follow actual “terror” attacks in Paris and in now in Brussels. Instead of understanding this the responses remain uncomprehending repeating the same lack of understanding and imagination as EU substitutes threats to security with Turkish. Do we imagine that the majority of those fleeing the destruction of their homes and communities are “terrorists” rather victims of terror from all sides, including those who have intervened supposedly to save them? The EU has shown itself to be totally unprepared to collectively take precautions so that those with the intention of bringing death and destruction into the heart of Europe can disappear into the crowd. In the end the majority become the suspects and the world of Islam conflated with “Terrorism”. Of course the doctrine of “Shock and Awe” used against not just the “Terrorists” but the peoples of ancient nations and the destruction of their (and our) heritage) is not defined as the perpetration of terror. It is most powerful educational and recruiting agent that the “Terrorist” could possibly have as they revisit the perpetrators (our governments) and apply just that doctrine to us.

As Obama visits Cuba he exposes the continuing reality of the nation that imposes power irrespective of ideas: ideas that have long been a subject of discussion in Cuba do not register in his patronage of this supposedly hostile state, once, if not now (?) a candidate for the “axis of evil”. The Cubans know that the enmity is not being ended by this exhibition of friendship as threat is related by a charm offensive without even touching US intentions towards the neighbour in its backyard. Obama hasn’t even tried to tone down the rhetoric. What he seems to have failed to note is how ideas discussed throughout Latin America are a reality in the alliances that have sprung up with Cuba as a key player rather than excluded from American partnerships. The ideas are refreshing alternatives which include voices of former victims of colonial rule across the world.

In Europe mass movements have begun to emerge demanding something different from the impositions that affect people internally as well as externally. This is also evident within the United States itself as Bernie Sanders refuses to withdraw from the Presidential race and states continue to endorse his candidature for Democratic nominee. Promises of resistance in Greece have been compromised by the powerful economic interventions of the dominant nations of Germany and France. In UK Blairite factions which support policies of privatisation and austerity dog the Labour Party membership’s leadership choice of Jeremy Corbyn. In consequence he has backtracked on policies long associated with him, including membership of the EU itself, and the need for Trident for our security. (How will that prevent ISIS mingling with fleeing refugees across mainland Europe?)

Arthur Scargill returns to Birmingham for 44th anniversary of Saltley Gate

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John Tyrrell, SLP President, introducing Party Leader, Arthur Scargill

On 6th February the Socialist Labour Party once again remembered the anniversary of Saltley Gate when 300,000 workers stopped work in support of the miners. This was on 11th February, 1972. 150,000 marched on Saltley Gate preventing deliveries of coke intended to break the strike. There were lines of workers marching east to west and west to east, the police intending them to pass each other. As they reached the gate Arthur Scargill gave the order over loud hailer to “Stop”. When this happened the order was given by the police “Close the Gate”. This victory shows how effective mass action is against unfair and anti-working governments, such as the one we have currently, are. It is necessary to remember and for the first time since the 40th anniversary held at Saltley Gate in 2012, Arthur Scargill returned to Birmingham to speak at the 44th anniversary, this time to a packed audience at the Priory Rooms in Bull Street, Birmingham.

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Arthur Scargill. Leader, Socialist Labour Party & Leader at Saltley Gate speaking on the need to exit the bureaucratic EU

As in 2012 Scargill’s speech focussed on current issues, notable the European Union and the crucial need to leave what he had predicted would become a bureaucratic organisation serving there freedom of movement of Capital and workers for the benefit of the large corporations. Their involvement in TTIP showed where their interest lay. He emphasised his disappointment with Labour failing to tackle these key issues, drawing back after Jeremy Corbyn’s massive majority to bring about significant change putting the need of people before corporate greed. The idea of sending submarines around the globe with unarmed Trident missiles was laughable. Corbyn had the chance at the Labour Annual Conference of insisting on stopping Trident and putting forward other changes he had articulated in his bid for leadership of the Labour Party.

As far as 1972 was concerned there was much to be learned about working people acting together in solidarity. It had proved that doing this brought about the changes they needed in the face of coercive and anti-union governments such as that in office now.

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New Style Radio presenter, George Gordon, speaks about Harold Crawford

George Gordon, a radio presenter at New Style Radio based at the Afro-Caribbean Millennium Centre in Winson Green, Birmingham, was in 1972 a shop steward. He brought his workers out then. Two years ago he mentioned the name of Harold Crawford, a Barbadian who had made a contribution to the support of the miners at that time. George pointed out that there was considerable apathy amongst African Caribbean workers and Harold Crawford galvanised them into action by convincing them of the need to give active support. Other sections of the community were brought together by organisations like the Indian Workers’ Association. We had come to realise that 1972 was supported across diversity and included women and men from various backgrounds. However it didn’t come about by chance, but through leadership from within sections of the community.

The meeting had started with a song from Banner Theatre’s 1972 production of Saltley Gate by Dave Rodgers. (I suggested this should be a candidate for an English National Anthem!).

Following George Gordon, Dr Kim Bryan, Secretary of the Socialist Labour Party spoke of other acts of solidarity in Britain at the time in the early 70’s, including rent strikes in Liverpool and beyond. There was no reason why such resistance should not come again. This was followed by an informative debate with those present.

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Guest speaker Jorge Luis Garcia Garcia from Cuba

Jorge Luis Garcia Garcia representing the Cuban Embassy spoke briefly on the situation since Cuba and the US had begun talks and exchanged visits late last year. Regrettably there was no time left for discussion on the important issues raised by the exceptional speakers.

An earlier meeting in London had discussed Cuban Futures at greater length and depth. A report can be seen here.

 

Photographs: Neil Barrington with thanks

Housing and Cameron’s deceit

PMQ’s this week Jeremy Corby questioned the PM on housing. We were treated once more to Cameron’s deceit.

Whoever built council houses the right to buy has meant that very many homes have been passed to private ownership. Among the people who have profited have been the landlords who have bought up multiple homes, charge extortionate rents and frequent allow people to use their properties for all sorts of things that affect the neighbourhood substantially devaluing neighbouring properties. They are out of control.

As the Daily Mirror points out Tory policy is to remove government from housing responsibility. In their eyes a £450,000 home counts as affordable. With homelessness likely to increase exponentially, while local authorities reduce their homeless centre, we have yet another horrific crisis intensifying. Corbin makes an effort to challenge, but his own party’s lack of support for him undermines him at every turn.

I note that in London, a group is producing a bulletin under the title “Socialist Labour”. It should be noted this is not to be confused with the Socialist Labour Party. This Party already has policies which oppose Trident, the bombing of Syria or any other country and the withdrawal from Europe. It is a Socialist Party founded by James Connolly at much the same time as Keir Hardy was regarded as the founder of Labour. They worked together in the Independent Labour Party and Connolly wrote a moving tribute to Hardy. In my view those wanting Socialism should join a party that has Socialist policies. Labour has shown itself to vie with the Tories to show who can be better supporters of Capitalism. Socialists know that’s not going to work. While Corbyn’s efforts have to be recognised already those expecting change are being disappointed. We have seen Hilary Benn support bombing of Libya from the front bench and the tussle on Trident seems insoluble.

Varoufakis starts a movement in Berlin

Interesting that Yannis Varoufakis has begun a new pan European movement in Berlin. His view of Europe that is being run by a cartel is shared, and has been for some time. Notwithstanding many who agree still believe our future is in Europe.

Across the world the desire for something different is emerging, something that is challenging the existing elite. In New Hampshire the people have selected Bernie Sanders as their candidate for the Democratic Party and Donald Trump the Republicans. The controlling elite will contest this to ensure they hold their power intact.

On Saturday last, 6th February, Arthur Scargill, leader of the Socialist Labour Party in the UK, spoke in Birmingham on the 44th anniversary of the Battle of Saltley Gate. Scargill then took a leading role in halting the 15,000 Birmingham workers marching in support of the miners. The police had intended that they march from east to west and west to east but that they should pass each other. When they were outside the gate Arthur Scargill gave the order to stop and the police gave the order to “shut the gate”. In all 30,000 had stopped work representing all sections of Birmingham society: African Caribbean, Asian, women and men. Their action culminated in the end of another appalling Tory administration. If there is such solidarity it can happened again.

Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party illustrates how the entrenched MP’s of Labour are joining opposition to him in spite of the substantial majority of Labour Party members voicing support. In Westminster the revolving door system is illustrative the in-built corruption and the stranglehold of the ruling elite over MPs of all parties. The lobbyists from the arms industry for one will not countenance an end to the outrageously expensive, and ultimately useless, Trident.

Austerity is not a necessity, it is a crime

Austerity is not a necessity. It has been constructed, like the idea of “terrorism”, to coerce people. The 1% have to let be known that the other 99% know their place in the world while they indulge. Not that even they will be any different on the day of reckoning. However while they have the power they are using it to impose austerity on us. It is a crime.

Local authorities are under threat as never before. They were given by central government for providing local services including the vital safety nets needed. These have been hard won over decades, if not centuries. Local councillors being asked what they can do wring their hands and say that nothing can be done. The dictatorship of Government is all powerful and there will be dreadful consequences. Well that’s certainly what they’ve been told. Who is standing up? If they won’t then we’ll have to. The great unwashed, the rabble. Who does this include? Apparently Dave’s Mum! It his reported that she has signed a petition against closure of children’s homes.

Cameron’s Mum isn’t the only one to complain. Tory MPs facing cuts in their locality are moaning and href=”http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/feb/09/cameron-buying-off-tory-mps-theatening-to-rebel-over-council-cuts”>money is being found to ease the pain. According to Labour 83% is in Tory land.

I met an acquaintance in my local Co-op store on Saturday. He stopped to tell me about the proposal to have just one homeless centre in Birmingham placed in Erdington. He told me how he loved
his job over decades of involvement. With the daunting prospect of around 300 people turning up each night he felt it was time to get out.

Austerity is necessary we are told by not only the Tories. Their former pathetic Lib-Dem partners believed the lie, and so did Labour who wanted a watered down version. Far from being a necessity, it is a crime being perpetrated by and elite on the majority with the most vulnerable at particularly high risk. The fair Britain we had battled for is being systematically dismantled. The money that should be used for what we have called “essential services” goes to maximising profit. Not only money but public assets are transferred at low or no cost to companies so that bosses of school chains have six figure salaries. Has education improved. Short of teachers children education is going to suffer. In the health service A & E and services are in decline as private firms cherry pick the services that they can control and profit from. Do MP’s benefit? The revolving door system in place at Westminster makes it inevitable as MPs are offered directorships for themselves and families on the first day through the door. The whole system is corrupt, designed to serve an elite supposedly put into power by us.

Inhumane and deceitful Tory Policies unravel

Article after article in current news articles are showing Tory policies unravelling before our eyes. Cameron and his privileged crew are shown to be conducting war at home and abroad which is basically class war. The truth has been held back but the truth is emerging all at once about the naked Toryism without even the pathetic Lib Dem coalition to hold their policies and acts back.

The list of horrors includes the sell off of assets paid for by public money on the cheap. £26bn short change of the public purse is the figure mentioned. The Royal Mail went making a few rich while others have to go without. Policies on privatisation unravel.

Then Jeremy Corbyn went to Calais to see the shameful migrant camp. Cameron picked this up at Prime Ministers’ Question Time talking dismissively about a “bunch of migrants”. Was this deliberate rather than a slip of the tongue as the Tories move in tune with the evolving far out right. Policies on migrants and migration unravel?

Libya and bombing of was debated but war elsewhere hasn’t been. In Yemen civilians are once again caught up in the mayhem as Saudi Arabia bombs with arms acquired from Britain. Britain is at war with Yemen without anyone knowing? Policies on arms sale and foreign adventures unravel.

A court decision has found that http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-35418488 the bedroom tax has been used unlawfully against people with severe disabilities and in need of maintaining their safety. The Government is to appeal. Ian Duncan Smith and his department’s reputation for heartlessness and unfairness go ahead of them. We learn more of the effects of the their policies as that on the bedroom tax unravels.