Monthly Archives: February 2016

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.