Saturday, October 27, 2012

news round-up

 Anti-fascists call for ban on EDL march
MEMBERS of the anti-racist group, We Are Waltham Forest, London, are calling for a ban on a planned march by the Islamophobic English Defence League due to take place this Saturday, 27th October.
 The EDL called the march as a “rematch” after a previous march on 1st September, attended by a meagre 200 supporters, was blocked by thousands local residents who occupied a road junction on the planned route.
 But the EDL will have serious problems in staging the march in any case since last weekend 53 of their leading members and supporters were arrested last Saturday and bailed on charges of conspiracy to attack an east London mosque.
 The bail conditions forbid them to attend any marches in east London in the near future. If they do, they will immediately be arrested.
 Furthermore their leader, Stephen Yaxley Lennon, also known as Tommy Robinson, is being held in custody in Wandsworth prison on separate charges of assault and could be extradited to the United States, where he is wanted to answer charges of financial fraud. He has no prospect of release before January whatever happens.
 The 53 were arrested last Saturday when police, acting on intelligence, stopped several vehicles, including at least one large removal van, on the M25 and M3 motorways. The men were found to be carrying a selection of weapons and heading to a “spontaneous” protest in Whitechapel, according to reports. Lennon was one of them.
 It seems they has chosen to “protest” that day on the assumption that police and anti-fascist activists would be preoccupied with the big TUC march against austerity.
 Earlier this month a packed public meeting called by the We Are Waltham Forest campaign showed the determination of local people drive the English Defence League out of the borough for a second time.
 Local MP Stella Creasy called for renewed unity against the EDL, while London Assembly Member Jennette Arnold declared there was “No place for the EDL in Walthamstow!”
 Jennette spoke movingly about her trip to Oslo, where people urged her to stop the EDL – the organisation that gave inspiration to Norway’s fascist mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik.
 The meeting also heard from local rabbi, Richard Jacobi and Irfan Akhtar of the Waltham Forest Council of Mosques, who said the success of the mobilisation against the EDL last month had given local Muslims the confidence to confront the EDL.
 And Glenroy Watson said his RMT rail union would do everything possible to stop the EDL using the tube on 27th October – RMT members have previously taken action to ensure that staff and members of the public are not endangered by the fascist thugs on the tube and railways.
 There would be “no platform for EDL – literally as far as my industry is concerned”, he said.
But the chances of the EDL now being able to find enough supporters on Saturday to make the march worthwhile are now greatly diminished since the arrest of the 53 leading supporters and hopes are high that it will not take place.
 Meanwhile Lennon, languishing in Wandsworth prison, is reported to be complaining that he is “sharing a cell with Muslims on a wing full of Muslims screaming death threats at him”, according to an online report by the British Freedom Party, from which he recently resigned as a deputy chair.

Racism in football

THE CAMPAIGN, Show Racism the Red Card, (SRtRC) last week issued a statement on actions by a number of black footballers who last week refused to wear anti-racist T-shirts from the Kick It Out campaign.
 One of them, Rio Ferdinand, faces discipline from his team manager, Alex Fergusson, for this refusal.
 The players say they were protesting at the inadequacy of the Kick It Out campaign and that wearing the T-shirts was meaningless tokenism.
 Certainly they succeeded in drawing attention to a real problem, and the wearing of such T-shirts to show support is indeed meaningless if it is not voluntary. And football managers are deluded if they think that simply wearing a particular T-shirt is all that needs to be done to address them problems of racism in football.
 SRtRC works with 50,000 young people each year in schools and at events at football clubs. It says that without the support of players, its positive anti-racism message is diminished.
 The campaign says it fully understands the anger of the Ferdinand family and Jason Roberts in relation to the FA handling of the John Terry case. “Both Rio and Jason are longstanding patrons of our campaign and are recognised in our Hall of Fame for their work,” the statement says.
 But the statement points out that Kick It Out (KIO) is not a regulatory body and the problem lies with the Football Association and other football authorities, who are responsible for dealing with racist incidents or deciding on sanctions.
 And it calls on the protesting players to work with KIO and SRtRC (the two campaigns work closely together) and the Professional Footballers’ Association to draw up a plan of action to present to the footballing authorities and Government.

Pensioners to protest at fuel poverty

THE GREATER London Pensioners’ Association has organised a protest, “No More Deaths Frome Fuel Poverty”, to take place, beginning at noon, in Westfield Stratford Shopping Centre in east London outside the upper level entrance to Primark on Saturday 27th October.
 According to the Fuel Poverty Action campaign, 65 people died in Britain every day from illnesses caused by cold homes.  Campaigners say the latest gas and electricity price rises will be a nail in many coffins.
 Many of those who died were pensioners and disabled people. As energy company prices – and profits – soar, there will be many more deaths this year.
 They say that if we can’t afford to heat our homes we have a right to go into any warm building and make ourselves at home!
 We have the right to warm up inside the offices of those driving fuel poverty: the Big Six energy companies, the Government, landlords and letting agents.
   We have the right to warm up inside public spaces threatened by cuts including libraries and day centres, which keep many people warm throughout   the winter.
 Pensioners from the Greater London Pensioners’ Association will be asserting this right by coming out of their cold homes and warming up inside the toasty Westfield Stratford shopping centre.
 They demand:
* That the Government reinstate the Winter Fuel Allowance in full (this has   been cut by £50 for those over 60 and £100 for those over 80.)
* That the energy companies reinvest in affordable, cleaner and safer energy supplies and use their enormous profits to do so, instead of putting the cost on to the consumer.
* That the Government acknowledge an entitlement of all including the sick, disabled people, the elderly and families with young children, to a well insulated, warm place to live in good repair.

Don’t sell Barnet

RESIDENTS of Barnet, north London, are alarmed at the council’s plan known as the One Barnet Programme, to hand over nearly all its public services to private for-profit companies.
 They are calling for an immediate stop to these measures until the issue is put to the electorate in the form of a simple Yes or No referendum on the programme.
 Their aim is to collect 7000 signatures by the end of October 2012, with a view to submit it to the full council meeting on 6th November, prior to the planned decision on awarding the One Barnet contracts at the end of November.
 This petition is also promoted by the Barnet Labour Group in a joint forces effort to stop the One Barnet and save our future in this borough.
 They are calling for as many signatures as possible to the petition, which can be reached on-line at:
  The campaign is supported by a new film by acclaimed US director Charles Honderick that its debut at London's Phoenix Cinema last Monday.
 The film exposes the risks involved in local government outsourcing. It shows how Barnet Council is taking a billion pound gamble with taxpayer's money.
 The film also interviews residents of Barnet to reveal how the disabled, the elderly, local business owners and ordinary members of the community are being ignored.
 Parents with severely disabled children talk about their experiences and how the council refuses to provide suitable housing and care packages. They explain how outsourced care provides charge as much as £1.20 for a cup of Nescafe in a church hall.

FBU warns that cuts endanger lives

THE FIRE Brigades Union has expressed grave concerns over proposals by the London Fire Brigade to close 17 fire stations and slash around 600 jobs
 The plans, which were revealed in a leaked document, look set to be put before a meeting of the London fire authority on 22nd November.
 The brigade was told by the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, to save £65 million over two years, and senior managers have been working on proposals to meet that demand.
 The FBU’s regional secretary for London, Paul Embery, said: “These proposals present the biggest threat to the London Fire Brigade since the days of the Luftwaffe and would lead to the decimation of fire cover in London.
 “The stations under threat of closure have stood proudly for generations, protecting local residents from bombs, fire and terrorism, yet Boris Johnson is about to hammer a ‘For Sale’ sign on to their front doors.
 “Such a huge cut cannot be made without there being an impact on public safety, and we call on Londoners to join with us in defending our fire service.”

Increase the struggle

THE THOUSANDS upon thousands who took part in the TUC protests in London, Glasgow and Belfast on Saturday clearly reflected the mounting opposition to the Cameron government’s austerity programme.
The march of over 150,000 people through the capital clearly demonstrated the ability of the TUC to mobilise large numbers of working people behind the banner of resistance. And the serried ranks of speakers at the London rally who included Labour leader Ed Miliband and the general secretaries of all our major unions showed that the movers and shakers of the union movement were eager to be seen heading the struggle against the cuts.
But the numbers in London were down compared to the half a million who took to the streets in the March 2011 anti-cuts protest. Though this was partly due to the decision to hold regional rallies on the same day, many others stayed at home because they didn’t think it would go beyond yet another union parade that the Government would simply ignore and carry on regardless.
That, of course, depends on what happens next and the fight-back certainly has to be taken well beyond marching through the streets on a weekend if it is to have any hope of seriously derailing the Tories and their Liberal Democrat collaborators. Ed Miliband, who heads the Labour Party that claims to represent organised labour, clearly saw the rally as little more than a pre-election campaign rally. The Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition is deeply unpopular with voters at the moment.
Labour is nine points ahead of the Tories in the opinion polls and Miliband & Co clearly believe Labour is going to be swept back to power on an anti-Tory wave fired by the collapse of the Liberal Democrats. The Labour leader is still committed to austerity and he thinks that a promise to return to the alternative “soft landing” neo-Keynesian reforms that were practised by the last Labour government is enough to get him into Downing Street.
The TUC’s own call for a “Future that Works”, on the other hand, consists of supporting another national co-ordinated national public sector one-day strike on pay in the New Year and a tentative call for a one-day “general strike” if and when the European Court of Justice rules against the existing anti-union legislation.
A joint public sector one day strike, like last year’s mass stoppage over pension rights, has to be fought for in the unions concerned and the call for a general strike has to be fought for throughout the movement, regardless of what the European Court says or does.
The Tory-led Coalition is unstable and can be brought down whenever the Liberal Democrats decide it’s time to jump ship. But workers can’t wait for Nick Clegg to make his mind up or simply sit it out until 2015 when the next election has to take place whatever happens.
The fight-back that started in Greece has spread to Spain, Portugal and France and now the unions are fighting the cuts right across the European Union.
Last November around two-and-a-half million public sector workers took strike action, the biggest strike in terms of numbers our country has ever seen.
That strike sent a clear message to the Coalition Government that pension and public service cuts were unacceptable. That campaign failed because the vacillators who still control some of our unions, more concerned with preserving their immense salaries and perks than taking up the legitimate demands of their members, headed off demands for a follow-up campaign.
That must never happen again. Appeasement doesn’t work. The only way the Cameron Government can be stopped in its tracks is by determined action by the organised working class united around the basic demands charted by the TUC this year.

Hundreds of thousands march against austerity

by New Worker correspondent

THE STREETS of London were turned into a vast slow-moving sea of placards, banners and giant coloured balloons last Saturday as somewhere between one and two hundred thousand trade unionists descended on the capital to tell Prime Minister David Cameron they demand an end to the austerity policies that are devastating jobs, services, pensions and benefits.
And the noise was deafening, from bands, whistles, vuvuzelas and voices, as the marchers made sure no one in London that day could ignore them.
There were also major rallies in Glasgow and Belfast.
 Civil servants, teachers, local government workers, health workers, firefighters – and even the police keeping order – were expressing their anger at the cuts that have done nothing to reduce Britain’s debt problems but only made them worse by putting millions out of work.
 The march began on the Embankment and ended in Hyde Park. It was so large that people were still pouring in the park many hours after the front of the march had arrived.
In the park Len McCluskey, general secretary of the giant union Unite, won a great cheer when he made a call for the march to be followed up with a general strike against austerity.  RMT general Se3cretary Bob Crow backed up this call.
 Retiring TUC general secretary Brendan Barber told the crowd: “The economy is flat on its back. There have been cuts in public services, people are worried about their jobs, there has been a squeeze in living standards – all this pain to reduce the deficit and it has demonstrably failed.” He called for a massive house-building programme and investment in Britain’s infrastructure.
Labour leader Ed Miliband accused the Prime Minister of clinging to policies which were not working. But he was booed when he added: “There will of course be hard choices,” and added: “I do not promise easy times. There will be some cuts,” prompting calls of “liar” and “rubbish”.
Miliband continued: "I have said whoever was in government now there would be some cuts, but this government has shown that cutting too far and too fast, self-defeating austerity is not the answer, it is not the answer to Britain's problems."
But there were cheers when he mentioned the incident in which Chancellor George Osborne had to pay for an upgrade after he sat in a first class train carriage with a standard class ticket.
 Frances O’Grady, the new TUC general secretary elect, said: “The numbers here today show the strength of feeling that austerity isn't working.” She added that the official figures on unemployment masked a rise in long-term unemployment and in underemployment, where people seeking and needing full employment could only get part-time jobs. The rising numbers of young unemployed were troubling, she said. “We will pay a high price if we don't get those people into jobs," she said. "There are millions in part-time work and underemployed. The Government is obsessed with deficit reduction. It must think again."
The Wales TUC chartered a train and coaches so that people from all over Wales could march in London. And in Glasgow people had come from all over Scotland and the north of England to add their voice to the national demonstration.

London comrades on the march!

 By New Worker correspondent

The NCP national banner was out on Saturday for the big TUC march through London and a rallying point for comrades and friends taking part in the big demonstration against austerity.

No to Hate Crime!

By New Worker correspondent

A COUPLE of hundred people gathered last Saturday evening in Trafalgar Square, despite the rain and cold, to remember the victims of hate crime.
Many would have taken part in the massive TUC march through London earlier in the afternoon and stayed on to join the No to Hate Crime candlelight vigil in the evening.
 The event was the fourth annual vigil organised by “17-24-30”, a registered charity formed to commemorate the victims of the neo-nazi London nail bomber, David Copeland. The numbers represent the dates in April 1999 when Copeland set off his bombs in Brixton Market, Brick Lane and the Admiral Duncan pub in Soho.
 Copeland targeted the Black, Asian and Gay communities of Brixton, Brick Lane and Soho in the hope that it would trigger racist violence across the capital. Over the course of three weeks he planted three nail bombs which killed three people and injured many more.
  Pictures from the archives of the anti-fascist magazine Searchlight helped to identify .Copeland as a former member of the British National Party with strong links to organised racists and fascists.
 17-24-30 believes that it is important to bring people together. The gatherings are important to those who have been affected by the attacks, they bring our local communities together, and provide families and friends with the support and opportunity to gather and remember loved ones.
 Since then the scope has been widened to include all victims of hate crime but especially those who are targeted for being gay, lesbian, bi or transsexual.
A number of speakers from the labour, community and LGBT movements addressed the meeting and music was provided by the L-Project and the London Gay Symphony Orchestra and messages of support from David Miliband, Nick Clegg, Boris Johnson and many others were read out.
 Finn McGoldrick (NUS LGBT campaign) told those assembled that BNP leader Nick Griffin had put the names and addresses of two gays who recently won compensation for being refused accommodation together at a small boarding house on Twitter along with a homophobic rant.
            Griffin also suggested a demonstration outside the men’s home to intimidate them. Since then Griffin’s own home address has been posted on Facebook.
            Bisi Alimi is a young gay Nigerian refugee who had to flee for his life to Britain. He told the assembly of the many friends and colleagues he has lost who have been killed because of the sexuality.
 He came to Britain bearing physical and emotional scars. “And while I ran away from Nigeria with the hope of finding solace in the UK, I had to deal with homophobic abuse and even physical assault because of my sexuality in Britain too,” he said.
            “I remember vividly the attack I experienced in south London in 2008, just a year after escaping death in Nigeria. I was slapped and beaten in Lewisham by a group of boys. My only sin was that I had kissed my then-boyfriend goodnight.”