Archive for the ‘Conservative Party’ Category
Last night Enrico Tortolano, spoke on neo-liberal economics and politics to a public meeting at he UNITE offices held by the Ipswich People’s Assembly Against Austerity.
Up to 30 people turned up her brother Tortolano, who has worked on human rights with social movements in Latin America, and now is a research officer for the PCS union as well as writing for Tribune.
Enrico gave a talk of great clarity on how the wealthy have established free-market economics as the foundation of state policy in many countries. Everybody is told to be ‘self-reliant’ as taxes are lowered for the well-off and all forms of redistribution are undermined. We have, Tortolano said, crept back to pre-First World War levels of inequality.
In Britain attacks on welfare and privatising the state were being pushed through as part of what Naomi Klein called the “shock doctrine”. That is, taking advantage of a crisis to push through extreme free-market ideas.
He noted that the first to apply this method had been Augusto Pinochet , the Chilean dictator.
The recently deceased Margaret Thatcher had admired the leader of the Chilean coup, which had left thousands of left opponents dead and many more imprisoned and tortured.
From annual get-togethers in Davos (Switzerland), to thousands of ‘think-tanks’ and sympathetic media, their message has been relayed by all the main political parties in the West.
British politics seem to be restricted to the limits set by the ‘orthodox’ free-market economics.
The People’s Assembly, Tortalano said, offered a real opportunity for the left to unite and to put forward a different economic and political strategy. Ultimately the threat to the planet’s resources from the market would affect everybody.
The audience, which included trade unionists, local Labour councillors, library campaigners, and activists from the Green and socialist parties, joined in a fruitful discussion on this talk.
It was suggested that the People’s Assembly should take up the issue of low pay (very important in Ipswich), of the Bedroom Tax, and the fight against the wave of further cuts in public spending that will affect council (above all County Council) services in the coming months.
The Secretary of the Trades Council, Teresa Mackay pointed out that 80% of the cuts were still to come.
It was argued that the People’s Assembly needs a constructive and a positive message. It was not enough to just fight neoliberal economics and the hatred of the poor and migrant workers stirred up by the Liberal-Tory Coalition.
The left has to offer a democratic and egalitarian way of creating institutions for equality and collective need.
A co-ordinator will organise E-Mail contacts for the Ipswich People’s Assembly.
Transport will be available from Ipswich to take people to the London Assembly.
In the coming weeks we will be organising a campaign locally to draw attention to the links between Primark and other retail outlets and the terrible deaths of garment workers in Bangladesh.
As an activist said, “The numbers of the dead just keep rising.”
French Left’s Dilemma After Front National Breakthrough in 1984.
Like Cabu’s Grand Duduche you start by feeling that you don’t want to have anything to do with anybody who voted UKIP.
This came to me when the BBC’s Look East showed a chippie in Great Yarmouth. That town elected UKIP Councillors to Norfolk County Council. The chip-shop owner was vociferous in his UKIP support, as were many others in the seaside resort.
I like Yarmouth chips. They sell them with a choice of sauces. Inspired by Belgium custom you can get mayonnaise and curry, amongst other flavours.
I will make a point of not going to Yarmouth for my annual day-trip.
The party now has 15 councillors in Norfolk and scored 23.47% of the county vote - Conservative 32.6pc, Labour 22.75pc, Liberal Democrat 10.97pc, Green 6.55pc, Independent 3.27pc, Christian People’s Alliance 0.13pc, United People’s Party 0.02p
They got a councillor in Ipswich too, in Whitehouse and Whitton.
I will not feel comfortable in the company of anybody who backed James Crossley, or those , 20% of the electorate across town (and they didn’t stand in 2 divisions) who voted for them in Ipswich.
But that’s a reaction, not a strategy.
We need clarity on how to deal with UKIP.
For a long time people on the left have been convinced that the threat from the far-right came from the BNP and the English Defence League.
Principally that there was a “massive surge” in hostility towards Muslims.
This view was reinforced by a whole industry of speculation about the Islamic ‘Other’.
This was always a skewed analysis: there is a little evidence that the masses were ready to engage in a wholesale attack on Muslims.
‘Islamophobia’ was also used by those who took this line to denigrate those who backed the secularists, feminists and trade unionists who, after the Arab Spring, have had to face right-wing Islamist governments.
Now we have a party that has focused on an ‘Other’ that is lot closer to home: the Eastern European hordes from Bulgaria and Romania.
Standing in, of course, for the ‘foreigners‘ already here.
In place of abstract ruminations about the Other, we had better look at an older anti-racist idea: scapegoating.
This is not a vote of the ignored’ working class’s expressing their real needs.
It is the result of a conscious attempt to deflect people’s anger at austerity, stagnating wages, and mounting personal debt, onto an easy target.
Foreigners, we know, are not the only thing UKIP are about.
They want to make life easier for British capitalists, they attack trade unions and the poor, and their cultural views are a mix of Norman Tebbit, Jeremy Clarkson and the US Tea Party.
They are dyed-in-the-wool free-marketeers.
UKIP councillors will no doubt often make fools of themselves.
But we cannot count on their ability to self-destruct.
We, the left, need to attack them where they are weak: are they for austerity or are they against it?
What will they do to help working people defend their rights?
Will they support the Living Wage?
Will the fight against tax breaks for companies and the rich?
Will they back the NHS?
Before anything else the Left should shout, loudly, its internationalism!
Against hatred between the peoples!
For European unity of the peoples, the workers and the poor!
For a European Social Republic: level wages and benefits upwards!
Down with the Xenophobes!
Down with UKIP!
Tory Judy Terry is Out: The Heavens Cry their Joy!
Suffolk Election Results leave the Tories in Charge.
Labour and Co-operative 3
Liberal Democrat 7
UK Independence Party 9
This is a good result for Labour and their candidates who have worked really hard, year in and year out, on the County Council (where they were only 4 till today) and have fought against austerity and privatisation tooth-and-nail.
It is a good result for the labour movement more widely as Suffolk Labour Parties have worked closely with the union and left campaigners against the Tory-led Council cutters and floggers-off.
One result brought great joy to the progressive Suffolk masses: the defeat of Judy Terry in Rushmere (figures and intro from Ipswich Spy).
“The Conservatives have LOST the Rushmere Division, previously held by Cabinet Member Judy Terry, to Labour’s Sandra Gage.
Ellis, Peter (UKIP) 401
Gage, Sandra (Labour) 1117
Jackson, Dale (Ind) 34
Jones, Garath (Lib Dem) 90
Terry, Judy (Con) 628
Wilmot, Kirsty (Green) 94″
As a County Council Cabinet member she has pushed through the privatisation agenda, notably creating a so-called Industrial and Provident Society (private ‘charity’) for the Library service. This has caused great damage.
Overall Labour made gains in urban districts, notably Ipswich, which has more in common with parts of London (including the ‘inner city’) than rural Suffolk.
In my own ward there was a very a good result (I campaigned for Mandy – Labour),
Labour have GAINED the St Helen’s Division from the Liberal Democrats, who were pushed into last place, with UKIP second, two votes ahead of the Tories, and the Green’s in fourth.
Gaylard, Mandy (Labour) 900
Lockington, Tim (Lib Dem) 155
Parkinson, Katherine (Con) 359
Tinney, Mark (UKIP) 361
Wilmot, Tom (Green) 201
There was also a by-election,
Labour have taken the Borough Council by election in Alexandra, a gain from the Liberal Democrats. Turnout was 27.6%.
Cook, John (Labour) 772
Cotterell, Stephen (UKIP) 279
Phillips, Edward (Con) 274
Toye, Kenneth (Lib Dem) 126
Wilmot, Thomas (Green) 193
“So the Liberal Democrats have gone from first to last in what was a bastion of Liberal Democrat power in the town – just three years ago they held all three Borough Council seats, plus the County Council seat. It means the Liberal Democrats are reduced to just three councillors on Ipswich Borough Council.” So says the Spy.
In fact it was not so much as a Liberal Bastion but a freak base, created by boundary changes, and a protest vote against the Labour government, which was always going to go back to Labour when real politics kicked in.
The worst result is in Whitehouse and Whitton where UKIP slipped in.
9 UKIP councillors on the County Council is a disaster.
They did well elsewhere though not enough to win.
Note that in the area I live (St Helen’s/Alexandra, which cover the town centre and is largely working class or employee, and highly ‘mixed’, including a substantial migrant worker population) UKIP came above the Liberals and even the Tories with hardly any local activists whatsoever.
Or indeed none...
Their vote comes from a ‘virtual’ campaign of leafleting, and the full-time agitation of the far-right daily press, the Mail, the Express and the Sun.
They beat poor old Kevin in his vain attempt to win Chantry for the Tory (Holy Roller) Party.
UKIP put the Tories into 4th and 5th (no guessing which Tory came 5th) and the Liberals, way out on the margins at Monster Raving levels of support. (Algar, Kevin (Con) 1043 Armitage, Helen (Labour) 2169 Broom, Barry (Green) 404 Cenci, Nadia (Con) 1096 Fletcher, Julie (Lib Dem) 243 Gardiner, Peter (Labour) 2051 McHardy, Stuart (Lib Dem) 146
Newton, Robert (UKIP) 1301)
Across the County UKIP have pushed the Liberals out to the fringes (7 seats) and are not far behind Labour.
Campaigning on an openly racist basis, against the threat of Romanian and Bulgarian migrants, they join a sorry list of European far-right populist parties.
The left has long shouted about the menace of the tiny and irrelevant English Defence League.
Dealing with UKIP is going to be a lot harder than shouting ‘nasty Nazis’ at them.
But this is a start,
“Massive Threat to Our Local Services.
No it’s not the cuts, austerity, or the recession.
UKIP leaflets distributed in Ipswich over the weekend begin by stating,
Within a year, 29 million Romanians and Bulgarians will gain the right to live, work and draw benefits here.
Only UKIP is taking seriously his massive threat to out local housing, schools, health and council services.
Ipswich Spy downplays UKIP’s potential here.
Certainly after reading press reports over the weekend we come away with the – justified – view that a bigger gaggle of cranks, nutters, racists and venomous right-wing extremists would be hard to find.
The Spy points out that,
Locally UKIP don’t have a branch in Ipswich. They have branches all over the Eastern Region, but none in Ipswich. The UKIP agent is from the Bury St Edmunds branch, although he was the UKIP candidate here in Ipswich at the last General Election and he lives in Stowmarket. So they don’t have the huge numbers of activists the Liberal Democrats could boast before they came into Government.
One could add that their candidate, Mark Tinney (for St Helen’s) has a shaky grasp on what local councils do.
His main policy plank is to “try to reduce parking charges and extended free parking in the town centre”.
These are County Council elections.
Parking is the responsibility of the Borough Council.
His other ideas are more police visibility and encouraging ”more business for Ipswich”.
We suspect that nobody will read this part of the leaflet.
They will alight on the ‘threat’ of hordes of Bulgarians and Romanians descending on Ipswich.
We consider, based on what Ipswich people say, that they will have more of an echo than Ipswich Spy thinks.
Informed people may well ‘ridicule” UKIP’s claims.
But the Tories and the right-wing media have relentlessly pursued the line that migrant workers are a ‘menace’.
They have continually attacked ‘Europe’, the EU’s social policies, the ‘regulation’, the ‘bureaucracy’ and the ‘waste’.
It’s no good bleating about what a bunch of odd-balls UKIP are.
They have feathered the UKIP nest.
Much of the Left too has failed to stand up for Europe.
Sections of the organised left have attacked the EU to such a point that they fail to distinguish between the free-market policies of the present Commission (backed by all the major states, and only feebly challenged by the French left government), and the potential of a Continent-wide union of the peoples.
If they want to get rid of the European Union what would they replace it with?
Many on the left go very quiet at this point.
Do they seriously think an “Independent” Socialist Britain or an “independent” Socialist Scotland would come about from leaving the EU?
To challenge the hatred and division spread by UKIP and the Tories, we need the politics of internationalism.
Unity between the peoples, between the working classes and the poor, across Europe.
For this we stand for a European Social Republic!
Excellent article on the International Socialist Network by Kieran Crowe,
I think we need to talk about how we are going to deal with the People’s Assembly.
The piece continues,
I have been trying to locate some good data on the effectiveness of anti-cuts campaigns, and must confess I’ve drawn a bit of a blank. There does not seem to be brilliant data out there to say where cuts have have been successfully blocked. Suffice to say, the movements have not been without successes – though they have not been across the board anywhere, it has been far from impossible to organise against cuts.
The role of the organised left in the anti-cuts movement has, to say the least, been inconsistent and marked at times with gross sectarianism. As mentioned before, the Labour left has taken some time to find any footing at all with opposition to austerity, due to the key role of New Labour and Labour councillors, but they seem to have regained the initiative to a large extent with opposition to the bedroom tax. The smaller centre-left parties have been similarly contradictory: Green and Nationalist councils have pushed cuts through, while their activists in other areas have criticised Labour for exactly the same.
The role of the far left has not been particularly more glorious. The 2008 crisis prompted by the collapse of American hedge funds led us to a big push on anticapitalist rhetoric, but most of the tactical and strategic initiatives we produced were objective failures. Numerous campaigns and front groups were founded, usually as more or less exclusive tools of the founding organisation and with grand goals that they were objectively unable to pull off. The activists (often full-timers) pushing them were highly enthusiastic though, and often so adamant that ‘their united front’ was the one that would deliver victory that they would happily engage in Popular Front of Judea arguments with their counterparts for other groups pushing very similar looking campaigns.
Need we rehearse the disputes around the National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) and the so-called Unite the Resistance? Not to mention TUSC?
One development we are going to have to discuss is the People’s Assembly Against Austerity (PA). The PA is, in some ways, not really new as a concept – it is an outgrowth of the ‘Coalition of Resistance’ campaign that the was launched when several left groups were founding similar initiatives and that has received significant backing from the leaderships of several trade unions, notably the centre-left leadership of the mass Unite union under Len McCluskey.
The PA has, to say the very least, managed to stand out by being on a considerably larger scale than previous conferences. With a venue for over 2,000 booked, there is already the possibility of spill-over space being hired. This would make the PA four to five times larger than its nearest rival and probably one of the biggest activist conferences for a generation in Britain. The publicity it has generated has similarly been far greater than previous events: it has been plugged in the Guardian and denounced in the Spectator, which is a rare breakthrough into the mainstream, recalling a little the publicity that Stop the War got at its height.
My immediate reaction was to get on board.
There is, inevitably, a layer of the left that will attack the PA this way and make a point of principle out of it: witness the anarcho-miserablist Ian Bone of Class War, a man who famously advised people to stay away from anti-war demos in 2003, who has pledged to stand outside the PA venue, telling attendees how very wrong they are. If we take our activism seriously, we must find a mid-position between nodding along to McCluskey and abstaining on the sidelines with people like Bone who just think they’re smarter than everyone else.
Which will be fun, if nothing else.
My guess is the right approach to the PA would be to intervene through and as part of delegations to it from genuine campaigning groups. Most IS Network members ought to find this easy: we have, most of us, been part of anti-cuts groups at some stage, or can easily join one. Going into an anti-austerity body with the express purpose of getting it to participate in the PA would, in fact, be a useful thing to do and might help reinvigorate groups that have stalled.
This is in tune with what many of us feel.
Something I feel to be worth throwing into the debate is the role of trade union councils – in Barnet the trades council was central to the founding of the anti-cuts group and manages to remain in alliance with it even as it operates with its own autonomy. Anti-cuts groups elsewhere that have become moribund and trades councils that have been conservative for decades could potentially be revitalised in local areas if they get encouragement and support from similar groups that are doing better, giving us a far wider pool of activity to operate.
As a Trades Council activist I could not agree more.
There is also likely to be an interesting debate about regional People’s Assemblies later in the year – which have the potential to be very large and attract further layers of activists. Regional PAs would be quite different from a national one – indeed if you want a version of the event that is less ‘top table’, this may be what you would end up producing. It is still not counterposed to the national event.
One thing I do not believe can be argued is that that the event can be simply abstained from, though if other people do have other ideas for fighting austerity, we should hear about those too.
This analysis is so spot on that I nothing more to add.
Obviously The International Socialist Network is going places.