Archive for the ‘Liberal Democrats’ 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.”
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,
A new cross-party group will be set up by senior Labour figures tomorrow in an attempt to heal the party’s rift with the Liberal Democrats and open the door to Lib-Lab co-operation in another hung parliament.
Labour for Democracy will try to build bridges with other progressive parties, including the Greens. But it will reach out to Nick Clegg’s party, with whom relations were stretched to breaking point when he took the Lib Dems into coalition with the Conservatives in 2010.
Although the launch was planned before last week’s Leveson report on press regulation, it is timely because Ed Miliband and Mr Clegg have backed the inquiry’s call for a new system
For good measure the Greens are added to the ‘progressive’ list.
The background is Labour for Democracy’s analysis of how ‘pluralism’ can further ’progressive goals’.
Support for progressive values and policies is not restricted to a single political party, as shown by our new analysis of polling data. A real desire to see progressive change means working with supporters of other political parties.’
‘Pluralism is simply a commitment to work with others, including members and supporters of other political parties if that increases our chances of achieving progressive change. While Labour values are most strongly supported by Labour voters, many supporters of other parties also share some of our values. No party today speaks exclusively for progressive opinion; none will do so in the fut
“All Labour members will work hard for every Labour vote. But whether we win the outright majority we seek, or end up with a hung Parliament, the change Britain needs will require the support of all who share our key values. Existing structures encourage tribalism, but Labour’s history has often been of working with others for progressive goals – in trades unions, community organisations, solidarity movements and defending the environment. Some of the changes we are proudest to claim – the NHS, the welfare state and devolution – would not have happened without the support of people outside the Labour movement. At a time when old allegiances to political parties are breaking down, yet organisations like 38 degrees are mobilising active and effective support, we need that approach more than ever.’
The launch of Labour for Democracy on 4 December is an attempt to break down tribal sectarianism and promote a pluralist culture within the Labour movement. The focus is not on coalitions or cross-party deals, but on finding ways of delivering what progressive voters want. We’ve already shown that, in the main, past Lib Dem voters hold similar values to Labour’s, and quite different to most Tory voters. It’s also clear that, despite the failures of the coalition, the public still generally want politicians to work together when they can, rather than exaggerate their differences.
The launch of this initiative has met instant hostile reaction.
Labour First have condemned the creation of the new “Labour for Democracy” group within the party, which according to the Independent will “will try to build bridges with other progressive parties, including the Greens” and “will reach out to Nick Clegg’s party, with whom relations were stretched to breaking point when he took the Lib Dems into coalition with the Conservatives in 2010.”
The Independent reports that the Group is “an attempt to heal the party’s rift with the Liberal Democrats and open the door to Lib-Lab co-operation in another hung parliament.”
Speaking to LabourList this morning, Secretary of Labour First, Luke Akehurst, said:
“The creation of this misnamed group, “Labour for Democracy” is a slap in the face for grassroots campaigners who are working flat out to beat all our political opponents, Greens and Lib Dems as well as Tories, UKIP and BNP, as we did comprehensively in the recent by-elections.
It is completely premature and defeatist to start flirting with the Lib Dems when all the opinion polls and by-elections show we have a realistic chance of a majority Labour government.
We need to continue to squeeze the Lib Dem and Green votes in order both to take seats off them and seats off the Tories. Any move which rehabilitates the Lib Dems and lets them off the hook for having put the Tories in power actually increases the chances of another hung parliament. Their behaviour in 2010 indicates their preferred coalition partner is the Tories.
We had naive talk about pluralism in 2010. The people making those noises should have learned their lesson. The Lib Dems are not a progressive party and the Greens are an anti-working class and anti-economic growth party. We should be seeking to defeat them both intellectually and at the ballot box, not pandering to them.”
There is little to add, immediately to this.
Except apart from the fact that everybody on the left and most of the Labour Party in the UK (including Ipswich) loathes the Liberal Democrats, and that ‘progressive’ is too windy to mean much, there is this:
The Labour for Democracy initiative will strongly remind many people of Charter 88 and the (now wound up) Democratic Left (DL) in the early 1990s. These groups advocated tactical voting, support for ‘anti-Conservative’ candiodates, right up to the 2011 election. They were open to Liberal Democrats and Greens who supported ‘proressice values’ above all on Constitutional issues.
Are Labour for Democracy linked to this tradition?
There is, as yet, no direct evidence.
The old Charter 88 and Democratic Left strategy for a ‘progressive alliance’ is not dead.
On the Web site produced by the remnants of Charter 88 and the Democratic Left (Charter 88 transformed itself , through its merger with the New Politics Network (what remained of the Democratic Left) into Unlock Democracy, we find this today:
“Beyond the Progressive Alliance
Charter 88 was very much a political response to Thatcherism and its basic strategy was to bring together the two parties of the centre and centre left around a programme of democratic and constitutional reform. Probably the high point of this strategy was the Cook-Maclennan talks prior to the 97 General Election between the Lib Dem’s and Labour which lead to joint programme of constitutional reform that included devolution, freedom of information and the HRA.
Though this strategy delivered much it was always a limited one. The reality was then and is now that if democratic change is going to happen it needs to appeal beyond a sterile left right divide. Democratic reform is not a left right issue but one that divides people along a libertarian authoritarian axis and there are people on the left and the right who recognise that our society needs more democracy not less.”
Nothing, it seems, feeds hope like failure.
The challenge over the next few years is not to recreate the alliance between people on the centre left of politics that was at the heart of Charter’s strategy, but to build new alliances that include all those who want to transform politics. Many of these alliances will be issue specific and like the one we created to deliver the Sustainable
Respect: Plans Gang aft agley.
On the eve of the election this appeared on the Respect Site.
We are on the edge of a political earthquake in British politics. In polling conducted at the weekend, the Respect candidate in the Rotherham by-election, Yvonne Ridley, has the lead over Labour. Labour has panicked and launched a vicious and negative campaign of dirty tricks against Respect but this has been sidelined by our magnificent positive campaign with the Respect battle bus, advertizing truck and campaign groups in every ward.
Polling conducted in the Croydon North by-election suggests that Lee Jasper, the Respect candidate, is now neck and neck with the Labour Party to win the constituency.
This is what happened (including the Middlesbrough by-election),
“Labour has won three by-elections, holding Croydon North, Middlesbrough and Rotherham parliamentary seats.
It increased its share of the vote in all three seats, but its majority was down in Rotherham, where the previous MP had quit over expenses claims.
The UK Independence Party came second in Middlesbrough and Rotherham, and finished third in Croydon North.”
How did Respect fare?
|Rotherham by-election, 29 November 2012|
|English Democrats||David Wildgoose||703||3.30|
|Liberal Democrat||Michael Beckett||451||2.11||-13.87|
|Trade Unionist & Socialist||Ralph Dyson||261||1.22|
|no description||Clint Bristow||29||0.14|
|Croydon North by-election, 2012|
|Liberal Democrat||Marisha Ray||860||3.5||-10.5|
|Christian Peoples||Stephen Hammond||192||0.8||N/A|
|National Front||Richard Edmonds||161||0.7||N/A|
|Monster Raving Loony||John Cartwright||110||0.4||N/A|
|Nine Eleven Was An Inside Job||Simon Lane||66||0.3||N/A|
|Young People’s Party||Robin Smith||63||0.3||N/A|
This is a good thing.
That is despite (as Toby says) the fact that the Labour winners in Rotherham and Croydon are part of the hidebound right-wing of the party.
It is still an anti-Coalition result.
The sensation of these elections is of course the UKIP vote.
These ‘fascists in blazers’ are the weevils of the British politics.
What for the left?
TUSC (261, 1,22 % in Rotherham and 277, 1,6% in Middlesbrough) and the Communist Party (119 votes) did not do well at all.
Ridley’s votes (1,778, 8, 3,4%) are far too many for any socialist to rejoice about.
Somebody who says this, ““[Respect] is a Zionist-free party… if there was any Zionism in the Respect Party they would be hunted down and kicked out. We have no time for Zionists.” She explained that government support “goes towards that disgusting little watchdog of America that is festering in the Middle East”. She went on to attack the Tories and Lib Dems, saying that all the mainstream parties are “riddled with Zionists”” represents forces that have no part in the labour movement.
Still one cannot but smile as ‘Rapper Jasper’s’ result: 707, 2,9%, that is, a lost deposit.
And at the pitiful attempts to draw comfort from their result by Respect supporters (wonder how long this link will last before these ‘democrats’ take it down).
The obvious fact is that Respect have drawn from the old (and now unused) Liberal Democrats’ by-election strategy: publish boosting made-up door-step reports and ‘polls’ just before an election.
And the truly magnificent score of the Rotherham Liberal Democrats (2,11% below an Independent, 2,73%) brings a spring to the step.
Better a Country Free than a County Sober!
The BBC says,
Ministers are to unveil plans later for a minimum price for alcohol in England and Wales as part of a drive to tackle problem drinking.
The Home Office is expected to publish a consultation on the proposal, which was first put forward in the government’s alcohol strategy in March.
A price of 40p per unit was suggested at the time.
But pressure has been mounting on ministers to follow Scotland’s lead, where 50p has been proposed.
The aim of a minimum price would be to alter the cost of heavily discounted drinks sold in shops and supermarkets. It is not expected to affect the price of drinks in pubs.
The Times predicted a 45p per unit minimum would be set and it said this would raise the price for the average can of beer or cider to £1.12.
According to the NHS website the average can of 4.5% strength lager contains around two units of alcohol, while a small glass of wine contains 1.5 units.
This will affect one group: poor drinkers.
Let us ignore all the ‘medical’ concern about alcohol and binge-drinking.
This is not true. Earlier this year this was published
There has been a long-term downward trend in the proportion of adults alcohol intake, as in 1998 75% of men and 59% of women drank in the week prior to report’s survey compared to 68% of men and 54% of women in 2010. Furthermore, the average weekly alcohol consumption for all adults was 15.9 units for men and 7.6 units for women and 26% of men reported drinking more than 21 units in a typical week. For women, 17% reported drinking more than 14 units in a typical week
The measure is all about cracking down on “”drunken mayhem” on Britain’s streets.
Or, to put more clearly, about dealing with the rabble.
In recent months Ipswich – apparently a ‘model’ for what could become the norm across the country – has ‘encouraged’ (a visit from the rozzers) off-licences not to sell super-strength lager and white cider.
There has been a hysterical campaign in the local media about street drinkers sipping tinnies of Special Brew and Frosty Jack near the centre of town.
The Council, and all local political parties, have joined in.
To cite a recent story from the Ipswich Star,
As the war on cheap super-strength alcohol is stepped up in Ipswich, a Star investigation has illustrated the size of the task facing the authorities.
Reducing the Strength
The Reducing the Strength campaign was launched in the town in September.
The campaign aims to stop the sale of cheap super-strength beer, lager and cider from off-licensed premises.
The campaign is a joint initiative between Suffolk Police, NHS Suffolk, Ipswich Borough Council, Suffolk County Council and the East of England Co-Operative Society.
Reducing the Strength asks off-licence owners to voluntarily remove super-strength products from their stores.
Yesterday police began rewarding shops which have signed up to the Reducing the Strength initiative, aimed at ridding Suffolk’s county town of the scourge of ultra-potent beers and ciders.
But high-alcohol beverages are still easily found in Ipswich.The Star was able to buy a three- litre bottle of cider – costing just £3.99 and containing more alcohol than the weekly recommended allowance for a man – within minutes of trying.
The 7.5 per cent proof Frosty Jacks cider contains 22.5 units – more than health experts’ 21-unit limit for men.
The cost per unit of 17p is less than a third of the 50p limit which prime minister David Cameron wants to impose.
Now there is a problem with street drinkers in Ipswich, as in many towns and cities across the country.
Why has it grown?
Policies of successive governments, known as ‘neo-liberalism’, or the free for all – for business – have excluded many people from the labour Market.
The Dole these days is only given to those who satisfy an increasingly rigorous set of criteria, turn up to bogus ‘employment’ schemes (3,5% success rate), and have their lives under constant surveillance.
Many, in the words of my mate Neil, say “fuck it, and go and drink cider in the park”.
Alcohol is only one of their choices.
Most mix the booze with even cheaper tranquilizers (Temazepam), and, frankly, any drug going.
The Left and Alcohol.
Some on the left agree with this clamp-down on poor drinkers.
Some cite the Scottish experience of raising prices. They claim it has been needed because they are particularly afflicted.
In Ken Loach’s The Angel’s Share there is a scene in that land where out-of-their-brains youngsters snaffle down a 3 litre bottle of Frosty Jack.
You can see this round here every day. I have left my gaff at 9 in the morning and seen people swigging Tenants Super at the end of the street.
This will not go away if the cost is raised. The hard-core will just beg and, possibly, shop-lift more.
But what is really behind the thinking of those on the left calling for the less well off to cut down on drinking?
In Britain there was a strong teetotaler movement inside the late Victorian and Edwardian labour movement.
Henry Hyndman though not a non-drinker (he liked his Bordeaux vintages) frowned on the workers imbibing strong drink. He once wanted to snatch a bottle of whisky away from SDF members playing cards on a post-Party meeting train.
Against this prejudice Robert Blatchford felt obliged to make a defence of moderate drinking in his popular Merrie England (1894).
The ILP initially made it policy for members to sign the non-drinking ‘pledge’ .
I can’t imagine my Whisky drinking Scottish ILP forebears liking that.
The policy lasted precisely a year.
Today we see people on the left who have given up changing the world and prefer to try to change (that is cajole) people.
Their attitude is often the same as Hyndman.
They can drink fine wines, good quality real ale, and cider.
But the rabble in the streets need ‘reforming’.
The Anarchist journal Now or Never replies,
With heavy drinking increasingly attacked by the Government and media, Tug Wilson suggests we look to history for guidance, and that it is once again time for drunkards everywhere to march under the banner of the Skeleton Army.
During the late 19th Century the recently formed Salvation Army were taking their message of virtuous clean living to the streets of Britain, deliberately targeting drunks, gamblers, prostitutes and other ‘undesirables’. The Salvation Army’s unconventional approach was abrasive to both the Christian establishment and many of those they were preaching to. In choosing to attack popular working class pastimes, they whipped up a violent grassroots reaction and their provocative style of disseminating their message often resulted in public disturbances. Towards the end of 1881 in Weston-Super-Mare a rag-tag bunch of libertines, drunkards, publicans and brothel-keepers began an organised opposition to the Salvation Army; the Skeleton Army. Very soon Skeleton Armies started appearing throughout the country.
The present anti-alcohol lobby is the modern temperance movement.
This measure is ill-intentioned, ill-conceived and will be ill-executed.
Join the new Skeleton army!
As Kevin has commented (below) I shall add this further example of hypocrisy, which I cut-and-pasted from his Blog,