Archive for the ‘Suffolk’ 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,
Lady Lane, The Beautiful Site for New Shrine to Baroness Thatcher.
Ben Gummer Ipswich MP (Con), Minister for Ipswich, Mayor of Ipswich and leader of the National Amalgamated Associated Operatives for Bankers* gives an alternative view in this guest post on Tendance Coatesy.
I met her several times over the years – the last time was at the funeral of Ted Heath – and she always had time for me.
She did more to form modern Britain than any other person. She reversed decline and gave the nation a most significant endowment, a renewed spirit of confidence, enterprise and endeavour.
I would like to add that Baroness Thatcher inspired me to go into politics.
As a lad, taking pot shots at some ne’er-do-well peasants on the Suffolk Estates of my father (now Baron Deben), I played my part in that spirit of endeavour and enterprise.
The people of Ipswich owe a lot to her work.
The closure of the Ransomes and Rapier in 1987 and the clearing of the Engineering firms, and other industry based at the head of the River Orwell paved the way for today’s much-needed Neptune Marina.
Without this reversal of decline would the much-loved Bistro On The Quay be there?
That is why, with a committee of local figures, we have formed the Lady Lane Shrine group.
A historic site, dedicated to our Lady, will become the destination for new pilgrimages.
This time in Baroness Thatcher’s Honour.
The young folk begging in the gutters of Ipswich and sleeping in doorways will find great consolation in this.
Gifts and tributes to the former PM can be placed at my Central Ipswich Office.
We are pleased to have received the sponsorship of Wonga Dot Com.
*From Ben’s Blog, latest post:
Three Cheers for the Bankers 29th March 2013.
My post a few weeks ago included a letter from City UK, which lobbies on behalf of the financial services sector. It is a clever outfit, because despite its name it works hard to represent companies and employees working outside London in other financial centres across the country. And they know how to lobby: with the letter came a factsheet on my constituency. Frankly, in the case of Ipswich they don’t need to do any explaining – the numbers speak for themselves.
There are two things to note here. First, that of all places in Britain we should be the last to indulge in ‘banker bashing’. There are a few in London who give this sector a bad name but in the main people working in financial services are very normal: they might even be your neighbour or the person who you sat next to on the bus this morning.
Secondly, this sector produces enormous amounts of wealth – the better part of £1 billion in Ipswich alone. Without it, we would not be able to afford Ipswich Hospital or your local primary school or the roads, not perfect as they all may be.
“Old, Decaying but Still Dangerous Sectarian Left”, says SWP.
Ipswich Trade Unionists, principally from the Trades Council, set up an anti-cuts campaign with other activists across the county in October 2010 (Here).
This body, the Suffolk Coalition For Public Services, has organised numerous protests.
It has been at the forefront of opposition to Tory-run Suffolk County Council’s cuts and privatisations.
In November 2010 a march of around 1,000 people was held in Ipswich. It was attended not only by the trades unions and concerned members of the public, but by the Labour and Green parties as well as socialist groups.
Labour supporter and Councillor Alasdair Ross commented at the time “the march was made up of, council workers, their families, Labour Party members, unions (FBU, UNITE, Unison, CWU, NUT and others) and students.”
In January 2011 the Coalition worked closely with the organisers to support a protest against the Suffolk Library Service being hiving-off and cuts in its funding. This attracted over 1,000 demonstrators (Here).
On November the 30th that year the Coalition and Trades Council organised a rally and march in Ipswich, with as many attending, over government threats to public sector pensions.
The Suffolk Coalition has held numerous smaller protests outside County Hall to protest against County Council cuts. We have held countless Street stalls, collected signatures for petitions, and have carried out house-to-house leafleting.
What is Ipswich Trades Council?
Ipswich Trades Council is, like all Trades Councils, the local lay wing of the Trades Union Congress.
Its job is to carry out the TUC’s policies – bringing them into the community – and to help voice the views of local trade unions.
The Trades Council has organised street stalls in Ipswich publicising the major TUC London demonstrations (2011,2012) in defence of Pensions and against austerity.
This is not its only function.
A particular job is to help bring unions together through solidarity in their disputes.
At the January meeting of the Trades Council the Postal Worker’s’ Union (CWU) brought up their campaign against plans to shut the Ipswich Sorting Office were brought up. From NAPO we heard of their opposition to plans to privatise the Probation Service.
As the public face of the TUC it operates democratically, and its minutes are a public record,
This is evidently not the view of the SWP as the following illustrates:
Socialist Workers Party. Pre-Conference Bulletin 2 November 2012 (Here).
Building a Branch From Scratch.
John Curtis begins by announcing that the SWP has now set up an Ipswich Branch, with 4 members.
They sell the paper (sometimes) in Ipswich on a Saturdays,
Their main activity has been to set up a ‘Unite the Resistance’ group.
This campaign, we know from Socialist Worker has as its objective to ,
Support resistance to all the attacks on working people”. This includes a range of protests, pushing for more strikes and campaigning for the TUC to call a general strike.
How have Ipswich SWP followed this objective?
Having even a small branch has enabled us to have an intervention around the anti-austerity movement. Our work around Unite the Resistance has begun to shake up the entire left in Ipswich. For decades the Socialist Party have dominated the left primarily through its control of the Trades Council which has acted as its de facto industrial arm.
This is plainly untrue.
Ipswich TUC is the arm of the …TUC.
There are more members of the Labour Party on the Trades Council than the Socialist Party.
Many delegates are simply members of trade unions, and no political party at all.
Few, I suspect, would accuse Andrew Coates of being a supporter of the Socialist Party.
What matters is….
Curtis really does not like the Ipswich Socialist Party.
Not at all.
He accuses them of having done nothing for the last ten years and, worse…
For the last 10 years they have been chewing the fat of their accumulated work by living on their past reputations – there is no SP branch in Ipswich or visible presence. The two members (now one as one died) never get their paper out at any meeting and all their work is done through the TU movement or Trades Council. Outside these structures they are a dead force but a living, breathing obstacle within them.
The ‘one who died’ was Roger MacKay, President of Ipswich Trades Council.
Roger was greatly respected in Ipswich, and the national labour movement. He was the main force in organising the protests outlined above.
Roger’s funeral last year was attended by hundreds.
But Curtis sees the SWP’s main aim as fighting the Socialist Party.
Concerned at the continued influence of the SP and their sectarian friends in the Trades Council’s own anti cuts campaign( there is an almost patriarchal attitude from the still heavily SP influenced Trades Council that every TU issue or anti cuts campaign has to be led by them) we decided to move fast and build for a UTR meeting for four days after the 20th October.
Accusing a woman of having a ‘patriarchal attitude” is unusual, but I let this drop.
In 3 days we booked a room, designed and had delivered 1000 leaflets and arranged for a broad platform of speakers – leader of the Labour Group on Suffolk Council, a Labour Ipswich Borough councillor (and in Ipswich the Labour council build council houses), the CWU’s Eastern Regional secretary, Ipswich NUT President and a PCS member (only the last is a comrade)!
At the meeting Curtis is reported (from numerous attendees) of having screamed at anybody he disagreed with. He accused a Labour Party member and another trade unionist of being “wreckers”., and the Secretary of the Trades Council of being “spineless” (he has used that word for me as well).
Curtis in fact is well-known for harassing people he disagrees with.
The Labour councillors present were not impressed when this went on at a public meeting.
Disgracefully, the Trades Council refused to back the UTR meeting ( our allies and comrade on the TC were away at the last TC meeting) after a nasty ex- IMG member, working in cahoots with the SP, denounced UTR as an SWP front.
It is not difficult to guess who this “nasty ex-IMG member” is.
Curtis ends with some boasting.
The SWP is pushing at an open door in Ipswich. In just one month we have established regular Saturday sales, a monthly branch meeting that acts as a focal point for socialist politics beyond the membership and rattled the cages of an old, decaying but still dangerous sectarian left. If we continue as we have started there are no reasons for thinking that Ipswich SWP will fail in firmly implanting itself amongst the working class.
John (East Anglia & Norwich).
This remains to be seen.
It is unfortunate if Curtis’ behaviour is presented by the SWP as a ‘model’.
It will be interesting to see if others follow,or have followed, his method of “building a branch”.
“Andy, this will be my only reply to you as I don’t make the effort to read your vile,nasty little rants against the SWP which pale into insignificance next to your filthy,spiteful and cowardly poison vis-a vis Islam.
If Unite the Resistance is a SWP front ( true we are the engine within it) what of Suffolk Coalition for Public Services ( which i support)? Who pulls the strings? Provides the leadership? The Trades Council does and who controls the Trades Council? There are many fantastic delegates to the Trades Council but the dominant person is a member of the Socialist Party and the TC itself has been little more than the industrial wing of the SP/Militant for 20 years.
You yourself are imbued with sectarian politics – you spoke at the TC before the first UTR meeting and said that the TC should have nothing to do with it as it is an SWP front.In other words unless you and Teresa McKay control something you are not willing to work with others.Narrow,minded conservative politics that you both espouse are the reason why UTR exists.
Your hatred of the SWP is well know.Sorry, but the SWP in Ipswich is here to stay. Soak it up or crack up.”
John Curtis SWP
These comments on this Blog demonstrate exactly what many people have always thought about you John.
This of course was the man calling for ‘unity’ with the narrow-minded conservative ‘string pullers’ and ‘poison’ spreaders a little while ago (actually in person he’s said a lot more in the same vein, including towards members of the Labour Party).
The Trades Council is very far from being a ‘front’ for anything but trade unions.
Note: E-Mail correspondence removed at addressee’s request.