Posts Tagged ‘Ipswich’
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.”
“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!
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.
Ipswich Tory Faction Fight Over Richard lll.
As the SWP brouhaha continues Ipswich Tory’s are descending into their own factional wars.
Key faction Document No1.
“If Richard III is innocent of the charges against him, then so is Chris Huhne.”
An article in the spectator here, puts it just like that.
the late king’s spine was indeed twisted by scoliosis and one of his shoulders was noticeably higher than the other. Those particular pieces of Tudor and Shakespearian “spin” were no more than the plain truth.
Here’s the charge sheet
The murder of his two nephews, the Princes in the Tower
The murder of the saintly and mentally fragile Henry VI
The decapitation of William, Lord Hastings
The cold-blooded execution in Salisbury market place of his own chief henchman and former partner in crime, Henry Stafford, the 2nd Duke of Buckingham.
The seizure and later quiet murder of Lord Rivers and Sir Richard Grey
As the spectator article says
Richard’s most recent biographers Professor Michael Hicks and Desmond Seward, and the respected historian Alison Weir – have come to the same conclusion: contemporary evidence rather than “Tudor propaganda” leaves little room for doubt that he is guilty of the crimes for which posterity (and Shakespeare) have traditionally condemned him. To pretend otherwise, as so many Ricardians do, is sentimental fantasy.
Let there be no talk of a state funeral for this villainous psychopathic hunchbacked monster of a tyrant. Just unceremoniously throw his bones in a council incinerator.
Document 2, ‘Stephen”.
“Richard was not guilty on any of those counts – do you know any history? Perhaps you think he was conspiring with Mossad (cr. c.1948) or something?”
Document 3, “Kevin”.
“Mossad’s motto is ‘By Deception make War’ Richard III wasn’t deceptive in his tyranny. He openly reigned with terror.”
Document 4, “Stephen”.
“You are comparing him to your friends Assad and Imadinnerjacket – which is totally risible.”
“Richard III was an antisemite.”
There is more, a lot more.
Stephen’s faction, The “Richard the Third Society” controls the Ipswich Tory Central Committee.
Sources indicate that “Kevin” has been taken to “Tower Ramparts” and given a good talking to by Ipswich Conservative Party Officials.
“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”.