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Suffolk Libraries Under Threat.

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Concern Grows as Suffolk County Council Tories Try to Stop Libraries Connecting with the Public.

More than 50 jobs could go at Suffolk libraries due to budget cuts

EADT. Paul Geater.

More than 50 jobs at Suffolk libraries are under threat as the service is being forced into a major restructure following two years of serious budget cuts.

Bosses have written to 52 staff telling them that their posts are under threat. Many work only a few hours a week and the job losses amount to 15 full-time equivalent posts.

Formal consultation starts on the job losses at the start of next week and the service restructure is due to be in place by April next year – none of the county’s 44 library branches are expected to close and opening hours should not be affected.

The restructure comes after the library service budget was cut by £230,000 by Suffolk County Council in April – and that followed a £300,000 cut last year.

The service has recently been awarded a £700,000 grant by the Arts Council, but that is for a specific project and cannot be used to subsidise basic services.

Suffolk Libraries Chief Executive Alison Wheeler said this would be the first major reorganisation of the service since 1990: “Then the work of the libraries service was very different to what it is today, but we understand this will be a very difficult time for those going through the redundancy process,” she said.

Over the next two weeks there are a series of meetings for library staff across the county to hear more about the plans and those directly involved in the redundancy process will have a 45-day consultation process.

Ms Wheeler added: “We do of course recognise that this is very stressful for people affected, and we are doing what we can to ensure that they are well informed, and have plenty of opportunity to give their views.

“What we all care about is ensuring that Suffolk’s libraries have a sustainable future.”

The library service was set up as an industrial and provident society in 2012 to run Suffolk’s libraries on behalf of the county council – it relies largely on finance from the county but its buildings in towns and villages have become community hubs as well as places to borrow books.

All the branches have remained open and Ms Wheeler said this remained a key aim of the service as it prepares to restructure itself for the future. Ms Wheeler herself is planning to take early retirement from the service early in the new year once a successor has been appointed.

Campaigners opposed the creation of an Industrial and Provident society on the grounds that it would both remove direct democratic accountability for Suffolk Libraries and would not, in the long run, shelter the libraries from the hostile treatment towards all public services by the Conservative ruling group on the County Council.

Suffolk has been spared the wholesale closure of libraries that has wreaked havoc on the services in many parts of the country.

The dedicated staff are to be congratulated on their efforts to open the service to wider communities and to keep the libraries as welcoming public spaces.

But the drip drip of cuts has began to eat into the provision of books, and has led to the almost complete removal of periodicals, from Private Eye to the Times Literary Supplement, from the central library.

Coincidentally or not Suffolk Libraries was a subject of informal discussion very recently (last night) amongst Labour activists, including representatives of the Labour group on the County Council.

Volumes of important texts have been sold off for not more than a few pence.

The number of qualified – and therefore better paid –  librarians working in the service is approaching zero.

Efforts to raise money include this:

Suffolk Libraries launches new supporters’ scheme

People can sign up at three different price levels: £20 for Silver membership, £50 for Gold, or £150 for Platinum. For more information and to apply, visit the Suffolk Libraries Extra page, call 01473 351249 or visit any library. You can also email extra@suffolklibraries.co.uk if you have any questions about the scheme.

All money raised will go into a dedicated Development Fund which will be used to support and improve the services we provide.

Tony Brown, Chair of Suffolk Libraries, said: “Suffolk Libraries is determined to provide the best service we can to the people of Suffolk and to make a positive difference to the lives of as many people that live here, even if we face continuing financial pressures. We want to do our bit and raise additional income which will be used to improve the services we provide to communities across Suffolk.

“All our other customers will continue to get the same free services and benefits, we just want to provide something extra for those who feel able to give us some extra support.”

This is a matter of deep concern.

Written by Andrew Coates

July 26, 2017 at 11:24 am

Skwawkbox Caught out Scaremongering (Lying) Again – on Universal Credit Serious Threats to the Disabled.

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Past Lies by Skwawkbox; Now they spread Fear amongst Disabled.

The latest scaremongering by Skwawkbox has caused great distress.

They put about the rumour that disabled people will be subject to this,

DISABLED CLAIMANTS TOLD: 2 YRS TO GET JOB OR BE SANCTIONED FOR A YEAR.”  17th of July.

The government is pressing ahead with the roll-out of its Universal Credit (UC) replacement to the benefits system in spite of huge delays and problems – and continuing problems so ingrained that foodbank use has increased sharply in every area where is has been implemented.

UC contains a draconian set of provisions, including a ‘Claimant Commitment’ (CC) – a set of imposed requirements to which the claimant has no right of appeal whatever. As the government’s guidance on CCs states:

There is no right of appeal if a claimant refuses to accept their Claimant Commitment and the requirements that have been set out in it.

A JCP adviser – who might be incompetent, inexperienced, bitter, have a personality clash with the claimant or just simply be having a bad day – is the final arbiter of whether a CC is reasonable and achievable, and even a patently bad decision cannot be appealed for a higher opinion.

The key bit is this:

A fixed time to find a job – or a one-year sanction? A sanction is the immediate and complete removal of support. Anyone who has seen Ken Loach’s superb I, Daniel Blake knows how devastating this is and what the consequences can be.

And the most hideous aspect of this hideous system is that it applies to disabled people. Two years to find work or you’re cut off from support.

It’s hard to imagine that this could be true, that anyone could be so lacking in humanity as to devise such a system, let alone enforce it. But it is true. A DWP insider told the SKWAWKBOX:

They are now furiously backtracking: IMPORTANT: WRAG/SANCTION – DON’T PANIC YET.

Earlier today the SKWAWKBOX published an article about the application of the Universal Credit (UC) ‘claimant commitment’ to disabled people. That article was based on information from a recent DWP employee and the details were confirmed before publication by a current DWP employee of 15 years experience. It indicated that disabled people not placed in the ‘Support Group’ by the DWP’s contracted medical assessors would have two years to find work and would then face sanction.

However, others have challenged whether the claimant commitment would be applied in this way, so the SKWAWKBOX has checked with other DWP veterans.

And has received mixed answers.

So the real situation may not be as bad as sources originally indicated – but it’s so unclear that the only thing everyone agreed on is that the rules are opaque and confusing.

So don’t panic yet. We’ll bring you a definitive answer as soon as one can be obtained.

There seems to be pattern about Skwawkbox’s behaviour.

  • First they spread outrageous panic inspiring lies.
  • Then they deny that they circulated them without careful consideration and qualification, not to mention ‘research’.
  • Finally, the accuse anybody who criticises their attention seeking sensationalism of being establishment touts, and take up the position of stout denial – that they are at fault in any way.

We await the latter ready and willing to do battle with those who have caused distress to people we know and love.

More see Bob Pitt: Skwawkbox — an embarrassment to the Left.

The reality, however, is that Skwawkbox functions as a sort of left-wing mirror image of the right-wing tabloid press, or of alt-right sites like Breitbart News. It employs the same unscrupulous, sensationalist journalistic methods, but for opposite political ends. Skwawkbox appears incapable of grasping that socialist aims cannot be achieved by such anti-socialist means.

And Phil:  The Alt-Left: A Critical Appreciation.

In his critique of Skwawkbox, Bob Pitt argues that blog proprietor Steve, and by extension the rest of the alt-left stable, blur the line between political analysis and conspiracy theorising – and establishes this via a forensic analysis of Steve’s piece on Grenfell and his argument the media were subject to a D Notice. As such, he suggests they have a cavalier attitude to the truth similar to the fake news we find peddled by Breitbart and co, except from the diametrically opposed perspective. Because these pieces can then easily be picked apart by fact-checking, Bob believes they flout journalistic ethics and embarrass the left as a whole.

Written by Andrew Coates

July 18, 2017 at 4:52 pm

“That’s Bollocks”, Man Sums Up Theresa May’s Answer to Question as GIFs go Wild.

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People used GIFs to characterise May’s performance as hopeless and self-damaging.

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Audience member mutters ‘that’s bollocks’ at Theresa May’s answer on funding for the NHS.

Written by Andrew Coates

May 30, 2017 at 11:07 am

The ‘People’s Question Time: Brexit.” Lindsey German: “a chance to shape the future of British society along egalitarian lines.”

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Brexit: Lindsey German says, “..a chance to shape the future of British society along egalitarian lines.”

This is being organised the ‘People’s Assembly‘.

The People’s Question Time: Brexit – What Are Our Demands?
7pm, Thursday 19 January, St Pancras Church, Euston Road, NW1 2BA. Register your place: https://pqtjan2017.eventbrite.co.uk/

Panel includes:
Emily Thornberry MP – Shadow Foreign Secretary, Labour Party
Amelia Womack – Deputy Leader, Green Party
Kevin Courtney – General Secretary, National Union of Teachers
Lindsey German – People’s Assembly
Malia Bouattia – NUS President
Steve Turner – Assistant General Secretary, UNITE
(more tbc)

This is their puff: 


Do you have a question for our panel? Submit one when registering for a chance to put it to the event.

This has been a year full of surprises; the Political landscape is changing at an unprecedented rate. Brexit has been hugely divisive and has created a dynamic and unpredictable situation.

Our new (un-elected) Prime Minster and her cabinet clearly have no real plan. One thing is for sure, if the last 6 years are anything to go by, if the Tories are left to handle Brexit negotiations on their own we’ll see a deal that suits the bankers, the bosses and the corporations. What should we be demanding from the government that means Brexit is negotiated in the interests of the people? However you voted in the EU referendum, we need to put pressure on the Tories to ensure they don’t use Brexit as a way of increasing attacks on the majority, continuing austerity, whipping up racist divisions in our community and scapegoating immigrants.

The idea that Brexit, whose purpose is to serve the bankers, the bosses and the corporations, and to attack migrant workers, can be effectively changed through demands that it is “negotiated in the interests of the People’ is a straightforward, to put it simply, lie.

Speaking for the People’s Assembly (who have never debated the issue in public still less asked supporters to vote on the issue) Lindsay German holds these views.

Next stop… the People’s Brexit (3rd of November 2016)

The missteps of the ruling class can create space for our side, notes Lindsey German

No doubt influenced by her groupuscules belief in the ‘actuality of the revolution’ German goes into say,

The job for all those on the left now should be not to overturn that decision but ensure that the ruling class’s division is turned in our favour. We need to fight for an outcome that ensures a solution to the NHS funding crisis, a solution to the housing crisis, a raising of workers’ wages and employment rights, as well as total opposition to scapegoating of migrants and to racism in all its forms. 

….

….a chance to shape the future of British society along egalitarian lines. This now has an urgency given the likelihood of a general election next year. It means putting forward these demands, mobilising around them, building trade union strength, doing everything to support Corbyn in these electoral battles, and trying to give a voice to the millions of working people, whichever way they voted, who are looking for an alternative.

If Brexit is the occasion for this “chance to shape the future of British society along egalitarian lines” then we are indeed in the actuality of great revolutionary events.

How Brexit will do anything but hinder the fight to resolve the NHS funding crisis, a solution to the housing crisis, a raising of workers’ wages and employment rights,  is less than clear. As well as a being a major cause of the scapegoating of migrants and to racism in all its forms it is becoming part of these crises.

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Well-established Rumour has it that this is German’s coming Retirement cottage. 

Looking forward to evenings eating toasted crumpets with honey, while Rees warms his slippers on the wood fire.

Written by Andrew Coates

December 1, 2016 at 1:01 pm

Political Confusionism in London: The Brockley Festival of Ideas.

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A Festival of Ideas for Change -November 20th.

What a world! Inequality gone mad! Democracy, a hollow sham! Quantitative Easing pours money in the pockets of the rich – and debt, debt, debt for the rest!

Corporations write the laws, finance politicians, call out tunes for the daily trudge! Arms industries feed terror and war – and our so-called ‘politicians’ are their bagmen!

Sixty per cent of citizens need drugs, legal or illegal, to get through the day! And millions in the U.S. are considering voting for a medieval devil straight out of Hieronymus Bosch, named Donald Trump…

Here in Brockley, South-East London, we are holding a Festival of Ideas for Change. No party politics, no celebrity twaddle, just GOOD ideas which could transform our world! If you don’t think we need change, keep taking those pills! Otherwise: Brockley today, tomorrow the world!

It’s a free event, but places are limited. To make sure you have a place, book FREE ticket(s) here:

Brockley Festival of Ideas for Change Sunday 20 November 2016, 10am-5pm. The Mural Hall, Prendergast Hilly Fields College, SE4 1LE 10:00 Registration Tea and coffee available 10:30 Festival opens Welcome Morning Chair: Anthony Russell Clare Cowen, Brockley Society Session 1: PARTICIPATION AND DEMOCRACY Sean Coughlan – Broadcaster The future of education Ivo Mosley – Author A constitution for a genuine democracy Swetam Gungah – Mathematical Physicist: Sensible about science Camilla Berens – South East London Community Energy: Creating local energy Michael O’Keefe – Positive Money Change Money, Change the World 11:30 Questions and discussion 12:00 Session 2: A FAIRER WORLD Natasha Wort – Uniting for Peace How to save the world – A Buddhist’s Guide Tassia Kobylinska – Filmmaker, Goldsmiths College Film as social action Lui Smyth – Anthropologist Unconditional basic income for all 12:30 Questions and discussion 13:00 Lunch break View stalls at back of hall 14:00 Afternoon Chair: Clare Cowen Session 3: AN INCLUSIVE SOCIETY Gabriel Gbadamosi – Writer The creative community as a condition of multicultural society Andy Worthington – Journalist and activist Demonising ‘the other’: Tackling the rise of racism and xenophobia Rosario Guimba-Stewart Lewisham Refugee and Migrant Network Refugees and their challenges Jacqueline Walker – Author From life to Action 15:00 Questions and discussion 15:30 Session 4: BUILDING A NEW ECONOMY Bruce Mauleverer QC – The International Law Association International law, to be read on his behalf by Bob Barrett Aeron Davis – Professor of Political Communication, Goldsmiths What has the financial system ever done for us? Helen Mercer – Lecturer in Economics The Private Finance Initiative: how to end the rip-off Oliver Lewis – Campaigner Bring back British Rail Anthony Russell – Cultural Historian An ethos for a social renaissance.

Ivo Mosley background, “Ivo Mosley is the grandson of fascist leader Oswald Mosley. His book, In the Name of the People,  is an analysis of the non-democratic nature of Western democracies and, as it says on his website, “the strange lack of freedom that Western peoples experience in bondage to debt”.

Ivo Mosley on the “Money Power” without the anti-semitism, ”  nowadays bankers are Anglo-Saxon, Chinese, African, Indian, Jewish, Christian, Islamic or whatever: assorted individuals who have no more consuming interest than to make lots of money.” (Ivo Mosley Antisemitism and Banking also see this: Guest Author on Positive Money).

bank robbery money system

Ivo Mosley is associated with this:  Positive Money at the Labour and Conservative party conferences (Video)

Their aims?

Positive Money is not:

  1. Positive Money does not act on the behalf of any particular lobby or interest group.
  2. Positive Money is not a political organisation.  We don’t campaign for either a bigger or a smaller role for government.  We campaign for changes to the money system which would benefit the economy as a whole, and which is therefore compatible with the aims of all political parties.
  3. Positive Money is not against privately owned banks.  Privately-owned banks have an important function in providing payment services, a secure place for our money, investment opportunities, and to make loans.
  4. Positive Money is not against bankers.  Most people who work in banks do not understand the money system and its effects, and are simply trying to provide a service for customers and earn a living.  Undoubtedly some bankers have abused their power, but this is not the root cause of our financial crisis; the root cause is our current money system.
  5. Positive Money is not against lending, or charging interest on loans where an investor is lending their money to somebody else.
  6. Positive Money does not believe that regulation alone can solve the problems with banking or the money system. Regulation has been shown to be ineffective, and easily reversed, but furthermore it does not alter the root causes of the problem.  What is needed is legislative change.
  7. Positive Money is not a campaign for general financial reform, alternative economics or complementary currencies. While there are many other reforms that also need to take place, Positive Money has a specific and narrow purpose – to change the national money system in order to create a fairer and more stable economy.
  8. Positive Money does not support the use of illegal or violent means to bring about change.  We campaign for the money system to be changed with minimal social and economic upheaval.

Anthony Russell:

Anthony Russell  is a cultural historian, writer and artist. He has travelled much of the world combining painting with tour lecturing – principally to American university students on bespoke tours and the National Association of Decorative and Fine Arts.

He spent six years as a consultant for Luke Hughes advising on the furniture needs of prestigious buildings throughout Britain, including museums, palaces, schools and cathedrals.

Now based in London, he spends much of his time lecturing and undertaking research. At the British Museum, where he runs outreach events and hosts visiting lecturers, he has been described as “Hugh Grant meets the Dalai Lama.”

Committed to the ‘search for civilisation’ and as an advocate of nonviolence, he is the founder of the Chandos, on the committee for Uniting for Peace and a contributor to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Democracy in Burma.

He is author of the book ‘Evolving the Spirit – From Democracy to Peace.’, commended by Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace Laureate, as meaning a great deal to her. He is also Chairman of the Brockley Festival of Ideas and a Founding Advocate of Civil-isation.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 20, 2016 at 12:05 pm

Cameron Gone: Another Victory!

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He’s Gone….

 

Counterfire held off the threat of a Tory coup in 2015.

Counterfire joins calls to confront ‘Tory coup’ on the streets May 6th 2015.

John Rees, from radical left activist group Counterfire, said confronting a possible “Tory coup” will require action “on the streets”.

He told CommonSpace: “Astoundingly, the Tories and their supportive press are not only trying to paint the SNP as illegitimate but also to declare illegitimate any Labour administration that relies on the SNP for support. This at the same time as the Tories are willing to rely on the deeply reactionary DUP and UKIP for support.”

“The immediate task will be to confront a Tory coup, if this is what happens, on the streets,” Rees added.

 

Socialist Worker advocated before the EU referendum,

Finish off David Cameron – vote to leave the EU.

The struggle has paid off:

David Cameron resigns: Former PM quit over Brexit and did not want to be ‘backseat driver’ says aide.

Oddly this resignation letter does not mention the SWP and Counterfire contribution to his disappearance.

Typical cowardly bourgeois politician.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 13, 2016 at 11:36 am

The Politics of the Suffolk Tornado.

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Thorpness: Prelude to Utopia?

Michelle Fairweather captured these pictures of the waterspout while at a wedding at Thorpeness Country Club

Funnel clouds and waterspouts spotted in Suffolk on Sunday (East Anglian Daily Times.)

What are the politics of this event?

Was the Tornado a “sign of the times” from nature that a whirlwind of a left social movement is blowing through Britain, overthrowing the establishment and transforming politics for ever? Or a warning that the gale of  right-wing populism of UKIP and right-wing Tories is wreaking havoc? Or simply that anybody who backed Brexit would be best swept away?

The politics of Tornadoes have cropped up in the past. …

According to political interpretations of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, the tornado takes Dorothy to a utopia, the Land of Oz, and kills the Wicked Witch of the East, who had oppressed “the little people”, the Munchkin.

 Quentin P. Taylor explains in Money and Politics in the Land of Oz.

In 1964 Henry M. Littlefield claimed that Baum’s charming tale concealed a clever allegory on the Populist movement, the agrarian revolt that swept across the Midwest in the 1890s.

In a broad survey of interpretation Taylor makes these observations.

When Dorothy’s twister-tossed house comes to rest in Oz, it lands squarely on the wicked Witch of the East, killing her instantly. The startled girl emerges from the abode to find herself in a strange land of remarkable beauty, whose inhabitants, the diminutive Munchkins, rejoice at the death of the Witch.

The Witch represents eastern financial-industrial interests and their gold-standard political allies, the main targets of Populist venom. Midwestern farmers often blamed their woes on the nefarious practices of Wall Street bankers and the captains of industry, whom they believed were engaged in a conspiracy to “enslave” the “little people,” just as the Witch of the East had enslaved the Munchkins. Populists viewed establishment politicians, including presidents, as helpless pawns or willing accomplices. Had not President Cleveland bowed to eastern bankers by repealing the Silver Purchase Act in 1893, thus further restricting much-needed credit? Had not McKinley (prompted by the wealthy industrialist Mark Hanna) made the gold standard the centerpiece of his campaign against Bryan and free silver?

(an) anti-imperialist theme appears in the form of the Winkies, called “yellow” because they reside in the Land of the West. The Winkies, who are forced to work for the Witch of the West, represent the “yellow man” of Asia, especially the Chinese immigrants and the native Filipinos. For decades, the Chinese had immigrated to the Far West to labor in various capacities. Given their “exotic” appearance, clannish habits, and willingness to work for low wages, they were often the targets of abuse, discrimination, and even murder. Under pressure from the authorities in California, Congress passed the Exclusion Act (1882), which banned Chinese immigration for twenty years.

..

At the end of the story, the Scarecrow supplants the Wizard as the ruler of Emerald City, the Tin Woodman is made master of the West, and the Lion is placed over the animals of the forest. Dorothy transports herself back to Kansas by clicking her silver shoes together three times. All this is achieved with the help of Glinda, the good Witch of the South. The message? Populism is triumphant, the goal of gaining political power is achieved. Or is it? Neither the Scarecrow nor the Tin Man nor the Lion truly lacked what each believed he was missing; the great Wizard’s powers proved illusory; and Dorothy had the power to transform her condition all along. These features of the story point to a more ambivalent result. Indeed, Populism’s outright failure is suggested when Dorothy’s silver shoes fall off in the desert and are “lost forever.” After Bryan’s defeat in 1896, the free-silver movement went into rapid decline. McKinley’s reelection and the statutory adoption of the gold standard in 1900 spelled political oblivion for the Populists.

Taylor concludes,

At the end of the story, the Scarecrow supplants the Wizard as the ruler of Emerald City, the Tin Woodman is made master of the West, and the Lion is placed over the animals of the forest. Dorothy transports herself back to Kansas by clicking her silver shoes together three times. All this is achieved with the help of Glinda, the good Witch of the South. The message? Populism is triumphant, the goal of gaining political power is achieved. Or is it? Neither the Scarecrow nor the Tin Man nor the Lion truly lacked what each believed he was missing; the great Wizard’s powers proved illusory; and Dorothy had the power to transform her condition all along. These features of the story point to a more ambivalent result. Indeed, Populism’s outright failure is suggested when Dorothy’s silver shoes fall off in the desert and are “lost forever.” After Bryan’s defeat in 1896, the free-silver movement went into rapid decline. McKinley’s reelection and the statutory adoption of the gold standard in 1900 spelled political oblivion for the Populists.

Will this be the fate of the ‘political tornado’ that is sweeping through British politics, right and left?

The present weather, forecasters tell us, is set to continue.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

August 1, 2016 at 11:46 am