Archive for the ‘Ipswich’ Category
End Austerity Now Demonstration: a Personal Report.
Around 80,000 people (the Tendance’s estimate) marched in London on Saturday. They protested against the newly elected Conservative government’s plans to continue, and deepen, austerity.
It’s unnecessary to list the faults of these policies. It’s enough to see the people begging in the streets, a few hundred metres from the office of Ipswich Tory M.P. Benedict Gummer. Without the response of the People’s Assembly, the unions, the diverse groups and parties on the demonstration, and the wider public, Cameron and Osborne will have free rein to create a mean-spirited free-market Britain.
From Ipswich and Stowmarket 42 people piled in our coach – there were more travelling to London by train. Up to 70% were under the age of 40, with a large percentage in their teens and twenties. This was reflected amongst the marchers, with a strong presence of young people.
While assembling by the Bank of England we were addressed by various speakers. Those advertised included Kate Hudson (Chair, Left Unity, CND) and Diane Abbott (Labour MP and candidate to represent the party for the London Mayoral contest). They and others made good, rousing, contributions on the need to fight austerity.
Weyman Bennett (SWP/Unite Against Fascism) linked people being rude to women wearing the Islamic veil to the massacre at Charleston and the heart-rending plight of migrants drowned in the Mediterranean. Lee Jasper (Respect Party), the ‘controversial’ former Director for Policing and Equalities under Ken Livingstone’s Greater London Authority Assembly continued in this vein.
Someone (one can imagine who) compared his peroration unfavourably to Ali G.(1) One Suffolk comrade remarked that on what she called the “shouting”.
It was to be regretted that there was nobody from the National Shop Stewards Network – a group which, whatever one’s political differences, represents a lot more than the former two users of the demo microphone – was not invited to speak.
The route of the protest, which began next to the City, took us from Ludgate Circus, down the Strand, past Trafalgar Square. This was the venue of a – poorly attended- commercial beano, a pop radio concert. It symbolised the use of public space for corporate gain.
Local People’s assembly groups (like Suffolk People’s Assembly) unions, Left Unity, anti-cuts organisations, disabeld rights groups,the SWP, the Socialist Party, and other (even) smaller left parties, the Labour Assembly Against Austerity , the Green Party …to Class War, were present.
In Parliament Square there were more speeches. Again there were solid well-argued arguments against the Cabinet’s plans, from Steve Turner (UNITE and the People’s Assembly) onwards. John Rees included a reference to the rights of atheists in a call for to defend the freedoms of different beliefs. His claim that the demonstrators were from all ethnic backgrounds was perhaps not fully substantiated by a glance at the overwhelmingly white crowd.
Charlotte Church made an exceptional contribution.
The Mirror called it an “incredible speech“.
The Conservatives’ intention was to create a society around their principles, of private profit and public loss.
Describing the idea that Britain needs austerity as “the big lie”, Charlotte said: “They will sell off our schools and our hospitals. When it’s done, it will he hard to reverse.
“One aspect of this that really gets under my skin is that it’s all wrapped up in a proud-to-be-British package.
“I’m proud to be British because of the NHS and David Bowie, not because of the Union Jack.
“Be proud for the right reasons. We need to win back these young minds and save ourselves from years of yuppie rule.
“If you are ashamed that you have to use a food bank, because this Government would rather see you starve than put a note in your pocket, walk tall. You have the moral high ground.
“We are not afraid of national debt and we will not let our public services be attacked.”
She added: “What this country needs is economic stimulation – most economists around the world would say the same. We need to get the blood pumping.”
Earlier, she said: “I’m here today in a show of solidarity with everyone here – it is a massive turnout – everybody who thinks that austerity isn’t the only way and thinks it is essentially unethical, unfair and unnecessary.”
It was hard not to be moved by Charlotte’s clear and heart-felt words.
Her call for positive alternatives and hope will resonate across the country.
For many present, Jeremy Corbyn, standing for the Labour Party leadership, made a decisive call to make sure there is a strong left, anti-austerity, vote in this election.
End Austerity Now was a success.
Where we go from now is the subject of serious discussion.
One way forward can be seen in the multitude of protests against welfare reform: from the continued campaign against the Bedroom Tax, Benefit cuts, Workfare, to the – still not fully implemented – psychological treatment of some claimants.
It is to be regretted that some parties see groups like the People’s Assembly as a recruiting ground.
In Suffolk the Green Party does not appear to publicise this:
Suffolk’s best-known Green Party politician has pulled out of the battle to become Ipswich MP in next May’s general election – because he hasn’t “got the heart” to take on Tory Ben Gummer.
Mark Ereira-Guyer, leader of the Green and independent group on Suffolk County Council and an experienced election campaigner, was chosen earlier this year to fight for the Ipswich seat, but has now dropped out.
“Although I find Conservative policies odious and overly focused on free market fundamentalism, crass cost-cutting measures and ecological destitution, I am of the view that the current MP Ben Gummer is dedicated and hardworking.
“I respect his honest endeavours for the town. And, therefore, I can’t drum up sufficient energies to really take him on. I like my politics to work on a human level, and not in a tribalist way.
The day was an achievement for the organisers.
It was, as they say, only a beginning.
(1) This is what Jasper said (Charlie Hebdo and Europe’s rampant racism. 17th of January) about the massacre at Charlie Hebdo (he doesn’t even mention the anti-Semitic murder at the Hyper-Casher):
“JeSuisCharlie in this context is nothing more than appeal from right wings white’s to be allowed to be racist without opposition in the name of free speech. It’s a sort of #WhiteLivesMatter statement particularly when viewed in the context of the tragic violence and world silence about the Nigerian massacre by Boko Haram.
This privilege allows them to disregard the social environment and political context of such satire and its consequences. Writing in this flawed tradition is the perogative of white, middle class Libertarian anarchists. Charlie Hebdo is for me, a silly magazine and quintessentially an exercise in white privilege and arrogance.
Loved by all Progressive Humanity: hacked to Death by Islamists.
(CNN)Attacks on bloggers critical of Islam have taken on a disturbing regularity in Bangladesh, with yet another writer hacked to death Tuesday.
Ananta Bijoy Das, 32, was killed Tuesday morning as he left his home on his way to work at a bank, police in the northeastern Bangladeshi city of Sylhet said.
Four masked men attacked him, hacking him to death with cleavers and machetes, said Sylhet Metropolitan Police Commissioner Kamrul Ahsan.
The men then ran away. Because of the time of the morning when the attack happened, there were few witnesses. But police say they are following up on interviewing the few people who saw the incident.
“It’s one after another after another,” said Imran Sarker, who heads the Blogger and Online Activists Network in Bangladesh. “It’s the same scenario again and again. It’s very troubling.”
Das’ death was at least the third this year of someone who was killed for online posts critical of Islam. In each case, the attacks were carried out publicly on city streets.
In March, Washiqur Rahman, 27, was hacked to death by two men with knives and meat cleavers just outside his house as he headed to work at a travel agency in the capital, Dhaka.
In February, a Bangladesh-born American blogger, Avijit Roy, was similarly killed with machetes and knives as he walked back from a book fair in Dhaka.
The three victims are hardly the only ones who have paid a steep price for their views.
In the last two years, several bloggers have died, either murdered or under mysterious circumstances.
Das was an atheist who contributed to Mukto Mona (“Free Thinkers”), the blog that Roy founded.
Mukto Mona contains sections titled “Science” and “Rationalism,” and most of the articles hold science up to religion as a litmus test, which it invariably fails.
While Das was critical of fundamentalism and the attacks on secular thinkers, he was mostly concerned with championing science, a fellow blogger said.
He was the editor of a local science magazine, Jukti (“Reason”), and wrote several books, including one work on Charles Darwin.
In 2006, the blog awarded Das its Rationalist Award for his “deep and courageous interest in spreading secular & humanist ideals and messages in a place which is not only remote, but doesn’t have even a handful of rationalists.”
“He was a voice of social resistance; he was an activist,” said Sarker. “And now, he too has been silenced.”
Taking to the streets
Soon after Das’ death, his Facebook wall was flooded with messages of shock and condolence. And hundreds of protesters took to the streets in Sylhet demanding that the government bring his killers to justice.
“We’ve heard from Ananta’s friends that some people threatened to kill him as he was critical of religion,” Das’ brother-in-law Somor Bijoy Shee Shekhor said.
No one has claimed responsibility for the attack.
“We are ashamed, brother Bijoy,” someone posted on Das’ Facebook page.
“Is a human life worth so little? Do we not have the right to live without fear?” wrote another.
One Good Piece of News at least.
The visit of Lewis the Eighteenth, April 1814.
“There was a great crowd in the street when he came out of the hotel, and immense applause; the mob crying out, ‘God bless your Majesty!” as if they owed him all they had, and even their lives.”
((Zechariah Coleman, a radical and dissenter) “who did not hooray, and did not even lift his hat when the Sacred Majesty appeared on the hotel steps” is challenged by a drayman for not saluting the Bourbon King.
A full fight ensures.
Zechariah is rescued by Major Cartwright, “Holloa, my republican friend, d—n it, that’s a nasty lick you’ve, and from one of the people too; that makes it harder to bear.”
The Revolution in Tanner’s Lane. Mark Rutherford. 1887.
But, Lord, remember me an’ mine
Wi’ mercies temporal and divine,
That I for grace an’ gear may shine,
Excell’d by nane,
And a’ the glory shall be Thine,
Holy Willie’s Prayer. 1785. Robert Burns.
“Election 2015: Ed Miliband resignation imminent as Conservatives win stunning majority”
Today is not a good day.
Not a good day at all.
The People have dealt us a nasty lick.
The vote for common decency – the Labour Party – did not succeed in squaring up to the Right.
Labour leader Ed Miliband is expected to step down later after his party’s disappointing general election showing, the BBC has learned.
Labour suffered heavy losses at the hands of the SNP, with the Tories forecast to achieve a majority.
BBC political correspondent Iain Watson said Mr Miliband was expected to address party staff, with two senior sources saying he would quit.
Shadow chancellor Ed Balls was among the party’s big-name casualties.
It also lost its election campaign chief Douglas Alexander and its leader in Scotland Jim Murphy.
In England the electorate of Eatanswill has returned, like a dog to its vomit, to David Cameron.
In Scotland, the alliance of Holy Willie and Oor Wullie has dealt a blow to more than the Labour Party – it’s hit socialism itself.
Those who imagine that the SNP’s politics of looking after their “ain folk” has managed to strike a blow against the British Imperial state, heralding a new politics of the ‘anti-austerity’ left, in association with Rupert Murdoch, will soon find that reading Tom Nairn is no substitute for the realities of the egoistic and narrow goals of the nationalists.
Farage looks on course to fail to win a seat for UKIP.
If we can draw some further (meager) comfort from the results this is it: George Galloway blames ‘racists and Zionists’ for defeat to Naz Shah in Bradford West.
There must be a lot of racists and Zionists in Bradford West as this was the vote, “The Respect party MP, lost his Bradford West seat with 8,557 votes to Shah’s 19,977.”
So much for the strategy of aligning with Islamism.
There was no breakthrough for the left of the Labour Party.
The Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) was, and remains, irrelevant.
Its votes were derisory.
In Ipswich we have this, much more depressing, news, “Election 2015: Ben Gummer increases his majority as he fights off David Ellesmere to hold Ipswich seat.”
Yesterday about 5 pm, as I was passing down Upper Brook Street, there was a street person on a stretcher surrounded by paramedics and Ipswich ‘Rangers’. Walking round the corner, in Dog’s Head Street, one of another group, obviously buzzing on a mixture of illegal and legal highs, asked me for dosh. Back in the Street, entering Sainsbury’s a woman tried to reassure her tiny daughter, “You see things like this in London all the time”.
We’ll see a lot more of that with Cameron’s victory.
I am in the mood to make sure that we fight this every inch of the way.
Ed Miliband came to Ipswich yesterday.
He was interviewed on Look East.
Ed showed a sure grasp of the key issues facing people in the Town*
These included a low wage economy, a town centre in need of regeneration, and people working on zero hour contracts, as well as the health service and education.
The Labour leader has visibly grown in stature over the last few weeks.
He responded with clarity and modest determination.
It was impressive.
Miliband spoke to local paper, the Star,
..he said the key message he had heard from local people was that the economy had not got better for ordinary workers.
He said: “It may be better if you work in the City of London or you’re one of the highest-paid people in the country, but this idea that the wealth will trickle down is nonsense.
“The people working hard to try to improve their lives are not seeing any improvements, and it is time we changed things to ensure that any recovery is shared by everyone – not just the richest.”
David Ellesmere was present to welcome Labour’s Battle Bus.
David has also risen in – political – stature during the election campaign.
As leader of the Labour Group in Ipswich Borough Council he had headed a team dedicated to making things better for ordinary people.
Labour councillors have has introduced the Living Wage for all its employees – and contractors.
They have banned the use of ‘workfare’ by the Council.
The Borough has engaged in a programme of building council houses (although one project has been held up by Eric Pickles).
It has invested in land, in supporting schemes to help ordinary people (such as the Credit Union), and a range of community bodies.
More broadly Ipswich Council has backed progressive policies, such as an anti-racist march.
David appeared at the first public meeting of the Suffolk People’s Assembly (SPA), along with Owen Jones, and the Secretary of the Trades Council, Teresa MacKay and other trade unionists.
Campaigning locally for the Living Wage, Ipswich Labour, local community groups, and the SPA, have tried to extend this principle.
On Suffolk County Council, the Labour leader, Sandy Martin – who also works with the SPA – has attempted to get this administration to adopt the Living Wage. The Conservatories have blocked it.
Recently David came along to a SPA/UNITE protest against the sanctions regime for benefit claimants -a major cause of the rise of Food Banks.
Ipswich Labour, and David Ellesmere, have done a through, careful, job of making things better for ordinary people – just as Ed Miliband intends to do.
They have earned a lot of trust in the constituency.
By contrast Tory candidate Ben Gummer is looking increasingly rattled.
His efforts to claim credit for every thing positive that has happened to the town, up to and including the recent sunny weather (I made that one up – just…), are, people admit, at least pleasanter than his colleagues’ attempts to spread fear of a Labour doomsday.
Ben Gummer tries to show his liberal side, but has come down hard in favour of the sanctions regime, and other regressive Tory policies.
Many people are tried of free-market politicians who lay ownership of economic upturns (never downturns), while disclaiming government responsibility for the precarious existence a large number of working people, not to mention benefit claimants, have to live.
I have no insight into the voting intentions of the public.
But if Ipswich is anything to go by, the hard-graft of politicians like David and his colleagues, is beginning to pay off.
* population 133,400 – up to 200, 000 if you include the coterminous villages and small towns.
Kevin Algar: Ben Gummer’s Top Man.
The ‘Election Battle‘ for Ipswich is hotting up.
Ever so often Ben Gummer, Cabinet Minister for Ipswich, Editor Ipswich Star, Local Government Correspondent Ipswich Star, Mayor of Ipswich, Shop-Steward (National Union of Private Debt Managers, Canary Wharf), Producer, Channel Four News, Patron of Lady Lane Shrine, presents the Alternative View on Tendance Coatesy.
“As somebody who knows what it’s like to be denied media time, I’d like to thank Coatesy for the opportunity to ‘get the message’ out.
Your doing a great job chaps – and chappettes! – even if you didn’t have my ‘privileged’ (dread word!) education in the Trivium and Quadrivium.
I care passionately about my town!
- Kept working class ‘council houses’ from polluting the beautiful meadows of Ravenswood – thanks Mr Pickles!
- Constructed and funded scores of New Schools in Ipswich, and passed thousands of A levels and GCSE’s.
- My betting and pound shop building programme has reduced Ipswich Unemployment by 50%.
- Backed national ‘sanctioning’ ‘targets’ for so-called ‘claimants’ leading to a fourfold rise in their numbers.
- With the Help of ATOS and (now) Maximus I have healed the lame and halt at the Shrine of Lady Lane.
- Brought a halt to the restrictions of employee representation by supporting to an end to interfering union activity.
- Dredged the Orwell and laid the foundation stone for a new Bridge between Ipswich and Harwich.
“Hats off to Benjy! With you at the helm of Ipswich I’m proud to be standing as a Conservative Candidate in the May local elections!”
Ipswich Tory Toff says Unemployed Must Pay for ‘Lifestyle Choice’.
Ipswich MP, Sir Ben Gummer, Mayor of Ipswich, Minister for Ipswich, Patron Saint of Lady Lane, and Secretary – for life – of the General Association of City Workers Against the Homeless, gives the alternative view to Tendance Coatesy.
“I care passionately about Ipswich. I am proud of our town. But we could achieve so much more. Discover my vision for a strong future for Ipswich.”
I say these words, to my good friend Basil Fotherington–Thomas every day.
“Hello clouds, hello sky” he replies.
How right he is.
I do notice some oiks who are still living on the street – next to Sainsbury’s.
The filthy beggars asked for my hard-earned money only yesterday!
I read Chomsky you know! – this is all the crisis of lazybones.
The Ipswich so-called working class must pull their socks up.
Here is what I said,
I asked this employer, which is a respected player in the food industry, if they had taken any recruits from the Work Programme for the long-term unemployed. They said they had but their representative sighed and raised an eyebrow. I asked her to elaborate. Well, she said, take the last group sent by the Job Centre. There were twenty people due to turn up for an induction session on the Monday; only twelve turned up. Of those twelve, only eight came the second day, when work properly began. And of that eight, only four were still working at the end of the week. That’s four people out of twenty – and all twenty could have had a job. The pay was a little Minimum Wage, inside, in a clean environment. So this was a chance of a good job that sixteen people who had been unemployed for a long time chose to pass up.
The result, the employer explained, was that they were forced to turn to migrant labour. Migrant workers from Eastern Europe were, she said, in general punctual, hard-working and reliable. Some English people were also punctual, hard-working and reliable, but many sent by the Job Centre were not.
Long term unemployment is falling too, but is still far too high: 740 people in Ipswich have been out of work for more than twelve months. For those that want to get a job, the amount of support they receive is now greater than ever before – in skills, in training, in interview practice and in work placements. But there is still a small number who are unwilling to make a go of it. Our benefit reforms have made it much harder for such people to choose to live on benefits – and the prime minster has promised that, should he win the next election, we will do more. I support this: when there is the possibility of work, everyone in this town should have the opportunity – and duty – to work. Otherwise, it is the rest of us – the low paid included – who must pay for that lifestyle decision.