Thursday 17 December 2009

Palestine : Beyond the Headlines

Save 25% on Green Left/SR Palestine seminar

Green Left and Socialist Resistance are co-organising a seminar studying the causes of the Palestine conflict, with an emphasis on frequently ignored issues. Speakers include Gilbert Achcar (Eastern Cauldon, The Clash of Barbarisms) and Joel Kovel (Overcoming Zionism, The Enemy of Nature). You can save 25% by booking online in advance at Socialist Resistance.

Leaflets are online at The event will be held on Saturday 16 January at Friends House, opposite London Euston station, from 10.30am to 5pm. Registration will open at 10am.

Workshops planned will include:
Zionism and the ecological catastrophe in Palestine;
Gender in Palestine;
Palestinian Refugees and the Right to Return;
Palestinian trade unions;
Land and water in Palestine;
Revolutionary struggle and national liberation;
Building direct solidarity;
Does the Zionist lobby control US polcy?
Tickets are steeply discounted for early bookings:Advance £12/£6On the door £15/£8

Sunday 13 December 2009

March for jobs!

Last Wednesday, Brighton and Hove Trades Council and the Youth Fight for Jobs campaign organised a meeting for people facing redundancy as a result of closures and cuts in businesses in the Brighton area.

Workers from Lloyds and Threashers attended, along with trade unionists from both the private and public sectors - Argus report here.

One of the things to come out was the idea of a march through Brighton top oppose job losses.

It was clear from the meeting that workers feel a sense of isolation and powerlessness, and a joint march would be a way to overcome this.

The march is likely to happen early in the new year. Watch this space!

Saturday 12 December 2009

Tory administration implodes

Highly significant bloke that Paul Lainchbury.

Paul who? (as his constituents used to say!) Well Tory Cllr Paul Lainchbury represented Goldsmid ward and for much of the time made a pretty poor job of it. All sorts of reasons have been put forward for this, many of them beyond his control. But whatever the reasons, it might have been sensible for the Tories to call time, get him to resign and run a by-election at a time of their choosing. But Paul had his uses - most notably the one thing he did manage to do was turn up to the odd council meeting and maintain the Tories' thin majority, which they used to elect their candidate for Mayor, take all nine Cabinet posts, and generally get their policies through. The Tories completely monopolised power, despite having barely half the council's seats.

Eventually, the departure of Lainchbury could no longer be put off and in the by-election the voters punished the Tories for their contemptuous treatment of them and gave the seat to the Greens. With that defeat went the Tories' overall majority, and what happened last Thursday was then only a matter of time.

So the opposition "coup" was good for democracy, but what happens next? As I understand it, the opposition parties cannot form an administration unless they become a single group in the Council - that means a coalition. Can three parties are going to be at each others' throats in May (or sooner) actually hold it together in the longer turn?

Or they could continue to leave the Tories nominally in power and come togther to vote down Tory policies or force changes - but after a while the danger is that they start to look like "spoilers" who want power but no responsibility, and that could boomerang in the Tories' favour come the next council elections in 2011.

Most importantly, what does it mean for those who use the Council's services and those who work for it? Perhaps it's time the "opposition" told us what they plan to do?

Wednesday 9 December 2009

A victory for people power

Good news to report from the campaign to stop the Cissbury sell-off. Thanks to Dave Bangs for the report.

4th December 2009 Tel: 01903 200 648 Tel: 01273 6290 815 Tel: 01903 263 038

Worthing to retain its Cissbury Downland
Leadership Councillor Steve Waight supports the improvement of public access and the enhancement of this public downland

Worthing Council’s Cabinet unanimously agreed to withdraw the Council’s Cissbury downland from sale yesterday, December 3rd.
Councillor Steve Waight, the Cabinet Member for Resources and Business Modernisation went further, though, and, in a prolonged exchange with questioners, conceded most of what protestors have been calling for.
120 protestors had turned up to demonstrate on the steps of the Town Hall and crowded into the Cabinet meeting. Their numbers amply corroborated Cllr Waight’s statement that “more local people had responded to him on this issue than any other in his 18 years as a councillor”.

Retaining control not just ownership
In his responses to SCSO supporters Cllr Waight categorically stated that, in addition to retaining the freehold, the Council “will also retain control over the land”. He stressed that the primacy of the issue of public access had been heard and understood by him and that he had heard the call both to protect the land as it was and to enhance it.
Cllr Waight and Steve Coe, Worthing Council’s Estates Manager, reported that a meeting had taken place earlier in the day with officials from Natural England, the South Downs Joint Committee (SDJC) and the National Trust. In this meeting there was discussion of the nature of the external funding that Natural England could make available to the Council, chiefly through the agri-environmental Higher Level Stewardship scheme (HLS), and the support that both the National Trust and the SDJC were able to offer.
Steve Coe indicated that they will have further meetings with these bodies to address the options available to the Council.

No sale of long term leases
Cllr Waight said that the length of any new lease was yet to be determined, but indicated a positive attitude to the idea of new leaseholds coterminous with the ten year duration of each HLS agreement. He stated that there had been interest expressed from farmers and landholders neighbouring the Council’s downland. He said that it was necessary for the Council to address immediate legal technicalities with regard to the cessation of the past agricultural tenancy, as part of the process.

There was no mention by Cllr Waight of the idea of the sale of long term leases which had been a feature of both the Report to Cabinet and the accompanying press release[i][i].

Continuing public concern and sense of exclusion
Questioners repeatedly stressed their suspicion of the Council’s intentions and their opposition to the truncation of the review that had earlier been announced (circa 10th November) by Cllrs Waight and Yallop, the Council Leader. They urged that the final proposals for the downland should be made fully public and consulted on widely, and criticized the opaque nature of these events. Cllr Yallop reminded the meeting of his action a year ago to make public the details of the sale. Cllr Waight stated that the review had been on the issue of sale alone, not on the wider management concerns, which did not quell questioners concern at their exclusion from the process of considering this issue.

A good first step
This result is a good first step, though taken within the context of these ongoing concerns.
Stop Cissbury Sell Off will continue to press the views of residents and users of this downland, and to press for the democratic accountability of future management decisions over Worthing’s public downland.

A public information meeting is being arranged by us early next year, when details of progress will be discussed. It is planned to invite Worthing Council representatives to brief us on what they are doing

Monday 7 December 2009

Lloyds workers speak out - meeting this Wednesday

LLOYDS - Closing!
BORDERS - Boarded Up!

A chance to discuss what can be done and hear from local unions defending their members, including Unite who are representing workers at Lloyds.

An after work meeting has been called by Brighton, Hove and District Trades Council & Youth
Fight for Jobs and is open to ALL workers and their families.

6pm Wednesday 9 December Phoenix Community Centre, Phoenix Place, Brighton

Across Brighton & Hove working people are being threatened with redundancy as workplaces close down.

As well as Lloyds, Threshers and Borders shutting, Brighton Council is looking to lose 150 workers and Sussex Uni are to axe nearly 200 jobs

This all means while jobs are going the opportunities for finding work in our town are less than ever.

Time and time again it has been shown that strong unions can and do make a difference when jobs are under threat.

If not challenged companies will try (even when they are half owned by the tax payer) get away with making job cuts on the cheap.

We need to get organised AGAINST job losses and FOR job creation. Come along to discuss how we can win the best deal for workers.

Contact details
Brighton, Hove & District Trades Council
07709 696561
Youth Fight for Jobs
07984 027754
Facebook: 'Brighton Youth Fight for Jobs

Friday 4 December 2009

Tories hit us with their laser beam

In the wake of the Lloyds job losses, the Council have decided to do their bit for economic development and employment - by cutting 160 jobs. More than 50 of these will be in Adult Social Care, a service which has just been assessed as 'good' by the CQC. How 'good' it will be after the Tories' decimation is anyone's guess.

Tory leader Mary Mears has described this as a "laser-like focus on delivering value for money". Funny, looks like old fashioned Tory slash and burn to me. Although delivering the news from a hoilday cruise was a real touch of class I thought.

The justification for this is to deliver on the Tories' election promise to reduce council tax, but if services deteriorate and charges and costs go up, the most vulnerable in society will end up worse off. But the Tories are a minority administration and they have no mandate to attack jobs and services.

Wednesday 2 December 2009

What's a Labour Government for?

Having slagged off Cameron in the previous post, now it is the turn of Brown and Darling - fiddling while Brighton's financial industry burns.

The announcement yesterday by Lloyds Banking Group that it was shutting its call centre in Gloucester Place - in fact they are vacating the building completely - was a major shock. Some 500 staff are facing either compulsory redundancy or compulsory relocation.

The shock was all the greater given that the bank is largely owned by the government. they actually going to do anything? Not on your life!

This actually goes to the heart of New Labour's problem. It could win some support by being seen to assert some authority over the bankers, but they can't - they are trapped in the headlights of their own neo-liberal policies.

It is time for the unions to step up to the plate. Unite needs to extricate its head from New Labour's arse and get organising. It also needs to sink any differences it may have with the more parochial LloydsTSB Union. Many people think (rightly or wrongly) that the LTU has the greater credibility with the workforce. Now is not the time for internecine squabbling.

The building at Gloucester Place is a symbol of the big expansion of the then-TSB in the mid-1980's, when it made Brighton the centre of its operations. Many people have worked there for years.

There is a possibility for a real campaign around this, not least because the bank have given 6 months notice - lets not see it wasted.

Tuesday 1 December 2009

Don't let the Tories take away our right to be safe

Dave's dabbling again. This time the object of his pronouncements is health and safety legislation. And no Daily Mail myth and cliche is left unused in his crusade.

Does anyone remember the 1980's? A decade famous for Thatcher (of course), as well as some dodgy music and even dodgier dress sense. But the disasters were not just sartorial and musical. There are some very '80s names to remember as well - Hillsborough, Bradford, Zeebrugge, Purley, Marchioness, Kings Cross, Piper Alpha. The 1980's will be remembered as the decade in which people died in huge numbers in dreadful disasters (never call them "accidents") whilst mainly doing very mundane and supposedly risk-free things. What these disasters had in common was that they were all preventable; they all occurred for the want of basic safety provisions - a lookout on the dredger which sank the Marchioness, proper crowd control measures at Hillsborough, not putting to sea with the bow doors of a ferry still open! This was the decade when we were free from the shackles of rules on safety and "common sense" ruled the day.

Of course, Cameron's speech ties in nicely with the media paranoia about 'elf n'safety, which distorts and exaggerates every apparently inappropriate and overbearing use of the legislation, and no doubt Cameron thinks this will grub him a few votes.

But there is more to it than that. His is a message which the deregulation enthusiasts of big business want to hear. The hidden agenda is a war on the basic standards of health and safety at work which it took the labour movement generations of campaigning, and thousands of lost and damaged lives to achieve. Even now we have only just got corporate manslaughter onto the statute book, and there has still been no prosecution as far as I am aware.

Don't let him get away with it. Don't let the next 10 years become another disaster decade.