Thursday 24 June 2010

Statement on the Budget by Respect

ConDem 'Emergency Budget'
A sympathetic noose: Gideon shows his colours

The ConDem government claims to be ‘progressive’. It is nothing of the kind. Led by three public school boys in Cameron, Clegg and Osborne, this is rule by bankers and the rich in the interests of bankers and the rich. Gideon Osborne, the 18th baronet of Ballentaylor (old Anglo-Irish aristocracy), has unveiled an ‘emergency budget’ that strangles the poor while delivering handouts to the rich.


This budget is sprinkled with minor measures that seem to help the poorest. State pensions are to be linked to earnings or rise by 2.5%. This is welcome but goes nowhere near addressing the poverty that pensioners are in after more than 20 years of pensions getting smaller. Those earning under £7,475 per year will now be exempt from income tax.

The only way that these can be considered ‘progressive’ is by reference to the appalling record of New Labour in tackling poverty while in government.

The noose

The reality of this budget for working people is that we will be expected to pay for the bailout of the banks. VAT is to rise to 20% - this is regressive taxation as it will affect everyone regardless of income so hits the poor hardest. It is the taxation model of the poll tax. This rise alone will wipe out any gains in state pensions.

Public sector workers are to suffer a pay freeze for two years, when most are already underpaid. For those earning under £21,000, there will be a flat £250 pay rise (again this does not cover the rise in VAT alone). There will be 25% cuts in most government departments, which signal more job losses, so raising the welfare needs in society.

While we suffer a housing crisis, the ConDems will not help. Instead, Gideon the aristocrat will put a cap on housing benefit with no recognition that the lack of council houses is the factor pushing private sector rents up and raising the cost of housing benefit. Child benefit is to be frozen for three years in a country with the highest level of child poverty in Europe. The general linking of benefits to the Consumer Prices Index is designed to stop benefit rises so contributing the extending poverty in Britain.

Paying the hangman

While there are cuts for the poor, the rich are given even more tax breaks. Capital Gains Tax is an instrument for taxing wealth which is created when selling stocks, bonds or property. It taxes speculators. Yet the ConDems have decided to increase the loophole that allows the rich to only pay 10% on the first £5 million. Before 1998, it was normal to pay 40%, the same rate as income tax for the rich at the time.

Corporation Tax is a tax on profits, which have risen for the richest in the recession. The banks were recording multi billion pound profits even as they demanded bailouts. New Labour started cutting this tax for the rich and the ConDems have gone further reducing it to 24% over the next four years.

The Chancellor has proposed a banking levy from January 2011 but this will only be £2 billion and it is unclear whether it will be a ‘one-off’ levy. When set against the banking bailout, it is ridiculously small and ineffectual. The National Audit Office puts the actual cost at £850 billion, including £76billion given to Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds to buy their worthless shares, £200 billion to increase credit (a measure that failed), £250 billion to guarantee bank borrowing, £40 billion in loans to failing banks and £280 billion to insure banking debt (which could be as high as £2 trillion).

This is a budget that cuts the services, jobs and pay of the poorest while handing out tax breaks and handshakes to the rich.

Respect’s alternative

The public debt is £903 billion. Most of this is a result of the banking bailout and the increased cost of unemployment to the state. There need to be more jobs not less. Respect would start a programme to convert Britain to environmentally friendly power with the aim of creating 1 million jobs. It rejects the idea of cutting public sector jobs.

Respect would launch a council house building and renovation programme which would create jobs, homes and relieve the rent burden on housing benefit.

The banks and energy companies are getting away with huge rip-offs. Respect would raise Corporation Tax back to 30%. This would bring in over £6 billion per year - enough to double spending on higher education. This money could scrap tuition fees and introduce universal student grants. And a 'Robin Hood tax' of 0.5% on financial dealings in the City would bring in an estimated £250 billion. Respect would also clamp down on tax evasion by the richest, which cost the UK more than £100 billion per year. And if there must be cuts we would start by cancelling Trident and ending our costly wars abroad.

There is no need to cut public services or benefits. There is no need to tax the poor.

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Wednesday 23 June 2010

Video from last night's protest

Alex Knutsen of UNISON

Budget anger in Hove!

The scissors busted! 

We can stop these cuts!
Around 200 people gathered outside Hove Town Hall tonight to protest Osborne's class war budget.
There were protests all over the country and at this one speakers included trade unionists, students and claimants' groups.  It was organised by the local TUC and supported by just about every trade union active in the area.

Tom Hickey of UCU looked to the example of the people of Greece for the kind of resistance we need here.  Alex Knutson of Unison talked about the 25% cut in public spending and what that could do to services in the city.  Tony Greenstein of the Unemployed Workers's Centre denounced the record of New Labour in paving the way for the cuts with their own policies.  Labour and Green councillors also spoke.  Gill Mitchell, Leader of the Labour Group spoke well in the teeth of some understandable hostility from sections of the audience.  But she did pledge to fight the cuts planned in the Council's budget for this year, most of which, she said, would fall on schools and services to children. 

Phelim McCafferty of the Green Party brought a message of support from Caroline Lucas MP, who was in the Commons attacking the budget there.

There was common agreement that we need to push the campaign forward, and the trades council will becoming forward with ideas in the coming weeks.

Thursday 17 June 2010

What's to enquire about Norman?

Norman Tebbitt wants a public enquiry into the bombing of the Grand Hotel in Brighton in 1984.  He doesn't say what this enquiry would be designed to find out.  The facts of that act are all well-known - some people planted a bomb in the hotel; it went off as planned while Tory politicians were staying there; a number of people were killed or injured; the people responsible were tracked down, tried and punished. The people who did it acted in the cause of getting the British state out of the north of Ireland and reunifying the country.  It is at best arguable whether such an act of extreme violence brought either goal one iota closer.

Tebbitt seems to want this enquiry to give "parity" to the victims of Brighton 1984 with those of  Bloody Sunday 1972.  He says the victims of Bloody Sunday have been given "preferential treatment".

Some "preferential treatment"!

For 38 years the British state was happy to let the world believe that the Bloody Sunday victims were carrying weapons, that they fired on the troops, that they deserved everything they got, that the soldiers of the Parachute Regiment had behaved entirely properly.  The state said all this despite knowing it was all lies. They said it knowing that this was not the first time the Paras had murdered unarmed civilians at will
And of course, the families of the Bloody Sunday dead have never seen anyone put on trial for what happened on that day in Derry (and likely never will).

Now as far as I know, none of this is true of the Brighton bombing, though no-one would deny the suffering caused to the injured and bereaved.  So much for "preferential treatment".

So what would a public enquiry into the Brighton bombing achieve?

Well one thing might be to show how witnessing the events of Bloody Sunday led so many young men and women from Derry and West Belfast into the arms of the IRA. How Bloody Sunday led to the Brighton Bombing.

But I wonder if that's the conclusion Norman Tebbitt is really looking for........

Monday 14 June 2010

Stop the Cuts!

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Walking and working for a people’s countryside


Press release, 12th June 2010.

Contact Dave: T. 01273 620 815, or Kim: T. 0771 716 0530,

Today a bunch of walkers from as far away as Dorset and the Chilterns walked the forbidden Access Land site of Breaky Bottom farm and vineyard, near Rodmell, to say:

“Two fingers to the selfish landowner who wishes to remove a right of access that has taken 130 years to secure”.

They had with them Kate Ashbrook, Gen. Sec. of the Open Spaces Society and doughty fighter against Nicholas Hoogstraten’s footpath stopping antics, and Marion Shoard, the author whose books highlighting the destruction of the countryside and the inequities of landownership have turned around the politics of the countryside in the last generation.

Sixty walkers and their children, with folk from the Ramblers Association, Red Rope, and The Land Is Ours, watched as we symbolically fenced the steep slope of a tiny chalk pit which the landowner has been using as his excuse for excluding the public from this statutory Access Land site. We decorated the new fence with our ribbons, banners and placards.

Despite owning “the most fenced farm on the entire South Downs”, with every tiny paddock and vine row fenced or hedged, this landowner so far refuses to fence this chalk pit because its presence as a safety hazard constitutes the excuse he needs to secure a Restriction Order forbidding us access to this ancient flowery pasture.

Kate Ashbrook in her speech said: “It is outrageous that we are banned from this lovely site. The Access Land on the Downs is pitifully sparse in any case. Breaky Bottom is the entry point to a delightful but very under-used part of the Downs, and is only a short distance from the South Downs Way. All the landowner needed to do was to put about 70 metres of fencing around the quarry to comply with the requirements for making Access Land safe for the public”.

Marion Shoard called for “a right of respectful access everywhere in the countryside, as already exists in Scotland.”

Dave Bangs, of Action For Access, said. “The landowner wants his right to privacy, even though he already lives in one of the remotest and most under-visited parts of the South Downs. Yet what about the rights to enjoy the countryside and nature which all those millions of us cooped up in our cities, towns and villages need for our health and recreation ? Wealth and land ownership should not be what determines our right to enjoy the countryside.”

Our campaign is determined to return and return again to Breaky Bottom until we see Lewes District Council and Natural England secure the permanent fencing of this little chalk pit and the consequent re-opening of this site to public access.

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Tuesday 8 June 2010

Expensive bullshit is still bullshit.......

Today Brighton and Hove Council unveiled its "campaign" to recruit four strategic directors (£125k each) to take forward the new "vision" for the city.  Only it didn't quite trust itself and its own quite talented communications staff with this.   Nope....they shelled out on "executive search consultants" Odgers Berndtson to do the job.

Interestingly they found inspiration from a band of ageing rockers, an interesting motif to choose for the city.  You can see the whole thing here ...if you like!

Yes, of course, I get it.  The reference is to "status quo" in the general sense - we don't want fans of the status quo here!  Subtle eh?

What is interesting is that, just days after the CEO launched a campaign to "ban the babble" - a plea for an end to jargon-ridden language that no ordinary person can, or would want to understand - the company they charged with communicating the vision decided to reintroduce it.  Francis and Rick have given you a flavour above, but if you look at the job descriptions, there's plenty more where that came from.

So, moving forward (as Odgers would no doubt put it), we know that massive cuts are are being threatened, that these directors' wages alone will come to half a million, and we don't yet know how much Odgers have charged.  Lets hope that when councillors start threatening day centres, meals on wheels, grants to the voluntary sector, people won't judge them too harshly in the light of all the expensive nonsense they've come out with today....or maybe we hope they will....

STOP PRESS!  Apparently we cannot know how much the Council paid Odgers - it's "commercially sensitive" apparently.  So it looks like transperancy has gone the way of the commitment to plain English.  Such alot of talk not being walked in one day!

Monday 7 June 2010

Oh dear! Argus takes us backwards on HIV

A Tory Government, and the Argus regurgitating old myths about the transmission of HIV....feels so like the 80's.

Today the Argus reported a story of some children having mishap in a paddling pool.  The report was quite  remarkably irresponsible.  It seems we are back to ancient discredited notions of how you can catch HIV.  Can we not expect our local newspaper to do a little basic research?

I hope the kids recover soon.  I am willing to bet the farm on them not having HIV!

Anti israeli Protest George Galloway Speech

Israeli Jews Protest Against The Israeli Massacre of Unarmed Human Rights Activists

Saturday 5 June 2010

Mavi Marmara: They were shooting to kill

Mavi Marmara: They were shooting to kill
from the Morning Star

Friday 4th June 2010

The Israeli massacre of unarmed campaigners aboard a ship carrying aid to Gaza is the "Sharpeville and Soweto of the Movement for Palestinian Solidarity," one of those who survived the bloodthirsty assault has said.

Speaking to the Star from Istanbul shortly after his release from an Israeli jail British campaigner Kevin Ovenden, who was aboard the Mavi Marmara - the boat that bore the brunt of a terrifying raid by gun-toting Israeli commandos - described the attack as a "murderous assault" and "an act of political terrorism."
Israeli security forces stormed the Mavi Marmara in international waters on Sunday night as it ferried 500 unarmed protesters towards Gaza.

The assault killed nine and injured dozens more, sparking worldwide condemnation.

Israel attempted to claim that its shock troops acted in self-defence after coming under attack, blaming the protesters for provoking the situation and being "terrorist supporters."

But Mr Ovenden told the Morning Star: "This was a peaceful humanitarian mission in international waters. The youngest person on board was not yet one, the oldest was 88 years old.

"We had no weapons on board. The Israelis are displaying knives taken from the kitchen. People did defend themselves with whatever was at hand.

"The attack started with percussion grenades and we feared they would use tear gas. The Israeli commandos attacked from all sides and began shooting almost immediately, initially with so-called rubber bullets but certainly within two or three minutes we heard the unmistakable sound of live rounds.

"A colleague from Viva Palestina , Nicci Enchmarch, was next to a Turkish man who was holding a camera. He was shot through the middle of the forehead. The exit wound blew away the back of his skull and she cradled him in her arms as he died."

At least four of those killed were shot through the head, he said.

Mr Ovenden praised the Turkish crew of the vessel as "truly heroic in their attempts to prevent further loss of life," saying they had taken two injured Israeli soldiers inside the ship to prevent them being hurt further in the panic and chaos.

Appeals to the Israeli forces telling them their soldiers were safe and that there were wounded people who needed assistance were ignored, he said.

"Where people had been sleeping was turned into a makeshift triage area. This turned into a makeshift mortuary. Despite repeated requests the Israeli forces refused to evacuate any of the injured for more than an hour.

"I saw severely injured people dragged like sacks of potatoes up the stairwells, their bodies banging against the steel."

Mr Ovenden was transported to BeerSheeva jail where he was held until his eventual release and extradition.

The brutality and degradation continued throughout their ordeal only improving slightly when the British consular official arrived at the prison.

Summing up the horrific events aboard the Mavi Marmara, he said: "This is the Sharpeville and Soweto of the movement for Palestinian solidarity and it must mark a turning point in world opinion and in the actions of governments around the world to end this immoral and illegal siege and the treatment the Israelis mete out to Palestinians.

"We experienced it for 48 hours but they have endured this for 62 years."

Despite the horrific ordeal Mr Ovenden said he would be prepared to make the trip again after the families of some of those murdered asked that their loss not be in vain.

Morning Star

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Friday 4 June 2010



Walking and working for a people’s countryside



Press release, May 29th 2010. Contact Dave: T. 01273 620 815, or Kim:

On Saturday 12th June Kate Ashbrook, the redoubtable Secretary of the Open Spaces Society, with many walkers and other lovers of the South Downs, led by Action For Access, will be demonstrating against the exclusion of the public from a piece of ‘freedom to roam’ downland at Breaky Bottom slope, TQ 404 053, on the Rodmell Downs between Brighton and Lewes, East Sussex.

We meet at Southease Station (on the rail line from Lewes to Newhaven and Seaford) at 10.35am.

The slope is a lovely and ancient down pasture site with grand views and lots of the old wildlife you get on what’s left of our traditional flowery chalk grasslands.

The landowner, who owns and lives at a vineyard in the valley bottom, has ‘pulled out all the stops’ to prevent the public enjoying their new freedom on his land.

He objected to the slope’s new rights of public access:

- because he didn’t want the public enjoying this downland near to his home and business;
- because he wanted to protect his shooting rights over the ground;
- and because there was a tiny disused chalk quarry at one end of the site.
Though his appeal was rejected on the first two grounds, he won a restriction order excluding the public from all this site because the tiny quarry was deemed a hazard.

At present, Natural England - at its most supine - is colluding in the landowner’s hostility to access by renewing, in a modified form, this restriction order on the site, first granted at appeal.

“More fencing than Guantanamo”

This landowner has failed to fence the quarry even though he has just spent £15,000 on re-fencing the entire access land site and fragmenting it into four barbed wire paddocks. Yet all that is needed is a mere 70 metres of fencing for this quarry to be made safe enough to satisfy Natural England’s requirements for the re-opening of the site.

His farm earns him the title of “the most-fenced farm on the South Downs”, with every vine row, tiny paddock and field, fenced or hedged.

And the local authority, Lewes District Council, has so far failed to take the action they are empowered to take under the Mines and Quarries Acts to fence the small chalk pit and thus enable the site to be re-opened.

Our demonstration seeks to put pressure on the local Council, Natural England, and the landowner to give us back our right to walk this ancient downland site. It serves notice that no such acts of selfishness will go unchallenged.

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Wednesday 2 June 2010

Mark Regev's replacement........

......the Israeli Government decided that it needed someone more convincing........

Tuesday 1 June 2010


The astounding turnout at Monday's emergency protest, when at only a few hours notice, thousands laid siege to David Cameron's residence in Downing Street and then marched to the Israeli Embassy (see, was a reflection of the intense rage at Israel's deadly attack on the Gaza flotilla, felt by millions worldwide.

Ours was just one of hundreds of protests that took place in towns and cities across the globe.
A national demonstration in London this Saturday 5 June has been called by Stop the War, CND, BMI, PCS and Viva Palestina. The Gaza Flotilla March will assemble at Downing Street at 1.30 and march to the Israeli Embassy.
Monday's emergency demonstration showed how fast we can mobilise if we use all available means to spread the word as fast as possible. Please do all you can to publicise the demonstration among your friends, in your workplace, in your trade union, in your college or school, in your community group etc.

We urge all local Stop the War groups and trade union branches affiliated to Stop the War to bring their banners on the march.

Naming our Gaza Freedom Flotilla Heroes - Manchester 1st June

In this speech the missing UK activists are named.  Where are they???  Among them is Respect National Council member Kevin Ovenden (pictured)

Free Palestine demo, Brighton, 31st May 2010

Photo and video by Mark Findlay

Respect statement on Israel's attack on Gaza Flotilla

PRESS RELEASE (Embargo: Immediate)

End the blockade. End the Israeli terror

Bags of cement, medical supplies, construction supplies. In the weeks since the third land convoy breached the Israeli blockade of Gaza, funds have been raised to fill a flotilla of six ships with these essential goods that the Israeli blockade of Gaza denies the Palestinian people. Since the appalling assault of Operation Cast Lead, Israel has prevented reconstruction or education in Gaza.

Viva Palestina, the Free Gaza Movement and the Gaza solidarity movement are expressions of the world wide mobilization to end the blockade. Today, at least 19 of our brothers and sisters died for the crime of daring to bring human assistance to the Palestinian people. More than 25 have been injured and 16 thrown into Israeli jails. Others are under arrest and being held. The desperately needed supplies were confiscated and towed to the Israeli port of Ashdod. 10,000 tonnes of human assistance has been taken.

The Respect Party is outraged at this murder. Our Turkish and Arab brothers and sisters whose lives were taken were brave and extraordinary people. When Respect Party members launched Viva Palestina, we found an entire movement of people willing to sacrifice all for the Palestinian people – we found that we are all Palestinian.

The ships were boarded in international waters. It was an act of piracy and murder. The Israeli government lies about the resistance to its piracy. The only guns on the ships were carried by Israeli commandos.

The Respect Party believes that the case for ending the blockade of Gaza is overwhelming. Israel is acting against international law and United Nations resolutions. The UN has declared the situation in Gaza to border on a human disaster. We demand the lifting of the blockade immediately and the transfer of the supplies on the flotilla to Gaza forthwith.

Every activist on the flotilla must be immediately released and allowed to return to their home. Those arrested must be released and those injured brought home as soon as medically possible. Respect Party Executive Committee member, Kevin Ovenden, is among those arrested. He has played a leading role in each of the Viva Palestina convoys and we demand his immediate unharmed release. His role in supporting Palestine is heroic and he deserves honour for his tireless sacrifice.

It is time to diplomatically isolate the Israeli government. This act of piracy must be answered in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, Article 100. We demand that the British government close the Israeli embassy, expel the Israeli ambassador and recall the British ambassador in Israel. The British government contains ministers who have argued against the blockade – it is time to make a stand for Palestine and to threaten withdrawal from the government unless diplomatic action is taken.

George Galloway, Respect Party National Council and former MP for Bethnal Green and Bow stated: "Israel has massacred unarmed peace activists aboard a flotilla taking emergency aid to the besieged Palestinian people in Gaza. This is a watershed that will change the perception of the world, as Sharpeville and Soweto did to the Apartheid regime in South Africa.

"It unmasks Israel which no-one can now consider a member of the 'international community' but is rather a rogue state, a pariah state.

"The embargo and blockade of Gaza must be brought to an end. This has been underwritten by the United States, by Britain and the European Union, but this has got to end now."

Salma Yaqoob, Respect Party leader and councillor in Sparkbrook, Birmingham condemned the action: “This murderous attack by the Israeli government on an aid convoy sailing in international waters is an act of state sponsored terrorism. It is also an attack on the entire international community.

“Israel acts with such shameless contempt of world opinion because it feels it is above international sanction. And for far too long it has been. This situation must change. The British government must express its outrage at the attack on its citizens and the aid convey in the strongest terms. The British Ambassador should be withdrawn from Israel and the Israeli Ambassador asked to leave Britain. Support should be given to the Palestinian call for an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council. Effective International sanctions must now be applied. The world must unite to send the strongest message that such acts of terrorism will not be tolerated. And the International Palestinian solidarity movement must send the strongest message that we will redouble our efforts to break Israel’s brutal siege of Gaza.”

The Respect Party website is at and can be contacted at or 07794 192 670.

Viva Palestina, a registered UK charity (1129092), has the following website

George Galloway’s websites are

Salma Yaqoob’s website is at

The Respect Party has received firm evidence that Kevin Ovenden was not harmed in the assault on the flotilla but was among those held. It will monitor his treatment as with all those detained.

Chris Chilvers

Respect National Office/Treasurer

07794 192 670

PO Box 167 Manchester M19 0AH.