Thursday 28 October 2010

Together we can stop the cuts!

Our jobs, communities and public services are all under attack by an unstable Con-Dem government determined to make us pay for an economic crisis that was caused by the bankers and the rich.

Workers, pensioners, the unemployed, students, young people and people with disabilities are all threatened, with savage cuts to services we all rely on, while mega profits and bonuses continue to be raked in by the wealthy.

We are told that these cuts are the only way to solve the crisis and reduce the deficit but this is not true - billions owed by the rich in tax go uncollected each year while billions more are wasted on war, Trident and privatisations.  

There is an alternative to these unjustified attacks and a growing fightback is taking place that can force the rich to pay for their crisis.

Brighton Stop the Cuts Coalition has been formed by trade union branches organised around Brighton and Hove Trades Council, community groups and various political parties to bring everyone together.

Our strength comes from our unity. By supporting one another with petitions, protests and united mass action we can stop all the cuts.


Monday 25 October 2010

Jerry Hicks for Unite GS

For Unite members it’s more of the ‘shame’ and business as usual
or a chance for change in the election for General Secretary.
The finish line [or could it be the starting post] is now in sight, and the race to lead the largest union in Britain and potentially the most powerful starts next week, Monday 25th October when the ballot papers will be despatched to 1.3 million Unite members. Whether employed or unemployed, whether in Unite or not, students and pensioners, everyone will be affected by the result as to who becomes the General Secretary of Unite.
Les Bayliss attacks the BA cabin crew, brave enough to resist and fight for a better future, not the Con Dems for slashing 500,000 public sector jobs. Tony Woodley and his chosen successor Len McCluskey would have planned the timing of the BA cabin staff ballot and the ballot papers for the election of General Secretary being sent out at precisely the same time [goes beyond mere coincidence]. The aim being to present Len McCluskey as a successful negotiator bringing the year long dispute to a successful end - knowing that the ‘devil in the detail’ of the deal would not be exposed to the vast majority of the members voting in the ballot for General Secretary, until after they have voted.
Woodley on behalf of McCluskey expresses outrage at Bayliss’s breaking of the election protocols - then breaks all the rules himself when publicly promoting McCluskey at an anti cuts rally in Westminster.
Talk is cheap while poor judgement is costly. Ed Milliband, who Unite’s leadership supported using members’ money, distanced himself from the union and action against the cuts as soon as he became the leader and failed to turn out and support working people by not voting for John McDonnell's Private Members Bill in Parliament last week. Shame on the Labour Party leadership for failing to back this bill whose sole aim was to stop employers seeking unwarranted injunctions to prevent lawful strikes on minor technicalities as in the BA dispute.
Why did we not make support for the bill a condition of our support for Ed Milliband’s leadership?
Jerry Hicks is the only candidate that says “We must ensure that those that don’t support our policies no longer receive any support from our union”.
The choice could not be clearer. Les Bayliss looks up to employers and offers a ‘strike free union’ while he talks down to members and offers a ‘free diary’.
Len McCluskey uses the BA dispute to promote himself. He wants us to believe he will fight the anti union laws but hopes we forget he has done nothing about it during the 3 terms of a Labour government!
Gail Cartmail sounds like a manager at a team brief, offering only generalities and plays the gender card.
Some things they say are different but they all support the appointment of officials. They all said nothing for 13 years, 3 terms of a Labour Government. But they all have plenty to say now; they will talk about ‘fighting’ but with someone else’s job, pay and pension. When was the last time any of them lost any pay in a dispute? When was the last time any of them was threatened with a disciplinary or suspension or the sack over a dispute?
Jerry Hicks says “Well, it’s too late to tell us what you are going to do tomorrow or next month. Why didn’t you all do it when you had the chance? The stakes are too high to let them get away with this any longer. Handing the baton of power to a ‘chosen one’ has to end. Instead let’s get the union back”.
Jerry Hicks is a union member who wants a member led, member controlled union. Who believes members should decide who represents them by electing all union officials.
Jerry Hicks will only take an average wage, and is independent of the cliques, factions, official machines and cronyism.
Notes to Editors: Jerry Hicks having come second in the election for Joint General Secretary, Amicus section of Unite less than 19 months ago is thought by many to be a possible winner in this election of the whole Union.
Contact Jerry Hicks either on 07817827912 or by email
For more information visit

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Sunday 24 October 2010

March against cuts on the 30th!

Brighton Stop the Cuts Coalition is building a united fight back against the cuts agenda with a wave of protests, lobbies and demonstrations which have been taking place over the last few days.

Organised by trade union branches affiliated to Brighton trades council - representing over 10,000 workers in the city - alongside community campaigners and political activists, the Brighton Stop the Cuts Coalition is a force that has the potental to grow and link up with others to stop all of these unjustified cuts to jobs and public services.

On Wednesday October 20, Con-Dem chancellor George Osborne announced the harshest cuts to public services and jobs ever made. The budget deficit created by bailing out the greed of the city and bankers is being used as an exuse by capitalists and the rich to secure ever more massive profits at the expense of our society's poorest and lowest paid by attacking the progressive achievements made by generations of trade unionists and working class campaigners.

Already we have heard plans to increase VAT to 20% which will have a disproportionate impact on those on low incomes who spend the majority of their poverty wages on basics such as food, water, warmth and shelter. Last week a shocking cut of 80% to university teaching budgets was announced which will destroy our children's future education hopes along with the loss of thousands of jobs affecting millions of families. And these attacks are just two of many more that are threatened.

At a rally in Wales on Saturday to defend passport services and workers' jobs, PCS union national vice president John McInally received the loudest applause when he said: "The people who want to cut our jobs and services, destroy our communities and attack our families are barbarians. And as far as we're concerned, we will organise in our workplaces, we will organise in our communities, we will stick together and we will defeat you."

Locally, the Tory-run council continue to plan cuts to our Connexions youth support services, SureStart help, housing budgets and the closure of Bright Start Nursery. And these cuts will be just the start after today's "comprehensive spending review" with the results being passed on to local councils to impliment.

Thousands of jobs and hundreds of public services used by everyone are at risk, but we will not take these unjustified attacks lying down. In Brighton and Hove your local trades council has been at the forefront in organising trade union branches from all unions in the Brighton Stop the Cuts Coalition and small victories are already being won with united pressure on the city's councillors.

On Saturday Oct 30 a Brighton March Against Cuts demonstration is assembling on The Level at 12 noon which will march through the city as a protest against these unjustified cuts.

Come along, spread the word and take part in these important events to help save your public services. Make the rich pay for their crisis. They caused it, not us!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday 22 October 2010


This the latest instalment of my occasional series on the wise words of Nadine Dorries MP - the woman who gave us the pearl "Trident isn't a weapon of mass destruction".

Her latest piece of great comedy value is her statement to the standards commissioner that "70% of my blog is fiction".

Isn't that good to know......

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday 21 October 2010

Brighton and Hove Tories forced to retreat on Connexions....then throw a hissy fit!

Brighton and Hove's Conservative councillors demonstrated at tonights City Council meeting how badly they respond to pressure after they were forced to concede the referral back of their proposed massive cuts to the Connexions service.

Clearly rattled by the fact that they knew they were outvoted and faced with a packed and hostile public gallery, they responded with a quite appalling display of snide remarks and veiled threats.

A taste of what was to come was apparent during an earlier debate on a deputation about the proposed Portslade Academy. In her response, Cllr Vanessa Brown, Children's Services Cabinet Member, proceeded to "tell off" the member of the public leading the deputation for daring to question the qualifications of Academy sponsor, Rod Aldridge, to run a school - clearly not something she had ever considered doing!

But they really hit their stride in the Connexions debate. We had Tories attacking Connexions staff personally, including the quite scurrilous accusation that staff were "forcing" service users to write testimonials for them - an outrageous attack on their professional integrity.

Then, in a speech by Council Leader Mary Mears, we were treated to what appeared to be a veiled threat to take away trade union facility time. This had nothing to do with the issue under discussion, but Mary is clearly frustrated at how effectively the unions are resisting the cuts.

The whole unpleasant affair was rounded off by a blustering speech by a hitherto anonymous councillor called Tony Janio who simply ranted at everyone.

Then they all went and had dinner!

The Tories' finest hour.......not!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Making the poorest pay

Are we really supposed to swallow the lie that these cuts are in any way fair?

Look at the evidence and it is clear that they are very grim news for some of the most vulnerable people in society.

Earlier this week Osborne compared benefit fraudsters to "muggers", but he showed himself to be the mugger-in-chief as he took another £7bn out of the welfare budget to add to the £11bn he stole in June.

And for all his talk it is people who are working who will bear much of the brunt.

There is myth in this country (fed by the media) that there are workers and then there are benefit claimants. In fact millions of low-paid workers are receiving tax credits and housing benefits as it is the only way to survive on criminally low wages and criminally high rents. It is these benefits which face the biggest cuts.

Two ways to drastically reduce the cost of housing benefit would be to introduce statutory rent controls and a minimum wage of at least the European decency level. But such measures would not sit well with the Tories' big business friends - which is presumably also why the government isn't very interested in collecting their unpaid taxes -something which would raise £120bn all by itself.

We are also told that cutting welfare spending will protect public services, but local government is to be decimated with cuts amounting to 30% over 4 years. Nearly half a million jobs are threatened in the public sector. Make no mistake, this means the disappearance of whole services.

In addition to pay freezes, public sector workers may have to pay another 2% towards their pensions. Faced with the choice of eating today or saving for retirement tomorrow, many younger members of pensions schemes will vote with their feet. They will claim benefits when the time comes - which will cost taxpayers more than properly funded pension schemes would have done.

Two crucial myths need to be challenged -

- that the cuts are a financial necessity - in fact they are a political necessity driven by neo-liberal ideology.

- that the cuts are "democratic" - in fact this ramshackle coalition that no-one voted for has no mandate whatsoever for these cuts.

We need a movement to challenge this, but the left is weak because it chose to indulge itself in the luxury of political infighting for 10 years when it should have been building a credible left alternative to New Labour.

So we will need to build from the ground up and build a broad movement which is not the property of any group or faction and which will draw in those people who will want to fight the cuts which will impact on them.

The Stop the Cuts Coalition in Brighton is a start, but it needs to draw in as many people as possible who want to do something.

We need a bit of Paris on the streets of Brighton!

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Sunday 17 October 2010

Lobby the Council to defend services this Thursday



Join a



To Defend Essential Services and

Protest Against the Cuts to Connexions, Bright Start Nursery and other services

Thursday 21st October

From 3.30 p.m.

Hove Town Hall

For more details or if you want to help contact:

01273 291611 or email

Tories caught red-handed trying to close Bright Start Nursery

The Tories' attempt to get the closure of Brightstart Nursery sneaked through on the word of ONE councillor has unravelled.

A united campaign by both users and workers at the nursery has forced the Council to reopen the discussion and the process which led to the announcement of a "consultation" on the closure will now be re-examined by a scrutiny committee.  The news comes hard on the heels of the revelation that the Council is also haveing to defer plans to sack 15 Connexions workers.

The nursery workers have made the following statement.......

Councillor Vanessa Brown has admitted that the planned closure of Bright Start nursery is just about saving money There is no mention in their report of the damaging effects to young children of closing their nursery, many only 4 months away from starting primary school. No thought is given either to the waste of disbanding an excellent team of nursery workers which has been built up over many years. When nurseries open, politicians are often keen to have their photos taken with smiling children. Will our councillors be at Bright Start for the cameras on their planned closure day as heartbroken children, parents and staff show their feelings?

A report full of red herrings

As well as not mentioning the effect on children, the report. makes no attempt to look at alternatives to closure apart from a 30% fee increase. Yet parents and Unison came up with a range of viable alternatives in a few hours .The report gives out of date figures about occupancy rates It repeats a projected cost of building work, which only a year ago wasn’t deemed necessary when the council funded the refurbishment of other nurseries in the city .Surely the council has a duty to write a more balanced report and to seriously consider all options before taking going down a route that is already causing great worry and stress for both parents and staff.

Overpaid Staff?

The report talk about staff pay being higher than the private sector and it notes that staff “retention is good” as if this was part of the problem.! Most private nurseries pay little more than the minimum wage. Trainees on £100 per week or less can be included in the staff-child ratios And some do not even pay sick pay. Bright Start staff are still paid far less than the average wage. But having staff who stay in the same job for many years, including two male workers is part of the reason why our nursery has such a good reputation. Surely this is what the children of this city deserve.

The Council Has The Money

The cost of lost taxes and benefits claimed would actually be more to the taxpayer than the alleged savings of closing Bright Start (Between£100,000 and £200,000!) That is farcical! We all know that the council has money to halt save Bright Start and the taxpayer. The Argus has reported recently on huge sums of money being wasted in Brighton and Hove council. £100,000s spent on empty buildings or writing off private companies debts, paying nearly £1million to a few “top” people to go and get another job, massive increases in councillors expenses, the appointment of Party Political advisors on nearly twice the salary of a nursery nurse, £4million to a cleaning company to clean EBCOMA school after they closed it down…..the list is endless without even mentioning the £Millions held by the council in “reserves”.

The Country Has The Money

As in Brighton and Hove, some sections of society nationally are awash with wealth and money while the rest of us are being told “we are all in this together” and “we must all tighten our belts”. The big question facing our City and the country currently is who has to pay for the financial disaster created by bankers, politicians and City of London gamblers?

Just like with the flawed report into Bright Start, there are plenty of alternatives to making the weakest and most vulnerable pay for the crisis. Brighton and Hove Unison branch stands by the staff, parents and children at Bright Start and will ensure that we are not the ones to pay with our jobs, careers, and the happiness of our children.

Printed and published by Brighton and Hove Unison c/o Brighton Town Hall, Bartholomew Square, Brighton

Please sign the petition at (this will force the council to at least debate the issue)

Please see the parents’ website

Please see the “Save Bright Start Nursery” and “Brighton Stop the Cuts Coalition” facebook groups

Join us on the march against cuts The Level,Brighton. Noon .30th October

Less than 100 years to save the human race....

Around 60 people came to the Friends Meeting House to hear Hugo Blanco speak about the struggles of indigenous people the world over to defend their way of life from rapacious capitalism in all its forms.  He spoke about how climate change and deforestation is causing human catastrophes such as floods, mudslides and drought.  Hugo also lent his support to the struggles of European workers

Also speaking was Dave Bangs, who talked about the past and present struggle for land in Britain and Europe.  Caroline Lucas also lent her support to the struggle.
The meeting raised £124 to help the struggle of Hugo's organisation, Lucha Indigena

Monday 11 October 2010

Tories target Bright Start Nursery

The Council is threatening to close its own workplace nursery - Bright Start - which has existed for nearly 25 years and provides nursery places for both council employees and the wider community.  The nursery is well-respected and is unusual in that its staff actually enjoy reasonable pay and conditions, ensuring low staff turnover and continuity of care for the children.  But for your average Tory monetarist, such "luxuries" add up to "costs" which must be stripped out in the brave new world.

The "consultation document" which the council has just published cannot deny the quality of the service but chooses to hide behind the fact that investment is needed to refurbish the building.  But the Council quite clearly has no idea how much extra cost would be entailed in simply maintaining the empty building if the nursery were to be closed.  The document is full of wishful thinking about what other organisations might take over the building, but it is far from clear what other public sector organisation or private company would have a use for the building...although it is of course in a prime and lucrative central Brighton location.

This is just the start.  We have not even had the Autumn statement yet but the Tories are looking to sneak in cuts now in the hope that no-one will notice.

There is a campaign to save Brightstart at and a petition at

By the way...the cost of that refurbishment?   £230,000....less than two "strategic directors".

Sunday 10 October 2010

Latin America and the ecosocialist alternative - Hugo Blanco comes to Brighton

Come and listen to Peruvian peasant leader Hugo Blanco; Green MP, Caroline Lucas; and local environmental campaigner David Bangs discuss the challenges and the possibilities!

Thursday 14 October
7.30 pm
Friends Meeting House, Ship Street, Brighton

Hugo Blanco is touring the UK during September and October. The tour is being organized by Green Left and Socialist Resistance.

Hugo has been at the forefront of a huge struggle in the Peruvian Amazon, where the government has sold off the rainforests to the oil corporations, against the resistance of the indigenous people of the region.

The UN climate summit in Copenhagen last December showed that most of the world's governments, and the market economy they defend, are totally incapable of tackling climate change, the most pressing problem to face humanity in modern times. The follow-up meeting in CancĂșn, Mexico, at the end of this year, looks set to repeat the fiasco.
However, the People's Climate Summit, called last April by the Bolivian government along with indigenous and social movements from across Latin America, showed that there is an alternative.
Hugo Blanco is at the centre of these debates
A guerrilla leader back in the 1960s, he has been a leader of the Peruvian peasant movement for more than four decades, as well as a prominent political prisoner and, more briefly, an elected member of Peru's Senate.
In recent years, he has dedicated himself to campaigning for indigenous rights in Peru, especially through the paper he edits, Lucha IndĂ­gena (“Indigenous Struggle”), and has become one of the most prominent voices for Latin America's growing eco-socialist movement.

Tuesday 5 October 2010

The wit and wisdom of Nadine Dorries.....

It is said that in some parts of the country you could stick a blue rosette on a donkey and it would get elected.  In Mid-Bedfordshire the voters appear keen to put this theory quite literally to the the shape of Nadine Dorries.

Nadine first came to my attention when she intoned (in all seriousness) on BBC Question Time that Trident "isn't a weapon of mass destruction".  She said it with one of those little incredulous laughs, as though the very notion was totally silly.  I guess the Chiefs of Staff will now be taking the warheads back to the manufacturers, with the receipt, in order to get a refund.

Nadine's latest obsession is with "benefit scroungers", and in particular her notion that disabled people who use Twitter must be malingering.  She urges us to report anyone we know who tweets alot to the DWP. 

Mind you, Nadine knows alot about sharp financial practice, having had a very flexible attitude as to which home was her normal one and which her "second " home when claiming expenses.

Where do they get these people from?