Wednesday 27 April 2011

Labour and ConDems run away from debate on public services in Brighton

This is really quite shameful - on the part of Labour especially.

The civil service union PCS had organised a hustings for council candidates this Thursday on the theme of protecting public services.  This has now been cancelled.  PCS explains below.

The Public and Commercial Services Union in Brighton has called off an organised 'hustings' for
candidates at the local elections as Labour, Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives have all
declined invitations to attend. The debate was due to take place on Thursday at the Friends meeting house in Ship Street

PCS has run a successful campaign over a number of years called 'Make your vote count' which
encourages people to use their vote in elections, to support public services and to oppose the far
right. However, in Brighton only the Green Party and the Trade union and Socialist Candidate were prepared to face the electorate and public sector workers. Both also have supported the Unions pledges in supporting public services.

Kevin Dale, Make your Vote Count Co-ordinator in Brighton said " We organised the hustings, as we have up and down the country , because we believe voters are entitled to hear what politicians think and we also felt it was an opportunity for parties to say what they stand for. All credit to TUSC and the Greens for being prepared to speak up for what they believe in but it seems Labour, the Lib Dems and Tories are running scared of the people they want to represent. Labour and the Lib Dems both declined invitations to attend and attempts to get a Conservative speaker also came to nothing. What are these parties scared of? Are their policies not up to scrutiny?

We have taken the decision not to go ahead with the meeting due mainly to the failure of Labour to debate issues particularly the cuts and public services, and we ask voters to support candidates in Brighton who have publicly backed our campaign and signed the our unions 5 Pledges to support public services, those being TUSC and the Greens."

Jason KitKat, Green party Councillor, who was due to speak said "I am disappointed that the other parties are not up for open and fair debate around the issues that effect the electorate. The Greens are willing to debate with any party as there are issues that need to be addressed."

Phil Clarke of the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition which is standing against all cuts said " The
cuts in council services are so severe that councillors need to make them central to this election.
Refusing to even debate the issues shows how weak labours anti-cuts credentials are. The people of Brighton need to look elsewhere at Trade unionists and Socialist against the cuts candidates to find people who have pledged to take on the government and vote against all cuts."

Tuesday 26 April 2011

Why it is wrong to call for a NO vote on AV

In this article for Socialist Resistance, Alan Thornett challenges some of the left thinking on the AV referendum.

The Tory-led, and heavily funded, campaign for a NO vote in the AV referendum appears to be winning the contest hands down. Cameron, with a total commitment to the corrupt FPTP system, is whipping Tory voters (in particular) into line with a series of dire predictions and downright lies about the consequences of AV which bear no factual relationship to the issues at hand.
They are wiping the floor with the lack-lustre, under-organised, and gimmick-ridden campaign for a YES vote led by the Labour leadership and the Lib Dems. Whilst Lib Dems are strongly behind a YES vote Labour are divided on it from top to bottom. Much of the Labour Left is also for a NO vote.
Unfortunately most of the far left are also supporting the NO campaign. Yet if the NO campaign wins it will be seen as a thumping endorsement of the current FPTP system which delivered outrageously undemocratic election results throughout the 20th century in defense of the two party system and which, in the event of a NO vote, will be set to continue doing so for the foreseeable future — and with a referendum decision behind it.
Under FPTP in the last election the Tories won just 36% of the vote which gave them a much higher proportion of MPs. In 2005 Labour polled just 35.2% of the votes cast but for this they got 55.1% of the seats in Parliament – way above their proportional entitlement. The Tories polled 30.7% of the vote and 32.3% of the seats – just above their proportional entitlement. The Lib Dems polled 22.1% of the vote and all they got for this was just 9.6% of seats – less than half of their proportional entitlement.
This meant that it took 26000 votes to elect a Labour MP, 44000 to elect a Tory MP, and a huge 96000 to elect a Liberal Democrat MP – nearly four times as many votes as those needed by a Labour MP. Such a system is scandalous and indefensible even before you consider the way it stacks the odds against small parties.
It also meant that around 70% of voters cast votes which make no difference what-so-ever to the outcome since they were in safe seats of one kind or another and the election is won or lost in a minority of marginal seats.
The latest far left organisation to adopt a NO vote stance is the SWP — see SW of April 16. In doing so they have recycled some of the most vacuous justifications.
The first is that a NO vote will “deepen the rifts in the coalition”. This is not only the wrong approach but it is problematic as a prediction. Whichever way the vote goes it will cause a crisis in the coalition. Whilst a NO vote would precipitate a crisis for the Lib Dems a YES vote would be totally unacceptable to a swathe of mind-dead Tory MPs, who see FPTP as akin to a religion, and who would blame Cameron for getting them into it.
The issue of AV, however, should not be judged on the conjuctural effect of the referendum on the establishment parties but whether it is an improvement (even a very small one as in this case) over the existing system and\or does it have the propensity to open the door to further reform towards a proportionate system which would deliver fair votes: i.e. a Parliament where the number of MPs for each party directly reflect the votes polled by each party?
A a vote for change would show that change was possible and pose the issue of further change, particularly since the most of those supporting it would want to go further, while a vote for FPTP would retrench the existing system
The second argument SW advances is that voting in bourgeois elections is not that important anyway. “Having a vote is better than not having a vote” SW argues and goes on, “The capitalist class can live with political democracy—the election of parliaments and governments—because the decisive levers of power are outside parliament.”
This seriously misunderstands the importance of the electoral field to the calls struggle under capitalism and understates the right of the working class to democracy under a bourgeois-democratic system. Bourgeois democracy is not workers democracy of course but the struggle for a democratic voting system under capitalism is a part of the struggle for socialism. It also downplays the struggles historically for the universal franchise (the Chartists and the women’s suffrage movement) — which were about democracy under a bourgeois system.
In Britain in the 20th century there were periods which were effectively elected dictatorships based on huge majorities in Parliament, yet these majorities bore little relationship to the support the parties enjoyed amongst the electorate. It is not in the interests of working class for such a system to continue.
AV of course will not resolve that because it is not a proportional system but a vote of confidence in FPTP will not resolve it either. It could set back change for another generation.
The SW article argues that AV will not strengthen the left — but this is not true. It would at least allow voters to express their genuine preferences without the pressure to vote tactically and allows small parties to stand without fear of splitting the vote. It therefore benefits small parties as against FPTP at the constituency level. This does not mean it would be easier for small parties to get into Westminster, only PR can do that, but it would at least give small parties a more representative vote at constituency level which would increase their credibility in elections.
It would ensure that all MPs are elected on the basis of majority support (at present only a third of them achieve this and would undermine, least to some extent, the safe seats which FPTP provides for Labour and the Tories which disenfranchises swathes of voters at every election.
SW argues that: “Many European countries have more progressive voting systems than in Britain. Portugal has PR—but workers still face savage cuts.” Of course no one is arguing that the voting system can replace the class struggle. But it should be remembered that the left is strongly represented in the Portuguese parliament, including the far left, and that would not be the case under FPTP.
The SW article even uses the London mayoral election as a negative example of AV, arguing that it was still a contest between the two main parties. This may be true, given the electoral relationship of forces, but it least allowed the voters to vote both for their preferred candidate as well as voting against the worst main contender — which in this case was the Tories. FPTP would be far worse for the London mayoral elections.
The far left needs to think again on this issue.

Alan Thornett

Sunday 24 April 2011

EDL blocked and harried in Brighton

YouTube Video

The video above shows the EDL being chased around Brighton by anti-fascists today-and the photos give some idea of the massive and oppressive police operation (involving 5 forces) - oppressive, that is, towards the anti-fascist contingent. To the EDL, they could not have been more accommodating, even to the extent of facilitating a further drinking session for them after their march had ended, rather than just getting them out of the city as soon as possible.

Extensive use was made of the notorious Section 14 of the Public Order Act to try to intimidate anti fascists - it didn't work, and we were able to block Queens Road for over an hour. There were however a number of random arrests of activists.

Among the positives of the day -

- the "respectable" veneer of March for England was well and truly stripped away. This was without question an EDL march.

- different anti-fascist groups worked well together.

- although numbers were less than we would have liked, it was really encouraging to see the hostility towards the EDL from ordinary locals.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday 18 April 2011

Oppose racism. Celebrate multiculturalism

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Quiz your candidates!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday 13 April 2011

Anti-cuts Dayschool - Brighton

It is good that anti-cuts activists are getting together across Sussex, sharing experiances, making links and building the fightback. Saturday was just a day in Brighton at the anti-cuts day school, organised by Brighton Stop The Cuts Coalition. Discussions on a range of issues took place amongst activists and this must be welcomed. They plan another event which deserves supporting. It is not about setting up yet another committee but about strengthening the links, listening, talking and learning from each other.

Last year, the Lib Dems pledged not to increase tuition fees and quickly renaged on this, quick to jump into office with the Tories. Today, they promise to oppose Lansley's NHS bill. We do not trust them at all as they have been part of an unelected coalition, implementing the most savage attacks on working people, youth, students and the weakest in society. This year has shown one thing, working people must look to their own and the labour and trade union movement to oppose the Con Dem class attack. We expect Cleg and Cameron to defend the bankers. They created this crises and we are not going to pay for it.

Over half a million marched in London against the austerity measures on March 26th. This was the biggest trade union march since the 1970's. Industrial action in the public sector against pay cuts, attacks on public services, pensions and jobs can be expected over the coming period. Local community groups are fighting to defend their local schools, hospitals, playgroups and community centres. Benefit claiments and those dependant on diasability and income support are facing a horrendous and nightmarish future. We have to be able to show that there is an alternative to these cuts and the fightback has started.

In the meantime, the fascists and racists attempt to divide working people with their vile scapegoating message. In Brighton and elsewhere we will not be intimidated and there is a united response across the whole of our multi-cultural, multi-racial and multi-religious society against them. The BNP/ EDL and others have nothing to offer but hatred and bigotry. They will not pass.

A-star anti-cuts day school unites South East activists -report.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday 6 April 2011

Come to the Anti-Cuts Dayschool this Saturday!

Brighton TUSC to fight the cuts at the ballot box!

From: Brighton Trade Unionists and Socialists Against Cuts

The people have a real choice, a real alternative to vote for at the ballot box.

"There will be anger on the streets as people realise that the same people who created the UK financial crisis are still living in the lap of luxury while the rest of us are told to take the hit."

While the filthy rich attempt to escape any punishment for causing the economic crash that is being piled upon the innocent working class with job losses and vicious cuts to our public services, the words of Trade Unionists and Socialist Against Cuts (TUSC) supporter Bob Crow are turning into action.

On March 26 hundreds of thousands of trade unionists, socialists, pensioners, the unemployed, students and young people raised London in a giant demonstration with one voice calling for an alternative to this government's unjustified cuts agenda. And with May's local elections looming, anti-cuts campaigners have now launched a counter-attack at the ballot box to offer ordinary people the chance to vote for an opportunity to see justice rightfully served upon those who continue to steal our wealth we create through our work in private and public services, to fight for that wealth for the benefit of the millions instead of the billionaires.

With the Tories and Lib Dems leading the attack on our livelihoods and communities, the cowardly Labour Party once again turns its back on ordinary working people and the poor by allowing ideologically driven cuts budgets to lash out of council chambers across the country into the laps of our society's most vulnerable, the growing army of the abandoned unemployed and lowest paid.

In Brighton the Labour Party abstained in the recent budget vote allowing the Tories to continue with £23 million of cuts to children's services, housing services and transport all relied upon by ordinary people.

The Greens have no idea how to defend working people. They attempted to offer their own amendments and voted against the Tories budget, but have stated that they can see no alternative to making cuts if they are elected.

TUSC must show that councillors do have a choice, that they should set 'needs' budgets and demand the extra money that is currently being avoided in taxes owed by the rich or in bankers' bonuses, a figure approximately £120 billion each year – enough to wipe out the country's deficit in one go. In 1984, by following this strategy, the Militant-led Liverpool Labour Party council won £60 million from Thatcher's Tory government that was stronger than the current Con-Dem coalition.

The Trade Unionists and Socialist Against Cuts (TUSC) coalition of candidates and activists includes members from the Brighton Stop the Cuts Coalition campaigners, the RMT trade union, Brighton Hove & District Trades Union Council, Brighton & Hove Unemployed Workers Centre, leading Defend Council Housing activists, the Socialist Party, the Socialist Workers Party and Socialist Resistance, along with hundreds of individuals determined to resist these attacks and build a genuine political voice for ordinary working class people.

TUSC is calling for anyone who is opposed to the cuts to support our socialist anti-cuts platform as candidates people can vote for in their community, who will resist all attempts to cut and privatise everything organised working people have fought so hard for in the past.

TUSC is standing working class anti-cuts candidates in Hollingdean and Stanmer, East Brighton, Moulsecoomb and Bevendean and Hanover wards.

Ward: Hollingdean and Stanmer
Candidates: Phil Clarke, Tony Greenstein and Dave Hill
Phil Clarke:
Phil is a local teacher and trade union activist who has been at the forefront of defending jobs and building the Brighton Stop the Cuts Coalition.
As a Hollingdean resident Phil has been part of campaigns to stop the sell-off our council houses
and has stood alongside the unemployed workers centre’s Tony Greenstein in previous elections.
“Locally Labour allowed the Tories to pass a massive cuts budget - they think cuts should be carried out but slower. The Hollingdean Green candidates have admitted they will have to
vote through cuts if they lead the council. We need councillors who will vote against ALL cuts and support our unions defending jobs.”

Tony Greenstein:
Tony has been an advisor and co-ordinator at the Unemployed Workers Centre in Hollingdean for over a decade.
As a member of Unison, Tony has been vital in providing help for both workers and the unemployed in fighting the attacks on our hard won welfare support services, along with building the Brighton Stop the Cuts Coalition in the local community.

Dave Hill:
Dave Hill is a trade union activist and university professor. He represented Stanmer ward for 10 years and served as governor of Coldean schools and of the University of Sussex. He has been active in supporting the victimised Sussex Six and students and staff at the universities fighting against redundancies.
Dave Hill is a former East Sussex Labour group leader, a former Brighton councillor and P
parliamentary candidate, who left Labour after 44 years disgusted by the way the party has turned against the working class and by its cuts policies. In 2010 he ran for parliament in Brighton for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition.
Brought up in poverty in Brighton, he founded the Brighton Campaign for Nursery Education and has fought all his life for the equality for working people, and against sexism, homophobia, and racism.

Ward: Moulsecoomb and Bevendean
Candidate: Dave Bangs
Dave Bangs is a gardener and ex-care worker. He co-led Defend Council Housing's successful campaign to stop council housing privatisation in Brighton.
Dave says: “We need a massive programme of new council housing, and we need rent controls and security of tenure to help students and all private tenants. I support making public transport free and creating a million green jobs to help stop disastrous climate change.”
Dave co-founded Keep Our Forests Public to stop privatisation of our forests. He co-led the successful campaigns to stop the privatisation of both Brighton and Worthing's council-owned downland.
Dave is a lifelong green activist and was a member of the Labour Party for 20 years until New Labour took over.
“All the other parties will vote for cuts budgets rather than fight unjust laws.”

Ward: East Brighton
Candidate: Bill North
Bill North is a local teacher and an active UCU member. He has been a pillar of the local labour movement in his role as current Brighton, Hove and District Trades Union Council general secretary.
Bill has been fighting the attacks to our jobs, public services and rights for decades, having been instrumental in the work of local anti-poll tax federation in the early 1990s to playing a guiding role in the creation of the Brighton Stop the Cuts Coalition uniting all those fighting the cuts agendas of the other parties.

Ward: Hanover
Candidate: Jon Redford
Jon Redford is an organiser for the Socialist Party, originally from Crowborough. He is standing for the Trade Unionists and Socialists Against Cuts for two reasons. First, the massive cuts agenda that faces every working and middle-class person in Britain - the cost of a crisis we did not cause while the culprits laugh all the way to the bank. Second, the lack of a fightback from any of the other main parties who either agree with the cuts or are failing to wage a serious fightback against them.
The cuts will devastate local communities and Brighton and Hove will be no exception. As a councillor Jon will campaign against every single cut to living and working conditions and push to build the strength of the anti-cuts movement with a fighting strategy to defeat the cuts and the coalition government.


For more information please call Jon on 07894 716095 or Peter on 07788 744120 or email
Alternatively, please visit or

Thank you.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Calling all UNISON members - NEC elections - VOTE FOR THE LEFT!

If you are a member of UNISON then look out for these names on the ballot papers

For a fighting democratic union

NATIONAL Black Members
Female seats April Ashley and Bola George
Male seat Hugo Pierre

National young members
Kieran Grogan

Eastern region
Male seat Martin Booth

East Midlands region
Female seat Jean Thorpe Sharon Vasselin
Male seat Richard Buckwell

Greater London region
Female seats Marshajane Thompson and Helen Davies
Male seat Jon Rogers
Reserved seat Emilse Ocampo Medina

Northern region
Female seat Hannah Walter
Male seat Dave Walkden

North West region
General seat Tony Wilson
Female seats Bernie Gallagher and Karen Reissmann
Male seat Roger Bannister
Reserved seat Sophie Smith Rudge
Scotland region
Male seat Duncan Smith

South East region
Female seats Diana Leach
Emma Macbeth
Male seat Mike Tucker

South West region
Male seat Nigel Behan

West Midlands region
General Seat Clive Shakespeare
Female Seat. Vez Kirkpatric

Yorkshire & Humberside region
General Mike Forster
Female seats Angie Wallor Helen Jenner
Male seat Jim Board
Reserved seat Victoria Perrin

Health Care service group
Female seats Kate Ahrens and Shona Greig
Male seat Len Hockey
General seat John Malcolm

Higher Education service group
Female seat Carole Hanson
General seat Max Watson

Local Government service group
Female seats kathy Smith and Phoebe Watkins
Male seat Paul Couchman
General seat Paul Holmes

Water Enviroment Transport
General Seat John Jones
General seat Alec McFadden

General seat Dave Kuivala

EDL tries to disrupt anti-fascist meeting in Brighton.....and fails miserably

"I was born in an insulated, monocultural environment and it never did me any harm....."

About 30 EDL yobs attacked a Unite Against Fascism meeting at the Friends Meeting House on Tuesday evening, but they failed to even get past the front door.

The meeting was titled In Defence of Multiculturalism in the wake of Cameron's disgraceful remarks a couple of months ago.  Among the speakers were Martin Smith of the UAF Steering Committee and Chris Whitwell of Friends Families and Travellers.

Some good points were made - chiefly that Cameron made the remarks in a desperate attempt to divide communities and divert attention from his government's slash and burn policies.  Questions were asked about Cameron's right to pronounce that "multiculturalism had failed" given his own monocultural upbringing (unless one includes the drinking culture of the Bullingdon Club!).

I spoke from the Stop the Cuts Coalition, and it was a positive move that the links were made by UAF between the crisis and the rise of far right politics.

The EDL thugs were seen off and the police arrived shortly after.  Incredibly, their verdict was that we had provoked the trouble!  Another bizarre interpretation of events by, arguably, Britain's oddest police force.

We finished our meeting, so denying the EDL any claim to have broken it up, and then we left together.