Friday 28 October 2011

Feed the world without destroying the planet!

A tour on food sovereignty could not be more pertinent as supermarket profits, food prices and world hunger are all rising. The response of both the British government institutions is call for more trade liberalisation – itself one of the major causes of the food crisis.

As ecosocialists we fight for food sovereignity, that is the right of those who produce food to determine agricultural practices free from interference from the multinationals or international institutions. That is how we feed the world without destroying the planet.

So the arrival of the Phillipina ecosocialist Maria Neri Pampilo with her practical experience of struggles for land reform and the development of ecologically sustainable food production gives a unique opportunity to explore these questions.

Maria Neri Pampilo

Socialist Resistance and Green Left are organising this tour with support from a number of other local hosts listed below;

November 10 Leeds: Socialist Resistance and Leeds Green Party with Maria Neri Pampilo , 7 pm, lecture theatre C.(Fourth floor) Rose Bowl, back of Leeds Civic Hall LS1 3HR

November 12 London Socialist Resistance and Green Left with Maria Neri Pampilo, Derek Wall (Green Left) Rehad Desai (South African climate activist), Pierre Rousset (NPA) and Terry Conway (Socialist Resistance) 10.-10.30 5pm, University of London union, Malet Street, WC1E 7HY

November 14 Brighton 7.30 at Friends Meeting House, Ship Street, Brighton BN1 1AF

November 15 Birmingham Socialist Resistance and Green Left 7pm, Tuesday 15th November, Committee Rooms 3 & 4, Council House, Birmingham, B3 3BD

November 17 Cambridge A Red/Green Forum, 7.15pm Friends meeting House, Jesus Lane, Cambridge CB5 8BA

November 19 Manchester hosted by Manchester Ecosocialists, Socialist Resistance and Green Left 11.30am, John Dalton Building Oxford Rd, Manchester Manchester M1 5GD with Maria Neri Pampilo, Derek Wall (Green Left)

November 20 Glasgow Hosted by Scottish Socialist Party further details to follow

November 21 Newcastle hosted by Newcastle University International Development Society, 6pm at Room 2.22 at the Old Library Building (Research Beehive), Newcastle University ( entrance from Queen Victoria Rd near and opposite RVI – also possible from Claremont Rd or Claremont Walk.

November 22 Wigan hosted by Wigan Green Socialists: further details to follow

November 25 Oxford 7.30pm , Oxford Town Hall St Aldate’s, 40 Pembroke Street, Oxford OX1 1BX

Seperate publicity material exists for each of the events – if you would like an electonic or paper copy of one or several of these contact us at

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Sunday 23 October 2011

PFI - Argus misses the point - by about £44 million!

Friday's Argus carried a paean for the wonders of the Private Finance Initiative written by one of its chief reporters, Tim Ridgeway.  It is entitled "Why I quite like the results of PFI".

Ironic really, since I doubt that if the taxpayers of Brighton and Hove knew the truth, they would "quite like the results of PFI".

Strangely, much of Ridgeway's article makes an eloquent case against its own conclusions.  I have seen this before - even PFI's most enthusiastic advocates cannot avoid what a huge financial con it is.  He points out that private companies charge huge added interest which means that the total cost of a project far outweighs the initial construction cost.  In the case of Jubilee Library - a £12m project ends up costing £63m. But they take refuge in the idea that, however costly it is, it delivers wonderful projects which we could not possibly afford in any other way.

But is that really true?

No, of course it isn't.

Before the Tories came up with PFI in 1992, projects like new schools, hospitals and libraries were financed by Government borrowing at preferential rates with full public control of how the money was spent, and no "profit" being made and sold on by various private capitalists.

Back to the Jubilee Library.....if this had been financed back in 2004 by traditional government borrowing at the then Bank of England base rate of 4.5%, it would have cost £19.7 million instead of the £63.8 million we will all have paid out to Aviva Plc by 2030.

Labour originally opposed PFI, but in Government they became addicted to it as a way of keeping what was really public spending off the public balance sheet.  What a wonderful return for all the PFI companies on all those prawn canopes at New Labour conference receptions!

Ridgeway has one more argument up his sleeve.  In return for all this largesse, we had the benefit of the "expertise" of these companies in building projects.  Perhaps Ridgeway should ask the headteacher of Varndean and other Brighton schools what they think of the "expertise" of Jarvis Plc!

The Jubilee Library PFI alone is now costing the Council £3 million a year (the cost has gone up, now that we've actually paid off the building cost). That's £3 million which is not available for services which are facing massive cuts over the next 3 years, it is £3 million which is not available to secure the future of the Martlets Hospice day centre (closing down this week for lack of funds)  for the next 15 years.

Still "quite liking" the results of PFI now?

No more PFI ripoffs, no cuts to disability benefits

By complete coincidence two separate events converged on Jubilee Square yesterday. One was the Hardest Hit demo against cuts to benefits for disabled people. The other was organised by Unison to draw attention to the fact that the cost of building Jubilee Library has now been paid - but local taxpayers will still have find a total of £63 million pounds over the next 20 years to repay the Private Finance Initiative deal for a £12 million library.

Unison is calling for no more money to be paid to Aviva Plc and for it to be instead used to fund essential services which face cuts over the next three years.

The question remains - why are benefits for the most vulnerable people being theatened while money is poured into the coffers of a private company?

Pictures below

Unison banner

Cllr Stephanie Powell

Phil Clarke of Brighton Stop the Cuts Coalition

Atilla the Stockbroker

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Tuesday 18 October 2011

We need a new left party - Come to the Socialist Resistance forum

New parties of the left - 
lessons for the UK

A Socialist Resistance forum

Monday 24th of October 7:30 PM

Duke of Wellington
Upper Gloucester Road
Brighton (Nr Brighton Station)

Social democratic parties, including the Labour Party in Britain, have shifted to the right across the continent and have fully embraced neo-liberalism.  This has opened up political space to the left of social democracy which the radical left and revolutionary marxists have a duty to fill.

What is needed are broad pluralist parties of the left to restore independent working class representation.

In the context of the deepest economic and ecological crisis of capitalism in the post-war period and with continuing imperialist wars, the need for such parties is urgent.

Come and hear Fred Leplat of Socialist Resistance talk about our new book on the new parties of the left in Europe, the successes and the failures and the lessons for socialists in the UK.

Saturday 8 October 2011

A government of liars

It has been said that there are lies, damn lies and Tory conference speeches.

This year they truly surpassed themselves.

We had the "cat" nonsense from Theresa May. For the record, no-one has gained the right to remain in this country on the basis of ownership of a cat, as May well knows. The story is old and has been comprehensively debunked.

But we also had lies and distortions from Cameron about people on sickness benefits.

He said

"It turns out that of the 1.3 million people who have put in a claim for the new sickness benefit in recent years. One million are either able to work, or stopped their claim before their medical assessment had been completed."

What he conveniently overlooked was the huge success rate of appeals against decisions to remove Employment and Support Allowance - 70% with representation. He also somehow forgot to mention that ESA is a short-term benefit for people off work because of illness who are either self-employed or get no sick pay from employers. It is entirely to be expected that people will leave the benefit before a medical assessment is made (it takes weeks to arrange) and in any case ESA pays no more than Jobseekers Allowance for the first 13 weeks of a claim.

For good measure Cameron also fed us the tired tabloid myths about adoptions being sabotaged by PC councils who won't allow cross-racial adoptions. Thus ignoring the very real complexities around adoption.

Still, what does the truth matter when you are grubbing for a cheap ovation at conference and pushing Middle England's outrage buttons?

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Friday 7 October 2011

Europe Against Austerity Conference Report

Fred Le Plat reports...

The Europe Against Austerity conference last Saturday was attended by 681 people including 150 from outside Britain. This happened the same weekend that two big demonstrations took place. On Saturday in Glasgow, there was the “People First” demonstration of 15,000 called by the Scottish TUC. On Sunday, 35,000 joined the demonstration in Manchester on Sunday outside the Tory Party conference which was called by the TUC and backed by the Coalition of Resistance and the Right to Work Campaign.

The Europe Against Austerity conference adopted a declaration agreeing to establish a network, to plan for a day of action against austerity next year, as well as to call on unions to organise a day of industrial action across Europe. The conference put on the agenda in Britain and across Europe the need for an audit (although that is not in the final declaration) and cancellation of the “illegitimate” debt. It also started a debate in Britain on the European Union and the euro, hopefully drawing it away from a simplistic “No to EU” position, and putting withdrawal from these capitalist institutions as a consequence of our campaign against austerity, rather than as a starting point.

It was a serious and sober event which recognised both the scale of the economic crisis and the tasks ahead in escalating the resistance against austerity. Olivier Besancenot for the NPA explained it starkly when saying “We have to find ways of coming together to build this social movement of the people in Europe….. And this isn’t a whim or just propaganda, working towards the first general strike in the history of Europe is a duty for political activists in the coming months.”

Olivier Besancenot

The breadth of representation was impressive as it encompassed most of the anti-neoliberal left (Die Linke, Sinn Fein, European Left Party) and a particularly strong anti-capitalist current (NPA, CADTM, Bloco). Major unions supported the conference such as UNITE, the NUT and the RMT from Britain, Solidaires from France, the teachers union OLME from Greece, and LAB fron the Basque country. There were also representatives of the CGTP of Portugal, COBAS of Italy and many others. Particularly noteworthy was El?bieta Fornalczyk of the Free TU “August 80″ representing Tesco workers who outlined the dramatic condition of women in Poland as mothers and workers. Sonia Mitralia of the CADTM in Greece also stressed how the crisis was hitting women harder.

This conference, as well as the demonstrations this weekend, is an excellent springboard for making the November 30 strike by over 20 trade-unions a massive success. We need to mobilise other sections of society not on strike about pensions, but who wish to fight to defend the welfare state. It is also important to mobilise from the conference for European-wide events such as the G20 on 1st November. Congratulations were sent in by many people. Those who travelled from far, such as the 12 CGT, FSU & SUD stewards from Le Havre in France, thought it was interesting and a necessary event for stepping up the resistance across Europe.

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Tuesday 4 October 2011

“It's Our Library Now” PARTY !

“It's Our Library Now” PARTY ! Saturday 22nd October, 11am- 1pm Outside Jubilee Library, Jubilee Street, Brighton

This month, Brighton & Hove Council will have finished paying the private developers the £11.9 Million cost of building the Jubilee Library.

It should be ours now!

Unfortunately, it is still owned by Norwich Union. Because it was built under the “Private Finance Initiative” , Norwich Union are expecting us to pay them over £2Million a year, soon to rise to £3Million a year for the next 18 years. Even though we've already paid them for it!!

No More Money for the Developers and Banks

If “we're all in it together” then the crisis should be paid for by those who can afford it first, not people in Brighton & Hove who rely on local schools,nurseries and hospitals now threatened by the cuts. Norwich Union's parent company “Aviva plc” boasts “ Operating profits in Europe up 21% to £525 million despite financial and economic difficulties in the eurozone”.

Why should local taxes rise to fund Aviva plc?

Why should low paid school meals staff & nursery workers lose pensions to fund Aviva plc?

Why should young people's services be cut to fund Aviva plc?

Break contracts with Multinationals, not the people who work for our city Brighton and Hove Unison invite everyone to our party,with a message to the council.

• Don't break contracts with your staff by cutting jobs and pension rights.
• Break the contract with the multinational PFI companies instead.
• No cuts to local services!

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