Friday 30 March 2012

Galloway victory is rejection of austerity and war

Socialist Resistance strongly welcomes the stunning victory of George Galloway and the Respect Party in the Bradford West by election. His majority of 10,000 is a remarkable achievement (see results below). It was, as George Galloway said in his acceptance speech, the most sensational result in by-election history. Only 4 out of 10 voters voted for the establishment parties. It is a rejection not only of the Con Dems and their policies of cuts and war but of Labour’s timidity in fighting them. It was a rejection, in a highly multi-cultural society, of nearly 10 years of war drive, the occupation of other people’s countries, scapegoating of the poor and Islamophobia.
The result recalls the huge potential and electoral resonance which Respect enjoyed after it was launched in January 2004 following George Galloway’s expulsion from the Labour Party for calling of British troops not to fight in Iraq.
It is also another major opportunity for Respect to build something serious to the left of Labour, something it failed to do after George Galloway defeated Oona King in Bethnal Green and Bow in the general election of June 2005 and despite the mass support Salma Yaqoob won in south Birmingham. The need for such a party to tackle the problem of working class representation is as strong today as it was in 2004 yet every opportunity has come to very little.
Socialist Resistance members were members of Respect for several years. We sought to develop the support it had won in some of the most deprived communities in Britain into a broad-based and democratic party of the left. We argued that it had to function as a party all year round and not just during the run up to elections. We encouraged it to develop a programme that addressed the needs of working people. Our experience convinced us that this cannot be achieved on the basis of loose networks and preemptive top down decision making processes but only on the basis of a fully democratic and broad-based political party. We urge Respect to set a new course in that direction.
George Galloway, Respect: 18,341 (55.9%)
Imran Hussain, Labour: 8,201 (25%)
Jackie Whiteley, Conservative: 2,746 (8.4%)
Jeanette Sunderland, Lib Dem: 1,505 (4.6%)
Other: 2,021 (6.2%)
Turnout: 50.8%
Majority: 10,140
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Sunday 11 March 2012

Greece - a social experiment for neo-liberalism

Last Monday Brighton Stop the Cuts Coalition played host to Kostas Skordoulis,  an activist in the Education Workers Union and the OKDE – part of the anti-capitalist coalition Antarsya.

Kostas explained how the demands of the Troika, the European Central Bank, the IMF and the EC, had brought Greece to its knees.

In the public sector, there are wage cuts of 35%, huge cuts in pensions, youth unemployment at over 50% and small businesses are going to the wall.  Basic necessities are unaffordable to most of the population.

But there is resistance and people are organising to defend the weakest in society.  For example, healthworkers are organising ad hoc clinics to care for people who cannot afford medical care.

Kostas stressed the need for a united left alternative to the neo-liberal offensive, something which resonates for us in this country too.  As in this country, social democracy in Greece has completely gone over to neo-liberalism. He also made it clear that Greek withdrawal from the Eurozone has to be on the basis of nationalisation of the banks and workers control of the economy, or it would be a disaster for Greek workers.

Kostas was joined on the platform by George Barratt, a councillor from Barking who has been expelled from Labour after 50 years membership because he refused to vote for cuts.  George remains on the council and is organising resistance to the cuts in Barking.

Sunday 4 March 2012

Resisting austerity - from Athens to Brighton

PUBLIC MEETING Mon 5th MARCH 7pm Friends Meeting House, Ship St, Brighton

Kostas Skordoulis An activist in the Education Workers Union and the OKDE – part of the anti-capitalist coalition Antarsya, he grew up when Greece was ruled by a US backed military dictatorship until 1974.
He will speak about the resistance to austerity in Greece today, the role of the unions, and the popular demand for Greece to default on its debt.
He will also talk about moves towards Europe wide resistance to austerity.
And while the official Brighton opposition to the government argues about a 3.5% council tax rise, Kostas will bring the idea of defaulting on “our” debt as a way of saying “we're not paying for the crisis”. Is default, alongside redistributing wealth, a way of stopping all the cuts?

George Barrett spent 50 years in the Labour Party, and was part of the group of Labour councillors who helped kick out Barking's 12 BNP councillors in 2012.
But when he resigned from the Labour Group on Barking Council in order to vote against cuts, he ended up getting expelled from the party.
He said “Local councillors, trade unions and community groups should be uniting to resist the devastation of the welfare state. By passing on the government cuts, Labour councils are collaborating with the austerity measures which are increasing poverty. Instead, they should be defending the voters that elected them.”
With only one Green Party councillor not voting for the cuts budget in Brighton and Hove last week, George's experience raises the question about what we should be expecting anti-cuts councillors to do.

Planning Local Resistance
Council Cuts, Workfare, and 28th March Pensions Strike

There will be time for questions and discussion after our guest speakers, but it will be limited as our meeting also needs to help organise local activity against the cuts.
A council worker who had their post deleted in this year's cuts will lead off a discussion about the cuts planned in Brighton & Hove and what the union's response is likely to be.
The meeting will then have time to discuss and plan various ways of working with & community groups and the unions to prevent each cut.
We will also be discussing how we can help those local trade unionists in the NUT, PCS and UCU who will be striking in defence of their pensions on March 28th.
And with the protests against workfare causing the government and businesses to back track on their plans, we'll be planning how we can give support to the local Brighton Benefits Campaign's campaign against workfare and other cuts to benefits.
This part of the meeting is usually the “business” part of Brighton Stop the Cuts Coalition meetings, but we hope those coming to hear our guest speakers will stay and get involved in the practical business of building opposition to the cuts locally.
Brighton Stop the Cuts Coalition welcomes new people and fresh ideas.
We will continue to build a broad coalition of trade union and community groups to actively oppose all cuts.
So if you want to hear about resistance to austerity in Greece, how a councillor in London thinks councils can resist he cuts, and help us plan resistance to the cuts locally, come along to our open meeting on Monday 5th March.

Organised by Brighton Stop the Cuts Coalition ( ) (Facebook Group )
If you want to get involved in your trade union but don't know how, please contact Brighton Trades Union Council ( )

No work for no wages!

Picketing Tesco Brighton yesterday
The Government is on the ropes on Workfare but the battle is not won yet. That's why days of action like yesterday are vital.
Several employers participating in one or other of the schemes were picketed yesterday and left in no doubt at the strength of feeling. Passers-by were overwhelmingly sympathetic.
The trade unions need to get more active in the campaign. Workfare is as much an issue for people in work as well as the unemployed. It attacks jobs and conditions, as has been seen in the USA.
The campaign has prospered because it is broad. The revolutionary left has played a good role but it should not believe the government propaganda too much. How credible is it that the small forces of the far left could by itself destabilise the workfare schemes so effectively?
We need to build broad alliances beyond the traditional left - that is how we can win.
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