Thursday, 26 June 2008


From: Weir Adrian R1 SA Research/Policy/Campaigns []
Sent: 23 June 208 13:07

News from
in London
23 June 2008



Today (Monday 23 June) the trade unions in London announced that they have withdrawn all support from the Mayor of London's Rise Festival.

The organisation of the event has been a fiasco from start to finish. Arrangements for the festival began under former Mayor Livingstone. Three weeks after the London elections new Mayor Johnson confirmed the event would continue as before.

Then suddenly Mr Johnson's new cultural advisor, Munira Mirza, stripped the festival title of its sub-heading "London United Against Racism" only for the Mayor to say to the BBC that he knew nothing of this decision.

Ms Mirza also banned the Cuba Solidarity Campaign from continuing their joint sponsorship of the Latin American stage in partnership with Unite, and from even participating in the event.

The unions have decided that this package of measures changes the focus and nature of the Rise Festival to such an extent that it will be just another musical event in Finsbury Park, and therefore that money earmarked for anti-racist campaigning will be better spent in other ways.

Megan Dobney, the TUC's London Regional Secretary said: "Trade unions are greatly offended by the removal of the central anti-racist message as well as by the ban on an organisation supported by the TUC. Trade union negotiation has proved fruitless and SERTUC is therefore left with no alternative but to withdraw."

Steve Hart, Unite London Regional Secretary said: "Rise, or Respect as it was known, was launched by the trade unions as a means of involving mainly young people in anti-racism in the wake of the Stephen Lawrence and other racist murders. What is the point of what was explicitly an anti-racist festival if it drops its commitment to anti-racism?"

Matt Wrack, Fire Brigades Union General Secretary said: "We have supported the Rise Festival as a celebration of London's diverse communities and of anti-racism. It appears that this clear message is now being lost and the FBU no longer feels able to participate. We remain committed to any genuine initiative aimed at combating racism."

This statement is also endorsed by Thompson's Solicitors and the Greater London Association of Trade Union Councils.

**** ends ****

For further please contact: Megan Dobney (TUC) on 020.7467.1220; Steve Hart (Unite) on 07970.081509; Matt Wrack (FBU) on 020.8541.1765

Note to editors:

The Rise Festival started life in the wake of the Stephen Lawrence murder as the TUC organised Respect anti-racist festival.

The idea was taken up by Ken Livingstone when Mayor, who promoted seven annual festivals during his mayoralty.

During the Livingstone years the name was changed from Respect to Rise.

Cut our pay - no way! Unite members across the country will take part in day of protest against the NHS pay offer. Workers will be campaigning around the slogan – 'Cut my pay - no way!' The union is angry that the government is telling members to accept a pay deal which in the current economic climate represents a significant pay cut. On the 18th July members will demonstrate at hospitals across the country. Find out more on the Cut our pay - no way! campaign.


Calling all Unite members! Have you voted in the ballot on Unite's new rulebook? Ballot papers must be returned to The Independent Scrutineer to arrive no later than 31st July 2008. Unite members who have not received a ballot paper by 16th July 2008 should contact the enquiry service on 020 8889 9203. Download a pdf of the final draft rules and guide on the ballot.

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Monday, 23 June 2008

OPEN LETTER To Boris Johnson, Mayor of London

OPEN LETTER To Boris Johnson, Mayor of London

Dear Mr Johnson,

I notice that inspite of the embarrassing resignation of one of your aides; you have been being quoted in a favourable light in some of the papers today. The Evening Standard mentions you speaking of “ passionate belief that racism is vile, repulsive and has no place in modern Britain.” (P8 23/6/2008) and both the Standard and the Guardian cite “...clear and unambiguous opposition to any racist tendencies.” (Guardian p.6).

Opposition to racism is supported by most Londoners, and Greens and Trades Unionists from all over the world, but what many of us would like to know is how you square, laudable statements such as the above, with the instruction reported to be emanating from City Hall that the Rise festival will no longer have “anti-racism as its central message and ordering the dropping of the message "London united against racism" and all reference to opposing racism.

If such a directive has actually been issued with your authority I suggest that you withdraw it forthwith and publicise this as widely as possible, since it sends a very dangerous message at a time when the BNP has just managed to get a GLA rep elected. At such a time it is hardly credible to maintain that you oppose racism but no longer believe that it is a serious problem in London, so unless you reverse the ill-advised tinkering with the Rise festival and its anti-racist ethos, your words about racism will just seem like so much pious claptrap.

Just like New Labour spin. I’m sure that you wouldn’t want that.

Yours sincerely

Peter Murry
Secretary Green Party TU Group