Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Testimony of a Mitie worker in an immigration detention centre

Testimony of a Mitie worker in an immigration detention centre
MR | 29.07.2009 10:16 (From INDYMEDIA)

Seven cleaners were detained after a raid by immigration police on 14th July, which took place with the complicity of Mitie and Willis. Among our detained sisters and brothers are Alejandro, Hermes Ayala, José Sorriso, Karina Cruz, Cintia, Sonia and Sebastián Desolsa. We are demanding that their salaries are paid and that they win 20 days holiday.

Her name is Lidia, and she said that at 4am there was going to be a meeting about chemicals in the Willis building, and that at 5 in the morning in the basement they would be given times for day-time and early morning shifts. She says that she had a bad feeling about the times of this meeting. When she arrived in this room, the manager Donna Sidley and another woman called Ivon were laughing their heads off. Everyone started coming in, with the illegal workers on one side and the legal immigrants on the other – the undocumented workers already separated out – and Donna took a chemical bottle and said for what purpose this or that bottle served.

Everyone was looking around at each other, some asking each other what was happening and why she was asking all this, and the legal workers on the other side of the room were only looking amongst themselves, knowing that immigration were coming to seize their own workmates, and said nothing. But they did tell the undocumented workers that there was a table full of drinks, things to eat and coffee, and they thought it was for them.

Not even 15 minutes had passed when police started to enter from doors on either side of the room, saying from immigration. No-one moved. One of the police had a file, which only had the names of the illegal workers and photocopies of their documents, but not the names of the legal workers. They called the workers’ names one by one and interrogated them, saying where they had got the documents and where they lived. Many people were crying as they were told off and insulted, and all the while Donna was smiling and jokily making comments to the other police, who smiled too. They insulted the workers and wouldn’t let them leave their seats, and they threatened those who were crying. They then forced them to sign papers which they had not even read: many did not want to, but they insulted them and frightened them, making them scared. They did not know what they were signing. The legal workers were allowed to leave but the others were left behind without being allowed to go to the toilet. Lidia was crying and said that she felt that a policeman was shouting at her aggressively, telling her to shut up.

Then the police went over to eat and have the coffee and other drinks, making comments and laughing enthusiastically, making fun of the workers, and Donna and the other woman were also making fun of them, and all the time smiling. The workers watched them eating and enjoying making fun of them, and they would not let them talk, only to stay silent. No-one gave them even a glass of water even though it was almost 11am by now: the police were enjoying themselves with the manager and gave the workers nothing to eat.

Then they were taken away and put in two vans. The black workers were separated from them and the others do not know what happened to them next. They were taken to London Bridge, and then Lidia travelled throughout the whole day, to Liverpool. There, at 2am, they took her to the detention centre. She knew two women there. One woman was released because her husband had papers; the other was deported.

29 07 2009

A public meeting has been called by the Labour Representation Commitee on Tuesday 4th August to discuss solidarity with cleaners in struggle. This once agan raises the question of why senior figures in the Unite United Left have not so far been prepared to offer their solidarity to union members in struggle.

Download pdf leaflet here:

Tuesday 4th August, 6:30pm
Somerstown Community Centre, 150 Ossulston Street, London, NW1 1EE, (5 minutes from Euston Station)

In recent years brave union organising efforts have been mounted by migrant workers to demand basic rights and a living wage. A number of cleaning companies have responded by sacking union members and activists; they have colluded with the Border Agency in immigration raids to break organised workers. This is an urgent issue for the whole labour movement – come and discuss what should be done.

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Monday, 27 July 2009

Support the Vestas Occupation

New GPTU banner (designed by Romayne Phoenix)

Jean Lambert MEP speaks to demo.

Martin Francis (Brent GP cndidate for Brent North)

Oliver New of the RMT

Phil Thornhill of the Camapaign Against Climate Change
Demo 28th JULY 18:30 -20:00 Outside the Department of Energy and Climate Change, 3 Whitehall Place, London, SW1A 2HD

All the above image are stills from Indymedia clips at

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

The Green Party Trade Union Group sends its full support to Vestas Occupation

Workers at the Vestas wind turbine blade plant on the Isle of Wight have occupied their factory in Newport in an attempt to prevent its closure, which was scheduled for the end of this month. The Green Party Trade Union Group sends its full support to them.

Job losses in a recession are tragic and counterproductive, serving only to worsen it by throwing people out of work.

This particular closure would be doubly damaging because it would remove one of the few capacities Britain has to build the new, environmentally friendly technologies urgently needed to construct the infrastructure that could help to counteract the effects of climate change.

Importing turbine blades is a false solution because their transport would increase the environmental cost of wind turbines. Furthermore the skills and knowledge of the Vestas workers could be dispersed and lost just when we need them most.

If the government allows this closure, its commitment to dealing with climate change will seem a total sham.

How can it let Vestas close when it can afford;

 The Afghan war effort
 The bail out of banks including continuing taxpayers’ support for excessive fatcat salaries.
 The renewal of the trident missile system
 New nuclear power stations
 And a ridiculous scheme of paying MP’s expenses ?

The Green Party Trade Union Group urges everyone who can to support the Vestas occupation and put pressure on government to actually enact a strategy of creating an environmentally friendly infrastructure for Britain and new jobs for its peoples.

P.Murry GPTU secretary

We should be seizing the opportunity to create a renewable energy revolution…The Government can make a genuine start along this road by pledging to keep the isle of Wight’s Vestas plant open for business.
- Dr Caroline Lucas, Green Party Leader and Euro-MP for the Isle of Wight and the South East.
Dear Mr Milliband,

Now is the chance for you and your government to turn hot air into reality. The workers at the Vestas factory are fighting for their future and that of this country and the planet. Your government’s policies are to increasingly rely on renewables, yet at a time when unemployment is mounting, creating untold hardship and poverty, you are allowing the only factory in the UK producing wind turbine blades to close down. This will result in these turbines being produced in other countries, such as China, thus reducing UK manufacturing further. This is the economics of the madhouse.

Your government was able to intervene and prop up the banks after the recent crisis, yet this factory which is making a significant contribution towards preventing climate change is receiving no assistance whatsoever. I am calling upon you to step in and nationalise the Vestas factory. Not only would this save the jobs of many workers but would also play a significant role in helping create the ‘Green New Deal’ which this country so badly needs, i.e. the creation of millions of new environmentally friendly and sustainable jobs.
The Vestas workers have shown the way. It is now up to your government to help them or to answer for it to the people in a few months time.
Dr Joseph Healy
Treasurer Green Party Trade Union Group

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Appeal for indigenous leader Santiago Manuin

Appeal for indigenous leader Santiago Manuin (acknowledgements to Derek Wall)

This is extremely important, ecosocialism in some parts of the world, is about being in hospital after being shot with 8 bullets by the police!


Right, this is really important, the indigenous leader Santiago Manuin, is still very ill in hospital after being shot 8 times, the police want to arrest him and move him to a prison cell, he lacks money for proper treatment. Write to President Alan Garcia and protest.

This is my translation from a Peruvian human rights group, if you can read Spanish use the original, my Spanish is a mixture of online translation, guess work and what I have gleaned before. Please spread the word...Santiago Manuin is a pacifist and has waged a struggle to prevent the rainforests of the Peruvian Amazon being logged, he is a true ecologist, if you are at all serious about climate change and other ecological threats, it is vitally important to support his struggle.


Peru, July 16, 2009

Alan García Pérez
President of the Republic of Peru
Presente .-

Dear President Garcia,
I am writing to you to demand an investigation into the assault on the indigenous leader Santiago Manunin Valera.

During the disproportionate and violent police raid to evict the Indigenous who were protesting in the town of Bagua, Amazonas, Santiago Manuin Valera, leader of indigenous Awajun 52 years, who at the time of the shooting was disarmed and calling for peace, was seriously injured.

Manuin Santiago, head of the Apus of the five basins of Santa Maria de Nieva, is one of the most important leaders of the communities Aguaruna-Huambisa. A pacifist, founder of the Jesuit Social Center SAIPE, he was also President of the Council Aguaruna-Huambisa (CAH) and has struggle for the respect for indigenous peoples of the Province of Condorcanqui - Amazon. He has been recognized internationally for his commitment to the environment and human rights. Accordingly, received the Queen Sofia of Spain award for his work in defending human rights and the environment.

On June 5, Santiago Manuin was shot with 8 AKM rifle bullets by Peruvian troops. He was then taken to the hospital of Las Mercedes de Chiclayo.

Despite this, on June 13, Judge of the First Criminal Court of Utcubamba, Francisco Miranda Caramutti ordered the search, location, capture of Manuin Santiago, for his responsibility in the clash in "The Devil's Curve", which killed dozens of people, including police and indigenous people. Given the location of Manuin, surprised and indignant that he intends to assign responsibility for the unfortunate death of police.

At present, the Indian pacifist leader is surrounded by police in his bed in hospital and is under pressure by some authorities to be discharged and taken to the Cells, even though his health is delicate and requires care care. Manuin has 8 bullet holes in the body and is suffering from a severe infection. Because of his bullet wounds, his colon is damaged, which requires a prolonged and intensive treatment. He is also diabetic, which complicates the healing of their wounds and requires further surgery.

As well as the case of Santiago Manuin, there are other cases of indigneous leaders who face criminal proceedings, investigations are ongoing and subject to prosecution, as it seeks to hold them, materially and intellectually, of various acts of violence. These include Alberto Pizango Chota, Saul Puerta Peña, deer Puerta Peña, Antazú Teresita Lopez, Marcial MUDARRA Taki, Daysi Fasabi Zapata, Walter Kategari Iratsimery, Roger Guardian Wall, Milton Silva, among other leaders, even though there were no valid evidence to sustain the charges against them.

We have no doubt that behind the arrest warrant against Manuin and other leaders, there are pressures from those who for political reasons, seek to criminalize social protest.

Therefore, as citizens of the world, exercising our right and ethical duty to defend life and human rights against all types of abuse, we ask that through this open letter:

1) For an investigation into the attempt on the life of Santiago Manuin Valera-ID 337600081, 52 years of age, and punish the perpetrators and masterminds of the attack on him.
2)Provide an independent medical examination and that the State ensure its integrity and full recovery, assuming the costs of medical care for injuries suffered.
3)End judicial harassment against Manuin Santiago, as well as other leaders, to withdraw the troops and police surrounding the hospital where Manuin is placed and the change of efectivice arrest warrant by the appearance.

We reiterate our belief in the innocence of Manuin, with whom we express our full solidarity.

We remind you, Mr President, you swore by your honor, for God and the homeland, to defend the interests of all Peruvians, not concealing painful facts of human rights violations. Mr Garcia, do not return to the same mistakes of your first government, because history will judge you.

Send accessions:

In the case of persons, include the following:

Name and Surname
Identity Card
In the case of organizations, indicate:

Organization name
They can also send the letter directly to the following link:

With copy to:

CWU Rally Westminster 17/7/2009

Joseph Healy leafletting

A CWU banner

On Friday I went to the rally organised by the CWU, Communication Workers Union re the postal strike that day and handed out leaflets outside the rally at Westminster Hall for the Green Party Trade Union Group. I had a chat with one of the national officers of the CWU, who is involved in publishing their magazine about the current political situation. He was of the view that it was still too early to write Labour off in the general election.

I decided to attend the rally, so together with hundreds of postal workers and a handful of journalists I listened to the various speakers. First came an Executive member of the RMT who sent fraternal greetings and made the point that the unions can only be effective by standing together and that the London Underground was also going through a period of industrial action. He gave his union's full support to the CWU.

Then the Regional Secretary of the CWU in London spoke about the deliberate attempts by Royal Mail management to smash the union and their attempts to introduce ever more "casualisation". He warned that if the union lost this struggle that the jobs of thousands of postal workers would be on the line. But the biggest response came when he promised that the London region would be starting balloting for disaffiliation from the Labour Party within the next few weeks. This produced rapturous applause and one postal worker beside me shouted out "two years too late mate!". There was clearly a real feeling of anger and disillusionment with the Labour government.

Kate Hoey MP, who is sponsored by the CWU, was also on the platform. She welcomed the decision of the London region to hold the ballot and said that there was no point in the union paying Labour a big fat cheque every year and receiving nothing in return. She attacked the appoointment of an unelected European bureaucrat (Peter Mandelson) to run the government's policies on Royal Mail and she said that it would be a shame if the Labour government only left behind the ruination of one of the country's best public services as its memorial. She went on to say that she was ashamed of the Labour government. Well, all of this is true, but it begs the question - why stay with the Labour Party? The trade unions must realise that they are being sold down the line by Labour. The Green Party is committed to abolishing the anti-trade union laws and keeping the Post Office public. I await with interest the result of the CWU ballot.

Posted by Joseph at Sunday, July 19, 2009

Save Vestas, Save Jobs, Save the Planet - Public Meeting

Meeting hosted by Portsmouth City Unison.

Speakers include:

VESTAS workers
SEAN HOYLE (Portsmouth RMT)
JONATHAN NEALE (Campaign against Climate Change, International Secretary)

Vestas, at Newport on the Isle of Wight, is the only wind turbine producing factory in the UK, and it is threatened with closure on July 31. This is a disaster. It will destroy 600 jobs, devastating the already hard hit economy of the Island, and will seriously damage the struggle to stop climate change. All for the sake of a multinational corporation’s profits.

Come to this meeting to hear the Vestas workers’ case and how we can all help stop this happening.

Monday 20 July 8pm
Central Library, Room F
Guildhall Square,

Martin Empson

Treasurer, Campaign Against Climate Change Trade Union group
079 585 35231

Friday, 17 July 2009

Unite Against Fascism to help "kettle" the BNP's festival of hate on Saturday August 15th.

Please join supporters of Unite Against Fascism to help "kettle" the BNP's festival of hate on Saturday August 15th.

The British National Party are hoping to hold their Red, White and Blue Festival at Codnor, a small village in Derbyshire, on Saturday August 15th. The BNP pretends that this event is a harmless family-oriented "patriotic" festival. In reality it is aimed at promoting their fascist agenda to both its hardcore followers and its softer supporters. Previous years have seen SS marching songs played as "entertainment" at the rally.

The rally will also be a magnet for neo-Nazis across Europe. Last year the BNP invited guests including Czech neo-Nazi Petra Edelmannova who has called for a "final solution to the Gypsy issue" and Sweden's Marc Abramsson, a Swedish fascist who campaigns for "racially pure kindergartens" that exclude non-white children.

This year's guests are likely to include representatives of Jobbik, a violently racist Hungarian Nazi party that organises pogroms against Roma people.(Info from UAF). Nick Griffin's mask of respectability slipped recently on BBC TV. He called on the European Union to "get very tough with those coming over". Then, spelling out what these "tough" measures meant, Nick Griffin said: "Frankly, they need to sink several of those boats." When BBC journalist Shirin Wheeler protested that this would mean murdering people at sea, Griffin replied: "I say boats should be sunk, they can throw them a life raft and they can go back to Libya". He added that Europe had to "close its borders or it's simply going to be swamped by the Third World".

Unite Against Fascism is calling for a mass mobilisation to encircle the festival site at Codnor. The protest will start at 9.00 am with coaches from across the country arriving at 11.00 am.
We would like to bring together a group of local people to help build this protest. If you are able to come and to try to convince friends, family, colleagues etc to come too, PLEASE JOIN US AT A PLANNING MEETING on Monday July 20th 7.30 pm at the Brent Trades Hall, 375 High Rd Willesden NW10 2JR - there's a map with directions attached. We are inviting a speaker from Unite Against Fascism.

Even if you're not able to go to Codnor on 15th of August, but would like to persuade others to go, you would be welcome to come along and if you're not able to come on Monday but still want to take part in building for August 15th and for local Love Music Hate Racism events in the near future, please get in touch.

We need support from individuals, but also from organisations - trade union branches, political and community organisations, youth groups etc. We need energy and enthusiasm, but we will also need money

Brent UAF supporters are in touch with supporters from Ealing, discussing the possibility of hiring a joint coach (probably a luxury double decker 69 or 72 seater) to go to Codnor.
Please let me know whether you:

1. will be able to come to the planning meeting on Monday July 20th
2. will be able to come to Codnor on Saturday August 15th and would like full details of the coach as soon as it is booked
3. will be trying to encourage other people to come
4. are able to make a donation either from your organisation or individually towards the cost of the coach or to enable someone to go who cannot afford the full ticket price - we want to be able to subsidise students and unemployed supporters.

Yours in solidarity,

Sarah Cox
For details of coaches from West London or other info contact Sarah Cox of Brent STW or UAF

Thursday, 9 July 2009

The struggle of Vestas workers against the IoW turbine plant closure

We will never halt climate change without wind power. We need dozens of wind turbine plants, not none.

The Green Party Trades Union group wholeheartedly supports the struggle of Vestas workers against the IoW wind turbine plant closure. It is the height of folly for the British government to allow this to happen, the Vesta workers are not only engaged in legitimate protest against redundancy but also struggle for a viable future for all humanity.

Workers for the world unite!

P.Murry GPTU Secretary
PS Joseph Healy has endorsed this statement on behalf of Green Left

Friday, 3 July 2009

An own goal in Afghanistan

Posted on "The East is Green" (Tower hamlets GP blog) March 3, 2009.

The latest invasion of Afghanistan will fail. Hubris and ego prevent the latest generals and leaders from understanding that the “this time it is different” scenario will not play out as planned. The US military has persuaded President Obama to send 17,000 more troops and no doubt like all negotiations the remaining 13,000 will follow. Adding the NATO soldiers and present US presence, the total force is likely to reach 90,000. General Gromov, the ill-fated Russian Commander of the 120,000-strong Soviet Army in his country’s own disastrous war, has warned the same result will happen again. It will be a bitter-sweet moment for him, no doubt.

Unfortunately, no one in a position of power is willing to take heed. They know better. They believe they have understood the lessons of history and are convinced that for them Afghanistan will not be the graveyard of their empire.

Presumably, this is because they do not subscribe to the notion that there is anything imperial about the war. The discourse informs us that the objectives of the mission are to eradicate or at least significantly reduce the drug trade, to ‘build a viable state’ based on democratic principles and to leave the scene a few years’ hence with full faith in a well-trained and resourced Afghan army, able to fend off ‘insurgents’.

It is generally accepted that the ability of groups to use the country to wage terror campaigns in the West has been severely degraded.

Given the lawlessness and destabilisation of vast swathes of sub-saharan Africa (Congo as just one example), the ‘loss of much of Latin America and the start of an implosion in Mexico’, and the onset of a global depression, it seems awfully risky, if not foolhardy, to commit so many people and resources to this conflict.

Of course, the story has more facets than visible to satellite TV news channels and there is logic to the Western military adventure, but only if they do ’succeed’.

Resources to prize

Rarely mentioned is ‘pipeline politics’ – the ongoing struggle to transport gas from the Caucasus and Central Asia to hungry markets in China and India.

The Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline (TAP) is taboo. The efforts of Chevron and erstwhile Unocal to supply India in one of the greatest bonanzas is consistently downplayed. The pipeline is meant to skirt the western half of the country, entering from Turkmenistan and coming out at Spin Baldak and into Pakistan. Unfortunately, it also brushes Helmand province where, coincidentally, much of the heaviest fighting and ’surge’ is concentrated.

It is strange how coincidences occur so regularly in the region.

For example, the Iranians proposed an alternative pipeline to pump their gas through Pakistan and India – a far cheaper prospect for all concerned and no wars to circumvent. That is, until Baluchistan (south-western Pakistan) occasionally flares up conveniently, thus rendering the project risky.

However remote the possibility of any pipeline actually supplying gas through this war-torn neighbourhood, that has not stopped multinationals leaning on governments to pacify the region.
The public more or less saw through the spin and understood the centrality of oil in the Iraq War.

When President Obama says Afghanistan is the central front on the war on terror, this may not convince the region but it is not scrutinised by the Western public to the same degree. Afghanistan is always in the way whether to empire or to markets, which means that its proximity to gas fields or end user is enough.

Having said that, it is not well known that Afghanistan is actually rich in resources and minerals. The Chinese Metalurgy Group fought off Western multinationals and landed the rights to one of the world’s largest copper reserves, a few kilometres south east of Kabul. They seem to believe that by 2015, they will build a 400MWatt power plant to supply the project (and Kabul too) and construct a railroad to transport the copper to Pakistan and, of course, to China. Some analysts feel the Chinese were duped into becoming allies in the NATO endeavour – now they have something they need to protect.

USAID and the USGS have been busy, along with the usual suspects – the World Bank and Asian Development Bank (ADB). Under the cloak of ‘developing’ the country, they have sniffed out gold, oil, copper, iron, mercury, lead, and rare metals (cesium, lithium and coltan). Coltan is essential for mobile phones, which also use Lithium for batteries.

Naturally, the ‘Aid agencies’ have been helping Kabul privatise its resources, such as the British Agencies Afghanistan Group with the Jawzan Gas field to the north. Gold and coal resources have also been handed over to foreign companies.

For a detailed report, one can peruse numerous studies by John Shroder on or see the report: “Preliminary non fuel mineral resources assessment of Afghanistan, 2007′ at the US Geological Survey (

The curse of geography

Even without the resources outlined above, Afghanistan is a transit hub, a form of land base, from which to influence Central and South Asia. No doubt the Iranians are not that exactly overjoyed to see the planned reduction to 50,000 US troops in Iraq to the west if many end up to its east in Afghanistan. China is acutely vulnerable in XInjiang and TIbet and would prefer the exit of its competitors.

The encirclement of China and Russia and the consequent prevention of a threat to the geo-strategic hearland of Eurasia is also largely absent from debate. From MacKinder to Brzezinski, the concept of controlling the Eurasian land mass has determined the foreign policy of the Great Powers – and it is no different in the 21st century.

While China is getting to secure Kazakhstan’s gas, it has been negotiating for years with the Iranians. You can guess which country lies in its way. It is possible China knows that the Western forces will, eventually, have to leave and so it is getting in early to invest in mines and infrastructure.

Afghanistan shares a 92 kilometre border with China.

The consequences of failure

All of this means that the stakes are enormously high and the inevitable failure of the invasion will have far-reaching consequences.

The defeat and withdrawal in 1989 was not the primary cause of the dissolution of the Soviet Union but the war weakened an already tottering economic machine.

NATO has consistently expanded eastwards on the heels of a retreating Russian empire, in Eastern Europe (with missile defences) and in the action in Afghanistan. If the war turns sour, and the alliance were forced into a Soviet style retreat, NATO’s survival would be at stake. The voices clamouring for cutting the link between the US and Europe would reach unprecedented levels, especially in Germany.

The actions in West and Central Asia (including the colour-coded regime changes) have assisted in the creation and strenghening of a rival alliance, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation which is now about to militarise. The key players, China and Russia, continue to engage with the US in a hot and cold relationship.

The embattled US economy is now depending on China to continue to purchase US treasury bonds to fund the efforts to stave off economic disaster. Hilary Clinton apparently insisted on China playing ball in her just concluded trip.

Somewhere along the line, there will be a price and the position in Kabul would seem to one such place.

The Russians and Chinese may well prefer the US to get even further bogged down for a few more years in a futile exercise. Moscow recently offered to help supply the Americans. With the supply routes from Karachi via the Khyber Pass to Kabul increasingly insecure, the only other routes are via Iran or effectively via Russian influenced regions. The US has also been asked to vacate its airbase in Kyrghistan this year.

The military campaign may well be cutting the heads of the Taliban movement but the civilian casualties are only leading to more recruits into a purposeful and decentralised guerilla force. NATO is regarded as a foreign force and while this may be termed an ‘insurgency’ in the Western media, it looks more like resistance to foreign invaders to ordinary Afghanis.
Hamid Karzai may be called a President of the state but is effectively only a Mayor of Kabul. The forthcoming elections will not confer further legitimacy or make any difference to the war. Legitimacy has been squandered amid the corruption, theft and lack of sovereignty.

The LBJ moment

The parallels with President Lyndon Johnson in April 1965 are uncanny. Against his better judgement, he agreed to the demands of General Westmoreland for a significant jump in troop numbers. Asked for 49,000 he despatched 37,000. Within a few years, several multiples of that total were to serve in the jungles of Vietnam.

The latest US President has substituted Iraqi drawdown with an escalation in Afghanistan and is proceeding down a similar path.

Western governments seem to believe they can fight simultaneously on two fronts – an economic war as well as a military war. They are displaying similar confidence to that seen six years ago before the invasion of Iraq.

In the end, they will retreat, leaving behind a devastated country, a traumatised population, a shattered Somalia-like territory.

It will also end up fracturing its alliances, its appetite for adventures in other ‘theatres of war’ and deal a body blow to a plummeting Western economy.

It will be next to impossible to build the TAP pipeline, thus removing one of the original pre-2001 causes for ‘intervention’ and engagement.

Pakistan is in the early stages of dismemberment as the “Af-Pak” war takes the borderlands of the North-West Frontier province and Baluchistan effectively out of the sway of Islamabad.
Is it really worth reducing Pakistan to a rump state, with an embittered nuclear armed military elite?

Historically the presence of US military forces seem to encourage drug production and global trafficking. The Golden triangle in South east Asia is another VIetnam era lesson. Today, friendly regimes in Colombia and Mexico are drug competitors to Afghanistan, all vying with each other to supply consumers in American and Europe. The lesson seems to be that the best way to reduce drug trafficking is for a reduction in a US presence.

Finally, you will not get good odds on any Afghan army being able to stave off Taliban or other warlord onslaughts once NATO has left the scene.

In all the aspects of ‘interests’ regarding gas pipelines, power projection into rising states and reducing the terror threat, the ‘project’ comes up short. Naturally, it makes sense for suppliers and business interests in the short term. However, in the long run, the more the war goes on, the greater the likelihood that Western power will in fact diminish, both in the immediate neighbourhood as well as globally.

Why European and British soldiers should be sacrificed in a fruitless war therefore is hard to accept. This is not a ‘smart war’, it is a futile conflict. It provides ammunition and sustenance for extreme forces and weakens social cohesion everywhere.

Even in the harsh world of real-politik, where morality and civilian death toll take a back seat, the Afghan war does not come up to scratch. WIth hindsight, the consensus is that Iraq has set Western power back years and was a monumental mistake. Yet, similar mistakes are being made to the east, in defiance of history or even geo-strategy. Today, leaders lack the foresight to see that this adventure is a spectacular own goal.

Farid Bakht
3 March 2009

Green Party wants full railway nationalisation

From Gp website 01 July 2009

The Green Party welcomes the renationalisation of the East Coast mainline, from National Express, by the government this morning.

The government should go further. Under cross-default clauses, the Transport secretary, Lord Adonis, could strip National Express of all its contracts, now that the group has handed back one franchise.

The Green Party remains the only major party in Britain to call for the full re-nationalisation of the railways.

Rupert Read, candidate for Norwich North and Green Party spokesperson on public services, said:

"Train privatisation, from the beginning, was a very flawed model. We can't keep socialising private companies' losses and privatising their profits. We need a national train network under direct public control and with full public accountability."

"National Express must pay back whatever monies are outstanding from their rail franchise of the East Coast Main Line - it would be quite wrong for National Express to continue to profit on some lines, while the taxpayer has to foot the bill on others. To use the government's own rhetoric, this should be a zero-tolerance issue."

Sir Richard Branson, co-owner of the Virgin west coast franchise, has expressed an interest in bidding for the east coast franchise if it became available.

Read responded to this by saying: "Virgin would then have control of England-Scotland services, as well as London to Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds and Doncaster. The entire idea of privatisation was to inject competition, and this would be substituting a public monopoly for a private monopoly. That cannot be allowed to happen, and as a Green MP for Norwich North, I would be absolutely steadfast in resisting it."


Notes for Editors:

Rupert Read is the Green Party candidate in the Norwich North parliamentary byelection, and can be reached for further comment on 01603 219294 / 07946 459066