Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Vestas day of action London 17/9/2009

Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson at New Scotland yard with GPTU banner

Councillors Johnson and Phoenix at the protest

A splendid PCS banner being unfurled

A supine canine proletarian awaits becoming conscious of itself as a dog both for and in itself

Who's that bloke in the suit?

Miliband's attempt at a spoiler

The article below appears in hard copy and on line Guardian 17/9/2009, well timed to take the wind out of the blades of the Vestas campaign. However it leaves some questions unanswered eg;

What guarantee is there that the new trans national, Clipper, won't behave as caprisciously as Vestas did?

Why not nationalise and secure the future of the industries needed to create a green infrastructure in the UK?

Will there be any jobs in the NE for redundant Vestas workers (the region has its own unemloyment problems) ?

Will there be proper compensation for redundant Vestas workers?

Will their skills and knowledge now go to waste, whilst Vestas is allowed to mothball the IOW factory until it finds another opportunity to milk the British taxpayer?

Why not have two (or more) turbine plants? (Nobody seems to suggest that there is anything wrong with the IOW site, in fact with access to sea transport, it may be a relatively ecologically sound location) and minimising transport distances should be considered when building the green infrastructure.

Ed Miliband announces boost for green jobs Energy and climate change secretary announces funding for a new factory that will make the largest offshore windblades in the world
· Hélène Mulholland and agencies
· The Guardian, Thursday 17 September 2009 02.09 BST

The UK is consolidating its lead in offshore wind energy, according to Ed Miliband.

The energy and climate change secretary, Ed Miliband, today announced a boost for green jobs including government funding for a new factory in the north-east, which will make the largest offshore wind blades in the world.

Miliband unveiled the £4.4m grant to Clipper Windpower to develop offshore wind turbines, with blades 70m long, 175m high, and weighing over 30 tonnes – "the size of a jumbo jet" – in a speech to the TUC in Liverpool.

"With strong government backing, the UK is consolidating its lead in offshore wind energy. We already have more offshore wind energy than any other country, we have the biggest wind farm in the world about to start construction, and now we'll see the biggest turbine blades in the world made here in Britain," Miliband said. "Our coastline means the offshore wind industry has the potential to employ tens of thousands of workers by 2020."

James Dehlsen, chairman of Clipper Windpower, said the government grant would accelerate planning and delivery of the project. The move was welcomed by Friends of the Earth as "exactly the sort of development the government should be supporting".
As part of the £120m investment the government has promised over the next two years, Artemis Intelligent Power will also be given £1m to transfer existing technology from automotive to wind energy. Siemens Wind Power will receive £1.1m in developing power converters for their larger offshore turbine.

Clipper, a US company listed as the UK's only wind turbine maker, will start work at a new plant near Blyth, Northumberland, next year to develop the blades for its giant turbines. It is expected to employ 60 people by the end of 2010. Ministers are keen to redeem themselves after the closure of Vesta, the wind turbine factory on the Isle of Wight, which led to the loss of more than 600 jobs in August.

Miliband told the TUC conference it was a tragedy that workers at Vesta had lost their jobs, prompting a standing ovation from delegates for a number of former Vesta workers present.

"We spent months working with the company," Miliband said. "They told us money wasn't a problem. They said their problem was that they didn't have enough orders for onshore wind turbines, because some councils wouldn't let wind turbines go up." He accused Tory councils of blocking planning applications for turbines.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009


Eric Lee of Labourstart writes

Sometimes when we do one of our online campaigns, we trigger a response from the employer or government. Often just getting that response is a kind of victory -- it means we've gotten their attention, at the very least.It usually takes a few hundred messages, or even a few thousand, before this happens.

But yesterday we were asked by a British union, the RMT, to do an online campaign in support of the under-paid, poorly-treated workers who clean the world-famous Eurostar trains that connect London to the European continent. As usual, I sent off the first message myself. And an hour later, I had an answer in my inbox from the company defending its position.

That's right -- one email message from one person got their attention.

Imagine what will happen when they have 10,000 such messages flooding into their inbox! Please send off your message right now -- click here:

The Eurostar cleaners had a rock-solid 48-hour strike last week. This online campaign is the next stage of their fight for dignity. Let's take advantage of the fact that the company seems a bit sensitive to criticism and hit them with a tremendous number of email messages quickly over the next 24 hours.

After you've sent off your own message to Eurostar, please pass this email message on your friends and co-workers.

Eric Lee



- British and French governments’ plot to deport ‘Jungle’ asylum seekers breaks EU human rights law, says Green Party leader

Green MEP for the South East, Caroline Lucas, today responded angrily to news that French police have raided the ‘Jungle’ camps in Calais, reportedly detaining 278 people – 132 children of whom are said to be children (1).

Police have swooped on a squalid tented area known as ‘The Jungle’ outside Calais, home to hundreds of refugees and migrants from war-torn countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq or Somalia. Around a fifth of them are thought to be children, living in desperate and dangerous conditions, sleeping rough, with little access to sanitation or resources.

Green Party leader Caroline Lucas MEP said:

“Today’s mass clearance and destruction of the ‘Jungle’ camps by the French authorities, involving the detention of hundreds of refugees, is simply unacceptable – and must be condemned by the international community.

“Rather than fulfilling their responsibilities to seekers of asylum under both EU and international law, the French and British governments are turning a blind eye to the suffering taking place on their own doorsteps. Home Secretary Alan Johnson‘s glee in the wake of this aggressive police raid is particularly disturbing.

“The plan for mass deportations of these refugees rides roughshod over the European Convention on Human Rights, the 1951 Refugee Convention and the Geneva Convention. And given that so many facing expulsion are children, the plans may also breach the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

"This short term ‘solution’ is not only inhumane – it will not work. The French are not playing their part in allowing people to claim asylum in Calais, and must commit to making the official procedures for seeking asylum more accessible to those in need. Equally, other EU Member states must recognise their duty to share the responsibility.”

The majority of refugees in the ‘Jungle’ have had no contact with official authorities since entering the EU. Many face a risk of deportation before they have even been interviewed in order to determine whether they are seeking asylum and are, therefore, protected by EU asylum law. They are also often at the mercy of ruthless people traffickers within the camps.

Caroline Lucas MEP concluded:

“Many migrants into France and the UK are fleeing in part from the dire consequences of the West’s foreign policy mistakes in Iraq and Afghanistan. Given this reality, you would hope that these governments would take their responsibilities to the international community more seriously.

“It is disgusting that vulnerable people from some of the world’s most troubled countries are treated so inhumanely on European soil. Many residents in the camps are genuine asylum-seekers and not illegal immigrants. It is crucial that those people fleeing persecution and war have free access to the correct information so that they know they can make a genuine claim for asylum.”

In a letter to the European Commission back in July, the UK’s Green MEPs called for an immediate suspension of plans to deport around 1,800 individuals from the ‘Jungle’, warning that the planned action – being taken jointly by the French and British authorities under the Evian Agreement – would be in direct breach of EU and international law on human rights and refugees.


Notes to Editors


A previous attempt at a mass deportation was overruled by the European Court of Human Rights on the grounds that the operation would contravene the European Declaration on Human Rights, as well as the trilateral agreement signed in 2002 by UNHCR with the Afghan and French governments, which stipulates that "the return of Afghans who do not enjoy protection… will be carried out in a gradual, ordered and humane way.

For more information on the work of Dr Lucas MEP, please contact Melissa Freeman on 0207 407 9935 / 07950 382149 or

Monday, 21 September 2009

Tower Hamlets College Strike

It appears that Michael Farley thinks that he can deliver an education to students without a teaching staff.

He has told you that:

• Curriculum managers and teaching staff have prepared a curriculum programme starting on September 14. Have you walked around the staff work rooms to see how many teachers are in work?

• That although there will be some amendments to student’s scheduled timetables, they will still receive a positive learning experience. How will they get that without their teachers? '

Matters are now coming to a head in this dispute. Our mass meeting this week re-affirmed our commitment to fighting job cuts and course cuts through indefinite strike action. We will not be there on September 14 to teach these classes unless the Senior Management Teamis prepared to think again. Far from seeking to find an agreed solution to the dispute, management have only made concessions in July due to our collective pressure. Since the all-out strike began on the 27th August our branch negotiators have been waiting at the end of a telephone line for acall to negotiate – and no call has come from Michael Farley. It wasn't until Wednesday 16th September that he began to talk with our negotiators, these talks have so far come to nothing. At the moment they are trying to pretend that everything is as normal and that there are enough existing members of the teaching staff still working to carry on despite the strike. Whilst we know that our industrial action has placed extra burdens ony ou during enrolment, and we know that our students need these courses, please bear this in mind:

• We too are suffering because of this dispute – financially because we are losing wages, but also because we care about our students.

• We are fighting to defend the jobs of our colleagues and to defend course provision for our students – not for any individual personal gain.

• We have consistently fought not only for our jobs and conditions of work of teaching staff, but also for the jobs and conditions of work of all THC staff. This dispute cannot be resolved by pretending that it does not exist.We are determined that it will be resolved in a manner that defends jobs and education. We are also aware that we will have our work cut out to rebuild the damage caused by the dispute when it is over. We simply ask that you keep faith with us and support us in any way that is possible.

From Tower Hamlets teaching staff.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

The Green Party Trade Union Group supports the postal workers’ Union, CWU

"The Green Party Trade Union Group supports the postal workers’ Union, CWU, in its dispute with Royal Mail management. It clearly seems that the management believe that the fall in postal communication relative to digital gives them the opportunity to manage by threat and intimidation and force through cuts to postal workers earnings sometimes by wrecking their conditions of service. This is a difficult time to be a postal worker, b u t postal workers continue to deliver a vital public service. They are through their Union willing to negotiate reforms but are not prepared to be bullied.

The national agreement that resolved the 2007 dispute stipulates the continuing provision of reasonable local earnings levels and that to assist development of a fourth Phase of Royal Mail modernisation, consultation and negotiation will take place. Management are not currently complying. GPTU therefore supports the CWU decision to ballot on national strike action."

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Sean Thompson: notes for the Climate and Capitalism seminar 12 September 09

This paper is based on the notes I prepared for the Climate and Capitalism seminar which took place in London on 12 September 09. Video cllips of this event are on the Green Left blog (link on the right!)

Were are we now?

We are economically in a very deep whole which the whole political class are determined should be dug deeper. Not only do they want us to do the digging, they want us to buy the shovels and start working shifts.

When I wrote Confronting the Crisis in the spring it was in response to last winter’s financial crisis. What we now need to be planning for is how to counter the attacks that are going to come on working people – particularly the poorest and most vulnerable – as the ruling class responds to that crisis.

In this paper, I want to sketch out the sort of arguments and the sort of demands we should make as part of the campaign of resistance we are going to have to help grow. Essentially, we should be arguing - over and over again - that:

• Cuts aren’t necessary
• Cuts will be counterproductive
• Reducing inequality is both socially desirable and economically beneficial
• A huge programme of green infrastructural renewal is both necessary and affordable

Only a technical recovery

Despite to frequent claims in the press about green shoots, we are currently seeing only a technical recovery: slight twitching of growth in manufacturing sector, house prices have bottomed out for the moment and a trickle of buying is taking place, share prices have risen with the FTSE going through 5000. However, the British Chamber of Commerce said on 9 September that the economy will shrink by 4.3% this year, more than the 3.8% it expected in June, and other economists are predicting a fall of 4.5%.
In 1930, Keynes, writing of the Depression, provided an eerily accurate description of our situation seventy years later:
“The duration of the slump may be much more prolonged than most people are expecting ... Not, of course the duration of the acute phase of the slump, but that of the long, dragging conditions of semi-slump, or at least sub-normal prosperity, which may be expected to succeed the acute phase”
Preventing collapse has been at a huge cost
At the end of June, intervention to prop up the financial sector had increased the national debt by over £141bn, bringing the total debt level to £798.8bn (56.6% of GDP). On top of that, the government could be exposed to contingent liabilities of over £500bn in underwriting mortgage securities and other bad assets held by the banks.
In the middle of August, the Bank of England’s quantitative easing programme lurched upwards again by an extra £50bn of gilt purchases. This brought the total to £175bn. Mervyn King actually wanted to increase it to £200bn. King’s fear is that the UK becomes the new Japan, trapped in a deflationary cycle from which it proves hard to escape. The risks of deflation for an economy like Britain's are clear; a prolonged period of falling prices adds to the real value of debts held by individuals. And personal debt in Britain is around £1.4trillion, with unsecured debt (mainly on credit cards) is standing at about 17% of national income – twice the European norm.
Making us pay for their crisis

The finance sector and the Westminster village are busily calling for cuts in public spending. Not only is this the most extreme case of seeking to privatize profits and nationalize losses, deflationary measures are currently the last thing we need and inflation is the last thing we have to fear.

Over the next few months until the election there will be an ever growing clamour for cuts in public spending and services. Already the Institute of Directors has called for a pay freeze on the state pension, a 10% cut in the size of the civil service, a 10% cut in “non-frontline” staff in both the NHS and schools, cuts in free bus passes for the elderly and disabled, the abolition of child benefit and abolition of free TV licences. The McKinsey report commissioned by the Department of Health, recommended the axing of 137,000 clinical and administrative posts in the NHS. After the election there will be a series of attacks on public spending and public institutions. That will be our next battleground and we must prepare for it.

As Foster and Magdoff put it “it is the well-to-do who should foot the bill – not only for reasons of elementary justice, but also because they collectively and their system constitute the reason that things are as bad as they are; and because the best way to help both the economy and those at the bottom is to address the needs of the latter directly.”

But, they say: “capitalism takes advantage of social inertia, using its power to rob outright when it can’t just rely on ‘normal’ exploitation. Without resistance from below the burden will simply be imposed on those at the bottom. All of this requires a mass social and economic upsurge, such as in the latter half of the 1930s, including the revival of unions and mass social movements of all kinds.”
The only force that can stop the wave of attacks that is bound to come on our services and institutions is a mass popular mobilisation led and sustained by the grass roots trade union movement. That cannot simply be wished into existence.

Our response

The authors of last year’s Green New Deal pamphlet proposed that we should deal with the interlocked financial and environmental crises we face with twin strategies; first, “a structural transformation of the regulation of national and international financial systems, and major changes to taxation systems” and second, “a sustained programme to invest in and deploy energy conservation and renewable energies, coupled with effective demand management.”

Unfortunately, the programme they proposed, while being far bolder than any of the other pale green copies of its strategies that have followed in its wake, fails on three counts:

• it simply aims at further regulation of the banking and finance system rather than recognizing the need for its seizure and transformation;
• It doesn’t take the issue of inequality anything like seriously enough;
• Its programme for infrastructural investment isn’t ambitious enough doesn’t take into account the scale of rebuilding and restructuring our manufacturing and construction base that will be needed to put such a programme into meaningful effect.

There is an urgent need to redistribute wealth away from corporate profits and towards wages and income; not only because justice demands it but also because it makes sound economic sense in terms of stimulating demand. At the same time, we need to re-stimulate the economy with an ambitious programme of socially and environmentally necessary public investment of the sort of advocated in the Green New Deal and The People’s Charter, but taken further in terms of basic industry, home building and R&D and recognising that the necessary outcome of the huge programme of public investment that is required is a major extension of common ownership under democratic control.

Taking control of the financial system

The banks' huge losses in the last year and their continuing hidden insolvency have made them reluctant to lend and they have used the gigantic injections of capital provided by the government to protect their fragile balance sheets rather than to protect or create jobs. Despite the fact that that the government, through its continuing underwriting of their vast but still undefined liabilities could, if it wished, impose proper control on the banks, it cravenly refuses to do more than lecture them.

The state must take full control of the banking system by enforcing its monopoly on the creation of credit, based on a clear overall strategy, and the Bank of England must be transformed into the agency for implementing that strategy. This would result in individual banking institutions becoming local franchises for allocating credit in line with national economic policy. In turn, this could create the right environment for the development of a range of different forms of local and mutual financial institutions; a rebirth of local building societies for example, the establishment of credit unions on the scale of Ireland, the development of a new Post Office Bank, or the re-emergence of local authorities as local bankers.

The corporate finance and retail functions of the banks must be separated and trading in exotic financial instruments must be banned in Britain. The debts acquired in trading in them elsewhere should become legally enforceable so they would have the same status as gambling debts – which, of course, is what they are.
Building a low carbon infrastructure

Manufacturing in the Britain now amounts for less than 25% of GDP. In particular, our engineering and construction industries have been dramatically hollowed out over the past thirty years.

The Green New Deal pamphlet predicts that the development of the admirable low-carbon energy system and environmental reconstruction programme it proposes will "see hundreds of thousands created in Britain. It will be part of a wider shift from an economy focussed on financial services and shopping to one that is a an engine of environmental transformation." That is certainly a desirable goal, but it will not happen without the most massive and rapid programme of investment in the retooling of manufacturing industry and reskilling of labour that we have seen since the Second World War. As the Green New Deal’s authors put it, there is a “need for mobilisation as though for war.”

There is little point in a new low-carbon energy system without a completely renewed public transport system, since transport accounts for 24% of our carbon footprint. And it is impossible to develop a sensible energy conservation programme for our homes, workplaces and public buildings, particularly the pamphlet's “every building a power station” policy, without dealing with the inextricably linked needs for a renewed and sustainable water supply system and a massive programme of social housing.

Building homes, not a housing bubble

There is a desperate need for decent homes in the country, and it is this real need that was commodified and turned into fuel for the housing bubble. There are currently over four million families on council and housing association waiting lists, most of whom will never get housed. We must campaign for a huge programme of social housing construction, far larger than anything we have seen since the sixties, and for the environmental upgrading of existing housing.

If we were to adopt existing best practice in both the design and construction or refurbishment of housing for these four million families, we would not only create over three hundred thousand jobs but also, in adopting and developing low carbon technology, create many more related jobs and business opportunities.

If a rational low carbon construction technology strategy was developed and implemented we could have much better housing with much less embodied energy and with much lower CO2 emissions, and stimulate the development of new green manufacturing. At the moment, virtually all environmentally sustainable and high performance building materials and components have to be imported from Germany and Scandinavia, while indigenous resources are underused as a result of underinvestment. For example, at the moment, most of Britain’s upland sheep farmers have no market for their wool. However, wool, with the most minimal of processing, is a superior insulating material to the oil and glass based materials mainly used in this country at the moment.
The need for common ownership

If our aim is to almost entirely rebuild our energy generation and transmission systems, along with a totally renewing our public transport system, developing a sustainable water supply system and an insulation retrofit programme for every home in the country, we are going to need nothing less than a new industrial revolution. We need to develop/redevelop the capacity to implement a huge production programme encompassing mini and micro CHP equipment, wave and offshore wind turbine plant, a whole new grid infrastructure, energy efficient buses and rail/light rail vehicles, low impact building and building materials etc., etc.

Therefore, one of the preconditions of the sort of vast infrastructural reconstruction that we need is the taking into public ownership not only the railways, but all public transport services and the power and water utilities. And if the prime source of investment in the new technologies and new manufacturing capabilities that we desperately need is the common purse then the new technologies and new industries will have to be commonly owned and democratically controlled as well.

Although millions of jobs would be created by such a programme, the major changes in industrial strategy needed – for example, contraction of the motor vehicle, armaments and aero-space industries and the run-down of much of the existing electricity generation capacity - would lead to a need to transfer and/or retrain workers moving from declining to rapidly expanding sectors. To gain the support of the workers affected, such changes would have to be accompanied by an absolute guarantee of jobs with necessary retraining with no loss of pay, security or pension rights and a guarantee of rehousing rights where necessary.

Redistributing wealth – and power

One of the key factors in advancing the financialisation of the economy has been the dramatic redistribution of wealth away from wages as a percentage of the GDP. At the centre of Thatcher’s strategy for lowering wages in order to improve the profitability of big business was a recognition of the need to break the power of organised labour – and she succeeded. In order to stabilise the economy it is urgently necessary to not only dramatically expand state spending in ways that genuinely benefit ordinary people (as opposed to the financial institutions) but also to carry out a really radical redistribution of income and wealth and a major shift in the balance of power between capital and labour.

Graham Turner says in his book The Credit Crunch:

“The concentration of corporate power through mergers, acquisitions and leveraged takeovers has to be reversed. The ability of large multinationals to control and drive labour costs down, by moving jobs around from one country to another, lies at the heart of the debt problem facing the West. Until we recognise that point, the West will not shake its destructive dependence on housing bubbles. We will continue to lurch from boom to bust, with debt traps and debt deflation threatening prolonged economic stagnation.

There are two ways to even out the playing field: reduce corporate power or increase the strength of labour.”

Of course both are necessary, because without the power of organized labour, wage rates for the least organized will remain low and unless the power of the large corporations is curbed their priorities will continue to determine the agenda of the government and politicians of all parties and government will continue to be, as Gramsci said, the shadow that big business throws on society.

One of the problems with the orthodox fiscal measure to increase demand - cutting income taxes - is that at the moment the rich will not spend and the poor cannot. Increasing the amount of disposable income of the prosperous (the usual aim and effect of tax reductions) will have only very limited effects of demand. However, any marginal increases in the disposable incomes of poor people is spent and thus has a directly stimulating effect on the economy as an increase in demand. So we should be looking to increase the social wage, to redistribute wealth away from corporate profits and towards wages and incomes in order to increase demand.

A new benefits deal

While there is a need for a completely new approach to pensions and benefits, in the short to medium term we should be arguing for the immediate re-indexing of the retirement pension to national incomes rather than RPI, and its increase to at least the levels it would have been at if Thatcher hadn’t sabotaged it – around £170 a week. Other benefits should be increased by the same sort of order.

A new pension scheme

At the end of January 2009, it was announced in the press that the total deficit in occupational pension funds had increased by 49% in a matter of weeks. More and more firms are now closing their schemes to existing workers and increasingly workers are realising that after a life time of work they are likely to end up with tiny pensions – if any at all. The government’s response to this situation is to blame working people for not saving more, while those who have managed to do so are now watching their private pension schemes shrivel. We should demand that the state underwrites (and in effect, nationalises) occupational pensions in short/medium term and in the longer term introduces a new universal State Earnings Related Pension Scheme (SERPS) which would, over a period of time, incorporate existing state and private occupational pensions.

Funding the programme

The energy conservation and renewable energy development plan outlined in the Green New Deal has been costed at between £50bn and £70bn a year and the additional programme proposed above would add between £40bn and £60bn a year to that, so we are talking about finding something like £110bn, or around 7.5% of GDP. There is a media panic about the fact that the national debt is currently 56.6% of GDP (from 37% in 2007). But how bad is that? Japan for example has a National debt of 194%, Italy is over 100%. The US national debt is close to 71% of GDP. In fact, our debt was never less than 50% of GDP from the first world war to the late seventies and by the end of the second world war stood at 250% of GDP. So an additional increase in our level of debt by 7.5% of GDP would not be too big a deal.

Besides, large part of the sums required could be met either by taxation or by cuts in other areas of government expenditure. Not only are both possible without adversely affecting working people, in fact both would positively improve the quality of life of ordinary people and increase their control over society.

Making tax fair and effective

At the moment, the poorest one-fifth in Britain pay 36.5% of their income in tax, while the richest one-fifth pay just 35.5%. New Labour’s decision to introduce a 50p tax rate for incomes over £150,000 has been greeted with howls of rage from the usual quarters. For example, the Scotsman reported that: “There was concern that the higher tax band – which will cost £80 a week to people earning between £150,000 and £200,000 a year – will wreak havoc in the financial sector. Chris Sanger, UK head of tax policy at Ernst & Young, said: ‘The key risk is such extreme rates will deter entrepreneurs and successful wealth-creators from coming to Britain.’”

There are a number of straightforward ways by which the government could both make tax fairer and increase the tax take. First, the government could raise nearly £24bn a year by introducing new tax bands and levels. In 1976 the standard rate was 35% and the highest rate on earned income was 83%, but there was a 15% surcharge on investment income which brought the top rate of tax to 98%. We should return to those levels of taxation, while raising the threshold to the median wage level (about £19,600) and abolishing the national insurance cap so that contributions are paid at 11% all the way up the income ladder. Corporation tax, too, could return to its pre Thatcher levels of 42-52%. Second, minimal reforms to council tax - for example, introducing land value tax at a relatively low rate - could raise an extra £7bn a year.

Abolishing tax relief on pension contributions from incomes over £100,000 a year would generate an additional £4bn or so a year.

According to the TUC, £12bn of tax a year may be being lost from Britain's 700 largest corporations, and £13bn from wealthy individuals thanks to planning and avoidance. We need to close in on tax avoidance loopholes.

So just by clamping down on tax dodging and by making some very modest increases to tax rates for the most prosperous we could raise at least £60bn.

Sterling Stamp Duty is a variation on the theme of the Tobin tax, but with one key difference. Like the Tobin concept, it is a currency transaction tax, but it is a tax on sterling wherever it is traded in the world, as opposed to a tax on all currencies traded in the UK. Unlike a Tobin Tax, it could be unilaterally implemented by the UK government. In 2007, the trade in sterling, the fourth most traded currency in the world, was worth £34,000bn a year. Thus a 0.001% SSD on all sterling foreign exchange transactions could raise between £30bn and £40bn a year.
In addition, the Green Party has suggested that Air Passenger Duty could be substantially increased and would generate an additional £9bn annually.

Cutting harmful spending

While we are looking at increasing public spending, part of this increase could be offset by reducing other areas of unnecessary spending and canceling harmful programmes, such as ID cards, the NHS national database, the motorway and major roads building programme, Trident and the two planned aircraft carriers. Canceling Trident would on its own save £100bn over the next forty years. Canceling such undesirable projects would make immediate annual savings of at least £7bn.
On top of the cancellation of Trident, which would save £3bn a year, it should be possible to progressively cut the defence budget by at least two thirds over (say) a four year period, giving annual savings of £5.5bn in year 1, leading to a £22bn saving in year 4.

In total, therefore, annual savings in public spending would be at least £12.5bn, while the additional sums generated by increased taxation would be at least £104bn. Thus we could generate at least £116.5bn from the revenue budget towards the costs a reconstruction programme.

The need for a mass movement

The sort of proposals sketched out above will not just happen; they will have to be fought for by a mass movement of and for ordinary working people, which is prepared to challenge not only the privileges of the rich and powerful, but also the state – their state – if necessary. Our central task is to help bring such a movement into being, and having evidence based arguments that show that there is an alternative to Brown and Cameron’s policies of making working people pay the price for the anarchy of capitalism and the cupidity of the rich.

Sunday, 13 September 2009


A video on Harrow Mosque on Brent Green party You Tube site:

Friday, 11 September 2009 by martin francis

It wasn't a riot, as the Guardian website claimed, but a good humoured, lively and sometimes excitable demonstration of community solidarity against right-wing extremists which succeeded in keeping them off Harrow streets and well away from the Harrow Mosque.

The few stray rightists who did turn up were chased away by local youngsters who soon returned to the main demonstration. There were reports that Stop the Islamisation of Europe (SIOE) cancelled their demonstration when the police informed them of the scale of the counter-demonstration.

Today's events showed what can be done when a whole diverse community unites against those who seek to divide it. Given the SIOE's (and their supporters in the English Defence League and British Defence League) extreme provocation in organising the anti-Islam protest on the anniversary of 9/11, during Ramadan and after Friday Prayers, the solidarity vigil was remarkably restrained.


Thursday, 10 September 2009

GPTU Meeting: Fringe meeting at GP Conference, Hove 5/9/2009 "Welfare Reform &; Low paid Workers "

part one

part two

part three

part four

part five

part six

part seven

Monday, 7 September 2009

Harrow Mosque update

Those of you following the local press will know that a motley collection of rightwing groups intend to march on the Harrow Mosque this coming Friday, September 11th. They are campaigning against 'Muslim Extremism' and have chosen the anniversary of 9/11, Ramadan and a Friday (prayer day) to give maximum provocation.

There will be a vigil in solidarity with the Harrow Central Mosque, 36-38 Station Road, HA1 2SQ from 1.30 pm, but the vital time for people to assemble is after work from 4.00 pm onwards. The fascists say they are planning to demonstrate from 5.00 - 8.00 pm. We need enough people assembled before our rally at 6.00 pm to make it absolutely clear to them that they are not welcome in Harrow. We need a diverse and united demonstration that reflects Harrow's diverse and united community. We are calling for a dignified but determined demonstration which will deter the racists, fascists and Islamophobics not by violence but by strength of numbers.

In an associated campaign we now have a wide range of signatories for a solidarity letter to be published in the Harrow Times. Signatories include Gareth Thomas MP Harrow West ; Tony McNulty MP Harrow East; Barry Gardiner MP Brent North and Dawn Butler MP Brent South plus many trade unionists and other activists.

There is a planning meeting tomorrow evening in Harrow. Please e-mail me if you wish to have the details:

We are black, white, Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Sikh and Jew
And there are many, many more of us than you.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Support all out strike at Tower Hamlets College

Subject: VERY URGENT- Support all out strike at Tower Hamlets college

UCU has been involved in a massive campaign against 40 full time staff redundancies. There have been many amazing things in this dispute

We now face 13 lecturers facing compulsory redundancy. We are now on all out strike since Thursday of last week. This is the first all out strike in further education for 12 years. We are not just fighting to stop the job cuts but also to defend courses for students and to stop our new Principal smashing the UCU.

We know that after the General Election there are going to be massive cuts in the public sector. Our strike is very important as if we win it send a message of hope to every UCU member in every college and univeristy in Britian that you can foight bakc. If we lose every Principal and Vice Chancellor will be planning more attacks on our conditions and on provision for students.

Money is ABSOLUTELY KEY AND we need it URGENTLY. We will be on strike on Tuesday and until we stop the compulsory redundancies. Please act urgently and pass this message to people you know.


Ian Crosson
UCU membership sec
Poplar site
Tower hamlets College
07811 255 261
020 8690 3038

The campaign of support for Harrow Central Mosque continues

Subject: The campaign of support for Harrow Central Mosque continues

We have been campaigning hard this week in opposition the proposed demonstration against Harrow Central Mosque on Friday September 11th organised by Stephen Gash of Stop the Islamification of Europe, supported by the English Defence League (which has links with the fascist BNP).

On Friday we leafleted Harrow Central Mosque and the Wembley Mosque in Ealing Road at the end of Friday prayers. Although the police had said that the Mosque leaders were emphatically opposed to any demonstration in solidarity with them and in support of Harrow's united community, we had a very warm reception there. We were thanked for our support and many agreed that fascists cannot simply be allowed to march unopposed, discriminating against one section of our community and seeking to divide us. If they get away with that, they will claim a victory and be back for more. The reception in Wembley was more mixed.

On Friday evening we leafleted Harrow-on-the-Hill station and there, though many people were in too much of a hurry to stop and talk, we had a good response from those who did.

On Saturday, we had a stall in Harrow Town Centre and the response was amazing, overwhelmingly favourable, with people from every section of the community signing the statement of support for the mosque and agreeing with us that we must defend the unity of our community.

The front page article in the Harrow Times from the group editor reflects this change of mood and may even have contributed to it. Click on this link to read it: phrases in this article could have been taken straight from the letter sent to the Harrow Times by Martin Francis, one of the most active supporters of UAF's campaign.

So far more than 150 people have put their names to the statement, but we need more. The statement will form the basis for a letter to the local papers, so the more signatures we can get from people with status or positions in the community the better. If you get, for example, councillors, MPs, celebrities, religious or community leaders to sign, please ask them if we can use their names when the statement is sent to the press and also whether they would be willing to speak at the rally at 6.00 pm on September11th. The statement is attached in case you haven't seen it. Please forward it on far and wide.

We have already distributed about 3,000 leaflets advertising the protest against the planned fascist invasion of Harrow at the places mentioned above and also through workplaces. On Thursday we will get 5,000 postcards, based on the wording of the leaflet to use in our ongoing campaigning. Please help with it.
Please email if you need postcards to distribute at your work or college, at another workplace, outside a station or anywhere else you can suggest. If you need help, we'll try to organise it.

We need to repeat the most successful events from last week and also reach out to new places.We also need to reach out to new places. We were unable to cover Harrow and Wealdstone station last Friday, can anyone distribute cards and collect signatures there on Friday evening? Can you suggest any other places? Can you suggest speakers we should invite to the rally?

NEXT ORGANISING MEETING TUESDAY SEPTEMBER 8TH 7.30 PM UPSTAIRS IN THE TRINITY BAR STATION ROAD HARROW. WE NEED LOTS OF PEOPLE THERE. WE WILL BE FINALISING PLANS FOR THE COUNTER DEMONSTRATION AND RALLY ON SEPTEMBER 11TH AS WELL AS LEAFLETING LEADING UP TO IT. Apologies to our Muslim brothers and sisters for holding it in a bar. We couldn't find another accessible venue in Harrow. There is a separate entrance from the street to the upstairs room.

Names on the statement:
the following people are among those who have put their names to the statement of support for Harrow Central Mosque, if you are one of them, please can you check that it is OK to include you and that the description is the one you would want used when the statement goes to the press and LET ME KNOW ANY CHANGES BY REPLYING TO THIS EMAIL:
Jo Lang, president Harrow Teachers Association (NUT)
Nick Grant, member NUT National Executive for Outer London
Martin Francis, Green Party candidate for Brent North
Abdul Omer Mohsin, convenor Unite Union, Harrow and Edgware bus garages
Hitesh Patel, Unite union rep, Harrow Weald bus garage
Raj Gill, branch secretary, GMB Harrow general branch (pc),
Pete Firmin, president Brent Trades Council
Alf Filer, UCU Harrow College
Indro Sen, UCU branch secretary College of North West London
An-Nisa Society
Milad Ahmed, Muslim Youth Helpline

Thank you to everybody for your support and help, keep it up - we are determined to defend the unity of our community. We will not let the fascists divide us. An injury to one is an injury to all.

In solidarity,
Sarah Cox for Brent & Harrow UAF