Saturday, 26 March 2011

Public Service Cuts - the East Riding Council got in first

I was out today in Beverley handing out 'Stop the cuts' leaflets. A lot of people seem unperturbed. Why? One reason, I guess, is that the Tory ERYC (East Riding of Yorks Council) has been quietly cutting services for years, so people in the area have become used to poor provision. Take the youth service...there's nothing, even though people are always complaining, rightly, that young people have nothing to do and nowhere to go. Beverley Town Council now picks up the bill for detached youth worker time, even though it's not their responsibility. Meanwhile, ERYC pays over the top for a few senior staff and the lowest possible rates for the majority. Is this the council attitude we want? We have to decide at the ballot box.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Armed Forces Days

Unfortunately, people are being encouraged to organise these thinly disguised military recruitment events by a £9,000 bribe from the MOD...They are now planning another one in Beverley, East Yorks. I see them as tantamount to child abuse in that young people, and children brought for a day out, are given the impression that joining the armed forces is fun. Kids are encouraged to climb about in military vehicles with their faces painted in camouflage colours. It's grotesque and cynical. Nobody spells out the horror and brutality involved.

I met the distraught aunt of an only son who had just been sent to Afghanistan - It's no joke, and its unfair to entice people into the armed forces in a recession when people are desperate for jobs. These events should not be masquerading as a family day out. There are plenty of alternative ways to set up a good day in town - such as a community celebration, showcasing all the exciting activities going on in the area including business, sport, arts, heritage, food, etc.

I have no problem with Remembrance Sunday when we honour those who died and were injured in past conflict- its the least we can do - but AFDs are a very different matter. Please think again Beverley. At least the Town Council has had the sense not to participate this time.

Peter Tatchell's letter to TUC

To: General Secretary, TUC
from Peter Tatchell

Dear Brendan Barber,

Congratulations to the TUC for organising Saturday's anti-cuts protest. It's a great achievement to bring together the many disparate groups affected by the ConDem attack on public services. I'll be there on the march, in full support.

I am, however, somewhat perplexed why the leader of the Green Party hasn't been invited to speak at Saturday's protest, given the otherwise inclusive line-up of speakers.

Caroline Lucas MP - and the Greens – have consistently supported protests against job losses, student fees and spending cuts. She has been a clear voice in defence of public services and working people.

Caroline was one of the originators of the Green New Deal group – the first major policy intervention proposing an alternative route out of austerity. The Green New Deal is exactly what trade unionists, socialists and all progressive people should be campaigning for – rebuilding a fair, just and sustainable economy from the ashes of the recession.

Saturday’s protest is supposed to present a united front against the cuts. Sadly, this message is confused and diminished by having Ed Miliband as a speaker. He and Labour support massive cuts just like the Tories. The only difference between Miliband and Cameron is that Ed supports spacing the cuts over a few more years. Under Miliband’s plans, masses of people will still lose their jobs and huge swathes of our public services will be decimated.

If you are going to give Ed Miliband a platform, then surely you should balance his “fewer cuts now, more cuts later” stance with Caroline Lucas’s commitment to “no cuts now or later”?

Like you, I want to see a broad-based, pluralist movement against the cuts and the coalition government. This movement should include the Greens. I think it is only fair, and politically important, to feature at your rally the leader of the only political party to steadfastly resist the cuts agenda and propose a radical but pragmatic alternative to massive job losses.

The Greens are the only party that is unambiguously committed to avoiding public spending cuts by scrapping the Labour and Conservative military procurement programme, including Trident (saving £76 billion) and the air transporters and super aircraft carriers (saving £10 billion).

The Greens are also the only party advocating the Tobin Tax (Robin Hood Tax) on all financial transactions. A tiny tax rate of 0.05% (one-twentieth of 1%) on such transactions could raise up to £100 billion a year in the UK. This would wipe out the government deficit in just over 18 months – making the need for cuts in public services and jobs redundant. In the long term, this tax would provide major permanent funding for social welfare and environmental programmes.

I think it is important to have a speaker at Saturday’s demonstration who will articulate this credible alternative to the cuts. A simple anti-cuts message is not enough. Negative oppositionism will not galvanise the public. People rightly want to know how the trade unions, the left and the Greens will plug the deficit.

Given the Greens Party’s anti-cuts credentials and Caroline's track record in defence of working people I am sure there must be a very good reason why Caroline hasn't been invited to speak. But I have no idea what this reason might be. Could you advise me?

I hope that the omission of Caroline from the speaker line-up is an oversight and that you can remedy this by now inviting her to join the platform on Saturday.

Thanks a lot for your consideration. I hope to hear from you soon.
Best wishes for a fabulous turn out on Saturday.

Peter Tatchell

Human rights campaigner
NUJ member
Green Party human rights spokesperso



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