No explanations needed… very few (if any) creative people like the Tories, a party of destruction rather than creation. There’s just so much evidence…here’s a selection :
Cassetteboy – Cameron’s Conference Rap
The Common People – Common People
Glasgow Thatcher death party song
NxtGen – IDS Rap
The Common People – Don’t Stop Me Now
Frankenstein Sound Lab– Workfare = Slavery
Ron Barry and the Night Sweats – We Hate The Tories
Taking from the Poor to Pay the Rich
The rising popularity of the Green Party has given the political group their biggest boost yet in Labour-run Gateshead ahead of the local elections on May 7.
For the first time the Greens are fielding candidates in all 22 electoral wards that make up the borough council and the two parliamentary seats, Gateshead and Blaydon.
Andrew Blanchflower, who is organising the party’s Gateshead campaign said their membership had increased five fold since last year and up to 10% are former members of the Labour party.
He said part of their membership surge is down to the council’s controversial Core Strategy plan that means almost 3000 homes will be built on greenbelt land and which was voted on in March.
Speaking as his party announced their manifesto Mr Blanchflower, who is standing in Dunston and Teams against Labour’s Gary Haley, said:
“Last year we stood in eight wards, but for the May 7 elections we will have candidates in all 22 wards of Gateshead. The ‘green surge’ has meant that local party membership has increased by more than five times in the last six months.
“Around five to 10% have been Labour members but what is significant is that they may not have been politically active before, but now they are. People will find that we are a breath of fresh air. We are offering an anti-austerity solution.”
Total membership now stands at 154, up from just low double figures last year, and Mr Blanchflower said many of the new recruits will all be active in challenging their two target seats Saltwell, where Labour council leader Mick Henry is standing for re-election and Crawcrook and Greenside, where they got 12% of the vote in the 2014 local election.
Crawcrook was a key centre of protest from wildlife campaigners trying to protect its greenbelt – part of which had been ear-marked for housing.
However their stance as the anti-austerity party and the only option for dramatic environmental change has been challenged today by the Gateshead Liberal Democrats who say they can ‘out-Green’ the Greens.
Self-sufficiency advocate Dr Jonathan Wallace, who is also up for election in the Lib Dem stronghold of Whickham South and Sunniside, said:
“The big issue that we have been fighting is Labour’s plans for building on the greenbelt and we’ve fought that for years. Labour got their plans passed and it’s caused a great deal of upset among residents.
“A really big issue has also been open cast mining. There were two big applications, including one at Marley Hill, and we led the campaign to get them defeated but Gateshead Labour councillors voted for it. We also campaigned
“I’m confident that because we have led the environmental in Gateshead that in terms of green policies people will look to us, rather than the Greens. If they are looking to people who lead a green lifestyle they can look to me – I can ‘out-green’ and Green Party candidate.”
He said none of their 11 seats are considered safe but they enjoy safe majorities in his own area of Whickham South and Sunniside (800) and Whickham North where they increased their majority from 100 to 300.
They also hope to make gains in Dunston Hill and Whickham East and in Ryton, Crook and Stella.
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 16 Apr 2015
Campaigners hoping to turn Northumberland in a Green Party powerbase defied dreary weather to officially launch their election battle.
Natalie Bennett’s party will fight all four Northumberland constituencies at the General Election next month, placing energy, anti-austerity, public services and transport at the heart of their strategy.
Taking shelter under bright green umbrellas, the candidates chose Druridge Bay Visitor Centre, near Amble, for the event, close to the site of a planned opencast mine, which the Greens are petitioning against amid fears it will damage the environment.
The party’s candidate for Hexham and chairman of the Northumberland Greens Lee Williscroft-Ferris, said:
“Today has been a huge success.
“Despite the poor weather, many Green Party members from across the four Northumberland constituencies have come to Druridge Bay to show their support as their candidates officially launch their general election campaigns.
“Although we are each fighting hard in our own areas, we share similar concerns. These include an urgent need to improve public transport and protect our public services, as well as a mutual objective of fighting against the unsafe exploitation of our natural resources through fracking, open cast mining and underground coal gasification.
“We offer a people and planet-focussed alternative to ‘business as usual’ politics and to the narrative of austerity – the number of people here today proves that there is a genuine appetite for a positive, Green vision of hope here in Northumberland.”
It comes as the Greens celebrate being the third-largest party, in terms of membership, in England as the party enjoys unprecedented exposure in the TV leaders’ debates.
While the Greens are not anticipating victory in Northumberland a surge of support for them could make a decisive difference in the key marginal of Berwick-upon-Tweed.
Following the retirement of long-serving Lib Dem MP Sir Alan Beith, Conservative Anne-Marie Trevelyan is neck-and-neck with Lib Dem Julie Porksen, but the Greens’ candidate Rachael Roberts is holding her own.
Dawn Furness is taking on Labour’s Ronnie Campbell – who polled a 6,668 majority in 2010 – in the Blyth Valley constituency while Chris Hedley also faces a tough opponent in Wansbeck where Ian Lavery will stand for Ed Miliband’s party.
The Save Druridge campaign has a petition, which can be found online: http://www.savedruridge.co.uk
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 13 Apr 2015
MPs should be content with pay packets a third of the size of those they get now, according to a socialist bidding to become Jarrow’s next representative at Westminster.
Norman Hall thinks it’s outrageous that our Parliamentarians are set to receive salaries of £75,000.
The semi-retired software engineer believes that puts them out of touch with ordinary working people.
That’s why the 59-year-old, of Gateshead, has pledged his support for proposals for MPs to receive no more than the salary of the average skilled worker.
“It would help them to directly understand the issues that affect working people.”
Mr Hall, representing the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) at the general election on Thursday, May 7, is also campaigning on an anti-austerity platform.
“All of the six major parties are parties of austerity.
“They are all in favour of cuts. Our stance is simple. We are saying no to austerity.”
This is the first time that Mr Hall has stood for Parliament, but he has made two bids to become a councillor in Gateshead.
Originally a member of the Labour Party, he became disillusioned with what he says was its “lack of support” for the miners during the strike of 1985 and 1985 and joined the Socialist Party, and it allied with trade unions to form TUSC in 2010.
The union coalition plans to stand in more than 120 seats across the country in May, including Washington and Sunderland North, North Tyneside and Newcastle East.
Mr Hall, a married stepfather of two, said:
“The coalition is exactly what it says on the tin.
“I’m well aware of Jarrow’s heritage stretching back to Ellen Wilkinson, and in 2011 I was involved in the Youth Fight for Jobs, which marked the 75th anniversary of the Jarrow March.
“I’m from Wallsend, and it shared with Jarrow many of the problems that stemmed from de-industrialisation.
“In terms of what support I’ll receive, that’s somewhat up in the air, but it’s clear that people are disillusioned with the mainstream parties. We are here to give the working class an alternative voice, one against austerity and against the cuts that took place under Labour and the Tories.
“It started under Alistair Darling, who made ordinary people pay for the banking crisis. The working class needs a new voice.”
TUSC opposes all cuts to council jobs, services, pay and conditions and rejects increases in council tax, rent and service charges to “compensate for government cuts”.
The party also supports nationalisation of the banks and the financial system, is against the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and all secret austerity treaties.
The other candidates standing in Jarrow on May 7 are: Stephen Hepburn (Labour), Stan Collins (Liberal Democrat), Steve Harrison (UKIP) and David Herbert (Green).
Source – Shields Gazette, 16 March 2015
The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) has announced its candidate to to fight the Darlington parliamentary seat in the General Election will be Alan Docherty.
Mr Docherty, a trade union member and environmental activist, who has lived and worked in Darlington for more than 40 years on the railways and at Darlington Borough Council, said he knows the town and the issues it is facing well.
He is the former branch secretary of the Darlington local government branch of Unison, is the co-ordinator of Darlington Trades Union Council’s Darlington Against Cuts group and secretary of the Teesside Socialist Party.
Mr Docherty regularly campaigns in the town and across Teesside for trade union, anti cuts and environmental groups.
The TUSC’s policies include bringing the railways, buses, utilities and the postal service back into public ownership; no cuts to public services; investment in green energy; nationalising the banks and stopping tax avoidance.
Mr Docherty said:
“We consider that the Labour Party no longer represents the interest of ordinary people.
“It is publicly committed to economic policies, similar to those of the Lib Dems, Conservatives and UKIP, that will continue to reduce people’s living standards and cut public services.
“It is our aim to reverse the false message that austerity and cuts are the only way to rebuild the economy. We can and will change the face of politics in Britain too’.
The TUSC was co-founded in 2010 by the late Bob Crow, former Rail and Maritime Trade Union (RMT) leader, to enable trade unionists, community campaigners and socialists to stand anti-austerity candidates against the pro-austerity establishment parties.
A defector from Labour to the Greens in South Tyneside is to challenge the man who took his job at May’s Local Elections.
Matthew Giles, 24, was formerly the youth officer for Jarrow Constituency Labour Party, but he lost a ballot last September to Adam Ellison, who has now taken over the role.
Now Mr Giles has left Labour and will stand for the Green Party against Mr Ellison in Hebburn North on Thursday, May 7.
The recording studio sound engineer, of Mill Crescent, Hebburn, joined the Labour Party four years ago but believes his anti-war and anti-austerity views have in recent months put him at odds with the local party.
Despite his departure from Labour, he has pledged to “run a positive campaign with no sniping”.
“I don’t think my views fitted with the party. I was offered the chance to be a Labour candidate in Westerhope, in Newcastle, but I wanted to represent the place where I lived, but I couldn’t get considered by the party locally.
“I felt I was being prevented from going further because of my views and my refusal to toe the line.”
Since joining the Greens at the end of last year, Mr Giles said he had found the party “a perfect fit”.
“It’s been an incredibly positive experience, and the people involved with the party locally are really enthusiastic.
“On the doorstep we have heard from people wanting to vote Green but have been unable to because of a lack of candidates. They end up voting Labour as the lesser of two evils.
“I’m planning to run a positive campaign, with no sniping. We’re under no illusions we are going to win everywhere but it’s about building up our base and giving people the chance to vote Green in every ward.”
Meanwhile, in his role with the Tyneside branch of the People’s Assembly Against Austerity, Mr Giles is helping organise a rally in Newcastle on Saturday against Pegida, the anti-Muslim organisation.
It is to be attended by campaigning comedian Russell Brand and controversial MP George Galloway.
Wilf Flynn, secretary of Jarrow Constituency Labour Party, said he felt Mr Giles was “jumping onto the Green bandwagon”.
“I can’t accept that Matthew wasn’t given a chance with the Labour Party, he was on our Local Government Panel and he could have stood against Adam when he beat Ian Harkus in Labour North.
“I find it strange that Matthew is not standing in the ward where he lives – Hebburn South.
“Perhaps he didn’t feel he could take on Eddie McAtominey.
“He was our youth officer and then lost the next time on a ballot to Adam. Matthew knows his own mind but I feel he’s jumped on the Green bandwagon.
“I don’t have a crystal ball but I don’t foresee a wedge of Green MPs after the next election – but every vote taken away from Labour will make it more likely that Cameron gets a majority.
“I know Matthew wouldn’t want that.”
> I do dislike this constant emotional blackmail – if you don’t vote for us its a vote for the Tories – that Labour seem to be constantly indulging in.
The fact is, quite a few people who did vote Labour did so simply because there was no viable left wing alternative, and they wouldn’t touch Ukip with a bargepole.
The Greens have evidently filled that vacuum and now provide an alternative for those who see Labour as virtually identical to the Tories – Matthew Giles’ comments about his anti-war and anti-austerity views not fitting in are probably quite widespread among the new Green supporters.
Source – Shields Gazette, 24 Feb 2015
The forthcoming general election has been described as one of the most unpredictable in generations.
And with the polls revealing Labour and the Conservatives to be neck-and-neck, the result could depend on how well the so-called minor parties perform.
For some time now this has largely meant UKIP which has enjoyed a level of success in the North.
Now it also means the Green party which has seen its membership surge of late reportedly to a higher level than that of UKIP.
So will either of them manage to win seats here or perhaps gain sufficient votes to affect the final outcome?
Political expert Dr Martin Farr of Newcastle University said Labour was most at threat from the rise of UKIP while the Greens posed a threat particularly to the Lib Dems.
Dr Farr also said the support in the North East had given UKIP a certain amount of credibility.
“Before it had been portrayed as the party of disgruntled Tories, the anti-immigration party.
“But the North East is Labour’s heartland and immigration isn’t as big an issue here as it is, say, in the North West.
“The issue here is about representation which many former Labour voters don’t think they are getting from the party.
“Meanwhile UKIP can say what it likes at the moment as it is a party untarnished by being in Government.
“What it is offering is what Labour used to offer – clarity and certainty.”
This could explain why UKIP has enjoyed notable electoral successes up here recently.
At present it has a North East MEP, Jonathan Arnott, and four local councillors, two in South Tyneside and two in Hartlepool.
At the 2013 South Shields by-election following David Miliband’s resignation, UKIP’s Richard Elvin came second to Labour’s Emma Lewell Buck winning 24% of the vote, with the Tories and Lib Dems a distant thrid and fourth.
And, if the UK didn’t have a first past the post electoral system, it could have many more representatives.
In the May 2014 local elections at Newcastle City Council, having never contested a ward before, UKIP put up candidates in 19 and nine came second in the vote.
Its overall share of the vote was 9,231 or 13.5%, ahead of the Conservatives although trailing Labour and the Lib Dems.
Meanwhile at Sunderland City Council, UKIP put up five candidates in 2012 and although none won, it got some notable numbers in Hetton in particular with 1,363 where their candidate came a close second.
In 2014 it was unlucky not to win any seats despite gaining 16,951 votes in total, a 24.3% share. Of the 23 wards it contested it came 2nd in 16 of them.
Even as we approach the general election it is still making inroads. Last month the Mayor of Bishop Auckland, Coun Colin Race, quit the Labour Party and joined UKIP.
As for the Greens, Dr Farr said:
“There has been a huge surge in support because the Lib Dem support has collapsed and they are also attracting people from the left of Labour who are fed up with austerity.
“There isn’t a Syriza type party (the left wing anti-austerity party in Greece which formed the last Government there) in the UK.
“The Green party is basically still a pressure group without fully formed policies on all the issues. It’s leader was embarrassed recently in a TV interview because of this.”
However he said in time, using the success it has had at local level in places like Brighton, it could achieve credibility at a national level.
This might mean any electoral success it enjoys in the region by be more limited than UKIP which, in the public’s eye, is a bit more of an established party.
Overall Dr Farr said he wasn’t expecting many surprises at the May general election.
He said: “I think in most of the North East, the majorities are such that the numbers they attract won’t be enough to win seats.”
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 07 Feb 2015
Four North-East Labour MPs have urged Ed Miliband to swing to the Left and rip up his “tragic” commitment to further deep spending cuts.
Grahame Morris (Easington), Ian Mearns (Gateshead), Dave Anderson (Blaydon) and Ian Lavery (Wansbeck) are among 16 rebels issuing the challenge to their leader.
Their alternative election manifesto demands:
* A £30bn investment package – an “alternative way out of endless austerity” – funded either by higher borrowing, the state-owned banks, or a levy on the super-rich.
The MPs call on Mr Miliband to exploit 0.5 per cent interest rates, arguing it would cost just £150m a year to finance the package – which they say would create more than a million jobs, within three years.
Instead, they say: “All three main parties, tragically, seem to agree that deep spending cuts must continue to be made until the structural budget deficit is wiped out in 2019-20.”
* Rail nationalisation, by taking train operating franchises back into public ownership when they expire.
The MPs reject Labour’s plan to allow not-for-profit firms to bid for franchises, condemning it as timid and “wholly unnecessary”.
They claim privatisation costs £1.2bn a year, adding: “Over 80 per cent of the public want the railways re-nationalised, which must include a significant proportion of Tories.”
* Stronger trade union and employment rights, with a return to collective bargaining “as a check against excessive corporate power”.
The alternative manifesto blames the disappearance of union-negotiated agreements for a sharp fall in the share of national income going to salaries and wages – from 65 per cent in 1980, to 53 per cent in 2012.
And it says: “We should therefore actively promote sectoral collective bargaining and strengthen the rights of trade unions to recognition, and of their members to representation.”
The move laid bare how Mr Miliband will struggle to carry his party to make the deep spending cuts planned, even if he wins a small majority in May.
The left-wing group of MPs are keen to take advantage of the rise of the anti-austerity Green Party and of the SNP to push Labour in a more radical direction.
Meanwhile, Len McCluskey, the Unite general secretary, has made repeated threats to establish a new workers’ party if Labour loses after offering a “pale shade of austerity”.
Last year, Mr McCluskey urged the likes of Mr Morris, Mr Mearns and Mr Lavery to “put the brakes” on Ed Miliband if he tries to take Labour to the right
> Even further to the right, I think he means…
It followed the trio’s criticism of Labour support for an overall welfare cap and vote against compulsory unpaid work experience.
Source – Northern Echo, 26 Jan 2015
This articlewas written by Randeep Ramesh, social affairs editor, for The Guardian on Wednesday 12th November 2014
A man who applied for more than 60 jobs in a fortnight while protesting against “draconian and demeaning” government policies has been sanctioned by his local jobcentre – for not searching for “broader” employment.
Peter Styles, a copywriter and public relations executive who has been unemployed for a year, says he writes up to 15 job applications a day – even applying at the request of jobcentre staff to be a “personal shopper” and “grocery colleague” at local supermarkets.
However, he said his mistake was to have “voiced my opposition to government policies which I thought were unhelpful and meant to keep you down … I have a good work record and was really trying hard. But the process is patronising and staff can be unhelpful”.
Last week Styles was sanctioned and forced to sign on every day instead of every fortnight, a “humiliating process where you often have to wait alone until staff can see you”.
“There’s no doubt that there was bad feeling between staff and me. But I had not been rude until last Friday. Daily signing on is totally counterproductive and very stressful.”
Officials say that “special action” was taken over Styles because he had not provided evidence that he was seeking jobs and that he was seen from behind a screen because he had become “volatile”.
The communications specialist put his skills to use – publicising his experience in a blog that has gone viral; registering more than 9,000 hits, over 1,000 Facebook shares and hundreds of messages of support.
The social media onslaught has concerned officials who say that staff named in his blog might mean they would have to be shifted to other offices as they may be targeted by anti-austerity campaigners. There are moves to get Styles to remove the blog entirely.
The pressure is taking its toll. Styles says he “has been signed off by the doctor for a month, and consequently have had to end my claim for jobseeker’s allowance. Currently I have no means of support whatsoever and feel in a strange limbo-like position.”
With not even the £70-a-week dole money, debts are piling up. Styles says he is “thousands in debt” and only getting by with the help of friends. In response to his complaint, the Department of Work and Pensions wrote to Styles apologising for not “seeing him on time”.
The jobcentre wrote back saying “The ‘draconian’ measures … are part of government policy … I have looked at the complaint that you have made and can assure you that we have correctly applied the policy in your case. [There] is no appeals process for policy issues.”
> ‘draconian’ measures … are part of government policy’ … yeah, we already figured that. Nice to have it confirmed officially, though.
Source – Welfare Weekly, 13 Nov 2014
Content warning: metaphorical depiction of bodily violence
Austerity is a horrible yet captivating story. As a narrative it’s cohesive, has strong emotional images and an active message – elements which clearly resonate with the public and lend legitimacy to government cuts.
The left’s response, for all its logical and ethical weight, remains fragmentary, dry and largely reactive. We are, in the words of Mark Fisher, merely firefighting the effects of government cuts, always left on the back foot. To create a stronger alternative, we need to build a vibrant, cohesive narrative to carry those logical and ethical arguments.
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