Tagged: People’s Assembly Against Austerity

Ex-Labour man will stand for Green Party in Jarrow

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”.

He said:

“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”.

He added:

“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”.

He said:

“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

Hundreds of people from the North East join budget cuts protest in London

Hundreds of people from the North East joined 50,000 protesters in London’s Parliament Square to campaign against austerity measures.

Two coaches full of determined protesters assembled at Newcastle’s Central station and South Shields’ Town Hall on Saturday, before they made the six hour journey down to the capital.

> There was also a coach from Sunderland, according to the Sunderland Echo.

The protesters were armed with colourful banners and placards designed by local artist group, Artists for Change, their message was conveyed in just a few words; “No Cuts, No More Austerity; Demand the Alternative.”

Upon arrival, they marched passed the BBC headquarters in Portland Place where they accused the broadcasters of ignoring the plight of thousands of impoverished Britons affected by the cuts.

> The BC evidently didn’t notice, as they ignored the protest until the next day…

They then marched to Parliament Square where the crowds were addressed by union workers, politicians and celebrities such as Russell Brand and journalist Owen Jones.

Mum-of-four Ruth Stevenson, 35, from Wallsend, attended the demonstration after the cuts put her family under extreme financial strain. She said: “It was really well organised and there were loads of families and children, people in wheelchairs, and even choirs at the sides of the marches.

“There was a fantastic feeling of all people united. There were NHS staff, firefighters, monks and all sorts of people there. The amount of bus loads of people who arrived was amazing.”

The National secretary of the People’s Assembly, Sam Fairbairn, talked to the masses about the negative impact of the coalition’s cuts on communities and workers.

He said: “Make no mistake, these cuts are killing people and destroying cherished public services which have served generations.”

The People’s Assembly Against Austerity was launched one year ago through an open letter co-signed by the late Tony Benn, along with a variety of union leaders, MPs and writers.

 Ruth  was moved to attend the demonstration when she realised she would have to forgo paying two-months worth of bills to ensure she has enough money to buy her children school uniforms.

She said: “I went because the cut-backs have really affected my family. This is the first year ever I am going to have to default on two months worth of bills to pay for school uniforms.

“School uniforms are really expensive and this year it is going to be too much. Although the cost of living has increased, wages have stayed the same. So it is really hard on families.”

She also has concerns for the future education of her four children.

At the moment I am worried about my daughter Victoria who is really intelligent. I want her to go to university but I just don’t know how I am going to support her financially.

“And if I can’t support Victoria then I don’t know how I will manage with the rest of them,” she added.

Ruth believes the British people have fought hard for institutions such as the NHS, trade unions and the welfare system only to have them taken back.

We have spent the last 50 years making sure that these institutions are there to protect ordinary people but now it is like the government is slowly removing the support network.”

Tony Dowling, Chair of the North East’s People’s Assembly, who helped to organise the North East protesters agrees that it is the hard-working and vulnerable who have been affected by the cutbacks the most.

He said: “The people who are being affected are the students who no longer have education maintenance allowance, the parents of children who have had their disability allowance cut or the NHS patients who face having to pay for their treatment in future.”

Tony helped to put together the North East’s cohort of the People’s Assembly in September 2013 at Northern Stage Theatre in Newcastle upon Tyne, and since then, the fast growing group have been busy organising workshops, public meetings, and petitions.

The 57-year-old, who is a specialist behaviour support teacher from Gateshead, hopes the demonstration has encouraged more people to join the People’s Assembly. He also wants it to be a reminder that the crisis was not caused by the people, but by the banks and the sub-prime mortgage lenders in the US.

The banks have been bailed out but ordinary people have been made to pay for it. There is a small number, around 85 people – a double decker bus load – to be exact, who own as much wealth as 50% of people put together.”

Tony added that the ultimate goal of the People’s Assembly is to make the government come up with an alternative economic strategy to end poverty in the North East and in the rest of the UK.

We want more jobs, less cut-backs, no privatisation of the NHS,” added Tony.

Source –  Newcastle Journal, 23 June 2014