Tagged: Russell Brand

Anti-Austerity Protests: Tens Of Thousands Rally Across UK

Forty-four days after David Cameron gained an unexpected majority on a dramatic general election night, opposition parties are still picking themselves up from the floor. But on the streets of Britain, tens of thousands of people took up their placards and filled the streets of London, Glasgow and elsewhere for the first major protest against the government’s plans for five more years of austerity.

Estimates of the size of the rally in central London on Saturday varied between 70,000 and more than 150,000; in Glasgow’s George Square several thousand gathered and there were smaller demonstrations reported in other cities, including Liverpool and Bristol.

“We’re here to say austerity isn’t working,” said Caroline Lucas, the Green Party MP, to great applause from the crowds in Parliament Square at the end of the march. “We’re here to say that it wasn’t people on Jobseekers’ Allowance that brought down the banks.

“It wasn’t nurses and teachers and firefighters who were recklessly gambling on international markets. And so we should stop the policies that are making them pay for a crisis that wasn’t there making.”

Marching under the banner End Austerity Now, protesters denounced public sector cuts, the treatment of the disabled and the vulnerable through welfare cuts, the privatisation of the NHS.

Teachers, nurses, lawyers and union groups marched under their own banners. Chants and songs demanded an end to Tory government, equality and more help for the poor. A sprinkling of celebrity faces – Russell Brand, Charlotte Church and actor Richard Coyle – were among the crowd.

The deputy first minister of Northern Ireland, Martin McGuinness, told the rally:

“It is David Cameron’s cabinet of millionaires – they are the people who are the real spongers. They are the people who are given free rein to live out their Thatcherite fantasies at the expense of ordinary, decent communities throughout these islands.”

Protesters set off from outside the Bank of England, and by the time the march reached Westminster – its final destination – a sea of banners, placards and flags stretched for more than a mile down Whitehall and past Trafalgar Square.

Full story :  http://northstar.boards.net/thread/108/anti-austerity-protests-thousands-rally

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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

Failing to register to vote ‘hands the election to the rich and the old’

Who decides the result of the next General Election?

Unless something changes, it’s largely going to be older and better-off people.

Because those are the people who are most likely to vote.

And it’s a problem that MPs themselves have warned could lead to a crisis in our system of government.

But the problem doesn’t begin on election day, which will be May 7 this year.

It starts earlier than that, when people register to vote – or fail to do so.

An estimated 7.5 million people who are entitled to vote at an election in this country are not correctly registered.

This means they are registered wrongly, for example because they have moved house and haven’t updated their details, or simply haven’t registered at all.

Politicians have to listen to people who vote. But one way or another, they are also aware of who votes and who stays at home.

As a result, some sections society risk having less influence than others over decisions made by the Government.

Studies also show that young people are less likely to be registered to vote at elections than older people.

A study in 2011 found that only 55% of people aged 17 to 18, and only 56% of people aged 19 to 24, were registered to vote.

By contrast, 82.3% of the eligible population as a whole was registered – and 94% of people aged over 65.

It means older people have more influence over who wins the election.

People on lower incomes are also less likely to be registered.

A report by the Electoral Commission, an official watchdog, last year found that 79.6% of people in semi-skilled or unskilled jobs, or people dependent on benefits, were registered to vote – compared to 87% of professionals, such as doctors and lawyers, or senior managers.

The Electoral Commission also found that some black and ethnic minority groups are significantly less likely to be registered to vote compared to those identifying as white British.

It all means that some people’s views matter more than others in our system of government. And politicians know there’s a problem.

A report by a committee of MPs, the Commons Political and Constitutional Reform Committee, last year warned:

“Low levels of registration and turnout among students and young people are serious problem now and could get worse.

“If a generation of young people choose not to vote, and then continue not to participate at elections as they grow older, there will be severe and long-lasting effects for turnout at UK elections, with consequent implications for the health of democracy in the UK.”

But if it’s a problem for MPs, it’s a bigger problem for people who go unrepresented in Parliament.

Politics and the work of government affects all our lives. And this election could decide some big issues – how we improve the NHS, how we ensure future generations don’t inherit massive debts, how we provide jobs and training for young people and much more.

Comedian Russell Brand caused a stir when he suggested last year that people shouldn’t vote. But the problem with that idea is that if you don’t vote then people still get elected. It just means they are chosen by somebody else.

This election is set to be the most unpredictable in decades. Nobody knows who is going to win.

And there are more credible parties to choose from than before – with the Greens and UKIP running major campaigns, alongside the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats. Other local candidates could also have an impact in some seats.

The good news is that it’s now easier than ever before to register to vote.

People can register online for the first time, at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote . It only takes five minutes and it helps to ensure that your voice is heard.

Source –  Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 21 Feb 2015

Newcastle Unites against Pegida demonstration backed by unions from across the country

Unions across the region are joining forces in protest against the controversial anti-Islamic demonstration set to take place in Newcastle next week.

German right wing group Pediga plans to hold a demonstration on Saturday in the city’s Bigg Market.

But opposition Newcastle Unites plans a counter march beginning at Gallowgate and heading to Newgate Street.

Comedian and activist Russell Brand and Respect MP George Galloway have pledged their support to the anti-facist group.

Dozens of groups from across the region are backing Newcastle Unites, and organisers are now asking all unions across the country to strengthen their cause.

Newcastle councillor Dipu Ahad said:

“I urge all the unions in the country, to unite and support Newcastle Unites Against Pegida.

“I urge you all, who want to see a better future for our children, where we can coexist in peace, no matter what our race or religion. Let us start today, and not tomorrow as each and everyone of us has got a responsibility as humans.

“Our unity is our strength, and together we can eradicate all types of hate, no matter what.

“Too many times we focus on what divides us, which diverts the real issues. We’ve got a responsibility to combat evil, so I urge you all to stand up and be counted.”

The councillor said many groups had come forward voluntarily to support Newcastle Unites.

Just days ago Pegida were told by Newcastle United fans: “We’re black and white”.

The demonstration is planned for the same day as Newcastle face Aston Villa at St James Park, and NUFC Fans United put out the defiant message on their website which reads:

“There is a fear that Newcastle United supporters who are of the Islamic faith or origin may be singled out for abuse by this group and we say that the authorities cannot allow any of our community, whatever their race, creed or religious belief to be treated in such a manner in our city on match day or any other day.

“As Supporters of Newcastle United we are asking what kind of message is such a rally sending to players such as Papiss Cissé, Mehdi Abeid, Cheik Tiote and Moussa Sissoko as well as to our wider Muslim community? Remember, we are black and white; we are UNITED.”

A heavier-than usual police presence is expected on the day of the two marches.

Newcastle Chief Supt Laura Young said:

“We have met with representatives from both of the organisations and have agreed on plans for their demonstrations.

“The organisers from both groups have assured us they do not want any trouble and their intention is to hold peaceful protests before moving on and we will act in a neutral capacity to facilitate this.

“People often ask why we can’t ban protests. Police forces do not have the power to ban a protest or the right to peaceful assembly. This is a fundamental democratic right and is laid down in the European Convention of Human Rights.

“On occasions we can insist on certain conditions being applied to ensure we preserve public safety, prevent crime, serious disorder and serious damage and protect the rights of others.

“Our priority is ensuring public safety and minimum disruption to the local community.”

Newcastle Unites against Pegida supporters so far are:

• The Durham General Branch of the GMB

• Northern Cultural Projects CIC

• The Durham Miners Association

• The County Durham Trades Council

• Northumberland County Unison

• The Newcastle Hindu Temple

• Islamic Diversity Centre(IDC)

• Spice FM

• Show Racism The Red Card

• Durham UAF

• County Durham Unites Against Racism

• Newcastle Council of Faiths

• North East People’s Assembly

• Newcastle Stop The War Coalition

• Northumberland County Unison

• UAF North East

• Sunderland Anti-Fascist Coalition

• West End Housing Co-operative in Newcastle

• TWAFA

• Unite Against Fascism

• Stand up to UKIP

• 5Pillars

• Newcastle Council for Voluntary Service(NCVS)

• Jude Kirton Darling MEP

• Julie Ward MEP

• Lord Beecham

• Comedian and activist Russell Brand

• Journalist and activist Yvonne Ridley

• Dave Anderson MP

• Chi Onwurah MP

• Davy Hopper (General Secretary of Durham Miners Association)

• Palestine Solidarity Campaign Fife

• Sunderland Together

• NUFC Fans United

• PCS Northern

• Bakers Union

• Tyneside Irish Centre

• Unite The Union

• Gateshead Unison

• Unison Northern Region

• TUC Northern Regional

• Newcastle Central Constituency Labour Party

• North East Greens

• Tyneside SWP

Source –  Sunday Sun,  22 Feb 2015

Pegida ? Racist ? Now why would anyone think that ?

The co-founder and leader of anti-Islamisation party Liberty GB has accepted an invitation by Pegida UK to be guest speaker at their planned demonstration in Newcastle.

German anti-Islamic group Pediga will hold its demonstration on Saturday, February 28, at 11am in the Bigg Market and protesters will gather there for speeches.

Paul Weston is best known for being arrested last April on the steps of Winchester Guildhall for quoting Winston Churchill.

Churchill once said of Islam, “No stronger retrograde force exists in the world”, and for repeating these words Weston was thrown into a police cell.

His political arrest was covered by the world’s media.

> Was it ? I don’t recall it at all.

Styling himself “a revolutionary” rather than a conventional politician, Weston achieved online notoriety for a viral video entitled, “My Name Is Paul Weston and I Am a Racist”, in which he argued that the Left smears patriotic Brits as ‘racists’ in order to neutralise popular opposition to Britain’s destruction via uncontrolled immigration and Islamisation.

He has described government immigration policy as “criminal and systematic race replacement of the native English.”

> And this is revolutionary thinking ? Nothing new there, just the same old bollocks.

Recently, Weston has spoken at several EDL rallies, including one outside Downing Street at which he condemned David Cameron as a “quisling, coward and traitor” for his refusal to address the alledged  Islamic threat.

 Liberty GB describes itself on Facebook as “a patriotic, anti-Islamisation party promoting Christian civilisation, Western freedoms and British culture”.

>  Oh, surely not Christianity – an imported middle eastern religion sharing roots with Islam.  By their own standards, Liberty X – sorry, Liberty GB – are dangerously close to being classed as traitors by their own definition. But I don’t suppose they do irony.

The Party’s policies include:

– complete halt to immigration

– death sentence for terrorism

– prohibit Muslims from holding public office

– deport all Muslims considered to be a threat, along with their families

– segregate Muslim prisoners within the prison system to prevent conversion of non-Muslims to Islam

– ban mosque-building, remove minarets from existing mosques, outlaw the Islamic call to prayer

– ban ritual slaughter of animals and importation of ritually slaughtered meat

– close all madrassas and Muslim faith schools

– close Muslim prayer rooms and Islamic centres on university campuses

Asked for his view of George Galloway and Russell Brand, due to lead a counter-demonstration in Newcastle, Paul Weston called the former “a despicable traitor” and the latter “an idiot”.

The counter rally by Newcastle Unites will meet in Gallowgate at around 10.30am, before walking a short distance to Newgate Street where they will hold their demonstration.

Source –  Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 19 Feb 2015

Newcastle United fans hit out at far right group Pegida

Concerned Toon fans have sent out a message to anti-Islamic extremists planning a controversial march in Newcastle on a match day telling them to “Remember we are black and white; we are united.”

NUFC Fans United have put out the message on their website after the demonstration was announced by far right German group Pegida in the city centre on Saturday, February 28 – when Newcastle take on Aston Villa at St James’ Park.

The statement reads:

“The purpose of this notice is to bring to the attention the serious concerns of many Newcastle United supporters that have contacted us regarding the proposed Pediga anti Islam rally being planned in our city on 28th February and the subsequent and inevitable counter demonstration that will ensue.

“The aim of the rally seems to be to protest against what they (Pediga) perceive as an Islamification of Britain. The concerns being voiced are multiple but primarily they centre around the fact that firstly this Far Right German movement have chosen the city of Newcastle upon Tyne; a city famous for its tolerance, integration and warmth of spirit to hold their rally and secondly the fact that the rally is planned for somewhere in the city centre on a match day, (when we entertain Aston Villa) and the possibility for conflict that it might bring to our wonderfully diverse and glorious city, when bigotry and intolerance replaces match day euphoria.

“There is a fear that Newcastle United supporters who are of the Islamic faith or origin may be singled out for abuse by this group and we say that the authorities cannot allow any of our community, whatever their race, creed or religious belief to be treated in such a manner in our city on match day or any other day.

“As Supporters of Newcastle United we are asking what kind of message is such a rally sending to players such as Papiss Cissé, Mehdi Abeid, Cheik Tiote and Moussa Sissoko as well as to our wider Muslim community. What kind of message does it send to those who come to study in our colleges and universities, or who visit as tourists to wonder on the splendour of our heritage history? What message does it send to those who may be offered the opportunity in the future to come and work in a city that has prided itself on its warm welcome but will now be tarred with being a city that allowed itself to be associated with those of the German Far Right. Is this the message we want our city to be remembered by and tarnished with?

“If your answer is NO then please join us in ensuring that as strong a message as possible is sent out by the widest section of our Tyneside community as possible to say that this rally is unacceptable, uncalled for and not welcome on the streets of Newcastle. With the support of all like minded football supporters we hope we can all openly bring pressure to bear on the authorities and add to the pressure already being placed by other like minded groups to refuse this group the oxygen of publicity, not least because of the nature of its being but also because of the risk of conflict between football supporters on match day and those who wish to come to our city and besmirch its reputation.

“Remember, we are black and white; we are UNITED.”

Comedian Russell Brand has pledged to march against Pegida in Newcastle.

The political activist and stand up accepted an invitation by Newcastle councillor Dipu Ahad to stand shoulder to shoulder against the “anti Islam” march.

He told Ahad, who is a key figure in Newcastle’s Muslim community, he’d be at the march after the councillor contacted him on Twitter.

The march will be the German anti-Islamic group’s first in the UK.

The counter demonstration will be attended by Respect MP George Galloway, among others.

Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle,  19 Feb 2015

Pegida urge other right-wing groups to keep Newcastle demonstration peaceful

The controversial anti-Islam group Pegida has urged extreme right-wing groups planning to join its first British demonstration, in Newcastle, to keep protests peaceful.

It has admitted the 11am start on Saturday, February 28, was a “pain” for supporters travelling from elsewhere, but accepted police and the local council had “a lot to contend with” as there was a Premier League fixture in the city that afternoon.

There will also be a counter-demo which left-wing comedian Russell Brand and Respect MP George Galloway were understood to be joining.

Pegida UK is an offshoot of the group which started in Germany and whose name translates as Patriots of Europe against the Islamisation of the West.

On Facebook, it said it was aware extreme right-wing groups were planning to join them in Newcastle, and insisted the rally in the Bigg Market must remain non-violent.

It said: “Pegida is an organisation that believes in freedom of expression and speech. We welcome everybody. No matter of political nor religious background…

“All we ask is that people acknowledge our agenda of peaceful protest and unite under the Pegida flag for the day….. In a perfect world we would love the extreme right-wing element to leave us to it… but this isn’t an ideal world… as long as everyone behaves themselves, this should go without incident.

“The subject about Islam’s influence of our culture is a very sensitive issue… and it is a topic that lays heavy on our hearts… it is true this stirs emotions and sometimes anger… but we are not angry at the Muslim community, but the Governments that have allowed such acts to take place.

“Pegida asks that all aggression and ill conduct to be ruled out completely. This is a public and political awareness campaign… The only awareness a violent attitude will bring, is the awareness that we are out of control thugs that have no agenda except cause destruction.”

In a separate message addressed “Dear loyal and proud patriots” the group said it was too late to alter the February 28 date.

That afternoon a crowd of around 50,000 is expected to watch Newcastle United play Aston Villa at St James’s Park.

Pegida said Northumbria Police and Newcastle City Council “have a lot to contend with on the 28th, our hands are tied”.

> Well, you could just stay away…

The statement continued: “It is a pain for us all we can appreciate this. Newcastle will be the first of many demonstrations held. The next will be planned better with city events and logistics sorted out prior.”

Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 19 Feb 2015

Claimants vow to topple Coalition

“I am so disheartened, ill and worn down by them, but I will vote if it is with my last breath to get this Coalition out!”
Survey respondent

You can download this article as a .pdf file

Claimants are angry – not cowed – and they are planning to turn out in huge numbers to vote in May.

That’s the message from almost 6,000 readers who responded to the Benefits and Work General Election Survey, conducted over the last fortnight.

A staggering 84% of respondents said their lives had been made worse or much worse by the Coalition. 14% had seen no difference whilst fewer than 2% said it had been made better or much better.

You can read in detail what they had to say about life under the Coalition in “I’m scared” – what the Coalition have done to 84% of sick and disabled claimants.

But it’s what our readers had to say about their voting intentions that should have politicians breathing frantically into brown paper bags.

elec 2010

No fewer than 85% voted at the 2010 election.

And an extraordinary 93% of respondents plan on voting at the next election, an increase of 8%.

elec 2015

Although we didn’t ask, many told us who they intend to vote for as well. Below are a selection of the many thousands of responses we received.

I’ll never vote Tory/Lib Dem again
Perhaps politicians and the tabloids sometimes forget that it’s not only Labour voters who get sick, become disabled or lose their jobs. When it happens to a Conservative supporter it can come as a bit of a shock.

“For the first time in my life I do not know who to vote for. After what Ian Duncan Smith put me through I cannot ever vote Tory again, but it is hard making a new choice.”

“Vote this coalition out. I voted conservative for all my life. Never again. I don’t trust a word that comes out of their mouths, especially the DWP and Employment ministers.”

“I would prefer the Downing Street cat to get elected rather than the Conservatives, and, I like many voted for them in the last election.”

“Our family would never vote for a tory government ever again!”

“I am in a Tory marginal. They’ve lost three votes in this household. I am not convinced that Labour – the only likely alternative – are likely to do anything better. The Bedroom Tax does not apply to me but as a result of its impact on disabled people I will not be voting Tory again. Neither will I vote for the Lib Dems who did not have the backbone to stop it. I will be voting tactically in the hope that this Government will fall and take IDS with them.”

And then there are all those people who voted Lib Dem in the expectation that they would pursue left of centre policies . . .

“I feel that my vote last time was not how I wanted it to be. I voted Liberal Democrats to keep conservative from ruining the country, I certainly didn’t expect my vote to be added to the conservatives.”

“Lib Dems stole my vote.”

Finally, there are Tory and Lib Dem supporters who initially thought that a coalition might be rather a good idea.

“I had high hopes for the Coalition (I have always voted for one of the Parties in question); however, I won’t be voting for either of them in the next election. Massively disappointed.”

“The only good thing to come out of the coalition is that I am now aware of how spineless and what liars both parties are. I will never vote for either of them again.”

I’m voting Labour, reluctantly

We weren’t surprised by the number of respondents who volunteered the information that they would be voting Labour. But what came across very strongly indeed was the almost universal lack of enthusiasm for doing so. Most sick and disabled people expect Labour to be bad, just not as bad as the Conservatives.

“Vote tactically; even if that does mean the Labour Party, whom I do not particularly wish to endorse.”

“Vote Labour. They can be no worse than the coalition.”

“This coalition has been the most heartless and uncaring in living memory. Whether things will massively improve under Ed Miliband is debateable, but at least some of the Labour MPs do care.”

“Have to get these out, Labour might not be much better but sure can’t be worse.”

“We have to get the Tories out and at least with Labour it won’t be quite as bad.”

“Russell Brand speaks the truth about the corrupt political system which needs destroying and recreating in another form. Not sure it’s a good Idea not to vote though …we could end up with the nightmare scenario of permanent Tory rule…with a heavy heart I will vote Labour.”

“Life under this Gov has been very hard to the poorest section of our people, but be under no illusion, life under Labour won’t be a great deal better, but anything better is good.”

“Labour slightly more likely to look after claimants.”

“Vote strategically. Anything which gets the Conservatives out of sole or coalition power. Don’t vote Lib Dem they sold out. Labour are far from perfect. But only alternative viable party who stand any chance of beating Tories. Working class and the vulnerable stand a chance if Labour regain power.”

“I’m no fan of Labour’s timid approach but since only Labour can beat the Tories and since they are more likely to listen, vote Labour where it will secure a Labour victory and vote for any other progressive party where it will keep the Tory out even if Labour can’t win the seat.”

“Because at least Labour have promised to abolish the sickening bedroom tax, whether or not they adhere to this promise is yet to be seen, as we know the politicians don’t stick to what they promise.”

“For the past 5 years my wife and I have been at the mercy of a government that has none. So Labour are the only credible party, they are for the common people but still they need to have more working class people as MPs not public school boys.“

“It’s got to be better under Labour they are fairer and have more compassion and will abolish the illegal bedroom tax.”

“Voting is the only way to bring about a much needed change. Hundreds if not thousands will not survive another 5 years of the Tories. Many people I know will be voting UKIP but my strong views are that a UKIP vote is a vote for the Tories. We must vote Labour.”

I’m voting Green with hope
By contrast to Labour voters, those who say they are voting green tend to be much more positive about their choice – even if it runs the risk of splitting the anti-conservative vote and putting the Tories in power.

“I have been a Labour supporter all my life but no longer. If we have a Green candidate in our constituency I will vote Green. If not I suppose it will have to be Labour.”

“Vote green, even if they don’t get a majority, they do at least support what labour used to stand for.

“I am voting Green Party if there is a candidate as they are the only party that shows any compassion for a fairer society.

“I will probably feel upset whatever the outcome, but I’d feel more miserable if I didn’t even have a say. I think we should all give the Greens a try now.”

“I’m proud to say I’m voting Green, again. Their policies, when people take the time to read them, are very, very good. And they support the little fish in the big ocean – us.”

“Vote for the Greens, if you really don’t know who else to vote for… we’ve tried everyone else. Even Labour now are too right-wing and don’t represent the low-paid working class person.”

“At least make a protest vote to give hope for others. Vote green!”

“It matters to vote to make other parties, e.g. Green Party stronger. I will not vote Tory or Labour, both behave disgusting towards disabled people, but will vote for alternative.”

I’m voting SNP/Plaid because they are for claimants
In Scotland, there seems to be a real feeling that the SNP can be trusted to oppose some of the worst attacks on claimants in a way that people no longer trust Labour. The same appears to be true of Plaid.

“I shall vote SNP as I live in Scotland and they do not want the DLA to change to PIP

Labour admit that they will still implement welfare cutbacks so they are useless but preferable to Tories. I will be voting SNP.”

“I intend to vote SNP as they have tried to help by subsidising the bedroom tax and are against austerity cuts. Labour are no longer a socialist party, MPs voted with the Tories for further cuts.”

“Tories are out to crucify you if you have a disability. I’m voting SNP, as a Scot I can testify been stabbed in back for voting to stay in union but gain fictional extra devolution.”

“It matters for me in Scotland to vote SNP as they genuinely oppose the cuts and may hold the balance of power. Voters in the rest of the country may benefit from voting tactically to

get rid of the Tories .”

“I live in wales which biases my choice of which party to vote for. So if i was talking to someone who also lived in wales i would tell them that Plaid Cymru have the most disability friendly policies of all political parties in the UK. I realise that Plaid if they came to power in Wales would not have the capacity to control benefits however they may be able to in future as devolutionary powers increase.”

“I will vote for Plaid Cymru in Wales. I am not concerned with England. I don’t think it is worth voting there.”

I’m voting UKIP in spite of the press
In spite of continued negative publicity and the strong indication that some UKIP candidates despise claimants, there is no shortage of sick and disabled claimants willing to give UKIP a try.

“Vote for UKIP- this will blow out the old tired parties that just want to save money by bullying the disabled. UKIP is largely an unknown at the moment, but they will probably leave the disabled alone- at least for a few years.”

“I detest this government and would like to see UKIP have a chance.”

“I will be voting UKIP as I don’t believe in David Cameron and I don’t feel that being in the EU is helping this country.”

“The only hope is UKIP so we need to vote to get their influence into government, or at least to have a big influence as part of a coalition.”

“Vote ukip. Hoping they will be better than others.”

“To my dismay I have always voted Conservative. In the next election and future elections UKIP will have my vote.”

“Vote UKIP who are the only ones that understand the people’s needs , do not vote for the self-serving 3 main parties or this will just continue to make the rich richer and the poor poorer.”

“I feel that the last Labour government with its Stealth Taxes and general lies have completely lost my support for ever. The Conservative’s did not do what they promised – so how can I trust them. It’s time for a new party, may be UKIP could do a better job.”

I’m voting for anyone who can keep the Coalition parties out
For many respondents it really is a question of voting for anyone at all, so long as the result is that the Coalition parties are forced from power.

“I am so disheartened, ill and worn down by them, but I will vote if it is with my last breath to get this Coalition out!

“I’m 47 and never voted before having had the feeling my vote didn’t matter but with the way the sick and disabled have been treated by this coalition i will certainly be voting to try and make sure they don’t stay in power

“I don’t care who gets in at the next election as long as the conservatives no longer have any power over the running of this country. Nobody could do as bad a job as them, and over the years the considerable damage they have done to this country is horrendous.”

“It matters very much that you make a point of voting. Any fellow claimants must vote to try and keep the Conservatives and Lib Dems out. Things will only get worse if they get in power again. Please take time out to vote!!!”

“I fear for my life and for this country if the Tories are elected again.

“We don’t have the power to work miracles, but we do have the power to get the Tories out. It’s not that I think any other party will be a magic solution, but we know that things can only get worse with them in power.”

“Life under the coalition ? You haven’t got one! Upcoming election? Never before, have I been so interested/petrified of a certain party getting another 5 years and destroying our country even more!”

“We must vote in our thousands, our tens of thousands. It’s the only chance we have of getting rid of this cruel and vindictive Coalition.”

It’s my duty to vote
On the subject of whether to vote or not, many respondents stressed their view that if you don’t vote you have no right to complain and that you are letting down all those who fought so hard for the right to vote.

There was also a strong view that if claimants are seen to be active voters then politicians will start to take notice of them.

“I don’t know whether voting will do any good. But if I don’t use my vote how can I complain about the people who are in power?”

“Generations that came before us fought hard for the right to vote, they were our ancestors, and like them we need to stand up for ourselves, and make our voices heard, or the powerful will find it easier to trample all over us.”

“We have to vote no matter what to show the government how we feel about their behaviour toward pensioners like myself who are disabled and ill. We are not scroungers most of us have worked since aged 15.”

“Benefit claimants should organise politically instead of not voting. Statistically we are among the groups less likely to vote. We have to fight to achieve our aims whether they are fairer benefits or just removing the stigma.”

“Politicians reward the sections of the electorate who vote, that is why older people get more generous giveaways. The young who don’t vote are ignored by the government.”

“People have to vote. It is totally ridiculous to say “your vote does not count”. Five more years of this shit and how many more people will die for the sake of Ian Duncan Smith and the rich of this country. People have to vote.”

“You can’t make a difference if you don’t vote. The government already think we are nobodies, don’t agree with them, make your voice heard.”

“There are people in the world who would give anything to vote and are prevented from doing so by their own leaders. You should vote even if it’s for a smaller party that you don’t think can win.”

“‘They’ are not all the same. Different political parties or groups will impact differently on our lives.”

“It is worth voting for two reasons, the first and more obvious and immediate is that if we get the Tories in again things will get very much worse for us – and that’s a lot worse than state it will be. Secondly, once politicians see we are able to represent a large and united block of voters they will be much less inclined to undertake the vicious attacks that has been current Con-Dem policies. We could even become somewhat akin to the retired block of voters; untouchable, for the electoral fear of its consequences.”

“I normally vote, but last election i did not because I was so disillusioned. This year I will return to voting Why? Because it is a way to protest against the main parties, to show that I am not happy with their politics.”

“If this coalition has made a negative effect on your life or the life of someone close, you should vote and have your say otherwise stop complaining, its your fault they got in last time. Come on let’s show them we will not be pushed around, have your say, use your vote.”

“Because we are a marginal and every vote not cast is a vote for the Conservatives, and we cannot afford for them to win again.”

I’m not voting because . . .
Not everyone who responded said they would vote – a small minority will not do so. For some, it is the perception – in spite of the massive difference in spending plans – that there is no discernible difference between the parties.

Others simply have no belief in party politics as a force for change

Perhaps more worryingly, some respondents either didn’t realise they could have a postal vote, can’t get to a post box even if they had one or have tried to get a postal vote and failed. The need for online voting has never been more urgent.

“Cause l cannot get there. I’m nearly 61 and struggling.

“As I’m disabled can’t get to a post box as they closed it. Can’t vote on the internet.”

“Do not leave house.”

“Too ill to get to polling station and i have applied for a postal vote 7 times but never received one.

“Not registered, disabled and housebound.”

“It’s too hard to get there and I can’t make a decision as to who would help me get disability best.

“Mobility problems and disillusioned with politics.”

“I do not trust any of the political parties, none of them represent my interests or that of the class of which I am a part.”

“There will be no change to the disabled.”

“Makes no changes to my life. All parties are going to make life hell on earth for disabled claimants.”

“No party can be described as ‘pro-disabled’.

“Because they are all the same nothing changes.”

“Makes no difference who we vote for nothing will change their ways towards disabled people and benefits.”

“I don’t think either Labour or Conservative are for Disabled people.”

“You can’t put a cigarette paper between the mainstream political parties.”

“When it comes to welfare policy you can’t get a fag paper between either labour or the tories.”

“Because for the first time in my life as a Labour voter, I don’t know exactly what they stand for anymore and doubt they will change the welfare bill or represent the working class anymore. Ed Milliband and Clegg and Cameron are all millionaire public school Oxbridge white men so I have lost heart.”

“They are all the same.”

“They are all as bad as each other.”

“The Tory and Labour Parties are as bad as each other, I won’t vote UKIP as a protest vote because I’d be afraid that they would win and not be capable of running the country. This will be the very 1st time I haven’t voted in 41 years .”

“I live in a safe tory seat, so I don’t see the point in voting.”

Lessons
This was a self-selecting group of people. It represents those who feel most strongly about the issue of voting. It may not be a representative sample of the views of all claimants.

But there are lessons that politicians should, nonetheless, take from this poll.

One is that any assumption that claimants have been beaten into weary despair and will not turn out on May 7th is almost certainly wrong – many feel that their lives depend on voting.

So, if the pollsters have not factored in enough working age claimants views, then there may be some surprises in store.

Another lesson is primarily for Labour.

It is evident that many claimants intend to vote for Labour because they believe that is the only way of preventing the Tories being the largest party. But it is just as clear that most are doing so with enormous reluctance, on the grounds that Labour are marginally the lesser of two evils.

And some just cannot bring themselves to vote for a party that still treats them with such palpable disdain.

If Labour continues to take claimants votes for granted in the mistaken belief that they have nowhere else to go, it could very easily cost them the keys to No 10.

The bizarre reality is that all three major parties choose to ignore the voting potential of millions of working age claimants.

Yet, as we demonstrate once again, this time in graphic detail with dozens of bar charts, claimants’ votes can make a massive difference to the outcome of the general election.

And if our survey is anything to go by, they are going to do just that.

Source – Benefits & Work, 28 Jan 2015

http://www.benefitsandwork.co.uk/news/2995-claimants-vow-to-topple-coalition

Russell Brand mocks EDL over Newcastle book group gaffe`

 

 Russell Brand has mocked EDL members who gatecrashed a Newcastle book group’s get together because they thought the ‘Revolution’ author was turning up.

Writing on Twitter, the stand up referred to the incident at Bar Loco on Leazes Park Road when he confirmed his attendance at another book signing in London.

He said: “‘@RBfanforum: Just to confirm, @rustyrockets will be signing books after the book reading’ Great. Now EDL know.”

It came after an incident in Newcastle when around 15 English Defence League supporters disrupted an event at Bar Loco with Islamophobic chants.

The men, who chanted ‘North East EDL’ and ‘No surrender to the Taliban’, arrived after being wrongly tipped off that Brand himself would be there.

But when the group – who were filming the whole event – realised Brand wasn’t coming, they began a series of foul mouthed chants.

In a reply to Brand’s tweet about the Southbank Centre event on Tuesday, North East EDL suggested there may have been trouble if the event hadn’t been in London.

The tweet said: “It’s ok, it’s not in the North East :-)”

EDL regional organiser Alan Spence said the group gatecrashed last week’s Newcastle meeting, which was due to be a peaceful, political discussion about the meaning of the word ‘revolution’, in retaliation for the disruption of one of their own events by left-wing activists.

He said: “The last time we had a North East meet and greet some of the left wing went down to the pub and abused the barmaid, prior to us getting there.

“So we thought it was time we returned the favour.

“Any left-wing organisation in the North East should expect a visit from the EDL if this happens again.

“If that’s the way they want it they can have it that way.”

Mr Spence said they saw the news Russell Brand would be there as an added bonus.

He said: “We went because there were going to be known activists that were going to be there and we got told Russell Brand was going to be there too. He’s a joke.

“I would love to give him a piece of my mind if I saw him.”

> I wouldn’t  – you’ve not got enough to go giving bits away…

Source –  Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 14 Jan 2015

No surrender..to the book club?

Sunderland Echoes

I have to say, I don’t normally enjoy the point-and-laugh stereotyping of EDL members as illiterate, brain-dead thickheads but they really aren’t helping themselves lately.
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A book club were meeting to discuss Russell Brand’s ‘Revolution’ in a bar in Newcastle when a large group of EDL supporters disrupted the meeting with chants about Muslims and the Taliban.
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Had the Newcastle book club scene become an illicit den of Islamic Fundamentalism? Was it all a cover for a Jihadist training camp?

No, the EDL thought Russell Brand was having a meeting. In Newcastle. In a small pub. In the smaller still upstairs room.
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Honestly, you couldn’t make this stuff up. How am I supposed to tut-tut at those who lazily dismiss the EDL as thickoes when they pull stupid shit like this?

Here’s the original report from the Newcastle Evening Chronicle… http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/north-east-news/watch-edl-gatecrash-russell-brand-8433737

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