Nuneaton lad Ken Loach calls for a new party of the left

Award winning film director, and all-round good egg, Ken Loach was a firm supporter of our Hands Off Tamworth Schools campaign back in the day and I am very pleased to support his call for the formation of a new party of the left. 

Nuneaton born film maker Ken Loach has launched an appeal for a new party of the left.

Sign up here to add your name to the 3000+ signatures already gathered.

The welfare state is being dismantled by the coalition government, bringing great suffering to the most vulnerable in society and eroding the living conditions of millions of ordinary people. Worse still, the Labour Party is not presenting a strong opposition to austerity and instead appears to have wholeheartedly adopted neo-liberal policy, advocating its own brand of austerity and privatisation.

Ken Loach’s recent film The Spirit of ’45 gives us a perspective on the achievements of the post-war generation, transforming the lives of ordinary people by bringing improved health, housing, education and social security to the people of Britain. We need to defend these achievements and continue the tradition of protecting the most vulnerable in society.

Support Ken’s appeal to discuss the formation of a new political party of the Left to bring together those who wish to defend the welfare state and present an economic alternative to austerity.

To get in touch locally, check out http://tamworthleftunity.wordpress.com/

People’s Assembly Against Austerity

assemblyPeople’s Assembly Against Austerity
Saturday 22 June 2013, 9:30am – 5pm,
Central Hall Westminster, Storey’s Gate, London, SW1H 9NH

Launched with a letter in today’s Guardian, 55 trade union general secretaries, MPs, campaigners, and cultural figures have put out a call for a People’s Assembly Against Austerity.

The assembly aims to “play a key role in ensuring that this uncaring government faces a movement of opposition broad enough and powerful enough to generate successful co-ordinated action, including strike action.”

The letter is signed by:
Tony Benn President, Coalition of Resistance; Len McCluskey General secretary, Unite the Union; Mark Serwotka General secretary, PCS; Christine Blower General secretary, NUT; Michelle Stanistreet General secretary, NUJ; Manuel Cortez General secretary, TSSA; Billy Hayes General secretary, CWU; Bob Crow General secretary, RMT; Mick Whelan General secretary, Aslef; Kevin Courtney Deputy general secretary, NUT; Paul Mackney Former general secretary Natfhe (now UCU); Vicky Baars NUS union development; Kevin Donnelly Trade Union Council JCC; Caroline Lucas MP; Katy Clark MP; Jeremy Corbyn MP; John McDonnell MP; Murad Qureshi London assembly member; Dawn Butler Former Labour minister for young citizens and youth engagement; Tariq Ali Author; John Pilger Journalist; Ken Loach Filmmaker; Owen Jones Writer; James Meadway Senior economist, New Economics Foundation; Wendy Savage & John Lipetz Keep our NHS Public; John Hendy QC Co-chair, People’s Charter; John Hilary Director, War on Want; Sam Fairbairn National secretary, Coalition of Resistance; Imran Khan Solicitor, co-chair, People’s Charter; Rachael Newton People’s Charter; Romayne Phoenix Chair, Coalition of Resistance; Zita Holbourne Co-chair, Black activists rising against the cuts; Clare Solomon Vice-chair, Coalition of Resistance; Andrew Burgin Vice-chair, Coalition of Resistance; Colin Hampton Co-ordinator, National Unemployed Workers Centres Combine; Anita Wright Secretary, National Association of Women; Joginder Bains Association of Indian Women; Shang Gahonia Indian Workers Association; Carolin Jones Director, Institute of Employment Rights; Lindsey German Convenor, Stop the War Coalition; Kate Hudson General secretary, CND; Bruce Kent Peace campaigner; Lee Hall Playwright; Roger Lloyd Pack Actor; Josie Long Comedian; Iain Banks Author; Arthur Smith Comedian; Roy Bailey Folk singer; Francesca Martinez Comedian; John Rees Counterfire editorial board; Natalie Bennett Leader of the Green Party England and Wales; Fred Leplat Socialist Resistance; Robert Griffiths General secretary, Communist Party of Britain; Bill Greenshields Chair, Communist Party of Britain; Richard Bagley Editor, Morning Star

Here’s how you can help:
Register for the event: click here.
Post the Guardian letter on Facebook, tweet it and circulate it around any social media sites and any email lists you may have.
Take a copy of this model motion to any trade union, student union or campaign group that may be interested in supporting the Assembly and pledging to send delegates to it.
Add your name, your union branch or organisation to the growing list of supporters on our website here.
Contact any people who might support the Assembly and send them a copy of the motion asking them to try and pass it in their union branch or organisation.
Make sure someone from your group/area attends the Coalition of Resistance National Council meeting this Sunday 10 February, 12-4pm, Unite offices, Theobald’s Rd, London WC1. Contact office@coalitionofresistance.org.uk for more information

10 years on… the cost of war

warIts hard to believe that ten years have passed since that bitterly cold February day when, as a family, we joined with a million others to protest against the impending invasion of Iraq. In the intervening decade a 7 year old son and an 8 year old step-daughter, who marched that day, have grown up- they both start university this year- yet the cruel wars in Iraq and Afghanistan grind remorselessly on.

 

The most conservative estimates put the ‘body count’ at around 250,000 deaths- both civilians and military personnel whilst expert medical opinion puts the true figure much higher- in excess of 600,000. The financial cost of the war has been colossal, over 3 Trillion US dollars all told, and Britain’s contribution to that exceeded £20 billion in 2010.

 

£20 billion: and that is just on the military operations themselves. It is in addition to ‘normal’ levels of defence spending and does not take into account soldiers pay or future care of the wounded.

 

So, when the main parties- all of whom supported the wars- tell you there is no more money for education, for the NHS, to provide decent support to the disabled, the needy and the vulnerable, just weigh that £20 billion figure in your head…

 

The ever reliable Owen Jones… on the bedroom tax

From the Independent http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/the-bedroom-tax-is-just-the-latest-assault-on-our-poorest-citizens-8478898.html

The bedroom tax is just the latest assault on our poorest citizens

The Government needs to demonise its victims as state dependent leeches

 Perverse, cruel, self-defeating, unjust: these terms could legitimately be used to describe a whole raft of Government policies.

But consider this leading contender on all four counts: the so-called “bedroom tax”, due to be imposed from April. All social housing tenants of working-age will have their housing benefit docked if they are judged to have a spare bedroom. For 670,000 households already struggling to pay bills and rent while feeding themselves or their children, that means losing an average of £14 a week, and up to £80 a month. Misery awaits.

Continue reading

Join the Peace March through Tamworth

As part of a national week of action against the use of military ‘drones’ there will be a march from an arms factory in Shenstone, passing through Tamworth.

Saturday 6th October Shenstone – meet at the train station at 10.30am then demonstration at the nearby Elbitfactory  and lunch,  walk 5 miles to Tamworth, evening meeting, venue tbc

Sunday 7th leave Tamworth 9am for long walk (approx. 17 miles) to Hinckley

This is from the organiser Penny Walker:

Why we are walking.

1. to raise awareness about drones as we walk through towns and villages during 

   Drones Week of Action 6th – 13th October

2. to visit drones sites and protest at what they are doing

3. in solidarity with all those killed, injured or harmed by drones

**Why we are concerned about drones **

Drones are planes without pilots which are increasingly seen as the preferred weapon of war. They are also being used in targeted killings in countries which are not at war particularly Pakistan but also in the Yemen and Somalia. Targeted killing has become an accepted form of military behaviour. We do not accept it.

Britain uses drones extensively in Afghanistan. The armed Reaper drone has  carried out around 300 airstrikes in Afghanistan but it is very difficult to get information about the number of civilians killed in those attacks. Drones are surrounded by secrecy. Currently controlled remotely from the Nevada Desert, the control base is soon moving to RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire. Britain has been renting a surveillance drone from Israel, the Hermes 450, but will soon have its updated equivalent, the Watchkeeper drone, in service. This is a surveillance and targeting drone and is being made in Leicester with the engine made in Shenstone near Lichfield at the Israeli owned Elbit factory.

BAE Systems is also developing the Mantis drone which is not remotely controlled but runs on a preprogrammed plan. 31 countries now have large drones in military use. They fly for longer periods than piloted aircraft and present less danger to the attackers.  They make war more likely. They are terrifying to those on the ground.

**Where we are walking**

Saturday 6th October Shenstone – meet at the train station at 10.30am then demonstration at the nearby Elbitfactory  and lunch,  walk 5 miles to Tamworth, evening meeting, venue tbc

Sunday 7th leave Tamworth 9am for long walk (approx. 17 miles) to Hinckley

Monday 8th – leave Hinckley 10am for 12 mile walk to Leicester anddemonstration at the Thales Watchkeeper factory, Scudamore Road at 3.30, hosted in houses

Tuesday 9th – gather at Gandhi’s statue, Belgrave Road 9.30 for readings, 10am leave for Loughborough12 miles, evening meeting in Loughborough, venue tbc

Wed 10th – leave Loughborough 9am, walk to Nottingham, 15 miles, staying in Friends Meeting House, peace supper.

Thurs 11th – leave FMH 9am, walk to Southwell,  13 miles

Friday 12th – leave Southwell on bus 28 to Newark at 9.38, then bus 47 from Newark at 10.40 to outskirts of Lincoln then walking 5 miles to Friends Meeting House.Hosted in houses.

Saturday 13th – leave Lincoln 9am, walk 6 miles to RAF Waddington and demonstration from 12 noon til 2pm.

There are regular buses along most of the route. Lunch and tea stops are being arranged giving us an opportunity to speak with people along the way. Some venues are yet to be confirmed and times may vary so please contact Penny if you are planning to take part – we also need numbers for hosts.  01163 199487 or 07414 465695 or pennywalker@riseup.net.