|Meeting hosted by The Vale Says NO!
Chaired by Rob McGhee (Standing)
“Photo from last night’s meeting to oppose Gas Drilling in the Vale and South Wales. Good crowd (c.50) with lots of ideas to take forward. Watch this space for further action!
It could not have been more timley with George Osbourn’s ‘lovely’ bribe. Money over the future well-being of the people and this beautiful land? No thank you!”
Either side of me on the panel: Louise Evans (TVSN founder) and Denis Campbell, local resident and journalist who runs the Worldview channel that has been a passionate supporter of the anti-fracking campaign (http://www.youtube.com/Playlist?list=PL6098E86E88B749E6)
The video shown can be found here:
My most recent interview with Denis on Worldview can be seen here:
|Fracking mentioned in Business of the House debate in Parliament yesterday:Caroline Lucas (Brighton, Pavilion, Green)
May we have a science-led debate on whether Ministers should be spending more time working out how to keep fossil fuels in the ground and less time squandering taxpayers money on tax breaks for shale gas that scientists say we simply cannot afford to burn if the Government are to keep to their commitment to limit global warming to below 2°, a commitment that was reaffirmed at the G8 last week?
Andrew Lansley (South Cambridgeshire, Conservative)
Eric Ollerenshaw (Lancaster and Fleetwood, Conservative)
Following on from the previous question, from press reports this morning and from the statement by the Chief Secretary in reply to my neighbour and good friend Mr Wallace, is it not time that the Chamber had a full debate on the impact of shale gas? As you know, Mr Speaker, we are very generous people in Lancashire, but we want to get to the bottom of the appropriateness of the compensation scheme, whether it will be underpinned by statute and how we will ensure that the communities most affected get the compensation they deserve.
Andrew Lansley (South Cambridgeshire, Conservative)
My Hon. Friend makes further good points on this. I cannot offer a debate at the moment, but he will be aware that Ministers from the Department of Energy and Climate Change will be answering questions on 11 July. I will draw their attention to the points that my Hon. Friend and other Hon. Members have made. I have said that I cannot promise a debate immediately, but Hon. Members may seek opportunities elsewhere. I hope that when the time comes, we can take forward what I think are rather exciting announcements about the potential capacity for shale gas exploitation, while making sure that Members of this House are aware of the benefits that will flow not only to consumers and the economy, but to their constituents.
Lansley needs to learn what is worth respecting!!
I am pleased to be able to report that I have been officially elected the lead candidate for Wales Green Party for the Euro elections next year. This will be interesting on a few different levels! Many thanks to all those that supported me.
I am also delighted to report that fellow Bridgend member Roz Cutler has joined me on the list, securing 4th place and giving welcome gender balance on the list.
- Andy Chyba
- Pippa Bartolotti
- John Matthews
- Rosemary Cutler
- Christopher Were (reserve)
|Firstly, let me say what an amazing achievement it was to bring such a collection of people together in one place, and all pretty much singing from the same song sheet. There was a real buzz at times and the genuine outpouring of affection for Tony Benn was one of those ‘tingle-on-the-back-of-the-neck’ moments. And yet I found myself winding my way home in rather sombre and reflective mood – for reasons I will explain later.
My first, let me share some highlights with you:
Owen Jones, Independent columnist, and one of the main promoters of the Assembly, gave a rousing opening speech that clearly identified the people who are going to have to rely on us to survive the persecution being inflicted on them by the Con-Dems, and rely on us to offer them hope. He also nailed the Tory tactic that gets us turning on each other when he says:
He was followed by what was, for me, a keynote speech by Frances O’Grady, General Secretary of the TUC. The first couple minutes are missable frivolity, but then she gets to the crunch of the matter. At 3:25 she stresses the point that we are engaged in CLASS WARFARE and that we need to take to the streets. She pledged TUC for all strike action supported by the membership (5:20), and called the patronising nonsense that there is no money in the country (7:00) for services. “Educate, Agitate, Organise!”
Mark Steel was predictably entertaining, and, as usual spot on with his theme of getting the poor to pay the massive debts of the country. He gets into his stride pretty quickly:
After these opening salvoes, we all dispersed to the impressive range of ‘workshop’ style sessions on many relevant themes (http://thepeoplesassembly.org.UK/schedule/). Spoilt for choice, I went to the following:
This meant I missed a few other gems, including a highly praised contribution from Caroline Lucas on the ‘Climate Crisis & Green Jobs’. “There are no jobs on a dead planet!” Praise be to video technology:
And then it was back to the final plenary for more rousing speeches:
But perhaps most eloquently, the most memorable speech of the session came from comedian and disability campaigner, FRANCESCA MARTINEZ. She focussed on the democratic deficit and the need for hope, and who the real enemy is. “I really hate the way ‘welfare’ has become a dirty word. As a taxpayer, I am proud to pay my tax to support these services, and to support those that need it, and those that become sick and disabled, because that is a civilised society… I am ashamed of my money being used to fund illegal wars, and making other people abroad disabled. That is what I am ashamed of!”
All very inspirational stuff.
But what next?
People kept bringing up the need for action and not just words, but is there a real appetite for it outside the few thousand in this Assembly? I have seen bigger crowds at Conference level – 5th Division – football games. The Sunday Politics Show described the whole event as ‘tame’ and ‘innocuous’ compared to the resistance of Scargill et al in the 1980s, whilst recognising it as perhaps the biggest sign of at least some resistance to date.
This was all brought into sharp focus for me by reading a book about Rosa Luxemburg on my way to and from the Assembly.
Perhaps it the fact I share a Polish heritage with her, or that she inspires so much by rising above her disabilities and the sexism of her age (1871-1917). More so, I think, it is because of how resonant her views are today – and how similar the struggles she fought are to those we face today. But I am not convinced that enough of the people present at the Assembly would recognise or accept the truth of this.
She recognised that trade unions can win higher wages and better conditions (by renegotiating the terms of exploitation) but that they will never eliminate the exploitation altogether. This can only be achieved by overthrowing the capitalist system.
She also offers some encouragement for the ‘People’s Assembly’ model. She recognised the need for leadership, but rejected the highly centralised Leninist approach. She valued the energy and inventiveness of a living, fluid movement. She puts it thus: “Mistakes committed by a genuine revolutionary labour movement are much more fruitful and worthwhile historically than the infallibility of the very best Central Committee.”
She also recognised the shortcomings of career politicians in providing the necessary leadership. They get engrossed in the political struggle to hang onto their positions, rather than focus on the economic struggles of the proletariat. How familiar is this to genuine socialists today, with successive Labour Party leaders refusing to back strikes for fear of damaging their electability?
Luxemburg recognised the power of solidarity in galvanising people behind irresistible calls for change. She recognised the vital role of mass strikes in bringing about the 1905 Russian Revolution. As she said: “The proletarian mass quite suddenly and sharply came to realise how intolerable was that social and economic existence which they had patiently endured for decades in the chains of capitalism. Thereupon there began a spontaneous general shaking of and tugging at these chains”. Has this not been seen many times since, for those that think this is old history? Witness Russia in 1917, Germany 1918-23, Italy 1920, Hungary 1956, France 1936 and 1968, Iran 1978-79, Poland 1980, Egypt 2011, Turkey and Brazil 2013. It is tried and tested.
“ECOSOCIALISM OR BARBARISM” is perhaps Luxemburg’s most famous quote. It speaks to us today more than ever as we face the challenges presented in the People’s Assembly; challenges of social injustice, climate change, nuclear weapons, a democratic deficit bigger than the financial one, and outright class warfare.
A last few words from Rosa Luxemburg:
“This madness will not stop, and this bloody nightmare of hell will not cease until the workers …. wake up out of their drunken sleep, will clasp each other’s hands in brotherhood and will drown the bestial chorus of war agitators and the hoarse cry of capitalist hyenas with the mighty cry of labour, ‘Proletarians of all countries, unite!'”
The way forward is clear enough. Are McClusky, Serwotka, O’Grady, and yes, Lucas, Phoenix and Bennett, truly leaders of people, or just career politicians? The coming months will tell. With women dominating this list, Luxemburg can be no finer inspiration.
|In the context of what we may feel compelled to do ourselves in terms of peaceful direct action regarding causes we hold dear, this should be something that should concern and worry us all. Andy Chyba.
Forwarded by Derek Wall:
Theresa May, Home Office: STOP THE DEPORTATION OF TRENTON OLDFIELD
Please click on the link and sign the petition and spread the word http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/theresa-may-home-office-stop-the-deportation-of-trenton-oldfield
On April 07 2012, Trenton Oldfield undertook a peaceful direct action protest in order to draw attention to the mouth dropping, entirely unnecessary and rapidly increasing inequalities that are occurring as a result of ‘austerity’. The protest took place at the Oxbridge Boat Race; a symbolic representation of ‘the establishment’ that in the three days before the boat race received royal assent for the fire sale of the NHS, introduced the Data and Communications Bill and called on people to ‘shop’ their neighbours if they thought they might protest at the forthcoming Olympics.
|The People’s Assembly Against Austerity now has close to 4,000 people registered.
We have now booked an extra venue just 5 minutes walk from Westminster Central as well as having a marquee on the road outside.
If you haven’t already booked your place you can do so here:
Please do all you can in the last 48 hours to make sure the event is as big as possible. A short promo video was made this week. Please share this around on Facebook, twitter, etc. The video can be found here:
We need a huge team of volunteers to help with stewarding, registration and helping make sure the event runs smoothly.
We need volunteers to arrive early at 7:30am to help set up. Volunteers will get free entry, lunch and a People’s Assembly T-Shirt.
If you can help please email office or phone Jacqui on 07746 330422.
|7.00pm Thursday 27th June 2013 at the
The Railway PH at the bottom of Station Hill
ALL WELCOME (Especially new members!)
N.B. PUBLIC MEETING ON FRACKING IN COWBRIDGE ON WEDNESDAY
REMINDER – If anyone needs a lift to any of our meetings, let Andy know and we will organise it for you.
I went hoping to learn a few new things about the legal aspects of the issue, but learned nothing new.
One of the three speakers, Alan Riley, did not show, replaced by a UKELA convenor Haydn Davies, filling a bit of the time, but all that was presented was an outline of the issues that any fractivist should have a reasonable appreciation of by now.
There were numerous occasions where I had to correct misinformation, and which was all accepted. It is worrying that legal consultants in the field, making big money out of guiding players in the industry, and claiming to be “exploring the myths and truths about the impacts on the environment” are promoting some myths themselves.
I had to correct Rob Jefferies of Environ on numerous things, including:
- Coal Bed Methane does not involve fracking. WRONG
- There have only been 3 earthquakes caused by fracking. WRONG (3 where the frackers have conceded they caused it perhaps, including Cuadrilla in Lancashire)
- Boreholes wont leak if properly constructed. WRONG (They may not leak immediately but they all do sooner or late)
A more senior looking guy from Environ thanked me for my valid points and thought provoking contributions.
James Taylor, the other principal speaker, made a point of coming up to me and conceding that I clearly know more about the process and issues than he does. To be fair, his talk did not contain any howlers, and did offer some tasty snippets:
- The shale boom has not seen US coal mines reduce production, it now just wanders the seas until it finds a buyer.
- The massive interest in shale in Poland is already floundering and beginning to not be seen as viable
- Drilling under your property contitutes trespass – but the best you can hope for is a little compensation if you can prove some loss
- Europe is a fundamentally different proposition to the USA, with many and varied extra barriers for the industry to overcome (population density, land/mineral rights, consent regime, role of nuclear/renewables, precautionary principle, carbon budget issues, the industries tainted image etc)
So overall, I am pleased I went, and was pleased to see Max Wallis and Gareth Clubb there too. It offerred no reassurance whatsoever, but did strengthn my conviction that we are fighting a crucial battle with social and environmental justice on our side.