Monthly Archives: June 2013

Last night’s Fracking Public Meeting in Cowbridge

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 audience included Green campaigners Anne Greagsby and Max Wallis (appropriately enough, left of centre in the picture, and Bridgend member John Evans who helped set the hall up)

The video shown can be found here:

My most recent interview with Denis on Worldview can be seen here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Woc8uKAziPI

Caroline Lucas exposes Lansley’s complete lack of interest in Climate Change targets and only wants to talk about money

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)
I am not sure that I am likely to agree with the Hon. Lady on the possible benefits of investment in shale gas exploitation, not least for hard-pressed consumers who want to see the benefits in terms of energy prices, and for the security of energy supply in this country. She has had opportunities during discussions on the Energy Bill to consider these matters and I am sure that there will be further opportunities in the future.

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!!

Euro list result – Bridgend Green Party to the fore!

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.

Final placings:

  1. Andy Chyba
  2. Pippa Bartolotti
  3. John Matthews
  4. Rosemary Cutler
  5. Christopher Were (reserve)

Reflections on the People’s Assembly Against Austerity – informed by Rosa Luxemburg

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:
“You’ve been mugged, so you’ve got to mug your less deserving neighbour down the street”!

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:

  • Mobilising Millions: Re-unionising the UK – which stressed the calamitous consequences of the emasculation of the unions (only 25% of us are not Union members) and what that has meant for the principle of collective bargaining. The most common theme from the floor was that it is time to mobilise en masse – I.e. We need a General Strike!
  • Protecting the NHS: stopping cuts, privatisation and closures – which included another recurring theme of the day – the treachery of the ‘two-Edded monster’ that is Milliband and Balls, to the legacy of Attlee and Bevan. Accusatory fingers were also pointed at the Lib-Dems, the BBC and the NHS leadership (if that is what you can call it).
  • The Economics of Anti-Austerity: jobs, investment and tax justice – starred Ken Livingstone focussing on the importance of manufactutring, but more tellingly, sound economic analysis that emphasised the economic illiteracy of austerity, and the fact that it is only the financial institution to which we owe most of the national debt that can benefit from austerity measures. Validation of what I have been saying for years!

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:

  • LEN McCLUSKEY (Unite) – pledging support for a General Strike, and not letting anti-union laws get in the way; taking inspiration from Turkey and Brazil; saluting UK UNcut and Occupy; “Pay your taxes you greedy bastards!”
  • JOHN REES (Stop the War Coalition) – stressing the part to be played by all types of protest: demos, direct action, occupations, civil disobedience, and, yes, strikes! Quoting Nye Bevan describing the Tories: “So far as I am concerned they are lower than vermin.”
  • MARK SERWOTKA (PCS) – Poignantly pointing out that all the main parties, Con-Dems and LABOUR, are pro-austerity, and that we need to reject them all. “Let’s sock it to these vicious ruling class bastards!”

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.

Andy Chyba

STOP THE DEPORTATION OF TRENTON OLDFIELD

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.


On 07 June 2012, Deepa and Trenton received correspondence from the Home Office suggesting Trenton, who was born in Australia, though lived and worked his adult life in London is ” undesirable, has unacceptable associations and could be considered a threat to national security”* and they want to remove him from the UK.


Trenton Oldfield ‘stuck his head above the parapet’ now he and his young family are facing a disproportionate and possibly vindictive attack from the current British government which looks hell bent on undermining their lives. This attack is consistent with how protesters are increasingly being criminalised. It has to stop – now. Even Matthew Pinsent, race umpire said in December: “Look, I want to live in a country where protest is possible. However unwelcome it was, I still value the freedom to do that.”**
We the undersigned call on the UK Home Secretary to immediately withdraw its threat to deport Trenton Oldfield. We the undersigned stand in SOLIDARITY with Trenton Oldfield, his family and all protesters.
Initiated by Defend the Right to Protest www.defendtherighttoprotest.org 


*322(5) Immigration Rules
**http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2012/dec/23/protestor-trenton-oldfield-boat-race

People’s Assembly update

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:
http://thepeoplesassembly.org.uk/register/

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:
http://thepeoplesassembly.org.uk/peoples-assembly-support-video/

Volunteers needed

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.

Bridgend Green Party Meeting Agenda – Thursday 27th 2013

7.00pm Thursday 27th June 2013 at the

The Railway PH at the bottom of Station Hill

ALL WELCOME (Especially new members!)

AGENDA:

  1. Welcome and Introductions
  2. Apologies for Absence
  3. Minutes and matters arising
  4. Officers’ reports (Andy/John/Neil)
  5. Councillor feedback (Kathy)
  6. Website ideas (Adam)
  7. Wales Green Party Council Meeting (John)
  8. Campaigns update – Fracking (Andy)
  9. The Brighton situation (incl Conference)
  10. AOB
  11. DoNM

N.B. PUBLIC MEETING ON FRACKING IN COWBRIDGE ON WEDNESDAY
Details: https://bridgendgreens.wordpress.com/2013/06/19/fracking-public-meeting-for-bridgend-and-the-vale-areas-wednesday-26th-june-cowbridge-town-hall-7pm/

REMINDER – If anyone needs a lift to any of our meetings, let Andy know and we will organise it for you.