Monthly Archives: October 2014

Andy Chyba for Wales Green Party Spokesperson

Just to confirm, there will be an election for the position of Wales Green Party Spokesperson (aka Leader), and the Deputy position, after the Wales GP AGM. Bridgend Green’s Andy Chyba is taking on incumbent, Pippa Bartolotti.

The Wales AGM will incorporate hustings for the leadership election and is taking place on the 15th November at the SOAR Centre, Merthyr Tydfil starting at 10.30. Amelia Womack, Deputy Leader of the Green Party of England & Wales is the guest speaker.  We hope as many of you as possible will be there.

ameliawomak

Amelia Womack

Andy would ask his supporters to ensure that your membership and contact details are up-to-date so you get to vote in the postal ballot. Remember, local members are not entitled to vote in this election, so upgrade as soon as possible if you want your say in the future of Wales Green Party.  Any issues with this, please just contact me.

Visitors to this blog will be familiar with Andy’s campaigning and media work over the last 4 years, and this blog is testimony to the work done in establishing Bridgend Green Party, from scratch, as a respected player in the local political scene. Please browse the archive and use the search facility to look for posts on any theme.

Andy on one of his specialist subjects – fracking – on Worldview and Russia Today. Andy has also been interviewed by Al Jazeera, Rzeczpospollita and on numerous occasions by BBC Wales, ITV and local newspapers.

andy RT

Andy doing one of several live TV interviews with RT

Andy is standing with Jackie Turvey Tait as his Deputy running mate. Jackie is based in Chester, but is very familiar with North Wales and has the right experience to help support the new local parties and new members in North Wales. She will also be an ideal Spokesperson for Wales Green party media commitments and requests in North Wales. She is the right person to help us build a whole Wales party.

Jackie in Zimbabwe with ActionAid

Jackie in Zimbabwe recently with ActionAid

Over the coming weeks, Andy will explain why he feels the need to challenge Pippa at this time. He will share the vision he has for transforming Wales Green Party from the worst performing region (the only one in the whole UK without a single county councilor: see map) to one that can hold its head up high as a truly respected contributor to the political scene in Wales. Instead of being an irrelevant sideshow, he believes we can be in a position to actually influence decision-making and start getting some of our ideas implemented.

Watch this space!!

Wales can challenge the Tory cuts (PAW press release)

Press release from PEOPLE’S ASSEMBLY WALES:

Everyone living in Wales is being asked to urgently sign a petition against any further UK government austerity cuts. The People’s Assembly Wales has launched the petition through the campaign organisation 38 Degrees, calling upon all members of the National Assembly for Wales to vote no to the cuts budget planned for next year.

A ‘no’ vote by assembly members would put the Welsh Government on a head to head standoff with the UK government over austerity and the preservation of public services in Wales. A vote is expected toward the end of November

People’s Assembly Wales convenor Len Arthur said

“The planned 3.7% real terms cut for next year results from the reduced allocation from the UK government. It will mean another round of cuts in all services provided by local councils and in further and higher education; even NHS Wales, which has received an increase in funding, will not be unscathed.

If this goes through it will mean that real funding to Wales will have fallen by 17% since the onset of the financial crisis in 2008, a loss of nearly £3billion.

People who did not cause the financial crisis should not pay for it. It is time to say to the UK government enough is enough.

We appeal to everyone in Wales to do so urgently by signing our petition online HERE  or using a paper version, downloadable HERE.

————————————————————————————————-

Notes

The People’s Assembly Wales was formed at a conference in Cardiff which was held 4 October 2014. It was called by 16 anti cuts campaigns, trade unions and political organisations from across Wales. This included Bridgend Green Party.

Wales Green Party has since signed up to endorsing the campaign as well.

A report of the conference and founding documents can be accessed HERE. It’s Facebook page can be found HERE.

Len Arthur (Left Unity) was elected convenor at the conference.

People’s Assembly Wales – petition & campaign next steps

Copy of email from People’s Assembly Wales re petition & campaign next steps

https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/stop-austerity-cuts-in-wales-rhowch-stop-ar-doriadau-llym-yng-nghymru
Thank you to all (that have) for signing the petition and we hope you don’t mind if we contact you again about building support. We’ll try and keep these emails to one a week.
We’ve had a good week with the Green Party Wales supporting us and some support from Plaid members. We are currently heading toward 500 which is not bad for the first two weeks and only using the internet but we do need to lift the support to have an impact – we only have 4 weeks to do this.

This week we will start to hit the media so look out for the response.

The real growth in support will be if we ‘snowball’ with existing supporters and signers getting one, two or more of their friends and colleagues to vote.

All forms of communication can be used and good old fashioned email lists are really quite effective – or even talking to people!

Here is a People’s Assembly Wales flyer you can use electronically or hard copy: http://pawalescymru.blogspot.co.uk/2014/10/stop-austerity-cuts-in-wales-flyer.html it has a petition form on the back for signing.

Here is a hard copy of the petition: http://pawalescymru.blogspot.co.uk/2014/10/stop-austerity-cuts-in-wales-hard-copy.html and the post also has details where both can be sent to.

All the arguments are on the web-blog using the links above.

We have set up a Facebook event page for feedback and updating: https://www.facebook.com/events/714860418569268/

And our Twitter link can be used the same way @PAWalesCymru

All public services in Wales really do face another round of serious cuts next year unless AMs defy the Tories. 3.7% real terms cut is huge and as is the 17% lost since the financial crisis in 2008.

We didn’t create the crisis and we should not pay for it!

Why I don’t like neckties

I was asked today what I have against neckties. I haven’t worn one for any occasion whatsoever for more than 10 years now.
I actually devoted a few pages of my book to this very subject back in 2010. It is copied below.
But in simple political terms, the main reason you will never see me in a suit and tie is simply because you rarely see the neoliberal party leaders in anything else!

CAMERON – clearly uncomfortable with a green one instead of his usual blue tie.

MILLIBAND – getting what he deserves for mixing labour red and tory blue and wearing a UKIP purple tie

CLEGG – only wears clip on ties for his own safety these days (I warrant)

FARAGE – sporting one of his fine collection of Langsdorfs

EXTRACT FROM THE ASYLUM OF THE UNIVERSE:

An obsession with appearance has some pernicious aspects. It becomes
yet another tool of oppression against the ‘have-nots’ – not just those that
do not have the money to keep an up-to-date wardrobe (thanks to
‘George’ and ‘Matalan’ and the like, money need not be the biggest
obstacle), but also those who do not have a clue (for whatever reason) as
to the dress rules and what is ‘in’ and ‘out’. Why is it impossible to be a
competent accountant in jeans? Why can’t Kwik Fit fitters wear pink
overalls – even their female ones? And in any case, just who did decide to
colour code babies pink for girls and blue for boys in the first place?

I have had a similar argument in my workplace recently. The staff
handbook makes vague references to wearing suitable attire without being
very specific. Most of the men were in the habit of wearing ties, but I
decided that I wouldn’t wear one. I wear reasonably smart trousers and a
shirt with a collar. By the time the warmer summer weather arrived, most
men had followed me and ditched their ties. The new manager was not
happy with this. I argued my case as follows.

Our clients are the long term unemployed. If asked, I doubt any would
have any objections to staff wearing ties, indeed they probably pretty
much expect to see it. They are probably largely ambivalent to it as an
issue. However, I maintain that the wearing of ties gives off subliminal
messages. For my functionally illiterate clients, these messages will not
be positive ones. My clients have invariably been seriously failed by the
education system – by teachers in ties. Many have been made redundant
or dismissed – by people in ties. They generally have a hard time from
banks – people in ties. They have difficulties dealing with civil servants in
councils, immigration offices and job centres – more people in ties. All too-
often they have had close encounters with police officers – in clip-on ties.
The last time they wore a tie was often at a relative’s funeral. Ties have
absolutely no positive connotations for them at all.

I believe that success in what I do with them relies on me gaining their
trust and confidence. I want them relaxed and at ease. I try to find things
that I have in common with them and find things that they are better at
than me. I do not want them thinking that I think I am better than them at
all. They all have self-esteem issues to some extent. For me to wear a
formal shirt and tie helps none of this.

In addition to this, there are many other arguments against the wearing of ties.
I don’t necessarily endorse these all fully but they include the following points:

HYGIENE – Because it is not common to wash or dry-clean ties,
bacteria, viruses and other nasties build up on them. They can be so germ
ridden that the BMA declared, in early 2009, that doctors should no
longer wear them when seeing patients. They have also been identified as
a factor in spreading germs, especially things like swine flu, in schools.

HEALTH & SAFETY – Ties are an acknowledged hazard in office
environments, where equipment like printers, faxes, copiers, shredders
and filing cabinets lie in wait to snare the unwary. In customer facing
environments, ties can also be a problem in cases of confrontation.
Everyone from the police to shop assistants is usually issued with clip-on
ties as a precaution. More routinely, wearing ties and keeping top buttons
on shirts done up has been linked to glaucoma and poor concentration.

WHAT IS SMART? – This is obviously a subjective question and one
whose answer evolves with fashion trends. Ties, as we know them, have
been around since the 1920s “Langsdorf” design. They have fluctuated in
width, colours and materials44 over the years. They can look very dapper
and elegant, but not necessarily so. A quick glance around any classroom
will reveal that scruffily tied strips of colourful cloth around necks do not
necessarily enhance appearances. More and more businesses are realising
that a smart shirt without a tie looks more consistently smart than wearing
ties. They are increasingly seen as a ‘fashion’ that has had its day.

SEXISM – The fuss in my workplace is pretty typical. Why is there an
expectation for men to wear a narrow range of clothing options (shirt, tie,
suit trousers – or even a full suit, and uncomfortable shoes) in a narrow
range of colours? Women meantime have a much wider range of options
of acceptable attire and colours. Patent discrimination. It is no less
reasonable to expect female staff to wear trousers, shirts/blouses and ties
than it is to ask male staff to do so.

OFFENSIVE TO SOME PEOPLE – Probably the least compelling
argument to me (as I have a penchant for offending bigots, in particular),
but some people find the symbolism of the necktie offensive. For
example, Islamic fundamentalists in Iran have declared the necktie to be a
symbol of decadent Western oppression. At the time of writing I have two
Muslim clients. There are also other cultural movements that see the necktie
as a symbol of submission and slavery to the ‘corrupt elite’ of society (i.e.
having a symbolic chain around one’s neck).

This discussion of what ties can say about us highlights the more
general fact that clothing has become a form of non-verbal
communication. Clothing almost universally signals our gender,
occupation, class, rank and wealth. We can also use it to communicate our
geographical origins, our religion, our sexual availability and sexual
preferences, our group affiliations and to provoke reactions. I think this
last point is important. If clothing is essentially a form of communication,
then should we be defending ‘free speech’ with regards to clothing in a
similar way to defending freedom of verbal expression? I do not defend
what you say, but I defend your right to say it. Similarly, I do not defend
your choice of clothing, but defend your right to wear it.

But think about what messages you are putting out when you choose to wear that tie!

The Return of Occupy London

Taken from the London Green Left Blog

Occupy is back in London, UK, with a renewed focus on politics and an ambitious vision: to galvanise a mass movement for real democracy and establish a huge People’s Assembly to debate a list of specific demands for radical political reform.

This week, stalwarts of the Occupy Democracy campaign in Britain are continuing to stand their ground in Parliament Square. The heavy-handed police crackdown and evictions may have scuppered much of the plans for peaceful and creative demonstrations, but the re-emergence of the Occupy movement is a welcome sight in an increasingly unequal, stressed and disaffected city of London.

The goal of the new Occupy campaign is laudable and significant: to direct energy from current single issue struggles into “a critical mass that can radically challenge the corrupt unrepresentative [political] system”. Initially staged in solidarity with Hong Kong’s ongoing civil disobedience campaign, the aptly-named #TarpaulinRevolution aimed to galvanise a mass movement for real democracy by transforming the Square into a civic space where activists can re-envision and rethink the fundamentals of our society, not only through protest activity but also with a programme of talks, workshops, community assemblies, music and theatre.

The original call to action makes a compelling case as to why the British political system is unable to deal with the consequences of a social crisis it helped to create. Citing the entrenched problems of the UK’s growing ranks of homeless, hungry and unemployed, it calls on all movements that have opposed the government’s anti-democratic policies to come and join the occupation. “The problem is bigger than the Tories and their austerity program”, it states. “The problem is with our whole democratic system.”

Hence the need for a genuine democracy free from corporate influence is placed at the heart of the campaign, with an aspiration to establish a huge People’s Assembly that can debate a list of specific demands for radical political reform. As the call to action concludes: “It appears that the majority are not able to use the democratic process to improve, let alone protect, the basic necessities of life. And in turn, our increasing sense of powerlessness is mirrored by the increasing power of big business over our lives. It is time we took mass action to stop this.”

The occupation began on Friday 17th October with an overnight vigil to mark the UN Day for the Eradication of Poverty, followed by an introduction to Occupy Democracy and a series of short talks by a number of activists. A programme of activities still continues despite the presence of hundreds of police officers earlier in the week, and a 2 metre metal fence that has now been erected around much of Parliament Square Gardens. On Saturday and Sunday, when the ten-day campaign may still conclude if protesters can resist further arrests, talks and workshops have been planned on the theme of ‘Solutions – what would our ideal society look like?’, and ‘Means of change – a better world is nice in theory, but how do we make it happen?’

Moving beyond ‘anti’ to a common vision

One of the talks on Friday by John Hilary of War of Want particularly resonated with these themes, and emphasised the necessity for the emerging ‘movement of movements’ to move beyond reactive protest and articulate a collective vision of change. Drawing on the concluding section of his recent book, Hilary outlined what he terms three principles of convergence that indicate a means for moving beyond neoliberal capitalism and towards a better world: popular sovereignty, common ownership and social production.

Together, these principles reflect the growing spirit of inclusive activism that no longer focuses on a position of ‘anti’, and instead embraces the many alternatives and new visions that are out there today. This includes, in Hilary’s words, the many opportunities we are now seeing for “common ownership, sharing, and new understandings of the commons where we all participate, we all own it and we all control its future.”

A video of the talk , but it is also worth transcribing below Hilary’s discussion of these three principles and how we all need to ‘decommodify our worldview’ and look towards a future that is no longer dominated by the profit motive, which will mark the true liberation of peoples and societies.

OccupyParl3.jpg

“…The last thing I wanted to focus on was how we can learn from what people have achieved in other countries around the world in terms of fighting for a better future. Because I don’t know how you feel but for me it feels that we’re constantly fire-fighting, we’re constantly reacting and resisting to the things that they throw at us. If it’s not an austerity programme it’s a bank bailout; if it’s not a bank bailout then it’s another slashing of welfare benefits; it’s another swathe of unemployment coming in from the public sector. If it’s not that it’s a whole raft of other trade deals, it’s another set of austerity measures dropped down on us from the European Union.

What we’re saying is that we need a change, so it’s not just about us reacting all the time, but it’s about us putting in place new structures, new ideas and new policies, new thoughts that can challenge that for the future. And we’ve seen that not just in Spain with Podermos rising up, in Greece with Syriza, in all of the great, great election victories that you see in democracies across Western Europe where they are beginning to challenge from the left. But we’ve also seen that in Latin America where social movements have risen up and they have created political challenges to the elite – political challenges which have swept away the old elite, and created completely new dispensations for the future – new ambitions, and new aspirations to try and overcome their past, and to create democratic paths away from capitalism. And that sort of move is what we desperately need here. And you can put that around three basic principles, which when you read all of the different programmes of an alternative from across the world, it always seems to crystallise around three particular things.

The first of these is popular sovereignty, and that means reclaiming democracy not just to the national level of governments, which was the thing when we were talking about this 15 years ago and everyone was saying ‘Globalisation is a great threat; we need to reclaim power for our national sovereignty’ – no, we need to take it much, much deeper and restore democracy at its roots; popular sovereignty. And you can look to the examples of those countries like Iceland or Tunisia or Equador or Bolivia, which have completely re-written constitutions in order to be able to give the people’s aspirations top billing. You can also see it in countries like Venezuala where they have local municipal committees, workplace committees, bringing people in to the democratic space and building from the grassroots. You can see it in the economic policies of restoring power to cooperatives and other collective engagements of people, so that they take control of the economic space as well as the political space.

So that concept of popular sovereignty could not be more relevant here in Parliament Square, looking across at an institution which denies us that say, it denies us that participation. So I think the first thing we have to work out in our structures [is] how can we reclaim that space. Not just in demonstrations and actions, but much more [in terms of] going through all of the processes that we take part in; whether you’re members of trade unions, whether you’re members of local residents associations, whatever clubs or [forms of] participations you have, pushing that political message through. So, one: popular sovereignty.

The second big, big issue here is common ownership. If you don’t own the means of production, if you don’t own the commons, if you don’t own and have rights over public services, you can never turn them back to your advantage. And we know that this is so important because the first wave of enclosures that the neoliberal programme brought in was a new wave of privatisation; privatising water, privatising education, privatising health, privatising anything they can get their hands on and not letting it go back into public hands in the future. And that again is another of the really important threats from these big trade deals.

We know already that our government is selling us down the river when it comes to all those things. If we ever get another government in where we want to try and reclaim those powers, if they’ve already been put into a trade deal you can’t get them back. And we want them back, we’ve seen the type of opportunities for common ownership, sharing, and new understanding of the commons where we all participate, we all own it and we all control its future. You see that on the internet, you see that in car pools, you see that in the massive cooperative movement that lives around the world, you see that in workers collectives, the solidarity economy, the social economy, all of these different models which are still going towards the same basic aim of common ownership and control.

So number one popular sovereignty, number two common ownership, and the final one is social production. Production not for profit, not so that value can be whisked away by the 1% and stored in their Swiss bank accounts, but production which is there for social need and not treating us as commodities in the system, not treating our public services as commodities, not treating the basic commons that we know and we use as commodities. And that decommodification process starts with each one of us. It starts with our rejection of the logic of capitalism. It says that we want a world that is not dominated by the profit motive. We want a world where we produce things for need, not for profit; for use value, not for exchange.

And when we can start making that type of change, the liberation, the liberation that that brings to people, to societies, to women who have so often borne the brunt of this neoliberal attack, that liberation opens up all the possibilities that we want for a new and better future. We cannot achieve that without a political challenge to the elite. Turning people power into political power has got to be our first step. And that’s why I’m really thrilled to be here, to be part of this merging of the movement, this ‘movement of movements’ which comes together to challenge on all these different fronts.”

Adam Parsons is the editor at Share The World’s Resources. He can be contacted at adam(at)stwr.org.

TTIP news – keeping the pressure on

38 Degrees

38 Degrees Logo
Dear Andy,

Great news. It looks like the EU is wavering on TTIP – the dodgy EU-US trade deal. Jean-Claude Juncker, who’s due to start a new job as the new EU Commission President, is hinting that ISDS could be removed. That’s the bit of the deal that allows corporations like McDonald’s or Marlboro to sue our government. [1]

This is one of the worst parts of TTIP – getting rid of it could help us see off the whole deal. But there’s a problem: our government is lobbying to keep it in. [2]

Right now, we need to show that the UK government isn’t speaking for us, the people of the UK. Thousands of us have already written to the EU to tell them that ISDS should be dropped. And it looks like it’s finally sinking in – so let’s not let our government undo our hard work.

If enough of us email Juncker directly, we can make sure we’re impossible to ignore. He won’t be used to this many ordinary people getting in touch! Can you email him today?
https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/email-juncker-1

The deal was locked behind closed doors – only politicians and big businesses were supposed to hear about it. Together, we’ve changed that. We’ve signed petitions, we’ve spread the word about TTIP in our communities and we’ve put it firmly on the agenda of our MEPs. [3] And its paying off.

As Juncker takes office as the new EU Commission President, we can show him that he can stop hinting – we’ll support him removing ISDS from the deal. If we flood his inbox now, he’ll be left in no doubt that the idea of McDonald’s or Marlboro suing our government is a no go area.

Please can you email Jean-Claude Juncker right now? There’s already some suggested words, so it’ll only take a minute or two:
https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/email-juncker-1

Thanks for being involved,

India, Nat, Blanche & the 38 Degrees team

NOTES:
[1] Jean Claude Juncker speech to the European Parliament:
http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_SPEECH-14-705_en.htm
International Business Times: TTIP and ISDS: The obscure trade clause threatening to tear European politics apart:
http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/ttip-isds-obscure-trade-clause-threatening-tear-european-politics-apart-1470908
[2] Financial Times: EU States tell Juncker not to water down trade deal:
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/e1dac340-59e1-11e4-9787-00144feab7de,Authorised=false.html?_i_location=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ft.com%2Fcms%2Fs%2F0%2Fe1dac340-59e1-11e4-9787-00144feab7de.html%3Fsiteedition%3Duk&siteedition=uk&_i_referer=#axzz3GxJgsWUa
[3] TTIP Days of action on Youtube:

Any Questions? from Brecon

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04lsy0t

Attended with John Evans on behalf of Bridgend Green Party . Unfortunately our questions were not selected.

It was a predominantly tory audience but it was heartening that the only consensus of boos and dissent was at the suggestion that we should start fracking (from tory MP Bernard Jenkins) – check recording at the 30:10 onwards.

Apart from this, Jenkins was actually nowhere as objectionable as your average tory MP (damning with feint praise admittedly).

Carwyn Jones was his usual ineffectual self, skirting around issues and refusing to take responsibility. We lost count of how many times he agreed with the tory – far more so than with the PC’s ap Iorwerth. He also referred to fair devolution for the English repeatedly – more so than taking opportunities to specify what extra powers he would like in Wales.

Ap Iowerth escaped without having to deal with his embarrassment of Leanne Wood over the nuclear issue. I suspect he is going to be a thorn in Leanne’s side repeatedly as he is clearly a throwback to the old school nationalists rather than the ecosocialist branch of the PC (primarily the younger generation from what I can see).

Carol Bell has a CV littered with directorships with oil and gas companies, along with many years as an investment banker, making her the devil incarnate on paper. She is clearly a tory, but has sufficient intellectual integrity to at least concede the need to develop our renewables (as long as it isn’t onshore wind).