"Philosophers have only interpreted the world, the point however is to change" - Karl Marx

This blog is my interpretation, I will do everything I can to change the world along those line

Monday, 4 October 2010

A day trip to Birmingham, but for what?

Last Sunday saw a demonstration of somewhere between 5,000 and 7,000 people in Birmingham to protest outside the tory party conference. An impressive turn out with all things considered, the rain probably damaged the turn out and the governments spending review has not taken place yet. The demonstration also displayed a great cross section of working class society with banners displaying various campaigns to stop cuts in services, with various trade union banners, student groups, political organisations and a sizable amount of disabled people in attendance as well, fearful of the cuts in Disability Living allowance. All of this shows the potential is there for a united campaign against cutbacks but it wasn't all positive and I am not just referring to the rain.

Despite such anger against the cuts you would be forgiven for not realising this demonstration was against cuts, in fact I am not entirely sure myself if it was or if it was simply against tory cuts! The Right to Work posters read 'Protest against Tory cuts' and there was nothing said about anyone else but the tories. Whilst some may say this is pedantic it is not at all. Travelling on a coach from Cardiff we were well aware that the Welsh Assembly government is run by Labour and Plaid Cymru whilst Cardiff Council is run by the Liberal Democrats and Plaid Cymru. Do the cuts they will carry out not matter? With any of the 3 main parties and a 4th in Wales in power they have all committed themselves to huge public sector cuts. But there was no mention of this throughout the demonstration simply stating that 'tories are scum' whilst I completely agree lets have some clarity and make it clear that all the main parties are committed to making to working class pay for the capitalist crisis.

This is a very important point because it is no good to simply direct the anger at tories (and liberals) when it will be labour/Plaid Cymru/SNP councils as well as the Welsh Assembly and the Scottish Parliament carrying out the cuts as well. It seems that the 'keep is so broad it is ineffective' strategy is still in full effect though. I am not opposed to members of those parties being involved in campaigns against cuts, but only if they refuse to vote for cuts and condemn those in their parties who do. Where there are council that refuse to carry out cuts they should receive the full and active support of anti-cuts campaigners but where there is not, then anti-cuts candidates should stand for election, unfortunately this did not feature at all in the Right to Work organised demonstration whatsoever.

Fortunately however Dave Nellist former Labour MP and currently a Socialist Party councillor in Coventry spoke from the platform at both rallies, he made the points which I have made in this article and pointed out that anti-cuts campaigners have had electoral success, in Kidderminster twice winning an MP as well as councillors and councillors won by anti-cuts campaigners in Huddersfield, Wigan, Wallsall and many other places and there is a need to build on this in the next election. This was also made clear in a very good Socialist Party leaflet which to my knowledge was the only material on the day highlighting a real strategy to defeat the cuts which was very will received, after all that was the point of the demonstration was it not?

There were other problems with the demonstration with between 50-100 pseudo-anarchist youth attempted to breach the fence and get into the conference centre, which then led to a long confrontation with the police which was eventually separated off from the main demonstration. This clearly resulted from the frustration at the relative inaction from the demonstration organisers in my view and will only continue and the trend will increase unless a clear strategy to defeat the cuts is put forward.

It is also worth noting that despite all this talk of the Coalition of Resistance on the Internet, I did not see any sign of them existing on this demonstration, which would have been the experience of many others, if they were actually there at all, or does this 'coalition only exist on the Internet? That has been my sole experience with it.

On the day Right to Work gave out a leaflet calling for 'unity talks' on the 5th December, but if they actually wanted unity then two things would have happened differently at least. Firstly when the chair of Right to Work attended the steering committee of the National Shop Stewards Network the day before he would have raised this at the time and secondly they would not have organised a 'unity event' the same time as the already publicised Youth Fight for Jobs national conference. It seems that based on this the 'unity project' is just for show, especially considering Right To Work was set up when the NSSN and YFJ already existed in the first place! Nevertheless unity against cuts is welcome but at the moment I am dubious that Right to Work actually want unity with others, and who could argue otherwise based on the facts.

After this demonstration it seems clear to me that nothing has changed and that if we wish to stop the cuts that the tasks remain the same, to build local campaigns against the cuts!

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Nick Clegg 'answers' questions in Cardiff

Last Thursday I had the dubious honour of attending a question and answer session with Nick Clegg in Cardiff City Hall. It was meant to be invitation only, probably due to the grilling he got last time he visited the city, but despite that and despite not being on the guest list I was able to get in.

What did I get for managing to blag my way in? Well I managed to waste 45 minutes of my life which I will never be able to get back! Clegg was indeed his usual self, that of a despicable liar, I did not expect anything else but the levels to which he was willing to go to lie would have been amusing if not true.

The first question from the floor started off well with the speaker ironically offering greetings from his mother who had voted for the liberals to keep the tories out. However the questions were not all that great in my opinion and there was only to be a handful of them as Clegg only stuck around for 45 minutes, i think in reality it was probably less than that. Whilst it seemed obvious that the majority of people in attendance were angry at Clegg, noticed by the whispers amongst the audience this didn't really translate into the questions.

Those able to ask questions (many included myself despite having are hands up the whole time were not brought in to ask a question) generally asked about services they used or sectors they worked in to seek assurances that this services wouldn't suffer from the cuts. Naturally Clegg was able to worm his way out, particularly as this meeting didn't grant the questioner the right to reply. One example was when a teacher asked about the situation in schools where funding restrictions have already seen cuts to learning support staff which allows children with learning difficulties to remain in mainstream schools, she asked how this would be prevented. Clegg's reply utterly appalled me! He said that it was because there was too much bureaucracy in the system, that although funding would be cut giving schools and teachers the freedom to decide how the money would be spent would prevent this from happening. He gave the example of academies to exlain why this gives the freedom to choose! Quite disingenious as this doesn't give the teachers or any other educational specialists the choice of how resources are spent, it gives private companies, rather than accoutable public authorities th choice. In any case if the budget is cut some services will have to go but when this is coupled with a private company taking a profit out then the end result can only ever be cuts.

Clegg was caught out at one point though when he stated that future genrations should not be made to pay for 'our' mistakes, so he was questioned by a student on why the government was proposing to raise tution fees, Clegg responded by acknowledging it was a problem and went on about the difficulties that students face but generally avoided actually answering the question as you would expect from a politician.

Throughout the whole time Clegg managed to get in lie after lie, I presented it as a fact that there is no other choice but to cut public services, such a blatant lie, what he should have said is that according to his political philisphy there is no other choice! In reality there is definately anothr choice, reading through the last few entries of my blog will be able to see that. He also stated that NHS funding would increase, and whilst this technically is not a lie it is very disingenious as the funding will be below inflation rates in the health sector and therefore in real terms is a cut to health expenditure. He also stated that over all public expenditure would increase, this to me seems like it must be an out right lie, but if there is some truth in it then it can only be on the basis of bailouts for the rich and trident nuclear weapons, hardly the public services that come to mind when people think of public expenditure.

Over all the 45 minutes was a complete waste of time, though it would have been well worth it if I was able to get into the discussion and put these points and the alternative to cuts to Clegg, such a grilling would have changed the whole mood of any following questions and th general atmosphere in the room.

Search This Blog