Category Archives: Environment

Jeremy Corbyn at Labour’s conference in Wales

Shadow Welsh secretary Christina Rees, Carwyn Jones and Jeremy Corbyn

Jeremy Corbyn spoke at Labour’s conference in Llandudno on 22nd April and received a huge standing ovation, in spite of the relentless media efforts to portray him negatively while often ignoring or even covering up the disarray on the government’s front benches.

A transcript is not available but his 2017 speech is well worth revisiting: http://jeremycorbyn.org.uk/articles/jeremy-corbyns-speech-to-the-welsh-labour-conference/

Highlights:

What Labour in Wales has achieved:

A health service free from unnecessary top-down reorganisations and privatisation where your hospitals are not struggling with record deficits due to the legacy of PFI. The NHS in Wales is treating more people than ever before and 90% say they received good treatment

  • Free prescriptions for all
  • A new treatment fund setup for life threatening illnesses
  • On cancer waiting times, Wales is doing better than England and cancer survival rates in Wales are improving faster than anywhere in Britain
  • You’ve protected the social care budget which has been slashed in England
  • and there are good industrial relations in Wales: no strikes provoked and no operations cancelled unnecessarily

We strongly support the doctors who don’t want patient safety to be put at risk.  Last week I had the privilege of spending a couple of hours with a group of junior doctors. Let’s be clear, they are not “junior” they are dedicated, highly qualified people on whom we all depend. They are alarmed at the direction the NHS is taking.

As a parting gift they gave me this book “How to dismantle the NHS in 10 easy steps” which starts with an internal market and ends with an aim of introducing universal private health insurance.

As Nye Bevan said: “Illness is a misfortune, the cost of which should be shared by the community”.

In Wales you have built an education system that has just delivered the best ever GCSE results

  • new schools are being built
  • primary school pupils get a free breakfast
  • the poorest college students still get the education maintenance allowance (EMA)
  • And where Welsh students aren’t shackled by mountainous debt and where grants are being maintained.

English students leave university with an average £22,000 more in debt than Welsh students; that is a shocking burden that shackles young people as they start in life. It is no surprise that home ownership has collapsed.

Jobs Growth Wales has helped 15,000 young people into work

  • The Young Entrepreneurs Bursary has helped young people to setup over 400 businesses in Wales and your plans to deliver 100,000 quality apprenticeships.
  • the Bay Campus at Swansea is already reaping the benefits of high tech jobs in the area.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies says that tax and benefit changes in the last five years have left the average Welsh household £560 a year worse off.

Tax cuts for the few, the super-rich and big business public service cuts and welfare cuts for the many. We have gratuitous inequality in this country the average pay of the top chief executives compared with the average worker has risen from 47 times in 1998 to 183 times last year.

For too many people in the UK who aren’t the super-rich elite and there are quite a few of them, life is wracked by insecurity, at work and at home, Labour believes that we only succeed if we all succeed together.

The impact of this insecurity on people’s lives can be huge, it affects people’s physical and mental health.

The Tories have failed to invest in modernising the economy, we are way behind other countries on our digital infrastructure, our transport, our energy system and our housing.

70 Labour councils have committed to eliminate all carbon emissions by 2050 – including major cities like Edinburgh, Manchester, Newcastle, and Liverpool and here in Wales in Swansea, Torfaen and Caerphilly. And Labour in Wales has set out a clear energy policy, Energy Wales: A Low Carbon Transition and is supporting decentralised energy production through the Local Energy Service.

The Conservative government continues to fail to invest in renewable energy cut subsidies for the nascent solar industry but increased them for fracking and for diesel generators.

If our investment in flood defences had been continued, retaining the senior staff employed to make decisions in these emergencies and protecting the emergency services who responded to save lives and homes during those difficult days and weeks, we would not have seen the level of destruction and flood damage that caused such anguish to so many people as their homes were damaged and their belongings ruined.

Transport infrastructure is absolutely crucial to industrial development and growth. I praise the Welsh government in its support in re-opening and improving valley railway lines, the plans for the improved metro links in the south west of Wales and the crucial need to improve the North Wales line and road links.

We have already challenged the government and won on many important issues:

  1. We forced them to take a U-turn on cuts to working tax credits meaning 3 million families will no longer be hit this April with a £1,000 cut to their family income
  2. We made them backtrack on plans to further cut police numbers in their Autumn statement
  3. And we stood against the horrendous proposal that the UK would run Saudi Arabia’s prison system for them

Our party is one of social justice every child deserves a good education every student the option to study at college or university everyone deserves a decent and secure home to live in nobody should ever be left destitute the grotesque levels of inequality are unjustifiable and must go.

We are living through an era of the most grotesque deepening inequality in Britain and the West. The cynics say that inevitably the next generation will be worse of that this, I say this is not inevitable and not necessary as socialist our duty is to expand the wealth but crucially to share it so the next generation is better off than this one, and our grandchildren will be better off than our children.

 

 

 

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Another Europe is Possible

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Another Europe is Possible campaigned for a radical ‘in’ vote – building a community that is pro-EU even while it works towards building a stronger, reformed union that can bring about the radical social change our citizens need in the UK and across Europe. It sees Brexit as a crisis for Britain – an attack on rights and freedoms, and a potentially calamitous brake on our prosperity. But too often this debate is conducted in a language of fear.

That’s why it has released a new campaign of hope set out in a new report – The Corbyn moment and European socialism.

It was written by Mary Kaldor, Professor of Global Governance at the London School of Economics, Luke Cooper, Senior Lecturer in International Politics at Anglia Ruskin University, John Palmer, former European Editor of the Guardian newspaper and Political Director of the European Policy Centre and Niccolo Milanese, Director of European Alternatives.

It takes a fresh look at the critical role that a Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour government could play in transforming Europe’s politics, working from within the EU. You can read it in full here, and order paper copies by emailing info@anothereurope.org

The report makes the case that institutions such as the EU are essential to pushing forward radical and progressive change. A Corbyn-led Labour government could be instrumental to: 

* Taxing multinationals, including harmonising corporation tax rules and clamping down on tax avoidance.

* Regulating banks, including with a new financial transaction tax

* Protecting migrant workers’ rights and strengthening trade unions

* Digital Rights, where Labour has already played a leading role in the global debate

* Climate change, using its weight shift EU institutions and overcome big business lobbies

* Addressing global conflicts, prioritising the security of people, rather than the interests of states, on a humanitarian basis

* Ending fortress Europe, by radically altering the discourse, opening up legal routes for entry, and treating the refugee crisis as a humanitarian issue, not a security one

* Reforming the Eurozone, by playing a supportive role and example for progressive anti-austerity parties inside it

The message ends: Jeremy Corbyn has transformed British politics – and if you think he’s good for Britain, he’d be even better news for the EU, if we stay in it.

See this inspiring video with an interesting reference to Portugal, said to be flourishing under a government which has rejected austerity and used taxes to invest.

 

 

 

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Jeremy Corbyn’s speech at the Alternative Models of Ownership Conference (10.02.18)

 http://www.zimbio.com/pictures/Q369GPank3G/Labour+Leaders+Host+Conference+Alternative/Jeremy+Corbyn

It is a pleasure to close today’s conference, which has shown once again that it is our Party that is coming up with big ideas.

And we’re not talking about ideas and policies dreamed up by corporate lobbyists and think tanks or the wonks of Westminster, but plans and policies rooted in the experience and understanding of our members and our movement; drawing on the ingenuity of each individual working together as part of a collective endeavour with a common goal.

Each of you here today is helping to develop the ideas and the policies that will define not just the next Labour Government but a whole new political era of real change.  An era that will be as John said earlier radically fairer, more equal and more democratic.

The questions of ownership and control that we’ve been discussing today go right to the heart of what is needed to create that different kind of society.

Because it cannot be right, economically effective, or socially just that profits extracted from vital public services are used to line the pockets of shareholders when they could and should be reinvested in those services or used to reduce consumer bills.

We know that those services will be better run when they are directly accountable to the public in the hands of the workforce responsible for their front line delivery and of the people who use and rely on them.  It is those people not share price speculators who are the real experts.

That’s why, at last year’s general election, under the stewardship of Shadow Business Secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey, Transport Secretary Andy McDonald and Environment Secretary Sue Hayman, Labour pledged to bring energy, rail, water, and mail into public ownership and to put democratic management at the heart of how those industries are run.

This is not a return to the 20th century model of nationalisation but a catapult into 21st century public ownership.

The failure of privatisation and outsourcing of public services could not be clearer.

From Carillion’s collapse and the private sector’s chronic inability to run the East Coast Mainline to the exorbitant costs of PFI and the hopeless inability of G4S even to handle basic security at the London Olympics the same story is repeated again and again; costly, inefficient, secretive.

Unaccountable corporate featherbedding, lubricated by revolving door appointments between Whitehall, Westminster and private boardrooms as service standards and the pay and conditions of public service workers are driven down. This obsessive drive to outsource and privatise has been tried and tested to destruction.

Carillion’s meltdown is a watershed moment. We need to take a new direction with a genuinely mixed economy fit for the 21stcentury that meets the demands of cutting edge technological change. Public services that reflect today’s society and the industries of the future.

We need to put Britain at the forefront of the wave of international change in favour of public, democratic ownership and control of our services and utilities.

From India to Canada, countries across the world are waking up to the fact that privatisation has failed and are taking back control of their public services.

Research by the Transnational Institute identifies 835 international examples of privatisation being reversed. It really is happening: from water under citizen ownership and control in Grenoble, France to mail under national ownership and control in Argentina.

There are very good reasons for what’s taking place. The neoliberal ideology that drove the privatisation frenzy forgot a key lesson that’s understood even by conventional neoclassical economics; that where there are natural monopolies, markets fail.

The architect of Thatcherite privatisation, Professor Stephen Littlechild thought regulators could mimic market competition but he was wrong. The regulators have proved too weak to close to the companies they’re supposed to be regulating and too prone to corporate capture which is why we’ve seen productivity increases of just 1% a year since our water industry was privatised despite all the new technology that the water industry has at its disposal.

Without genuine competition or public accountability private ownership of key utilities has meant customers at the mercy of rip-off price fixing. Water bills have increased 40% in real terms since privatisation but we don’t have anywhere else to go for our water when prices go up.

It’s this ridiculous and highly profitable situation that the water companies are so desperate to protect. The case for public ownership is so clear and so popular and we’ve demonstrated how it’s an investment with no net cost for the taxpayer. The water companies are so frightened that some have commissioned a so-called independent report to make the public believe nothing can change.

But as we know, things can and will change.

And they must when we’ve all seen how the big energy companies jack up prices too knowing full well most people don’t switch suppliers. And the energy grids are even worse, overcharging customers by £7.5bn over the last 8 years, according to Citizens Advice.

Climate change

But Labour’s plans are responding to an even bigger market failure than natural monopolies. We need to take back control of our energy system because, as Nicholas Stern described, “the greatest market failure the world has seen” is climate change.

Now, it pains me to have to contradict the US President, especially using data from a US government agency but according to NASA, the world’s average temperature in 2017 was 0.9 degrees Celsius above the 1951 to 1980 average.

We are long past debating whether global warming is happening, or if it is man-made. It is. And it is not just a threat to our future on this planet it is fuelling wars, natural disasters and the refugee crisis right now.

To avoid a future of extreme heatwaves, shortages of fresh water, falling crop yields, increased flooding, dangerous rises in sea levels, and the mass loss of biodiversity in both land and sea we need, as a bare minimum, to meet our Paris obligations and seek to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels.

The challenge of climate change requires us to radically shift the way we organise our economy.

In 1945, elected to govern a country ravaged by six years of war, Clem Attlee’s Labour Government knew that the only way to rebuild our economy was through a decisive turn to collective action. Necessary action to help avert climate catastrophe requires us to be at least as radical.

Tackling global warming won’t be achieved by warm words. Nobody is fooled by Michael Gove’s reinvention of himself as an eco-warrior. Behind the rhetoric lies a trail of environmental destruction.

This is a Government that has licensed fracking, declared a moratorium on renewable levies, while massively subsidising fossil fuels dithered over tidal, held back onshore wind, U-turned on making all new homes zero carbon and is failing to take the necessary measures to meet our legal commitments to reduce CO2 emissions.

At last year’s election by contrast, Labour pledged to ban fracking, insulate four million homes, invest in rail and bus networks to reduce traffic on our roads, invest in tidal and wind, and deliver 60% of our energy from renewable sources by 2030.

Public ownership of our energy system

A green energy system will look radically different to the one we have today. The past is a centralised system with a few large plants. The future is decentralised, flexible and diverse with new sources of energy large and small, from tidal to solar.

Smart technologies will optimise usage so that instead of keeping gas plants running just in case there is a lull in renewable generation the system fulfils needs by identifying the greenest, most local energy source. There will be much more use of local, micro grids and of batteries to store and balance fluctuating renewable energy.

We will still need a grid to match energy supply with demand and import and export renewable energy abroad because the wind won’t always blow where energy is needed. But it will be a smart grid, radically transformed.

Transforming the grid will require investment and planning on a scale that is simply not happening under the current system.

Price cap regulation encourages private grid operators to cut costs and pay money out in dividends, not to plan how the grid will need to work in 25 years’ time, or to make the necessary long-term investments we need to get there.

Grid operators are notorious for overcharging and causing delays in connecting renewables because they have no incentive to make it easy for clean, community generators to connect to the grid, or to encourage community grid initiatives that might end up undermining their profits.

The greenest energy is usually the most local but people have been queuing up for years to connect renewable energy to the national grid. With the national grid in public hands we can put tackling climate change at the heart of our energy system, committing to renewable generation from tidal to onshore wind. Investing to connect renewable energy to the grid, giving impetus to the kind of research and innovation that will make our grids smarter, more flexible, and capable of genuine optimisation.

And actively devolving power to local communities, by giving community energy practical support and encouragement. Energy transition will depend on the initiative and ingenuity of the many to localise the production and consumption of energy.

We need public ownership and democratic control to make that happen and use the skills and knowledge of the workforce and communities across the country.

There are some who hanker after a Thatcherite so-called “prosumer” model where people produce and consume their own energy and whole communities opt out of the grid. But not everyone has the resources – natural or financial – to go it alone. Energy independence for some will mean rising bills and unreliable energy for the rest.

We need a publicly-owned grid to act as the great leveller, distributing energy from where it is plentiful to where it is scarce and guaranteeing that everyone has access to clean, affordable energy  all of the time. Anything else is not only unjust, it risks doing immeasurable harm to the climate cause.

Because we will only win support for the changes that are needed if we make sure that everyone shares in the benefits. And there are many benefits, not just in cheaper energy, an end to fuel poverty, cleaner air, and a sustainable planet, but also in the creation of new good jobs and industries in renewable energy and green tech across the country.

In short, to go green, we must take control of our energy.

Just Transition

This is why it is so important that these changes are planned democratically. Many people and communities in Britain are economically reliant on fossil fuels. Our energy system needs to change but it cannot be workers and local communities who pay the price.The devastation wreaked when our coal mines were closed, leaving a legacy of decline that former mining communities are still living with, is a brutal reminder of what can happen when those communities are silenced and disregarded in the process of change.

Never again.

In public hands, under democratic control, workforces and their unions will be the managers of this change, not its casualties. The growth of green energy and green tech offers huge opportunities for job creation. Our publicly owned energy system will ensure a smooth transition and protect workers and communities, seizing those opportunities for the many, not the few.

So let me make this commitment here today. Just as the US GI Bill gave education, housing and income support to every unemployed veteran returning from the Second World War, the next Labour Government will guarantee that all energy workers are offered retraining, a new job on equivalent terms and conditions, covered by collective agreements and fully supported in their housing and income needs through transition.

We will make good the words of the Canadian campaigner Naomi Klein, when she said: “The real solutions to the climate crisis are also our best hope of building a much more enlightened economic system, one that closes deep inequalities, strengthens and transforms the public sphere, generates plentiful, dignified work and radically reins in corporate power.”

Conclusion 

Comrades and friends, a blinkered faith in untrammelled markets and a doctrinal rejection of the power of collective action are the twin dogmas that have blighted political thinking in this country for nearly 40 years, have been brutally exposed for the destructive blind alley they are.

Who can maintain that handing the private sector control of our public services delivers economic or social efficiency and best value after the havoc wreaked by the collapse of Carillion, or the £2 billion public bailout of the East Coast Mainline rail franchise?

An overriding obsession with what is claimed to be “efficiency” but which almost always turns out to mean simply “the cheapest” has fixated on cutting costs for the private providers while loading them on to the public purse and suffocated the public service ethos in the process.

By taking our public services back into public hands, we will not only put a stop to rip-off monopoly pricing, we will put our shared values and collective goals at the heart of how those public services are run. Whether that’s:

  • an energy system that doesn’t jeopardise the future of our planet,
  • a joined up transport system that helps us, rather than hinders us,
  • moving away from reliance on fossil fuels,
  • a postal service that delivers for everyone across the UK and which invests for technological change rather than managing decline,
  • a water system which puts an end to wasteful leakage and environmental degradation,
  • a society which puts its most valuable resources, the creations of our collective endeavour, in the hands of everyone who is part of that society,
  • extending the principle of universalism, right across our basic services.
  • eree at the point of use to all who use them:

 

That’s real, everyday, practical socialism. And we’re going to build it together.

 

 

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For the common good: industrial diversification

A growing number are urging Government to move support from the Trident project and arms export industry to other sectors that meet real needs and use highly skilled workers for constructive purposes, designing emission-free rail, road and waterway vehicles, advancing renewable energy, particularly wave and tidal energy, engineering low emission new-build housing and retrofitting much of the housing stock.

In October this year, Andrew Smith cited a report from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute which put the cost to tax payers of government support for the arms trade at more than £100m a year, adding, “This is to say nothing of the huge levels of political and logistical support that the arms companies are offered”.

Widely accepted figures from the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) are that arms exports only count for 0.2% of UK jobs and around 1% of exports. According to the MoD, 65,000 British jobs depend on arms exports and as the total number of jobs in the UK is just over 30 million the arms trade accounts for a tiny fraction of total employment.

And this manufacturing sector is not flourishing – the ‘defence’ industry now represents only 10% of all manufacturing.

A range of housing has been built on the Royal Ordnance site in Euxton, where the land is so contaminated that vegetable growing is forbidden. Last month, BAE, major employers in the area, announced that it will be cutting up to 750 jobs Warton and Samlesbury plants in Lancashire and up to 400 people will be made redundant in Brough, East Yorkshire.

The Trades Union Congress, passed a motion in October calling for the Labour Party to set up a shadow defence diversification agency to engage with plant representatives, trades unions representing arms industry workers, and local authorities. The agency would listen to their ideas, so that practical plans can be drawn up for arms conversion while protecting skilled employment and pay levels.

Some opportunities are listed in the Green New Deal Report (2008) and the Green Homes Guide – just as relevant today or more so, as concerns about air pollution and climate instability escalate.

GND: “At the high skilled end (engineering and electronic) design; though to medium and unskilled work making every building energy tight, and fitting more efficient energy systems in homes, offices and factories . . . putting in place a new regional grid system, ranging from large-scale wind, wave and tidal electricity to decentralised energy systems that increase domestic and local energy production”. 

                                              A British hydrogen-powered train? 

We add to their recommendations the designing of emission-free rail, road and waterway vehicles and of advances in tidal and wave power, which have enormous potential but are currently lagging far behind solar, wind and hydropower technologies.

As Matthew Lynn wrote in The Spectator: “There might be a case for maintaining a modest, specialised arms industry to support our own army. But anyone who thinks an export-driven defence industry is important to the economy should stop kidding themselves”.

 

 

 

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Naomi Klein ‘standing with the transformed Labour Party and the next Prime Minister of Britain, Jeremy Corbyn’

Extracts from the seven-page speech delivered at the 2017 Labour Party conference by author and campaigner Naomi Klein.

It’s been such a privilege to be part of this historic convention. To feel its energy and optimism. Because friends, it’s bleak out there. How do I begin to describe a world upside down? From heads of state tweeting threats of nuclear annihilation, to whole regions rocked by climate chaos, to thousands of migrants drowning off the coasts of Europe, to openly racist parties gaining ground, most recently and alarmingly in Germany.

Most days there is simply too much to take in. So I want to start with an example that might seem small against such a vast backdrop. The Caribbean and Southern United States are in the midst of an unprecedented hurricane season: pounded by storm after record-breaking storm.

As we meet, Puerto Rico – hit by Irma, then Maria – is without power and could be for months. It’s water and communication systems are also severely compromised. Three and half million US citizens on that island are in desperate need of their government’s help . . .but as if all this weren’t enough, the vultures are now buzzing. The business press is filled with articles about how the only way for Puerto Rico to get the lights back on is to sell off its electricity utility. Maybe its roads and bridges too.

This is a phenomenon I have called The Shock Doctrine – the exploitation of wrenching crises to smuggle through policies that devour the public sphere and further enrich a small elite . . .

But here is my message to you today: Moments of crisis do not have to go the Shock Doctrine route – they do not need to become opportunities for the already obscenely wealthy to grab still more. They can also go the opposite way.  They can be moments when we find our best selves…. when we locate reserves of strength and focus we never knew we had. We see it at the grassroots level every time disaster strikes. We all witnessed it in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower catastrophe. When the people responsible were MIA……. the community came together…… Held one another in their care, organized the donations and advocated for the living — and for the dead. And they are doing it still, more than 100 days after the fire. When there is still no justice and, scandalously, only a handful of survivors have been rehoused.

There is also a long and proud history of crises sparking progressive transformation on a society-wide scale. Think of the victories won by working people for social housing and old age pensions during the Great Depression…. Or for the NHS after the horrors of the Second World War. This should remind us that moments of great crisis and peril do not necessarily need to knock us backwards . . .

To win in a moment of true crisis, we also need a bold and forward-looking “yes”- a plan for how to rebuild and respond to the underlying causes. And that plan needs to be convincing, credible and, most of all, captivating. We have to help a weary and wary public to imagine itself into that better world. And that is why I am so honoured to be standing with you today. With the transformed Labour Party in 2017. And with the next Prime Minister of Britain, Jeremy Corbyn. Your party and your leader presented voters with a bold and detailed Manifesto. One that laid out a plan for millions of people to have tangibly better lives:

  • free tuition,
  • fully funded health care,
  • aggressive climate action.

You showed us another way. One that speaks the language of decency and fairness, that names the true forces most responsible for this mess – no matter how powerful. And that is unafraid of some of the ideas we were told were gone for good, like wealth redistribution and nationalising essential public services.

It’s a winning strategy. It fires up the base, and it activates constituencies that long ago stopped voting altogether. If you can keep doing that between now and the next election, you will be unbeatable.

You showed us something else in the last election too, and it’s just as important. Let’s be honest: political parties tend to be a bit freakish about control. . . but we are now seeing in the remarkable relationship between Labour and grassroots Momentum, and with other wonderful campaign organizations, that it is possible to combine the best of both worlds.

If we listen and learn from each other, we can create a force that is both stronger and more nimble than anything either parties or movements can pull off on their own . . . It’s a wave led by young people who came into adulthood just as the global financial system was collapsing and just as climate disruption was banging down the door. . .

We saw it in Bernie Sanders’ historic campaign in the US primaries…. which was powered by millennials who know that safe centrist politics offers them no kind of safe future. By the way…. Bernie, is the most popular politician in the United States today.

So let’s draw out the connections between the gig economy – that treats human beings like a raw resource from which to extract wealth and then discard – and the dig economy, in which the extractive companies treats the Earth in precisely the same careless way.

And let’s show exactly how we can move from that gig and dig economy to a society based on principles of care – caring for the planet and for one another. . .

I applaud the clear stand Labour has taken against fracking and for clean energy. Now we need to up our ambition and show exactly how battling climate change is a once-in-a-century chance to build a fairer and more democratic economy. Because as we rapidly transition off fossil fuels, we cannot replicate the wealth concentration and the injustices of the oil and coal economy, in which hundreds of billions in profits have been privatized and the tremendous risks are socialized. We can and must design a system in which the polluters pay a very large share of the cost of transitioning off fossil fuels. And where we keep green energy in public and community hands. That way revenues stay in your communities, to pay for childcare and firefighters and other crucial services. And it’s the only way to make sure that the green jobs that are created are union jobs that pay a living wage. The motto needs to be: leave the oil and gas in the ground, but leave no worker behind. . . A good start would be divesting your pensions from fossil fuels and investing that money in low carbon social housing and green energy cooperatives.

Trump going rogue is no excuse to demand less of ourselves in the UK and Canada or anywhere else for that matter. It means the opposite -that we have to demand more of ourselves, to pick up the slack until the United States manages to get its sewer system unclogged.

I firmly believe that all of this work, challenging as it is, is a crucial part of the path to victory. That the more ambitious, consistent and holistic you can be in painting a picture of the world transformed, the more credible a Labour government will become. Because you went and showed us all that you can win. Now you have to win. We all do. Winning is a moral imperative. The stakes are too high, and time is too short, to settle for anything less.

Thank you.

Read the full text here: https://labourlist.org/2017/09/naomi-klein-bernie-sanders-is-the-most-popular-politician-in-the-us-and-corbyn-will-win-in-Britain/

 

 

 

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As ‘Jeremy Corbyn rocks Glastonbury’ – Murdoch resumes the ‘bashathon’

One Times reader commented: ”The Sunday Times is on a Corbyn bashathon today. “All hands to the wheel, 700 words on Jezza…” I would turn to the sports pages but I suspect there might be a sly dig at Labour lurking somewhere”.

Author Sarah Baxter’s photograph (right) adorns her article – and the headline continues (“his goons crush dissent”) by implying ‘heavies’ were menacing anyone failing to applaud. The sub-line was: “Labour moderates are put to the sword”, but she was merely rehashing recent events at the Unite Union.

New Musical Express (NME), a British music magazine, had the grace to give a straightforward account and also published the full text of the speech. Highlights were:

His words to the many young people in the audience who had been “fed up with being denigrated, fed up with being told they don’t matter. Fed up with being told they never participate, and utterly fed up with being told that their generation was going to pay more to get less in education, in health, in housing, in pensions and everything else. That they should accept low wages and insecurity, and they should see it as just part of life” . . .

“Well it didn’t quite work out like that did it? That politics that got out of the box, is not going back in any box.

“Because we’re there demanding and achieving something very different in our society and in our lives.

“There’s a number of things, they’re very simple, very basic questions that we should ask ourselves:

  • Is it right that so many people in our country have no home to live in and only a street to sleep on?
  • Is it right that so many people are frightened of where they live at the moment having seen the horrors of what happened at Grenfell Tower?
  • Is it right that so many people live in such poverty in a society surrounded by such riches? No it obviously is not.
  • And is it right that European nationals living in this country, making their contribution to our society, working in our hospitals, schools and universities don’t know if they’re going to be allowed to remain here?

I say, they all most stay and they all must be part of our world and part of our community, because what festivals are about, what this festival is about, is coming together.

“Do you know what? When people across the world think the same, cooperate the same, maybe in different languages, different faiths, peace is possible and must be achieved. And do you know what? Let’s stop the denigration of refugees, people looking for a place of safety in a cruel and dangerous world. They are all human beings just like us here today. They’re looking for a place of safety and looking to make their contribution to the future of all of us, so let’s support them in their hour of need. Not a threat and a danger.

“I think we should adopt a maxim in life that everyone we meet is unique. Everyone knows something we don’t know, is slightly different to us in some ways. Don’t see them as a threat. Don’t see them as the enemy. See them as a source of knowledge, a source of friendship and a source of inspiration.

“We cannot go on destroying this planet through global warming, through pollution, through the destruction of habitat, through pollution of our seas and rivers. We have to live on this planet, there is only one planet. Not even Donald Trump believes there is another planet somewhere else. And so let us protect the planet that we’ve got. Use the technology that we have to manage and control the use of our natural resources so that the planet is here in future generations in better condition than it is at the present time.

“But let’s also look at instability and problems around the world and tackle the causes of war: the greed of natural resources, human rights, the irrational imprisonment of political opponents. Let’s look to build a world of human rights, peace, justice and democracy all over the planet”.

The rightwing press called his preference for attending the music festival over celebrating Armed Forces Day a former soldier pointed out that JC was actually raising the morale of his grand-children by promising them a better future.

And as two Sunday Times journalists feebly jibed at Corbyn’s wrinkles (‘Glasto raves with ‘Jagger’ Corbyn‘, looking down on the ‘Glastonbury festival masses’ who in a ‘rabidly Jeremaniac mood’  ‘succumbed’ yesterday to a ‘frenzied outbreak of Corbyn­mania’, Corbyn ended:

“This festival, this wonderful festival and all of its stages and music gives that chance it that opportunity to so many young musicians, that they may achieve and inspire us all. And I’m proud to be here for that. I’m proud to be here to support the peace movement here and the way that message gets across. But I’m also very proud to be here for the environmental causes that go with it.

“Let us be together and recognise another world is possible if we come together to understand that. Understand the power we’ve got to achieve that decent, better society where everyone matters and those poverty-stricken people are enriched in their lives and the rest of us are made secure by their enrichment”.

 

 

 

 

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‘A possible contribution of ethical science to the Industrial Strategy of the Labour Party’, by Dr David Hookes, on behalf of Scientists for Global Responsibility  

Dr Hookes opened by saying that Scientists for Global Responsibility (SGR) is an independent UK-based membership organisation of hundreds of natural scientists, social scientists, engineers, IT professionals and architects. Its members promote science, design and technology that contribute to peace, social justice, and environmental sustainability. SGR’s work is focused on four main issues: security and disarmament, climate change and energy, including nuclear power; who controls science and technology and emerging technologies.

Extracts from his introduction:  

Our view is that science and technology can be used to help implement the transformation of the socio-economic system on a global basis to create a cooperative, pluralist commonwealth based on fairness, mutuality and equality. In this economy humanity lives within ecological limits, now more commonly known as planetary boundaries.

One key to the long-term survival of industrial society is to develop a low carbon energy supply to avoid catastrophic climate change. This will involve technologies which harness renewable energy in all its forms (including solar, wind, waves, hydro, bioenergy, tidal, geothermal). Energy storage technologies will also be essential to help deal with problems of variability and intermittency, and some contribution from digital systems, that is, computers and digital instrumentation will be important in integrating these various sources of energy into smart local and national grids.

A background to this renewable energy revolution is that about 10,000 times more solar energy falls on the earth than we at present require for all our energy uses. For instance, a small patch of the Sahara, 100×100 square kilometres could supply all of Europe’s.

To read the submission click on this link: A possible contribution of ethical science to the Industrial Strategy of the Labour Party David Hookes

Profile: David Hookes is a member of the Labour Party and a life-long trade unionist and socialist. He was born into a working class family close to the Liverpool dock road. Educated at Trinity College, Cambridge University, he received a BA in Natural Sciences with a major in Physics. Being dissatisfied with the fact that there were so many conceptual problems in Physics, such as the interpretation of quantum mechanics and the unexplained constancy of the velocity of light in Special Relativity, Dr. Hookes decided to switch his studies. He obtained a PhD in Molecular Biology at Kings College, London University, with a thesis on the molecular structure of bio-membranes. He then spent a year in Germany as a post-doctoral fellow of the Von Humboldt Foundation and carried out, inter alia, theoretical work on the transport properties of bio-membranes. Back in England, Dr. Hookes was appointed Head of Physics at Kilburn Polytechnic. Some years later, he decided to take an MSc in Digital Electronic Engineering at the University of Westminster. As a result, he was appointed Senior Lecturer in Electronic Engineering at Coventry University, where he researched bio-sensors, robot tactile-sensing, and computer-interactive educational technology. This led to his developing a ‘Physics-is-Fun’ workstation. After his retirement, he became an Honorary Senior Research Fellow at Liverpool University’s Computer Science Department. His present research interests are: how to save the planet from the threat of global warming; renewable energy technologies; application of ideas from physics to political economy and computer networks; computer-interactive educational technology; and foundational problems of physics. He was a founder member of The British Society for Social Responsibility in Science (BSSRS) and a member of Scientists Against Nuclear Arms (SANA).

 

 

 

Highlights from ‘In Defence of Radical Politics’ – 2

steve-statsThis paper by Steve Schofield has been republished from his new website in full on this site. It has attracted widespread interest (left, with most readers from UK ). In In Defence of Radical Politics, he continues to look at Labour Party strategies from the 1979 election defeat:

“(T)he over-riding objective of a new generation of parliamentary Labour leaders has been to carry out what, until recent events, was a remorseless elimination, both intellectually and organisationally, of any semblance of radical politics within the party . . .”

Though the rhetoric was of a radical centre and a ‘Third Way’ of providing public services through partnerships with business and through social enterprises, Schofield itemises the reality:

  • a form of creeping privatisation,
  • a distancing from the trade unions
  • and an even closer attachment to an aggressively militarist United States

He continues by looking at grass-roots actions: through the Occupy Movement initially across the United States and into Europe, millions of people came together to challenge the legitimacy of a system that had extended and accelerated the accumulation of wealth and power by a corporate elite at the expense of ordinary working people. Many grass-roots actions volunteer support in New York and New Jersey for communities affected by flooding after Hurricane Sandy in 2012, stemmed from this experience of direct democracy, as did the Spanish anti-eviction campaign, Plataforma de Affectados, which spread across the country using civil disobedience and direct action to prevent thousands of families from being evicted. Those radical energies have also led to the growth of anti-austerity parties such as Syriza in Greece, Front de Gauche in France, the Five Star Movement in Italy and Podemos in Spain, all of which have fundamentally challenged social-democratic orthodoxy.

Schofield then turns to the UK and the United States where that power struggle has been played out internally through the Labour Party and the Democratic Party respectively:

“Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders have attempted to re-align their parties around social justice and anti-austerity policies, drawing on the sheer energy and enthusiasm that emerged from the Occupy movement. Sanders, after an extraordinary campaign based on grass-roots support and funding, ultimately failed to gain the nomination but challenged the establishment consensus in a way that would have been unthinkable only a few years earlier . . .”

He gives a brief, definitive explanation for Corbyn’s election:

“For the mass of ordinary members, and those encouraged to participate as supporters with voting rights, the virtual extinguishing of a radical alternative by the Labour elite was intolerable in the face of the crisis facing working class communities. Corbyn’s was an authentic alternative voice that represented how they felt about issues like austerity, privatisation and disarmament. In effect, the Labour movement was attempting to take back the power, through the leadership campaign, that had been lost during the Blairite years with the neutering of party constituencies and conferences, as well as the fracturing of the relationship with the trade unions”.

After an overview of what he sees as ‘irreconcilable differences’ he expresses the need for a new party of the left, combining the traditional strengths of Labour with the new politics of participatory democracy and embracing a range of social movements. It would have to bring together both organised labour and workers without any trade union representation in the precarious world of zero-hour contracts and self-employment; as well as attract left-wing members of other parties like the Greens and the SNP, and the many millions of working people who have become so alienated from politics that they simply don’t vote.

In essence, Schofield writes, this party will be rebuilding a world-view that was second-nature to past generations, steeped as they were in a culture of working-class radicalism.

(Ed: perhaps like the Common Wealth Party?)

Past radical generations would have witnessed the latest crisis as further evidence that capitalism as a system only survives by further extracting the surplus value of labour through profit; they would have looked at the legacy of social democracy as, at best marginal and fragile, and at worst, by embracing much of the neo-liberal economic agenda, a capitulation to the power of capital; finally, they would have been disgusted by the behaviour of the New Labour elite who used their status as senior politicians, only gained through the support of the labour movement, to secure lucrative directorships and consultancies with the very corporations that have benefited from privatisations decimating public services and eroding workers’ pay and conditions. Schofield continues:

“There has never been a better time for organising around a new radical programme. Over recent years, grass-roots initiatives such as community renewable energy projects, co-operative housing schemes and local food networks have provided signposts, albeit on a small scale, of how the economy might break free from the tethers of capitalism”.

He asks: “How can we develop a social wage to reconcile new technologies with the loss of traditional work, or how can we achieve a no-growth economy with zero-carbon emissions that restores the integrity of planetary eco-systems and diversity of life while still providing a material base that benefits all working people?”

Campaigns like the Green New Deal and the Just Transition movement have brought together trade unions and environmental groups in support of just such radical programmes. But the challenge is to embrace the very diversity of these ideas and approaches in a way that can mobilise mass support for radical politics and create a common ground based on a strong ideological vision of a post-capitalist society. This can only be achieved through a vigorous but also generous debate on political and economic priorities, such as on the balance between parliamentary representation and extra-parliamentary action. A vibrant and confident political movement with a strong ideological base and sense of purpose can achieve precisely that. Some core elements are clear in the short-term:

  • public ownership of major utilities and the railways,
  • the reversal of privatisation in the NHS and local government,
  • accelerated council house building and renewable energy programmes
  • and nuclear and conventional disarmament.

However, individual policy areas should only be seen as part of a medium to long-term strategy for a fundamental redistribution of power to working people through devolution and economic democracy leading to a post-capitalist society.

For example, the democratic consensus might be to create a decentralised energy infrastructure based on renewable energy and community ownership. By having increased control over the means of production, working people will be able directly to assess the merits of any economic activity, weighing all issues including employment and environmental factors. If the balance of the argument is that quality of life considerations lead to the rejection of a particular form of production, this can be done in the knowledge that public investment is taking place across a range of socially-useful activities and that necessary work is being equally shared. The traditional threat of unemployment without destructive and wasteful capitalist development will be consigned to history where it belongs.

My own interpretation of the legacy of the radical left has remained the same throughout my lifetime, that it is impossible for working people to realise their own creative capabilities without removing the shackles of capitalist exploitation. Fundamentally, post-capitalism isn’t about a form of economic rationality but human creativity.

The utopia of shared work and the emancipation of time to realise the full potential of every human being is worth any amount of struggle in the face of grotesque inequalities and environmental breakdown that could, if we let the capitalist elite prevail, lead to the destruction of all life on the planet.

 

Read the full article here: http://stevenschofield.co.uk/?page_id=63

 

 

 

Jeremy Corbyn: a convincing case for ‘Remain – and Reform’ in Europe

In February Jeremy Corbyn quoted Einstein: “If most of us are ashamed of shabby clothes & shoddy furniture let us be more ashamed of shabby ideas & shoddy philosophies.”

Highlights of his latest address in the EU referendum campaign follow:

corbyn2 eu rally

EU membership has guaranteed working people vital employment rights, including four weeks’ paid holiday, maternity and paternity leave, limits to working hours, protections for agency workers and health and safety in the workplace. Being in the EU has raised Britain’s environmental standards, from beaches to air quality, and protected consumers from rip-off charges.

In the coming century, we face huge challenges, as a people, as a continent and as a global community, serious and pressing issues which self-evidently require international co-operation:

  • how to deal with climate change,
  • how to address the overweening power of global corporations and ensure they pay fair taxes,
  • how to tackle cyber-crime and terrorism,
  • how to ensure we trade fairly and protect jobs and pay in an era of globalisation,
  • how to address the causes of the huge refugee movements across the world and
  • how we adapt to a world where people everywhere move more frequently to live, work and retire.

We need to make the case for reform in Europe – democratic reform to make the EU more accountable to its people

Mr Corbyn is critical of its shortcomings, from its lack of democratic accountability to the institutional pressure to deregulate or privatise public services. Europe needs to change, but that change can only come from working with allies in the EU. Changes include:

  • economic reform to end to self-defeating austerity, putting jobs and sustainable growth at the centre of European policy,
  • labour market reform to strengthen and extend workers’ rights in a real social Europe and
  • new rights for governments and elected authorities to support public enterprise and halt the pressure to privatise services.

The crisis in the steel industry

A global problem and a challenge to many European governments, the European Union – 28 countries and 520 million people – could have made us stronger, by defending our steel industries together. The European Commission did propose new tariffs on Chinese steel, but it was the UK Government that blocked these co-ordinated efforts to stop Chinese steel dumping. Germany, Italy, France and Spain have done much better at protecting their steel industries, because they acted within EU state aid rules to support their industries; whether through taking a public stake, investing in research and development, providing loan guarantees or compensating for energy costs.The jobs created under the Conservative Government are too often low skill, low pay and insecure jobs. If we harnessed Europe’s potential we could defend high skill jobs in the steel industry and in others. 

The Conservatives are committed to protecting the tax avoidance industry

The Prime Minister in 2013 personally intervened with the European Commission President to undermine an EU drive to reveal the beneficiaries of offshore trusts, and even now, in the wake of the Panama Papers, he still won’t act. On six different occasions since the beginning of last year Conservative MEPs have voted down attempts to take action against tax dodging. On Tuesday, the EU announced a step forward on country-by-country reporting. We believe we can go further. But even this modest measure was opposed by Conservative MEPs last December.

Labour has allies across Europe prepared to take on this global network of the corrupt and we will work with them to clamp down on those determined to suck wealth out of our economies and the pockets of our people.

Some argue that we need to leave the EU because the single market’s rules are driving deregulation and privatisation. They certainly need reform. But it was not the EU that privatised our railways. It was the Conservative Government of John Major and many of our rail routes are now run by other European nations’ publicly owned rail companies. They haven’t made the mistake of asset stripping their own countries.

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is also a huge cause for concern, but we defeated a similar proposal before in Europe, together when it was called the Multilateral Agreement on Investment, back in 1998. Labour MEPs are rightly opposing the Investor-State Dispute Mechanism opposing any attempt to enforce privatisation on our public services, to reduce consumer rights, workplace protections or environmental standards.

Working together in the European Union is vital for tackling climate change and vital in protecting the environment we share 

Climate change is the greatest threat that humanity faces this century. And Britain cannot tackle it alone. We could have the best policies possible but unless we act together internationally, it is worthless. Labour brought in the Climate Change Act, John Prescott played a key role in getting the Kyoto Protocols agreed. Labour has led the debate within Europe.

Regulations agreed in Europe have improved Britain’s beaches and waterways and are forcing us to tackle the scandal of air pollution which will kill 500,000 people in Britain by 2025, unless we act.

Jobs and migration

We live in an increasingly globalised world. Many of us will study, work or even retire abroad at some point in our lives. Free movement has created opportunities for British people. There are nearly three-quarters of a million British people living in Spain and over two million living in the EU as a whole. Learning abroad and working abroad, increases the opportunities and skills of British people and migration brings benefits as well as challenges at home.

Failure to train enough skilled workers means we have become reliant on migration to keep our economy functioning. This is especially true of our NHS which depends on migrant nurses and doctors to fill vacancies. Enough skilled workers should be trained to stop the exploitation of migrant labour to undercut wages and invest in local services and housing in areas of rapid population growth.

There is a strong socialist case for staying in the European Union and for reform and progressive change in Europe. We need a Labour government, to stand up – at the European level – for industries and communities in Britain, to back public ownership and public services, to protect and extend workers’ rights and to work with our allies to make both Britain and Europe work better for working people.

The move to hold this referendum may have been more about managing divisions in the Conservative Party. But it is now a crucial democratic opportunity for people to have their say on our country’s future, and the future of our continent as a whole.

Left to themselves, it is clear what the main Vote Leave vision is for Britain to be the safe haven of choice for the ill-gotten gains of every dodgy oligarch, dictator or rogue corporation. They believe this tiny global elite is what matters, not the rest of us, who they dismiss as “low achievers”.

I appeal to everyone, especially young people – who will live longest with the consequences  – to make sure you are registered to vote to keep Britain in Europe this June, to build a better world engage with the world, build allies and deliver change. The EU, despite its failings, has proved itself to be a crucial international framework to do that.

 

Read the full text here

 

 

 

Voters enthused by ethical politicians working for the common good in Britain & America

Stop press: as socialist democrat Bernie Sanders wins Wisconsin, building on recent victories in the Western states: Utah, Idaho, Hawaii, Alaska and Washington, winning seven out of eight of the last caucuses and primaries … most of them with ‘overwhelming, landslide numbers’, Sanders looks forward to Wyoming, where he’s hoping to get another victory in the state’s caucuses on Saturday. Like Jeremy Corbyn, according to exit polls, Sanders performed well with his usual strongholds of younger voters.

The guest speaker for the QSS conference on Saturday, March 12th: Clive Lewis, Labour MP for Norwich South.

clive lewisBorn in London in 1971, Lewis was brought up on a council estate in Northampton by a single-parent father.

After studying economics at the University of Bradford, he worked for the BBC and became an officer in the Territorial Army in 2006, serving for three months in Afghanistan.

In 2015 he was elected as MP for Norwich South with a large majority. 

He is currently chair of the Parliamentary Humanist Group and a Shadow Minister for Energy and Climate Change under Lisa Nandy.

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After the Quaker Socialist AGM Clive Lewis was introduced by Chris Newsam, the new QSS Clerk.

Clive Lewis served on the panel of Radio 4’s Any Questions show, held in Thornbury,  Gloucestershire. The audience was ‘conservative Middle-England’ and Lewis described the other panel members as ‘formidable’:

clive aq

MP Jacob Rees-Mogg (above left)  is an anti-EU climate change denier who supported cuts to renewables, Mark Littlewood, Director General of the Institute of Economic Affairs (second left), is also a high-powered anti-EU climate-change denier and Juliet Devonport, CEO of Good Energy is an advocate of renewable energy.

Clive Lewis pointed out that the majority of Conservative ‘green’ cuts were not mentioned in their election manifesto and by implementing them, they’d broken election promises to be greener:

  • Cameron had cut the solar energy and bio-gas subsidies and blocked on-shore wind-farms.
  • He has taxed renewables – and cuts mean that they will miss EU targets by 25% in 2020 and could be fined.
  • Cut-backs have led renewable energy companies in the UK to hold back on further investment.
  • The government has given tax-breaks to the oil and gas industry, thus making the UK the only G7 country to subsidise oil and gas companies.
  • Cameron has kept petrol tax down when oil prices had fallen and
  • has privatised the Green Investment Bank, which destroyed its point.

Lewis was astonished to receive loud applause from such a conservative audience. Indeed, when Jacob Rees-Mogg referred to the threat of “socialist green taxes” the Thornbury audience was silent, and when Rees-Mogg said Cameron’s was “the greatest government ever” he was heckled. 

The lesson he drew from this episode was that even at Thornbury, a Conservative stronghold, ‘natural Tories’ were prepared to oppose Cameron on climate change.

He then answered questions from the audience, advocating the integration of common policies on poverty, equality and climate change. John McDonnell, for example, could incorporate climate change and energy efficiency into his economic policies as part of creating the broad alliance necessary for winning in 2020.

When asked if the scientific evidence for man-made climate change is strong enough to base a broad alliance around it – and if it is really an “existential threat” to humanity, Clive said 97% of scientists thought so and in any case, supporting renewables was worthwhile just on grounds of efficiency, jobs and a clean environment (below).

climate change hoax 2

Clive thought Jeremy was capable of compromise – for example, he was not against civil nuclear power as much as he had been. Jeremy would not shift personally on Trident renewal but the Labour Party as a whole might compromise in September and Jeremy would have to recognise this. Like Jeremy, Clive was against Trident on moral grounds but he recognised that full unilateralism might not be achievable. Compromise was a political necessity.

There are divisions in the Labour Party; the New Labour stalwarts had a “sense of entitlement” and, in order to remove Jeremy, they would be prepared to sacrifice tens of thousands of members. The PLP was still overwhelmingly Blairite in its views. Not only that, but the machinery of the Labour Party – the officials – were also Blairite. The Blairite grip on the party would take a long time to loosen.

Q: Could a Labour foreign policy work without Trident?

Clive thought it could, provided there was an increase in conventional military expenditure. Labour could support a level above 2%, and even take defence spending to 2.5%, in return for non-renewal of Trident. With extra money soldiers could be looked after better and equipment updated.

Drawing on his own experience as an army officer, Clive Lewis said, “MPs would think twice about bombing Syria if they had served in the army”.

Instead of interventions for regime change ( Afghanistan, Iraq or Libya) the armed forces could undertake humanitarian interventions.

children drone killed

They would assist foreign countries, not bomb them: a humanitarian foreign policy. 

He called for an anti-Tory alliance at the 2020 election. The core of such an alliance had to be climate change, though poverty was another area that could unite the left, as was opposition to military intervention for the purpose of regime change.

Clive summed up by pointing out that last May only 1 in 5 voted Conservative so there was hope, if the opposition parties could unite. The problem was more amongst the rank and file than amongst the leaders. Rank-and-file Greens, Labour, SNP and Lib Dems were aggressively against such alliances. Thus Jeremy Corbyn and MP Caroline Lucas were close politically, and were even friends, but their supporters were too tribal to unite.  

He was convinced that climate change was the key to an alliance, or co-operation across parties. It is an existential threat to humanity. In the world war of 1939-45 there was an existential threat to humanity from fascism and “we did not respond with neo-liberalism and privatisation” but with alliances, co-operation and socialism.

Clive Lewis had aroused enthusiasm in a Quaker audience despite calling for a sizeable increase in military expenditure. It was felt that the left of the Labour Party had acquired a major talent. His arguments had been sure-footed and convincing. and his eloquent speech drew extended applause.