Saturday, 24 December 2011

TWENTY MONTHS OF CAMPAIGNING FOR ALTERNATIVE

People's Charter campaign, Dalton Rd., Barrow, April 2010
ONE MONTH BEFORE THE GENERAL ELECTION
Some members of Barrow and Furness Pensioners' Association noted with concern comments made by the New Labour chancellor, Alistair Darling, that cuts would have to be made and that these would be worse than under the Thatcher Tory government of some years ago.  (Ironic - New Labour Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, had informed us that he'd put an end to boom and bust.
What a clown!)  Several members of the association signed the Charter Petition but very few were prepared to actually campaign for it.  Hence it was left to three members of the committee to lead by example in the hope that others would follow.  They never did.


We were there in Dalton Road again just before the General Election and each of the candidates of the three main parties gave the People's Charter stall a wide berth.  What they could not escape from, however, was the message coming loud and clear through the loud hailer warning the general public about the austerity measures that would be imposed whichever party was elected to government.  Where, we asked, is the democracy when you are given no choice except to vote for cuts?


Even though we were campaigning against any threat to reduce pensions and allowances for the over 60s we also asked why the local Trades Union Council, local unions, charities, community associations and religious organisations were not standing alongside us demanding that the public should not have responsibility for making good the deficit - ordinary people did not cause the financial crisis so should not suffer job losses or diminished income.  Neither should the unemployed, the sick nor the disabled have to endure benefit freezes or reductions.  Appeals made to these bodies fell upon deaf ears but three pensioners maintained the campaign until the spring of 2011.


FURNESS AGAINST THE CUTS ESTABLISHED
And so it was that, in March 2011, the Pensioners' Association called a Public Meeting on 'The Cuts' that was held at The Forum, Barrow.  It was at this meeting that Furness Against the Cuts was established and a Steering Group met shortly after to draw up 'Agreements' and a plan of action.


Since this time, numbers on the Steering Group have been reduced because of other pressures placed upon some of them.  One has had to give up owing to working fulltime for the Unite Against Fascism organisation and another, a railway worker, has shifts that often prevent him from taking part.  Ken Arts, (pictured seated above), one of the original three pensioners and a stalwart of the campaign, sadly died and his absence is sorely felt.  The result of this reduction was realised this month (December 2011) when we had to abandon the month's street campaign owing to lack of numbers.


We were pleased when Cumbria PCS joined the campaign stall for one Saturday and used it as a platform to inform the public about the forthcoming 30th November strike -  this is exactly how we hoped the campaign stall would be used.  We are not asking other organisations to 'sign up to' Furness Against the Cuts - they can stand beside us and campaign on behalf of their own organisation.  And if several organisations chose to do this it would impress upon the public that opposition to the cuts was universal and not just unions selfishly protecting their members' pensions to the exclusion of everyone else.  


Unfortunately, other organisations in Barrow and in Furness do not yet seem to have grasped this concept (of unity) and choose to remain silently invisible.  As austerity begins to really take hold people will have less to spend so will cut back on charitable donations.  The church congregations remain dumb whilst the great and the mighty abandon Christianity and gleefully worship at the altar of Mammon.


As for the unions, having a one day strike and half-hour rally every six months will hardly impress the public (any union action needs public support if it is to have any chance of success) and will have little, if any, affect upon government policies.  Without unity, the individual unions can be 'bought off' and bring any idea of solidarity crashing down leading, ultimately, to the eventual exploitation of everyone. (It's been done many times before)


The next meeting of the Steering Group of Furness Against the Cuts will be held from 6.30 to 7.30pm on WEDNESDAY 11th JANUARY 2012, at Greengate Children's Centre, Greengate Street, Barrow. 


FAC sends seasonal greetings to all who are actively campaigning against the government's imposed austerity measures, its attacks on the Welfare State and privatisation of our National Health Service.  The People's Charter really is the only alternative for building a healthier, wealthier Britain.

Friday, 9 December 2011

STRIKE RALLY IN BARROW 30TH NOVEMBER

UNION MEMBERS BEGIN TO ASSEMBLE FOR RALLY
SO, HOW WENT THE DAY?
The report in the NW Evening Mail claimed a total of 300 persons attended the rally, held in the town square, from 12.30 until 1.00pm. However, experienced campaigners judged the number to be at least 350 and this was considered to be a satisfactory turn out bearing in mind the absence of any proir attempts to build solidarity for the event - other than an announcement (by Alec Proffitt, Unison organiser) in the local paper some days previously.


Unions attending were Unison, GMB, PCS and NUT.  Some FBU members provided unofficial support as did Furness Against the Cuts and Unite Against Fascism.  Following talks by trade union officials, the rally concluded with a 'One Minute of Noise' with blowing of whistles and vuvuzelas (a type of kazoo-horn).  Exactly what the minute of noise was meant to achieve has yet to be revealed by the organisers.  It was noted that there was no official representation by either of the Trades Union Councils of Barrow and Ulverston or by the local Labour Party.                                                                                              


The only mention of an alternative strategy (to that of the Tory/LibDems or Labour) came from the FAC stall before the start of the rally.  If the one-day national strike had no specific political aim, then what was the point of it?  If it was just an economic protest against pension cuts then this is hardly likely to generate support by the majority of the public and leave the unions involved wide open to attacks of 'selfish self-interest' by the right wing press. FAC urges local unions to plough support into their Trades Union Councils and energise them because the councils are the legitimate means of engaging with the general public.
   
Most schools were shut and council offices closed. There were just emergency services operating at Furness General Hospital and the ambulances were on emergency call-out only. So local public service workers were supportive of the strike but will need something more than 'dissatisfaction' to sustain them should future strikes demand not just a day or a week but several weeks: they will require an aim and they will want to know that any action they take has a good chance of achieving that aim.  It is hoped the union leadership is wise enough to prepare for a determined struggle and to provide a strategy for success.


7.30am PICKET OUTSIDE DEPT OF WORK & PENSIONS















NOTE: As agreed at the FAC steering group meeting held on Wednesday 7th December, FAC will meet at 10am in Dalton Road on Saturday 10th to continue the campaign.  Assistance will be welcome.   

Monday, 28 November 2011

WIND OF CHANGE OR JUST A SLIGHT BREEZE?

Cumbria CPS union joins the anticuts campaign
IT'S OFFICIAL - NATIONAL STRIKE 3OTH NOVEMBER
Furness Against the Cuts campaigners note that the membership of major public service unions has voted for strike action in protest against the government's unwillingness to negotiate with any degree of seriousness the issue of pensions in the public sector.


The photograph opposite shows a member of Unison and the secretary of Cumbria PCS campaigning in Dalton Road, Barrow, at the FAC stall on Saturday 19th November.


The main shopping area was very busy and all FAC campaigners reported a good public response to the campaign with more than usual prepared to enter into conversation.  It is to be hoped that such engagement is not just a one-off.
Promoting the strike, Barrow market, Sat 26 Nov 2011

RAISING AWARENESS OF
30TH NOV ACTION
The weather on Saturday 26th was cold with blustery wind and the threat of rain so it was decided the campaign would move to the outdoor market near the Portland Walk entrance to the indoor market.


The weather seemed to have deterred many from shopping that day - either that, or they were staying at home to save some money to pay their inflated winter fuel bills and other rises in their cost of day-to-day living.


Again, it was noted that members of the public were quite willing to discuss the government's austerity measures and most were in favour of the strike action by the unions.


The photograph features a Unison retired member who is also Secretary of Barrow and Furness Pensioners' Association.  Margie has spent many years serving local pensioners and has given rock steady support to the campaign against the cuts for the past eighteen months.


UNISON PUBLIC 12.30 RALLY AT TOWN HALL
The Unison rally was announced in an article in the Evening Mail last week and, naturally, got the details wrong.  This meant that Alex Proffitt, local Unison convenor, had to send out urgent emails correcting the mistake.  The rally will commence at 12.30pm and continue until 1.30pm (not 1.00pm as stated in the paper)


Furness Against the Cuts campaigners will join the PCS union's picket of the Department of Works and Pensions offices at 7am on Wednesday 30th, move to picket the Job Centre at 9am then meet on the town hall car park to set up the FAC stall in the town hall square for 11am.  This will provide an hour and a half for campaigning before the start of the official rally.


The recent meeting of Barrow NUT indicated members had little, if any, enthusiasm for taking part in a public campaign on the 30th November.  However, some Furness NUT members hoped to attend and someone would bring some flags and placards to the event. Barrow NUT is to consider a proposal that it appoint an official delegate to Barrow Trades Union Council at its AGM to be held in January or maybe February next year.


So, will the showing of solidarity on 30th November embolden working people in both the public and private sectors to take further and more protracted action in the near future?  To quote the words of a well-known song, "The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind."  This is either the first gust of a 'wind of change' storm or a noisy parp.  Only time will tell.


The next meeting of the Steering Group will be held at the Children's Centre, Greengate Street, at 6.30 until 7.30pm on Wednesday 7th December.


  

Monday, 14 November 2011

WORK OF THE CAMPAIGN CONTINUES

Locals start to gather for the 6th October public meeting
OCTOBER PUBLIC MEETING ON NHS PRIVATISATION
Following a slow start, probably owing to attrocious weather conditions that evening, a total of twenty persons attended the talk on NHS privatisation given by Dr David Wrigley.


There were some good contributions by members of the public and 'sign up' sheets were placed at the front for anyone who wished to assist with the general anti-cuts campaign to provide their contact details.
Members of the public were urged to 'Adopt a Peer' and write to a member of the House of Lords asking them to oppose the health reform proposals.


NOTED:  The next meeting of the Furness Against the Cuts steering group would be held from 6.30 until 7.30pm at the Greengate Children's Centre on Wednesday 2nd November.




  

Thursday, 6 October 2011

TUC TO OPPOSE MODE FOUR


BEWARE - MODE FOUR!
The TUC vows to oppose EU 'social dumping' treaty writes John Millington. Communists and activists in a range of unions, especially within rail transport facing EU promoted privatisation, have been campainging for two years to bring the issue to the wider public. Parliament is pretending Mode Four is not happening. The Government is actively supporting it and trying to cover its tracks.
New European Union free trade agreements with Indian firms risk undermining collective bargaining and creating a tier of slave-like labour in Britain, RMT warned TUC delegates.
Moving a motion against "mode 4" transfers - the World Trade Organisation's term for moving workers across borders - the transport union's president Alex Gordon said a bilateral agreement due to be ratified by EU member states in December could mean Indian workers being moved into Britain with no workplace rights, no right to remain and no access to the legal system.
"This is potentially the greatest threat to collective bargaining and workers' rights for many years," he said.
Under Mode 4, Indian companies operating in Delhi and London could move low-paid workers from India to Britain, undercutting workers domestically.
"Transnational companies will be able to move workers across national borders and nation states will limit their own constitutional authority over these corporations.
"Workers' rights will be lost forever to corporate power."
GMB delegate Fern McCaffrey added an amendment criticising the record of free trade agreements in south America.
"They have had a negative effect on the ability of nation-states to foster national and local economic development and to promote and protect human rights," she said.
Ms McCaffrey also questioned the Indian government's record on workers' rights.
"India has not ratified four core International Labour Organisation conventions, including number 87 on freedom of association and the right to organise collectively.
"A new International Trade Union Congress report revealed recently that India's record on child labour left a lot to be desired and there were multiple arrests of protesters for workers' rights."
She called for the "veil of secrecy" to be removed and the free trade agreement negotiations to be made public.
"We need a full consultation with all relevant civil society organisations, especially trade unions at every stage."
Congress agreed to go on a public awareness raising campaign and push politicians to reject the free trade agreement.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

FAC DEMOCRACY ALIVE AND WELL

LIVELY DISCUSSION AT FAC GROUP MEETING
The Steering Group meeting held earlier this evening was principally to ensure that all arrangements for tomorrow's Public Meeting were in place.  


However, before this could be addressed, the matter of the 'controversial incident' at the street stall on Saturday was raised by a member and there followed a searching discussion on 'perception' - of what words and terms ought to be avoided when addressing the general public to prevent any misunderstanding arising.  Similarly, it was thought the weblog of Oct 4 might suggest there was dissent and division in the group and that introducing the subject of Mode 4 into the campaign would complicate matters.


Following amicable discussion it was resolved, without need of a vote, that every effort would be made to avoid anything that could be misconstrued by members of the general public.


There was a wide discussion on Mode 4.  It was argued that should the British/Indian pact be  brought to realisation then highly skilled (but low paid) Indian technicians would be provided with employment here and replace (more expensive) British technicians of whatever race or country of origin.  This influx would be used to force down the pay of resident workers - as does the creation of an army of unemployed workers.  The British working class faces a most serious and potentially ruinous attack upon its standard of living and quality of life. This government is in deadly earnest about its intention to destroy the organisations of the working class (the unions) and all unity of the class by fostering severe racial tensions.  


It was suggested that British workers and Indian workers could unite to bring about equality in pay and conditions but it was pointed out that trade unions, shackled by Tory anti-union laws (that remained in place throughout thirteen years of a New Labour government) will not be able to assist these Indian workers for fear of breaking the law and having their funds sequestrated.  The scene will be set for racial conflict and greater social division.  However, it was the majority decision that public mention of Mode 4 would detract from the campaign against the cuts and further discussion led to a unanimous decision to issue the following statement:
'On the matter of Mode 4 it is unanimously agreed this important issue is outside the remit of Furness Against the Cuts although it is recognised to be a campaign that must be fought.'


Thus the matter was settled and arrangements for the public meeting were then concluded.


FAC is indebted to Barrow and Furness Pensioners' Association for underwriting the public meeting with its Pensioner Rights Campaign NW fund (to be used in the event of a financial shortfall)


Owing to the various commitments of several Steering Group members it was impossible to arrive at a definite date for holding the next Street Stall.  It was suggested additional help might be available if people attending the public meeting signed up to assist with the campaign.  If a sufficient number of persons (at least three) were available, then a November stall shall take place and details will be posted in a future blog.


Four members of FAC Steering Group waited at the GMB office, Hartington Street, at 7pm on Tuesday 1st to attend the meeting of Barrow Trades Union Council but nobody else turned up!  It is but a few weeks ago that the secretary of BTUC complained (in an article published in the local press) that unions were failing to support the Trades Council and that unless things improved he would resign.  If Tuesday was an example of the sloppy way in which the organisation is run then it is little wonder that intelligent and serious-minded trade unionists prefer avoid it.      


 A TUC document on the subject of Mode 4 will be reproduced here as soon as possible.       



PRINCIPLES OF FURNESS AGAINST THE CUTS

                  FURNESS AGAINST THE CUTS
           
                               Steering Group agreed principles
  • The name of the campaign will be Furness Against the Cuts (FAC)
  • Steering Group (SG) meetings will be held at Greengate Children’s Centre, Greengate Street, Barrow from 6.30 until 7.30pm on the first Wednesday of each month.
  • Membership of the SG is open to any individual representing a democratic, progressive organisation which subscribes to the principles outlined here, and will have the right to vote at Steering Group meetings.  Organisations may have up to two delegates on the SG.
  • The SG will be responsible for ensuring these principles are upheld.
  • Supportive individuals not representing an organisation can attend SG meetings and contribute to discussions but will have no vote.  This is solely to prevent ‘mobbing’ - whereby members of a group deliberately swamp a meeting and by sheer weight of numbers are able to corrupt an organisation and distort and completely undermine it.
  • There will be no discrimination on grounds of age, gender, disability, colour, race, sexual orientation or religious belief.
  • The SG will be democratic - one person one vote, and majority decisions will stand.
  • FAC will not be a fund-raising organisation but contribution of voluntary donations to meet the cost of an agreed action e.g. printing of leaflets, is acceptable.
  • SG meetings will be relatively informal - bureaucratic procedures will be avoided whenever possible and there will be no elected officials e.g. chair, secretary, treasurer etc although, each month, a volunteer will be appointed to conduct the meeting.
  • Nobody attending an SG meeting will be denied the right to express an opinion, and anyone having misgivings about a decision must make their feelings known immediately for there must no destructive ‘festering’ resentments.
  • SG meetings will not be formally ‘minuted’ but at each meeting a volunteer will make a record of all decisions made and note any plans accepted for an agreed event.
  • Whenever possible, discussions on anti-cuts business held anytime between SG meetings will be conducted by all-inclusive emails i.e. open and available to all.
  • Use will be made of a Street Presence to promote the anti-cuts campaign utilizing a folding table and, initially, existing People’s Charter materials (banners, leaflets etc) until such time as FAC is able to produce campaigning materials of its own.
  • Democratic, progressive organisations e.g. trade unions, community groups and voluntary associations, will be welcome to join the Street Presence and use their own materials but it should be noted that FAC will not ‘do their work for them’ (organisations give their support to the FAC campaign whilst maintaining their own autonomy)
  • Genuine, nationally recognised political parties will be welcome to use their organization’s anti-cuts propaganda materials and to promote any publication that is supportive of the anti-cuts campaign.
The agreed principles described above are intended to assist the creation of a democratic, honestly transparent and fair structure on which FAC can grow.
FURNESS AGAINST THE CUTS,  April 2011 



Tuesday, 4 October 2011

A CONFIRMING EXPERIENCE OF SOMETHING SUSPECTED

Promoting the Public Meeting,  Dalton Road, 1st October
LAST OPPORTUNITY TO PUBLICISE PUBLIC MEETING
Four members of the FAC steering group attended the stall set up on Dalton Road from 10am until 12 noon to publicise the Public Meeting being held at The Forum from 7.30 until 9.30pm on Thursday 6th October.  This would be the last opportunity to promote the event and it was 'enlivened' by a couple of incidents that demonstrate some local trends.


The first  occured when, shortly after setting up beside a store with large 'blanked out' windows, a place we had used on two previous occasions, the female manager appeared and demanded we move away as "You are blocking my windows."  There is nothing to see in the said windows but we immediately agreed to move and began gathering up our bits and pieces whilst she continued to protest about blocking her windows. (See posting of 1st Oct 'Tribute to local pensioner activist' and the photograph at the bottom to view the blocked windows)   So the stall was then set up at the Workers' Statue which, incidently, meant we were then directly facing the entrance to her shop.


The second occured when I mentioned that the government was laying plans to bring cheap foreign labour into Britain, mainly from India, and this would have consequences for workers in Britain.  Some woman called out "Fascist!" and this was taken up by one or two others - including an ethnic minority shopkeeper who threatened to call the police.  Two members of FAC steering group (one of whom announced he was secretary of the local Unite Against Fascism) also thought the remark was 'racist'.  Well, at least this demonstrated that people were listening to what was being said and it was, in one sense, encouraging that they were alert to anything they perceived to be 'racist' and were willing to condemn it.  


On the other hand, it was a bit sinister - I was providing them with factual information (Mode 4 - a deal being worked between our government and the government of India for skilled technical workers in India to come to Britain) that was recognised by the TUC to be a serious threat to workers in Britain.  But I had mentioned 'India', 'Cheap labour', 'Immigration' and 'Threat to jobs', and these were 'triggers' that got some people agitated.  They were not interested in the facts of the matter - they were only interested in sporting their anti-fascist credentials.  However, what they were actually publicly exposing was their total ignorance of what the governments of Britain and India were up to. 


Why did I find their response sinister?  Well, hypnotists use certain words to 'trigger' a response in a hypnotised subject.  If they plant the word 'chicken' in a sentence, then the hypnotised individual will behave like a chicken.  Similarly, Pavlov famously conditioned dogs to 'dribble' in expectation of a meal whenever a bell was rung - even when they did not actually receive food.  Now, I mention an actual FACT but the truth doesn't matter because I have used words that triggered an automatic response - and I find to that be particularly disturbing.


The point that escaped their over-heated brains was that bringing these workers into Britain will be a gift to the likes of the BNP and EDL - yet I am the 'fascist' for warning about it!  Work that one out - if you can.


Anyway, in the next posting I'll see if I can provide a scanned copy of the TUC document on Mode 4 to enable everyone to read it.  


"Brother,  can you spare a dime?"        

In the meantime, here's a vision of Britain that Tories dream about recreating - and if enough people don't rise up and stop them, it will become a reality: no work, no Welfare State, no National Health Service and reduced to begging on the street.





















Monday, 3 October 2011

MORE PICTURES OF THE MANCHESTER DEMONSTRATION







Photos by Muddz 2nd Oct 2011

TUC MANCHESTER DEMONSTRATION 2 OCT 2011

One of several regional NUT banners on the march
LOCAL TRADE UNIONISTS ON THE DEMONSTRATION
A total of just three trade union members (who are also members of FAC) drove to Lancaster early on Sunday morning where they joined a coach taking campaigners from the district to attend the Trades Union Congress march and rally at Manchester.  The local trio was joined by two Barrow unemployed young
men.

The three are members of Unison, the GMB and NUT respectively but had to make their own arrangements for getting to the march as neither local trade union branches in Furness nor theTrade Union Councils of Barrow or Ulverston had made any arrangements for trade union members to attend the event. 

A full 52 seater coach together with a supporting minibus left Lancaster after 10am and the weather turned distinctly damp - it rained quite heavily!  Fortunately, by the time we arrived at Manchester, the rain had stopped and it turned out to be an excellent day for a march - warm and overcast but fairly bright.

Numerous stalls promoting political and community organisations lined parts of the route and all manner of banners, flags and large balloons made for a colourful mass display.  Drummers kept up a steady beat, people blew whistles, sounded air horns, and expressed their anti-cuts messages through loudhailers.  The mood was very friendly, the police were approachable, and there was no trouble at all.  The marchers were satisfied they had left a clear message to the Tories sheltering behind lines of police in the Conference Centre that their policies for dealing with the economic crisis were not only NOT solving anything but actually making things worse.

The Barrow group arrived home shortly after 7.30pm, understanding the rally had just been a warm-up for the day of action on 30th November when major unions have called on their members to hold a national one day strike.  


Whether trade unionists in Barrow or the rest of Furness intend to support the strike remains to be seen but if past performance is used as a guide then no direct action will be taken.  It would be really gratifying, just for once, for this assumption to be proved to be wrong.  


This report by: Norman



                                                                             

Saturday, 1 October 2011

A TRIBUTE TO A LOCAL PENSIONER ACTIVIST

KEN ARTS, dedicated pensioner activist
A MAN OF PRINCIPLE
"To boldly go..."
It is with sadness and regret that FAC announces the death of Ken Arts, chairman of Barrow & Furness Pensioners' Association, member of Barrow Peace Council and activist member of Furness Against the Cuts.


 Ken belonged to that rare breed of human being - a person of principle, of selfless dedication and quiet determination yet who was not averse to taking to task with dogged persistence the 'important' and the 'self-inflated' leaders of this community.  He constantly sought the truth and gleefully exposed the liars and hypocrites.  His contribution to the task of working for a fairer and more just society will be sorely missed by FAC, Barrow Peace Council, B&FPA and the wider community.  We send our heartfelt condolences to his wife, Margie,(secretary of B&FPA) and his son, Keir.


Ken and Margie provided consistent support in the early campaigns, promoting the People's Charter to defend jobs, pensions, our Welfare State and our National Health Service a full year before the establishment of Furness Against the Cuts. They then joined the Steering Group of FAC. Margie has vowed to continue her work in B&FPA and FAC.


We are pleased the local paper, NW Evening Mail, printed Margie's moving tribute to her late husband in an article by reporter Molly Lynch in its edition of Saturday 1st October. 
www.nwemail.co.uk


Ken's last campaign, Dalton Road, Barrow Sat 27 August    


The value of life lies not in the length of days but in the use you make of them; he has lived for a long time who has little lived. Whether you have lived enough depends not on the number of years but on your will.
MONTAIGNE 1533 - 1592

















Sunday, 25 September 2011

WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON?

WHERE DO YOU STAND?
SHOW YOUR HAND!
America, Japan, and the European countries are in crisis, so we are informed.  It is indeed a crisis for the members of the population who are not billionaires or even multi-millionaires and now see their jobs being threatened, benefits being slashed or stopped altogether, and services upon which we rely for our health and wellbeing being sold off to the highest private bidder who is in it to make a fortune for the shareholders.  The need for profit placed before the needs of people.


Several Furness people will be attending the TUC organised march past the Conservative Party's conference in Manchester as detailed in the poster above.  Sadly, the Furness contingent has not been organised by Barrow Trades Union Council, Ulverston Trades Union Council, or any of the unions in Cumbria and will travel to Manchester by car.  It is also sad that the Trade Union Congress has organised this event yet it is studiously and collectively ignored by local trade unions and their members, leaving it up to a few individuals to use their own initiative and act independently.  
I cannot think of a better example than this to illustrate the degree of universal union apathy in Furness in particular and Cumbria in general.


Bearing in mind that trade unionists are supposed to be the most 'class' and politically savvy members of the general population, then it follows the level of political understanding possessed by the vast majority of the general population here in Furness must be close to zero because, if trade union members don't 'get it', what hope is there for ordinary members of the public?


But efforts are being made to encourage people to join together to consider the options - to take action to resist the cuts or to roll over and take what comes.  It is here that everyone has a choice: what's yours going to be?  Before you decide, have a look at the following and listen.
*Michael Moore Joins Labor Protests: "America Is Not Broke" - YouTube
then look at
*pete seeger which side are you on - YouTube
finally, have a look at
*Labor Day - Solidarity Forever - YouTube
*Please note - these are not links. You'll have to log in to YouTube then enter each one in the search box.  The usual 'link' facility works but the videos are listed as 'unavailable' when clicked on - which is why you will have to go to YouTube to see/download them.


Given that the agent of our MP has announced John Woodcock will not be present at the 6th October public meeting (no reason provided) and that neither will any local trade union representative it is reasonable to ask of them "Which side are you on?"  Are they on the side of the bankers and financiers who have, aided and abetted by New Labour and encouraged by the ConDem government, returned to their seats to play 'casino economics' once again  (with OUR money!), or are they on the side of those who did nothing to cause the economic crisis: workers, the young, the elderly, the sick and disabled and the unemployed?  Keeping your head down and muttering about how awful things are is not acceptable.
           "WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON?"

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

SPREADING THE WORD

The printed poster is not tilted like this!     
PUBLICISING THE PUBLIC MEETING OF 6TH OCTOBER
http://www.myspace.com/floggingmolly
If you click on this link you will open the official Flogging Molly myspace page. On 'music', scroll down to Float and hover on the 'play' symbol (white triangle on a black disc). Click on this to start the song.  I selected this because it was this song - especially the chorus - that gave me the idea for the slogan on the poster.  But now back to work......
OOPS!  Last digits on phone number should be 1405
Error corrected on distributed posters.


SOME LIBDEMS ARE REVOLTING
I do not like those who sit on the fence or those who are 'two faced' because they are untrustworthy; this is why I have never liked the LibDems.  Now, however, there is not much to choose between them and the Labour Party which also advocates cuts to 'solve' the economic crisis.


Interestingly, at the very recent LibDem conference, retired GP Charles West used the same 'boat' metaphor as I have used on the poster (except he called it a 'ship')  Described as one of the leaders of the grassroot opposition to the NHS reforms, Dr West declared that LibDem inspired amendments to the Health Bill were merely changes in words rather than substance.  He then called the bill "a leaky ship" and said "I'm worried that the ship will sink and that the NHS will sink with it, and if our name is on that ship we will go down as well." concluding "And, friends, we deserve to."  Anyway, he wasn't the only delegate raising concerns about the bill but to read more see the report by H. Mulholland, political reporter, guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 21st September.  Not that such concerns were of any consequence because the LibDem leadership denied delegates a vote on a specific motion relating to the bill.  Well, that democracy for you, eh?


And this at a time when we are being informed by really knowledgeable financial specialists that Europe is on the brink of an economic disaster. William Keegan, in last Sunday's Observer newspaper, actually used the word 'catastrophe'. "The British economy is on the verge of an economic and social catastrophe. So is our principal export market, the eurozone." (If you don't know who William Keegan is - look him up!)


Locally, our NW Evening Mail provides a couple of snippets - another group is holding a meeting at The Forum on the 6th October, but in the morning. 'Moving Forward for a Healthy Future in Furness' will provide people with an update on developments in the NHS.  The event will also provide people with information about locality commissioning and public health, and give them an opportunity to discuss important issues that will help to shape the future of health care in Furness.
And a new chairman has been chosen for the NHS trust which runs Cumbria's community, dental and mental health services.  Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust has appointed Mike Taylor to the position and he will work alongside the current post holder, Bryan Betterton (who is retiring), until his term starts in November.  We are informed Mr Taylor has leadership experience across the private, public and voluntary sectors, including a lengthy career with Shell in the UK and overseas.  He should be able to manage a privatised NHS, then.