anti-cuts

Latest Songs from Josiah Mortimer Acoustic

For the past few months I’ve been busy with uni work, writing, deciding what to do with my life after university, and recording my new EP with Rack Mount Records (a new little independent label based in York). I’ve continued to record from home though and have a few new tracks, two of them political and one of them just, you know, about life. (The new EP by the way may be coming in two parts over the next few months – keep your eyes peeled).

The latest is ‘The Ballad of a New Luddite’, a message to abandon the superficiality and technological-dependence of the modern age. I’m as guilty as the rest of us, but hopefully it still rings true.

Next is my first attempt at writing a vaguely amusing tune, called ‘No Laughing Matter’. The topic should be pretty obvious – namely the government’s outright privatisation agenda. Hope you like.

Finally, another call to arms – ‘Hell in a Handcart’. Rough recording, but you get the picture.

In terms of gigs, make sure to come to the launch party of Rack Mount Records on the 18th January. Should be a cracking night at Gibsons in York. I’ll also be holding a launch gig for my new EP when its out. Watch this space.

If you missed my last post about new songs, you can still view it here – wp.me/p1b7Z1-b3, and don’t forget to visit my SoundCloud page with all my stuff on to hear and download for free – soundcloud.com/josiah-mortimer. I’m also, inevitably, on Facebook. Have a gander/like.

Alex Phillips for Green Party Deputy Leader

With the news this Thursday that Alex Phillips, a Hove Green councillor and former co-chair of the Young Greens, is standing for deputy leader, the party has been given an excellent opportunity to broaden its reach – to the millions of people who are realising that Tory cuts aren’t working and that Labour’s won’t either, to the millions of Northerners taken for granted by a complacent opposition and to anti-cuts activists across the country who a looking for a viable left-wing party.

Alex is an eco-socialist. This is key to keeping the Greens firmly rooted where we should be – on the left, where there is a huge political space at the moment. I saw Alex speak at conference earlier this year and she spoke with conviction and principle, traits reflected in her stance on the Brighton budget.

Her campaign website can be viewed here – http://www.alexfordeputy.org.uk/index.html (you can sign up to support the campaign too) – and contains her main platforms – to listen to grassroots members, a key public figure, to refuse to retreat to our environmental comfort zone in the media but talk about social issues, and to grow the party so we can be a party capable of engaging a passionate activist base to win elections.

Fighting for working-people has led to a huge growth in membership since Caroline Lucas became leader, and Alex looks set to continue this, while at the same time ‘broadening our supporter base’.

Central to her suitability for the post for me is her concern with the public perception that we are a middle-class party. This needs to change, but it can only do so if we recruit working class people – and more than that, encourage working-class people to stand and speak both in the party and in the public domain. As Alex puts it on her site, ‘we still struggle with the perception that we are a white, middle-class, heterosexual party. This can only change if we truly broaden the range of voices voters hear’.

It’s a point that can’t be laboured too much. We have to be seen as a party for a North which has been betrayed, and for working-class people in the South who are fed up with a Tory/Lib Dem false dichotomy (writing as someone who’s lived in Cornwall for much of my life). With a Lib Dem vote collapse, we can’t leave it to the Tories or Labour to pick up those lost voters.

A Green Party with a proud socialist deputy leader would inspire the generation radicalised by the austerity agenda, and could not a real dent in the consensus, whether it’s full on caustic cuts or Labour’s ‘caring cuts’. Let’s grasp the chance to pick such a deputy.

Though Alex is the first declared candidate, and without wanting to speak to soon, she’d be an excellent figurehead to develop strategies for the Greens to build and to escape our comfort zones and public perceptions. Nominations only officially open on June the 1st, but already I think I know who I’ll be supporting. The unofficial campaigning begins now. Twitter and online hustings may prove decisive.

On a side note – the party’s constitution requires that we have a male/female split between leader and deputy. Does this clear the way then for Adrian Ramsay and his (probable) bid for leader?

Unions get behind alternative resistance

After appearing to settle down after March 26th’s half a million strong ‘march for the alternative’, the anti-cuts movement has been boosted in Britain in recent weeks by some hugely encouraging developments within the unions, flying in the face of those who wish to marginalise organised workers in the campaign.

Unions have found new ways to tackle attacks on the public sector in the past few months – and now PCS civil servants union and the TSSA transport union have agreed to join in ‘non-violent resistance’ to the sweeping austerity being imposed on the UK and Europe as a whole.

The TSSA at its conference on Friday passed a resolution to encourage ‘participation in non-violent resistance activities in conjunction with others such as trade unions, trades councils, the People’s Charter, the Coalition of Resistance and local community organisations’.

This follows the PCS union just a month or so ago voting to ‘fully support the protests and peaceful civil disobedience tactics used by the grassroots campaigners UK Uncut’. Members are being encouraged to join the demonstrations – Cornwall has its own action in Camelford on the 10th June and it is hoped that members in the area will attend.

These developments are not purely symbolic or ‘muscle flexing’. The PCS represents over 300,000 workers. Such a mandate of support can go a long way at countering the emerging stigma against anti-cuts action following demonstrations over the past year.

Even the NUS is getting in on the conference season’s radical policy changes, declaring (albeit quietly) on the 17th of May its opposition to ‘Israel’s siege on Gaza and actively campaign for it to be lifted in accordance with international law’. This is a big shift from the NUS policy of 2008 which refused to condemn Israel’s siege on Gaza which killed 1400 Palestinian civilians.

Yes, motions like these are passed and some perhaps ignored every year. But they highlight real moves towards unity and solidarity which have been missing for a long time. And the PCS decision led to one of UK Uncut’s strongest Days of Action of the year.

Cornwall Resolves to Move the Anti-Cuts Campaign Forward

Local campaigners, workers and trade unionists came together on the 28th April to hear speakers from different sectors speak out against the cuts, and unanimously resolve  to oppose them as well as resist privatisation in Cornwall.

Around 50 attended the meeting – and it most certainly was not a ‘same-old-faces’ event.

Stuart Fegan, the senior organiser at GMB in Plymouth, came down to talk about the general attacks on working-people, and gave his solidarity from the Anti-Cuts Alliances in Devon (Torbay, Exeter and North Devon). From further afield was Steve Ryan, a PCS group secretary who travelled from Wales to speak about the biggest cuts since the 1930s, and speak about the positive alternatives to public sector axing – clamping down on tax dodging, taxing the rich more, scrapping Trident and withdrawing from Afghanistan.

Education was a key theme as it faces some of the largest cuts in Cornwall. 31 schools have confirmed redundancies for this year, while many are being forced to become Academies over funding fears, taking them out of local authority control.

One particularly uplifting theme was that of support for those who are going on strike over the slashing of pensions and jobs in colleges, schools and universities. The NUT will be striking on June 30th, and other unions are considering strike action; ATL, PCS and the UCU. In total potentially more than 10,000 could strike in Cornwall on that day if the ballots are successful.

I spoke about how Cornwall Anti-Cuts Alliance was founded, and the anger of students over the Lib Dem betrayal. Further Education faces 25% cuts so is particularly at risk from these cuts. Cornwall is obviously already a deprived area, making the scrapping of EMA, tripling of uni fees, abolition of the Aim Higher scheme and huge rises in transport costs brutal.

Surprisingly, calls for a general strike were welcomed, but the GMB Rep made clear it had to be part of a rolling campaign in order to be successful. March the 26th inspired thousands to take the campaign back to their hometowns.

We’ve seen positive developments over the past few months. A new anti-cuts group has just been founded (Liskeard Against The Cuts leaflet) linked to the main Cornwall-wide group. An NHS action is planned for Truro on the 14th May. The day before will see Camelford’s first UK Uncut action on Nat West. And there’s plenty more on the way from Cornwall ACA, with new unions affiliating all the time. The meeting was a great official start and has brought in fresh momentum.

Here are the resolutions and mission statement passed by the meeting –

RESOLUTION

It is proposed that everyone at this meeting:

  • Condemns the cuts as unnecessary, regressive and unfair

  • Will campaign to protest public services and jobs

  • Urges the government to crack down on tax dodging by the rich and to invest in job creation

  • Calls on the government to stop the privatisation of vital services, including the NHS and the Post Office

MISSION STATEMENT

Cornwall Anti-Cuts Alliance pledges to oppose and campaign against the cuts in our work places, through our trade unions and in alliance with other trade unions. We support those taking industrial action against the cuts and will offer help and solidarity to those involved. We will seek to build partnerships between community organisations and unions in Cornwall to strengthen our community’s fight against the cuts and loss of public services including the NHS.

Cornwall Anti-Cuts Alliance will expand its campaigning by building local committees in as many towns as possible to support local resistance and put maximum pressure on Cornwall’s MPs and councillors to oppose government cuts.

We will campaign, march, rally and protest in our communities, in public, and in all places where we can get our message across – that the profiteers and tax dodgers should pay for the crisis they created, not the ordinary people who are being made to suffer.

Putting the Anti-Cuts Election Pledge to Use – Cornwall in 2013…

North Devon Anti-Cuts Alliance rather helpfully share a fantastic idea on their site – a pledge for council candidates to sign to say they will not vote through cuts or privatisation, and will campaign against these strongly. Of course, we’ve seen broken pledges from Lib Dem ranks, but it’s somewhat easier (perhaps) to hold local councillors to account than MPs 300 or so miles away.

With the unitary elections coming up in 2013 – a long way a way, but parties are already lining up candidates  – now would be a good time to start pressuring potential – and sitting – councillors in Cornwall to sign this pledge and reject Con-Dem cuts from Westminster. For Cornwall to reject these cuts in 2013 would be a massive step forward for the county (or country, for you Mebyon Kernow members). North Devon Anti-Cuts Alliance have already got around 11 candidates to sign the pledge, and it was organised no more than a few months ago. With a couple of years preparation, anti-cuts campaigners on this side of the Thamar could start a similar process of lobbying council candidates to defend local communities. Arguably most surprisingly, one of those who have signed the pledge is standing for UKIP. Sign of the times?

Anti-Cuts Election Pledge

If elected as a councillor, I pledge to:

Oppose by all possible means, all cuts to council jobs and services – rejecting the claim that ‘some cuts’ are necessary to our services. This will include:

  • Rejecting above inflation increases in council tax, rent and service charges to compensate for government cuts.
  • Voting against the privatisation or outsourcing of council services • Campaigning to use all the legal powers available to councils, to oppose both the cuts and government policies which impose the transfer of public services to private bodies.
  • Campaigning for councils to initially use reserves and prudential borrowing powers to avoid passing on cuts, and to help mobilise a mass campaign locally to defeat the cuts and set a budget that meets the needs of the local community, demanding that the government makes up the shortfall.
  • Make strenuous efforts to link local authorities who are willing to fight together to oppose the cuts.

‘How the cuts will hurt you – and how to fight them’

Cornwall Anti-Cuts Alliance are hosting a public meeting on the 28th April about the effect the cuts in Cornwall will have on our communities. As the name implies, the event will also aim at building the campaign in Cornwall against these cuts. We’ve seen in recent months news of hundreds of job losses at Treliske, the near closure of the youth centre in Mullion, around 700 jobs to be lost at Cornwall Council and dozens of other cases of ordinary people being made to pay for a crisis they didn’t cause.

Several local trade union leaders will be speaking, as well as local students. That includes myself (no, I’m not asking you to come because of that!); Lynsey Smith from Tremough Campus will be talking about the cuts to Higher Education, and I’ll be talking about  cuts to Further Education nationally. The meeting is the first of its sort in Cornwall (aside from the recent Academy debate in Falmouth) so should be an interesting start to the campaign. Perhaps there is even that demonstration in the pipe-line.

Please let your colleagues, comrades, student mates, councillors, friends and family know about this. It’s not one to miss. If you’re oppose to the cuts, this is a good chance to hear some prominent voices in the local anti-cuts movement and get involved in building it yourself.

It will take place at the Hall for Cornwall (Assembly Rooms), on Thursday 28th April at 7.30pm.

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I should be putting up a Facebook link for it soon. In the meantime, the details are below (from the Cornwall Anti-Cuts website) –

The meeting is being sponsored by the Cornwall branches of the CWU, NUT and PCS. The theme of the meeting is “HOW THE CUTS WILL HURT YOU AND HOW TO FIGHT THEM”, and speakers from the platform to date are: representatives from the Communication Workers Union, the National Union of Teachers (CORNWALL AND ISLES OF SCILLY BRANCH) ,the PCS UNION, GMB, as well as lecturers from around Cornwall. Other speakers will represent students from Truro College and Exeter University (Tremough Campus). There will also be a speaker from Save Our NHS (Cornwall).

Cornwall ACA will happily welcome other organisations opposed to the cuts to join in. Contact Secretary Chris Gibson for more information on 01872 560 483, or c.mccarther@sky.com

May Day Festival in Plymouth – Celebrate Workers’ Day before the Tories scrap it!

Plymouth May Day Festival

From the LRC website:

Saturday 30th April 2011
11:00am to 6:00pm

Organised by Plymouth Trades Council and Plymouth Fightback Against the Cuts

Trade Unions for a Sustainable Future / Campaigning to Stop the Cuts

Trade Union Rights

 

  • May Day Procession: 12 midday, Plymouth Guildhall, Armada Way
  • Rally in the Roland Levinsky Building, Plymouth University at 1pm with John McDonnell MP
  • Campaign Stalls, Music & Film

Contact details: www.plymouth-tuc.org.uk or Tel: 01752 298834

A4 Mayday Festival Flyer

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Cornwall Anti-Cuts are thinking of having our own May Day rally, but there are a few obstacles (road closures, stewarding, march routes etc.) which need sorting out before it can be confirmed.

The Plymouth event, until then, looks like it will be a great day. Plus, you can’t go wrong with John McDonnell. Absolute hero.