Irish politics seems miles apart from English politics…for one us paddies seem to swear more but it is still possible for us to learn a lot from the Irish Greens experience and hopefully prevent a re-run. This March 11th will see Ireland elect a new government but there is a possibility of the election being called even before that. The election will be the final nail in the coffin of both the Irish Green and Fianna Fail parties.
The Irish Greens experience of being a minor player in a coalition government with a Goliath right wing party(sound familiar my Liberal friends?) is not likely to be repeated here by GPEW(Green Party of England and Wales) but just encase it’s important that we learn from their mistakes. What is striking is the complete unmasking of the mantra ‘we are not left nor right we’re Green’. This mantra left the Irish Greens very open to going into a coalition with a party that didn’t share it’s own core values, couple that with the voting power imbalance and the demise of the Irish Greens with hindsight seems inevitable. I would feel more cautious about criticising the Irish Greens if most of the membership hadn’t already left in disgust at the perceived ‘selling-out’ of their party leadership. The Greens in government sided with the establishment on issues such as the banking bailout, Tara and Shell to Sea and they also made very little headway with getting policies implemented this in turn alienated it’s core vote with the polls predicting a kicking for them in the next election.
Hugo Blanco was one of the key figures in the peasant uprisings in Peru during the sixties, he was imprisoned and sentenced to death but later thanks to a very high-profile international campaign was released to Sweden. The international solidarity campaign included Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, and Bertrand Russell….a bit before my time but very impressive all the same. After years in exile he returned to Peru, founded the Workers Revolutionary Party(over there they seem a lot saner than the very odd WRP UK factions) and he became a Peruvian senator.
More recently he was involved with a massive and successful direct action campaign with indigenous groups, helping them preserve the rain forests from huge transnational logging companies. Hugo Blanco is currently Director of a Cusco-based newspaper called Lucha Indígena. In October we are lucky enough to have him visit Manchester and he will be speaking at MMU as part of a Green Left/Socialist Resistance tour of the UK. I am really looking forward to meeting the man I have heard being referred to as the Peruvian Ecosocialist Che Guevara!
Morning Star article on Hugo Blanco
The Peterloo Massacre Anniversary Rally went very well today. For those of you not in the know(a year or 2 ago had to look it up myself) it is basically Manchester’s Tienanmen Square.The Peterloo Massacre also erroneusly called the Battle of Peterloo occurred at St Peter’s Field, Manchester(now GMEX) on 16 August 1819, when cavalry charged into a crowd of roughly 80,000 people who had gathered to demand the reform of parliamentary representation. Today to commemorate the anniversary people came routes Hulme, Oldham, Middleton and Stockport, and rallied at the original location of the massacre with replica banners, to demand that the proposed memorial in St Peter’s Square is one that truly reflects the nature of the event. The Peterloo memorial campaign is insisting the design is ‘prominent, informative and respectful, one that breaks the long tradition of whitewashing the memory of this crucial event’. The campaign group is currently running an independent(of the the council) design competition for members of the public to submit their ideas for what the memorial should be. the organisers want the chosen design to act as a resource for the decision making process, as a benchmark for what can be done, as a democratic input into the process, and as inspiration for artists seeking to create the finished piece. It’s called the ‘PETERLOO MEMORIAL DESIGN COMPETITION’
For updates: http://freesoascleaners.blogspot.com/
Open Letter to the Independant, Observer and Sunday Times
FWD by: Joseph Healy, Green Party Trade Unions Group
We are appalled at the actions of the immigration services, who with the aid of facilities contractors ISS conducted an early morning raid of SOAS recently. Nine cleaners were accused of working without valid documentation and are now being held pending their likely deportation from the UK.Neither the contractors nor the university authorities had any problem with employing migrant labour with or without valid work permits so long as lecture theatres were cleaned at low rates and ISS were making sufficient profits.
The crime these mainly Latin American workers seem to have committed is to have campaigned for, and won, the London Living Wage and their union rights. In fact ISS had signed a union recognition agreement with Unison last week. Unison members struck solidly last month in protest at the sacking of cleaner and union activist Jose Stalin Bermudez.
Evidence suggests that SOAS Management colluded with ISS and the immigration services to allow this shameful episode to happen and we believe that the raid took place to send a message to other groups of workers who may have been encouraged by the success of the Living Wage campaigns.We demand an amnesty for all migrant workers in Britain.
Signed by (incl):Tony Benn, Jeremy Corbyn MP, John McDonnell MP, Sandy Nicholl SOAS UNISON, Graham Dyer SOAS UNISON, Marya Ahmed SOAS Co-PresidentElly James SOAS Women’s Officer, Clare Solomon Former SOAS Co-President, James Haywood NUS, Matheson NUS NEC,Pat Carmody CWU P&B Section Secretary
There will be a demo at the main steps of SOAS tomorrow (Monday) at 8.30am, protesting against the arrest and impending deportation of 9 SOAS staff.
The next few paragraphs will discuss the issues that I, and the political liason for the Green Left Andy Hewitt feel about the newly formed NO2EU-Yes to Democracy slate which has been put forward as the Left alternative in the upcoming Euro elections…..
Climate change is the biggest threat to the international working class yet the no2eu platform singularly fails to formulate any policy to tackle this. No2EU only mention environmental issues when claiming that migrant workers are bad for the environment. This in itself highlights the nationalist tone of the no2eu platform contradictory to any claim they may have to be representative of international workers solidarity. The nationalistic tone of the literature and the policy platform is quite vulgar, and although it may be argued that this is to divert votes from the BNP, to borrow straight from the BNP copybook in stirring up nationalistic sentiment is giving the BNP agenda recognition and kudos. The no2eu strap line is “it’s a Black and White Issue” is loaded with racial overtones.
By standing candidates in a rushed and ill-prepared manner could be damaging to the work done by the UAF and the anti-fascist movement, and by taking potential votes from other parties in direct competition with BNP for seats could allow the fascists to win in the PR system.Organisations which have decided to support No2EU have done so with a number of reservations about the nature of the platform, including the nationalistic element of its policies.
The claim to be a democratic organisation is confounded by the apparent lack of democratic process in organising and in selecting candidates. As they don’t exist in a party format there is no accountability to any membership, instead all decisions appear to be taken by a small self selected committee, indeed there appears to have been an absolute lack of consultation with RMT branches and grass roots members in entering into this arrangement, and little in the way of democratic decision making involving the RMT membership. However, at least £45,000 of their political fund has been used to fund the campaign.There is a legitimate case to be made for criticising the democratic deficit in the European Parliament, however it is also worth considering that 90% of British Environmental legislation comes from Europe, for which our Green MEPs have worked long and hard, and 50-60% of domestic legislation comes from Europe.
The British Government continues to opt out of legislation which is existent to protect and benefit the working class, for example opting out of the Working Time Directive allowing capitalist exploitation of its workers for the benefit of business. This is an example of a piece of legislation from Europe which is of benefit to workers across Europe, but ignored by various Governments who only seek to enforce the neoliberal aspects of social and economic policy. By not taking up their seats if they were elected, and not fighting for change and enacting NO2EU candidates are singularly failing to represent the interests of the working class whom they claim to champion in ensuring that their interests are fought for when legislation is drawn up.
The original Green Party Trade Union motion endorsed by Green Left:
GPTU is disappointed by the decision of the RMT to stand candidates in the forthcoming Euro elections. We had hoped for RMT support for a coherent environmental plan, including an ecologically sustainable public and publicly owned transport system. We fear that the current RMT electoral platform does not offer this within the context of a sensible political program and may have damaging consequences such as splitting votes and allowing the election of far right racist candidates, or endangering the seats of green Euro MPs who have a very good record of promoting workers’ rights in Europe.In spite of this GPTU will continue to actively support the RMT’s legitimate Trade Union activities and it’s campaigning for an ecologically sustainable public and publicly owned transport system, but we cannot currently advise a vote for RMT candidates, which would currently be a wasted and dangerous vote.