Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Council Security BITE Anti-Cuts Protester

Bristol City Council Block Entry to Public as They Vote For £33m Cuts

Bristol mayor Marvin Rees addressed the Bristol City Council budget meeting yesterday, claiming “transparency is a key commitment”. Minutes later the public gallery was cleared by security staff, leaving councillors to discuss the city’s budget behind closed doors. In an unprecedented move members of the public were then cleared from City Hall altogether.

Unaccountable private security staff were again deployed by the council as an anti-cuts protest gathered outside City Hall from 5pm. Members of the public were physically blocked from entering, first at the bottom of the access ramp and then again at the door.

In a shocking incident, Bristol and District Anti-Cuts Alliance (BADACA) campaigner Mike Luff was bitten by security staff as he tried to gain access to the meeting. The violent attack drew blood and the victim was later treated in hospital. 

Complaints will be followed up against the council. This attempt to undermine the democratic right to protest will not be tolerated.

BADACA spokesperson Tom Baldwin said:
We saw disgraceful behaviour from Bristol City Council last night. This was not just a vicious assault on one individual, it was an attack on local democracy and on the right to protest. Councillors and the mayor are supposed to represent the people of this city, it is our right to witness the discussions and decisions that they are making. If Marvin Rees claims that he must make these cuts then he should be upfront and honest about the process, not hiding behind closed doors and hired thugs.
Disgusting as the biting incident was, the most violent act committed that night took place inside the council chamber itself. The budget passed contains £33m cuts, as part of over £100m being cut in the next few years. Councillors have voted to devastate services that many Bristolians rely on.”

BADACA Pledges That 'The Fight Goes On' as Bristol City Council pass cuts budget.
The huge cuts laid out in the budget passed last night (Tuesday 21st February) by Bristol City Council are not acceptable to the people of Bristol. We hear the excuses from the Labour Party that they have no alternative and the Tory government made them do it. But if this is really true, then why do we even bother electing local politicians?

As we set out in our petition, signed by 456 people, which we presented to the budget meeting yesterday, Labour councils could legally choose to use reserves & prudential borrowing to suspend the cuts and joint the fight for more money. A united campaign of ordinary people, anti-austerity groups, the trade unions and Labour councils would put huge pressure on the Tory government to capitulate and properly fund local government. Surrey County Council have proved that central government can be pressurised into providing more money and we will continue to campaign for the Labour Party to adopt this policy rather than destroying the services that hold our city together.

BADACA Organising Secretary, Matthew Carey said, “It is a tragedy that the Labour Party has chosen to pass this budget enabling them to move towards huge cuts to vital services in Bristol. But for BADACA, the fight goes on! We will fight every step of the way to defend voluntary sector services, bus services, libraries, Neighbourhood Partnerships, public toilets, Customer Service Points, meals on wheels, care services, children's centres, leisure centres and all other threatened services as detailed proposals are put forward by the council.”

200 March Against Bristol Council Cuts

200 people marched through Bristol in a demonstration called by the Bristol and District Anti-Cuts Alliance (BADACA). They were out to defend jobs and services and oppose the draconian cuts being made by Bristol City Council. 

Socialist Party members Tom, Sheila, Sue and Roger addressed the demonstration, see their speeches below. 

For more photos and videos of the demonstration go to the BADACA facebook page. 

See other recent posts on this site for more about the cuts and how they can be stopped.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Stop £101m Cuts to Bristol City Council!

£101m cuts are due to be voted on by Bristol City Council on Tuesday 21st February. We don't yet know the full details of what these mean - most of them come under vague headings of "rethinking" or "restructure". However what we do know indicates that these cuts will devastate many vital local services. Libraries will be sold off, public toilets will close, as will all council advice centres other than Temple Street. Less will be spent on adult education, arts, swimming and busses. There will be £1m cut from the Crisis and Prevention Fund. Charges will also be rising for things as varied as dementia care, museum admission and residents' parking schemes. See below for a full list of the cuts, events coming up to oppose them and for comment on how they can be beaten. 

A full list of the cuts proposals so far can be found on the Bristol Post website.

Stopping Council Cuts - Socialist Party public meeting
Tuesday 7th February, 7.30pm
Malcolm X Centre, 141 City Road, BS2 8YH
At this meeting we will be discussing how council cuts can be stopped and hearing from Nick Chaffey from Southampton's people's budget campaign.

Bristol and District Anti-Cuts Alliance Demonstration
Saturday 18th February, 11am
College Green, Bristol
Join the protest the weekend before the council meets to vote on the cuts. 

Sign and share the BADACA online petition against the cuts - to be presented to the council when they meet to vote on the cuts budget. 

The Labour Party have been distributing the leaflet above, claiming to be fighting back against Tory cuts. However, while Bristol's budget is being cut by the Tories in Westminster, it is Labour mayor Marvin Rees who is passing on the cuts locally. They have been drawn up by him and his cabinet team (which includes a Tory) and it looks likely that they will be voted through by the majority Labour council. This is a disgrace, people didn't vote for a Labour mayor to get Tory cuts. Instead of handing out leaflets trying to shift the blame Labour should be building a campaign to defeat the cuts. Fighting back should start with not voting for the cuts, which undermines Jeremy Corbyn's anti-austerity message and causes more misery for the people of Bristol, especially the most vulnerable who will be hardest hit. 

We reject the claim that Labour have no choice but to make these cuts. The Socialist Party calls for a no-cuts budget based on what Bristol needs, not the cuts the Tories are demanding. This must be backed by the building of a mass campaign that can push the government back. The council has huge reserves which can be used to keep services running while such a campaign is built.

Working with the unions and anti-cuts campaigners, local people can be brought into a campaign of protests and strikes if necessary that can force the government to reverse the cuts. Linking up with other Labour councils that have been put in the same position by the Tories and are willing to fight will strengthen the campaign further. The Tories are hopelessly divided over Brexit, this is a weak government and they can be beaten. 

There is plenty of money in the country for us to be funding these vital services. Austerity is a political choice not an economic necessity. The Tories claim that there is no money for public services but have still managed to cut taxes for the super-rich. We need to stop the austerity steamroller and fight for a socialist society where the needs of ordinary people come before the profits of big business.  

Friday, 3 February 2017

Defend Our NHS - 4th March National Demonstration

Saturday 4th March 2017
12pm Tavistock Square, London.

Our NHS is under threat from Tory cuts and privatisation. This year the Red Cross have warned of humanitarian disaster in the NHS. Investment is needed for this vital institution but instead the government are cutting drastically. £22bn is being cut from the NHS in England under the secretive STP cuts. We don't yet know exactly where the £300m+ cuts in the Bristol area will hit but other areas have already announced hospital closures. The Tory government is pushing the NHS toward privatisation so their rich mates can grab a slice of the profits to be made from illness. There is already a creeping privatisation in the health service, with private companies operating at a profit to provide services behind the NHS logo. Recently Richard Branson's Virgin health company took over NHS contracts worth £700m in the Bath area. 
This national demonstration is vital, we must send the message loud and clear:
Save our NHS! No cuts, no closures, no privatisation!

Coach tickets from Bristol can either be booked via Unison or UNITE Trade Unions (non-members welcome) or The People's Assembly:
Unison Area Health Branch:
Tel: 07813142832

UNITE Bristol Area Health Branch:
Tel: 07983233908

(UNITE and Unison both free for members with a £5 returnable deposit or £10 charge for non-members)

The People's Assembly at a cost of £6-£10 at:

Further information about the demo can be found at:

Below an NHS nurse and Socialist Party member explains why they are going on the march:

We're seeing almost daily headlines announcing the NHS is in crisis. From overstretched A&Es, to patients left on trolleys, to staff morale being at an all-time low - our NHS is at breaking point.

The Tories' empty promises in 2010 that the NHS was 'safe in their hands' have been broken time and time again. A real time pay cut of 25% since 2010 has left some NHS staff relying on food banks. Our commitment to caring for our patients is continuously exploited. The jokes about nurses going whole shifts without time for a toilet break are becoming an increasing reality.

We're seeing mass privatisation of services - including those on the frontline. Proposed closures of hospitals, specialist services and A&Es are provoking thousands to go onto the streets in disgust.

The future is one of either fight or be trampled. The mood is gathering among health workers to come down firmly on the side of fighting back. The inspirational struggle of the junior doctors has given confidence to others in the NHS.

The campaign against the pay freeze is now to be debated in parliament after an online petition hit over 100,000 signatures. Despite the attacks from the right-wing media aiming to undermine faith in the NHS, working class people still see it as the jewel in the crown. And despite massive cuts, staff still deliver an overwhelmingly good quality of care.

The national demonstration on 4 March is vital. It's a chance to bring together the hundreds of local campaigns across the country into the national spotlight. It's a chance to show the government that we will fight for our health service.

I'll be marching to defend the NHS for the working class today and for future generations. I'll be marching because NHS workers deserve more than a continuous pay freeze and because the patients I and other NHS workers care for deserve better.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Dump Trump - No Ban, No Wall!

The huge anti-Trump rally in Bristol, 30th Jan.

Around 3000 of people poured onto College Green in Bristol on Monday night to protest Donald Trump's racist immigration policies. Organised at just two days notice the protest was a resounding 'no' to his border wall and Muslim ban and to Theresa May's 'hand in hand' relationship with him. Rivers of predominantly young people quickly turned the green to mud. Speakers included Labour mayor Marvin Rees (before he returned to the Council House to put forward £100m of cuts). Socialist Party members were swamped by the sheer number of people arriving and wanting to find out more about how to defeat Trump and everything he stands for, all the leaflets we had were taken. 

There is another anti-Trump demonstration:
Sat 4th Feb, 12.30pm, Fountains, Bristol City Centre

See below for Socialist Party comment on defeating Trump.

"We saw the real power of the 99% last night at many airports around the nation. We can build a movement to defeat Trump. Let's turn 1 May into a national day of protest against Trump. We need to shut down the highways, the airports, the workplaces, peacefully but defiantly".

These were the words of Kshama Sawant, a council member in Seattle for Socialist Alternative (US co-thinkers of the Socialist Party), when speaking to a massive demonstration at Sea-Tac airport.

Trump's vile racist ban on the rights of millions of people from seven Muslim-majority countries to travel to the US has been met with a mighty movement of US workers and young people. Demonstrations at the airports have been combined with strike action by taxi drivers.

The New York Taxi alliance organised a one-hour strike, declaring: "Our 19,000-member-strong union stands firmly opposed to Donald Trump's Muslim ban. As an organisation whose membership is largely Muslim, a workforce that is almost universally immigrant, and a working-class movement that is rooted in the defence of the oppressed, we say no to this inhumane and unconstitutional ban."

There is no 'honeymoon' for this president of the 1%. His appointment of a billionaires' cabinet has already exposed the cynical claims he made to anti-establishment credentials. This is despite the obvious discomfort felt by sections of the American elite about his 'maverick' character.

Already he is trying to push through a series of reactionary, pro-big business attacks. Among the most prominent are plans to deport millions of people, cancel funding for Planned Parenthood, and end state funded healthcare coverage for low-income families. Also in the pipeline are new limitations to workers' and trade union rights, escalating attacks on the environment and a bonanza of tax-cuts for corporate America.

Biggest protests ever

But if Trump thought he would have plain sailing he is already discovering otherwise. The demonstrations in the US on the day after his inauguration were the biggest in US history. Now we have the protests against the travel ban. These are the gathering forces that have the potential to stop Trump in his tracks.

And it is not just in the US that ordinary people are out on the streets. Worldwide we are taking to the streets. His presidency not only poses a threat to working class and oppressed communities in the States, but to people all over the world. That is why resistance to Trump must not be confined to America. An injury to one is an injury to all.

Socialists in the US were among the first to call action to oppose Trump's presidency. Within 24 hours of his election win, Socialist Alternative made a call which brought over 40,000 people onto the streets. It is in the tradition of the socialist movement that working class people stand together across borders. The US election showed that we cannot rely on capitalist politicians to hold back the rise of reactionary and bigoted figures and parties.

Even before his election, polls showed Trump to be the most hated presidential candidate in the whole of US electoral history. Only 26% of the eligible voting population endorsed him at the ballot box. It was not enthusiasm for Trump, but profound disillusionment with the political establishment, that allowed him to pull off this unlikely victory. Hillary Clinton - the candidate of Wall Street - decisively failed to offer voters a break from the rotten status quo.

Socialist alternative needed

The huge enthusiasm generated by Bernie Sanders - a self-proclaimed 'democratic socialist' - showed the enormous thirst that exists in the US for an alternative to big business politicians. That's why Socialist Alternative called for Bernie to continue his run for president when he failed to win the Democratic nomination.

Seattle councillor Kshama Sawant - who led a successful struggle for a $15 minimum wage - was among the most prominent figures to call on Sanders to resist the pressure to fall in line behind Clinton. Had Bernie done so, it could have transformed the landscape of US politics, completely undercutting Trump's support. What's more, it could have helped lay the foundations for the creation of a mass party of the 99%.

But despite this missed opportunity, there remains huge potential for new forces to be built. It is only by building a political alternative that the basis for Trumpism can be well and truly undermined.

The task of building a mass party for the 99% is not unique to the US. Here in Britain, the election of Jeremy Corbyn to the leadership of Labour showed a deep desire for a break with the pro-capitalist politics that has dominated the mainstream parties for decades.

But while Corbyn has been twice elected as leader, the majority of the party's MPs, councillors and bureaucratic machinery remain wedded to the pro-austerity politics of the past. Unless there is a concerted fight to defeat the Blairites, this opportunity to transform Labour into a party that stands up for working class people risks being lost.

Bristol Police Taser Their Own Race Relations Adviser

The Justice for Judah meeting called in response to the incident.

Footage of police in Bristol tasering an innocent black man has made news around the world. The attack was even more shocking because the victim, Judah Adunbi, was a prominent member of the police's race relations group.
The video, captured by a neighbour, shows the 63-year-old being confronted by police with their taser already drawn. They had the wrong person, but threatened to arrest him when he legally refused to give his name.
Officers blocked him from his own back gate, pushed him back and tasered him, causing him to fall to the ground. He had to be taken to hospital and was then held by police for ten hours.
Unbelievably, the victim was charged with assaulting a police officer despite video evidence showing the opposite. The person filming accurately countered police claims: "He wasn't trying to fight... you started it. You both made physical contact first."
The charges have now been dropped. Mr Adunbi was also attacked by police in 2007, and was clear that this was a racist incident.
Sadly, statistics show institutional racism still exists within the police. Avon and Somerset Constabulary's own figures show officers are twice as likely to fire tasers on oppressed racial groups once drawn.
Nationally, black and Asian people are almost three times as likely to be stopped and searched as white people, according to Home Office data from last year.
The Black Lives Matter movement that erupted in the US following police murders of black people has been taken up in this country as well. The anti-Trump protest in Bristol showed its support, stopping outside a police station chanting: "No justice, no peace! No racist police!"
We need to fight for democratic community control of police policy and hiring to start to address institutional racism in the police.

Report of Justice for Judah meeting

Around 200 people crammed into a meeting in St Pauls, Bristol, on 28 January to discuss the horrendous tasering of a police race relations group member Judah Adunbi.

There was a feeling of anger at what had happened and a desire to achieve justice for Judah but it didn't stop there. Speaker after speaker from the floor talked of personal experiences of injustice and that enough was enough. Action needs to be taken to ensure this stops now.

A campaign has been formed by the community, and Avon and Somerset police are in the spotlight. Further meetings and events are set to be arranged to highlight the case and the racist policing. The elected police commissioner, Sue Mountstevens, sat silently throughout the meeting, declining the opportunity to comment.

Bristol mayor Marvin Rees spoke to highlight the racial nature of the problem but declined to indicate how £101 million of cuts to council services are likely to make things better.

This when a recent report from the Roundtree Foundation indicates that Bristol is one of the most unequal cities, with the BME population trailing behind in job opportunities, health, and social access.

Centenary of the Russian Revolution 1917

The Committee for a Workers' International, the international organisation that the Socialist Party is part of have launched a new website to mark the centenary of the 1917 Russian Revolution. Led by the Bolsheviks workers took power in a country for the first time and began to try and build a socialist society. Keep an eye on the website throughout the year for articles on the events of 1917 and analysis of how the Soviet Union later degenerated into Stalinism.