Thursday, 24 February 2011

Bedminster Against the Cuts public meeting - 24th Feb 7.30pm

Thursday 24th Feb 2011
Marksbury Road Library, BS3 5LG.

Come and hear about how the cuts will affect you and discuss what we can do to stop them.

On Feb 22nd Bristol City Council will vote on £28 million of cuts in jobs and services to our city, 7% of the total budget. This includes over £7m to health and adult social care, £2.7m cut from Connexions, a career advice service for young people, over £1m from youth play & outdoor education, almost £2m from public transport and around £200k from the council's anti-drugs strategy amongst many other things. This is on top of all the cuts from national government, including the attacks on the NHS.

They want ordinary people to pay for this crisis. We say we must fight back against the cuts!

The government's U-turn on the sell-off of the forests is a small but important victory in the fight against cuts. It shows that campaigning can work, now we must stand together to fight ALL the cuts.

To find out more about opposing the cuts in Bedminster and South Bristol contact Tom at tomobaldwin{at}


Bristol & District Anti-Cuts Alliance:



Twitter: @BrisCuts

Video: Bristol Anti Cuts Demo 19th Feb 2011

BADACA: Protesters hold up Council cuts meeting


A number of anti-cuts protesters held up the Bristol City Council’s budget cuts meeting for over two hours.
As LibDem leader, Brabara Janke, rose to propose the biggest cuts in Bristol’s history: £28 million and the loss of 600 jobs, protesters in the public gallery challenged her and demanded that the Council speak up for the people of Bristol.
Security guards were called and then the police. The protesters passively resisted and were dragged and carried out. One person has been charged under the 1908 Public Meetings Act – a law orginally brought in against the suffragetttes!
The mayor suspended the meeting and ordered the public gallery to be cleared. The Labour Group then refused to take their seats until the public were allowed back in so the mayor relented. Altogether the meeting was held up for two hours. Some protesters managed to get back in later on but were thrown out after trying to make points from the gallery.
An interesting feature was the reaction of the Liberal Democrat councillors. Some sat there sheepishly, trying to ignore the protest. Some thought a protest at the damage they were doing to Bristol services was funny while others got really mad and tried to argue back. They were a sorry bunch.
Congratulations to those who went along to let Bristol City councillors know what it was they were elected for, and it wasn’t to destroy our services. All through the protest, even when being manhandled by security guards and the police, they maintained their dignity, which is more than can be said for some of the LibDems.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Fightback against the cuts! Lobby Bristol City Council!

Tomorrow, 22nd February 2011, the full Bristol City Council meets to approve its cuts budget for the following year. Cuts amounting to at least £28 million will be announced and these will have a devastating effect on the people of Bristol, especially those most vulnerable who rely on services and those whose jobs will be cut. The implications for everyone will be huge. Bristol & District Anti-Cuts Alliance has organised a lobby of the Council in the afternoon and evening - starting at 1pm, with the Council meeting due to start at 2pm. Please come along and bring banners and placards. As Robin Clapp is quoted in the Bristol Evening Post"It's clear we are not 'all in this together'. We want to direct our anger in a constructive way and take heart from the U-turn over the forestry sell-off. This is a great crusade of opposition."

Petition to demand that Labour councillors stand up to the ConDem axemen

The NSSN Anti-Cuts Campaign is demanding that Labour Councils stand up against the onslaught raining down on working class communities. If any council does so we will do everything in our power to support it. But if, as Labour councils have up until now, they continue to refuse to do so and vote for cuts, then they will be lining up with the public service slashers. In the battle that is coming – with millions campaigning against the ConDem cuts – Labour councils will be on the wrong side. We will be marching to Labour's Local Government conference to present a petition, 5th March 2011. Assemble at 11am,  Geraldine Mary, Harmsworth Park, Southwark London, SE11.
Please sign it here:

Wisconsin: Build for a One-Day Public Sector General Strike!

This is  from Socialist Alternative - website of CWI supporters in the USA -
The following is text from a leaflet members of Socialist Alternative members are handing out at the mass demonstrations in Madison this weekend, urging a serious discussion on strategy and the need for an one-day public sector general strike. As similar struggles spread across the country, the burning question of what it will take to defeat the corporate agenda will come to the forefront. Drawing lessons from historical and recent international experience, and in dialogue with workers and youth in Wisconsin in recent days, this is our contribution to the discussion and proposals for urgent action. 

The Governor thought he could walk all over the working people of Wisconsin. Instead, Scott Walker ignited a movement that clearly has the potential power and momentum to bring his corporate-sponsored administration to its knees. The key question is how can we unite around a mass action strategy capable of seeing this struggle through to victory? 
Walker's plan to strip state workers of collective bargaining rights is nothing short of an attempt to break the union movement. Working people and our unions are not the cause of the economic crisis and fiscal woes of the state. The bankers, Wall Street speculators and corporate politicians are to blame. So we have to demand: Stop scapegoating unions! Make the super-rich pay for their own crisis! 
The attack is not just on unionized state workers. It is an attack on all working people and youth. If they can beat back the state workers, it’s open season on all workers’ jobs, wages, benefits, future pensions and on public services. 
This last week of action has made one thing clear: The working people and youth of this state are prepared for an all-out mobilization which stops at nothing. We have taken enormous inspiration from the heroic and determined struggle of the Egyptian people who would not give up until their voices were heard. 
But if a week of mass demonstrations, sick-outs and walkouts won’t stop Walker, the Republican legislature, and their big-business backers, what will? Preparations must begin for a mobilization which will stop business as usual across the state. A decisive first step is organizing a one-day public sector general strike, combined with mass student walkouts to shut down the schools. The teachers have already shown what is possible – now the entire public sector must be brought to a standstill! 
But time is short. If we don’t keep moving forward, we will fall back. And we can’t rely on the Democratic Party to maintain a principled stand unless they feel the fire of the movement spreading underneath them. After all, would the Senate Democrats have even taken their stand if the working people of Wisconsin hadn’t risen up in the first place? 
The unions should urgently issue a call for a one-day public sector general strike, and initiate a serious, all-out mobilization. 
Even if strike action is not legal for all state workers we must remember that the unions were built in the first place by struggles which defied anti-union laws. The right to strike must be defended and extended. If we're not prepared to take a stand now, when will we, especially once the power of unions has been stripped away? 
The stakes are extremely high. If this anti-union legislation passes it will embolden those seeking to attack unions elsewhere, but if it is defeated it will give confidence to workers across country to stand up. That is why a national call to mobilize the labor movement must be made to pour as much union resources as possible into this central battleground and to spread the struggle nationally by organizing major solidarity rallies and actions across the country. 
Wisconsin has become center stage in a sweeping attack on the public sector all across the country. Other state governments are also targeting wages, benefits, and collective bargaining rights. This is the naked agenda of big business and their corporate servants in office. The capitalist system is in deep crisis, and they want to solve it on our backs by steamrolling over all obstacles including unions. 
It is up to us to stop these attacks. Unfortunately, while some Democratic politicians say they support some of our demands, the Party remains a fickle ally. Why did they make the bipartisan agreement for tax cuts for super-wealthy? Why are teachers unions in the cross-hairs of Obama's Secretary of Education Arne Duncan? What happened to EFCA? Why haven't they stood up to the lies of the Tea Party and Right-wing Republicans? Despite their pro-worker rhetoric, the Democratic Party is largely funded by big business and has consistently sold out working people. 
It's time that we build a political alternative to the two parties of corporate America. Campaigns should be launched across the country to stop the budget cuts and defend jobs, services and workers’ rights. Out of these campaigns we could run our own independent candidates as the first step towards forming a new party that gives a real voice to workers and youth and fights for our interests. 
The time is now to begin the fight-back. The Egyptian workers have shown is it possible to stand up to injustice everywhere. If you agree with the ideas in this leaflet please contacts us to discuss joining Socialist Alternative and how to organize a united struggle to fight for our rights and our future. 
  • Kill the bill! Bring down Walkers’ anti-union legislation
  • Stop ALL budget cuts, layoffs, and attacks on workers
  • Reverse Walker’s tax cuts for business to plug the deficit
  • Tax the rich and corporations to fund a massive public sector jobs program at union wages and conditions

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Bristolians march against the cuts

On Saturday 19th February 2011 the people of Bristol took to the streets once again to demand of the Council - "Stop the Cuts!" 

It was a lively and colourful demonstration, buoyed up by the recent victory of the Forest of Dean campaign. About 2000 people marched to the Council House to demand of our elected councillors that they do not wreak havoc on the services and economy of Bristol. There were good speakers both at the beginning in Castle Park and at the main rally at College Green, including school student Patrick McInally, Roger Davey from Unison (p.c.) and Laura Welti from the Bristol Disablity Forum.
On Tuesday the 22nd Bristol City Council will meet to approve the massive cuts budget for the City – but if we keep the pressure on we can break them and their slash-and-burn policies. We need to build on demonstrations like this one to send the ConDem cuts package the same way as the legislation for selling off the forest - into the dustbin of history!
Bristol & District Anti-Cuts Alliance have since circulated the following to protest against the appalling numeracy of the BBC, but they have since changed the report from "reports say 500" to "Police say about 500" - so no surprises there:

"It seemed to go very well - lots of people, a wide range of banners and good speakers. We raised over £600 in the collection. Thanks to everyone who helped with the publicity for it and organisation on the day.
However the BBC at first reported the turnout as 200 and this has been picked up by other news services. We know there are lies, damned lies and reported demonstration numbers but this is ridiculous. A count put it nearer 3000. We have complained twice now to the BBC and they have raised the number to 500 in the report on their website. Can as many people as possible complain about this disgraceful distortion. It is important because both Bristol City Council and central government will use this figure to say we do not have much support."

(Thanks to Matt Carey for the pictures)

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Labour councillors' arguments refuted at People's Convention

Report by Jane James
At the People's Convention on 12 February, organised by the Right to Work campaign and the Labour Representation Committee, there was a debate on how councillors could fight the cuts.
Labour councillors tried to explain why they could not vote against the cuts. Charlynne Pullen from Islington said central government was responsible for 85% of their funding while the council could only raise 14-15% from the council tax.
So the council could not provide services alone - cuts would have to be made, she said, but they would be kinder cuts than Tories would make.
Barry Buitekant, a Hackney Labour councillor, called on council workers to 'put pressure' on councillors to vote against the cuts. But Socialist Party deputy general secretary Hannah Sell pointed out from the floor that Hackney council workers in Unison had already voted at a mass meeting to call on all Labour councils to pass needs-based budgets instead of voting for cuts. What more pressure did he need?
Dave Nellist, a Coventry Socialist Party councillor spoke from the platform and explained that councillors do have a choice. They could return privatised services to council control, they could fund EMA, and refuse to implement housing benefit changes for example.
He called on Labour councils to follow the example of Clay Cross councillors in Derbyshire in the 1970s who refused to implement the Housing Finance Act. They even melted down the mayor's chain to pay for services. If one council today made a stand, the cuts could be unworkable.
The struggles fought and won by past action were often illegal. Poplar council introduced equal pay and a minimum wage. They were eventually jailed but carried on running the council from their prison cells.
Clay Cross councillors were surcharged and banned from holding office but hundreds were willing to take their place.
20 councils stood up to the Tories in the 1980s with Lambeth and Liverpool refusing to implement cuts, building houses instead.
Dave explained that councillors can't be surcharged anymore. And if a mass movement is built, if the government attempts to send in commissioners, they would be stopped from carrying out their duties by the huge opposition.
Dave called for a one-day public sector strike after the 26 March TUC demo. And for anti-cuts candidates to stand in the May elections under the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition banner.
He finished by declaring: "We should take up the slogan of the Poplar struggle: 'Better to break the law than break the poor'".
The conference agreed to back the demonstrations taking place in Wales and London on 5 March.

Bolivia - Solidarity for attacked trade unions

This is the English translation of the summary of events and appeal for solidarity by Juan Gabriel Rodriguez, a comrade of the CWI in Bolivia:

On 16 February the transport workers, who are controlled by the right wing, marched demanding increased charges for transportation. This sector violently attacked the Federation of Factory Workers and have destroyed the offices of the Federation of Neighborhood Organisations, they have stolen money from federations including federations for retired workers and have threatened to take more measures to impose pressure for higher fares.

The Federation of Factory has decided not to respond with violence or attack public transport drivers, but they have called a march for Friday February 18 which will be supported by all the workers and popular organizations in the country.

In this sense Alternativa Socialista Revolucionaria is appealing to the CWI and trade unions across the world, asking for a vote of resolute support for Cochabamba factory workers and solidarity with all the exploited people of Bolivia.

Please send messages of support and solidarity to and we will deliver them to the workers.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Bristol March Against the Cuts - Saturday 19th Feb 2011

Assemble:   11.00am,  Castle Park
March through Bristol city centre
Rally:   12.00pm, College Green
This is the Saturday before Bristol City Council sets its cuts budget. Let’s show them that the people of Bristol are prepared to defend our public services

Reject 'TINA'- fight for socialism

The pages of the Socialist are bulging with reports from workers, young people and other service users who are organising to fight the cuts.
Con-Dem ministers and Labour councillors play the blame game. Councillors claim they have no choice but to axe vital services. Ministers say councillors have 'freedom to choose' how they implement spending cuts and could save some (popular) services by cutting others.
Both of these positions are unacceptable and working class people have no choice but to fight all cuts - whoever makes them.
Polls show that, despite a constant and exclusive diet of TINA (there is no alternative) from big business politicians, backed up by their media friends, almost a third of people believe the cuts are unnecessary. This number will multiply as the fightback develops, as it will be accompanied with increasing realisation of the amount of money that is swilling around in big business circles.
It's estimated that a tax on Barclays' £2.7 billion bonus pool alone would allow the government to reverse cuts to the Education Maintenance Allowance, disability allowance and housing benefit.
A YouGov poll in 2010 showed that "74% of the population would favour a tax on the wealthiest six million (who have an average of £4 million of private wealth per household) to pay off the national debt and therefore avoid the cuts".
However, none of the main political parties has any intention of doing anything like this. Health minister Andrew Lansley has received an estimated £20,000 from private health care companies, while the Mirror reports that such companies have paid out £750,000 to the Tories. The Con-Dems and their Labour predecessors act in the interest of the directors and owners of these companies and those in other sectors of big business and finance.
"Too far, too fast" is not an effective rallying cry. Labour leader Ed Miliband is worse than useless in opposition, merely criticising the speed at which cuts are carried through.
In national and local government Labour has carried through a Tory agenda of privatisation. For instance, in the NHS the 'internal market' was massively expanded under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, preparing the ground for the Con-Dems to smash the NHS completely.
The Tories' motives go way beyond a temporary austerity drive. This was made clear when David Cameron blurted out last August: "Should we cut things now and go back later to try and restore them later? I think we should avoid that approach."
Working class people need our own mass party - one which fights all the cuts. A survey by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development of 700 employers revealed that firms in all sectors plan to shed 6.2% on average of their workforce in the first quarter of this year, up from 3.8% in the previous quarter.
A mass workers' party could demand a 35-hour week without loss of pay. And that the billions paid out in bonuses to bankers should instead be invested in a programme of socially useful job creation.
Many more measures along these lines are necessary, but we also need to take into account that capitalism, a system motivated solely by private profit, means there will always be crises, always be poverty and inequality. That is why, as well as fighting the cuts, the Socialist Party proposes a socialist alternative. That would mean ordinary people deciding how our lives are run, how the wealth and resources in the economy can be used to meet our needs - not to stack up in the vaults of bank executives and in the assets and luxuries of the rich.
Instead of making cuts, a socialist government would nationalise the banks and major corporations and place them under democratic workers' control and management. Compensation would be paid only on the basis of proven need. A state monopoly on foreign trade and transactions could stop the wealthy removing money.
A socialist planned economy would make us no longer subject to the whim of the markets. The resources made available would transform all our lives - providing living standards and services that are unimaginable under capitalism.
If you agree, join the Socialist Party.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Bristol Socialist Party meeting - 15th Feb 7.30pm

Bristol Socialist Party: From Tunisia to Yemen - the Arab world rebels

Tuesday 15th February 2011


Cheltenham Road Library, Bristol, BS6 5QX

Martyn Ahmet will introduce a discussion about the uprsisings in Tunisia, Jordan, Yemen and, above all, Egypt! He will ask why Britain and other capitalist powers who have backed dicators across north Africa and the middle east are suddenly becoming friends of 'democracy'? Can these revolutions lead to the establishment of healthy democracies? What role will the 'Muslim Brotherhood' and other religious parties play? How can the workers of the Arab world make their voices heard? And what does this mean for the conflict in Israel and Palestine?
Events in Egypt have been momentous and breath-taking – at the CWI congress last year, we said this about Egypt: Much more than previously the economic situation is preparing big social and political movements...A number of possibilities for the future are posed in Egypt. A mass uprising could blow the regime away with the main inheritors of what could follow, grouped around the Muslim Brotherhood. An Iranian-type development could take place. Mubarak’s son is in place to succeed him. But a new strongman from within the regime could rule the roost – such as the present head of internal security (Sulieman) – after Mubarak disappears from the scene.” This dialectical analysis has proved to be far more accurate than those of capitalist commentators, but no one could have predicted how quickly the Egyptian people have surged forward to overthrow the Mubarak regime! But now that he has gone, will the people allow their revolution to be stolen or will it continue? Who will draft the new constitution and meet their demands, if not a revolutionary assembly of the people themselves?

Newcomers are always welcome, for more info email

Solidarity with the Egyptian Revolution

Below is an English translation from the original Arabic (translated by CWI China) of a leaflet distributed in Cairo by the Committee for a Workers International (CWI) following the departure of dictator Hosni Mubarak on Friday 11 February. This leaflet raises important issues about how the revolution can go forward and defeat the old regime, which through the army tops and Vice President Omar Suleiman is clinging to power. It also poses the need for struggle against capitalism and imperialism if the democratic aspirations of the Egyptian people are to be fulfilled. I do not have access to the Arabic version. Events continue to be momentous and inspiring - but who will draft the new constitution? - For a revolutionary constituent assembly of the workers and poor!
In defence of the revolution:

  • For a government of representatives of workers, the youth and the poor
  • For the immediate elections of a revolutionary constituent assembly supervised by committees of working people, the poor and the youth!
Less than 24 hours after he declared he would stay until September, Mubarak has been forced to resign as Egyptian president. The increasing size of the demonstrations, and especially the working class’s collective entry into the struggle through a nationwide strike wave, marked a decisive new stage in the revolution. Mubarak’s last TV broadcast enraged the more than six million who were then protesting on Egypt’s streets and the indignation spread to the military, as reports came in of soldiers going over to the side of the demonstrators.
Egypt’s revolution won the support of working people around the world. Tens of millions followed on TV and the internet every move. The hopes that the movement that started in Tunisia will win a victory in Egypt have been met. This victory will encourage every struggle around the world against dictatorship, oppression and misery. Many are now asking, who is the next ruler to fall?
This turning point is a tremendous victory for all those who courageously fought Mubarak’s police state - the youth, the working class and the activists in Tahrir Square. It is a huge example to workers and the oppressed around the world that determined mass action can defeat governments and rulers no matter how strong they appear to be.
However the battle is not over yet, dangers still remain. The military leaders, with the backing of US imperialism, removed Mubarak in the hope of preventing the revolution challenging the power of the elite. The new head of state, Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, has been defence minister and the armed forces Commander-in Chief since 1991, nearly two-thirds of the time that Mubarak was in power. As a BBC correspondent commented: “The army takeover looks very much like a military coup … because officially it should be the speaker of parliament who takes over, not the army leadership”.
The mass of the Egyptian people must assert their right to decide the country’s future. Many may have hopes in the army, but there is a difference between the rank and file and the top commanders. No trust should be put in figures from the old regime to run the country or run elections. There must be immediate, fully free elections, safeguarded by mass committees of the workers and poor, to a revolutionary constituent assembly that can decide the country’s future.
Now the steps already taken to form local committees and genuine independent workers’ organisations should be speeded up, spread wider and linked up. A clear call for the formation of democratically elected and run committees in all workplaces, communities and amongst the military rank and file would get a wide response.
These bodies would co-ordinate the removal of the remnants of the old regime, and maintain order and supplies and, most importantly, be the basis for a government of workers’ and poor representatives that would crush the remnants of the dictatorship, defend democratic rights and start to meet the economic and social needs of the mass of Egyptians.
The revolution and its demands pose a decisive challenge to the old order and capitalism, but they cannot be completely won without breaking with imperialism and overthrowing capitalism. The Helwan iron and steel workers have called for “People’s revolution for the people!”, but this can only be realised through the mass movement bringing to power a government of workers’ and poor representatives that implements a democratic socialist programme. To achieve such a government workers, the poor and oppressed need their own political weapon. Workers and the poor need to create their own alternative - a new mass party of the working class attracting small farmers and the oppressed to a socialist banner.
Today there is naturally great support for unity to defend the revolution. Yes we need unity in struggle, but calls for unity do not answer the question of what sort of Egypt needs to be built?
Correctly there is great suspicion of all those who held top positions in the Mubarak regime. Now the ruling class will attempt to involve and trap the workers’ movement and the Left in joint work with the military rulers or in some kind of “unity” government of all classes. But any government involving capitalists would naturally attempt to safeguard capitalism in Egypt. This would be true of any government whose stated main role was “only” the organisation of elections as it would have to govern the country in the run-up to any elections. It is the lesson of many other revolutions – like Russia after February 1917 or Spain 1936 – that such governments cannot meet the demands of working people and are used by the ruling class as a means of trying to break the revolution and ensure the continuation of their rule.
The demands of the workers, poor and youth cannot be met unless all the elements of the old regime are completely removed. Capitalism cannot offer a way forward for Egyptian society. The Left must not join any coalition government with pro-capitalists; for a government of the representatives of workers, small farmers and the poor that carries out a genuine socialist transformation of Egypt.
The Committee for a Workers International is an international socialist organisation struggling in 40 countries against the rule of big business and for democratic international socialism.

Friday, 11 February 2011

Report from Fishponds Against the Cuts on 7th February

Here is a brief report circulated by Paul Moorhouse:

25 people attended the second meeting of the Fishponds Anti-Cuts Group..We heard brief  reports from three speakers:

·         Chris Cuthbert, branch chair of the PCS Jobcentre Plus spoke on behalf of workers at Lodge House, recently on strike action against the loss of beneftit processing. Chris explained PCS’s arguments against the cuts, pointing out that the £126 billion in uncollected and evaded taxes would remove the justification for balancing the budget. She stressed that PCS members were stiking for their own basic human dignity (call centre workers at Lodge Hosue now have managers questioning how long they spend in the toilet), to defend much needed jobs in the community and to defend the services they provide to some of the most vulnerable people in Bristol

·         Matt Hollinshead, representing the recent student occupation  at UWE reported that UW Lecuturers were now  due to take strike action against the abolition of 80 jobs on Thursday 10th and Friday 18th February, showing that complency on the part of Cameron and Clegg that they had ‘seen off’ the revolt in education would be very misplaced.

·         Finally Roger Davey, secretary of the Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health branch of Unison, and a member of the union’s NHS service group executive, spoke in a personal capacity. Roger explained how the latest NHS ‘reforms’ will effectively privatise healthcare, and open the way for hospitals to treat paying patients in  hospitals.

NHS Cuts:

In a lively discussion from the floor two NHS workers from Blackberry Hill spoke of the impact of the cuts so far. One of them pointed out that many NHS services such as cleaning and catering were privatised by the New Labour government with  appalling consequences  for both working conditions and patient care. A physiotherapist who works Gloucestershire NHS Trust explained how backdoor privatisation by the establishment of a ‘social enterprise’ has led to the total withdrawal of Physio services, for instance to those recovering from cardiac surgery, she warned that this is bound to mean patients will die unnecessarily.

Planning Action:

Plans were laid for local leafleting for the February 19th demonstration  and the Lobby of Bristol City Council on 22nd and it was agreed to hold another meeting on 14th Mach to build for the 26th March national demonstration in London. A special Fishponds leaflet advertising these events has been produced and was well received on the UCU picket lines on Thursday 10th Febraury. The next leafleting is to take place on Saturday 12th February meeting at Guinea Lane zebra crossing  (next to Wethersoons) at 10.00 am.

Bristol City Council Cuts:

A number of speakers stressed the importance of getting information out to people about the impact of the cuts in Bristol.  We need clear, concrete examples of which services are ate risk and where. However as Mike Luff, who represented the Anti-Cuts Alliance at the Council’s Resources and Scrutiny meeting explained, the council has so far only identified ‘global’ figures without actually explaining which jobs and services are to go.

It seems likely, though, that in many cases they will seek to mask the cuts by pretending to keep services going, when the reduced staff levels make this impossible. Libraries, for instance, may not close, instead, health and safety and customer services will be undermined by minimal staffing levels following the installation of self-service machines to issue books. The Fishponds group has produced a ‘campaign pack’ listing all the cuts made so far.  If members let us have information about new cuts as soon as they hear of them we will keep this updated.

Labour Councillors:

Some controversy arose over a suggestion that the meeting should invite local Labour Councillor Martin Golding to speak at the March 14th meeting. Everyone present agreed that we should put  as much pressure as possible on all local councillors to vote against  the cuts package being proposed and support the Anti-Cuts-Alliance’s policy which is:

‘To campaign against all proposed cuts in public services, sell-offs and privatisations nationally and locally, whether initiated directly by the Coalition Government or carried out by local authorities of any political complexion.’

A Labour Councillor, Mike Woollacott, who was present, however, made it clear that the Bristol City Council Labour Group’s policy is only to oppose ‘the worst of the cuts’ and that Labour were not prepared to vote for an ‘illegal budget’ – meaning that if they were elected in May he and Cllr Golding would implement cuts in line with Government policy. Mike said that Labour councillors ‘could not’ take action to defeat the cuts but that it was ‘up to you’ to do so.

It is my personal opinion that, in the light of this statement, until the Labour Group is prepared to support a budget based on the needs of  the people of Bristol rather than the dictates of a government of millionaires in London it would be very difficult for the Alliance to give a platform to local politicians who are asking us to reject some cuts in services but not others. As another speaker pointed out this would be recipe for division: the anti-cuts movement would be reduced to advocating the retention of schools or hospitals in one area at the expense of another.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Mubarak refuses to leave - but mass strikes mark a new stage of Egyptian Revolution

The breaking news is that Mubarak still refuses to quit, but it is clear from the anger of the crowds and recent strike-wave that this will not wash - decisive action is needed to force him out for good, block the whip of reaction, and move the revolution forward. Below is an article from earlier today by Robert Bechert of the CWI.

Strike wave marks new stage of mass opposition to regime
Despite stops and starts, the battle in Egypt is intensifying and could be coming to a head. We are on the eve of what could be a new high point, the demonstrations called for 11 February. The weakened Mubarak regime has been desperately attempting to wear down the revolution through a combination of minor concessions and continued attempts at repression.
Suleiman, the first choice of both Mubarak and imperialism to derail the revolution, is offering a few, very nominal, changes to the system that would leave all its basic features intact, while issuing threats. The resignation of Mubarak, now a discredited figure, and his replacement by Suleiman or some other element from the old regime, would not in itself change anything fundamentally or satisfy the movement.
Suleiman’s arrogance seems to know no bounds, as he seemingly attempts to justify the regime’s refusal to allow genuine free elections on the basis that Egyptians were “not ready” for democracy. More ominously, he went on to warn of a coup and repression, piously saying: “We don’t want to deal with Egyptian society with police tools.” How kind! The Mubarak police state’s former head of intelligence tells the population that he doesn’t “want” to repress, but may be forced to if they do not shut up and stop protesting.
However, far from intimidating the opposition, the regime’s apparent determination to remain in place has deepened the revolution’s mobilisation.
Large numbers, especially of workers and youth, are rapidly learning and drawing revolutionary conclusions from their experiences. The events of the last few days – Mubarak’s refusal to resign, the attack on Tahrir Square, the battles in different cities and towns outside Cairo, the security forces’ continued seizures of activists and last, but not least, Suleiman’s threats – have led to increasing numbers drawing the conclusion that more decisive action is required to remove not just Mubarak but the whole rotten regime. This is why last Tuesday’s (8 February) protests were the largest so far and accompanied by the start of a strike wave throughout Egypt.
Every time the movement has made even the slightest pause for breath, or when the rulers see even a slight opportunity, the regime attempts to counter-attack or threaten the opposition. The failure of the 3 February attack by Mubarak thugs on the Tahrir Square protestors has not stopped the repression, oppositionists are being arrested and disappear, while attacks on journalists, especially foreign ones, have become routine.
But, contrary to what the regime expected, this has succeeded in repressing or halting the movement. On the contrary, these actions by the regime are only helping to radicalise the mass movement and spread the unfolding revolution across the country. Today, the longer the old regime attempts to stay put, the more this is radicalising the movement. Such is the growing determination to remove the regime that, so far, government calls for a return to “normality” are being ignored and being seen as simply an attempt of the old gang to stay at the top. How long this mood can last is open, but at this moment an important new stage is opening with the entry of the working class into collective battle, not simply participating as individuals in protests, but acting as a class with a mighty impact and colossal speed as strikes develop throughout the country.
These strikes have not simply been for economic and social demands but have demanded the purging of pro-regime elements from the official trade unions and from companies like Telecom Egypt. In some workplaces – like Schweppes Beverages, Nile Textiles, the Suez Canal authority and others – workers are staging sit-ins either in the workplaces or outside the company headquarters. In other areas, roads and railway lines are being blocked and in a number of cities, like Aswan and Port Said, protesters have attacked government buildings.
Most significantly, a mass meeting of striking iron and steel workers in Helwan has issued a widely circulating call for workers to demonstrate in Tahrir Square this Friday (February 11) and are calling for:
1. The immediate resignation of the president and all men and symbols of the regime.
2. The confiscation of funds and property of all symbols of the previous regime and everyone proved corrupt.
3. Iron and steel workers, who have given martyrs and militants, call upon all workers of Egypt to revolt from the regime’s and ruling party workers’ federation, to dismantle it and announce their independent union now, and to plan for their general assembly to freely establish their own independent union without prior permission or consent of the regime, which has fallen and lost all legitimacy.
4. The confiscation of public-sector companies that have been sold or closed down or privatized, as well as the public sector which belongs to the people, and its nationalization in the name of the people and formation of a new management by workers and technicians.
5. The formation of a workers’ monitoring committee in all workplaces, monitoring production, prices, distribution and wages.
6. A general assembly of all sectors and political trends of the people to develop a new constitution and elect real popular committees without waiting for the consent or negotiation with the regime.
A huge workers’ demonstration will join Tahrir Square on Friday, 11 February 2011, to join the revolution and announce the demands of the workers of Egypt.
Long live the revolution!
Long live Egypt’s workers!
Long live the intifada of Egyptian youth – People’s revolution for the people!
This statement indicates why both the Egyptian ruling class and imperialism are increasingly desperate to contain the movement. Hillary Clinton has spoken of the dangers of the revolution being “hi-jacked”, but this is precisely what the US and other governments are doing to try to contain the revolution and prevent it challenging either their strategic interests in the Middle East or capitalism itself.
Now, more than ever, the issue is: how to remove the regime?
There needs to be a clear strategy to maintain momentum. As we wrote on 10 February: “To be successful, a revolution – even a spontaneous uprising or insurrection as we have seen in Tunisia and now in Egypt – needs to maintain its momentum by going from one victory to another.” ( The movement has already created elements of “dual power”, now it is a question of gaining real power. Today, the question of removing the government, starting with taking over key buildings – including the Presidential palace, interior and defence ministries, and TV stations – is posed, alongside an appeal to the armed forces rank and file to support the revolution. On this basis, real democratic rights could be won, including establishing democratic control over the media and opening them up to all political and social forces that support the revolution.
To go forward, the steps already taken to form local committees and genuine independent workers’ organisations should be spread wider and linked up. A clear call for the formation of committees in all workplaces, communities and amongst the military rank and file would get a wide response. These bodies could to co-ordinate resistance to the regime, and maintain order and supplies and, most importantly, be the basis for a government of workers’ and poor representatives that would crush the remnants of the dictatorship, defend democratic rights and start to meet the economic and social needs of the mass of Egyptians.
The demands of the iron and steel workers in Helwan and other worker are a basis for action. They pose a decisive challenge to the old order and capitalism, but they cannot be completely implemented without breaking with imperialism and overthrowing capitalism. The Helwan workers’ call for “People’s revolution for the people!” can only be realised through a mass movement that brings to power a government of workers’ and poor representatives.
However, unfortunately most sections of today’s Egyptian Left, while advancing many important democratic, economic and social demands, do not concretely raise the idea of a government breaking with capitalism. While most of the Left reject discussions with Suleiman and Mubarak regime, they do not clearly oppose the idea of collaborating with, or supporting from outside, some other kind of “transitional” government involving pro-capitalist elements. This would be a dangerous mistake because any government involving capitalists would naturally attempt to safeguard the future of capitalism in Egypt. This would be true of any government whose stated main role was “only” the organisation of elections because it would have to govern the country in the run-up to any elections. It is the lesson of many other revolutions – like Russia after February 1917 or Spain 1936 – that such governments cannot meet the demands of working people and are used by the ruling class as a means of trying to break the revolution and ensure the continuation of their rule. The left must be clear: the demands of the workers, poor and youth cannot be met unless the old regime is completely removed; capitalism cannot offer a way forward for Egyptian society; no coalition government with pro-capitalists; for a government of the representatives of workers, small farmers and the poor.
The revolution is growing stronger, now is the time to concentrate its forces to overthrow the regime, end the decades-long repression and open the way to a democratic, socialist Egypt.

NSSN Anti Cuts Campaign Launch Monday 14th Feb...STOP THE CUTS!

Statement from Rob Williams, NSSN vice-chair & anti-cuts committee:

Dear brothers & sisters,

The ConDem cuts are beginning to bite with councils starting to announce thousands of redundancies. However, the maginificent movement of the students has shown that the cuts can be confronted both locally and nationally. As we countdown to what we are sure will be the huge TUC demonstration on March 26th, it is clear that we need an anti-cuts movement that is united in opposition to all the cuts that affect working people and their communities.
After an open and democratic debate at our conference on January 22nd, the National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) agreed to launch an anti-cuts campaign to reach out to working-class communities and young people. At our first committee meeting last Wednesday, we agreed to write to all those organisations fighting the cuts both locally and nationally to offer our assistance in building this united movement. In this spirit, we've also written to the Trade Union Co-ordinating Group, encouraging them to reconvene a meeting between them and the anti-cuts organisations.
We agreed to support the demonstration being organised in Cardiff outside Tory & LibDem conferences which are both being held in the city on March 5th. We also decided to launch a petition calling on Labour councils to refuse to implement the ConDem cuts which we will present to Labour councillors after a march to their national local government conference in London on the same day. Let us know if you are interested taking part and supporting these events
Please feel free to contact us if you require a speaker for any event that you may be organising.

Rob Williams
NSSN vice-chair & anti-cuts committee

Protest against Nick Clegg in Bath

Nick Clegg is visiting Bath on Friday 11 February. Bath Against the Cuts are calling an emergency protest demonstration assembling at 7.00pm in Pidgeon Park, Lower Borough Walls, opposite the Lamb and Lion. Clegg is speaking at the Chapel Arts Centre next to Pidgeo Park at 7.30pm.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Fishponds Against the Cuts meeting - Monday 7th February 7.30pm

Public Meeting: MONDAY 7th FEBRUARY 2011

·         Chris Cuthbert: PCS Union, Lodge House, JobCentre Plus,
·         Matt Holinshead: UWE Student Occupation against  cuts and fees,
·         Roger Davey: Unison Health Group Executive (personal capacity).

7.30pm Crosskeys Pub, 627 Fishponds Road, BS16 3BA
Communities in East Bristol and across the country face a devastating attack on our public services, Bristol City Council are planning £30 million in cuts to services  -- Unison estimate this means 1,000 jobs being lost. These are not the jobs of highly paid unaccountable bureaucrats but of home care assistants, teachers, refuse collectors and caretakers – people who make our communities tick and care for the most vulnerable in society. The fight back has started. 100,000’s of students marched and occupied against fees and cuts before Christmas. Civil servants in the benefits call centres at Lodge House and elsewhere were on strike on 20th and 21st January and their union voted overwhelmingly (96%) to back a campaign against all cuts. There are important demonstrations in Bristol and London in the next few weeks. If you are one of the millions who depend on public services, not a millionaire who benefits from cuts you should be there too. JOIN THE FIGHT BACK!

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