Controversial plans to cut fire cover in Norfolk were given the green light yesterday amid fresh fears that lives and historic buildings in the centre of Norwich could be put at risk.
Norfolk County Council approved the £1.5m cuts as part of a new safety plan aimed at boosting cover in rural areas and King’s Lynn.
As part of the changes the number of fire engines in Norwich would be cut from five to four after the opening of the new Carrow Station in Trowse, near Norwich, following the closure of Bethel Street, with 24 jobs lost.
Across the county a further 12 jobs will be lost at six retained fire stations, Cromer, Dereham, Diss, Fakenham, Sandringham, and Wymondham. But moves to scrap the retained crew at Gorleston have been put on hold for 12 months, though councillors were unable to give assurances that the proposals will not be revisited in the future.
The monitoring of rules governing a maximum 15 minute response time for second crews at some incidents was also scrapped.
Labour councillor Bert Bremner told county councillors that the plans were a “Tory gamble”, which would affect the safety of firefighters and the public, particularly in the Norwich area.
“At the big Zizzi’s fire last month in the centre of Norwich there were at least six fire fighting appliances and 40 fire-fighters,” Mr Bremner said. “Zizzi’s was right next to the beautiful Ethelbert Gate, one of Norwich’s treasured medieval buildings.
“The first crew to get to the fire was the second Norwich pump, the one Tory Norfolk will cut. What is to replace this second fire engine?
“The Tory cuts will mean only five fire-fighters are on duty at North Earlham so no speedy arrival of the ‘Aerial Ladder Platform’ and far greater damage and far greater risk of fire spreading. The Ethelbert Gate would have been at risk.”
Harry Humphrey, cabinet member for fire and rescue, said: “We have got reduced risk, and we have got action being taken with a new fire station at Carrow, which will result in Norwich being ringed by fire stations at Sprowston, Earlham and at Carrow.”
We watch with interest the FBU’s response to this major threat to the people of Norfolk…
More than 100 members of Norfolk branches of the FBU joined other regional branches and marched on Parliament today.
Over 2,000 firefighters rallied in Westminster Central Hall, London. Hundreds then protested outside Downing Street while others went into pParliament to lobby MPs.
FBU general secretary Matt Wrack told the rally, “We face a pay freeze and huge attacks on jobs and conditions as part of an ideological, political assault against public services.”
And addressing other trade unions he said, ” If it means striking together, then so be it, we are entering the fight of our lives. ”
In solidarity with FITWATCH please read, digest and act on.
Apparently the post below attempts to ‘pervert the course of justice’ and the Fitwatch blog was subsequently suspended on request of one Acting Detective Inspector Will Hodgeson from CO11 as part of Operation Malone.
Most people in this country are still under the illusion that it would take ‘the due process of law’ such as an order from a court to shut a blog down rather than a request by a lowly ‘Acting Detective Inspector’..but there you go, sign of the times.
By Sean Coughlan
BBC News education correspondent
There have been more than 50 arrests following the tuition fee protests
The lecturers’ union president has signed a statement refusing to condemn protesters who attacked a Conservative party building last week.
Alan Whitaker has joined calls to “rally behind all who were arrested for fighting to defend their education”.
A radical students’ group has also threatened to target Lib Dem offices and Downing Street next week.
But the UCU union’s official spokesman rejected last week’s violence as “totally unacceptable”.
Backing “acts of resistance”, the lecturers’ statement has been signed by 24 members of the University and College Union’s national executive.
The UCU spokesman said the statement supporting the arrested students had been signed in a personal capacity by lecturers and was not the union’s official policy.
But the scale of support among the union’s leadership for this latest statement suggests deep divisions in the response to the outbreak of violence, during a protest march against raising tuition fees.
There are also divisions among student protestors, with student activists set to reject the more moderate strategy of the NUS leadership.
The Education Activist Network has warned that the Liberal Democrat headquarters will be targeted in the next wave of protests, set for 24 November.
The protesters are calling for students and their supporters to stage a walk-out and then to demonstrate outside Liberal Democrat offices and then Downing Street.
Alan Whitaker, national president of the UCU, has joined about a third of the union’s national executive, in calling on university and college staff to “stand with those students who were arrested”.
“We will not side with those who condemn the violence against windows and property but will not condemn or even name the long-term violence of cuts that will scar the lives of hundreds of thousands by denying them access to the education of their choice,” says the statement.
“The victimisation of individuals for acts of resistance is something that our movement has a proud record of opposing,” says the statement.
There have been more than 50 arrests following the storming of the building.
And there was widespread criticism, including from Downing Street, of lecturers who had appeared to be sympathetic to the occupation of the Millbank building.
But the spokesman for the latest lecturers’ statement, Tom Hickey, says it is “pure hypocrisy” for lecturers to be expected to either condemn or condone the occupation last week.
He says demonstrators were provoked by the government’s decision to “privatise” higher education, without any mandate from voters.
Mr Hickey, who lectures at the University of Brighton, says he expects the lecturers’ union to back a campaign for the defence of those who were arrested during the demonstration.
Momentum is everything in politics and now we have it. Instead of a one-off isolated event like G20 we now have a series of actions week after week. Novembrer 24th walk out now encompasses occupying Lib Dem constituency offices and is to be followed by action against tax avoiding companies on december 4th.
The violent attacks on Tory HQ far from alienating public opinion has energised it. A quick trawl through the Sunday Papers reveals columnists like Suzanne Moore in the Mail on Sunday standing 4 square with the violent students and is replicated by opnion pieces elsewhere not only in the liberal media but in the right wing ones. Where commentators are not in support they are fearful. take Martin Ivens in the Sunday Times : ‘If a rash of violent disputes were to become a settled pattern the coalition government might look as if it were no longer in control, the agenda of early cuts too confrontational, it’s narrative of national salvation could be challenged.Public opinion is the prize. Who runs the country asked Ted Heath.Clearly not you replied the voters’.
Nick Clegg’s u-turn on student fees has alienated the middle classes into a temporary alliance with the proles.’What would happen now if nurses took to the streets against NHS cuts? Liberal opinion would be with them as well. The government could fall. It’s all to play for – but the door is open now – NOW is the time to push further. Forget next March – the next 4 weeks will be decisive. Go for it.
While NCAG does not strictly identify as an anarchist organisation (there’s no requirement to membership other than a belief in class struggle politics) we’re sure the anarchists in the group will especially appreciate Phil Dickens piece below as will many who are often confused by the word ‘anarchism’.
A Digression On What It Means To Be An Anarchist
As should be no secret by this stage, I am an anarchist – proudly and without apology. But you can’t tell by looking at me. It has nothing to do with the way I dress, how I carry myself, or the expression on my face. It’s not an aura that surrounds me. Hell, it doesn’t even define my personality.
The reason that I point this out is a single, throwaway line in the Guardian;
You had only to look at the crowd to know that the vast majority of them were not anarchists, but reasonably regular twentysomethings.
The article was about the occupation of Millbank Tower on Wednesday, and the condemnations that it earned from various quarters. The point of that sentence was that, contrary to the image painted by the outraged, this was not an act committed by professional hooligans or agitators, but of students from a wide variety of backgrounds and political leanings.
This is fair enough. After all, many have commented on the fearful excitement of many people getting their very first taste of direct action. For most, the only applicable label is that of a student, and certainly the black bloc stereotype doesn’t hold up to scrutiny.
But, still, my eyes were drawn to that juxtaposition. “Reasonable” and “regular” held up as a sharp contrast to “anarchist,” that dark word beyond which the fears of those who value security and order lurk. The word which denotes a terrific and malicious person, drawn up from the sewers at times of unrest and social turbulence, to pay their homage to the lords of chaos.
Yes, I am overexaggerating. I may also be reading far too much into a simple sentence. But it remains a source of much curiosity for me that anarchist ideas and the philosophy which underpins them can seem perfectly reasonable to so many people in conversation – until that word rears its head.
This has become ingrained as a cultural norm, now, the distinction between the ideas on the libertarian left and the descriptor of “anarchist”. So much so, in fact, that even left-wing writers often feel the need to justify having anarchist ideas with the disclaimer that they aren’t anarchists.
In her New Statesman blog, Laurie Penny comments on one very green protester by noting that he is “clearly not a seasoned anarchist.” The act of engaging in direct action is made safer with the caveat that those doing so aren’t “kitted out like your standard anarchist black-mask gang.” And she quotes a lad who feels the need to state that “I’m not one of those black-mask anarchists, by the way” before she admits that “I just think this is right. This is what needed to happen. We needed to make ourselves heard.”
Now, I’m not writing this in order to be offended or outraged if someone “misuses” the word “anarchist” or “anarchy.” If you want people to change their perceptions, you have to make the argument to them, not throw your toys out the pram and demand that they see things your way. Rather, my aim was simply to note this phenomenon and to offer a counterpoint.
As already stated, I am an anarchist. I’m also a reasonably regular twentysomething, and I’m not one for dressing all in black and covering my face. Leave that to the ninjas.
(Incidentally, I’m also not one for espousing anarchism as a fashion statement or a lifestyle choice. I don’t believe that the revolution will be born in the pot-haze of a hippy drum circle, aloof and scornful of the working class as they succumb to consumerism, conformity, and – y’know – the practicalities of getting on with life. But that’s a different argument entirely.)
Rather, the views I hold are probably ones which Laurie’s interviewees would agree with. Especially in a setting where they didn’t have to defend their honour by telling the world that they’re not one of those crazy, scary anarchist types, honest. Where ideas are more important than labels.
This isn’t to say that everyone who advocates direct action or holds any kind of libertarian viewpoint is an anarchist. Far from it. There is a difference between sympathising with a viewpoint and holding it, after all, and levels of sympathy will no doubt vary widely. But there is also a difference between disagreeing with an idea and distancing yourself from a word without knowing the ideas behind it, simply because it carries with it a political stigma.
Thus, I think it would be extremely interesting to get an honest and informed answer to that question from those who hold libertarian ideas but deny anarchism for its connotations. Are you an anarchist?
Last time I asked that question, I provided a rough basis for the answer;
What anarchists oppose
Hierarchy – anarchists oppose domination of one person or group of people by another as detrimental to human society. We believe that people should be free to make their own decisions and that relationships of command and obedience are to be opposed.
Authority – all forms of authority must bear a heavy burden of proof in order to demonstrate their legitimacy and necessity. Some positions of authority meet this burden, for example the relationship between teacher and student or parent and child, but most – government, bosses, religious leaders, slave owners, etc – do not and must be dismantled.
The state – centralised rule of a set geographical area (country) or people (nation) by a government of elites is inherently illegitimate. The state / government is essentially nothing more than a near monopoly on the use of violence maintaining order with armed bodies such as the police and military and coercive institutions such as courts and prisons. Even when elected in a watered-down form of “democracy,” the state serves only elite interests and never those of ordinary people and the working class.
Capitalism – anarchists oppose capitalism, the system that puts wealth, power, and the means of production (capital) in a few private hands and forces everybody else to rent their labour to that few in exchange for a wage or to starve. This system leads inevitably to privilege and injustice.
State socialism – the “alternative” to capitalism, state ownership of the means of production, is essentially just capitalism in another form. Still, the working class have no economic freedom and often – in practice – no political freedom either. State socialism, often termed Communism, is little more than brutality and slavery.
Nationalism and fascism – these are but the worst forms of the state, gaining the loyalty of the people with strong, often brutal discipline and by developing an almost religious, fevered love of the state and the rulers in the form of patriotism. Often, racial and national differences are exploited to bring about this mentality, which serves only to divide he working class and strengthen the position of the rulers.
Discrimination – nobody should be excluded or discriminated against based on nothing more than their gender, ethnicity, sexuality, background, or beliefs. Anarchists do not expect all people to have the same talents and abilities, nor to all be carbon copies of one another. Equality does not imply that all people are the same, merely that all people should have the same opportunities and be judged only on their personal qualities rather than on superficial group characteristics.
What anarchists stand for
Liberty – all people should be free to live their life as they see fit, without rules and laws passed from above that serve no purpose other than control and domination, as long as they are not infringing the right of anybody else to the same.
Equality – as stated above, nobody should face discrimination because of their gender, ethnicity, sexuality, background, or beliefs. Nobody should have to face indescribable poverty whilst others live in luxury, merely because of an accident of birth. And nobody should have power or control over any other.
Community – human civilisation evolved, from its primitive roots, through the priciple of Mutual Aid. On an ordinary, everyday level, this principle remains, and human beings still cooperate and help each other. It is those at the top, and the capitalist system, which promotes competition and domination, and this should be removed as it is harmful to the advance of civilisation.
Solidarity – humanity is divided only between the rulers and the ruled. Other divisions, those which bring about sexism, racism, heterosexism, and other bigotries, are promoted by the ruling class in order to divide their subjects and keep them under control. As long as we foster these divisions and define ourselves by them, our strength as a unit is removed. Only together, in solidarity across borders and racial lines, do we stand any hope of bringing about any meaningful change.
How anarchy would work
Self-management – groups, such as workforces or local communities, would be free to operate and govern themselves free of any higher authority. Decisions would be made by popular assemblies using direct democracy, so that everybody would have an equal say in how their community or workplace operated.
Free association – all individuals would be free to live where they wanted and associate with who they chose. Not only would they be able to choose who to associate with, they could choose who not to associate with, which means that people could elect to not be part of a participatory community in their local area and opt out of decisions on the running of a place if they opposed them, so long as they did not violate the basic liberty and equality of others.
Voluntary federation – instead of the state, where indivudal communities and groups of people are bound together by the coercive force of a central authority, local communities and workers collectives can choose for themselves which other communities or collectives to associate with. Each would retain their own autonomy and elect spokespeople to voice agreements on trade and other matters between the different groups.
Direct democracy – unlike in parliamentary democracy, these spokespeople would be just that, elected not to a position of authority but to voice decisions that remain in the hands of the people, as in trade union and workers council structures. This principle, “bottom-up” decision making rather than “top-down” power could operate from a local and regional level right up to a national and international level.
Mutual Aid – in participatory communities and workers collectives, Mutual Aid is a central principle. Easily summed up with the phrase “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need,” this boils down to voluntary cooperation, fair distribution of resources, and help and support to those who need it within a local community.
Free, fair trade – for the sharing of resources between different communities and individuals who opt out of Mutual Aid, anarchy would see the emergence of a truly free market. The “free market” of capitalism is not in fact free at all, as the trading relationships are distinctly unequal because of the accumulation of wealth in the hands of a minority that is an inevitable part of the system, and the coercion that results removes all but the pretence of freedom. Truly free trade is fair trade, without domination and exploitation of the poorer or weaker trading party. In other words, the free market is only free without capitalism.
Individual liberty – 90% of “crime” is either victimless, harming either nobody or only the perpetrator by their own choice, or a product of the injustice and inequality created by capitalism and the state. Anarchy would not be governed by vast statutes of law that control people down to the last action and instead holds to the liberty of every person to do as they please so long as they are not harming the person or liberty of others.
Collective defence – this is not to say that anarchist society will contain “perfect people,” and there will certainly be acts of aggression, oppression, and violence – albeit on a lesser scale than is commonplace in today’s world. Rather than monopolise defence in a police or military force, this would be the responsibility of everybody either on an individual basis or by voluntary participation in a communal militia.
Justice, not vengeance – courts would be elected for each individual case, rather than appointed and given unnecessary authority, with the aim to establish guilt or innocence, negotiate reparations, and organise rehabilitation rather than to support the oppressive prison systems which only make matters worse by serving as little more than universities of crime.
In short, anarchism is not a rebellious phase or a street gang, but a political philosophy grounded in principles that reasonable people should be able to get on board with.
If you think are an anarchist or have anarchist leanings, then getting “kitted out like your standard anarchist black-mask gang” is not the best way to pursue that. Instead, I’d suggest getting in touch with anarchist groups active in your area. Our aim isn’t just to fight, but to educate, agitate, and organise.
by Phil Dickens
At 11am today, most people marked the 92nd anniversary of the end of World War I with silence. They remembered the countless lives lost to war with solemnity. In West London, however, one small group of nutters burned a giant poppy and had a shouting match with another small gang of morons.
The first group are the relatively new Muslims Against Crusades (MAC). Taking over where the now-banned Islam4UK left off, their modus operandi is to turn up at events and places where their mesage can cause the most outrage – from protesting at regimental homecoming marches and burning US flags on 9/11 to today’s poppy arson. In short, they are deliberately controversial and inflammatory.
That said, spokesperson Asad Ullah was fairly articulate when offering the aim of today’s debacle;
We are demonstrating because this day is a day of remembrance to remember every single fallen soldier, including those killed in Afghanistan and Iraq. We find it disgusting that innocent people, innocent children, have been killed in an illegal and unjust war and we are demonstrating against that.
We want the Government to pull the troops out from these countries and to stop interfering in our affairs. We would like to have a protest closer to the memorial but it is difficult to get access. We want to break the silence and say: ‘what about the silence for others that have died?’
The problem with this statement is that it utterly misses the point.
Yes, the official purpose of Armistice Day and the two minutes’ silence is to commemorate fallen soldiers. But there is no bar or proscription against also remembering civilians who have died in war, or even the futility of war itself and all the victims it has claimed. If you want silence for the others that have died, you need only direct your thoughts that way.
Whilst their website claims that “these crimes [Afghanistan and Iraq] were exposed and their perpetrators condemned,” the fact is that the message people take from this event will not be one of peace or opposition to war. It will be a message of religious zealotry, and the kind of vicious bile that politicians can use to justify illegal wars and crackdowns on civil liberties. Being deliberately offensive as others try to commemorate the loved ones they have lost achieves nothing except getting peoples’ backs up.
But then, one suspects that this is the real aim of MAC. After all, Islamism – like fascism – thrives by being able to play on feelings of anger, alienation, and persecution. Thus, it behoves them to help exacerbate these conditions in order to radicalise and recruit more effectively.
Helping them in that goal, unfortunately, are the second group who were present today – the English Defence League. Or, as it was today, a rabble of angry twats led by a fat bloke shouting “Muhammad was a paedophile, Allah is a liar, Islam is a lie.” Truly inspiring stuff, I’m sure, but you’ll have to forgive me for not embracing them with open arms.
The EDL, of course, is a fascist organisation. They feed off the actions of groups such as MAC in order to play up a threat that isn’t there. Islam isn’t taking over, and even its most extreme adherents are in no position to credibly attempt such a thing. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be used in order to divide the working class and lead peoples’ anger up a nationalist blind alley, at a time when we face the much more credible threat of the government’s heightened class war in favour of the rich.
Proof of this can be found in the EDL’s recent threat to shut down towns which banned Christmas. They have played into the hysteria drummed up by the tabloids and are fighting a culture war that simply isn’t being waged.
But even if it was, in what way would the EDL possibly “defend” us? Even under the baseless assumption that everything they claimed was true, how would this organisation possibly combat the threat of militant Islam or Islamisation? The answer, in short, is that it couldn’t. Its actions are purely reactionary and, more than that, concerned with feeding right-wing anger rather than challenging the radicalisation of Muslims.
They don’t organise within Muslim communities. They don’t counteract the religious arguments of the Islamists with a class argument to address the real issues that affect and concern Muslims and non-Muslims alike. They don’t stand in solidarity with those who oppose the extremists in their own midst. And they don’t distinguish issues of religious bigotry from those of religious freedom in order to distance themselves from the far-right and racism.
Instead, they remain a resolutely single-issue group, refusing to acknowledge that there may be any subject more important than what the Muslims are up to. They consistently blur the distinction between ordinary Muslims and militant Islam. They take every half-baked fear-mongering piece of trash in the tabloids as the gospel truth (even whilst claiming that the media is a left-wing propaganda machine). And they fail miserably at disguising the bigotry and xenophobia that underpins their ideology.
Thus, rather than being the last, best hopeto save Britain from Islam, the EDL are actually feeding the sentiments which help the Islamists recruit. And vice-versa. Both, after all, are trying to convince a particular element of the working class that another element is the enemy and that they should define themselves on the basis of divisive identity politics rather than striving for class unity.
Hence today’s farcical and offensive scenes. This was far from the clash of civilisations that both sides believe they’re in the midst of. But it does show why the working class should not only reject but also actively oppose the message of both groups when they take it to the streets.
The 10th of November saw around 50,000 students descend on London. The occasion was not a casting call for Skins or the unveiling of Russell Brand’s new clothing line at Topshop but a mass demo against the government’s proposed tripling of student fees to £9000 a year. Students came from all over the UK, with Norwich’s UEA sending seven coaches as well as delegations from NUCA and city college. Scottish students also turned up on mass to show solidarity and German and Australian students were also spotted.
Unsurprisingly for students the language was colourful, placards proclaimed “The Con-dems put the N into cuts” and under the black and red banners an informal ‘most offensive chant’ contest seemed to be taking place. Honourable mention to “If ya Tory and ya know it slit ya wrists” which was met with a socialist refrain of “that’s a bit too far…”
The march itself had a slow start and appeared to be a micromanaged affair with little scope for hijinks, stewards strictly enforced the will of the markedly un-progressive National Union of Students. During the march’s pre-ordained route mischievous spirits began to soar as some students were passing Millbank Tower, the headquarters of the Conservative party and a small section of the protest broke away and laid siege to the unguarded building.
Protesters quickly stormed the building, occupying the lobby and throwing open the front doors and urging others to join them. Windows were kicked out and masked protesters spray painted revolutionary symbols and slogans on and around Millbank Tower.
The attack on the building escalated throughout the day, only a few hundred yards from where NUS hacks appealed for calm from their podium. The students however had different ideas and at the peak of the disturbance around three thousand students were reported to be involved in the disturbances, lighting fires, damaging or stealing office equipment and generally making themselves at home in the Tory HQ. Conspicuously absent from the party were the delegations from A-fed and Sol-fed who left early claiming that they didn’t see any tactical advantage or point in smashing things.
At the time of writing as far as I know only 32 arrests were made, a minute amount for an action that lasted over four hours. I do fear however that those who were new to civil disobedience/ direct action may have left themselves open to reprisal by failing to protect their identities by appearing unmasked and in some case talking to the media and giving their names. This will be a lesson learnt hard. On the positive side only fourteen injuries were reported and half of these were to the Police.
I’d like to wind up by saying how inspiring today has been. Whilst black banners were in attendance they quickly disappeared after the first wave of the assault as their followers were well aware that they would be marked as targets and scape-goats for police, leaving the majority of the damage to be done throughout the day by students who may not have previously embraced militant tactics. So whilst the NUS may blame radical elements (and my sources tell me that members of P.I.I.S.T. may have been in attendance) it is quite clear that no vanguard can claim responsibility for this spontaneous uprising and that it was certainly not a few ruining it for the many. So let us hope that this is the re-birth of student radicalism, France or Greece it may not be but it is definitely a leap in the right direction.
Student activist on the scene.
Full report from NCAG members who attended the siege of Millbank Tower tomorrow…
Taken From Paul Stott’s I Intend To Escape….And Come Back blog.
The December issue of BBC History magazine has a 4 page piece by Clive Bloomentitled “Terror on the Streets of London” covering the 1911 siege of Sidney Street in east London, when east European revolutionaries were surrounded by gun toting police and soldiers under the personal command of Home Secretary Winston Churchill.
A podcast from Bloom is available from November 12, and the Musuem of London Docklands is running an exhibition London Under Siege: Churchill and the Anarchists from 17 December to 10 April 2011. Reading through the BBC History piece I cannot help feeling that Anarchist researcher Phil Ruff has been seriously short changed by Clive Bloom. Phil has put in an enormous amount of research into the siege, battling through state archives in Latvia, and definitively identifying Peter the Painter as Janis Zhaklis. It is a shame to see his work skirted around in Bloom’s article, which instead refers merely to a “British scholar” piecing together the life of Zhaklis.
History it seems, as well as never being neutral, is also rather competitive!
The unemployed will be ordered to do periods of compulsory full-time work in the community or be stripped of their benefits under controversial American-style plans to slash the number of people without jobs.
The proposals, in a white paper on welfare reform to be unveiled this week, are part of a radical government agenda aimed at cutting the £190bn-a-year welfare bill and breaking what the coalition now calls the “habit of worklessness”.
The measures will be announced to parliament by the work and pensions secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, as part of what he will describe as a new “contract” with the 1.4 million people on jobseekers’ allowance. The government’s side of the bargain will be the promise of a new “universal credit”, to replace all existing benefits, that will ensure it always pays to work rather than stay on welfare.
And if that’s not reactionary enough…
The Department for Work and Pensions plans to contract private providers to organise the placements with charities, voluntary organisations and companies.
Just let the private sector loose on those proposals.
Where to start? Firstly, Labour should take a hellva responsibility for this, they started this hideous Frankenstein monster of welfare reform (thank-you James Purnell….) no wonder they are kind quiet on this. The ConDems are just taking it to another turbo-charged level.
Secondly, will there be rights of appeal when stripped of benefits? Will there be procedures in place for claimants to do this? We will have to wait and see. But these are scary times.
Interestingly, the ConDems and neither did New Labour look and take notice at this research by the DWP on reviewing Workfare schemes globally in 2008. The conclusions were that…
Workfare doesn’t work!
The research found that workfare doesn’t improve job prospects rather it can limit the chances of employment by failing to provide skills training and also time available to find work. And because of the compulsory nature of workfare, people drop-out of welfare and therefore as it acts as a deterrent it is harder to measure the tangible outcomes of welfare.
Finally, workfare can make life so much worse for people, for example, who have disabilities or are lone parents who have problems with meeting the demands placed on them to will ultimately receive penalties and sanctions that could lead to a complete withdrawal of benefits.
What next… Serco run workhouses?
Additional research claims that the tough sanctions regime underpinning WfD (Work for the Dole) and other Australian labour market programmes may have a detrimental effect on labour market prospects. In 2000/01 alone, a total of 350,000 penalties were imposed that ‘counterproductively diminishe[d] many jobseekers prospects of finding employment’, with the burden falling disproportionately on young people and indigenous Australians.
What would be better for ordinary people facing unemployment is proper paid work within reasonable travelling time and with proper child care and training. A housebuilding programme, a energy saving programme, free universal childcare are things that ordinary people need doing. They could provide an enormous number of jobs.
All workfare ideas spring from right-wing theories that the reason people are unemployed is that it is too cushy. Workfare is about bullying people, stigmatising, vilifying and scapegoating the poor for the economic woes of society. It would not do of course to look into the role of the rich and powerful or the organisation of the economy in creating economic problems. Better to find groups who are relatively powerless: yes pick on the weak and hope that you are never faced with physical or mental disability or left with children and no way to earn a living.
And just a final final, why the hell aren’t the TUC condemning this outright because Workfare is an ideological attack on pay and conditions, ultimately workers’ rights something which the TUC should be organising around now!
NCAG have this evening received a communique from the Populist Iceni Insurrectionist Socialist Tendancy, a group not heard of since the fall of Thatchers government.
Message reads as follows…
To the people of Norfolk,
Twenty years after the biggest popular uprising for a generation it is time to shake off the cobwebs of complacency and awaken the class hatred and anger that has lain dormant for so long. The time is now upon us to once again take to the streets and instil fear into the hearts of the oppressor.
We call on all those who fought fearlessly for justice against the state in 1990 to once again take their place in history.
TODAY THE VERY LIFEBLOOD OF SOCIAL WELFARE AND THE HARD FOUGHT RIGHTS OF THE COMMON PEOPLE ARE ABOUT TO BE LOST. LAST TIME WE SMASHED UP OUR CIVIC HALLS. THIS TIME WE TEAR THEM DOWN, BRICK BY BRICK, AND BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY.
We’ll see you on December 4th and beyond.
We’re back, we’re angry, and this time we finish the job!
Footage from Norwich Riots
Remember remember the fifth of November,
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason why gunpowder, treason
Should ever be forgot…
Once again we’re under attack. The ‘con-dems’ have taken a firm grip of the axe and started swinging. The Comprehensive Spending Revue has laid out what’s going from where, but it seems like we won’t really know what this means in real terms until we experience it first hand.
The communication from the government and the left has been predictably alienating. Labour said that they would have done the same, confirmation that the cuts are an ideological imposition by the rich onto the poor. So-called ‘revolutionary organisations’ and all their splinters, subsidiaries, fronts and marginal opposition parties have been bombarding us with figures for Trident and Afghanistan as if cuts here are in any way a feasible goal. The cuts themselves, coupled with the failure of the mass demonstration have shown us that we have no control over policy decisions, so why focus on something we can’t hope to change right now?
What we must take from this is that we now know what we’re up against. It’s time to engage, shape our strategy and let people know without tarting it up with ideological what ifs or academic over analysis, what this means to them and how to fight back. Already a high-street chain has been occupied across the nation as the government happily writes off billions in fiddled taxes.
So to the estates, social centres and pubs to build a resistance with and around the people who will be hardest pushed to deal with the effects. Start a strike fund and prepare centres for the newly unemployed and the potentially de-homed, ‘grab a half-brick and a spray can’. It’s time for action. Stay on the offensive!
Stan Cullen Grant
Earlier today members of the NUJ undertook the first of a string of planned short term strikes over the planned changes to the BBC’s pensions policy.
This first strike is set to last for 48 hours and we went along to join the picket line in Norwich. When we arrived at the Forum about fifteen striking workers had assembled with placards, leaflets, folding chairs and tubs of cake, they looked like they were in it for the long haul. The workers were soon joined by members of other unions, members from the Norfolk Coalition Against The Cuts including Ian Gibson and of course the contingent from NCAG.
We were told by workers that they felt betrayed by BBC director general Mark Thompson who negotiated a deal before he was legally obliged too and they felt by rushing into this decision he hadn’t taken the time to work out the best terms for employees. In a speech a union representative further reprimanded Thompson, accusing him of flip-flopping over terms, figures and language in order to confuse the workers allowing him to force through an unfair contract.
There was also a degree of frustration with those who had refused to join the picket, and protesters grumbled that their colleagues couldn’t see ‘the bigger picture’. This bigger picture seems to be that if the BBC is allowed to take millions from it’s employees’ pensions fund as it is planning to do, that cuts in jobs, pay and working conditions will soon follow. More over the BBC is being used as a sounding board and pilot scheme for cuts all over the public sector, they want to see what they can get away with the BBC and use it as a model for the wider cuts which are now looming.
Despite the strike not being met with universal approval and solidarity from within the BBC there was good news as the the local news broadcasts had been disrupted and the afternoon show cancelled. We were also told that BBC Norfolk will be at a virtual standstill tomorrow, with breakfast show, online content and many other features and functions cancelled all together.
Stan Cullen Grant
National Union Of Journalist members will be out on strike from midnight tonight for 48 hours due to cuts to workers pension schemes.
Members at the BBC in Norwich will be on strike for both days, 5th and 6th November. There will be a picket line all day on Friday with a rally outside the Forum, where the BBC is based, at noon for 12.30pm Friday.
Anyone available to go along and support the strikers would be much appreciated.
The cuts are slowly starting to build industrial action and it’s imperative we show solidarity across the board and make sure OUR OWN union leaders get the message and start the fight back as soon as possible.
Onward and Upwards!
Protest Statement From A Norwich City Action At Vodafone Today.
Corporate tax evasion/avoidance, I don’t pretend to remember which is legal and what loopholes make it so, is costing us our services. Last week ‘The Browne Report’ detailed billions of pounds worth of suggested cuts to the front line of public services affecting, for example; doctors, nurses, cleaning staff and specialists, special educational needs departments and classroom assistants. Right here in Norfolk ‘meals on wheels’ schemes were scrapped today plus there are the ongoing battles to save the day-care centres for the elderly, and now the centres for the deaf, blind, deaf-blind and disabled are all in the firing line. Also facing cuts are rural bus and train services, many people’s only transport link to the wider world. Not to mention the cuts to the Fire Service, youth working groups such as Connexions, and three thousand local jobs, all being the tip of the ice-berg. We are angry.
Vodafone have managed to swindle £6bn in unpaid taxes this year, which George Osbourne has happily written off.
So today a bizarre assortment of students, subcultural-stereotypes, community activists and revolutionaries stood outside Vodafone on St. Stephens St. and let the public know exactly what was causing them their considerable grievances. They were met with a healthy mix of sarcasm, anger, apathy, confusion, virulent support, back-slapping, knowing nods as well a series of follow up questions and a few pledges of solidarity. Within half an hour over 500 leaflets had been distributed and the shop effectively closed as staff locked the doors and released their small amount of customers back onto the high street. We stayed and continued to spread the word asking shoppers “Why should we be expected to pay our taxes when they won’t pay theirs?”
After another short while the police inevitably turned up and claimed they had reports of harassment from the public only seconds after having told us it was driving past us that had alerted them to our presence. When asked if they knew what cuts the Norfolk Constabulary were facing they said they would not be drawn into political arguments then proceeded to debate the finer points of free speech with us. The cops assured us that free speech only applied if in-audible to anyone over around four feet away from the speaker, ignoring the rights of street preachers and buskers to pollute our ears with whatever drivel they like at nearly any volume.
We assured them we’d be back tomorrow with more leaflets so we wouldn’t need to shout anymore. See you on St. Stephens.
Norfolk and Norwich were urged to spearhead a national fightback against plans to impose masive cuts in public services.
Hundreds of people packed a public meeting in the council chamber of Norwich City Hall on Monday night called by the Norfolk Coalition Against the Cuts in protest at national plans by the coalition government to cut public spending, and proposals by Norfolk County Council to bridge a £155m funding blackhole by slashing services and shedding 3,000 jobs.
Critics fear that the cuts will hit the most vulnerable in need of support and the consultation was branded a “Big Con” at the meeting.
But County Hall has promised that people will not be left in the lurch and the aim is to find other ways of providing essential services including voluntary groups, parish and town councils, and the private sector.
The meeting, which was chaired by former Norwich North MP Ian Gibson heard calls from union officials for a general strike as part of a co-ordinated campaign of opposition to the coalition government’s cuts plan.
Dr Gibson said everybody affected by the cuts needed to stand together and drawing on the spirit of the Ketts Rebellion he said the city had a proud tradition of fighting back.
“We have won battles in this city over the years and we can do it again,” Dr Gibson said. “I call upon you all to stand up and fight. This is not a time to compromise, it’s a time to fight and say ‘no’ you are not going to get away with this. I am asking you to make history by being the first in the country to stand up and fight.”
American trade union activist John Reimann, told the meeting campaigners needed to follow the lead of protesters in both France and Greece.
“One set of cuts leads to another,” he said. “We can’t leave it to somebody else, or our leaders upon high to organise this fightback. That’s what we’re here for, there’s no reason why the workers in this room can’t be the spark for a wider movement throughout Great Britain.”
But Norwich city councillor Alan Waters warned that the fight against the cuts would be a long battle, and he reminded the audience that similar protests in the city at St Andrews Hall during the 1980s had failed to stop the cutbacks of the then Thatcher government.
“We have to pull together,” Mr Waters said. “This is not about some temporary cuts, it’s about ending a social democratic country, with social democratic values, that’s designed to care for all of its people.”
The meeting heard that the coalition was planning a further protest march in the city on December 4.
Richard Edwards, regional secretary for the PCSU civil servants union, urged the TUC to back a general strike, and bring forward a national protest march earmarked for next year.
“We believe we need national industrial action,” he said. “Next time we will go for a bigger venue. Do not sit at home waiting for something to happen. Do something tonight. Take away the material, find our website, take it back to your own organisation and get them to become part of this movement.”
Jonathan Dunning, from Norfolk County Unison, said accused the Conservative administration of riding roughshod over the views of opposition councillors and the public.
But his suggestion that the protesters should try to win over Norfolk’s two Lib Dem MPs Norman Lamb and Simon Wright was met with laughter from many in the audience.
“This is just the start of what they want to cut,” Mr Dunning said. “It’s changing the way Norfolk County Council is operating. I have never seen anything that fundamentally changes the way that services are delivered. This is that significant.”
San Francisco carpenter joins Ian Gibson and Norfolk campaign to resist service cuts
A veteran of the American trades union movement, carpenter John Reimann, will speak at a public meeting hosted by Ian Gibson in Norwich on Monday, 1 November.
The meeting, organised by Norfolk Coalition Against the Cuts, is in City Hall council chamber at 7pm. Dr Gibson will chair the meeting. Speakers will include representatives from local workforces facing thousands of job losses if Norfolk County Council’s plan to cut services goes ahead. Norwich City Councillor Alan Waters will also speak.
A torchlit ‘guard of honour’ will welcome the public.
This will be the campaign’s first meeting since Norfolk County Council announced a plan to cut £155 million from its budget, slashing services including support for the elderly, youth services, support for people with disabilities and a host of community resources. These are in addition to government cuts in welfare benefits, such as support for working mothers.
The meeting is expected to endorse a proposal for intensified campaign activities including pressure on local politicians and a march in Norwich in December.
Norfolk Coalition Against the Cuts was formed recently to resist cuts in local services while proposing realistic alternatives for tackling government debt. The campaign launched its Alternative Budget at an impressive rally in Norwich recently.
Former Norwich MP, Dr Ian Gibson, said:
“This may be the most important meeting I have ever chaired. Norfolk County Council’s intended cuts in services are a shameful affront to the people of this county. Anyone who cares about the vulnerable and everything precious in our community should join me at this meeting. There are alternatives to the carnage the government is planning and a massive public campaign can stop those plans.”