"I have long argued that the giving of offence, and even hate speech, should be a moral matter but not a matter for the criminal law. That is as true on the football pitch as on the streets. We should always challenge racism. We should also always challenge attacks on liberties in the guise of faux antiracism." Kenan Malik

Public Services

Opinion: I Remember, In Fact I’ll Never Forget…

“Remember when Teachers, Civil Servants, Policemen, Ambulance staff, Nurses, Midwives, Doctors and Fireman crashed the stock market, wiped out banks, took billions in bonuses and paid no tax? No, me neither.”

So goes the recent profile update that is doing the rounds on Facebook and Twitter.

While I agree wholeheartedly, there are however things I CAN remember.

I remember the first time I was brutally assaulted and knocked unconscious by a tooled up gang….of police.

I remember losing my house due to unsubstantiated complaints by a neighbour who was in the BNP….by the nice people in the housing office.

I remember it taking five years to get custody of my small vulnerable children from their mentally ill mother because my word as a father was not given as much importance as the denials of maltreatment by their mother…by the nice lady social worker.

I remember being cut off the dole and having to beg on the street for money due to refusal of help…from the nice people at the Jobcentre.

I remember years of verbal, mental and physical abuse….at the hands of teachers.

I remember being brutalized and tormented while in custody and how currently a friend is having his mail thrown away…by prison officers.

I remember the year long battle to sort out my PAYE deductions that left me having to work an extra 4 hours a day just to break even…by the most helpful people at the tax office.

Yes, I remember.

It’s just as well I also remember that I’d never cross a picket line and I’ll be phoning in sick on November 30th because members of my union are going on strike. Ironic isn’t it….

Rick Dutton


This June 30th…Strike Or Pull A Sicky…And Join The Growing European Uprising…

TUC Day of Action Against The Cuts January 15th

When the TUC recently declared their intent on supporting the student struggle against fees and ‘upping the ante’ across the board to fight against the cuts, there was certainly a sigh of relief from many on the left.

The rest of us were not so complacent however, realising fighting means more than uttering words and declarations of ‘struggle’.

Indeed the TUC, following criticism that the earliest they could call a march in opposition to the cuts would be on 26/3/2011, declared their intent on pushing for a day of local actions across the country to keep the fight back and the links with the unions visible. A case of We must be seen to be doing something

Sadly in our own part of the region surrounding Norwich it seems the local Trades Council and Labour Party supporting bureaucrats have not yet managed to even put pen to paper and publicly acknowledge a day of action in any way shape or form, and the Norfolk Coalition Against The Cuts appear to still be finishing off the remnants of their Christmas turkey dinner. Either that or their hidden caucus within the steering group has put an end to even the pretence of organising any kind of decent fight back.

While Norwich Trades Council and Norfolk Coalition Against The Cuts have found it too complicated to publicly answer the call to action there will indeed be a day of action starting with a protest outside Vodaphone on St.Stephens in Norwich at 12 midday to protest against tax avoidance by corporations. The event has been called by local UKUncut activists, many with no union connections at all, in support of the TUC’s call for a fightback.

It’s a funny ol’game’….

Norwich Uncut.

Lobby of Norwich City Council ‘Cabinet’ Meeting December 8th 4.30pm, City Hall.

Lobby of Norwich City Council ‘Cabinet’ Meeting December 8th 4.30, front of City Hall.

Bring drums, pots n pans and grannies old bloomers as well as anything else loud!


Norwich pensioners urged to have say on cuts

Chance for older people to have their say

The next meeting of the Norwich Older People’s Forum (NOPF) is later this month, and the agenda focuses on how budget cuts might affect social care for older people.

Representatives from Norfolk County Council are attending to discuss and answer your questions about the affect on cuts to the adult social care budget as a result of the government’s comprehensive spending review.

Lady Joyce Hopwood, chair of the NOPF, said: “We know that major cuts are being planned to social care for older people. At the next forum meeting, you have a big opportunity to have your say on what these cuts will mean for you and what you think of them.

“You can influence which cuts are put in place and how. I would urge everyone to come along and have your say to those in charge of social care at Norfolk County Council. This is not in the city’s control, but we have the chance to have an influence – take it!”

Panel members are:

Councillor David Harwood – cabinet member for community services
Harold Bodmer – director of community services
James Bullion – assistant director of community services
This is your chance to be heard – don’t waste it!

The meeting will be held on Friday 19 November 2010, from 10am to 12.30pm at Blackfriars Hall, St Andrews Plain, Norwich, NR3 1AU.

We’d have thought ‘Lady Joyce’ would oppose ALL and ANY cuts to social care for older people…or are we being slightly naive…

WE certainly know that SHE knows in reality this meeting will have absolutely no influence what so ever over Tory lunatics such as David Harwood.

Tax The Rich!

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.

NCAG and Norfolk Coalition Against The Cuts

On Monday night members of Norfolk Community Action Group attended a steering committee meeting of the Norfolk Coalition Against The Cuts where we were quite literally ‘vetted’ on our suitability to join.

While some of our members and supporters are annoyed that we even attended the meeting and had to justify our class struggle politics against much of the lefts obsessive ‘identity politics’, and local trade unions almost universal lack of support for the Tomlinson Family Campaign, having met and spoken to the members who were there, we found them amiable and courteous enough to admit that no other group had to go through the same process to sign up, and believe them to be people we can work with.

Whether this coalition goes the same way as many others in the last 25 years due to ‘stacking’ by one particular group we must wait and see but feel there are potentially enough decent minded trade unionists there to recognise when this is happening.

It is imperative that the upcoming struggles against public service cuts and the potential decimation of the welfare state are fought on as much of a united front as we can possibly achieve.

For this reason we have affiliated with the Norfolk Coalition Against The Cuts and ask all to respect the organisations aims and principles which are as follows…

We seek to build broad based alliances in the major communities of Norfolk involving all trade unions representing members in the public sector, Trades Councils, campaigning, community and welfare groups, school councils and other organisations representing young people

We seek to form a Steering Group with representatives from all of the above to take forward the campaign

Priority task to build support for a credible alternative to the Coalition Government’s policy of public spending cuts

We agree a core Statement of Aims that we ask other Trade Unions and organisations to add to and support

We seek to promote a positive image of Public Services and Public Service workers to counter the negative propaganda of the Government and its supporters in the media

We seek to hold a series of meetings in identified communities in Norfolk to build the Alliance

We seek to develop practical and meaningful solidarity to support campaigns and actions in opposition to the cuts in our communities

We welcome the support of any political organisations and politicians that are prepared to oppose (in words and deeds) cuts in public spending

That we develop a Communications and Media strategy to promote our ideas

Commitment to universal public services for all regardless of ability to pay without discrimination

Recognition of the crucial social and economic value of Public Services and public sector jobs to the communities of Norfolk

Opposition to all public spending cuts

Effective action to close the Tax Gap and ensure the wealthiest in society pay their fair share of taxes

Commitment to maintenance of ‘Face-to-face’ and local services

Opposition to job cuts, service delivery cuts and closures

Opposition to privatisation or outsourcing of public services

Opposition to cuts in Welfare benefits

Opposition to the scapegoating of minorities for unemployment and strains on services.