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’….
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!
DON’T IMPLEMENT THE TORY DESTRUCTION OF THE WELFARE STATE!
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.
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.