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Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Support students right to a free education for all

Tommorrow students from up and down the land will be protesting against teh attacks on their opportunities of a decent life for themselves and others who will follow them. This is also a fight for free education to international students too who have also been put off in coming heer to study we cannot forget them too. Free education should be a right in this day and age why should young people today have to pay when many of their parents and the smug politicians never had to pay a penny. Many students and young people are joining a London demonstration calling on the government to scrap tuition fees and cuts. Paired with the introduction of £9,000 university tuition fees for 2012’s student intake, the slashing of benefits and key services for students and young people is having a devastating impact, the organisers say. Scrapping of the education maintenance allowance (EMA) The EMA was a weekly means-tested payment of up to £30 for students aged 16-19, at schools or in further education colleges, in return for their attending lessons. It provided a lifeline to students . Around 45% of students qualified for the EMA, costing over £560m. But in late 2010, the government scrapped it in England. It still exists in Scotland and Wales. The budget was slashed to just £180m and reallocated to a 16-19 “bursary fund”. Unlike the EMA, which was distributed according to parental income, the new fund can be distributed by schools and colleges as they see fit. Pupils can apply even if they weren’t eligible for the EMA, so it’s unclear how many students qualify. Some of today’s sixth formers don’t know the EMA ever existed, but those with older siblings have found the injustice hard to swallow. “It seems as if the government is trying to make higher education less accessible to those from lower income families. University now feels like something more related to social class rather than to education.” Youth services have been slashed, with councils closing youth clubs up and down the country. Connexions – which provided information, support and advice to 13- to 25-year-olds – has been almost completely cut and replaced by the National Careers Service with disastrous results, particularly for the most vulnerable. Aimhigher – a programme that aimed to widen higher education participation – was also scrapped in 2011, just before the fees increase. “Where you come from remains such a key factor in whether or not you go on to university,” says Megan Dunn, NUS vice-president for higher education. “Young people from the most advantaged neighbourhoods in England are three times more likely to enter higher education than those from the most disadvantaged.” The government planned to “modernise” the DSA, which students in England can receive to meet the extra study costs arising from their disabilities, long-term mental and physical health conditions, and learning difficulties. Some changes have been postponed for at least two years after protests from students. But from 2015, many of the provisions the DSA currently pays for, such as standard computers for disabled students, will no longer be covered. Since 2010, the Department for Education has protected funding for educational provision for five-16s, but has slashed funding for 16-18 education. Some sixth form colleges will have lost a third of their funding by the end of this parliament, according to the Sixth Form College Association (SFCA), because of a combination of cuts to entitlement funding, which provides tutorials and enrichment activities, a new 16-19 funding formula, and a reduction in funding for 18 year olds. This has meant increased class sizes and a reduction in the number of A-level and vocational courses available at many schools and FE colleges. A survey of sixth form colleges by the SFCA found that 68% had dropped courses, with 38% cutting modern foreign language A-levels and 22% Stem subjects. with quotes and extracts from http://www.theguardian.com/education/2014/nov/17/robbed-of-their-futures-how-austerity-cuts-hit-young-people-hardest?CMP=twt_gu In a National campaign against fees and cuts press release students wrote "This Wednesday, on November 19th, thousands of students will march through London in what is likely to be the biggest education protest in several years. The demo – which is organised by the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts in coalition with a number of other student groups – will march on parliament under the banner of ‘FREE EDUCATION: no fees, no cuts, no debt’. The demonstration aims to be the spark for a new and proactive generation of student protests. There will be a press conference on the day of the demonstration. The press conference will include school students, activists from across the country and representatives of the different organisations behind the march. The press conference will take place at UCL (University College London) at 10am. Callum Cant, from Warwick for Free Education and the National Campaign against Fees and Cuts said: “At Warwick we have been campaigning on the ground for almost a month, and we’ve seen our hard work pay off. On campus, the mood is changing, people are excited, and we have seen a huge number of people getting involved in student activism for the first time.” Hattie Craig, from Defend Education Birmingham and the National Campaign against Fees and Cuts said: “The students attending this demonstration are a new generation: one that was not involved in 2010, one for whom £9,000 fees are the norm. Despite this, they’re daring to call for demands which envisage a radical reshaping of education. This demonstration, expected to be the biggest since 2010, is the start of big things for the student movement.” Kirsty Haigh, from NUS Scotland and the National Campaign against Fees and Cuts said: “NUS scotland firmly believes in free education and we are supporting the demo on November 19th. We believe education is a right that should be accessible to everyone and barriers such as fees are unjust. That is why I, and many other Scottish students, will be marching this Wednesday.” Deborah Hermanns, from the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts, said: “We will not win this with one march, but by creating a movement too big to ignore or to betray. So we have called for two further days of action on 3 and 6 December in campuses and communities across the country, and will keep fighting for as long as it takes to win.” Notes: 1. NCAFC is a democratic coalition of students and workers fighting for free education and against fees, cuts and privatisation in education. It has existed since 2010 and has around 500 members. " http://anticuts.com/2014/11/18/demonstration-to-be-start-of-big-things-as-students-prepare-for-an-autumn-of-protest/

Friday, 14 November 2014

Why we don’t need “leaders”, for working class self action

A lot in our movement put our failures and lack of progress down to the wrong leadership and we simply need better leaders and we will be much better off. If only it was that simple ay? I was once a member of a vanguard Trotskyist party the Socialist party of England and Wales formally known as the militant tendency. I found this strain of Marxist politics rather insular and often backward looking in its outlook. “The "vanguard of the proletariat" is a concept common to both the Leninist and Trotskyist strains of communism, and it is nothing more than a convenient precedent to seize and hold power. In post-revolutionary Russia, it saw the self-organised soviets infiltrated and commandeered by the Bolsheviks, the army re-centralised, and the establishment of a counter-revolutionary dictatorship. Vanguardism is a dead-end for real, libertarian socialism. In times when it had a chance of gaining power, it was a vehicle for dictatorship. Now, the point is to boost the numbers, fill the coffers, and sell the papers. Some groups, such as the Socialist Party - being formed from Militant Tendency - do have the upside of actually getting involved in workers' struggles in practical ways. But they hold to the same belief in workers' needing revolutionary leadership, and the same tendency towards building front groups As class consciousness begins to slowly grind into a very slow movement in progression is something to be welcomed naturally as those of us who wish to change the world for the better. But as consciousness increases, we also need to be aware of – and to challenge – illusions in official leadership and hierarchies. This goes for the Labour Party, of course, and for the numerous other sects which style themselves as our vanguards and revolutionary leadership. But, in the particular arena of industrial disputes, we need to be particularly wary of the influence and intent of the trade union leadership. As Anton Pannekoek wrote, the leaders and bureaucrats of the union movement “sit in conferences with the capitalists, bargaining over wages and hours, pitting interests against interests, just as the opposing interests of the capitalist corporations are weighed one against another.” This is how “they learn to understand the capitalist’s position just as well as the worker’s position” and so take it upon themselves “to regulate class conflicts and to secure industrial peace.” Though portrayed as enemies or rivals, trade union leaders and bosses end up collaborating to quell industrial unrest to the detriment of workers Many will say well if you think we don’t need a leadership how will we ever get anywhere. This is a hugely defeatist position which makes out the working class are incapable of thinking and acting for themselves. To create change workers must start to feel their own collective power and possibilities of action from below. The main vehicle for that is the mass assembly. Workers build confidence in their own strength through collective action, and an integral part of that is the ability to make decisions for ourselves. Thus, rather than limiting the input of the workforce to a statutory ballot, after which union leaders and executive committees decide the timing and the form of action, assemblies of all workers involved in a given dispute allows for this open debate and decision-making. It makes it easier to organise pickets, plan solidarity and fund-raising actions, and generally maintain the strength of an action. Where mass assemblies are not practical, for example in disputes and actions spread across a broad geographical area or involving a number of sites, an elected strike committee is the next best option. Such a committee should be composed not of representatives imbued with the power to make decisions for their constituents, but of delegates with strict mandates who are accountable to those who elected them and instantly revocable. In establishing such a committee, those taking action are able to coordinate their activities efficiently and respond to issues rapidly whilst still making sure that it is ordinary workers who are calling the shots, beyond the reach of the demobilising forces of trade union bureaucracy. This also, again, reinforces the idea that workers are able to take action of their own accord, as a class, and helps to build the confidence and consciousness required not only for significantly larger actions such as a general strike but also to reinforce how things will look in the event of a radical re-organisation of society in workers’ interests. Ultimately, workers need to self-organise. Yes, we need to rid ourselves of the dead-weight of union bureaucracy, but that does not mean installing an out-of-touch vanguard in their stead. Serious and effective resistance to the class war can only come from below, at the hands of people who are willing to take direct action but who also realise that looking revolutionary isn't the same as being revolutionary. In the workers’ movement, solidarity isn’t just a word. It is a weapon. It is the basic principle behind working class people combining to defend their collective interests and reciprocally supporting each other’s struggles. In practical terms, it can take many forms; from joining and supporting the picket line of another workforce to donating money to those who have withdrawn their labour. The latter is particularly important if we want to build a culture of industrial action that is independent of union bosses, because the availability or refusal of strike funds is one way in which they are able to demobilise people and turn action on or off as they see fit. Hence the importance of locally controlled strike funds. Such monies do not, obviously, spring up out of nowhere. By bringing the control of funds back to the grassroots, so we also bring them the responsibility for raising them. There are a number of ways to do this. Self-organised groups, such as Liverpool Antifascists, use benefit nights and gigs to raise money. As they put it, “these events not only serve to raise money … but to lay down links in communities and raise awareness of the … cause.” Thus, not only do such actions raise cash, they also forge the community links and sense of comradeship that is equally vital to maintaining struggles. In particular, this is a good way of drawing those outside of the affected workplaces into the action, and they can be encouraged to contribute to the fight not only financially but by turning up at pickets or demonstrations as well. Practical solidarity and mass picketing Not all disputes follow the same pattern. As such, there is no single formula that can be prescribed to guarantee success. However, as a general principle, building practical support and solidarity is integral to any potential victory. Particularly, as in Britain, if you are standing up in defiance of restrictive laws. The broader the base of support for an action, the harder it is for the bosses or politicians to make workers suffer any backlash.” In order to challenge the cuts agenda, we do not need to “win the argument” or to elect the right people into power. We need to shift the balance of power back in favour of the working class. This can only be done by encouraging people to self-organise and take control of their own struggles, in the community and in the workplace. 1. Rank-and-file control The point of direct action is that the working class do not put pressure on those in authority to negotiate, nor work in partnership with them to solve common problems. Instead, we identify what we want and either take it or force those in power to concede it to us. As its essence lies in un-mediated class struggle, by definition it cannot be directed from above by any self-styled revolutionary leadership. Direct action has to be initiated, and led, from below by the rank-and-file. This acts as a safeguard against being demobilised from above by bureaucrats or politicians who will put their own careers ahead of class interests; but it also serves as a demonstration of our own power. By organising in this way, we learn to exercise that power without the need for political leaders or vanguards. This not only allows us to challenge the present rolling back of workers’ rights and defend the status quo, but also to look beyond it and question the way that society is organised as a whole. With quotes and extracts by Phil Dickens over at http://propertyistheft.wordpress.com/2011/03/18/standing-on-the-picket-line/ A And http://propertyistheft.wordpress.com/2011/02/28/defeating-the-cuts-an-anarcho-syndicalist-strategy/

reblogged via @stavvers: Sheffield Utd need to listen up: rape is not acceptable

with thanks to @stavvers on twitter for this reblog : stavvers Content note: this post discusses rape and rape apologism At the time of writing, Sheffield United are still refusing to make a definitive statement on whether they will re-sign the rapist Ched Evans to the club. This decision is looking more bizarre by the day, as a scramble to disassociate from the enterprise begins. It started with patron Charlie Webster, and then two others followed. Shirt sponsors soon joined, and now Jessica Ennis-Hall, who has a stand named after her at Bramall Lane, wants her name removed if the rapist is re-signed. It seems bizarre, therefore, that United haven't come out and distanced themselves to a different country than Evans. There is likely a certain level of cynicism, at least among some of those pulling away from Sheffield United: a fear of negative publicity for their brand rather than a genuine commitment to ending rape culture. No business wants to be known as "that rape company" upon their logo being proudly displayed on the shirt of a convicted rapist. However, some seem to be putting across good messages, like Charlie Webster, who explained: There can be no doubt that Evans is influencing a young generation of men who are still developing their opinions on how to treat women. They develop these opinions and morals based on the role models they see around them, the role models that we give them. I cannot publicly support a club that presents a convicted rapist as a role model. These young men are standing by their hero, showing him unwavering solidarity and support, without actually understanding or really thinking about what Evans has done. But we are the ones who set Evans up an influencer. We are the ones presenting a convicted rapist a role model to our young people. Is that ok? This is the crux of the matter. Every second United delay sending a clear message that they have no intention of re-signing Evans allows yet more young men think that they can rape someone, and, on the very unlikely chance they get caught, it will present little more than a small blip in an otherwise glamorous career. Given that on the current landscape, signing a convicted rapist makes terrible business sense, one can only assume that this is exactly the game Sheffield United are playing. It's becoming abundantly clear that this is what they want, to nurture the next generation of young rapists into comfortable , well-paid lives. A common myth among rape apologists is that an accusation of rape can ruin a man's life. Nowhere is this shown more obviously to be false than when we look to Ched Evans. This man is a convicted rapist, and his club have bent over backwards to accommodate him, against the forces of general business acumen. Evans still enjoys an army of loyal defenders of rape, willing to trumpet that even though he was convicted of rape it wasn't really rape. I do not think this whole affair has taught Ched Evans nothing. It's taught him and the men that he influences that yes, you really can get away with it. Fortunately, there are enough people out there who don't want this to happen, and can see these ramifications as clear as day. Our voices are growing louder, and it looks as though this time, it might just be winnable. Surely Sheffield United must know by now that if they don't kick that convicted rapist soon, they'll go down with him? If they haven't realised it by now, I'll gladly watch them burn. stavvers | November 13, 2014 at 9:41 pm | Categories: rape | URL: http://wp.me/p1pLiJ-FJ

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Fully automated luxury communism

A mouthful or could the title of fully automated luxury communism be a possible aim for the working class to achieve. The guys over at Novara FM who do some fantastic work and some quality independent critical thinking from the left is where I heard this phrase first and I think it deserves some looking into. “We must do away with the absolutely specious notion that everybody has to earn a living. It is a fact today that one in ten thousand of us can make a technological breakthrough capable of supporting all the rest. The youth of today are absolutely right in recognizing this nonsense of earning a living. We keep inventing jobs because of this false idea that everybody has to be employed at some kind of drudgery because, according to Malthusian-Darwinian theory, he must justify his right to exist. So we have inspectors of inspectors and people making instruments for inspectors to inspect inspectors. The true business of people should be to go back to school and think about whatever it was they were thinking about before somebody came along and told them they had to earn a living” https://www.tumblr.com/search/fully+automated+luxury+communism http://youtu.be/dmQ-BZ3eWxM Above are links to Novara pieces one is where the quotation above comes from and the one below is a video of Aaron Bastani talking about what a future way of living and work could be like. We all have heard about the idea of the future of robots doing a lot of our work and us having a lot more time of leisure. Well why can’t we actually try and put this into place from now on. We all work far too hard and for far too long to enjoy life as it was meant to be enjoyed. So why not fight for a future where we say do a form of work which could be different to keep us engaged job rotation in affect a maximum of 15 hours a week while keeping same rate of pay as before sounds almost too good to be true. That’s because it is at present under capitalism. But under communism you could put automation of jobs and keeping same rate of pay up and pose it as progress. Today when so many jobs are being lost to automation should we not try and make use of it if it is going to happen anyway. A recent study looking at which jobs may be at risk of automation in the coming years and decades has been carried out of late. This link between lower paid jobs and automation suggests technology risks fueling growing wealth inequalities — unless education and training can be successfully reconfigured to upskill populations with the digital, management and creative skills that are at reduced risk of automation. The study found that lower paid jobs are almost eight times as likely to be replaced than higher paid jobs when looking specifically at London. Overall, though, the rate of tech-fueled destruction drops to 30 per cent of jobs specifically in London — likely owing to higher rates of pay in the capital vs the rest of the U.K. Some 40 per cent of U.K. jobs are rated as low or no risk. In London this figure rises to 51 per cent of jobs. In the high risk corner, the research lists jobs like office and admin support; sales and services; transportation; construction and extraction; and production. While jobs identified as low or no risk jobs include skilled management; financial services; computing, engineering and science; education; legal services; community services; the arts and media; and healthcare. “A new report from Pew Research brings together almost 2,000 experts to comprehensively assess the effect of robots on the workplace Experts are divided over the role of robots over the next decade, with some arguing that they will create more jobs than they displace, and others worrying that they could lead to income inequality and a breakdown in social order. The findings come from a report by Pew Research, which surveyed almost two thousand individuals with expertise in artificial intelligence (AI), robotics and economics, to find out their predictions for the role of automation between today and 2025. The experts were almost perfectly split, with 52% predicting an optimistic path, and 48% worrying about the future. The optimists envisioned “a future in which robots and digital agents do not displace more jobs than they create,” according to Aaron Smith, the report’s co-author. But the pessimistic view was that automation “will displace significant numbers of both blue- and white-collar workers. “A number of the respondents warned that this aspect of technical evolution will lead to vast increases in income inequality, masses of people who are effectively unemployable and the possibility of breakdowns in the social order.” Almost all of the respondents are united on one thing: the displacement of work by robots and AI is going to continue, and accelerate, over the coming decade. Where they split is in the societal response to that displacement. The optimists predict that the economic boom that would result from vastly reduced costs to businesses would lead to the creation of new jobs in huge numbers, and a newfound premium being placed on the value of work that requires “uniquely human capabilities”. In the end, as Lee Rainie, another co-author of the report, puts it, it could result in a “freedom from day-to-day drudger that allows people to define work in a more positive and socially beneficial way”. Microsoft’s Jonathan Grudin told researchers that “Technology will continue to disrupt jobs, but more jobs seem likely to be created. When the world population was a few hundred million people there were hundreds of millions of jobs. Although there have always been unemployed people, when we reached a few billion people there were billions of jobs. There is no shortage of things that need to be done and that will not change.” But the pessimists worry that the benefits of the labor replacement will accrue to those already wealthy enough to own the automatons, be that in the form of patents for algorithmic workers or the physical form of robots. The ranks of the unemployed could swell, as people are laid off from work they are qualified in without the ability to retrain for careers where their humanity is a positive. And since this will happen in every economic sector simultaneously, civil unrest could be the result. “Unlike previous disruptions such as when farming machinery displaced farm workers but created factory jobs making the machines, robotics and AI are different,” says Nasa’s Mark Nall. “Due to their versatility and growing capabilities, not just a few economic sectors will be affected, but whole swaths will be. This is already being seen now in areas from robocalls to lights-out manufacturing. Economic efficiency will be the driver. The social consequence is that good-paying jobs will be increasingly scarce.” One thing many experts agreed on was the need for education to prepare for a post-automation world. ““Only the best-educated humans will compete with machines,” said internet sociologist Howard Rheingold. “And education systems in the US and much of the rest of the world are still sitting students in rows and columns, teaching them to keep quiet and memorise what is told them, preparing them for life in a 20th century factory.” The report is the fourth in a series from Pew Research logging at digital life in 2025. As well as a broad series opener, the reports have examined the internet of things and threats to the open internet.” Instead seeing this as a threat why can’t we not turn this into a benefit to us as human beings. Instead of putting people out of work how about making the need for work void by ending the need for profit and continuous production of needless things jut for profit. Fully automated luxury communism is a vision a dream but one which can be achieved if we so wished. Just imagine how you could spend the newly made free time you’d have in your life. Maybe you can finally learn a new language you always wanted to learn or you could explore our vast planet and see all there is to see. The possibilities are endless but we do need rid of brutal exploitative capitalism first.

Monday, 10 November 2014

NO borders, a revolutionary slogan

For many years I was told that having a no borders position was wrong and not even possible under the current world we live in under capitalism. They may be right but a lot of our demands and positions we stand for are not realisable tomorrow but we still do strive for them. For me and many others who believe that capitalism needs removing for good and that a new society is not only possible but actually necessesary for the survival of many people on this planet a future where borders are broken down and solidarity forged between peoples is key. As Karl Marx correctly said the working class has no nation. “The Communists are further reproached with desiring to abolish countries and nationality. The working men have no country. We cannot take from them what they have not got. Since the proletariat must first of all acquire political supremacy, must constitute itself the nation, it is, so far, itself national, though not in the bourgeois sense of the word. National differences and antagonisms between peoples are vanishing gradually from day to day, owing to the development of the bourgeoisie, to freedom of commerce, to the world market, to uniformity in the mode of production and in the conditions of life corresponding thereto. The supremacy of the proletariat will cause them to vanish still faster. United action, of the leading civilised countries at least, is one of the first conditions for the emancipation of the proletariat. 'In proportion as the exploitation of one individual by another is put an end to, the exploitation of one nation by another will also be put an end to. In proportion as the antagonism between classes within the nation vanishes, the hostility of one nation to another will come to an end. [“ There is a huge crisis on our borders which has gone unnoticed by many in our poor excuse for a media and this is just on our doorsteps. Almost 100,000 boat people have made the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean to Europe this year, a roughly 60 percent increase on the whole of last year, and about 800 have died in the attempt, the U.N. refugee agency said on Thursday. It is not unthinkable to imagine many bodies washing up in our medetarianian shores very soon given how the EU is washing its hands of helping migrants who risk it all to try to achieve a better life. The exodus has surged this year, as far more migrants put their lives in the hands of smugglers or unseaworthy vessels in a desperate attempt to reach Europe. Rescued refugees and migrants have reported handing over their life savings to smugglers More than 75,000 made the trip in the first six months of the year, landing up in Italy, Greece, Spain and Malta, the UNHCR agency said. Their number included 10,500 children, two-thirds of them unaccompanied or separated from their families. The number of the whole of 2013 was around 60,000. The UNHCR also said that this year the numbers are accelerating: 21,000 have reached Italy since the beginning of July. Meanwhile, more than 260 people have died or gone missing in the past 10 days, bringing to 800 the total number of deaths so far in 2014, compared with 600 in the whole of 2013 and 500 in 2012. "Europeans need to take urgent action to stop this catastrophe getting worse in the second half of 2014," U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres said in a statement. Many of the migrants are fleeing violence in Eritrea and Syria, and most travel from Libya or elsewhere in North Africa. "Rescued refugees and migrants have reported handing over their life savings to smugglers, in order to travel in unseaworthy and overcrowded dinghies, packed into a few metres of space without food, water or life jackets," the UNHCR statement said. This is clearly a tragedy and only in the last week or two the United Kingdom via Teresa May the Home secretary has made it clear Britain will not commit to helping those who are willing to risk their lives trying to cross from Africa towards Europe. This is essentially saying we are happy to see many more die as a consequence as the Tories look to see of UKIP to their right who are posing a bigger problem for them by the week. The Tories feel they need to appear tough on immigrants to face off UKIP but in reality all they are doing is fuelling hatred of those who are not of this land. As we go forward into the future decades Africa’s population is set to double while Europe’s is set to fall. There is a huge pull towards Europe from Africa with a lot of troubles there and scarcity of resources is only fuelling this. In recent months the mainstream media has focused on the crisis at Calais in France where a lot of migrants attempt to cross the channel to make a better life for them. In a recent excellent piece over at Novara media By Ruth Ciara and Daniel Martin http://wire.novaramedia.com/2014/08/calais-migrants-eviction-crisis-4-faqs-answered/ “Coming from Syria, Eritrea and everywhere in between, the migrants in Calais are fleeing war, persecution and exile in their own countries. Most endure harrowing and life-threatening journeys across the Mediterranean; from covering vast deserts with no water, to being cramped in small sailing vessels for sometimes days at a time with hundreds of fellow migrants, many of whom die from heat exhaustion or drown in the sea. Eventually, they reach Europe and make the journey to Calais, which for many is the last stop before crossing the channel into Britain – a journey which also tragically costs some their lives. Migrants typically pay smugglers to get them across each stage of the journey with funds coming through relatives who all hope for a better life. Some of the migrants had jobs, some were aid workers, and others were students. Due to the British border controls, some have previously gone to the UK to study only to be deported back when their visa ran out. A common question is: “is the UK good?” within which lay their hopes and dreams. Wanting to get across to build a better life for themselves – indeed many will proclaim that being in Calais is no life at all – they yearn for the opportunity to be educated, start a family and work. These rights, though seen as universal in the West, are denied to those in Calais. The hostility of the police and the constant fear as a result means any rights they do or should have are further abused. The migrants have fled severe persecution in their countries of origin, only to be dehumanised, oppressed, and forced into poverty in this town where they remain trapped, desperately waiting to succeed on the last leg of their journey. 3. What is daily life like? Each day is a struggle for survival. Forced into a constant game of cat and mouse with the French police and local fascist group Sauvons Calais (‘Save Calais’), the migrants seek refuge where they can; many stay at the squat, and those who can’t often come during the day before returning to their respective crossing points at night. Food is cooked by migrants at the squat, provided by organisations such as Calais Ouverture et Humanitie (COH) and more recently Emaus, whilst donations are regularly received from locals and a food distribution centre is run by Salam. Activists provide English classes and legal workshops to prepare the migrants for when they arrive. However, due to local mayor Natacha Bouchart they face constant police brutality, with many being found whilst trying to cross and returned, some are bought back multiple times each night having been unsuccessful. Occasionally, an effort is successful and a migrant will manage to board one of the lorries in one way or another, only to find several hours later that the lorry has driven to some other European destination as opposed to crossing the channel. They will then have to once again travel hundreds of miles back to Calais, in order to pursue their relentless efforts to reach the British coast. 4. What are the solutions? Calais is a humanitarian disaster, and the future for its migrant population remains bleak. Bouchart’s reasoning is that the migrants shouldn’t be Calais’s issue, it should be Britain that adapts its border policy, thereby allowing Bouchart to disrespect, abuse and deny any rights the migrants had or should have. In contrast, over 500 people and many local and national organisations rallied to support the initial opening of the Impasse squat – proving the scale of support that exists. This support has to continue if the migrants are going to survive with an urgent appeal for people to come and support both squat and occupants. Britain’s border policy needs to be more flexible and move away from legislation which hampers asylum efforts and forces migrants to cross illegally, such as the Dublin II regulation. Adopted in 2003 as a way of monitoring and controlling asylum access throughout the EU, the Dublin regulation states that the country responsible for the asylum claim and process should be the first EU member the claimant reaches. However whilst long term solutions can be proposed, an immediate solution has to be found: Bouchart needs to offer more asylum applications or at the very least provide housing, food and resources to these people.”

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Rememberance day, for who though ?

Every year about this time of year we have the poppy appeal and the time of rememberance. All this is told to us to remember those injured in war and those who lost their lives fighting for so called "freedom" we are asked remember the horrors of war first hand, but there aren’t any WWI veterans alive now. The icon of this imperialist military pride is the poppy, which people attach to their coats in order to publicly display their patriotism and respect for war ‘heroes’ whose lives were lost on the battlefields of the first world war. But also for the other fallen war ‘heroes’ of the past, as well as the present and future pawns of the military. Seems innocent enough at first, to wear a poppy to ‘remember’ the dead from the “great war” – the so-called “war to end all wars.” As this year being the 100th anniversary of the start of the first World War there has been much in our media all year on remembering the so called "great war". “The present war is not a war for the protection of national integrity, nor for the freeing of oppressed people, nor for the welfare of the masses. From the standpoint of the proletariat it signifies the most extreme concentration and extension of political oppression, economic exploitation, militaristic slaughtering of the working classes, body and soul – for the sake of capitalism and despotism…” – Karl Liebknecht "In 1917 in the US, Emma Goldman and her comrade Alexander Berkman stood trial for opposing conscription for WWI. According to J. Edgar Hoover – who made it his personal mission to get Goldman and Berkman deported – they were “beyond doubt, two of the most dangerous anarchists in this country” and along with hundreds of other foreign born radicals they were deported to the Soviet Union on December 21st 1919. “War is a quarrel between two thieves too cowardly to fight their own battle; therefore they take boys from one village and another village, stick them into uniforms, equip them with guns, and let them loose like wild beasts against each other.” – Carlyle quoted by Emma Goldman As anarchists we are committed anti-patriots, anti-militarists, anti-war, anti-imperialist and of course anti-state, we are not pacifists, we are fully aware that violence against oppressors is necessary and entirely different to violence against the oppressed. War is legalised state-sanctioned murder based upon racial and national superiority and greed. The narrative of the pro-war / pro-troops propaganda revolves around the outright lie that these soldiers are somehow fighting for ‘our freedom’ for ‘our way of life’ for ‘our’ benefit in some way. David Cameron himself said that servicepersons “gave their lives for our freedom” and we must ensure that “the lessons learned live with us for ever”. Bullshit, we haven’t learned anything about the atrocities and horrors of war, least of all them chinless toffs. "The only thing these troops fight for is the maintenance of the nauseating lifestyles of the privileged and the powerful at the expense of countless lives, both civilian and military. The troops are state agents, they don’t work for us, they don’t ‘free’ us as we are conned to believe, they certainly don’t ‘keep us safe’. They work for the state and are used at the state’s disposal – often literally. Yet there is some indisputable honour in subscribing and fighting on behalf of the rich. To criticise this is to be branded as a national traitor, to be ‘disrespectful’ of war dead, purely because we dare to question what exactly is ‘honourable’ about the mass slaughter of people you don’t even know, more than likely other working class people who are sent by their masters for the same purpose that ‘our’ troops are." Though it is true that many working class soldiers are desperately trying to escape unemployment and their miserable poverty stricken lives, they may even feel like they have no other choice, especially during times of harsh austerity measures implemented by the ruling class, which is where nationalism tends to gain a stronger foothold as a way to pass blame to ‘Johnny foreigner’ for our suffering. As much as needing to get some relief from poverty and squalor is valid enough, it still does not excuse the class treachery and complicity in hideously murderous acts committed in the interests of the state and the elite. “It’s hard not to see the present poppy appeals as highly politicised. The events are organised by the British legion. The slogan this year is ‘Shoulder to Shoulder with all who serve.’ Now that isn’t about remembering the dead. It is about supporting the armed forces.” Lindsey German I'll end on this brilliant quote from a war veteran himself. Now when you hear this from someone who served in a war it does make you sit up and take note. “I will no longer allow my obligation as a veteran to remember those who died in the great wars to be co-opted by current or former politicians to justify our folly in Iraq, our morally dubious war on terror and our elimination of one’s right to privacy.” – Harry Leslie Smith With quotes and many thanks to the guys over at Liverpool Class action you can read the full piece including quotes at http://liverpoolclassaction.wordpress.com/2014/11/03/no-war-but-the-class-war-remembrance-day-an-anarchist-perspective/

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Is Access to work helping disabled people or not ?

I myself use Access to work for my part time job as a office worker and find it a key part to my working life. I use it mainly for transport costs to get a taxi to work and back due to the bus's being infrequent and unreliable at best. The last time i reapplied for Access to work i was given a really tough line of questioning from one of the advisors really asking quite personal and almost hostile questions to find out if anyway i can reduce the costs for them. I have found it to be a very good service on the whole and am so keen for it to be continued and even extended as it needs to be if the government are really serious about helping disabled people back to work as they claim. Of course the tories are not about helping disabled people in fact they have made it harder for disabled people who do want to work if anything. A brilliant blog post over at DPAC - Disabled people against cuts a group i'm very close to and support wherever i can takes a look at the mess taht is the Access to work scheme. You can read this in full over at http://dpac.uk.net/2014/10/what-the-f-is-going-on-with-access-to-work-join-the-stopchanges2atw-campaign/ For me as a blind worker Access to work is a god sent but alot in this blog post rings true with me too. In this piece which i'm quoting from the author uses's the term deaf in their piece this as the author is deaf but the message being put is much the same for any disabled people who have experience of Access to work. "More and more people are asking what is happening with Access to Work, the programme that supports Deaf and disabled people to get into and stay in employment, as changes are making it harder and harder to use. Despite the government’s well publicised extra investment in the scheme Access to Work’s clear direction of travel is to cut individual packages, with the result that the employability of Deaf and disabled people is being seriously undermined. When the Tories closed the Remploy factories in 2011-2012 they said there was no place for segregated workplaces in modern society and the money used to fund the factories would be better spent supporting Deaf and disabled people to get into and stay in mainstream employment through the Access to Work programme. Over the past year, with the factory closures out of the way, changes introduced to the AtW programme have decreased eligibility, brought considerable distress and uncertainty to customers who had previously and successfully used the programme for many years, pushed Deaf and disabled people out of jobs and left others fearing for their futures. It is difficult to summarise all the changes: AtW is awarded on a discretionary ‘case by case’ basis and the programme has always denied the existence of any blanket rules for particular impairment groups. What we have seen emerging are some clear patterns around the cutting of packages, lack of information and hostility to AtW customers alongside growing inefficiency and cuts to AtW service delivery. The first clear pattern emerged with respect to Deaf customers who suddenly found themselves labelled as ‘fraudsters’. Individuals contacting AtW advisers, in some cases advisers they had had for many years were greeted with a completely different and hostile attitude. They were told ‘there are high levels of Access to Work fraud in the Deaf community’. Changes brought in including the notorious ’30 hour rule’, requiring Deaf customers using more than 30 hours of BSL interpreters per week to employ a salaried interpreter, have literally left Deaf people unable to continue in their jobs. The government has sought to justify what it is doing by pointing the finger at interpreters, blaming them for ‘costing too much’, meanwhile undermining what is a highly skilled and important profession. A particularly nasty move has been the introduction of retrospective decision making experienced by both Deaf and disabled people who have had their packages cut with the cuts being backdated after support costs have already been incurred. This situation has been compounded by the fact that has review notices are no longer sent out warning AtW customers when their packages are due for renewal which easily leads to people not realising their packages have ended. Deaf and disabled people have been left owing thousands of pounds and has left interpreters and support workers owed thousands of pounds, causing considerable hardship and distress. Successful appeals against changes to packages have been made but many people do not realise they have a right to appeal or how they would go about making a complaint. Others are too worried about losing the rest of their package to make a fuss. This is where the website DeafAtW has been invaluable, providing information and support on how to challenge decisions. There is a growing level of misinformation, confusion and chaos coming from AtW itself as a result of a restructuring that has seen a dramatic reduction in the numbers of contact centres and outsourcing. AtW invoices remain unpaid from months and months ago because the addresses of the payment centres changed but customers weren’t told. Meanwhile application backlogs have amassed. Given that Deaf and disabled people often cannot start a job until their AtW package is in place, yet can only make an application after an employment start date has been confirmed, this has presumably Deaf and disabled people unable to take up job offers. Money pledged by this government for the Access to Work budget has yet to appear. This was highlighted at the Work and Pension Select Committee oral evidence session when Remploy confirmed that the £80million per year “saved” from the closure of the factories hadn’t materialised in AtW support. There was also an additional £17million that hasn’t appeared. These two amounts would mean the AtW budget should have doubled in the past four years, yet cuts are being made. For a government that claims its welfare reform measures are all about supporting more people into employment, the changes to Access to Work appear counter-productive. Moreover, in a time of austerity, changes to the programme represent a cutting back of a scheme that actually makes money for the state: the Sayce report found that for every pound invested in Access to Work, £1.48 is recouped by the Treasury. But for anyone familiar with Tory welfare policies none of this comes as a surprise. Ill-thought through ideologically driven policies are seeking to reduce ‘dependency’ and dismantle the welfare state, removing social security from those that need it and creating situations that will end up costing more. While the Tories describe AtW as a ‘benefit’ and a dependency and fail to understand it as an investment, campaigners have beaten back some of the attacks. AtW eventually conceded that it was not realistic to expect employers to contribute the on costs for salaried interpreters under the 30 hour rule. In May the Minster for Disabled People announced a review into the 30 hour rule and the DWP Select Committee Inquiry agreed not only to take evidence on how changes were impacting on Deaf people but also extended the deadline for submissions whereas originally the inquiry had been intended to focus on employment support for people with mental health support needs and learning difficulties. Individual decisions have also been revised in the face of continued campaigning and challenges. More is needed though. We have yet to hear the outcome of the Minister’s review. Meanwhile we are hearing of cuts to AtW packages impacting ever wider, putting jobs at risk and pushing Deaf and disabled people out of employment. We need to step up our campaign to make sure information is available and accessible and people know what to do if they are impacted by the changes, to fight for the employment rights of Deaf and disabled people and to protect the terms and conditions of BSL interpreters and ensure we are not divided. StopChanges2ATW campaign open meeting – Thursday 23rd October 2014, 6 – 7.30pm, 336 Brixton Road, London, SW9 7AA. For more information read StopChanges2ATW and Inclusion London’s submissions to the DWP select committee inquiry: http://www.inclusionlondon.co.uk/ATW-ILs-%20and%20stop-changes2atw-respond-to-call-for-evidence