Seattle

April 20, 2014

Occupy leads the way, the Spirit of ’08

Wall Street crashes, but we fight back – strike and demonstrate.

Questioning accepted truths, capitalism’s realm

Tide of humanity, dispossessed. Overwhelm

Squares and centres, reclaim the 99 per-cent

Stolen from us by avarice and greed. Hell-bent

To destroy jobs and welfare, profit at all cost.

If you cannot pay the rent, then all may seem lost.

If you push us too far, we have nothing to lose

Except our chains. We won’t comply and sing the blues.

The rich in charge, capitalism’s ‘fair’ exchange.

Obama raises the stakes, empty promises of ‘Change’.

Fast food workers first take up the union’s cause

Across the states, they demand – take back what is theirs;

Decent pay, a living wage, not too much too ask,

Healthcare when we need it. We take Walmart to task.

In Seattle, we shout – $15 an hour!

Sawant’s elected, we realise our power.

Fight until we win -  we’re no longer satisfied

With crumbs from your table, now that we’re organised.

 


You can read some more of my poetry in ‘Little Red Poetry’. All proceeds go to build a new party for ordinary people, against cuts and privatisation. Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

Copies are also available from Left Books

 

Energy crisis

April 19, 2014

The oil wells are running dry,

Companies are going fracking-

Water pollution, risks to health,

Earthquakes they are a-cracking.

 

Billions spent on holy grail

Of laser-powered fusion.

To recreate the Sun on Earth,

So expensive the delusion!

 

Nuclear’s the way to go,

All we need is fission.

Handy for bombs as well,

Absurd, deluded mission.

 

Our giant ball of hydrogen

Gives more energy than we need.

93 million miles away,

Solar power – at light speed.

 

All we need is lots of glass,

Heliostatic mirrors.

To concentrate the rays

From sun which always shimmers.

 

Salter had a bright idea,

He hit upon the duck.

But ‘cos of cuts to funding

It was never tried – worse luck.

 

Blades powering turbines

Can get energy from the wind.

Oil rigs will lie dormant

As off-shore windmills spin.

 

But where’s the profit  in that?

The chairman shrewdly asks

Selling wind, waves or the Sun,

It’s an impossible task.

 

So the PR operation starts;

Renewables won’t work.

Stick to oil, nuclear, coal or gas,

Much more bang for my buck.

 

Meanwhile the Earth is warming up,

CO2, it keeps the heat in.

Floods, tsunamis, tidal waves,

And hypocrites from Eton

 

All too eager to receive

Lobbyists from Cuadrilla.

They would happily do a deal

With Satan or Godzilla.

 

We need to rebuild anew,

End this corrupt, vicious farce.

Nationalise, strike, occupy

Get up off our collective arse!

 

 


You can read some more of my poetry in ‘Little Red Poetry’. All proceeds go to build a new party for ordinary people, against cuts and privatisation. Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

Copies are also available from Left Books

 

Don’t Let the Politicians Rip You Off – Vote TUSC!

April 11, 2014

Walton Andrew:

The main parties are all the same – why we should support TUSC, from a supporter of TUSC in Coventry. So far around 500 candidates across the country have been nominated for TUSC. This represents the largest left-of-Labour electoral challenge since the Second World War.

Originally posted on Vote Socialist in Coventry May 22 2014:

One of our supporters, Mike F from Wyken, wrote this piece about why he’s voting for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) in May, and why he’s signed up to the Socialist Campaign Team:

Coventry TUSC protesting against council cuts

Coventry TUSC protesting against council cuts

“Forget Labour and the Liberal Democrats, they both sing an all too similar tune to the Tories with their policies of humiliation to to the working class. They want you not to vote, it works out excellently for them, because they have plenty of rich supporters who very politically aware – they want to keep you underpaid, part of a vast reservoir of cheap labour for their companies.

Why the hell should the taxpayer have to subsidise businesses who refuse to pay a decent wage, despite making massive profits? They should pay a living wage – and pay their taxes too!

Oh yeah, they also have you thinking that you are infested…

View original 234 more words

Portrait of a survivor

April 8, 2014

Joystick brings target into view;

Violent game of life and death.

Balanced in cloudless sky of blue,

Distant concerns of kin and kith.

 

Remote, the drone receives command,

Pulse of bytes, irrelevant noise.

A far-off war, a remote land.

Men will play with expensive toys.

 

Human emotions don’t apply,

All empathy, conditioned out.

Soldiers are ordered to comply,

Drones must carry orders out.

 

Mission control will know the score.

Ours is not to question why,

Query what drones are fighting for,

Just direct objects in the sky.

 

Human face imposed on a field,

Basic pattern recognition.

Can it stop the impulse to wield

Weapons, stop blind causation?

 

Give back humanity and life,

End this video-game of death.

 

Image

Image source – http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/04/06/artists-install-massive-poster-of-childs-face-in-pakistan-field-to-shame-drone-operators/#.U0HpmWJMrSI.facebook


You can read some more of my poetry in ‘Little Red Poetry’. All proceeds go to build a new party for ordinary people, against cuts and privatisation. Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

Copies are also available from Left Books

Save Leicester Race Equality Centre

April 4, 2014

trec

Leicester Race Equality Centre (TREC) has represented the people of Leicester for the last 50 years, giving advice and support to an estimated 150,000 people during that time. Leicester is one of the few cities left in the UK with a Race Equality Centre and the city has been touted by the council, with their slogan “One Leicester”, as a model of multiculturalism. Yet this has been shown to be a hollow boast, when it comes to cutting services supporting community cohesion.

The need for the Race Equality Centre is shown by the fact that Leicester has seen recent protests by the far right, and threats against a community centre in a local estate called Thurnby Lodge, which was used by an Islamic group , as well as many other community groups. Asylum seekers and immigrants in the city still face prejudice, as the right-wing media whip up hatred against minorities. TREC complained to the council’s Antisocial Behaviour Unit, about the problems faced by members of the community in Thurnby Lodge, but was ignored. Campaigners for the centre feel that its political stance, in standing up for the rights of minorities against the council, has contributed to the council’s decision to cut its funding.

TREC offers services to the whole of Leicester’s population. It has successfully brought communities together in dialogue. They have been told that people seeking support will have to go to the Citizen’s Advice Bureau instead, which is itself under-funded and over-stretched.

Leicester’s Labour council (52 out of 54 Labour councillors) and Sir Peter Soulsby, the city’s Labour mayor are cutting not just TREC, but also many other services – nine adventure playgrounds across the city are under threat, and 133 council staff working in children’s services face possible redundancy.

Members of TREC and other local campaigns approached the local Socialist Party and Leicestershire Against The Cuts to fight the council’s cuts, by petitioning to remove the office of executive mayor altogether. We highlighted that just getting rid of a mayor wasn’t going to solve all of the problems in the city – wherever Labour councillors voted for cuts, we vow to stand against them in elections. Leicestershire Against The Cuts seeks to bring all those facing cuts together to fight back.

A public meeting was called, and 130 people gathered to oppose cuts to the centre. We decided to pressurise the council by organising a mass lobby of its next meeting at the Town Hall, 5pm on Wednesday 9th April. A petition to support the Race Equality Centre is here – http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/help-save-the-race-equality-centre and the Save Our Services Sack Soulsby petition can be found here – http://goo.gl/XGzhUd

The Socialist Party supports these petitions, but believes that petitioning alone is not enough, as the council have already ignored the findings of “consultations”. We need a mass movement to force them to back down. We point out that there is no need to cut services, when money is being ploughed into capital projects such as Jubilee Square are going ahead at the cost of £4m, or an area of the city centre is being re-paved at a cost of £500,000. The council also has reserves, which instead of being used to pay employees’ redundancy payments, could be used to keep services open while it fought the Tory cuts, and called on other Labour councils across the country to do the same.

As the forerunner to the Socialist Party Militant proved in its struggle in Liverpool from 1984-87, there was a council which built more council houses in that one city than the rest of the country combined, which protected jobs and services and mobilised a mass campaign to force money from the Thatcher government. The Socialist Party, as part of TUSC, still stands opposed to all cuts in all public services. We point out that the resources are there in society to invest in communities, it is just that there is no political voice to stand up for the interests of ordinary people. We are part of rebuilding that movement.

What do we do as oil begins to run out?

March 16, 2014

When I was at school, I remember being told that the Earth only had about 30 years of oil and gas left. The question was what were we going to do when supplies began to run out. Well, now that is happening, a process dubbed “Peak Oil”, where supply can no longer meet demand.

In this post, I haven’t begun to consider the potential loss of the by-products of oil: plastics, fertilisers, drugs, etc. – that is a topic for another discussion. I am concentrating simply on where our energy will come from.

There is a question mark over peak oil, as countries and oil companies do not publish accurate figures. They argue that exploration is expensive and new fields may be found – however, it is in their interests not to panic the stock markets and investors. Strong signs are, however, that we have reached the peak of oil production, as we have had to put more and more resources into getting back the same amount of energy.

Energy companies are turning to what has been called “extreme energy” – fracking (hydraulic fracturing) or UCG (Underground Coal Gasification). In the UK, the government is also turning towards nuclear energy. There is still relatively little effort going into the development of renewable resources, and this tends to be relatively small scale and in private hands. “Extreme energy” is very inefficient, with a low energy yield. It involves tens of thousands of tanker trips, there is a risk of groundwater contamination with carcinogenic compounds, the process involves seismic shocks. It exacerbates the greenhouse effect – 1kg of methane (CH4) has the same effect as 21kg of carbon dioxide (CO2) on our climate.

Another extreme energy is Underground Coal Gasification (UCG), a process to extract energy from coal, where it cannot be conventionally mined. There is plenty of coal, enough to meet hundreds of years of the world’s energy needs – if we don’t mind the risks of catastrophic underground fires which cannot be extinguished The town of Centralia, for example, had to be deserted due to deadly carbon monoxide emissions after a fire in a rubbish heap set fire to a coal seam. This happened in 1963, and the fire is still raging.

UCG involves heating coal in a controlled manner underground, harvesting the gases produced, and the vacant space is intended to capture CO2 emissions underground. However this is inherently extremely dangerous. It is likely to cause collapse of rocks above the coal seam, there is the risk of earthquakes, and what happens if – through the natural movements of rock, the man-made reservoirs of underground carbon emissions are suddenly released? The technology required is completely untested.

So is the alternative to turn to nuclear power?

Nuclear power stations tend to be sited near the coast, due to their demand for water as a coolant. With global warming and more extremes of weather – this is inherently risky, with the potential for more Fukushimas. There is also the problem of nuclear waste. At present, there is no safe way to dispose of high-level radioactive waste with half-lives in the order of tens, hundreds or millions of thousands of years. You can bury this underground, but at some stage it will resurface, due to plate tectonics, seismic effects or vulcanism.

It is also questionable how much nuclear power would contribute to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, once CO2 emissions from mining and processing yellowcake (Uranium ore) are taken into consideration. Thorium is more common than Uranium  and produces less waste, with no risk of a meltdown (it needs to be bombarded with neutrons to work as a nuclear fuel, and the design of a thorium reactor is inherently much safer). However, apart from a few pilot plants in India, this technology is again untried and untested.

Why? Thorium is of no use in making bombs! However, it is still energy-intensive to mine, there are technical difficulties which still need to be overcome and there remains the problem of nuclear waste.

So why don’t we change our reliance on oil or nuclear and move to renewables?

Goverments across the world are corrupt. The neo-liberal concerns of David Cameron, Ed Milliband, Barack Obama, et al are driven by demands from lobbyists of big business. There is no voice of ordinary people in Parliament. We are not properly informed of the dangers. In the US, landowners were simply bought out to release land for fracking. However, when farm animals’ fur starts falling out, they find that they can now set fire to their tap water and they begin to become ill, people soon start to think again . . .

But nuclear fusion could solve the world’s energy crisis, couldn’t it?

In theory, yes. However, there are still many technical obstacles to overcome and the technology remains decades away.

So what happens next?

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (representing an international consensus of the scientific community) project a rise in temperature by 2100 of  4°C. However, this heating is worst at the North Pole – where the temperature is increasing twice as fast, partly due to the albedo effect. Already there has been a massive decline in sea ice (observed by satellites over last 40 years).

The best computer model we have is provided by the Met Office – see a video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h88WF4wOqwI

According to the IPCC, it is possible, in the best-case scenario, to limit global warming to 2°C. However, this would depend on an unprecedented, multinational effort to switch to renewable energy, very quickly. I would argue that this is impossible under capitalism. We have had 120 years to solve the problem since the principle behind global warming was discovered and 40 years of satellite data showing the effects of burning petrochemicals. International summits so far have been useless. Countries have sought to blame each other and minimise their own responsibility. US and China (the biggest greenhouse emitters) opted out of the Kyoto Treaty altogether.

So what can we do?

We urgently need to move away from an economy in which the need to make a profit over-rides all other concerns. We need democratic input from the bottom, with a real say by ordinary people in how things should be run and where resources should go. This would allow long-term, environmental consequences to be taken into account, whereas at the moment the need for short-term profit is the only consideration for companies as they seek to exploit the last of our oil.

We must urgently invest in renewable energy – tried and tested, simple technology, which is far safer than nuclear or oil. Of course, this will require the production of greenhouse gases in the meantime, as solar panels don’t build themselves – but there is the idea of a “solar breeder”, a factory powered by solar energy, which produces solar panels. There is the potential for wind power, hydrothermal, tidal power and wave power. The technology behind the latter, Salter’s duck, a pendulum driven by the waves which powers a generator was invented in the 1970s and could be highly efficient.

Why hasn’t this been done before?

Simply put, the vested interests of multinational companies in making a profit. Where legislation got in the way, governments were simply bought off – George Bush and Dick Cheney introduced the “Halliburton loophole”, for example, making fracking exempt from legislation that protected groundwater.

So we need to get rid of the government?

Yes. We need a socialist, planned economy. However, there is the potential for a mass movement of people, angry at what is being done to the environment, angry at growing inequality and falling living standards for the vast majority of the world’s population, angry at the exploitation of workers and governments’ repression of our democratic right to protest, in order to build that alternative model.

I am a member of the Socialist Party in the UK, which is building movements in 50 countries around the world to make real change happen and overthrow the rotten system of capitalism, which can no longer meet our needs. Join us here – http://www.socialistworld.net

Remembering Bob Crow

March 11, 2014

A heavy loss to all in the labour movement – the leader of the RMT union, Bob Crow passed away last night, at the all-too-young age of 52. He fought tirelessly for his members and never shirked from a struggle – with the result that union membership in the RMT increased from 50,000 when he was elected leader, to 80,000 today. My thoughts are with his friends, family and comrades today.

The RMT union has a political vision and funds the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, which looks to build a new, mass working-class party. It stands against all cuts carried out by councils is looking to stand 625 candidates in the forthcoming elections in May – please support TUSC, but also consider standing yourself  in memory of Bob Crow – see http://www.tusc.org.uk for more details.

Amongst tributes, Dave Nellist, ex-Coventry MP and former Socialist Party councillor paid tribute to Crow’s fighting spirit - http://www.coventryobserver.co.uk/2014/03/11/news-Ex-MP-Dave-Nellist-pays-tribute-to-RMT-chief-Bob-Crow-99284.html

I saw Bob Crow speak eloquently at last year’s Socialism 2013 event about the need for a new workers’ party, which he played such an important role in building, as the leader of TUSC and one of the key voices in the RMT union, arguing for a combative, left-wing voice in politics, as opposed to the bankrupt policies of the Labour Party, which is complicit in passing-through Tory cuts.

In this respect, it is extremely hypocritical of Nigel Farage, to jump on the bandwagon of eulogies from Tories, who were Crow’s enemies in his lifetime. Crow was implacably opposed to racism and stood for workers’ unity, and an exit from the EU on socialist principles. Farage would introduce a flat-rat tax, and stands for the rich. His party is xenophobic, racist and would be just as eager to privatise the railways and public services which TUSC and No2EU Yes To Workers’ Rights seek to protect.

The best way to remember Bob Crow’s massive achievements in winning gains for his members, and the socialist policies he fought for, is to get involved with the Socialist Party, which is part of TUSC – the electoral coalition which was initiated by and supported by the RMT union.

“Do not go gentle into that good night”.

 

Complaint to BBC on biased coverage of Bob Crow’s death -

Your Complaint

Type of complaint: BBC News (TV Radio Online)
What is your complaint about: BBC News Online
URL: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-26527325
Complaint category: Factual error or inaccuracy
Contacted us before: No
Complaint title: The obituary on the railway union leader Bob Crow.
Complaint description:
There is a factual inaccuracy on the report on the sad death of Bob Crow, leader of the railway workers’ union. You report that “he was not a member of a political party”. However, he is on the steering committee and is a founding member of TUSC – the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition. You report views from a number of politicians, including many of his opponents, but do not give space to anyone from TUSC, such as ex-Coventry MP Dave Nellist, or any of the hundreds of trade unionists standing in this year’s local elections. Please apologise and correct this inaccuracy.

 

Water and oil do not mix

March 4, 2014

Seed,

Life-giver.

Slaker of thirst.

Clear, fresh spring.

Without you, we are nothing.

On tap. A right for all humanity.

Not a packaged commodity

Bottled and marketed,

Stock to be floated,

Sold out

Down

The

River

Of Oil,

Black gold.

Harbinger of doom.

We can ill-afford our chemical

Romance. We cannot stomach toxic

Petrochemical soup, polluting aquifers.

Heating our homes, but heating the planet.

We must get control over our addiction,

Take our power from the sun, not

Wage wars over pipelines.

We need to take

Control.

————————————————————————————
You can read some more of my poetry in ‘Little Red Poetry’. All proceeds go to build a new party for ordinary people, against cuts and privatisation. Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

Copies are also available from Left Books

As we come marching, marching (review of ‘Little Red Poetry’)

February 25, 2014

A review of Andrew Walton’s Little Red Poetry by Dave Gorton

For too long, poetry has been seen as the property of the well-educated or the middle classes, an idea happily perpetuated by capitalism which, for its own survival, needs to ensure the working class ‘knows its place’. Many poets’ use of sometimes anarchic structures and styles leaves such poetry less easily ‘interpreted’ and certainly outside of the very rigid constraints of the national curriculum. Poetry in schools is reduced to learning and reciting poems by heart, which becomes a chore.

Yet, literature would be a much less rich field without, for instance, the likes of Shelley’s calls to arms in the 19th century, Sassoon’s war poems, Brecht’s socialism, or more recently the sheer imagery and force engendered by the great, but now both sadly late, Norman MacCaig and Seamus Heaney.

Andrew Walton, a Leicester Socialist Party member, has just published his own short collection and it is definitely worth picking up a copy. Drew – as he is probably better known to readers – says Little Red Poetry argues for socialism and it does indeed. The collection includes poems on a host of issues such as the bedroom tax, an EDL march in Leicester and Unite, Falkirk and the need for a new workers’ party.

His views will be shared by most readers of The Socialist but Drew uses his talent to describe his anger in a different way than the majority of us would in, say, writing a leaflet.

Take his verses on the dismantling of the welfare state:-
Millions of workers that once were employed
Building, making – lie idle. Stage by stage:
Confidence shattered, despair unalloyed.

or in Triple Dip:-
Something is wrong, when the future of millions
Is described as if we were fruit in a yoghurt,
Or sticks of chocolate in an ice-cream pot.

In Mutually Assured Destruction, Drew’s stanza:
There is another way
Not wasteful profiteering
But dialogue, co-operation,
Democracy, solidarity,
Community and sharing.

highlights the alternative to capitalism in beautiful simplicity.

And his modern ‘re-writing’ of Grandola Vila Morena – the song of the 1974 Portuguese Revolution – is very bold … but it works. The powerful final stanza, like the rest of the collection, signals the writer’s unshakeable confidence in the working class to overcome the yoke of capitalism:
In the spirit of nineteen-seventy-four,
We, the masses, are rising once more.
We shudder the seats of power;
Millions are singing our tune.

It would seem churlish, particularly as I can’t string two verses together, to be overly critical of Drew’s efforts but this is a review so….

While he is certainly not the worst protagonist I’ve read, once or twice, the rhyming in some poems seems forced and unnatural (though I hadn’t needed to have been as wary as I was when I read the line in Why I didn’t watch the royal wedding following “Or paying for the Queen to float down the Thames on a barge, like a gigantic duck”).

And it would be interesting to read some longer pieces (hopefully the next collection, eh Drew?).

But I do think this is a fantastic effort and one that should be more widely publicised and read.

Thanks go to Dave Gorton, for reviewing my efforts! I am in the process of writing another collection on the environment and socialism, to be called Little Green Poetry.

————————————————————————————
You can read some more of my poetry in ‘Little Red Poetry’. All proceeds go to build a new party for ordinary people, against cuts and privatisation. Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

Copies are also available from Left Books

The Protesters (after Walter De La Mare)

February 7, 2014

“Leave coal in the ground!”, said the protesters,
Surrounding the colliery door.
In their ranks, horses’ hooves stamped in anger
On the hard, asphalt floor.
And a cry rose up out of the protest,
To the pit-head, lying still.
They crashed against the police a second time
To bend them to their will.
No workers descended down into the earth
No lamps ventured into the gloom.
Maggie, in her wisdom, shut down the pits,
And broke the spirit of the NUM.
But the host of courageous miners
Who picketed, struck and fought
Stood listening to the speeches of Scargill,
To principles which could not be bought.
Stood in solidarity with each other
And although the struggle was lost,
Still inspire good trade unionists,
Regardless of personal cost.
And while the threat of global warming,
Is real, important and true.
We still remember their sacrifice,
So that we can build anew.
For hands that dug coal can shape blades,
Make turbines, solar panels, harness nature.
As we leave fossil fuels untouched,
They can propel us into the future.
But we can’t do it under this system
Capitalism has to go.
Put an end to the rule of profit
Decisions should be made from below.

————————————————————————————
You can read some more of my poetry in ‘Little Red Poetry’. All proceeds go to build a new party for ordinary people, against cuts and privatisation. Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

Copies are also available from Left Books


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