Archive for the ‘east midlands’ Category

Busk For Socialism

November 26, 2013

open mic2

Patiently explain . . . thoughts on the local election results

May 5, 2013

If you want to see what Britain will be like in a few years’ time, if the trend of the Con-Dem’s planned spending cuts, continued wholesale privatisation of our NHS and further erosion of our living standards is not overthrown by mass strike action on the part of the labour movement, then look at Greece.

With wages stagnating, and workers simply not being given the money to enable us to buy back what we make, the economy will continue to bottom-out, or go into another nose-dive into recession. Without any jobs being created for young people, without the prospect of a decent, free education, then it is not surprising if people look to blame each other for their situation, rather than the real culprits – the super-rich who made money speculating on loans which people could not afford to pay back (the reason for the financial crisis in 2008), and tax avoidance by large companies to the tune of £120 billion a year. Combined with the constant coverage of UKIP in the media, and the usual barrage of anti-immigrant propaganda in the right wing press, the rise in vote for UKIP in the local elections last Thursday is not surprising, as this was an easy way for voters to voice their discontent with the government. Labour hardly benefited at all, and the Lib Dems face political oblivion.

However, when the 147 newly-elected UKIP councillors are actually put to the test, voters will inevitably find an odious, corrupt party of the establishment, with racist undertones. This will hopefully in turn be rejected, just as the BNP have been wiped out in these elections. The question then is, where are protest votes going to be channelled? Without a mass, left-wing opposition, this could develop into far-right, neo-fascist sympathies, as has happened to some extent in Greece with a rise in support for Golden Dawn, an openly neo-Nazi party.

A major difference between Greece and the UK, apart from the savage depth of the cuts – leading to malnutrition amongst children, for example – there is a party called Syriza, which has opposed austerity measures. It has been the vessel into which much of the intense anger against the main parties has poured (particularly PASOK, their equivalent of New Labour). Syriza is now jointly in the lead with New Democracy, the Conservative party of government (both on 20% in the opinion polls). Rewind back a few years, before the cuts impacted on Greek society, when PASOK was the main opposition – then Syriza’s vote could be counted in terms of 5-6%.

I support TUSC, the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition. Like Syriza, it is the beginning, I think, of something much bigger, as the cuts continue to bite. What direction and character such a mass party of the working class will have is yet to be determined. One thing is clear – all the other parties, from the Greens on the soft-left, to New Labour on the centre-right, to Tories on the right wing, to UKIP on the far-right – they all stand for cuts. Only TUSC is opposed to all cuts in services, for a decent, living minimum wage for all, to investing in and renationalising our NHS and rebuilding a comprehensive, publicly funded education system, free for all, from nursery to University. Another similar vision is Ken Loach’s Left Unity project, and I hope that the two can work together to provide an alternative to cuts.

Visit TUSC’s website for the election results.
TUSC’s election results 2013
These elections were held under difficult circumstances for the hard-left. There has been the usual lack of coverage of our campaign, and Labour were much more visible in opposition to the Tories. However, our 120 candidates achieved some remarkable results in this context. As cuts start to bite even further, the need for a co-ordinated, left-wing challenge to the austerity agenda is ever greater.

Having completed writing this, I am just off now to canvass for TUSC in a by-election in Abbey Ward, Leicester, where the political landscape is somewhat different, with 52 Labour councillors and just two others – 1 Lib Dem and 1 Tory in the council. Yet the lack of opposition to cuts is still overwhelming. Labour are carrying through the bedroom tax, axing homeless places and council-funded care homes. If a TUSC councillor were to be elected, this would be a massive step forward for the people of the city. We are standing to provide, in a small way at this stage, opposition to the mantra that the poor, the disabled, those on benefits must pay for the economic crisis.

Just as has happened in Greece and throughout Southern Europe, opposition to cuts will definitely grow. We urgently need a mass party of the left to be there for ordinary people. The choice is between socialism or barbarism.

Update – Election results Abbey Ward by-election 9th May
Labour (Vijay Riyait) 1190 elected 47.9% (+0.9%)
Conservatives (Dipak Joshi) 562 22.6% (+9%)
Independent (Terry McGreal) 352 14.8% – this was a NIMBYist campaign against traveller sites
Lib Dem Focus Team (John Taylor) 212 8.6% (In 2011, the Lib Dems and Liberals got a combined total of 602 votes)
TUSC (Tessa Warrington) 165 6.65%

This result gives us a good base, in an area of Leicester where we have not stood before, to build real opposition to cuts and to the bedroom tax.

Support the Youth Fight For Jobs Jarrow March

October 16, 2011

The Jarrow marchers are still on their 300-mile trek, which began in the North East on the 1st October and will finish in London on the 5th November. With 1,000,000 young people unemployed, tuition fees trebling and EMA axed, many of Britain’s young people face a future on the dole queue. It shows the disastrous nature of the capitalist system, that after 75 years, working people are still fighting for what should be a right – an education and a decent job.

This weekend, I was there to greet the march as it passed through Bulwell on the way to Nottingham. After 175 miles, the participants were obviously footsore and tired, but were still keeping up a good pace.

We received vital donations and well-wishes from the public in Bulwell, and then I joined the march for the four-mile journey to Nottingham. A great reception awaited us as we marched to a rally at Forest Recreation Ground, and then on to the Market Square, with support from Notts Against Cuts and the Trades Council in Nottingham. (See the Jarrow marchers’ blog for pictures).

A longer stint down the A6 from Nottingham to Loughborough awaits the marchers today, then it is on to Leicester. Download our leaflet  for more info.

The march arrives in Leicester on Monday at Abbey Park, 5.00pm, for a protest rally at the Clocktower. The next day, they will have a well-earned rest from bashing the tarmac, but will be having a protest at Leicester University and a public meeting (Ken Edwards Lecture Theatre, 7.30pm, Tuesday 18th October).

Hope to see any readers of this blog who can make it along.

Nationalise Bombardier to save jobs

July 25, 2011

I went to the Bombardier demonstration through Derby last Saturday.

Around 6,000 people marched through the town in protest at the loss of 1,400 jobs at Britain’s last train manufacturer. Speaking at the rally, Bob Crow of the RMT made the point that he was on the side of German workers as well as English and this was not about “British Jobs for British Workers”.

Derby has links to the train industry for over 150 years. The bogies made at the plant are renowned as the world’s most environmentally friendly construction of their type, being light and strong – the two contradictory goals of any transport designer. However, the government awarded the contract for the expansion of rolling stock for the new Thameslink extension to Siemens, who are trying to poach skills from the Derby plant.

The reason for the decision? Siemens are more expensive than the British option and do not offer the same efficiency of rolling stock, but they can borrow money at a lower rate than Bombardier, having been given a huge contract by Deutschebahn. They also do not recognise trade unions, so this is an attack on workers’ terms and conditions, just to make a more attractive offer on the balance sheet. If you look at the state owned French SNCF, they award their contracts overwhelmingly to French firms, and likewise, perfectly reasonably, in other countries. Why can we not ensure the survival of manufacturing in this country?

Since the demonstration, the government has also been slammed by Bob Crow for lying, saying that it could not alter the contract, which was drawn up by Labour. In fact, Theresa Villiers was looking to cut jobs by awarding the contract to Siemens as a cost-cutting exercise. Siemens is only cheaper on paper, because it does not recognise unions and because it can pay the money up front, but there have also been questions asked about corruption within Siemens itself.

Click here for speeches made at the NSSN public meeting, after the demo – recorded by Dan Fahey.

The Socialist Party stands for the renationalisation of the train network and bus network, with subsidised fares to really tackle global warming. We would provide secure jobs, which could not be taken away on the whim of a government because some company is fiddling the books. We are calling on the government for nationalisation of the rail industry on the basis of workers’ control.

As I was walking round Derby, I saw this inspiring mural of the Derby Silk Mill Lockout of 1833-34. It reminded me of the ethos behind Workers’ Memorial Day – we need to remember the past, but fight for our future!

In October Youth Fight for Jobs will be recreating the Jarrow March against unemployment. It is scandalous that, 75 years since unemployed workers had to walk the hundreds of miles from the North East to London in order to present a petition to the King, we are still campaigning and marching against unemployment in the 21st century.

How can the empty words of the Fib-Dems, Tories, or the rhetoric of the Labour Party be believed? The Murdochgate scandal shows that the party of government and the party of opposition, both wined and dined in an attempt to curry favour with the press. We need to kick both of them out and build a real alternative to represent the interests of the vast majority of people struggling to get by, not a tiny elite. I support the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition, which is making an important start in this direction.

Local elections in Leicester – results for TUSC

May 7, 2011

Vote Against Cuts in Leicester local election results:

TUSC – Trade Unionists and Socialists Against Cuts
UPS – Unity for Peace and Socialism

Braunstone Park & Rowley Fields
Fiona NEVILLE TUSC 181 5.3%
Debbie STOKES TUSC 146 4.3%
Stephen SCORE TUSC 113 3.3%

Alex MOORE TUSC 232 5.6%

Avtar SINGH UPS 229 4.9%
Ashvin VYAS UPS 122 2.6%

Mohinder FARMA UPS 205 4.8%
Haridev DASANJH UPS 142 3.3%

Paul O’CONNELL TUSC 156 2.3%

Rushy Mead
Suraj SHAH TUSC 272 4.9%

Becci HEAGNEY TUSC 190 2.7%
Drew WALTON TUSC 176 2.5%

Dean KAVANAGH TUSC 71 3.5%

Thanks to all those who supported TUSC, but we still face Labour cuts to hospitals, schools and libraries. The overwhelming vote for Labour indicates that the people of Leicester are not prepared to put up with Con-Dem cuts. However, we can’t rely on Labour to defend jobs and services. As part of TUSC, the Socialist Party will continue to campaign against ALL cuts to services. Unlike the main parties, we are not just there at election time, but campaign all year round.

Come to our public meeting: Turkey Cafe (Granby St), Tuesday 10th May, 7.30pm – How can we defeat cuts in Leicester?

Vicious cuts to public services are NOT necessary. The money is there in society, but we need a mass party which stands up for ordinary people, not big business and fat cat bankers. Come and hear about the socialist alternative to cuts and closures.

TUSC will continue to fight back and help build a massive opposition to cutbacks. We are campaigning for a no cuts budget based on the needs of people in Leicester. It can be done! Liverpool city council fought back in the 1980’s and won £60 million back from Margaret Thatcher’s government.

To stop the cuts, we need people to get involved . . .

If you would like more information about our campaigns or to join our party, contact Steve on 0773798057 or email:

Follow us on facebook – Vote Against Cuts in Leicester

Poetry Slam – Y Theatre, Leicester

February 13, 2011

I entered my first ever poetry slam, yesterday. Indeed, it was the first time I have ever done performance poetry, so it was a bit nerve-racking.

This was following a brilliant workshop in the local library – USE YOUR LIBRARIES EVERYONE – with Rob Gee, which led to my first poem. Unfortunately, it only got mediocre marks, and I didn’t make it past the first round, but the whole thing was a learning curve and a great experience, with some fantastic local poets. Very high standard throughout – the standouts for me were a fantastic poem about the MPs expenses scandal and some amazing verbal gymnastics by the hugely talented Nathan Lunt. There was also a devastating little couplet by Rob Miller, whom I thought was very funny, but strangely his wit fell a little flat with the audience:

Sylvia Plath
Spent too long in the bath.

I then found out that this wasn’t actually how she died, but

Sylvia Plath
Spent too long in the oven

doesn’t rhyme.

Thanks to all the other poets who took part, to Rob Gee and Lydia Towsley for inspiration and to Emma Chung for some much-needed support from the audience.

As it was the Comedy Festival and close to Valentine’s day, I thought I would do some funny poems and finish with some lurve poetry. Here are my efforts:

It’s not easy, being a millipede.

It’s not easy, being a millipede.
I’m always glued to the telly
Waiting for the weather forecast
Consulting my barometer
Talking of isobars and fronts.
Impatiently waiting for the wind to pick up.

Then I put on my shoes.
Have you seen a millipede put on its shoes?
It takes a long time.
I step outside, feel the breeze on my back
I jig, cavort, do the foxtrot.
Strictly millipede come dancing.

But most of the time, when the air is still
I just crawl around on leaves.
And practice my steps.
It takes a lot of concentration.
It’s not easy, being a millipede.

What a load of rubbish!
I paid six good quid to come to the Y
And hear a lunatic prance about on stage
With some daft poem about millipedes.

Come back, I tell you. Its all true!
Don’t just take my word for it.

I wandered lonely as a clown,
My comedy shoes the way impedes
When in the beer garden of the Crown
I saw a host of golden millipedes
Swaying and dancing in the breeze.

What do you mean you’ve never seen a millipede dance in the breeze?
You try counting to 250, and still keep the beat
Or performing the cha cha cha cha cha cha cha cha cha cha cha cha cha.
It’s not easy, being a millipede.


Then an alliterative and childish poem I wrote quite a few years ago.

Adam’s Amazing Apple-Eating Adventure

Adam’s amazing apple-eating adventure
Began brilliantly by a babbling brook.
Claudia the caterpillar contentedly curled,
Deeply dozed, deliciously daydreaming.
Eating extra-large eucalyptus
Flowers, found by the foraging,
Galloping, gallivanting, gargantuan
Harold the heavy hippopotamus.
Ivor the intrepid, insect-eating iguana,
Jumped jubilantly in the jungle.
Kevin the king cobra, coiled.
Lazily, lugubriously he lolled.
Millie the magnificent millipede
Noticed Nellie the not-so-friendly,
Obviously ostentatious owl,
Preening, as proud as a peacock.
Quentin the quagga quivered querulously,
Running Reggie the rhinoceros ragged.
Sylvie the serpentine snake, slithered. She
Turned to Terry the tiger in the topmost tree.
“Unicorns?” she uttered.
“Vultures? Vengeful vixens?
Why worry? We won’t wake up
Axel the excitable axolotl
Yet”. Yvonne the yak yawned.
Zacharia the Zebra zipped past
Yevgeny the yellow
Xiphias and Xerxes, an extraordinarily
Wide, wonderful, wiggly whale.
Venus the vilified vulture was very
Unimpressed. She ululated
To Terry, who, tired of her tittering,
Snoozed silently in the sunset.
Reggie reared up. “Refreshing rest and relaxation are
Quickly quaffed,” he quarrelled.
Polly the parrot pecked out pretty patterns
On the outmost outcrop of the orange tree,
Not noticing Nellie’s nervous nattering.
Meanwhile, Millie munched on a mangrove,
Leaf. Larry the lion leapt on a lizard,
Kind Kieran the kestrel caught a kite, and
Jennifer the jaguar did a joyful jig.
“Interesting,” she intoned.
Harold harumphed hideously.
“Good grief!”, gasped Geraldine the giraffe,
Frightening Freddie the frog.
Evelyn the enormous elephant ate excitedly.
Deeply dozing,
Claudia curled up contentedly.
Brilliantly, by a babbling brook,
Adam’s apple-eating adventure began.


And finally two love poems:

The Aeolian Harp (apologies to S T Coleridge)

I sing a song of love.
I call on the Muses, Bacchus and Orpheus
To woo, to seduce, to entrance.

I sing of the Aeolian harp
Caressed by wind. Joyful in
Its random song of nature, of beauty.

Struck by the landscape
Wind-plucked, self-composed
Music, in tune with the elements.

She turns to me,
With sky-blue eyes and windswept hair.
A wry smile flashes across her face.

“You make a lot of noise as well
Not to mention the smell, when you get windy”.


Bread and Roses

O woe is me. Cruel poverty.
I cannot shower you with roses,
Drench you in champagne or dress you in gold.
I can’t afford a lovely bonnet
But I can write a sonnet.
Feel the beat of those iambic feet.
Perhaps you would be mine to hold?

My face wears a frown,
I blame Cameron, Clegg and Brown
For I haven’t got the dosh
To buy expensive nosh.
Instead, I dip my pen
In poesy’s sacred well.
Delve deep into my heart.

This Valentine’s day
Don’t say it with flowers,
Say it with words.
The inconstant rose will wilt and die.
But words don’t need watering,
They are guaranteed to go straight to the heart.