Posts Tagged ‘corruption’

How (not) to buy an election

November 9, 2019

In Seattle, Amazon spent $1million, in the 2019 local elections, in an effort to secure a more right-wing council. The company had, in 2018, scored a victory against an attempt to tax big business, after 7 of the 9 council members caved in and repealed a “Head Tax” on big business to help fund affordable housing. Starbucks and Amazon stood to pay $millions as the largest employers in the city into the fund. They put huge pressure to bear on the council to repeal the tax. The only two council members who refused to bow to corporate pressure were Kshama Sawant (Socialist Alternative) and Teresa Mosqueda (Democrat).

Amazon’s most trenchant critic, who helped win a $15 minimum wage in the city has been Kshama Sawant, also said that she would fight to reinstate the tax if re-elected. Has Amazon’s attempt to buy local democracy in Seattle paid off?

Despite promising early tallies for Egan Orion, the Amazon-backed candidate, Kshama Sawant is heading for victory when all votes are counted, as later ballots tend to lean to the left – people who have to work all hours to make ends meet are more likely to vote later in the election. The likelihood is that there will be an astounding third term for the first socialist candidate to be elected in 100 years in the US.

The influx of electoral money prompted a tweet by Bernie Sanders:
“Jeff Bezos and Amazon think they can buy elections. They spent $1 million to stop City Council candidates @d1forLisa, @TammyMoralesSEA, @VoteSawant and @ElectScott2019. Show Amazon that they can’t buy our democracy and that their corporate greed won’t stand. Get out and vote!”

It seems that the people of Seattle are supporting his call and refusing to listen to corporate attempts to buy democracy.

Read more from Socialist Alternative US (the sister party to Socialist Alternative in the UK):
https://www.socialistalternative.org/2019/11/06/amazons-bid-to-unseat-seattles-socialist-too-close-to-call/

Hot Air (updated)

December 30, 2015

Trains trundle to and fro, tired travellers
Stuffed sardines stifle in squalor
First-class fat cats with fatter wallets
Relax, remote from the raucous riff-raff.

Six hundred hypocritical half-wits howl hot
Air against applications; altercations arise –
Irate imprecations, impossible implications.
Wind turbines? Not In My Back Yard!

Motorway madness means mollycoddling motorists
Belching bellicose blasts, bloated backbenchers
Pork on Parliamentary privilege,
Gigantic guffs of hot air.

Ministers point accusingly
Crotch-deep in flood water,
Après moi la deluge – a modern Canute
Eclipsed by climate change.

If only Nature could be given wings
And the Earth’s glacial warming
Measured in a five-year term.

On the distant banks of the Thames
No cuts to flood defences here.
The barrier bursts open,
Foetid algal slurry laps
Around hems of designer suits,
Ruining pairs of Jimmy Choos.

Maybe, the message might just prick
Empty balloons of pomposity and privilege.

Or we could just take power ourselves.
We would not have to suffer
Yet more hot air.

Brazil 2014

June 16, 2014
Brazilian street artist Paulo Ito has created the World Cup's first viral image. Photo courtesy: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pauloito
Brazilian street artist Paulo Ito. Photo courtesy: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pauloito

It is all kicking off.

Riot police go in hard, storm the favelas

To sweep away the poor,

And money is passed

To FIFA – look at that corruption!

Surely a yellow card there?

But no – the referee waves play on.

Demonstrators gather in defence

Link up with strikes and protests

Face a hail of rubber bullets, clouds of gas,

Inequality to bring tears to the eyes.

And those who can afford a ticket

Enjoy the carnival.

£13bn for stadia but nada for the people.

Movers and shakers are in the royal box.

But where are the slums, the homeless?

Nowhere to be seen in sanitised coverage.

From satellite to satellite, the signal is passed,

And the police take up an attacking formation –

Clash with the millions occupying the squares.

As money-men do backroom deals,

Wads of cash change hands

And stones pelt the commentary box,

A boy holds up a banner in protest

To win indigenous land,

But we didn’t see that.

We are not in control of the footage.

Just feast on the football,

The samba, the passion, the silky skills.

Forget about grinding poverty.

Football and beer numb the pain of life.

And a scything run by Death

Into the penalty area, the grass fed with the blood

Of workers who built this magnificent spectacle,

And as the ball passes to Qatar

In a move worthy of Sepp Blatter,

There is a world still to play for.

The revolution is far from over,

We still have a chance to equalise.


You can read some more of my poetry in ‘Little Red Poetry’ (£4 pbk, £2.50 pdf e-book).

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

Lines Written on the Occasion of the Queen’s Speech to Parliament

June 3, 2014

In the UK, the Queen’s speech is apolitical – she merely gives royal assent to Parliament’s wishes. This year, the Queen’s speech includes legislation removing the right of landowners to object to underground pipelines traversing their property. Should this right then not extend to fracking beneath Buckingham Palace, Balmoral Castle or across the Duchy of Cornwall?

Companies such as Cuadrilla have bullied and strong-armed our government, corrupt and spineless as it is, into allowing the spread of fracking and underground coal gasification, to the extent that local authorities are being given money to continue with these insane and inefficient practices. Large swathes of Britain, including National Parks and Sites of Special Scientific Interest have been given over to exploration of underground reserves of shale oil.

Fracking and extreme energy present huge risks to underground aquifers. We are continuing to fuel the greenhouse effect by burning our remaining sources of fossil fuels, releasing CO2 and methane in the process. Moreover, each fracking well uses up millions of gallons of water, which requires thousands of lorry miles to transport it, in order to pump the shale oil from beneath the surface. The whole process is therefore an extremely inefficient way of obtaining energy.

The only sustainable solution is for massive investment in renewable energy and to take energy out of the hands of private companies, greedy for profit at the expense of our environment. We need a socialist solution to unfettered capitalism, and we need to move towards a sustainable economy.

Oil may bring wealth to a tiny elite, but we cannot drink the stuff!

 

The Queen’s Speech

 

Anachronistic, antagonistic. Angry activists

Bellow, “Bury beneath Balmoral, Buckingham Palace!”

Campaigners contend controversial

Decision. Delving deep,

Earthworks excavate energy.

The futile failure of fracking’s

Grip on government. Greenhouse gases given go-ahead.

Halliburton harvests heinous haul.

Idiotic, ill-conceived idea.

Judgement jettisoned, unjustified

Knackered, kaput.

Loot and lucre

Make maleficence mellifluous.

Nullify necessary, natural,

Overwhelming objections. Obeisance to oil,

Petrochemical pollutants proliferate.

Queen quells queries. Aquifers

Ruined. Removes right to refuse.

“Shovel under Sandringham. See how she suffers.

Transport tragic teratogens ‘twixt tubes

Underfoot, underground.”

Vehement, vociferous, vexatious, vengeful,

Wondrously wilful. We won’t wait to

Extinguish extreme exploitation.

Won’t yield to yellow-bellied, oily political yes-men.

Zero tolerance. Zero fracking. Zero royal assent.

 


You can read some more of my poetry in ‘Little Red Poetry’ (£4 pbk, £2.50 pdf e-book).

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

Letter sent to my local Lib Dem branch

May 25, 2009

It is the Lib Dems’ fault for putting a freepost address on their leaflet . . .

Dear Sirs

I recently received with some interest a newspaper from the Lib Dems in Leicester. It claimed that you had been campaigning to stop the closure of post offices. In fact, the Lib Dems are championing the European Union which has driven through the privatisation of our postal service, which has led to the closures. I was on a campaign to save Bishop St Post Office, which comprised of the Socialist Party, the Green Party and the International Workers of the World. We gave leaflets out to all post offices affected and raised a petition with thousands of signatures. I did not see the Lib Dems campaign on this issue once.

I was also involved with the Save Our Schools campaign in the Leicester South bye-election in 2004. It was the Lib Dems, in partnership with the Tories, whom you (rightly) say are the “dirtiest party” that pushed through the closure of vital schools. If you had any principles, how could you co-operate with your political enemies in this fashion, or are you just careerists like the other main parties, with no real concerns for your constituents?

Your newsletter also fails to mention the recent expenses scandal, where Lib Dems were just as embroiled as Labour and the Tories. I think that all three main parties are morally and politically bankrupt of ideas. I think we need a new workers’ party to represent ordinary people. That is why I am supporting the RMT’s NO2EU Yes to Democracy initiative in the European elections, as it is an historic step forward in this direction – the first time since 1906 and the founding of the Labour Party that a major trade union has put forward the need for real political representation for ordinary people. I am surprised that the person who put the paper through my door failed to notice the A3 poster in my window!

I also noted the fact that, if you give a £10 donation or more, then you automatically become a member of the Lib Dems unless you opt out. I think this is a disgraceful attempt to inflate your membership figures.

Andrew Walton
Leicester Socialist Party