Tuesday, 31 August 2010


Tonight’s YouGov voting intention has topline figures of CON 43%, LAB 38%, LDEM 11%.- this poll reflects a continued decline in Lib Dem support since they 'won' the golden ticket of 22 Ministers in the CON DEM Government.

The question is how long ordinary Lib Dem members are willing to put up with the most right wing government since Thatcher? Or Clegg does the decent thing and becomes a card carrying Tory?


The price of Britain's disappearing wildlife

water vole
Water voles have been protected in the UK since 2008

Food is relatively cheap and plentiful in Britain today, but will that still be the case in 50 years?

Overfishing and the decline of species on land has left some experts saying it is getting both harder and more expensive for the UK to feed itself in the long term.

That decline also opens up questions about the sort of countryside being left to future generations as nearly half of Britain's native land mammals are now considered a priority for conservation, be they hedgehogs, water voles, red squirrels or bats.

Farmland birds are also disappearing, with skylark numbers having been halved during the 1990s and continuing to drop.

One in five wild plants, the starting point for so much of our wildlife, face extinction.

This year the UK missed two international targets, set by the European Union and United Nations, that were aimed at halting the decline in our biodiversity - that intricate web of nature on which we depend so much.

Ecological meltdown

Professor Callum Roberts of York University said the Firth of Clyde, off Scotland's west coast - which is no longer considered viable for commercial fishing of white fish - is an example of how bad the situation can become.

Once a stretch of sea teeming with life, Prof Roberts said it is now approaching ecological meltdown due to overfishing.

"It shows what the end point of overfishing really looks like, we're very close to that point here - where there's nothing left that's worth catching."

seabed near Arran
The dredged seabed of the Firth of Clyde. Photo: Angus Robson

The local fishing fleet no longer concentrates on catching white fish, like cod, and some say this is leading to a recovery of stocks, but Prof Roberts said trawlers and dredgers catching shellfish mean the seabed is paying the price.

A camera sent to film the seabed off the east coast of the Isle of Arran, a popular spot for fishing boats to dredge for scallops, revealed a sandy bottom, lots of broken shells and crabs, and very little else.

It is because of areas like this that Prof Roberts thinks the UK needs a better balance in the seas between places that are off limits to fishing and places that are fished more intensively.

Jellyfish salad

Investment banker Pavan Sukhdev has been asked by the UN to look at the hard economics of declining wildlife, in particular how costs will rise if species that are readily available become hard to find.

If dwindling stocks make a restaurant's 'fish of the day' prohibitively expensive, Mr Sukhdev said restaurant-goers may have to contemplate menu choices such as plankton soup or jellyfish salad when dining out.

And it is not just the seas that are worrisome, he said, it is also the bugs and bees - the insects that pollinate crops.

Here the statistics of decline are worrying.

The UK has lost at least two of its bumblebee species, and a quarter of those left are at risk of extinction. Three quarters of butterflies are also losing numbers.

If too many of these insects disappear, crops will have to be pollinated by hand - a labour-intensive practice that despite sounding far-fetched is already under way in China.

Initial estimates put the additional cost of doing something similar in Britain at £1.5bn per year.

"Just imagine if bees sent you invoices for their pollinating services - it would make you sit up and take notice, but you don't right now, because it's free," Mr Sukhdev said of the hidden value of a robust and abundant mix of wildlife.

Where is action needed?

Farming is the single biggest influence on biodiversity on the land, and amid the push to intensify food production since World War II, the country's wildlife has suffered.

About half of the £546m that the government spent on biodiversity last year went to incentives to farmers to encourage wildlife.

And while some farms have seen results, overall the trend of the farmland bird population in the UK is still downward, with over a 50% drop since 1970.

Farmland birds such as the skylark are in decline in the UK

The incentive schemes are voluntary and inspections focus on what the farmer has signed up to do.

Natural Environment Minister Richard Benyon said the government might become more demanding of farmers in the future when it comes to expectations.

"If we're giving taxpayers' money to a farmer to do certain things, we want to make sure that there is an outcome," Mr Benyon said.

On the seas, the government recently announced 15 new marine protected areas round the UK's coast, which could restrict such things as fishing, dredging and even wind farms in a bid to protect biodiversity.

The question for those who track Britain's wildlife both in the water and on land is whether or not the downward trend can be reversed or if these new measures are too little too late?

Panorama: Britain's Disappearing Wildlife, BBC One, Monday 30 August at 2030 BST and then available in the UK on the BBC iPlayer.

Sunday, 29 August 2010


The Haircut

One day a florist went to a barber for a haircut. After the cut he asked about his bill, and the barber replied, 'I cannot accept money from you , I'm doing community service this week.'

The florist was pleased and left the shop. When the barber went to open his shop the next morning, there was a 'thank you' card and a dozen roses waiting for him at his door.

Later, a cop comes in for a haircut and when he tries to pay his bill the barber again replied, 'I cannot accept money from you , I'm doing community service this week.' The cop was happy and left the shop.

The next morning when the barber went to open up, there was a 'thank you' card and a dozen donuts waiting for him at his door.

Then a Member of Parliament came in for a haircut, and when he went to pay his bill the barber again replied, 'I can not accept money from you. I'm doing community service this week.' The MP was very happy and left the shop.

The next morning, when the barber went to open up, there were a dozen MPs lined up waiting for a free haircut.

And that, my friends, illustrates the fundamental difference between the citizens of our country and the politicians who run it. (Thanks to Noel Lynch, London GP for the Joke)


From The BBC http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/ 25 Aug 2010

MPs 'abused staff over expenses changes' Several MPs have verbally abused expenses watchdog staff, with one calling the new system an "abortion", official documents suggest.

An MP made one worker cry, later giving chocolates to apologise, it is alleged. Denis MacShane said he was the MP involved but called that account of the incident "partial and one-sided" The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, set up after the expenses scandal, published the revelations after a Freedom of Information request.

The revised expenses system has come in for severe criticism, with many politicians claiming it is too bureaucratic and time-consuming. There have also been reports of MPs abusing authority (IPSA) staff as they attempt to come to grips with its intricacies. 'Intimidating' The document, outlining the details of complaints made by workers, contains several instances of swearing and intimidation.

The male MP who allegedly called the new system an "abortion" went on to describe Sir Ian Kennedy, IPSA's chairman, as "stupid". Another, who was told he had to take part in an induction session to learn the workings of the system, is reported to have "struck a laptop on the facilitator's desk and loomed over the facilitator in an intimidating manner". I did not swear or raise my voice. I do not get cross with young ladies” Denis MacShaneLabour MP In another recorded incident, trainers and all IPSA staff were referred to as "monkey" by one female MP.

One MP is said to have grabbed a trainer's name badge, while another reportedly declared: "I am going to murder someone today." A staff member recalls a meeting in which an MP was "very difficult and disruptive" and after 10 minutes a volunteer "burst into tears and a staff member attempted to intervene". They add: "When a staff member offered to help, the MP dismissed him as 'condescending', at which point another staff member pulled the volunteer (still in tears) out of the session. At this point the MP immediately became contrite and apologised... He later returned with a box of chocolates and a note addressed to the volunteer."

'Tears in my eyes' Labour's Denis MacShane told the BBC he was the MP concerned but said the account of the incident was "partial and one-sided". It occurred immediately after the election, he said, when MPs were "exhausted" and trying to get to grips with a new computer system for making claims which proved impossible to operate.

In what he described as an "awful experience" and "disastrous error", he said IPSA officials had put young female volunteers from government departments "into the front line" to induct MPs about using the system. "I was getting frustrated, upset and saying, 'Look, I want to be an MP, I don't want to have to grapple with this bureaucracy,'" he told BBC Radio 4's PM. "I was getting upset with myself... I saw that she just had a grumpy middle-aged MP on her hands. She got upset, there were tears in my eyes and I just stopped it, ran out and got the biggest box of chocolates I could find." But he stressed. "I did not swear or raise my voice. I do not get cross with young ladies." Mr MacShane said he was disturbed that IPSA had kept "secret records" of conversations between MPs and their staff and these had been released to the press without members being informed. "This is quite worrying that IPSA continue this kind of war with MPs when we need to stop it."

IPSA was set up last year to enforce a revised expenses system. A spokesman said: "These instances relate to the early days of operation. IPSA is focusing on getting on with its job which is managing the new regime governing MPs' expenses - that means checking and processing thousands of claims each week.

"Last week alone, for example, IPSA handled 4,000 claims and paid £650,000 to MPs."

Thursday, 26 August 2010

FAIR? Who are Clegg and Cameron kidding?

According to a report by the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS), the Budget has hit poorest families the hardest.

From the BBC


In George Osborne's June Budget, the chancellor increased VAT from 17.5% to 20% and cut welfare spending.

Child benefit and public sector pay were frozen and 25% cut from public service spending.

The IFS said: "Low-income households of working age lose the most as a proportion of income from the tax and benefit reforms announced in the emergency Budget.

"Those who lose the least are households of working age without children in the upper half of the income distribution.

"They do not lose out from cuts in welfare spending, and they are the biggest beneficiaries from the increase in the income tax personal allowance."

The report also questioned the government's decision to use the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) instead of the Retail Prices Index (RPI) when calculating certain benefits.

The report said that more than three-quarters of benefit claimants were affected by increases in housing costs, which are included in the RPI.

Many analysts say that government spending cuts often have a disproportionate impact on the poorest households.

They site the example of Canada, which cut spending sharply in the 1990s and saw the gap between rich and poor widen. The same phenomenon has occurred in Sweden and Finland, they say.


The BBC's chief economics correspondent Hugh Pym says the disagreement between the Treasury and the IFS over their forecasts was about timescales.

When George Osborne said in the Budget the measures were progressive, he was referring to changes taking effect by 2012. The IFS argues that we should look at a longer period, up to 2014, taking in a fuller range of measures including cuts to housing benefit.

On that basis, the IFS stands by its analysis that the full package of measures, taking in Alistair Darling's last Budget and Mr Osborne's changes, is regressive, our correspondent says.

Monday, 23 August 2010


Rugby Borough Council is now officially a laughing stock after satirical magazine Private Eye awarded it 'ROTTEN BOROUGH' status.

"Rugby Council put Eric Pickles’s half-baked scheme into practice by dispensing with a chief executive and promoting a plumber instead" Private Eye

The Council gained this 'award' after it emerged that Tory leader Craig Humphrey had been appointed Chief Executive (without a vote or details of wage). Craig who is a plummer by trade is not known to have undertaken any formal training for the post.

Private Eye reports that Craig will be receiving £60,000 for his new career move.

All is not rosy in the wider Tory Party with some in the wider party showing disbelief that this was allowed to take place.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

CLEGG HOLD YOUR HEAD IN SHAME! Coalition's 100 days: Poor and vulnerable hit by cuts, says TUC

Coalition's 100 days: Poor and vulnerable hit by cuts, says TUC

Some of the UK's poorest families have been hit by more than 100 unfair spending cuts during the first 100 days of the new Government, a TUC analysis of departmental spending reveals today

.The TUC research, published in advance of the 100 day anniversary of the coalition Government tomorrow (Thursday), shows that cuts which impact more on the poorest families in the UK have been made across the board in services including education, health, housing, welfare and social care.

Examples of cuts the TUC believes are unfair include:

•Free school meals - The cancelled measure would have extended entitlement to free school meals to about 500,000 families in work on low pay from September this year. Cost £125m.

•Every child a reader - This programme to provide early support to children with literacy difficulties (focussed on inner-city schools) will be cut by at least £5m and its future is not guaranteed.

•City Challenge Fund - This programme aimed to provide extra support to under-performing children in the most deprived areas, but has been cut by £8m this year.

•Building Schools for the Future - This scrapped programme was the biggest-ever school buildings investment plan. The aim was to rebuild or renew nearly every secondary school in England. Cost £7.5bn.

•Housing benefit - Nearly a million (936,960) households will lose around £624 a year as a result of changes to housing benefit. Londoners will be worst hit.

•Homes and Communities Agency - Cuts to programmes including Kickstart (for restarting stalled house building programmes), affordable housing, gypsy and traveller support and Housing Market Renewal (improvements to housing in deprived areas). Cost £450m.

•Young Person's Guarantee - £450m has been cut from the Guarantee, which will be abolished in April 2011. This Guarantee promised unemployed young people access to a job, training or work after six months of unemployment.

•Working Neighbourhood Fund - This fund, which aimed to help unemployed people in deprived areas to move into work, has been cut by £49.9m.

•Domestic Violence Protection Orders - Scheme to create two-week banning orders so that victims of domestic abuse can look for protection in the safety of their own house.

The TUC is calling on the Government to reconsider its plan of swingeing spending cuts to public services, and focus instead on other ways to reduce the deficit, such as a Robin Hood Tax on financial transactions that could raise up to £20bn a year

Monday, 16 August 2010

Open Letter to Rugby Borough Council Officials - COUNCILLOR CRAIG HUMPHREY SHOULD STAND DOWN!


15 August 2010

Senior Officers; Andrew Gabbitas & Ian Davis

Rugby Borough Council

Town Hall

Evreux Way
CV21 2RR

Dear Mr Gabbitas and Mr Davis


We wish to express our concerns about your endorsement of Councillor Craig Humphrey being employed by Rugby Borough Council in a Chief Executive role.

As you will be aware an individual employed by the local authority is strictly forbidden from standing for election as candidates for the said local authority.

The recent case (May 2010) of Councillor Louise Couling who was employed for just a few hours a week as a Lolly Pop lady by Barking & Dagenham Borough Council, who was forced to resign her seat (Barking and Dagenham Post - http://www.bdpost.co.uk/) after being elected to the said Council indicates the pickle that Rugby Borough Council has got itself into.

Mr Humphrey should therefore stand down as a Councillor, as this could be seen to contravene electoral law and many would say long established good practice.

Many people would be surprised to see that Mr Gabbitas himself as the Electoral Returning Officer for Rugby Borough Council has not advice this course of action and we in the Green Party would suggest that Mr Gabbitas urgently seek advice from the Electoral Commission over this issue if he has not done so already?

We in the Green Party, agree that Rugby Borough Council paying £103,000 a year for a Chief Executive as they did with the last Chief Executive Simon Warren is not acceptable and action should be taken to ensure that no one is paid this massive amount at Rugby Borough Council.

The Green Party positive policy in respect of the inequalities in pay that exist in local government is we believe helpful in this matter and that is no one should earn more than ten times the minimum wage in a local authority.

Another bench mark for deciding the pay of a Chief Executive is the pay rate for a Senior Officer of the local authority which is between £20,000 - £24,000 a year, given the greater responsibility involved, the Chief Executive pay should be no more than £35,000 a year, given his or her responsibility for 480 staff and the conduct of 48 Councillors. Thus saving £60,000 on the current post!

So in conclusion Mr Gabbitas and Mr Davis, instead of creating an inappropriate job for Mr Humphrey you should instead seek to reduce the pay of the Chief Executive using the formulas above or perhaps engage with local stakeholders and see what they think?

In the meantime. Craig Humphrey should stand down as a Councillor, as he appears ineligible to sit as a Councillor given his employment by the Council.


Roy Sandison

Rugby Green Party

Green MP accuses PM of "counter-productive assault on tenants' rights"

In a strongly-worded private letter, Green Party leader Caroline Lucas MP has accused the prime minister of dealing council and housing association tenants a double-whammy as the PM proposes to slash housing benefit while attacking security of tenure.

The letter was sent on 5 August but the PM has yet to respond.

In the letter, the Green Party leader and MP for Brighton Pavilion questions the PM's evidence base and calls his proposals "ill-judged". Mr Cameron has indicated publicly - but with no prior announcement from the Department of Communities and Local Government - that he would like to see fixed terms for all new council and housing association tenancies, lasting as little as five years.

Caroline Lucas points out that "Cutting housing benefits will serve to further increase demand for social housing, as private tenants are unable to afford their rent."

She accuses the prime minister of "coercion", saying that "making continued occupation of a tenant's home dependent on an official deciding whether or not the tenant deserves to remain there would both remove tenants' security and discourage social mobility."

She asks: "Why would I want to get a job and do well if this meant I might lose my tenancy?"

The UK's first Green MP also questions the prime minister over the bureaucracy likely to be created by his proposal, including "the cost of the process of assessing who should and shouldn't lose their home, including the inevitable appeals and possible court cases..."

"These are people's homes not just their houses"

Caroline Lucas continues: "A real look at the evidence shows that the shortage of council house supply is not down to under-occupation by tenants but due to massive and continuous under-investment in council and social housing over decades accompanied by the disastrous policy of 'right to buy' which has decimated the council housing stock."

She adds, "it should not be forgotten that these are people's homes not just their houses and security of tenure is one of the great successes of council and social housing, allowing families to remain in areas they could never afford to stay in if this security did not exist and allowing them to make roots and play an active part in their communities."

The letter concludes with an attack on the government's cuts agenda, which Caroline Lucas says is the driving force behind the policy:

"This policy is a transparent attempt to divert attention away from the consequences of the cuts that your Government is making."


1. See "Housing benefit cuts will increase homelessness, Green Party leader warns" at http://www.greenparty.org.uk/News/2010-13-08-Lucas-Housing-benefit-cuts-homelessness.html.

2. See eg "David Cameron announces plan to end lifetime council tenancies: Council homes for life to be replaced by tenancies lasting as little as five years based on need and income", Guardian 3.8.10, athttp://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2010/aug/03/lifetime-council-tenancies-contracts-cameron.

3. The full text of the letter is below.

Rt Hon David Cameron MP
Prime Minister
10 Downing Street

5 August 2010

Dear David,

Council and Housing Association Tenancies

I am aware of the convention to write to the Minister responsible on a particular policy area. However I am writing to you directly as public knowledge of your policy proposal on the above issue arises from the comments you made during your recent visit to Birmingham, rather than any official policy document from the Department for Communities and Local Government or communication with Parliamentarians.

The media reports that you want to see fixed terms for all new council and housing association tenancies lasting as little as five years. The details of the proposal are not yet available on the DCLG website, despite press reports that a consultation paper is imminent. It is not at all helpful for such a major policy proposal to be made before any official documentation is made available. Nonetheless, going on what the press has reported, I understand that the idea is for a new short-term tenure to be implemented by local councils, involving regular reviews of tenancies.

I cannot see how your policy announcement could be described as evidence based. On what basis do you conclude that under-occupation and high income are prevalent in the Council and social rented housing sectors? I would be very interested to see the data upon which you have relied in coming up with this ill-judged policy.

A real look at the evidence shows that the shortage of council house supply is not down to under-occupation by tenants but due to massive and continuous under-investment in council and social housing over decades accompanied by the disastrous policy of "right to buy" which has decimated the council housing stock. Do you still support "right to buy" given that you do not even appear to support the "right to rent"?

I should be grateful for details of what account has been taken of the impact of your Government's threatened cuts to housing benefits in relation to this policy? Cutting housing benefits will serve to further increase demand for social housing, as private tenants are unable to afford their rent. Clearly, it makes sense to provide opportunities for council and social housing tenants with space in their home to move to smaller accommodation if that is something they want to do.

However, it should not be forgotten that these are people's homes not just their houses and security of tenure is one of the great successes of council and social housing, allowing families to remain in areas they could never afford to stay in if this security did not exist and allowing them to make roots and play an active part in their communities.

As well as being unfair, coercion will be ineffective - it is not the way to improve council housing supply. The threat of coercion in the background, making continued occupation of a tenant's home dependent on an official deciding whether or not the tenant deserves to remain there would both remove tenants' security and discourage social mobility. Why would I want to get a job and do well if this meant I might lose my tenancy? And what would be the cost of the process of assessing who should and shouldn't lose their home, including the inevitable appeals and possible court cases?

The Government cannot avoid the need for real and sustained investment in both council and social housing by trying to suggest the supply problems are caused by under-occupation of council homes. It is not tenants who are to blame for the council and social housing crisis!

This policy is a transparent attempt to divert attention away from the consequences of the cuts that your Government is making and it can only be described as a counterproductive assault on tenants' rights.

I should be grateful for your response to my concerns.

Yours sincerely,

Caroline Lucas, MP for Brighton Pavilion

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Coventry Green Fayre

Coventry Green Fayre

Coventry's first Green Fayre, Saturday 21st August 2010 at the city's Memorial Park.
A fun, interesting, enlightening day out.
Celebrating local action and trade for a more sustainable and compassionate lifestyle.

Cuts and Job Creation for a Tory at Rugby Borough Council - Letter From Rugby Green Party

Their is raising anger over the job creation at Rugby Borough Council for Tory Councillor Craig Humphrey - who has been appointed the new Chief Executive of the Council behind closed doors and no information of the wage he will be paid.

Rugby Green Party has entered this discussion and also showed where the CON DEM cuts are taking place in Rugby in a letter published last week in both the Rugby Advertiser (above) and Rugby Observer. We also called for support for the Fire Fighters Union (FBU) planned action against the closure of local fire stations.

Full Letter below:

Dear Sir

There seems to be plenty of slight of hand and double speak taking place at the moment in regards to cuts to essential service in Rugby.

As Steve Roberts from the FBU has illustrated, the Tory closure of the Brinklow station will lead to deaths and the reason why people should support the proposed action and campaign by the Fire Bridges Union is the indiscriminate chance that you, your family or friends could lose their lives resulting from the Tory Councillors voting to close the fire station at Brinklow.

The classic tactic of the Tory Councillors who ‘represent’ the Brinklow area to abstain or find a spurious reason not to vote, at the same time knowing that their mates in the Tory party will do the dirty business can only be described as despicable.

The workers in the Fire Bridges Union should be supported in their campaign/action to defend our fire service.

The cuts of the CON DEM government will bite deeply into public services in Rugby if they are allowed to get away with it.

The most vulnerable in our town are under attack, we have already seen our elderly people with dementia and depression being sent into exile to Nuneaton with the closure of the Hawthorn Ward at St Cross. Abbotsbury Care Home in Hillmorton is threaten with closure and the costs of essential services to allow people to remain safely in their homes are planned to be increased massively – this at the same time as the Tory Councillors say they are closing the home because people can now ‘safely’ live at home – a cruel example of double speak from Tory Councillors.

The threat to close St Cross A&E is also being suggested as some sort of improvement in services – can you believe these CON DEM jokers? – The same goes for cuts to local schools – now given ‘freedom’ apparently.

The Police have announced cuts to Officers on the beat in Rugby and even our local magistrate’s court is being closed.

But fear not the people of Rugby – the local Tory leader has now been appointed as Chief Executive of Rugby Council behind closed doors and with no information on the salary he will be given.

A fraction of the people of Bilton ward may have succumb to Craig’s charms and knowledge of the game of rugger at the elections in 2008, but the rest of us perhaps would liked to express our own opinion on Craig Humphrey’s suitability for his new job. If Craig wants to be the paid mayor of Rugby he really should go through the motions of an election – self appointment shows a degree of contempt for local people.

While the local Tories seem able to create a job for one of their number, the rest of us are paying for the actions of the Bankers who gambled and expected us to pick their losses.

The Banks have just announced massive profits along with the usual bonuses. So while its party time as usual for these people the most vulnerable in Rugby will face cuts. This is why ordinary people need to fights cuts to our public services and not be side tracked by the supporters of the CON DEM government crocodile tears.


Roy Sandison

Rugby Green Party

Thursday, 5 August 2010


Waste, reuse, recycling and job creation

Adrian Ramsay, the Green Party's deputy leader, explains the Green approach to reducing and reusing waste and job creation, and the government's review of their policies in this area:

Last week, the coalition government announced a review of waste policies in England. It will include a consideration of "how to ensure the right contribution of energy from waste" - in other words, incineration. More incinerators will take us in the wrong direction. They provide an incentive to keep waste levels high, when the amount of waste we produce is starting to decline and Green policies would see it decline much further through measures such as taxes on packaging.

Expensive private incinerator contracts oblige councils to guarantee the regular delivery of large amounts of waste to keep the incinerator burning. Councils are then at risk of having to pay compensation to the private operator if there is a shortfall. The ratio of energy generated per unit of greenhouse gases released by incinerators is typically two times worse than for coal-fired power stations."

In Croydon, Greens have found that an incinerator bid included provision for sludge disposal, radioactive, toxic, medical and hazardous waste services, and clinical waste disposal. The billion pound procurement contract also suggested hazardous waste from other areas would be transported in via trucks for disposal.

When you look at the vast sums involved, and councils being locked into decades-long contracts, money could be better spent in a variety of ways. We would favour education programmes, re-use and repair facilities, comprehensive kerbside recycling, composting programmes, and mechanical and biological waste treatment plants. These methods are safe, better for the environment, and create far more local jobs.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010


The time to organise resistance is now
We reject these cuts as simply malicious ideological vandalism, hitting the most vulnerable the hardest. Join us in the fight

Tony Benn and 73 others
guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 4 August 2010

It is time to organise a broad movement of active resistance to the Con-Dem government's budget intentions. They plan the most savage spending cuts since the 1930s, which will wreck the lives of millions by devastating our jobs, pay, pensions, NHS, education, transport, postal and other services.

The government claims the cuts are unavoidable because the welfare state has been too generous. This is nonsense. Ordinary people are being forced to pay for the bankers' profligacy.

The £11bn welfare cuts, rise in VAT to 20%, and 25% reductions across government departments target the most vulnerable – disabled people, single parents, those on housing benefit, black and other ethnic minority communities, students, migrant workers, LGBT people and pensioners.

Women are expected to bear 75% of the burden. The poorest will be hit six times harder than the richest. Internal Treasury documents estimate 1.3 million job losses in public and private sectors.

We reject this malicious vandalism and resolve to campaign for a radical alternative, with the level of determination shown by trade unionists and social movements in Greece and other European countries.

This government of millionaires says "we're all in it together" and "there is no alternative". But, for the wealthy, corporation tax is being cut, the bank levy is a pittance, and top salaries and bonuses have already been restored to pre-crash levels.

An alternative budget would place the banks under democratic control, and raise revenue by increasing tax for the rich, plugging tax loopholes, withdrawing troops from Afghanistan, abolishing the nuclear "deterrent" by cancelling the Trident replacement.

An alternative strategy could use these resources to: support welfare; develop homes, schools, and hospitals; and foster a green approach to public spending – investing in renewable energy and public transport, thereby creating a million jobs.

We commit ourselves to:

• Oppose cuts and privatisation in our workplaces, community and welfare services.

• Fight rising unemployment and support organisations of unemployed people.

• Develop and support an alternative programme for economic and social recovery.

• Oppose all proposals to "solve" the crisis through racism and other forms of scapegoating.

• Liaise closely with similar opposition movements in other countries.

• Organise information, meetings, conferences, marches and demonstrations.

• Support the development of a national co-ordinating coalition of resistance.

We urge those who support this statement to attend the Organising Conference on 27 November 2010 (10am-5pm), at Camden Centre, Town Hall, London, WC1H 9JE.


Tony Benn

Caroline Lucas MP

John McDonnell MP

Jeremy Corbyn MP

Mark Serwotka, general secretary PCS

Bob Crow, general secretary RMT

Jeremy Dear, general secretary NUJ

Michelle Stanistreet, deputy general secretary, NUJ

Frank Cooper, president of the National Pensioners Convention

Dot Gibson, general secretary of the National Pensioners Convention

Ken Loach

John Pilger

John Hendy QC

Mark Steel

Kevin Courtney, deputy general secretary NUT

Cllr Salma Yaqoob

Lee Jasper, joint co-ordnator ,Black Activists Rise Against Cuts (Barac)

Zita Holbourne, joint co-ordinator of Barac campaign and PCS national executive

Ashok Kumar, VP education and welfare,LSE student union

Hilary Wainwright, Red Pepper

Francis Beckett, author

David Weaver, chair, 1990 Trust

Viv Ahmun, director Equanomics UK

Paul Mackney, former general secretary NATFHE/UCU

Clare Solomon, president ULU student union

Lindsey German, convenor, Stop the War Coalition (personal capacity)

Andrew Burgin, archivist

John Rees, Counterfire

Romayne Phoenix, Green party

Joseph Healy, secretary Green Left

Fred Leplat, Islington Unison

Jane Shallice

Neil Faulkner, archaeologist and historian

Alf Filer, Socialist Resistance

Chris Nineham

James Meadway, economist

Cherry Sewell, UCU

Alan Thornett, Socialist Resistance

Peter Hallward, professor of modern European philosophy

Matteo Mandarini, Historical Materialism editorial board

John Nicholson, secretary Convention of the Left

Michael Chessum, UCL union education and campaigns officer

Mark Curtis, writer

Nick Broomfield

Sean Rillo Raczka, chair, Birkbeck College student union, and mature students' representative, NUS national executive

Robyn Minogue, UoArts NUS officer

Prince Johnson, NUS president Institute of Education

Roy Bailey, Fuse Records

Doug Nicholls

Granville Williams

Gary Herman (CPBF national council member, in personal capacity)

Louis Hartnoll, president UoArts student union

Sarah Ruiz, former Respect councillor and community activist in Newham

Michael Gavan

Mary Pearson, National Union of Teachers, vice president Birmingham Trades Union Council

Joe Glenholmes, Unison, life member Birmingham Trades Union Council

Baljeet Ghale, NUT past president

Jane Holgate, chair of Hackney Unite and secretary of Hackney TUC

Marshajane Thompson, Labour Representation Committee NC

Richard Kuper

Chris Baugh, PCS assistant general secretary

Trevor Phillips, campaigner

Stathis Kouvelakis, UCU, King's College London

Carole Regan

Bernard Regan

Roger Kline

Hugh Kerr, former MEP

Nina Power, senior lecturer in philosophy Roehampton University

Norman Jemmison, NATFHE past president, NPC

Kitty Fitzgerald, poet and novelist

Iain Banks, author

Arthur Smith, comedian

David Landau

Anne Orwin, actor


Monday, 2 August 2010

Rugby Tory declares himself King........... or Mayor?

Dispensing with even a vote of his fellow councillors let alone a vote of the people of Rugby, Tory leader Councillor Craig Humphrey (pic) has declared himself has Chief Executive of Rugby Borough Council without even declaring how much he will be earning from the Council – Our money by the way!

Craig Humphrey got the idea after little chat with former Thatcher Golden boy Eric Pickles who is the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government in the CON DEM Government.

Speaking to the Rugby Advertiser King/Mayor or what ever his title is Craig said "I had a chat with Eric Pickles at the LGA conference and he was quite straight forward with what he thinks should be done.

"He's not interested in our management structure and neither are the electorate – and why should they be?

So there we have it – the supposedly non party political post of Chief Executive who has been trained to ensure political neutrality and the proper conduct of Councillors and council staff (480 staff) and quality service provision has now been replace by Craig Humphrey elected by a fraction of the Bilton electorate in 2008, whose main abilities apparently is playing rugger.

Whilst we agree that a Chief Executive pay should be paid within strict limits – what we do not agree with is when a politician decides to become effectively a paid mayor (but more powerful) of our town without allowing local people to have a say over the desirability of this.