Wednesday, 24 February 2010
3 days left 'til the teach-in – share this message with everyone you know:
TAKE BACK EDUCATION: A TEACH-IN TO BUILD THE RESISTANCE:
THIS SATURDAY 27 FEBRUARY 11AM-4PM, KINGS COLLEGE LONDON
Tickets available at http://educationactionlondon.blogspot.com/
(£6 waged, £3 unwaged)
The No Cuts @ King's campaign and King's UCU are hosting a mass teach-in this Saturday. The event is aimed at both students and education workers from across the country and will be full of alternative lectures and tutorials. Hundreds are signed up already; make sure you're there too!
• The crisis in our universities and the battle for education
• The tasks ahead – building resistance that can win
• The corporate takeover of our universities
• Reclaiming our students' unions
• Education for liberation – what could our education look like?
• Education for all – challenging Islamophobia, racism and points based immigration
• 1968 – what can we learn from the fire last time?
The line up includes:
• Terry Eagleton – literary critic
• Alison Lord – UCU branch chair from the victorious campaign to stop cuts at Tower Hamlets college
• Michael Rosen – poet and education campaigner
• Jeremy Corbyn MP – member of Parliament for Islington North
• Nikos Lountos – activist from Greece
• Alex Callinicos – author of Education in a Neoliberal World and professor at Kings College London
• Daf Adley & James Haywood – NUS Executive
• Juan Carlos Piedra – Justice for Cleaners
• Stathis Kouvelakis – Lecturer and author
• Lesley McGorrigan – Officer at Leeds University UCU who are striking against cuts
• Mike Gonzalez – 1968 activist and author
• Patrick Ainley – author of Education Make You Fick Innit
• Sarah Young – student from Sussex University occupation
• Gargi Bhattacharyya – author and professor of sociology
• Assed Baig & Tara Hewitt – students union officers
• Jim Wolfreys – president King’s College London UCU
Saturday, 20 February 2010
See the Campaign Iran blog for more about the campaign.
See you there...
Here's the line-up:
hip-hop night & fundraiser opposing sanctions on Iran
LOWKEY http://www.myspace.com/lowkeyuk leading British Iraqi rapper
“One of the best lyricists in the Western Hemisphere” Benjamin Zephaniah
REVEAL http://www.myspace.com/revealpoison leading british Iranian rapper
PERSIA http://www.myspace.com/persiauk up and coming female British Iranian rapper
POETIC PILGRIMAGE http://www.myspace.com/poeticpilgrimage female Muslim rappers
Thursday 25th Feb @ The Quad
London School of Economics, Houghton Street, London WC2A 2AE (Nearest tube Holborn/Temple)
Book online: http://www.beatsbeatsanctions.co.uk
Hosted by LSE Stop the War Society. All proceeds to Campaign Iran
KEN LOACH, to personally present his film:
“BREAD AND ROSES” on immigrant worker’s rights, trade unionism and victimisation. Darwin LT, UCL enter Malet Place, WC1.
Monday 22 Feb 6.00pm
Many of the cleaning catering and security staff at UCL live precarious lives. Underpaid and on zero hour contracts on the one hand, and victimised for being active in a trade union on the other.
Juan Carlos Piedra was one such cleaner. He lost his job in 2009 after Office and General, UCL’s outsourced cleaning company of choice, told him there was no work from him after it became clear that he wouldn’t back down in the face bullying for being an active unionist.
World-renowned film maker KEN LOACH, a pioneer of the social realism genre, will be kindly taking an evening out from editing his new film to come to UCL to personally present his film “BREAD AND ROSES”, an exploration into the right of immigrant workers and their struggle for justice. We will hear from as well as a personal account from Juan Carlos, All are welcome!
SIGN THE PETITION TO CALL FOR THE LIVING WAGE AT UCL!: http://tinyuri.com/
What is the London Living Wage exactly?
The London Living Wage is a wage rate of £7.60/hour which, according to the Greater London Authority, is the minimum any worker would need in order to survive in London Authority, is the minimum any wage is is simply not enough. We campaign for is instatement, as well as fair sick pay, annual leave and trade union rights.
“BREAD AND ROSES” on immigrant worker’s rights, trade unionism and victimisation. Darwin LT, UCL enter Malet Place, WC1.
Monday 22 Feb 6.00pm
Friday, 19 February 2010
Thursday, 18 February 2010
We need a new vision. We need a return to honest campaigning. We need a team of people in ULU that can show what can be done when we fight together.
See you in ULU :-)
Thanks to Luna 17. And lecturer and student at SOAS Demet Dinler.
Let the battle begin...
This is what The Sauce wrote:
Activist, blogger, single mum Clare Solomon (that's me!!) is standing for president of the University of London Union (ULU) as a left candidate promising a year of protest and campaigns.
Clare was at the centre of two occupations - one against the Israeli bombardment of Gaza and the second for cleaners who had been held and deported - at the SOAS campus.
The 36-year-old is one of the most dynamic, hard working and inclusive campaigners on the left and should she take office the reverberations would spread well beyond the student movement.
Her election statement reads: "Students across London need a strong and dynamic campaigning union to defend themselves against the savage cuts in education and across public services threatened under Labour and Conservatives.
"It's obscene that students and those relying on social services and working hardest are being made to pay for the bankers' greed. Higher education will suffer cuts of £449m because of the crisis. ULU must be at the heart of a London-wide movement which uses the strengths, talents and experience of all students in the city in the fight for adequate funding.
"A real union is more than gym membership. ULU’s excellent facilities will be a hub of activity, accessible to every student. From two years’ experience as SOAS Finance and Communications sabbatical, I know students feel part of the union most when it is active, effective and visible.
"The ULU President must project student voices to the outside world and campaigns work. We occupied our colleges when Israel invaded Gaza last year, killing more than 1,300 people. Thousands protested against wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. We cannot let Islamophobia bolster the Nazi BNP.
"Climate protests have made governments across the globe take notice. Miss University is not returning to our campuses because we protested. I have been active in all these campaigns.
London is expensive. SOAS Justice for Cleaners campaign delivered the London living wage for SOAS staff and helped launch successful campaigns across London. I will continue to fight for a London Living Wage for all staff and students."
The coming "year of change" threatens to be scarred by a Conservative victory at the elections, massive and damaging cuts to services and the spectre of the IMF enforcing even greater economic surgery.
The position of students' unions and unions generally for the past decade has been professionalism, cheap insurance deals and a resistance to strikes or anything which might rock the Labour government boat.
A victory for Clare, a revolutionary who has supported the post strike, demonstrated with Stop the War, and organised the Mutiny events, would be spark amidst the paraffin.
Wednesday, 17 February 2010
This victory was won on grounds that probably don't exist at any other University in the country. Here, racist graffiti appeared on the campus in the middle of the vote. Union and University buildings were daubed in nazi symbols and calls to "keep Stoke Paki and Nigger clean". You can probably think of many responses that such an incident would generate, but I for one didn't expect what we saw here. Firstly the University tried to clean away the graffiti before the police could turn up as they had an open day coming up. Members of the "no" campaign tried to say that I or one of my supporters had painted the graffiti, and even tried to explain away the nazi swastika as a Hindu "peace sign". The Union did not think that the incident was serious enough to warrant them telling students about it – all that they thought needed to happen was put up a ridiculous article entitled "graffiti incident".
But maybe the reactions of some students to this incident were not actually so surprising. The BNP themselves jumped on the "no" campaign's bandwagon and they did nothing to distance themselves. This didn't provoke disgust and outrage amongst the "no" campaigners though. They carried on with their campaign without any kind of shame just as they did when swastika appeared on the Union doors. They hated being called racists or Islamaphobic, but their campaigners claimed that I only represented "ethnics" and "foreigners" and my presidency was the "first step to illegal Shariah law in Britain". The "no" campaign undoubtedly tapped into a layer of racism that is prevalent at Staffs, and in doing so gave racists and Islamaphobes on campus and beyond the confidence to come out of the woodwork and spit their poison openly without fear of reproach.
On the Stafford campus, students spoke of the 'Islamic' marches I had organised in Hanley, Islamic? Really? Since when has an anti-racist demonstration been called an Islamic march? If a Muslim is at head of a demonstration, does that make it an Islamic march?
I'm not saying that everyone who voted "no" is a racist Islamaphobe – that would be ludicrous. What I'm saying is that elements within the "no" campaign were racist and Islamaphobic and they were not stood up to.
In Europe they have banned minarets and are talking about banning headscarves, when I look at Britain, I'm glad and still have hope that we haven't fallen into such madness, however this view has somewhat been dented looking at some of the students on campus.
The Germans, at the time of Hitler, did not invent anti-Semitism, they only allowed it to ferment and remained silent without standing up to it. The "no" campaign did not invent Islamaphobia, they only stayed silent as it took over their campaign, and some of them used it as a tool to further their cause.
So the fight is still on. There is still a battle to be fought at Staffs to make sure that racists and Islamaphobes do not have the confidence to raise their heads. There is still work to done to be make sure that the Union and the University actually take racism on their campus seriously, not literally sweep it under the carpet. There is a movement to build among students who are ready to take on racism and fascism (and don't think that it's too extreme to hate racism!).
This victory should be seen for what it is – a win for anti-racists and anti-fascists everywhere, but the fight goes on.
Staffordshire University Students' Union
Tuesday, 16 February 2010
The letter - which was emailed to Martin Smith, Socialist Workers Party National Secretary, around lunchtime today - is signed by 42 SWP members. A further 18 people who have resigned from the SWP in recent weeks endorse it too. The full lists of names appear at the foot of this post.
'We are writing to resign from the Socialist Workers Party. We do this with great sadness but the events of recent weeks leave us with little choice.
The immediate reason for our resignation is the attempt by the Central Committee to stop Lindsey German, the convenor of the Stop the War Coalition, from speaking at a Stop the War meeting in Newcastle. This demand was justified by the claim that the meeting was ‘disputed’ or bogus. In fact, it was a properly constituted Stop the War public meeting, agreed at two consecutive Tyneside steering committees. Two SWP members tried to block the meeting because it clashed with a party branch meeting. The Stop the War meeting was a success, but was boycotted by the local SWP. The Central Committee demanded that Lindsey should not go to the meeting and ‘reserved the right’ to take disciplinary action if she attended.
Such sectarian behaviour does enormous damage to the standing of the party in the movement. Unfortunately, it fits into what is now a well-established pattern.
For many years, the SWP has played a dynamic role in the development of mass movements in Britain. The party made an important contribution to the great anti-capitalist mobilisations at the start of the decade, it threw itself into the Stop the War Coalition and was central to the Respect electoral project. These achievements were dependent on an open, non-sectarian approach to joint work with others on the left and a systematic commitment to building the movements.
The SWP leadership has abandoned this approach. The task of building broad, political opposition in every area to the disasters created by neoliberalism and war is now subordinated to short term party building. We believe this undermines both the movements and the prospects of building an open and effective revolutionary current in the British working class.
The most glaring mistake has been the SWP’s refusal to engage with others in shaping a broad left response to the recession, clearly the most pressing task facing the left. Even valuable recent initiatives, like the Right to Work campaign, have minimised the involvement of Labour MPs, union leaders and others who have the capability to mobilise beyond the traditional left.
An authoritarian internal regime has developed as a result of this change in direction. In the run up to the recent party conference, four members of the Left Platform opposition were disciplined, three of them expelled. Since the conference, four of the remaining student comrades at the School of Oriental and African studies in London have been effectively pushed out of the party. A comrade in Newcastle was given an ultimatum to resign from a key position in the local movement in January. He resigned from the party and 10 comrades left in protest at his treatment. The use of disciplinary methods to ‘win’ arguments is completely foreign to the traditions to the SWP and should have no place in the socialist movement.
For these reasons we are now submitting our resignations. We do not do so lightly and we will of course remain active socialists and revolutionaries. We all joined the party because we felt it would make us more effective. Sadly, we now feel that is no longer the case. We have, however, enormous respect for the many fine comrades in the SWP and we regard it as essential to continue to work with SWP members in the unions and campaigns, since we all share a broad agreement on the need to confront recession, war and fascism. We remain convinced of the need for revolutionary socialist organisation. In fact, the need for a radical political alternative and resistance on a massive scale has rarely been more urgent.'
Anita de Klerk
Samantha Carwenne Oxby
Mark D Smith
The following have resigned in recent weeks and would like to endorse this statement.
Sara El Sheekh
Sonia Van De Bilt
That 'disputed' Stop the War meeting: setting the record straight
Lindsey German: Why I resigned from the SWP
Resignations from Socialist Workers Party
PLEASE NOTE: Comments are now closed on these three posts.
Saturday, 13 February 2010
Author and academic Nina Power joins veteran socialist campaigner Lindsey German to discuss the state of contemporary feminism, with a focus on the rise of‘consumerist feminism’.
Nina Power’s latest book, ‘One Dimensional Woman’ charts the rise of ‘consumer feminism’, the cultural phenomenon according to which the height of female achievement consists of “the ownership of expensive handbags, a vibrator, a job, a flat and a man.” But how has it come to this?, she asks. Did the desires of twentieth-century women's liberation achieve their fulfilment in the shopper's paradise of 'naughty' self-pampering, playboy bunny pendants and bikini waxes?
Socialist activist and London mayoral candidate Lindsey German similarly examines women’s places within a consumer-capitalist economy in her 2007 publication ‘Material Girls: Women, Men and Work’, in which she argues that women’s relatively recent admission to the world of work has left them exposed to the worst exploitations of capitalism.
Join the authors in conversation at Housmans bookshop for a discussion of feminism’s possible futures.
5 Caledonian Road
London N1 9DX
Tel: 020 7837 4473. Free entry. Nearest tube: King's Cross
www.housmans.com Tel: +44 (0)20 7837 4473 Shop email: firstname.lastname@example.org map: http://tinyurl.com/2oq9vv
"Support the shop that supports your campaigns!" To receive Housmans’ monthly events newsletter with all our events, please email nik[at]housmans.com and mark the subject ‘subscribe to newsletter’.
A few days after the strike was called off I was asking a postie where the nearest mail box is. He looked really glum. I asked him what he thought about the strike being called off and I think he thought I was having a go at him because he just shrugged his shoulders. As soon as I said, well I think it's a bloody disgrace that your union has sold you out and that you should not let the bosses and the unions treat you like this, you should fight back, he grew a big smile on his face. He said thank you very much, it's good to know you support us. I told him the whole of the Oxo Tower does too.
So, I am very please to see this book that has been released by an anon Postie. You can read more at the blog Going Postal. This is what the author says about their book:
It is an exquisite, miniature jewel of a book, the summation of my life as a Royal Mail delivery officer, and a testament to the dedication and integrity of postal workers everywhere.Hear hear Roy, we do appreciate your hard, often underappreciated, work-what with the tinternet and everything, some people take the snail mail for granted.
Good luck with the fightback. And please stop delivering me my bills. Ta.
Throughout which there were a number of calls to action including the Unite Against Fascism conference this Saturday and to support the hunger strikers at Yarlswood. We also had reports from various campaigns including the fantastic news that following our lively actions last year against the vile Miss University beauty pageants, this year the organisers have not approached the unis but have been embarrassed into holding only a one off 'final', at which we will, of course, be protesting.
The evening began with Tansy Hoskins facilitating our super speed debating session with questions such as 'Is sex a political subject?', 'Is there anything more important than love?' (one answer was 'solidarity') and 'where do we get morality from?'. Our early arrivers were easily persuaded to get their teeth into these questions right from the beginning, to get to know each other and to set the tone for the night putting people at ease straight away.
The three main sessions gathered momentum as they went along. We have learnt that the first session is always going to be the hardest because people need a bit of encouragement before feeling confident enough to speak. This is significantly different from other public meetings at which you often find the same people making the same speeches, which often discourages those who are shy or nervous.. At Love on Trial we had about 30 different people make some form of contribution which is testament to the relaxed atmosphere of the event.
The sessions were peppered with poetry, short video clips, and music. We have videoed the whole thing and I may make one of some of the highlights if I get the time. All the speakers and performers were great and we thoroughly appreciate them taking the time to come along and participate for the rest of the evening. I have put some of the poetry on the Mutiny blog.
For the final session someone had submitted a short, dinner table-style play which fitted perfectly with our round-table discussion format. But even I didn't realise that they play did not come complete with actors so we had to ask people from the audience to step in. It was brilliant. Everyone really got into the spirit of it.
Love, as a political subject, is an incredibly hard topic to tackle, there are so many things to cover and if we learnt anything from the evening it is that cultural events are an extremely effective way of engaging people in political questions. On a couple of occasions people were literally queing up to get on the mailing list and to get involved with the next one: Democracy on Trial which is set to be held just before the elections. You can join the facebook group HERE
Read more fabulous reviews:
Mutinous Love at For What it is
Mutiny Scrutiny at the-sauce.org
Please do email us at email@example.com with any ideas for this-I'm sure we have loads of things we can throw at this topic...eggs anyone?
Friday, 12 February 2010
I resigned on Wednesday on my way to a Stop the War public meeting in Newcastle which I had been asked not to attend by the Central Committee. I was first phoned about this two days before by a CC member who told me this wasn't a proper STW meeting, that it was organised by ex members hostile to the party, and that most STW members in Newcastle knew nothing about it. This turned out not to be true, as two sets of minutes of meetings (in the public domain) make clear. Indeed, at the second meeting, it is clear that the only objections to it came from SWP members, one of whom appeared to object to me speaking at it.
A later conversation with the CC member made clear to me that the general feeling of CC members was that I should be asked not to attend the meeting. I found this unacceptable. For the convenor of Stop the War to be stopped from speaking at a STW meeting by the party leadership would not be understood or agreed in the wider movement and I thought it would damage the SWP in the movement locally and nationally. I therefore asked if I would be subject to discipline if I went and if I was being instructed not to go. Although no firm answer was given, it was clear from correspondence with the National Secretary that the CC 'reserved the right' to take action against me. I have always been clear that if political differences between myself and the leadership brought about a conflict like this, I would resign rather than being expelled from an organisation which I have helped to build for more than 37 years, for most of which time I was part of the leadership. That is what I did, with great regret.
I believe the CC was wrong in the particulars of this case, but that this reflected a more general political error. The meeting itself was a success, with 35 people including a number of Muslims attending. There were unfortunately no SWP members (two paper sellers didn't come into the meeting) and only a handful of ex members. Most people represented the breadth of STW and saw themselves, rightly, as at a STW meeting, not some factional gathering.
The leadership's error was compounded by its reply to my resignation, when it glossed over these issues to assert that I resigned because I disagreed with the leadership and because of my membership of the Left Platform. That is simply untrue, and there is no logic in their statement that my resignation invalidated what I said at conference. I resigned because of their actions which I believe did a disservice to the movement. The assertion that there was no question of discipline is not true: the correspondence speaks for itself, as does the National Secretary's reply to my resignation letter.
The wider issues
There are, of course, major political differences, as evidenced in the debate before and during conference, where my position was clearly in a minority. But denigration of the Left Platform doesn't mean those issues and political debates go away, because they stem from real questions in the movement. I believe the party leadership has systematically moved away from the perspective applied in the past decade, which has been so successful in building the anti capitalist and anti war movements. I also believe that much of what we did with Respect was right and that to try to build a left electoral alternative involving working class people, including Muslims, was a courageous thing to do. Its failure meant that honest accounting on this question was impossible, drowned in a frenzy of personal abuse against John Rees for decisions which had been taken collectively.
Instead, the party has moved to a more inward looking and sectarian approach, expressed in the repeated views that 'we got nothing out of ' the united fronts and that the party must come first. Branch meetings and sales are prioritised above all else, and there is a growing tendency to rely on internal meetings rather than to confidently engage with the wider left. Most branch meetings remain small, however, and the majority of members passive.
My perspective has been characterised as nostalgic and my motivation as personal bitterness. Neither is true. Of course the situation with the movements has changed over the past decade. I have always argued that we should build a united front around the recession, which was rejected then adopted in part through the Right to Work conference (although this was effectively a 'united front from below', something we have always criticised in our tradition, and consequently was majority SWP).
This is not the time or place to rehearse these arguments at length. Some people have said to me that such political differences should not need to result in resignation. However there are two other issues here. One is the abandonment of the methods of building pioneered by Tony Cliff, following Lenin and expressed most clearly in his 'Lenin: building the party'. Talk of bending the stick, seizing the key link in the chain or indeed polemical debate is frowned on in the present climate, and is definitely not practiced by the leadership. That it strikes me is a serious retreat from how we have built for all my political lifetime.
The second issue is the internal regime, which has deteriorated. There have been more expulsions and 'offers you can't refuse' in the past year than at any time since the 1970s. Any national meeting now seems to be open season for personal attacks on Left Platform members. The disputes committee session at conference was effectively an attack on me by leading members, even though I had been accused of no offence. The only LP member on the disputes committee was not allowed to attend the session, despite the fact that she had written a minority report.
A leadership often not confident of its political arguments has resorted to gossip, innuendo and moralism. One of the claims about me was that I was 'standing by my man' because I agreed with John Rees politically. I wouldn't insult even a bourgeois politician with that. Again, my record should speak for itself. However, I have felt politically curtailed in recent months: all LP members who submitted journal articles had them rejected; none of us are ever commissioned to write reviews or articles in publications; I was not asked to speak at the women's school, despite having written and spoken more on theoretical questions on women than anyone else in the party. STW was not asked to speak at the RTW conference, despite backing it. Now the leadership attempting to curtail my STW work is a demand too far.
Those are my reasons for resignation. What next? I intend to remain politically active in the movement and as a socialist. It is a critical time for the left, which in my view (and in the view of many other people across the left spectrum) has failed to rise to the challenges posed by the worst economic crisis since the 1930s. The left enters this election weak and divided. The lengthy downturn in class struggle and 13 years of new Labour has taken its toll. The danger for the left is that it becomes a reenactment society. Too much time is spent in nostalgia for the 70s rather than relating to the working class as it actually is, and the concerns that people have.
There are real questions about why the left has been unable to relate to mass movements like the anti war movement without it causing a crisis. There are also questions why at the first setback it retreats to a comfort zone which often cuts it off from the wider movement.
I am very proud of what socialists have achieved in the movements, and especially in STW which is still centrally important politically. I am also proud to be a socialist and have always thought that socialists have to organise and be part of a wider movement. How we do that in the 21st century is an urgent question for us all, if we are not to face the threat of barbarism.
I hope to be part of contributing to some answers on that question. I am sorry that this will no longer be done as part of the SWP. I am still committed to the ideas that I learnt from so many comrades, especially Tony Cliff with whom I worked closely for many years. I hope that I will continue to work with SWP comrades in the wider movements and that many of our differences will be resolved in practice. I hope too that we can work together in a comradely way in order to achieve the goals that we all share.
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In solidarity Clare Solomon
Thursday, 11 February 2010
I may just comment on this one myself over the weekend.
Lindsey German resigned from the Socialist Workers Party this afternoon. Lindsey has been an activist in the SWP for nearly 40 years, including 30 years as a Central Committee member. She edited the magazine Socialist Review for 20 years and has written a number of books, including Material Girls: women, men and work and A Question of Class. Since October 2001 she has been convenor of the Stop the War Coalition, of which she was a co-founder.
Lindsey was instructed this morning, by the SWP Central Committee, to withdraw from speaking at a Tyneside Stop the War Coalition public meeting in Newcastle this evening. This was an attempt to undermine her work in Stop the War. It was also geared towards damaging those of us in the Tyneside StW group who have recently resigned (or been expelled) from the SWP. It follows a series of examples of the SWP leadership undermining Stop the War (or particular comrades' work in it).
Lindsey refused to cancel her speaking engagement - which was in her capacity as national convenor of Stop the War - and instead resigned from the SWP. Tyneside SWP boycotted the meeting - attended by 35 people, not one of them a member of the party - and went ahead with a routine branch meeting instead. Two local party members turned up beforehand, to sell copies of Socialist Worker, but didn't stay for the public meeting.
This is the email exchange:
On behalf of the CC, we are repeating our request that you don’t speak at the disputed StW meeting in Newcastle tonight [Wednesday 10th February]. We expect you, like all SWP members, to respect our decisions.
We also think that it is imperative that you meet with members of the CC at the earliest possible opportunity. Could you please give us some dates when you are free.
Martin Smith (SWP National Secretary)
I asked Judith whether I would be subject to disciplinary action if I went to Newcastle. Your reply is ambiguous on this question. Could you please clarify. The STW meeting is not disputed, as you put it. It was agreed at two Tyneside STW steering committees, despite our comrades raising why I was going to the meeting. I therefore think your request is misplaced.
We have already made our decision very clear to you. If you ignore our request we reserve the right to respond as we see fit.
It is clear from your reply that your request is in fact an instruction not to speak in Newcastle tonight at the Stop the War meeting.
I regard such a course of action as damaging both to the party and STW. The meeting is properly constituted as evidenced by two sets of minutes of steering committee. There is no good reason for me to withdraw and none that I could possibly justify to STW members locally or nationally.
I have always tried to prevent internal disputes from damaging the movement. I feel that you have brought these disputes into STW and that is unacceptable.
It is therefore with the greatest regret that I am resigning from the SWP. This is a very hard decision for me. I joined more than 37 years ago and have always been committed to building it, which in my view meant relating to the wider movement.
I was on the CC for 30 years, edited the Review for 20 and played a major role in the movement and party building. My respect and affection for many party members remains, and my commitment to socialism as ever. I hope to continue working with them in the wider movement.
I acknowledge receipt of your resignation and have amended our records accordingly.
Please note it is your responsibility to inform your bank to close your Direct Debit/Standing Order.
Martin Smith (SWP National Secretary)
Today, as I came into work I was faced with swastikas and racist graffiti painted on campus, including graffiti that referred to "Pakis" and "Niggers". Shocking as this may be, it is not surprising that this has happened here at Staffs. The "no" campaign has given confidence to racists and Islamaphobes to come forward and spread their racist filth. The "no" campaign has created an atmosphere where racist and Islamaphobic comments are not challenged.
One of the most upsetting things in this whole saga is not just that this particular incident has happened but the (lack of) response from the University and Students' Union. The University has refused to work with any of the anti-racism campaigns that have been set up and run by the Students' Union. Not only that, but last week they invited a BNP councillor onto campus to talk to students about what it is like to be on the local council. When a student complained to me the University's response was to say that this was not a political act. Not an apology, not an acceptance of a mistake but just a justification of why they allowed a fascist onto campus to talk to students.
The Students' Union has lost control. The Union has no idea of how to deal with racism or how to affectively represent the needs of its black and Asian students. This is a result of years of pandering to the agenda of the University and worrying more about corporate image than the principles on which we are based. On the Students Union website there is a small article entitled 'Graffiti incident' explaining the appearance of racist graffiti on campus. Interestingly, the article was not titled "racist incident", even though the most pressing issue is surely that of racism not vandalism. This is an example of how the Students' Union has down played any form of racism and Islamaphobia. They are more concerned about appearing to call anyone or anything racist than they are bothered about the students who actually suffer direct racism. For months I have tried to bring to the Union's attention the bullying and harassment I have suffered, but the staff as well as some of the officers have time and again failed to grasp the idea of racism and Islamaphobia, only recently asking the "vote no" campaign to send out a message to its campaigners reminding them not to be racist in their campaign. This shows a lack of willingness to tackle the issue at hand and defend the president of the Students' Union. My welfare has not been considered. Mentioning my welfare in a meeting, just so it can be minuted is not enough, no action has been taken. Staff have contacted NUS staff members for advice. But, bizarrely, when we have had the NUS Black Students' Officer on campus, like today, officers and staff have not bothered asking her advice – surely she would be the first logical port of call in the current situation? Instead, yet again, it has been a case of damage control, and how the organisation can quite literally brush things under the carpet and people can carry on their lives without having to think about the issues at hand.
Tuesday, 9 February 2010
SOAS Detainee Society URGENT – Protest and Hunger Strike
Immediate Protest against yesterday's abuse of women in Yarl's Wood IRC
Hunger Strike in solidarity with those detained
Yesterday afternoon officers working at Yarl's Wood – an Immigration Removal Centre run by SERCO - violently broke up the Hunger strike that started on Thursday evening.
- The women were trapped and effectively kettled in a corridor for 8 hours with no food, water or toilet facilities
- Others ended up being trapped outside in the snow for hours without jumpers, shoes or socks
- Many were subjected to verbal assault and racial abuse
- Many suffered serious physical assault –in one known case a woman was left unable to stand and another woman's finger was almost severed and many collapsed out of exhaustion
- Furthermore all the women involved were (and in most cases still are) denied access to medical treatment
- Ambulance and police were denied access to the centre
In response to this horrific violation of human rights and blatant abuse of power we are staging an immediate demonstration from 8am to 8pm on Wednesday 10th and Thursday 11th outside Serco, this will culminate with this Fridays previously planned, large scale protest.
There will be drums, media presence, t-shirts and banners, but we need a lot of people to make an impact.
Please come to show support and solidarity with the women, children and families in Yarl's Wood and publicly condemn SERCO who are subcontracted by UKBA to run the centre.
The office is less than 15 minutes walk from SOAS, off High Holborn. See attached map for exact location.
Guardian have briefly covered this:
Love on Trial tickets nearly sold out. We have 2 up for grabs: just email us the name of Musa's fantastic jazz poetry collective to firstname.lastname@example.org
The first one drawn out of the hat at 10am tmrw will be emailed two free tickets. Good luck :-)
The line up is looking totally F.A.B. and we have lots of goodies and gifts for you. The activist packs were a winner last time.
We have a limited number to sell on the door for those who cant use
Paypal for whatever reason. These will be 1st come, 1st served.
Lots and lots of Love,
In solidarity Clare Solomon
Monday, 8 February 2010
BREAKING NEWS: Minutes ago, students at Sussex uni occupied Bramber house. The occupation came at the end of an angry protest in front of Sussex House, the building where senior management rule over campus. Despite the cold and sleet, about 200 people turned out.
One of the speakers, Tom Hickey of the UCU NEC, said tha...t 21'000 redundancies are planned in HE until 2012.
More info when I receive it. Who will be next...
Saturday, 6 February 2010
You can begin by helping out our friends at Kings College who are facing cuts. http://www.protectphilosophyjobs.org.uk/
At the philosphy symposium I went to a few weeks ago I spoke about cuts in general but to philosophy departments (and other Arts & Humanities) specifically. The ruling class don't want more people to learn how to think incase we apply our knowledge to challenging them. The speakers, including Kings Philosphy lecturer David Papineau, didn't respond to me quoting Marx's 11th Thesis on Feuerbach (that quote above). I do hope they remember me asking to what extent are we going to attempt to change the world...
Finally, I hope the Kings students do what the Croatian Philosophy students did-they occupied the whole department. There was thousands of participants. Our friend Nina Power, a Philosophy lecturer at Roehampton (who is speaking at the Love On Trial event next Wednesday-tickets available from the top right hand corner of this blog) went over to speak with the students. U can read her wonderful post here: http://www.cinestatic.com/infinitethought/2009/05/student-occupation-in-zagreb.asp
The students turned the story of their action into a 'cookbook' manual sort of thing to 1) record their struggle as part of history (the ruling class media don't generally do it) and 2) to assist other students who may want to follow suit. Hint hint:-) http://slobodnifilozofski.org/?p=1901
Spread the word, sign the KCL petition, attend protests and more importantly learn from each other that we can make a difference.
...I wonder how this activism will change the Kings Philosophy department? Just a thought...
Thursday, 4 February 2010
THE LEFT IN PALESTINE / THE PALESTINIAN LEFT
Wednesday, 3 February 2010
Business secretary Peter Mandelson has denied that British universities are "under any kind of threat" following outspoken criticism from figures in higher education over government plans to cut more than £900 million in funding.
But both the University and College Union (UCU) and Russell Group of top universities – including LSE, King's and UCL – have attacked the reductions in public spending which they say are counter to German, French and American investment and could lead to a "meltdown" in the sector and a loss of international competitiveness.
There are fears that cuts over the next three years could eventually total as much as £2.5 billion. Even the confirmed figure is thought to put 30 UK universities at risk of closure, and up to 14,000 jobs at risk.
Michael Arthur and Wendy Piatt, from the Russell Group have asked the government to "seriously consider reversing cuts already proposed", saying that the impact on staff and students would be devastating.
They claimed that "one of the world's greatest education systems" would be brought "to its knees" by the cuts.
But, writing in The Guardian in response, Mandelson said that "the reality is different".
He described the "new constraints" as "very small in the context of overall university income" and said that a decade of investment by Labour had seen state funding increase 25% since 1997.
UCU General Secretary Sally Hunt described herself as "astonished" that Mandelson was "seeking to downplay" the impact of the cuts, declaring that the government was "in complete denial".
"Unless the government heeds these warnings it will be impossible for the UK to remain a major player in the global knowledge economy", she said.
In December the government announced it would be reducing the Higher Education Funding Council's (HEFCE) budget by 6.6%, and also confirmed the £600 million cuts outlined in the pre-budget report.
But Mandelson has argued that teaching and research need not be compromised and that "efficiency savings" can be made on buildings, and by increasing the number of students on part-time courses or 'fast-track' one- and two-year degrees.
He said that the government had "pushed universities to seek new forms of income" besides state funding, such as "commercial engagement with industry", donations and recruiting international students.
He also cited the decision to introduce tuition fees – one key issue currently being examined by Lord Browne's higher education funding review panel. In light of the heavily slashed public funding, many university vice-chancellors will see a rise in top-up fees as increasingly attractive.
Cuts and higher fees are also seen by many as endangering the government's widening participation agenda. Both Mandelson and higher education minister David Lammy have publicly re-stated their commitment to increasing opportunities for young people in recent weeks.
But at the same the government announced that universities who accepted more students than expected could be fined £3,700 per student.
Despite the relative protection afforded to research-intensive universities such as the Russell Group, compared to poorer institutions, both King's and UCL in London have already begun to implement cuts. UCL is looking to save £20 million from an overall operating budget of £350 million. Unions are fighting job cuts in the Information Services Division and Lifes Sciences faculty.
At King's College catering staff and members of Equality and Diversity have been affected. The 'No Cuts at King's' campaign group is opposing compulsory redundancies.
The UCU is calling for students to join staff to protest against the budget cuts on January 26th at parliament square.
On February 6th at UCL students have organised a National Convention Against Fees and Cuts, supported by SOAS and UCL SUs.
Sent from my iPhone
Monday, 1 February 2010
are now on sale for everyone else.
I hope you're looking forward to our second event. You may buy as many tickets as you like :-)
Make sure you type your name into the correct bit for the guestlist.