Thursday, 29 March 2007

South Wales Central Election Campaign Meeting


South Wales Central Election
Campaign Meeting


Get up! Get into it! Get involved!

Thursday 5th April at 7.30 pm, Riverside Community Centre, Brunel Street (off Ninian Park Road), Riverside, Cardiff

Speakers include -
One of the youngest councillors in Britain. Oli paid his dues as a PCS trade union branch secretary prior to election & has earned a reputation in Tower Hamlets as a mighty fighter for tenants rights and Defend Council Housing campaigner.
A young workplace militant, Marianne has addressed many picket lines and demonstrations, and recently visited Colombia as part of a solidarity delegation of young trade unionists.
A lifelong socialist, Karen has been active in many campaigns against war, sexism, racism & privatisation from the anti-poll tax movement through to the Stop the War Coalition.
Respect is dedicated to building resistance to neoliberalism in every sphere of society from the ballot box to the workplace, therefore the meeting will include reports from activists from the trade union, anti-racist, climate justice & anti-globalisation movement and struggles.


Directions to community centre from town: Head down Wood street (in front of Bus station), follow the road past the stadium onto Tudor Street and then onto Ninian Park Road. The community centre is situated on the corner of Brunel Street & is in a converted church building.

Meeting open to anyone against war, racism, privatisation and climate destabilisation: Refugees are welcome here!


Saturday, 24 March 2007

Swansea votes NO to council house sell-off!

Note: Grassroots campaigner, Paul Lynch, Chair of Swansea Defend Council Housing will be a Respect candidate in the May elections, heading up the list for South Wales West, campaigning for new sustainable council houses to be built & for welfare not warfare.

With councils attempting to privatise and sell off council housing this is a blow against neoliberalism - not won through politicians - but fought for at the grassroots by ordinary working class people. It was one of the highest NO votes in one of the highest turnouts of any votes that have taken place in the UK and is already having massive repercussions across Wales.
Council tenants in Swansea have delivered a resounding no to the council's plans to transfer their entire housing stock to a private limited company.Some 13,800 homes were up for grabs, and on a 56 percent turnout 72 percent of tenants voted no to the Lib Dem council's plans.
Chair of Swansea Defend Council Housing Paul Lynch says, speaking in a personal capacity,
“I am absolutely delighted that the overwhelming majority of tenants throughout Swansea have seen through the council's one-sided pro-transfer propaganda.
Tenants deserve to be congratulated for standing up to the bullying, and for effectively telling the council, the Assembly and Gordon Brown that we will not be blackmailed into privatisation.
Well done to all those who have supported the Swansea Defend Council Housing campaign in achieving this crucial No vote. The strength and unity we created as a broad coalition of different groups just goes to show how effective we can be when we unite behind a common cause.
Being involved with this campaign has inspired me to continue defending our public services. I have recently been selected as a Welsh Assembly candidate for Respect, along with my colleague Ahmed Al Jeffrey, in the South Wales West region.
I look forward to campaigning to defend our hospitals, schools and pensions – and to working to secure direct investment to improve council housing.
I hope political representatives from all parties will now join with tenants and other interested parties in lobbying the Welsh Assembly and the Westminster government to secure a level playing field for council housing. This should provide the same level of debt write-off and gap funding that was on offer under the Tawe Housing privatisation scheme."

Tuesday, 20 March 2007

Four Years On - The War's Still Wrong!

On the fourth anniversary of the war on Iraq, Cardiff Respect pays tribute to the Iraqi people and pledges to continue to stand with them in struggle against the most brutal, savage and clear case of imperialist aggression in modern history.

The entire world now knows that the US and Britain's decision to invade Iraq was never and at no point motivated by the threat of weap ons of mass destruction.

Nor was it ever motivated by a desire to liberate the people of Iraq and introduce democracy to the region at the point of a gun.

Instead, four years of carnage in that country was unleashed and continues today for one reason and one reason only: OIL.

Iraq's vast oil reserves were and are the prize for a US ruling class worried about the encroachment on their economic hegemony posed by the emerging economies of China, India and the EU.

Their goal in the Middle East is to control the future supply of energy to these competing economies and in the process smash OPEC's stranglehold on oil prices.

But in the process of such a cold and clinical calculation a human catastrophe of biblical magnitude has been inflicted on the Iraqi people.

As if thirteen years of genocidal sanctions which accounted for the premature deaths of 2 million wasn't enough, four years of war and occupation have resulted in a further 650,000 being slaughtered, millions more seriously injured, millions made refugees, an entire country's infrastructure decimated, and the unleashing of sectarian violence on a massive scale.

Such crimes against humanity, committed by men who practice state-craft like gangsters, are the price the people of Iraq have been forced to pay to ensure that a superrich minority in the United States and Britain are able to maintain their obscene status and wealth.

And with George Bush and Tony Blair as their champions, this clique of oil executives, armaments manufacturers, and their superrich investors have seen this wealth grow exponentially.

But the power of money is as nothing when faced with the power of a risen people, and the people of Iraq, despite the huge odds and hardships they have and continue to face, continue to resist, attesting to their right to self determination with their lives and their liberty.

A rich man's war but a poor man's fight is the simple truth behind the war in Iraq.

It is a truth which dispels the mountain of propaganda employed by the establishment both here and in the US to beguile us into believing otherwise.

As such Cardiff Respect calls on both the American and British troops, the vast majority of whom are economic conscripts, to return to their own communities in their respective countries and join the struggle against their real enemy and the enemy of all working class people - the billionaires, the corporations and governments that govern on their behalf.

Government Climate Bill doesn't go far enough!

Jonathan Neale, Author, Respect member & National Secretary of the Campaign against Climate Change writes that the Climate Change Bill doesn't go far enough and urges the movement to step up the pressure

Gordon Brown is in competition with David Cameron as to which party takes global warming more seriously.

While neither is prepared to break with the neoliberal policies which fuel climate change, the government’s draft bill, unveiled last week, should not be dismissed.

The fact that there is a bill in the first place is an important victory for all those who have been fighting to get government action.

Despite having some important defects, the bill has won qualified support from leading figures in the environmental movement.

It sets a target of reducing Britain’s carbon emissions by 60 percent by 2050. This might sound impressive, but cuts of at least 80 percent are required by 2030.

The reason we need such a rapid and big cut is to prevent unpredictable changes in our climate that will result from the “feedback effect” – which occurs when the increasing temperature of the planet causes still further carbon to be released.

Research into the Greenland ice pack shows that a rise in temperature of above 2 or 3 degrees could be the trigger for the effect.

The other big problem with the bill is that there are a lot of get out clauses – one such clause says the emissions target can be ignored if the cuts are “hurting” the economy.

The bill also focuses on carbon offsetting, in which rich countries obtain the right to pollute by buying carbon credits from poorer countries.

These forms of carbon trading are attempts to get out of reducing this country’s emissions.

It is also unclear what forms of carbon emission will be covered – for example air travel is not covered. Some estimates say targets set by Europe and Britain are only applicable to 50 percent of the emissions they produce.

The bill calls for an independent body to oversee emissions cuts which will include six business people, one scientist and one other (perhaps someone with a social conscience).

But there is no room for an environmentalist, a trade unionist or a climate change activist.

One of the main demands of Friends of the Earth and other climate change campaigners has been for binding annual targets on emissions.

The bill prefers five-year targets, with a gap of 18 months after the deadline for the figures to be looked at, followed by three months for the government to respond. Even if the first target were set tomorrow no one would be held responsible until 2014.

Carbon account

So far everything I’ve said is negative but the fact that we have got this far means that there is a real possibility of a political fight with the government.

The government has stated that the bill will now have a long consultation period – it is unlikely that it will be put to parliament before March 2008.

We should use that year to organise a national campaign that concentrates on forcing annual targets on emissions to be included.

New Labour’s David Miliband talked recently about individual carbon accounts – in which every citizen would have their own personal emissions quota. It is an idea that is very popular with a lot of climate justice activists.

These accounts attempt to sound like Second World War rationing, where everybody had an equal ration, and where the poor ate better than they had done before war.

But key to that system was the inability to sell your ration. With the proposed carbon accounts you can sell your share, enabling the rich to buy the right to carry on living as they do now.

This is not just unfair – it undermines the whole process of reducing emissions. We should force the government to step in.

Manufacturers should not be allowed to make electrical goods with standby buttons, and instead of short haul flights there should be cheap and efficient railways right across Europe.

We should stop people flying halfway around the world for a business meeting, or a one-day shopping trip.

The government should be pressurised into putting money into building and researching alternative methods of power generation.

If research into renewable energy received even a fraction of the funding and subsidies enjoyed by the nuclear industry, the way we produce our power would look very different.

Immediate action from the government is required on sustainable city planning, tough action against corporate polluters and increased investment to make homes energy efficient.

People who cannot imagine a government putting the planet before the economy see carbon credits as a solution.

I can understand their reservations, but we should remember that we have already forced the government to concede more than it wanted to. Now we need demonstrations and public campaigns to gain much more.

Saturday, 17 March 2007

Reclaiming the legacy of a South Wales MP

In 1893, Keir Hardie entered parliament. He created a scandal when he insisted on wearing working clothes and a cloth cap instead of the regulation frock coat and top hat.

His choice of dress was deliberate. He wanted to send a clear message to the establishment that he was a workers' MP representing working people and their interests unlike the other MPs who represented the powerful and vested interests.

Just as Labour Party activists have broken away from New Labour to join Respect, so people then were breaking away from the Liberal Party to create a party that would represent working people - the majority of society.

In 1900, Keir Hardie was elected in Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales on a platform of abolishing the House of Lords, granting votes for women and home rule for Ireland. He was the first Labour MP.

His election address denounced militarism, imperialism and the use of the army against strikers.

Today, Respect not New Labour are the true heirs of these early fighters for working class representation. We will be standing in South Wales as True Labour against New Labour.

The need for a party of the millions not the millionaires is greater than ever.

In 2005, for the first time in 60 years, a party standing to the left of Labour gained a seat in parliament with the election of the first Respect MP.

Get up! Get into it! Get involved!

Join Respect today!

Dental patients wait as NHS cash runs out

A full-scale survey of 140 dentists by the South Wales Echo has revealed that 62 per cent are not accepting any new NHS patients or have a long waiting list before offering an appointment. A total of 38 per cent said they were accepting new NHS patients, or had a short wait of a few weeks.

Hundreds of patients are being forced to wait for treatment... because NHS dental surgeries have run out of money.

Britain is the 4th richest country in the world. Yet in Cardiff, the capital city of Wales, working people and their families have trouble finding an NHS dentist.

The Welsh Labour Party claim there is "clear red water" between New Labour in Westminster and Welsh Labour - yet Wales contains some of the poorest people in the entire UK.

The creation of the NHS and the founding of a welfare state were some of the crowning achievements of the 1945 Labour government.

It promised a future where the best education, best health service & best facilities would be available to all - from cradle to grave - not the privileged few.

Respect will be standing in South Wales to defend and extend health provision to all, free at the point of need.


* A fully funded, publicly owned NHS, delivering care free at the point of use.

* Abolition of charges for prescriptions, chiropody, dentistry, eye & hearing services.

* Opposition to PFI schemes: All privatised services to be brought back into the NHS. No further closure of local hospitals or specialist units.

* Bring all agencies administering care services into public ownership under NHS or local government control.

* Expanded psychiatric health services.

* Improved training opportunities for doctors, nursing & related services

Thursday, 15 March 2007

Parliament votes to renew Trident

Trident Programme =
760 General Hospitals + 1,900 Schools

In order to fund warfare, Bush has slashed welfare.

The "war on terror" is a war on the poor at home and abroad.

In Britain, billions that could be spent on hospitals, schools and pensions are being spent on new weapons of mass destruction.

Yesterday, Parliament voted to renew Trident.

Respect stands unequivocally against nuclear weapons and nuclear power.

We need to create an alternative to more war on Iraq & Afghanistan, the intensification of the nuclear arms race and the threat of an attack on Iran.

Vote Respect on May 3rd!
Another world is possible!

Bridgend LoveMusicHateRacism gig - Easter Saturday!

Full details here:
In this election socialists will be going forth into battle with the Shield of Unite against Fascism and the Sword of Respect.

Respect will be working in a united front with supporters and members of mainstream political parties, trade unions, community groups and ordinary working people to build MAXIMUM unity against the Nazis & expose the BNP as a Nazi party.

But we also need to go into working class communities with a programme that offers an alternative to the Nazis false solutions to the problems caused by thirty years of neo-liberalism

Dealing with the rats is not enough. You have to rip up the sewers where the rats breed.

Since 1997, New Labour have pursued a neo-liberal domestic policy and a neo-conservative foreign policy. The results have been a disaster for ordinary people at home and abroad.

The despair and anger caused by these policies runs deep, New Labour and the media are trying to deflect this despair and anger on to immigrants, asylum seekers and Muslims.

The 4 main parties in Wales are all wedded - to a greater or lesser degree - to neo-liberalism, that is why Respect aims to build a grassroots alternative to fight neo-liberalism in every sphere of society from the workplace to the ballot box.

In South Wales, Plaid sometimes claim to offer an alternative to New Labour. Yet their leader, has openly argued for a coalition with the Tories, their deputy-leader in the Assembly has called for a coalition with New Labour, while Adam Price MP supports a coalition with the LibDems!

How can you provide an alternative to the mainstream parties if you are in coalition with them?

Huw Williams, a Respect candidate in Wales in 2004 comments on Plaid:

Socialists do need to take on their arguments with regard to their solutions for Welsh workers. This is the weak link for Plaid. It accepts all the arguments of the free market and its consequences. It talks of the need to encourage Welsh businesses, which they see as more progressive than 'foreign capital'. At the same time it states that it would continue to encourage US and Japanese firms to invest. This implies the continuation of a low wage economy and huge tax handouts to the multinationals. These are the very policies which turn people against New Labour in the first place. Only grassroots-based, locally responsive socialist politics can provide a real alternative.


1. To End low pay and demand a living wage for all workers.
We call for a minimum wage of £8 per hour.

2. To tax the rich not working people to fund public services.

3. To fight for free education for all. We call for the restoration of a full living grant, abolition of all student fees and defend comprehensive education.

4. To defend council housing and build more sustainable council housing. We stand for cheap, affordable housing for all workers, close to their place of work.

5. To repeal the Tory anti-Trade Union laws.

6. To defend pensions and fight for a massive increase.

7. To stop attacks on asylum seekers, immigrants & Muslims.
We oppose prejudice of any kind, including racism, sexism, ageism, homophobia and discrimination on the basis of disability.

8. To build opposition to Bush/Blair oil wars and international solidarity with workers of all countries.

9. To put people and the environment before profit and build a massive, grassroots movement to save the planet.

10. To end privatisation and re-nationalise all the privatised industries and utilities.

Green Reps in the Workplace?

In a very interesting article, historian & Respect member, David Renton, puts forward the case for Green reps in the workplace and suggests that the trade union movement take up this demand.

Now that the Stern report has costed the threat posted by environmental degradation, it will be hard for anyone to disagree with the need to reduce carbon emissions. Each of the main parties has green spokesmen. The government has a green minister. The problem of course is that while "everyone" accepts a need to change the way in which live, the forces actually compelling that change are still working almightily slow.

Air travel, for example, is evidently going to play an increasing part in UK carbon emissions. If the amount of flights taken by UK citizens each year increases at the rate of current growth then by 2030 air travel alone will account for more carbon emissions than the UK manages from all sources at present. There is an urgent, obvious need to reduce the amount of flights people take. There is even an obvious mechanism to force reduction: the state should tax aviation fuel. But the government won’t act, and neither would any of the other main parties if they were in power. The risk of upsetting business stops everything.

If anyone thinks that taxing holidays would hurt workers: did you know that since 1994 the number of flights taken in the UK by people earning less than £28,000 a year has fallen?

The consequences of global warming, like all environmental destruction, hurt the poor and workers hardest. If global temperatures rise by 5 degrees, then inevitably large parts of the world will suffer. Large parts of Bangladeshi lie barely above sea levels, so too do large parts of Belgravia. Which of the two do you think will be allowed to drown?

It’s the old problem of the third way: you can’t be nice to everyone all the time. Either you make peace, or war. Either you help the rich, or the workers. You can’t do both.

My only criticism of the recent lively and well-attended Climate Change March (, is that the organisers tend - like many campaigners at the moment - to see the solutions in terms of reduced private consumption. Good people don’t but goods wrapped in packaging. Evil people leave their phones charging overnight.

But if you look at other indicators of environmental degradation, personal consumption is rarely the chief problem. The largest figures I saw, for example, for total waste produced in the UK (by absolute volume): were that 50% was produced by farming, 40% by industry and business, and around 10% by domestic households. I’ve not seen the equivalent figures for carbon emissions, but I’d not be at all surprised if the ratio was similar.

Given that most people still spend 40 hours at work each week, it would be hardly surprising if more of our emissions were also found in the workplace. And in work, of course, people have a greater collective power to change the decisions of companies, than we do as isolated consumers fretting about the supermarkets’ reliance on plastics or anything else.

Judging by the documents posted up on the
TUC website, it seems that this year’s TUC Congress saw more discussion of green issues than ever before: panels were held, documents produced, the minister spoke, and a new website has been launched: the sustainable workplace.

But it’s the TUC, so the discussions were more tentative and more defensive than need be. The solutions promoted were also more bureaucratic.

The TUC has an elected general council and elected women’s, black, LGBT and disabled workers’ committees. Why doesn’t it have an elected green council?

The trade union movement has won from the government legal rights for trade union reps, health and safety reps and workplace learning reps. Every indication is that the government is also considering recognising in law the rights of equality reps – to take paid time off in order to campaign for equal pay between men and women, more diverse workplaces and the like.

Why then, can’t the government allow – and if necessary, fund – a network of workplace green reps? Why isn’t the trade union movement already raising this demand?

Tuesday, 13 March 2007

Brown and Cameron are spouting hot air on climate change

This week saw New Labour’s Gordon Brown and Tory leader David Cameron arguing over their “visions” of how to save the planet. The truth is that neither of them has a solution to the climate change crisis.

Some of the measures they suggested could, if fully implemented, go some way to tackling global warming – for instance, legally binding carbon dioxide emission targets.

But neither Brown nor Cameron is willing to put forward the fundemental shifts required.

Neither supports the renationalisation of public transport so that people can travel cheaply and move away from relying on their cars.

Neither will build new eco-friendly council homes, or prevent property developers from dictating policy on housing design and insulation.

As long as climate change plans focus on individual choices and shy away from regulating big business, the problem will continue.

The truth of the matter is that you can’t save the planet by making sure your telly isn’t on standby.

We need a new set of priorities – and a new system – that puts the planet before profit.


Vote Respect!

Monday, 12 March 2007

Music Without Borders . . . TONIGHT!

Not a Respect event, but a gig some Respect members were involved in setting up. Proceeds go to the Cardiff Campaign against Climate Change - a campaign we all need to support:

A unique collaboration between Palestinian and Welsh musicians:
The Alternative Information tour

Monday 12 March at THE GATE Arts Centre Keppoch Street, off City Road, Roath, Cardiff Doors open at 8 pm Tickets: £4 (£3 concessions)

Tareq Rantisi and Mohamed Najem from Bethlehem join Gwilym Morus and Luke Evans from Bangor. A fusion of traditional Palestinian music with the traditional Welsh ballad form - canu penillion - in a contemporary context. In 2005, critically acclaimed Welsh musician Gwilym Morus visited Bethlehem where he wrote two songs with Palestinian musicians resulting in the release of the CD, From Bethlehem to Bangor. After a TV arts documentary on S4C and attention from many international DJs, the project now comes to Cardiff with a live gig that includes songs co-written via email over the past year.

Gwilym Morus:

"Musically our intentions are to fuse traditional Palestinian and traditional Welsh material in a contemporary context. The live performance will be a mixture of traditional instrumentation, such as the Arabic nye flute, daff and darbuka percussion, and elements of the Welsh canu penillion ballad form. This will be accompanied by guitar, banjo and digital sound produced live with a laptop. After the performance we will hold a short twenty min. question and answer session for the audience.

The collaboration works by exchanging ideas via mp3 on e-mail. The musicians consist of two from the Bethlehem area of Palestine, and two from the Bangor area of North Wales. This collaboration is a continuation of the project that began with the release of a four track CD earlier this year called From Bethlehem to Bangor.

Through this we hope to create a cultural relationship between one of the most comfortable countries in the world, and one of the poorest countries in the world, which continues to suffer in the horrific conflict that's consuming the region. We hope that this relationship can somehow promote a little understanding, compassion and respect between Western and Arabic people."


I came to the cities in a time of disorder . . .

Respect member, Adam Johannes, sent us this short extract from a poem by socialist playwright and poet Bertolt Brecht, that speaks eloquently about these scoundrel times that we are living through . . .

I came to the cities in a time of disorder
When hunger ruled.
I came among men in a time of uprising
And I revolted with them.
So the time passed away
Which on earth was given me.

I ate my food between massacres.
The shadow of murder lay upon my sleep.
And when I loved, I loved with indifference.
I looked upon nature with impatience.
So the time passed away
Which on earth was given me.

In my time streets led to the quicksand.
Speech betrayed me to the slaughterer.
There was little I could do.
But without me
The rulers would have been more secure. This was my hope.
So the time passed away
Which on earth was given me.

Bertold Brecht, from "To Posterity"

Sunday, 11 March 2007

Women and Politics Today - A Short Report of Respect's Women's Conference


* Full enforcement of equal pay legislation. Fine employers who flout this legislation.

* Universal childcare in publicly funded nurseries for the full working day.

* End discrimination against women at work during pregnancy and on returning to work.

* Extend parental leave entitlements to all employees regardless of size of workforce.

* Women must be free from domestic violence. Safe accomodation should be provided where necessary.

* No sexual harrassment in the workplace.

* For a woman's right to choose.

* Mass campaigns uniting men and women to oppose sexism and fight for full equality.

In response to a resolution passed at the Respect National Conference held last year calling for a National Women's Conference to coincide with International Women's Day, Respect brought together over 100 women – and a few men – on 3rd March to discuss the position of women in Britain today, and progress on the women's rights movement on a global scale.

A diverse group of women participated in the event, and speakers ranged from journalists, academics and councillors to trade union leaders, NGO workers and leaders of the anti-war movement. It was also an historical conference because though International Women's Day was founded in 1910, in recent years it has come to be celebrated largely as an apolitical event. The Respect conference was an attempt to put politics and issues of class back into discussions around women's oppression.

The six workshops attempted to capture the most pressing issues facing women in Britain and the west today. Issues discussed ranged from the rise of raunch culture and abortion rights to Muslim women and politics, and whether women in general are able to pursue a career, have children and be actively involved in politics all at the same time. The point was made that while women now produce the majority of the wealth in the world, no woman should have to make the choice between pursuing a career or having children, or sacrificing an active political life.

Journalist Victoria Brittain helped open the session along with Lindsey German from the Stop the War Coalition, Linda Smith from the Fire Brigades Union and Rania Khan, a young Respect councillor in Tower Hamlets. Victoria discussed the idea that men are never going to relinquish power willingly, while Lindsey pointed out that the huge inequalities in society today are "not just about individual relationships to society" but rather structural inequalities. "Women got the vote on the same basis as men in 1928. Laws were passed on equal pay and sex discrimination more than 30 years ago. Yet there is still huge inequality," she said.

Iraqi writer Haifa Zangana and Eli Rostami-Povey of Action Iran introduced a powerful session on how the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have set back the position of women in those countries. Haifa noted that while Iraqi women were fighting alongside men in the resistance against the British in 1922, we now have a situation where an Iraqi woman MP considers it unacceptable to speak in public. Not a particularly inspiring role model for young women in Iraq.

The National Women's Conference was welcomed by participants as the first women's conference that Respect has organised, with enthusiasm for similar forums in the future which would allow Respect women members and non-members to discuss action on the issues raised, such as developing a Respect policy on work/life balance and supporting campaigns on abortion rights. The essence of the meeting was that while there have been clear advances, women are still fighting some of the same struggles today as they were from the beginning of the women's movement. The clear message was that politics must be put back into the fight for equality and that changing society and attitudes towards women are fundamental to realising women's rights