Wednesday, 30 April 2008

"Our Lives Are Worth More Than Your Profits" - A Week in Politics in Cardiff

RH Tawney once quipped, 'What thoughtful rich people call the problem of poverty, thoughtful poor people call with equal justice a problem of riches.'

Over the last 7 days, our two Cardiff RESPECT candidates standing as The LEFT Party - Joe 'Red' Redmond, Adamdown & Karen Tyre, Butetown - have been out campaigning against war, racism, privatisation and poverty.

This is a record of the final few days of our campaign. We have encountered huge disillusionment with mainstream politics and politicians. In Butetown we met some of the poorest communities in Wales, surrounded by luxury apartments, next door to the Welsh Assembly. If we have in a small way helped empower people to organise at the base of society against the rich and powerful, then our campaign will have been a success


A day of strike action all over South Wales meant an early start and plenty of picket lines for Respect activists to visit before joining a huge teachers’ rally for in Cardiff. After chatting with members of the NUT and other unions, Joe and Karen were interviewed by Radio Wales, who asked whether today’s strike signalled the rebirth of the trade union movement – we told them “having been on civil servants’ and postal workers' picket lines we know there is already a mass movement against Gordon Brown’s attack on public sector pay and conditions. We applaud teachers for joining the struggle and will continue to build links between all unions.”

“Inflation and the cost of living are spiralling out of control at the same time as New Labour enforces the abolition of the 10p tax rate and hands billions of pounds in public money to Northern Rock. The government keeps telling us there is no money for workers in the public service to earn a fair wage and clearly this is a lie!”

Teachers also seemed very interested in Saturday’s demonstration against the St Athan, especially as several schools in the area are discussing investment from private companies which will underwrite the curriculum and groom pupils for the Military Academy.


A quiet day as far as canvassing goes – all our energy is focussed on making sure there is a strong turnout for the weekend’s two major events. Like every other day for the past few weeks though there are always more leaflets to be posted!


Joe & Karen join March against £14 billion being spent on a huge Military Academy being built near Cardiff run by private companies like Raytheon who manufacture cluster bombs. We think this is a massive waste of public money - why are we told there's no money for pensions and public services, but there's always money for war? There are lots of young people on the march and a big delegation from the PCS trade union, many of whom we have met on the picket lines in the last year.

Police serve Public Order Act on the demonstration to prevent us marching in the City Centre where people can see us - it seems the political establishment in Wales is rattled. The highlight of the day is an impassioned speech from Davy McAuley from the Derry Raytheon 9 campaign; he talks about meeting a family in Lebanon who lost 20 family members to a Raytheon bomb, and seeing children with their limbs blown off. Later in the bar, we have a long conversation about socialism, setting up an organised trade union faction and the living wage campaign.


With many of our members up in London joining thousands at the LoveMusicHateRacism Carnival against the Nazi BNP, the rest of us canvass a couple of neighbourhoods in Adamsdown.

It's good to see a local shop with our election leaflet up. On the doorstep a major issue seems to be lack of youth facilities and anything for young people to do in the area. People complain about politicians making promises to the local community but not delivering, the local park for example needs work. We try and connect the local issues to the big issues of privatisation and the government’s refusal to tax the rich to fund public services, and the lack of decent council housing.

We also challenge those who want let our politicians off the hook by blaming immigrants for bad housing and the state of the NHS - we defend our multicultural society.


Joe and Karen visit Butetown Community Centre to hear a presentation from the Local Health Board on the future of health services in Cardiff and specifically the future of Butetown Community Centre which has been threatened with closure. There is a great turnout - local people are extremely worried about the disruption to services and question why other parts of the city are getting a better deal. One woman says she’s been seeing men in hard hats outside her window every day for 25 years – but all that gets built is luxury flats.

After the meeting we speak to community leaders who believe the council wants to force residents off the land so they can sell it to property developers. Just like people in Adamsdown they are angry about the lack of investment in leisure facilities. They blame lack of amenities for contributing to rising tension between young people from different cultures – creating rivalries rather than cohesion. We meet some really passionate people who are extremely sceptical about promises from politicians and interested in hearing what Respect has to say about offering something new and not just looking out for big business.


Karen attends a public meeting organised by Cardiff Trades Council to mobilise people to defend public services. A small meeting, after all, it was competing with election canvassing and the Champions League semi-final! During the discussion, we talk about how different ways of trying to reach people need to be used, relating to people enthused by the anti-war movement and anti-racist work. We've made a start at getting new forces involved in this campaign, lets hope we can keep up the momentum.

Meanwhile, our other candidate is getting the message out in the Adamdown ward, he says "I'm visiting the people in my block and surrounding streets – make sure they know the name!"
Other supporters are at the anti-Military Academy campaign meeting.


Karen and Joe have been invited to Red Sea House (home of the Butetown Elders’ Centre – an important meeting place, particularly amongst Somali men). We’re visiting after evening prayer so there should be plenty of people there and we’ll also be doing more canvassing locally if we have time.

Thursday Election Day

On the ground in both wards!

Friday, 25 April 2008

March against the Military Academy

Meet Joe 'RED' Redmond and Karen Tyre, Respect/Left Party candidates for Adamsdown & Butetown tomorrow as they join the mass demonstration against the billions being wasted on building a military academy near Cardiff. We are proud to be the only political party to oppose the Academy in our election material and take a stand against the militarisation of our society.

Hi everyone,

Just a reminder that Stop the War Coalition has called a national demonstration in conjunction with the anti-St Athan military campaign tomorrow at 1.30pm outside Cardiff City Hall.

The St Athan military academy is a monstrosity, a £14 BILLION project that will be in the hands of private contractors and weapons manufacturers like Raytheon, the supplier of cluster bombs that have killed scores of innocent civillians accross the Middle East and around the world.

The Academy will be used to train soldiers from Britain and around the world in techniques to be used in the war on terror. Let's make no bones about it - the academy will be a place where "friendly" dictatorships like Saudi Arabia and Egypt will have their officers trained to murder and torture the poor people who dare to stand up to US and UK imperialism.

The development of the academy fits into the government's increasing militarisation of society, it's aggressive recruitment campaigns in poor schools, it's attempt to glorify war in an "armed forces day". These things are intrinsically linked to building support for the "war on terror", and specifically the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. That is why we want to make sure that this protest draws the clear links between St Athan and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Please do your best to get along. Spend 10 minutes tonight calling people to try and get them there. Come out and join the march on your lunch break as it winds down Queen Street.


Jonny Jones, RESPECT/Left Party in Wales

Ten Commandments to Save the Planet, Life & Humanity

Speaking at the United Nations today, Bolivian president Evo Morales proposed 10 commandments to save the planet, life and humanity that few sensible people could disagree with.

Acabar con el sistema capitalista
Putting an end to the capitalist system

Renunciar a las guerras
Renouncing wars

Un mundo sin imperialismo ni colonialismo
A world without imperialism or colonialism

Derecho al agua
Right to water

Desarrollo de energías limpias
Development of clean energies

Respeto a la madre tierra
Respect for Mother Earth

Servicios básicos como derechos humanos
Treat basic services as human rights

Combatir las desigualdades
Fighting inequalities

Promover la diversidad de culturas y economías
Promoting diversity of cultures and economies

Vivir bien, no vivir mejor a costa del otro
Living well, not living better at the expense of others

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Support the Strikes!

Two trade union reps are standing for Cardiff Respect under the banner LEFT Party. Vote Joe Redmond in Adamsdown & Karen Tyre in Butetown! You can meet them tommorrow at the NUT strike rally at 10.30 am, St Peter's Hall, St Peter's Road (off City Road) where they will be showing support for striking teachers: THE WORKERS UNITED CAN NEVER BE DEFEATED!

Left List supports call for strike action

Gordon Brown is facing the biggest political crisis of his premiership over the abolition of the 10 percent income tax band for Britain's lowest earners. There is now serious speculation that he could even be forced from office. But if Brown has found himself in a hole, he has only himself to blame.

It is his commitment to big business and his determination to make the poorest in society pay for growing economic turmoil has led him into this storm. We are both workers who have been hit by Brown's attempts to clamp down on public sector wages - and we are both taking strike action on Thursday of this week to break through his pay limit.

We will be walking out alongside hundreds of thousands of teachers, lecturers, civil service workers, council workers and others.The strike is a great chance for workers to ramp up the pressure on the prime minister. It is a chance for us to put our demands - for decent pay, housing, public services and living standards - at the heart of the political storm that Brown now faces.

The attacks we face are caused by Brown's commitment to policies of profit, privatisation and war. That's why we need a political challenge to New Labour. On Thursday of next week we'll have a chance to show there is an alternative - by voting for the Left List in the London and local elections on 1st May.

The Left List is standing to represent ordinary working people who have been betrayed by New Labour and sold short by all the mainstream parties' challenge to the neoliberal drive of Brown and his New Labour cronies. That's why we're calling on everyone to back our strike this Thursday, 24th April - and to vote Left List on Thursday, 1st May.

Oliur Rahman, East London Respect/Left Party councillor, PCS union member and candidate for London Assembly
Sara Tomlinson, joint branch secretary of Lambeth NUT teachers union (pc)

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

March against the Military Academy

Wales recently recently received its biggest ever award of taxpayers money: £14 billion. Unfortunately the 4 main parties in Wales have supported this money not being spent on hospitals, schools and public services. but instead on war, in the shape of a huge, privatised military academy being built at St Athan, near Cardiff. RESPECT - The Left Party is proud to be the only political party in Wales speaking out against the Academy in the upcoming elections.


Mass demonstration called by Stop the St Athan Military Academy Campaign
Supported by UK Stop the War Coalition

Assemble 1.30 pm, Cathays Park
(opposite Museum/City Hall, Cardiff
Saturday 26 April

In the summer of 2006, hundreds of people protested in Cardiff against the war on Lebanon. The Israeli military dropped half-a-million cluster bombs on Lebanon supplied by arms companies like Raytheon. Now Raytheon has been invited to Wales by the Welsh Assembly Government to help run a huge, privatised military academy near Cardiff. It's time to get back onto the streets! Anything we can do in Wales to prevent the State waging war on its terms can only be of help to those resisting in the frontline in the Middle East and beyond.

Stop the St Athan Military Academy Campaign supporters include:

Aberystwyth Peace & Justice Network, Bangor Peace & Justice GroupCaernarfon Peace & Justice Group, Cardiff Anarchist Network, Cardiff Justice & Peace Group, Cardiff RESPECT/Left Party, Church Action Against Poverty, CND Cymru, CND (Swansea), Communist Party of Wales, Cymdeithas y Cymod (Fellowship of Reconciliation Wales), Cymdeithas yr Iaith (Welsh Language Society), Cynefin y Werin, Green Party (Wales), Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign, Penarth Justice & Peace Group, Permanent Revolution, Quakers (Caerleon), RESPECT/Left Party, Socialist Labour Party (Wales), South Wales Anarchists, Stop the War Coalition (UK), Stop the War (Bristol)Stop the War (Cardiff), Stop the War (Swindon), Stop the War (Wrekin), Women in Black (Abergavenny), Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Wrexham Peace & Justice Centre

To add your name or organisation to the list of supporters or for more information about the campaign, email:

Imagine a world in which the armed forces are trained by arms dealers.And we subsidise their profits.

That world will become reality unless we stop the proposed school of death at St Athan.The creation of a military super-academy at St Athan, between Cardiff and Swansea, was announced as a done deal in January 2007. Despite the fact this represented the biggest PFI in history, involving £14 billion of taxpayers' money, there had been no debate in either Westminster or the Welsh Assembly (Senedd). A promise of 5500 local jobs was trumpeted loudly by an uncritical news media and presented as a great victory for Wales.

No wonder the politicians didn't want any debate. The new super-academy, replacing many smaller centres, means that military training will now be in the hands of shameless profiteers.The winning bidders for the project were the Metrix consortium. This consortium includes Qinetiq, the privatised research and development wing of the MoD. Qinetiq was recently the subject of intense criticism by the National Audit Office. Its privatisation was proposed by MoD managers – who then saw their shares rise 10,000% on the day of the sale! 33.8% of Qinetiq was also bought by the US-based Carlyle Group, a sinister lash-up of politicians and arms dealers with a vested interest in promoting war.Former members of its board include one George W. Bush.

Then there is the US arms manufacturer Raytheon. Raytheon make the missiles which deliver cluster bombs, the horrendous weapons which are estimated to have killed 100,000 people – 98% of them innocent civilians. The world can also thank Raytheon for the depleted uranium weapons which have led to thousands of horribly deformed babies and large increases in cancers in war zones and beyond.Raytheon, Qinetiq and friends will not just be training UK armed forces at St Athan. They will train any soldiers, sailors and air force personnel that are willing to pay for the privilege. And like all PFIs, the St Athan academy will be subsidised by the taxpayer, and if necessary, bailed out with public money.There has never been a detailed breakdown of the jobs the academy will bring. However, even Metrix admit that many of the military trainers will relocate from elsewhere. Every PFI has secured profits by cutting costs. St Athan will mean less MoD jobs overall, and the poorest pay and conditions for lowskilled workers.

In any case, imagine what else could be done with £14 billion! With hospitals and schools closing throughout Wales and the UK, with a desperate need to improve social facilities, create sustainable sources of energy etc, such public money could be invested in socially useful projects rather than the preparation for future wars of occupation like Iraq.

If this development goes ahead, 21 st century Wales will be become a militarised, security-obsessed nightmare. If you want to stop the war profiteers in their tracks, support the campaign and raise it in your union, student union, workplace and community.

Friday, 11 April 2008

Justice for Ama Sumani - End Deportations

Assemble 1 pm, Nye Bevan Statue, Queen Street, Saturday 19 April

Supporters and friends of Ama Sumani, who died in Ghana on March 19th after being removed from the University Hospital of Wales whilst receiving treatment for cancer, have called a demonstration in her memory.

Campaigners hope that the event will be both a tribute to Ama and a message to the authorities that this kind of situation must never be repeated.

“This protest is important because we have to make sure this kind of thing doesn't happen again” said Janet Symmons, Ama's friend and co-ordinator of the campaign. “Ama's tragedy touched a lot of people, but it is important to understand that there are hundreds of people in similar situations right now. I know a Zambian lady who has a baby daughter with brain damage, a Cameroonian boy with Hepatitis – all have the threat of deportation hanging over them.”Ama Sumani had contracted cancer whilst living in Britain and required dialysis after her kidneys became damaged.

Despite protests that Ama would die in Ghana due to a lack of necessary medical resources, Ama was removed from hospital at 8am on January 9th and had been deported from the country by mid-afternoon.

The decision was condemned by the likes of medical journal The Lancet and Archbishop of Wales Dr Barry Morgan, and thousands of pounds were donated to help pay for Ama's medical care.

Despite this, Ama died just hours after hearing that doctors who could treat her had been found. She was just 39 and left two orphaned children, a daughter and son aged 16 and seven.

Karen Tyre, a local government worker and trade union rep who had been involved in the campaign, said that “Ama's deportation shows just how cruel politicians can be when dealing with human life. It was a disgrace that local MP Alun Michael, rather than condemning this appalling act, chose to defend the actions of the Immigration Service.”

She continued: “To them, Ama was a statistic, a number, but for millions of people who learned of her plight she was a real person who was ignored by those who had the power to help her. This event will be a chance for people around the country to come together in memory of Ama and say 'never again'.”

Organisers of the event, including African groups, refugee support groups and trade unionists, hope that they will bring British people and migrants closer together.

The demonstration will take place on Saturday April 19, exactly one month after Ama passed away. It will assemble at 1pm at the Aneurin Bevan statue on Queen Street. Speakers and supporters will be announced soon.

Ms Symmons summed up the appeal to people by saying: “I remember the case of the terminally ill woman who was denied the right to travel to Switzerland so she could take her life painlessly. Yet Ama wanted to live and she was sent away. This is not the way to treat human beings, so please join us and help get the message out.”