Sunday, 27 July 2008

Quote of the Week - Eugene Debs, 1918

"While there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free."

Eugene Debs, American Socialist, 1918 at his trial for sedition for agitating against the first world war.

On Wednesday, Binyam Mohammed turned 30. He's the last British citizen to be detained in the US concentration camp in Guantanamo Bay and was tortured with the support of the UK government in Morrocco and Afghanistan. We will continue to campaign for Binyam's release, the closure of Guantanemo Bay, an end to the attacks on our civil liberties, and the defeat of our rulers 'war on terror'.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Campaign Against the Level Motorways (CALM)

Green activists in the LEFT Alternative asked us to flag up this campaign and invite people to support it. Our group hopes to support all local campaigns that put people and planet before profit. If you are involved in any activism or have any news stories why not email us!

Campaign Against the Levels Motorway is an alliance of individuals and organisations who oppose the construction of the M4 relief motorway through the Gwent Levels Site of Special Scientific Interest.

To relieve congestion on the M4 around Newport the Welsh Assembly Government wants to build 24km of dual three-lane motorway around the south of the city. The road would link junction 23A at Magor with junction 29 at Castleton with two new junctions being proposed for Newport.

In 1999, consultants acting for the Assembly Government concluded that steps to reduce the demands for car journeys plus improved public transport could be a successful alternative to major roadbuilding. They also added that construction of the M4 Relief Road would cause huge environmental damage to nationally important sites and would encourage more car trips.

If approved, the new road would:

* cost hundreds of millions of pounds
* be Wales' first toll motorway increase traffic levels and pollution in South Wales
* devastate important wildlife sites
* shatter the tranquillity of the Levels
* fuel dangerous climate change

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Cardiff Zimbabwean Activist Speaks Out

Finally, a bold step is taken by Mr Brown, as it would seem, but lets pick up on the obvious: Halting deportations to Zimbabwe. What about those in detention? What does that mean for them? Nothing at all.

What does it mean for a suffering Asylum seeker? It means continue suffering while we try to get you back to Zimbabwe to a life you escaped 10 years ago. 10 years that you will never get back, to a home that is now foreign to you.

Basically, Mr Brown is not going to do anything positive for the Asylum seekers, the exit route has already been mapped out, keep them in Limbo, as long as it takes, until we can send then back.

But Mr Brown picks out the positives in all this. Failed asylum seekers get accommodation and shopping vouchers to keep them from being destitute. Some of the accommodation I have seen would not be suitable for a dead dog and this accommodation is not pro families. If you were single when you applied no consideration is made when you now have a family, thus you are forced to stay at a specified address while your family stays else where; with most abandoning the accommodation because partners can be forced to live in different cities. No one cares to address the family issue.

As for the shopping vouchers, let's see what one can do with £35 per week: buy food, clothes and all you need with just £140 per month? Because the shopping voucher is used in very specific shops and you have no actual money for local travel, all those asylum seekers walk because they can't afford to catch the bus. Imagine braving the cold and rainy weather on foot, well we are African so we must be accustomed to suffering even in places where things are meant to be easier.

The LEFT Alternative fights for unity between all workers - legal or 'illegal', migrant or 'native', locally and internationally. We support ALL anti-deportation campaigns.

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Stand up to this tide of anti-Muslim hatred

It is now three years since the 7 July terrorist attacks on London that killed 52 people along with the four bombers. Those three years have witnessed a systematic ratcheting up of prejudice and hate propaganda against Muslims.

A new report by researchers from Cardiff University’s School of Journalism shows that recent years have seen a series of stories that paint Muslims as terrorists and extremists, or claim that Islam is incompatible with “Western values”. Only 5 percent of stories involving Muslims focus on the problems faced by the community.

It is no surprise that this media assault has been accompanied by an increase in physical attacks on Muslims in Britain. These attacks typically go unreported by newspapers that are only too happy to devote endless space to elaborate descriptions of terrorist plots based on little more than a spook’s imagination.

Meanwhile crazy “clash of civilisations” rants that were previously confined to the fringes of the right are now considered respectable middle class opinion. The novelist Martin Amis fantasises about “strip-searching people who look like they’re from the Middle East or from Pakistan”, while the Sun’s Trevor Kavanagh states that “Muslim men are entitled to beat their wives... such barbaric treatment of women has been imported and thrives here.”

The real “barbarism” going on here is one that is perfectly compatible with “Western values”. The current campaign against Muslims is all but identical to that waged against Jews in the first half of the 20th century. That antisemitism opened the door to the Holocaust. And today’s Islamophobia is potentially no less deadly.

LibDems & Plaid to Close More Schools

Last time Rodney Berman tried to close our schools he was defeated by the biggest street demonstrations and popular movement in Cardiff since the 2003 resistance to the Iraq War, a return to the streets is necessary if we are to defeat round two of the "school re-organisation programme". This is part of a battle across Wales, and we have tried to link up with campaigners elsewhere to compare and share experiences and strategies.

With the LibDem/Plaid council announcing the closure of Cefn Onn Primary School, in Llanishen, and St Anne’s Church in Wales Infant School, in Roath, it is clear that parents, teachers, school students, trade unions and citizens need to organise quickly to defend our communities. LEFT Alternative supporters who attended campaign meetings around the earlier attempt to close St Anne's will be pleased to offer whatever support we can to those fighting to save both schools threatened with closure.

The new attempt at closing schools has also shown up the utter cynicism of Plaid Cymru in Cardiff, who in exchange for power, have cut a completely unprincipled deal with the Liberal Democrats to just save schools in West Cardiff where they have their base while supporting closures elsehwere. People in Cardiff will wonder how Plaid can agitate to save schools in their patch, but support and vote for similar schools being closed in other areas of Cardiff. Such an approach is consistent with the approach of the mainstream parties who see politics as being about getting the best deal within existing neoliberalism rather than fighting to roll back the tide.

Council Workers Strike

If you are around during the day, there are two events which you can attend to show support for striking council workers, LEFT alternative supporters hope to be out in force!

Wednesday 16 July

Rally at The Point, Mount Stuart Square, Cardiff Bay, 11.30am.

Thursday 17 July

Lobby of the Senedd, the Welsh Assembly, Cardiff Bay, 12 noon.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Community Notice - Spread the Word

According to the Beeb, if you used the Natwest cashpoint at Cardiff Central Station between the 7th & 14th July you may be at risk:

"Customers who used a cash machine at Cardiff's main railway station are being warned to destroy their cards after a card skimming device was found. "

We're here to serve the people - If you have any other community news or notices, email us!

Solidarity Forever! Support the Local Strikes

The politcal elites are using the credit crisis to drive down our wages, they hope to stabilise their profits by squeezing the working class. They seek to impose a cut in living standards on all public sector workers, as the first step in attacking the wages of all working people.

There has been (or will be) strike action across a huge section of the union movement: Teachers, Postal Workers, Civil Servants, Council Workers, Railway workers, Lecturers and others. If all these unions were strike on the same day - a general strike of the public sector - it would turn an economic dispute into a political blow against New Labour.

Brown has been using divide and rule - in his references to public sector workers enjoying privileges that most workers don't enjoy - but if the attack on pay in the public sector succeeds it will send a clear signal to big business to start cutting wages for workers in the private sector: They divide each to conquer all.

Therefore, each individual struggle of a group of workers against the pay freeze is a fight for all working people, because they are part of a fightback against the attempt to impose a cut in living standards and wages on ALL working people.

In our group we have been trying in a modest way to support groups of workers on strike - taking collections at our workplaces for striking workers, setting up an informal network of rank and file unionists, trying to make people aware that these disputes are in defence all working people, and trying to push for co-ordinated strike action. We also seek to build a grassroots alternative to the union bureaucracy and Labour Party link. Sure it's not perfect, but if we can help build a fighting coalition of the working class on some level, then that will be something.

Supporters of the LEFT Alternative will be on strike this week, and others will be visiting picket lines. It's all about basic working class solidarity. For us, any working class people trying to fight back against the bosses merit support.

This strike is taking place against the backdrop of wider unrest. Currently a huge proportion of people in Wales work in the public sector, the attempt at a wage freeze comes at the same time as workers are already feeling the pinch of rising fuel prices, electricity and water bills, rising council tax, rising food prices. We also know that it's not everyone being told to tighten their belts - for the rich, they've never had it so good!

As socialists we support the trade union movement. We believe that if this strike is successful it will build confidence among other workers to organise and improve the lot of our class. People in Britain now work the longest hours for the worst pay in Europe - why? Because the trade union movement was smashed under Thatcher. Supporting these seemingly small disputes is part of rebuilding the combativity of working class organisations so that we can begin to improve the life and conditions of people in Wales and start pushing back against the continued dismantling of the Welfare State and the reforms won in 1945 like free health care and free education. Because of their strategic power under capitalism, workplace organisation is very important, the best weapon for social justice that we have.

The strikes this week are not just a dispute between one group of workers and the council, but rather about working people as a whole bettering themselves through collective organisation and collective struggle.

Quote of the Week - Aneurin Bevan

"That is why no amount of cajolery, and no attempts at ethical or social seduction, can eradicate from my heart a deep burning hatred for the Tory Party that inflicted those bitter experiences on me. So far as I am concerned they are lower than vermin.

They condemned millions of first-class people to semi-starvation. Now the Tories are pouring out money in propaganda of all sorts and are hoping by this organised sustained mass suggestion to eradicate from our minds all memory of what we went through.

But, I warn you young men and women, do not listen to what they are saying now. Do not listen to the seductions of Lord Woolton. He is a very good salesman. If you are selling shoddy stuff you have to be a good salesman. But I warn you they have not changed, or if they have they are slightly worse than they were."

The Nationalist parties have indicated that in the event of a hanged parliament after the next election they would be prepared to prop up the Tories. This follows them coming within a whisker of forming a coalition in the Assembly in 2007 that would have seen the Tories brought into power in Wales, such scabbing cannot be tolerated and is alien to the best traditions of working class struggle in Wales.

Friday, 11 July 2008


The Left Alternative (formerly Respect) had a successful float and walking group at this year's Pride Parade where we were able to give out thousands of leaflets, outlining our policies against homophobia and for full social and economic equality for all LGBT people, to a crowd of 800,000.

London Pride Parade is a yearly event that aims to promote equality and diversity and raise awareness of discrimination and the issues and difficulties affecting the lives of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered people around the world.

After an effective 2007 float, Pride organisers invited the Left Alternative back again to have a float and walking group on their "fairytales, myths and legends themed parade. Our legend was based on Robin Hood - People before Profit and was the only socialist themed float on the parade.

A group of Left Alternative activists dressed up and handed out material that called for:

* Support for all LGBT people facing discrimination in any country
* A grassroots campaign in every school of LGBT teachers, school catering staff, unions and their supporters to bring about cultural change in the education system
* Legislation of same sex marriages
* Full equality for LGBT people
* Cab pooling to get people home at night, bus conductors and tube guards brought back, and more refuges and counselling for hate crime victims.

To see Lindsey German's speech at this year's Stonewall hustings click here

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Letter to the G8 - From a Zimbabwean Activist in Cardiff

Dear Gordon Brown,

It is with deep sadness that I watch and read the news about the G8 were you masquerade triumphantly on your new added sanctions that do not cause Mr Mugabe any loss of sleep but actually turn up the heat on the already suffering, brutalised, dejected, hopeless, sick, starving, poor and dying Zimbabweans citizens.

For years we have had sanctions against Mugabe, travel restrictions but it seems those were targeted at the Zimbabwean citizens as We are the ones that seem to be restricted on travel as Mr Mugabe seems to still travel as he pleases.

Recently you have decided to punish our sportsmen how is that a deterrent for Mr Mugabe who has had some of the most vocal protests about his regime come from our sports women and man.

What a performance you put on showing fake concern, Zimbabweans that escaped the regime have been made destitute and live in limbo; with uncertain futures while Your goons at the Home Office wait for the window opportunity to forcibly remove over 12 000 failed asylum seekers.

At the moment we have 6 Zimbabweans that have been in detention for 23 months.They have been treated like criminals or terrorist held for so long with no sentence, indefinitely. Their only hope being to just surrender to their fate and voluntary return to Zimbabwe for slaughter. So that we can read about them and add them to the statistics that you have and read every morning with your cup of tea.

In closing next time you speak on behalf of the Zimbabweans and their suffering don't bother with the performance because We all know you do not care about Us.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

The Dispossessed

Writing about the Black civil rights movement, Harlem Renaissance Poet-man, Langston Hughes scrawled:

What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore--
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over--
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the events that Palestinians refer to as Al-Nakba, 'The Catastrophe' when the land of Palestine disappeared from the maps of the world. Until there is justice for the people of Palestine there will be no peace in the Middle East.

If the American War of Independence (from Britain) was simultaneously a war of expansion against the indigenous native populative, then likewise what Israelis refer to as a "the war of independence" was also a war of expansion against the people who had lived there for generations. These people were ethnically cleansed and their memory cleansed also in an orgy of destruction that saw over 400 Palestinian villages totally destroyed in the land that is now called Israel.

Like the Native Americans, Palestinians were driven at gunpoint from the land where they had lived for generations, many were herded into refugee camps where they still live alongside children and grandchildren. The West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem was carved up between the Arab states, and later under Israeli occupation. A small remnant remained in Israel to live as third-class citizens. For the first twenty years of Israel's existence this Palestinian minority lived under direct military rule. The situation in the Middle East is explosive, 60 years of dispossession is 60 years too long: Palestine is a dream deferred.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Power in the Union

The language of priorities is the religion of socialism. There is an anecdote about Arthur Scargill & the miners of South Wales that perhaps puts things in the correct perspective:

In 1972, during the great strike, Arthur Scargill rang Dai Francis the leader of the South Wales miners and said,

‘Look, Dai, we need pickets up at Saltley, in Birmingham.’

Dai said, ‘Where’s that?’

Arthur explained.

‘Yes, we can organise them. When do you want them?’

‘Tomorrow, Saturday.’

Dai paused.

‘But Wales are playing Scotland at Cardiff Arms Park.’

There was a silence, and Scargill replied,

‘But Dai, the working class are playing the ruling class at Saltley.’

Needless to say a big delegation of miners from South Wales were present at the Battle of Saltley Gate!