Friday, 29 August 2008

The LEFT Alternative fights for Greener Local Councils

Preston City Council voted yesterday to recognise trade union "environmental representatives" to help the council set and meet stringent carbon emission targets. The TUC and its affiliate unions have been actively working towards establishing such reps as part of their Green Workplaces Project.

The motion was part of a radical package proposed by the LEFT Alternative councillor Michael Lavalette (pictured right) and actively supported by left-wing Labour councillors in the city.

The motion also proposes that the council should commit to the principle of establishing a local power company, under local authority control, which will provide cheap, carbon neutral energy to the local population.

Cllr Lavalette, who proposed the motion, said:

This is an incredibly significant motion. When it is implemented - alongside other motions we have passed on public transport systems - it will make Preston one of the greenest cities in Britain. But the motion also puts us in line to be the first significant employer to recognise trade union environmental reps. The unions will be important players if we are to tackle climate change; it is only right that they and their members are given a recognised role in setting and implementing carbon emission targets.

Labour Deputy Leader Matthew Brown added:

Setting up a local power company is a realistic possibility. It allows us to deal with issues associated with climate change and carbon emissions, and, at the same time, allows us to provide cheap fuel for the people of Preston, some of whom are amongst the poorest in the country.

Both councillors said they hoped that the Preston motion would become a model that other councils would follow. The full motion is as follows:

Preston City Council notes:

1. The continuing threat from abrupt climate change.
2. The world's leading scientists and recognised climate change authorities note that if action is not taken to reduce greenhouse gases (CO2 equivalent emissions) within 30 years there is likely to be an irreversible effect on the Global Climate.
3. The Government's Royal Commission on Environment Pollution has predicted that the target reduction in greenhouse gases, expressed as CO2 equivalent emissions, should be 60% by 2050 and 80% by 2100.

Preston City Council further notes:

1. The efforts made by Woking Council to adopt a comprehensive Climate Change Strategy on a scale that is likely to meet The Royal Commission on Environment Pollution targets of 60% reductions of CO2 equivalent emissions by 2050 and 80% by 2100.
2. That Derby Council have a five year strategy to achieve a 25% reduction in carbon emissions and Norwich council have an annual reduction target of 6%.
3. That the TUC (via its Green Workplaces Project) and its affiliate unions are actively campaigning for employers to recognise 'environmental representatives' with a role in setting CO2 reduction targets, initiating workplace environmental audits and educating members on green and sustainability issues.

Preston City Council resolves:

1. To use solar panels on the Town Hall as a means of meeting energy needs and reducing CO2 emissions
2. To commit to the principle of establishing a local power company within Preston, in local authority ownership, to generate power for the area and investigate how this can be implemented.
3. To use sustainable combine heat and power sources of energy in the City Council buildings - discouraging the production of CO2 type gasses.
4. To increase use of photovoltaic and renewable energy
5. To investigate improvements to insulation in all council buildings and workplaces.
6. To incorporate planning policies which will ensure that new developments in the City reduces CO2 equivalent emissions of greenhouse gases.
7. To establish a carbon neutral approach to the future of services and activities within the City
8. To make progress as speedily as possible on the long-delayed City Council travel plan, aimed at reducing car use for travel to work and staff (and member) travel on business.
9. To enter negotiations with all local authority trade unions to recognise environmental representatives, and to establish with the unions the active role of the representatives in achieving the council's carbon emission targets.

One Law for the Rich . . .

In July, a Barry pensioner spent almost a month in a prison in Gloucestershire because she failed to pay her council tax due to financial hardship.

Last year the majority of billionaires in Britain who face no financial hardship did not pay a single penny in income tax. These parasites faced no threat of imprisonment.

While council tax for working class people goes up every year, income tax for the rich is being continually cut by every government - could there be a connection? Is this wealth redistribution, but from the bottom of society to the top?

(In Wales, Plaid want to tax multinationals even less than Thatcher or Brown)

Under New Labour the gap between rich and poor has grown meaning our society becomes even less democratic.

When there are extremes of wealth, then the idea of democratic choice of goods and services is a sham right from the start. The 'choice' for someone with money is entirely different to that for someone with no money - who has no 'choice'.

We have a free press in Britain - if you can afford one! The idea that a man who owns a couple of newspapers and a supermarket chains is equally represented in society with anyone who works in those supermarkets & reads those newspapers is plainly false. That is why the struggle for equality is a struggle for democracy. Political democracy without economic democracy is bogus.

Dole Queue Rock

On benefits?

Then voting for a mainstream party is akin to a turkey voting for Christmas: The LEFT Alternative is proud to be the only party that stands up for people on benefits, we welcome unemployed members of the working class into our ranks with open arms.

Had a benefit decision go the wrong way?

Remember to lodge an appeal. Usually you have nothing to loose from an appeal, and appeals sometimes win. You normally only have one month to do that though, so be quick! (There are some exceptions allowed, so consider still appealing even if outside the time limit). Independent medicals can be paid for viathe legal aid scheme, so it can be worth making an appointment with a lawyer also for medical related appeals.

With Economists predicting that unemployment is set to rocket due to the credit crunch, the government has launched an offensive on claimants to make life much harder.

The new welfare reform will see the introduction of 'workfare' where people unemployed for over a year face working for their dole doing 'community service' such as collecting litter of the streets or cleaning graffiti for a fraction of the minimum wage.

Sick and disabled vulnerable people face harsh medical tests by private doctors and increased harrasment in order to claim meagre benefits. There is also the threat of being forced prematurely into work - the new mantra is "work is the best medicine": While sitting down to a morning of Trisha might not help you out of your depression, the LEFT Alternative reckons that neither will doing a shit McJob.

Alongside a mass campaign against welfare reform, traditional working class self-help is needed to help claimants - such as credit-unions, grassroots community welfare schemes, and advocacy to help people appeal - if you have skills in these kind of areas why not get in touch!

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Sign the People Before Profit Charter

The Credit-Crunch threatens communities with devastation as workplaces close and jobs are lost. People’s lives will be wrecked as their homes are repossessed.

Most of the media presents the collapse towards recession as a natural disaster.

For them, and the politicians, all we can do is sit tight, accept cuts in our living standards, and wait for better times to return.

Gordon Brown’s government only answers are to demand that people stop throwing away food and that we “tighten our belts” to help the economy recover.

But the crisis is not natural and we can do something about it.

That is why trade union activists and other campaigners have launched the People Before Profit Charter.

The Charter challenges the logic of a system that puts profits before people. It puts forward clear proposals to improve workers’ lives and insists that ordinary people should not pay for the crisis.

The Charter can be a rallying point for the resistance that is taking place across the country.

Inflation and recession are now tightening their grip on the economy with every day that passes. Working people face rapidly increasing prices, especially for food and fuel; government led pay restraint; rising unemployment and a disastrous housing crisis. At the same time the super-rich continue to enjoy huge profits, salaries and bonuses - yet pay less tax than under the Tories. The desperation felt by many is having equally serious political effects: the resurgence of the Tories and an increase in anti-immigrant and fascist arguments. We need a coordinated response to these threats. As part of this response please add your name to this Charter and then move support for the Charter at your trade union, party or campaign organisation.

1. Wage increases no lower than the rate of inflation as given by the Retail Price Index. No to the government’s 2 percent pay limit.
2. Increase tax on big companies. Introduce a windfall tax on corporation superprofits, especially those of the oil companies.
3. Repeal the Tory anti-union laws. Support the Trade Union Freedom Bill.
4. Unsold houses and flats should be taken over by local councils to ease the housing crisis. No house repossessions. For an emergency programme of council house building.
5. Stop the privatisation of public services. Free and equal health and education services available to all.
6. End the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan and use the money to expand public services. Stop the erosion of civil liberties.
7. Abolish tax on fuel and energy for old people and the poor. Re-establish the link between wages and pensions.
8. No to racism. No to the British National Party. No scapegoating of immigrants.
9. Reintroduce grants and abolish tuition fees for students.
10. Increase the minimum wage to £8.00 an hour. Many workers and trade unionists are now engaged in strikes and protests to defend their pay, jobs and services. We pledge ourselves to support their action and to support the campaigns that are dedicated to protecting working people, including:

* Unite Against Fascism
* Public Services not Private Profit
* Defend Council Housing
* Stop the War Coalition
* Keep Our NHS Public

Please return to: People Before Profit Charter, BM 6035, London WC1N 3XX or email your name and details to

"The People Before Profit Charter is important because it allows us to debate the economic crisis facing ordinary people outside the boundaries fixed by the mainstream media and the political class it represents.

Everyone knows privatisation has been a disaster, that Gordon Brown’s PFI has been theft by another name, that the City of London’s games and power are unaccountable, that the priorities of public expenditure are distorted – £4 billion for two aircraft carriers, peanuts for public sector workers – and yet orthodox discussion remains stuck in a sterile world of party fortunes and personalities (If only they had personalities!).

Every opinion poll shows a clear public majority in favour of the principle of public services before profit. That should be the starting point.”
- John Pilger, Writer & Broadcaster

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Quote of the Week - Dom Helder Camara

"When I give food to the poor they call me a saint. But when I ask why the poor have no food they call me a communist”

Dom Helder Camara (1909 - 1999)

In the 60s and 70s many Latin American catholics became radicalised. Dom Helder Camara was part of this wave, in his seminal 1971 text, The Spiral of Violence, he observed how violence built up at three levels in a society: Primary violence is the everyday effect of structurally ingrained social injustice. This generates secondary violence - the revolt of the oppressed. And that in turn provokes tertiary violence - repression by the powerful to secure their privileged position. And so the spiral of violence tightens

Friday, 15 August 2008

MAHMOUD DARWISH: 13th March 1941 – 9th August 2008

Her eyes are Palestinian
Her name is Palestinian
Her dress and sorrow Palestinian
Her kerchief, her feet and body Palestinian
Her words and silence Palestinian
Her voice Palestinian
Her birth and her death Palestinian

The LEFT Alternative in Cardiff salutes Mahmoud Darwish who died this week. Adam Johannes writes in tribute.

Mahmoud Darwish was not only the poet of Palestine, but one of the great poets of the twentieth century. It is perhaps fiting that he died aged 67 - the same age at which Edward Said, the great intellectual of national liberation, bid farewell to life, and in the same year as George Habash. All three men died in exile, and all three were iconic figures of Palestinian nationalism. They formed part of a generation of giants forged in the afterglow of the 1968 battle of Karemeh and birth of the PLO, and their lives spanned the great epic of modern Palestinian history that rose from the ashes of 1948 when the land disappeared from the maps of the world. Tragically none lived to see freedom and justice restored.

In Darwish's writing Palestine was not only Palestine, but also the loss of Eden, the fall of innocence, birth and resurrection, dispossesion and exile, love and rage. Stripped of his Israeli 'citizenship', a citizenship he famously derided in his poem 'Identity Card', he spent most of his life in exile, he was a witness to the '82 Israeli invasion of Lebanon when Beirut with all its flowers came to smell of smoke and fire. Beirut was to be a pivotal moment for him, his poetry and the dream of Palestine. He left on the raft of a ship with other members of the Resistance for Tunisia.

One commentator captured the greatness of Darwish: "under house arrest, having his second-class citizenship revoked, being chased and hounded from one exile to another, being bombed in almost each of these exiles and living under countless sieges, Darwish's humanism never succumbed. One of his most popular poems, Rita, spoke of his love for a Jewish Israeli woman by that name; and about the absurdity of wars coming between lovers. This poem was made into a popular song by Lebanese musician Marcel Khalife."

His deep humanism was witnessed in his address to the Israeli soldiers shelling his neighbourhood during the 2002 siege of Ramallah,

You, standing at the doorsteps, come in
And drink with us our Arabic coffee
For you may feel that you are human like us

Darwish will also be remembered for his hand in crafting the 1988 declaration of independence, and the speech with which Arafat electrified the UN General Assembly in 1974, "Today I have come bearing an olive branch and a freedom fighter's gun. Do not let the olive branch fall from my hand. Repeat, do not let the olive branch fall from my hand". He has the good sense to reject the the sell-out of the Oslo frauds.

Towards the end of his life, he became dismayed at the division in the Palestinian house. Last summer in a bitter voice thick with irony, he was to declaim:

"We have triumphed . . . Gaza won its independence from the West Bank. One people now have two states, two prisons who don't greet each other. We are victims dressed in executioners' clothing. We have triumphed knowing that it is the occupier who really won. We have to understand - not justify - what gives rise to this tragedy.

It's not because they're looking for beautiful virgins in heaven, as Orientalists portray it. Palestinian people are in love with life. If we give them hope - a political solution - they'll stop killing themselves.

Sarcasm helps me overcome the harshness of the reality we live, eases the pain of scars and makes people smile . . .the sarcasm is not only related to today’s reality but also to history. History laughs at both the victim and the aggressor.

I will continue to humanise even the enemy... The first teacher who taught me Hebrew was a Jew. The first love affair in my life was with a Jewish girl. The first judge who sent me to prison was a Jewish woman. So from the beginning, I didn't see Jews as devils or angels but as human beings." [Several poems of his poems were to Jewish lovers] "These poems take the side of love not war"

This poem written during the siege of Beirut, contains a line that poignantly captures the deadlock of the Palestinian resistance - "Where do we go after the last frontier? Where does the bird fly after the last sky?". After armed struggle, appeals to international law and the conscience of the world, negotiations, peace processes. mass civil disobedience, Palestine still remains unfree:

The earth is closing on us, pushing us through the last passage, and
we tear off our limbs to pass through.
The earth is squeezing us. I wish we were its wheat so we could die
and live again. I wish the earth was our mother
So she'd be kind to us. I wish we were pictures on the rocks for
our dreams to carry
As mirrors. We saw the faces of those to be killed by the last of us in
the last defense of the soul.
We cried over their children's feast. We saw the faces of those who'll
throw our children
Out of the windows of the last space. Our star will hang up in mirrors.
Where should we go after the last frontiers? Where should the birds
fly after the last sky?
Where should the plants sleep after the last breath of air? We will
write our names with scarlet steam.
We will cut off the head of the song to be finished by our flesh.
We will die here,
Here in the last passage. Here and here our blood
will plant its olive tree.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

The Assembly Gravy Train

Spent £245 on a night in a hotel recently?
Spent two grand on a sofa recently?
Recently purchased a £1000 surround-sound TV system?

. . . then you may be an Assembly Member, only they didn't spend this money - we did!

All these items were paid for by the taxpayer out of an allowance given to AMs. And not only these items, also luxuries like cable TV, a glass bowl costing £2 and a host of other items. It seems the Assembly is a gravy train stopping at every station . . . !!

Many workers forced to commute to work on overcrowded public transport will feel little sympathy with overpaid politicians who live 45 minutes drive from Cardiff getting £12,500 a year living expenses for a house in the capital.

It may be fair that AMs who have to travel from North Wales to require accomodation in Cardiff, but should two AMs like Lynne Neagle & Huw Lewis who share a house in Penarth be given thousands from the public purse for a second home?

While public sector workers are being told to tighten their belt in the face of the credit crunch and facing a wage freeze, the majority of Assembly Members believe they are entitled to a pay rise of more than 8%.

But this sleaze and lawful corruption point to a deeper malaise. If you are wondering why Welsh politicians have been virtually silent over British Gas (who had a 500% rise in profits last year) raising bills dramatically, then consider: How can our politicians empathise with the problems faced by the majority of Welsh people such as rising fuel bills, increases in food prices & council tax, debt, housing costs when they are able to live such an elite lifestyle?

The recent death of former socialist MP, Terry Fields reminds us of another model, Terry was elected to parliament in 1983 on the slogan a "worker's MP on a worker's wage" taking only the average salary of a British worker, and donating the remainder of his salary to trade union and community causes, because he believed that an MP should live the same lifestyle as the people he or she claimed to represent. While a Labour MP he was imprisoned for refusal to pay the poll tax.

The LEFT Alternative is not made up of wannable politicians but rather working class people who want to organise in the community for change. To get involved, email:

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Civilians pay for American and Russian imperialism

Over 2,000 people have been killed in the recent fighting in the Caucasus after Georgia declared war on Russia over the breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. These regions have never wanted to be part of Georgia and the treatment of minorities within Georgia's borders has always been a problem.

But the fighting is also the result of imperial powers attempting to secure the energy and resources in the region through military force, and it must condemned.

The US has responded to the fighting by accusing Russia of wanting "regime change" in Georgia. The hypocrisy of this accusation is astounding, given that the goal of the US in Iraq was nothing less than regime change. Yet for the US administration this is an unacceptable goal for other imperial powers to have.

Russia shares this hypocrisy. While Russia moved against Georgia on what it claims are humanitarian grounds, arguing that because many South Ossetians have Russian citizenship they must be protected, the real reason is to secure its geopolitical interests. Russian aggression has little to do with humanitarian principles. It claims that if the US can recognise Kosovo as independent, it can make moves to ensure that South Ossetia and Abkhazia are under its sphere of influence. Russia also wants to prevent Georgia from joining NATO, and has demonstrated it will use military force to do so.

The region is heavily contested between Russia and the US, and each have interests in securing their domination of the untapped oil reserves. Pipelines are being built from Azerbaijan through Georgia to Turkey, with strong political support from the US. The situation has undoubtedly escalated tensions between the US and Russia, not seen since the end of the Cold War.

The US administration referred to a "significant long-term impact" on US-Russian relations if Russia continued to attack the Georgians disproportionately. But this is exactly the way the US is fighting in Iraq; through disproportionate attacks.

It is unacceptable that both powers are using military force to secure their interests, without concern for civilians. The Left Alternative opposes the fighting and calls on all sides to end hostilities. We also call on Britain to refrain from supporting the US and break with US foreign policy.

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Police bullying at Camp Kingsnorth

GARETH DALE reports from the Climate Camp 2008

I've just returned from a 2-3 day sojourn at the Climate Camp at Kingsnorth -- site of a proposed new coal-fired power station – which is now gearing up towards its climax. As usual the headlines focus upon policing and the inevitable 'discovery' of a weapons cache, more on which below. But once you make the effort – a word I use advisedly -- to get through police lines and into the camp itself the overwhelming impression is of a D.I.Y. heaven: solar panels and a wind turbine being erected, water pipes connected, sanitation systems constructed, media and cinema tents put up, impromptu kitchens, cleaning zones … an al fresco and non-commercial soukh catering to the pleasures and necessities of daily life.

The Camp's great strength is that theory and practice share a space for a week. Having kicked off with marches and due to finish on Saturday with direct action, in the days between there are workshops galore – a hundred or more – covering the usual themes as well as not a few tailored to specialist tastes: "the world lawn tango championships," "five-finger direct action training," and – one cannot but wonder whether practice and theory were united here -- "safe sex for activists." That Arthur Scargill made an appearance was welcome, although it was disappointing to see that he has not yet got it. (In the USA at the outset of World War Two it was union leaders who, against bitter resistance from big business, championed the conversion of auto plants to make planes. In the war upon climate change, just think: the skills of power station engineers; solar, wave and wind; surely a no-brainer.) The high-point was a session (pictured above) at which George Monbiot spoke on the role of the state in mitigating climate chaos -- although it was marred when that organ itself, in the shape of riot police, threatened to enter the camp, prompting most of the 250-strong audience to exit theory in a headlong rush to practice.

A degree of division arose with regard to the appropriate tactics for countering the police, but it was a no-win situation. Agreement to allow the police onto site – with their batons and video cameras, their bullying, snooping, sniffing and otherwise canine ways – would have necessitated constant surveillance of the surveillers, a continuous and enervating tug-of-war. The other option, the one taken, was to concentrate forces at the gates, to keep them at bay. With this, the boys in blue-and-dayglow-yellow needed only to build up forces at one gate, deploy riot police to the fore, or engage in any minor feint, in order to panic and disrupt the Camp. Which of course they did. In afternoons, during workshops. At two a.m. -- waking all with a cacophony of sirens that sparked a mass exit from tents, followed by the thuds of sleepy running bodies tripping over guy ropes. And then again, after adrenaline levels had subsided and campers had returned to sleep, at the break of dawn.

The question is, why have Her Majesty's police force decided to subject a crew of campers to such astonishing levels of harassment? What tactics are involved, and at what level were they authorised?

On harassment and intimidation the litany is endless. We observed their tactics, aghast. They must've looked up and memorised every petty by-law they could find, in addition to compendia of recent legislation. (Thanks to the cop who dropped his copy of the 'Pocket Legislation Guide on Policing Protest,' which gives an overview of legislation that can be used to stifle any form of legitimate protest, we know a bit more about an organisation, the National Extremism Tactical Coordination Unit, that assisted them in this.) They terminated our shuttlebus service (for ferrying participants from rail station to campsite) and arrested the driver on the grounds that one copper, claiming to have witnessed a passenger give a driver a donation, deemed it to be an unlicensed taxi. They filmed everyone. There were interminable and repeated searches of anyone entering or exiting camp -- and these were not the usual cursory pat down. In my case (not an extreme one): in addition to searching all bags and pockets they were uncommonly interested in the linings of my trousers; and they dismantled my mobile phone and took the battery out ("in case there's a razor blade concealed inside"). From me they took nothing but others were less fortunate. The innumerable items confiscated included: plywood, wheelie bins, a track for wheelchair access, a puncture repair kit, carpet, a board game and part of a windmill. And, of course, childrens' crayons. (They're a graffiti hazard, don't you know?)

Arguably the most visible and unarguably the most audible police presence is the helicopter. Upon arrival, I asked the copper who was searching me – time for such conversations was not rationed -- why the chopper was in the air. "It's because an incident is going on. Don't worry, it costs a fortune to keep it up there, it'll only be sent up when there's something going on." In fact, it was airborne about one minute in every three; deafening, menacing, watching. Even at night it hovered above us, and would sometimes swoop low – perhaps in case its clatter at normal altitude hadn't yet woken a few of those below.

So we may return to the question: why apply these tactics? The resources involved, in terms of manpower, equipment and fuel, are colossal. In conversation with a senior police officer, I listened to his point of view. "Don't get us wrong: we know very well that 99% of the people in the camp are completely non-violent. It's the other 1% we're concerned about." A machete, he claimed, had been found in nearby undergrowth. During my days there, I saw nothing to suggest a potentially violent "1%" – and, unlike the officer, I was observing campers up close. The machete story is a smear. Chances are it is a fiction, or planted, or belonged to a nearby villager. Activists, being ecologically aware, know full well that to approach Kingsnorth does not require hacking paths through jungle. But let's assume for a moment that he is right. There are around 1,000 people at the Camp. If that same officer were responsible for policing a village of 1,000 people, and was informed that 10 were potentially violent, would he call up a fleet of fully-manned vans from the North Wales Heddlu, alongside similar convoys from the West Mids, South Yorks, the Met, Essex, Kent and all? Rumour has it that 27 forces were involved! Would he call in a helicopter, and riot police? Or would he think "me oh my what an English idyll – a pity, perhaps, about one or two delinquents at closing time on a Friday night, but a token presence should deal with that"?

Perhaps there is a better reason: the police tactic is all about defending Kingsnorth. After all, the Camp's clearly and openly stated aim is to shut it down. But this explanation has no more traction than does the "violent 1%." Participants show no sign of going anywhere near Kingsnorth until Saturday, so why police the Camp, which is situated many miles away, all week long? To the possible rejoinder that an absence of police attention would encourage activists to approach the power station sooner than declared, there is an obvious reply. With the same police numbers deployed to harass the Camp, the power station could be thrice encircled: it could be sealed off by land, sea, air and any other conceivable avenue of approach, and with enough spare policepower to boot (no pun intended) that the Heddlu and the Brummies could be sent back home. Just think of all the trouble and tension that could be spared, not to mention police overspend.

The only possible reason for this level of intimidation – apart, perhaps, from an interest in giving riot cops some live training -- is that the police force is hell bent on hounding and intimidating the movement against climate chaos. This does not represent a departure from recent trends in policing – as witnessed in London at the anti-Bush protest (with its use of agent provocateurs) and the 'Circle Line Party.' Yet it is an escalation.

The question that remains is: who authorised this strategy? Downing Street, one would suppose, but we should be told.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Our City is Not For Sale - No to Privatisation

The LEFT Alternative fully supports Cardiff UNISON's campaign against the possible privatisation of council services, which could see rising prices for swimming pools, leisure centres, libraries, theatres and other services: Our city is not for sale, and we will resist the corporate takeover of Cardiff - by any means necessary.

Branch secretary, Mark Turner was quoted last month as saying in the South Wales Echo, privatisation would

"sever the link between democratically elected councillors and the management of the service and replace public control with the control of the market. In other cities in the UK where charitable trusts have been set up to run leisure centres, libraries, swimming pools and theatres they have had to increase ticket and entrance prices to keep afloat. Council services are about people. Inevitably people take second place to profit if the private sector or its methods were to be used in Cardiff.”

In May, when the LibDems and Plaid Cymru formed a coalition to run Cardiff Council they made a public commitment that there would be a "presumption against privatisation", yet in the public "consultation" one of the options being considered, as part of the shake-up of council services, is for the delivery of services to be moved out of the council’s direct control to arms-length organisations and charitable trusts. We urge the ruling parties to keep this pledge.

If you want to know what privatisation would mean in practice, Cardiff UNISON on their website give a glimpse of previous sell-outs:

"Car Parks controlled by Cardiff Council sold to private company

Council now powerless to stop massive price rises seen recently. Profits going into private hands instead of supporting rate payers.

University Hospital of Wales entered into long car park lease with private company

Now unable to comply with Welsh Office requirements to cut patient parking charges for many years. Profits going into private hands instead of supporting patient care.

Suicide victim left in garage for 5 hours

Due to Police now using private firm for FME that do not have manpower to act swiftly. Unlike previous system of using local doctors

Do we want this happening to council services ?
This could happen under the council's 'Partnership for Change'
This is likely to lead to job and service quality losses

Another Cardiff is possible!

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Climate Camp 2008

Food riots abroad, house prices and pensions collapsing at home, energy prices skyrocketing worldwide. And slap bang in the middle of all of this - climate change - which the government and the power giant E.ON propose to make worse by building the UK's first coal-fired power station in 30 years at Kingsnorth in Kent.

The Climate Change Camp people have secured a site for the camp which officially began today!

Some of our activists are down in Kent at the moment, happy camping! For a report of last years camp, see here, and for more articles on the planet, see here

Friday, 1 August 2008


Working class people used to be the salt of the earth, now we're the scum of the earth. We need to rebuild old traditions of solidarity and start reclaiming our communities back from the profiteers and privateers. Enough IS Enough!

Nothing shows the contempt that the 4 main parties in Wales have for us more than their silence over a 35% rise in our gas bills at a time when British Gas is raking in record profits. What do the Labour Left in Wales have to say about this? What are Plaid saying? What are the LibDems saying? Nothing. What can one say about these jokers? Each is as bad as the other. Each is worse than the other.

The 4 capitalist parties don't have the bottle to rock against the rich. They could be calling for a wonderful windfall tax on the energy companies profits. They could demand the Brown raise corporation tax (not likely from Plaid who want to cut corporation tax even more than Thatcher did!), they could start campaigning for the government to put a cap on how much the corporations can increase bills.

But they are not doing it. Working people are gonna have to get organised themselves. As Che said, words are beautiful - but action is even better.

This week, Welsh speakers in the LEFT Alternative have produced hundreds of leaflets calling for an end to the great gas rip-off to dish out at the Eisteddfod. Nobody in the Welsh political establishment is calling for the gas and electricity companies to be re-nationalised, so we're gonna shout it from the rooftops! Wales has some righteous traditions of good old fashioned socialism and right-on working class militancy. It's time!

The LEFT Alternative defends the Welsh language, not out of nationalism but out of respect for international culture. International culture to us does not mean the 'culture' of Murdoch, Mcdonalds and Market Values, but of those who believe another world not only possible; but necessary. We believe our children should have access to the Mabinogion, Shakespeare, Salman Rushdie, Caradoc Evans, Dylan Thomas, Bapsi Sidhwa, Chinua Achebe and many others - and in whatever language they want! Such a stance also includes fighting for the rights of those who speak other languages such as refugees and asylum seekers and their children so that they have access to education and other facilities in their own languages.

We believe the money is there to provide this, but the government wastes billions on a war opposed by millions. Our movements, whether they be for language rights, or against war and injustice have begun to provide the basis for a real alternative to the status quo. But our views are far too often marginalized and disregarded by the mainstream political parties. We want to be a megaphone for the millions who are opposed to war, racism, privatisation inequality and the destruction of the planet. We hope to create a new fighting coalition of the working class.