Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Sshh . . . Hallowe'en Protest - Samhain Anti-Capitalist Action in Cardiff

Torchlight March and Street Party, Assemble 5 pm, Friday 31st October, Nye Bevan Statue, Queen Street. Called by the Cardiff Chartists - Supporters of the People before Profit Charter.

"Show me a capitalist and I'll show you a bloodsucker!" - Malcolm X

The free market is crumbling, yet the ghosts of the past are desperate to prop up the system. Billions of pounds of our money has been diverted to the vampires of the banking system, who are sucking our wallets dry.

After nationalising the banks we've continued to see home repossessions spiral. In Wales, court actions against late mortgage payers have tripled in the past year. Every single hour, four people in Wales are told they will lose their house. Not many of the bankers will be losing their luxury castles with velvet-coated coffins, while ordinary workers feel the bite.

On Halloween 2008, supporters of the People Before Profit Charter will be protesting against the government's so called nationalisations of banks - nationalisations that are only in the interests of the rich. They think that we're too stupid to realise what's going on, that we're a bunch of zombies who will quietly pay for the crisis which they have created.

Come along on the 31st of October and demand that nationalisation of banks should mean nationalisation in our interests. If we own the banks, why don't we get a say in what happens to our money? Giving billions of pounds to the same people who drove the economy into the crypt makes about as much sense as asking the Wolf Man to safely herd sheep.

We will assemble at 5pm at the Aneurin Bevan statue on Queen Street, right by Bradford and Bingley. We will then have a torch-lit march from bank to bank, exorcising the ghouls and ghosts of the free market and stamping our claim on our banks!

Many people will be coming in fancy dress, though that's not essential. There'll also be music and street art in abundance, please bring drums, pots, whistles or anything else to add to the cacophony!

“Awake, thou sleeper on the Rock of Eternity ! Albion awake ! The trumpet of Judgment hath sounded” - William Blake

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Are YOU Green?

The LEFT Alternative received this message in our big Cardiff postbag:

"Cardiff hasn’t had a Greendrinks…until now! The first Cardiff Greendrinks will take place at The Yard, St Mary’s Street tonight onWednesday, October 15th at 6pm. This is our first meeting so we are finding our feet and we want to find out what people want from Greendrinks Cardiff, and when and where they want it before a grand launch in November. In the spirit of Greendrinks we couldn’t think of a better way to do this than to invite people along and ask! Please pass on these details to anybody you think may be interested, and of course bring along any friends and colleagues.
Can’t make it but want to in future? Want to help organise Greendrinks? Want to get your group involved with Greendrinks? Please let us know at alun.nicola@virgin.net or drop us a message."

For those who don't know Greendrinks is a laid back monthly meeting where people with an interest in all things environmental and green can relax and talk over a . . . drink! It's an international movement. To find us, turn up and say, "Are you Green?" (Though the LEFT Alternative bloc at the bar will also answer to the greeting, "Are you Red?". For us, our socialism and our ecology go hand-in-hand)

Friday, 10 October 2008

The Rich turn Nasty . . .

According to a recent article in the Hate Mail (as we like to call the Daily Mail around here), a Merseyside Letting Agency is putting up "Rent Dodger Lives Here" placards on the houses of tenants who pay their rent late or not at all.

Most people who have experience of being ripped off by letting agency's will be mad at this. The LEFT Alternative in Cardiff will be printing signs with the phrase "Tax Dodger Lives Here" to put on the houses of the rich!

Last year the majority of billionaires in Wales didn't pay a penny in income tax, while over the summer a Barry pensioner spent a month behind bars because she failed to pay her council tax due to financial hardship.

And let's not forget that our taxes are paying for thick layabout scroungers like those pictured above on the right.

March on the City - We Won't Bail out the Bankers (Today in London)

Students, pensioners and working people are marching in London to the Bank of England today to make it clear to the government and the bankers that we will not pay for their crisis. Assemble outside the Bank of England at 4pm today.

Within a day of confirming £50bn to part-nationalise Britain's biggest banks, this figure was turned into £500bn. There was talk of another £50bn available to the eight largest banks and building societies, another £200bn for short-term borrowing to provide liquidity and a special company to provide up to £250bn in loan guarantees. Did the taxpayer ever get a chance to agree to this change? Or indeed the whole idea of bailing out the banks and the bankers? The short answer is no.

But part of the problem is, so far, "recapitalisation" of the banking industry has done nothing to regain confidence in the markets, let alone being a "bold and far-reaching solution" to the crisis, as Gordon Brown would have us believe. This is because nobody knows the extent of "toxic assets" or where they are located, least of all the government. The FTSE index has lost nearly 19 percent so far this week, just short of the losses during the crash of 1987.

So where does HM Treasury get all this money? Government borrowing means that the taxpayer pays for this crisis. In time this means there will be less money for schools, less money for hospitals and less money for the things that the majority need; that is, unless the government chooses to spend public money on these things. Or, unless the public makes the government spend money on these things.

Even if city bonuses are reduced from their staggering levels, the Centre for Economics and Business Research reports that the forecast for bonuses to be paid out this year is £3.5bn. Billions in company profits among energy companies such as British Gas and supermarkets such as Tesco, combined with rising fuel and food prices by these same companies, is only feeding anger among working people.

Pensioners are also being hit badly by the crisis, with no benefit from the bailout. According to analysts, in the last month alone, retirement savings have lost more than 10% of their value as investors sell their shares to avoid the worst effects of the credit crunch. Ros Altmann, an independent pensions analyst said, "the government's response to the credit crunch is dreadful for pensions. This knee-jerk panic reaction shows no sign of understanding how we got into the mess, nor how to get out of it."

This is why students, pensioners and working people are marching to the Bank of England today to make it clear that we will not pay for their crisis. When it comes to bailing out the banks and the bankers the government can find hundreds of billions of pounds, but when it comes to pensioners freezing in their homes, student poverty, or money for the NHS, the message from the government is that we need to tighten our belts. This is our chance to say no.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

War Games in Wales: Talkin' World War III Blues

Fighter jets, infantry troops, destroyers and submarines have all converged on Wales for the biggest military exercise of all time. The whole of Wales has been designated a flying zone for the exercise which will provide coordinated training for all three UK Armed Services, plus forces from eight allied nations. Huge sections of our coastline have been taken over by the military.

Where is the outrage? Where are the 'lefty' Welsh politicians speaking out? (Other than us) Who is speaking out?

The MoD claim: "The two-week exercise – codenamed Joint Warrior – is designed to recreate a scenario in which Britain and other sovereign nations go to war against a “state-sponsored terrorist movement” – using a vast array of lethal modern weapons."

So is Britain to take up arms against America? Or has the Ministry of 'Defence' declared war on itself?

If we cut through the spin, it is clear that the aim of this exercise is to train British troops to wage war against another country. With the 'war on terror; spiralling into countries as diverse as Pakistan and Somalia, and threats against Iran, the exercise could be more than just training for the continued subjugation of the Afghan and Iraqi people, but also the dress rehearsal for another imperialist adventure.

Britain is already locked into at least two imperialist adventures opposed by the majority of citizens in Britain, the silence of the Welsh political class over these war games is sickening, but not unexpected. With a million dead in Iraq and still counting since 2003, we need to demand - at the very least - for a moratorium on any military exercises in Wales while British troops are involved in occupying Iraq and Afghanistan, and an end to the military training of Iraqi militia here.

The Welsh Assembly is totally complicit in the British Military Industrial Complex: First Minister of Wales, Rhodri Morgan - infamously - refused to oppose the Iraq War and is an apologist for Raytheon, a big company directly involved in war crimes. While not a single AM has unequivocally spoken out over the building of the Military Academy at St Athan, the biggest PFI in history.

The Academy will make a profit by training - not only the crack troops of British imperialism - but soldiers from any despotic regime allied to the West prepared to fork out the cash. Any Welsh politician who claims to be on the left should grasp that basic working class solidarity with those on the receiving end of Britain's imperialist adventures means opposing the Academy tooth-and-nail.

Adam Johannes, anti-war activist and Left Alternative member

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Cardiff Council Are Rubbish! Victory to the Bin Men & Women!

Wolfie Smith from North Cardiff Left Alternative reports on the upcoming bin strike on Monday.

Recently City Boss, Rodders (Rodney Berman, Leader of Cardiff Council - Ed.) has been trying to act the hard man facing down the unions. Berman is, of course, singular inappropriate to play the role of hard man as he doth more resemble a petulant child prone to temper-tantrums, but there is a nasty edge to the LibDem/Plaid Council and its attacks on council workers and trade unions: The petulant child is turning into a bully.

A few months ago it was the attempt to introduce a new tough regime for workers who dared to take time off sick, now it is the attempt to impose new shift patterns with no proper consultation.

Traditionally local refuse collectors have done a shift beginning at 7 am and wrapping up at 3 pm at the latest. But now the Council has taken a unililateral decision to change workers contracts and terms of employment, and replace shifts with two new shifts from 6 am to 2 pm, and 2 pm to 10 pm related to the introduction of new weekly food waste collections.

In response, to the failure to properly discuss these changes with the workforce, 90% of GMB members voted to stage a strike beginning on Monday. There seems no recognition from Cardiff Council that working from 2 pm to 10 pm would count as anti-social hours, especially if you have a family (ten minutes to see your kids at the breakfast table?!), and workers should receive a raise in wages accordingly. There also appaars be no recognition of the impact that such a radical change of working patterns might have, and the basic need to be led by workers representatives to facilitate any transition.

More disturbing is the report that our taxpayers money is going to be used by the LibDems and Plaid in Cardiff to pay for scab labour. Why not contact your local councillor to complain? We would also suggest putting signs on your rubbish saying, 'To be collected by GMB members only, Scabs don't touch!'

Left Alternative members and supporters of the People before Profit Charter will be sure to visit picket lines and workers to show support and solidarity for their just cause, for the workers united can never be defeated!

Defend Holtsfield

Once again Holtsfield Community on the Gower Peninsula is under threat with an attempted eviction on Tuesday. Adam Johannes, from the Left Alternative (Roath Branch) reports.

A couple of years back, I had the great honour to visit Holtsfield as part of a day of cob-building. Cob-houses are a form of sustainable housing made from clay bricks. The clay means that the house is warm in winter meaning no need for heating, thus cutting down on energy bills, and lovely and cool in the summer. During my visit I also saw an organic farm and straw bale houses. But the jewel in the crown of Holtsfield is its low impact housing.

In secluded semi-woodland you will find a random settlement of almost thirty single storey chalets. Holtsfield is part of the heritage of South Wales. Originally holiday homes, the chalets were occupied by working class people who had their homes bombed during the war. The chalets are beautiful, and highly individual painted in different colours and made of timber and lightweight materials. Visitors always comment how they seem to melt into the landscape.

Since the hard times of the post-war period the community has developed a village like ambience and is home to people from many different walks of life and background.

Around 1990 things changed when, the freehold was bought by a Swansea development company, Elitestone Ltd. This has resulted in a longterm struggle by the company to evict the residents, harrass them and plans to move in rich people and build houses. The company also lobbied to overturn the designation of the area as a conservation area. Now they are planning to carry out evictions. We urge everybody who can make it to get down to Holtsfield.

Bonita James reports:

"On the Tuesday 14 October at half past 12 there is a planned eviction of number 9 Holtsfield.This is my mothers house and the house I grew up in.

Show your support and if you are able to turn up on the day to peacefully protest, your help would be much appreciated. We do not wish for any violent behaviour at all, we mainly want witnesses because last time the behaviour of the hired security was very heavy handed so the more people there to see it, the less likely it is someone will get hurt.The last time Tim Jones tried to evict was in 1998 and it was only avoided due to local community support on the day. As so much time has passed since then a lot of people are unaware that the threat of eviction is still present. All this group hopes to achieve is to gather support and inform people of the current circumstances."

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Anti-ID card protest outside Newport Passport Office

Saturday 4th October at 2pm
outside the Passport Office,
Olympia House, Upper Dock Street,
Newport, NP20 1XA

From organisers:

'The new card will hold the holder’s photograph, name, date of birth, nationality, immigration status and an electronic chip with biometric details, including fingerprints and digital facial image. All indefinitely held on the UK Identity and Passport Service database.

Initially the ID cards will be issued to non-EU students and marriage visa holders then, foreign nationals wanting to enter the UK. From next year other foreign nationals living in the UK will begin to be issued with ID cards. These groups will be forced to enrol on the scheme and use the card, rather than their passport, for identification,

Once migrants have been used to test the scheme, in 2009 anyone, regardless of nationality, who works in an area the government deems “sensitive” such as airports will be required to have an ID card. From 2010, students will need ID cards to get a student loan and they will be available to the rest of us on a “voluntary” basis, with them being paired with passports in 2011.

It is patently clear that this card is the thin end of the wedge, the first blow in an attack on civil liberties we all enjoy. The government is open about their plans, it wants everyone in the UK tagged, numbered and repressed, using migrants as a testing ground for it’s authoritarian desire to increase the size of the surveillance state. The opposition to ID cards must begin now.'