Sunday, 23 November 2008

Save Hoover's Factory in Merthyr - Campaign Diary

An online campaign against the closure of Hoover attracted almost 2000 supporters over 3 days, this is now turning into a real life fightback to defend our communities. Jonny Jones, South Wales Chartists - Supporters of the People Before Profit Charter, who set up the campaign writes from Merthyr:

04/12/08 Tony Benn Statement / Government rejects petition!

Hi everyone. Here is a statement from Tony Benn to all of us. Tony Benn is the best known figure on the Labour left who retired from Parliament to "spend more time involved in politics." Since then he has campaigned tirelessly against the war as President of the Stop the War Coalition and is a strong supporter of the People Before Profit Charter.

"The economic crisis is having a devastating effect on workers all across Britain. In South Wales, the impact is being felt particularly sharply. From Budelpack to Bosch, Maesteg to Merthyr, thousands of jobs are being wiped out by the recession. Unemployment in Wales is rising four times faster the national average.

The announcement of an end to manufacturing at the Hoover factory in Merthyr Tydfil is symbolic of how grave this crisis is. Hoover has been in Merthyr for 60 years, and, in that time, tens of thousands of workers and their families have relied on the factory for their livelihoods. To announce the job cuts just before Christmas is an appalling insult to the workers and people of Merthyr.

It has always been the case that, in times of crisis, big business seeks to safeguard its profits by making ordinary people pay the price. That is why it is so important for workers, trade unionists, socialists and activists to come together and fight to safeguard their common interests.

Democracy has always relied upon mass movements to win and defend our rights. The Chartists, who struggled to win the vote, faced down repression courageously in places like Newport in South Wales and inspired millions across the country. The mass anti-war movement was able to win the vast majority of the British people to opposing the immoral wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Meetings like those organised by the supporters of the People Before Profit Charter in Merthyr and Cardiff can be an important first step in building a new movement, one that seeks to unite all those who face unemployment and uncertainty in struggle for social justice and the right to work. I wish them and all who support them the very best in their campaign."

Also, Gordon Brown's 10 Downing Street Website has refused to host a petition under the title 'Stop the Jobs Massacre in South Wales' on the basis that it includes "Language which is offensive, intemperate, or provocative" ... what a cheek!

We've just had another 370 jobs cut in tax offices around Wales, 450 jobs at an aluminium factory outside Newport. Brown might prefer to dress these job cuts up as something other than a massacre but for the thousands who face redundancy, this ain't no Christmas Party!It's clear that this is a problem that will run and run, please do your best to keep pushing for people to attend these important meetings next week.

02/12/08 - Meetings set-up for next week and Tony Benn wishes us success!

Big things happening over the next two weeks! I spoke to Tony Benn last night about the campaign to stop the job cuts at Hoover. Tony has been a central figure in British politics for decades and has a record of standing up for working people. He said that I should communicate to everyone his best wishes for success in our campaign!

Two meetings have been organised to bring together all those who want to campaign against the closure of Hoover and all the other places being affected by mass redundancies.

In Merthyr, the meeting will be on Wednesday 10th December at 7.30pm in the Glebeland Club (upstairs from the Belle Vue Pub) on Glebeland Street in the town centre. We're currently working on getting guests arranged but have already heard from the convenor at Hoover that he and some of the shop stewards will be coming along!

There will be another meeting in Cardiff on Thursday 11th December at 7.30pm in the Royal Hotel, St Mary's Street in the city centre. Any suggestions as to what we could be doing or offers of help to publicise the meeting would be greatly appreciated! Please do your best to get along and bring others.We're trying to contact as many people who have lost their jobs or whose jobs are under threat as possible.

If you know people who worked at Ferrari's Bakers before the closure last week, or who works / worked at Budelpack, Bosch, Serious Food Co. etc then please get in touch:

26/11/08 - 2000 members! But we need to keep building...

Brilliant to see we're now at over 2000 members in little over a week. It's great to see that people are still pushing the group and trying to get the campaign known.

If we needed any more evidence of how important it is to fight back against the cuts, it came today when both Woolworths and MFI went into administration threatening thousands of jobs. In Maesteg, the old Revlon factory has annouced it is closing with the loss of 400 jobs. In Llantrisant, another 200 jobs are going at the Serious Food Co, that's on top of the 250 cut from Bosch just last week.

This is just the beginning of recession and the onslaught on jobs we face in the coming years. That's why I've been contacting people to try to get a meeting on job cuts set-up in Merthyr as soon as possible. I've contacted Labour, Plaid and the Unite union as well as representatives from the PCS union.

Hopefully we'll be able to announce more details in the days to come but in the meanwhile keep letting people know about the campaign and stay in touch with your ideas about what we can be doing. Your response so far has been brilliant - even the Merthyr Tydfil FC Supporters Club are backing us and are taking a petition to the next match! If you're a member of an organisation or union that could back the campaign, get in touch.

25/11/08: Campaign Gets a Brilliant Response in Merthyr!

On Saturday a few of us set up a stall in the centre of Merthyr for a couple of hours doing a petition calling for intervention to save jobs at Hoover.

We couldn't believe the response. Hundreds of people signed, some people wanting to list their entire family! We met current workers from the factory who are incredibly angry. We met many workers who've been there over the years, including one who had worked there when it first opened.

It's blindingly obvious from that response and from the response to the facebook group that people in Merthyr want to resist these cuts and closures. It's not just Hoover either. Thirty jobs are to go at Sekisui and the tax office is going to be closed with the loss of around fifty jobs. If Hoover's workers go down without a fight it will be that much easier for the next company to lay people off.

That's why over the next few days we want to try to organise a public meeting in Merthyr to defend jobs. Please get in touch if you have contacts with people inside or outside the factory who would be able to advertise a meeting or if you have suggestions as to who might be able to speak. It's important to have representatives from the parties and the unions, but even more important is that local people and workers have a place where they can come together, discuss the situation and come up with a plan to fight back!

21/11/08: Over 1000 members in three days!

When I set this group up, I didn't imagine it's get so big so fast, and I certainly didn't expect so much international support from all around the world. Thanks to everyone who's joined and please carry on inviting more of your friends.

We're often told how much the people of Merthyr owe to Hoover for providing so many with a living. The truth is, Hoover owes Merthyr. Hoover has been happy to take advantage of low wages in the Valleys to make profits over the decades. Now it wants to shut up shop and exploit even lower wages overseas. With the recession growing, Hoover thinks it can get away with cutting and running without a fight back.

There's more to this than just Hoover, though. Gordon Brown has spent over £500 BILLION on loans and bailouts to the banks this year. He tells us this was essential to support the economy. It doesn't seem to be working. The last three month rise in unemployment figures was over 140,000 – almost 30,000 of these job cuts were in Wales!

At the same time, New Labour is attempting to push thousands of ill people and single parents back into work. In Merthyr, where one-in-five is on long term sickness, these changes coming on top of massive job cuts will be disastrous. With the number of people looking for jobs exploding just as jobs are disappearing it will mean misery for many people.

Welsh Assembly AM Huw Lewis has rightly called for a serious regeneration program to help those affected by the job cuts. Leanne Wood AM has called for a workers' bailout to go alongside the one the banks got.

None of these things will be handed over to us. A strong campaign, rooted in communities like Merthyr, will be essential to winning the change we need. Meetings, protests, marches, strikes, occupations – all can play a part in building confidence and winning support. Please get in touch if you want to get involved:

Monday, 17 November 2008

What's Goin' On?

To advertise your event, email:

Tuesday 18 November, 6.30 pm
Temple of Peace, Edward VII Avenue

Wednesday 19 November, 6 pm onwards
The Yard (upstairs), 42-43 St Mary Street

Greendrinks is a monthly informal gathering over a drink for anyone with an interest in the environment, a free buffet is also laid on!

Thursday 20 November
Sherman Theatre
Tickets £3 - Free for asylum seekers

Friday 21 November, 7.30
Talybont Social Centre (Upstairs)

A free film showing about US torture in Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay.

Saturday 22 - Sunday 23 November
Dylan Thomas Centre, Swansea

Radical environmental films, forums and masterclasses from the world of documentary filmmaking. This years festival will be focused upon the filmmakers. If you are a documentary maker please attend and forge links with other film-makers, music makers and animators

Tuesday 25 November, 12 - 1 pm
Borders Agency, 31 - 33 Newport Road

Biometric ID cards will come into force for non-EU students and spouses from 25th November and will be issued from offices in Birmingham, Cardiff, Croydon, Glasgow, Liverpool, and Sheffield. We will be holding a protest outside the Home Office building in Cardiff and hope for protests outside each of the other offices on that day. We welcome all opponents of the increasing levels of social control that the government wishes to extend over all our lives to take part. Join us during your lunch break from work or study to show solidarity with migrants being victimised by these cynical divide and rule tactics by The Home Office. By resisting the repression of migrants, we defend the freedom of everyone! Called by No Borders South Wales.

Thursday 27 November, 6 pm - Midnight
Koko Gorrilaz, Salisbury Road

If there was ever a time to have a good old rummage through your wardrobe and dig out those forgotten items of clothing that haven’t seen daylight in at least a year, then it’s now! Instead of letting those poor un-loved garments gather dust and feel sorry for themselves, give them the chance of a new life at Re-Vamp! A group of creative, eco-minded females have put their resourceful heads together to bring you a unique night of swapping clothes, exchanging skills, and all whilst barely parting with a penny! Certainly not your average night out! You can expect: CLOTHES SWAPPING - Swap your cast-offs for someone else’s and get a whole ‘new’ outfit totally free. One person’s trash is another person’s treasure! RE-VAMPED FASHION SHOW – See what other people have created from old clothes and get inspired! RE-VAMPING AREA - Learn how to Re-vamp your own clothes and make accessories from un-wanted materials. We will have girls on hand with sewing machines and crafty ideas to share. PEDAL-POWERED BINGO – Yes, that’s right, bingo on a bike, it has to be seen to be believed! Join in and you could win a Re-Vamped goody bag! RE-VAMPED TUNES – Top local female DJs will be mixing it up on the decks.

Do you already make clothes or accessories from re-used materials, maybe you would like to be involved in the fashion show or run a creative workshop? We are also looking for people to lend us clothes rails and coat hangers.

Friday 28 November, 6.30 pm
Small Chemistry Lecture Theatre, Main Building, Cardiff University

Forum on the state of the British asylum system. How do we really treat refugees? Asylum seekers tell their stories, plus guest speakers and a question panel. Organised by STAR

Wednesday 3 December, 4.30 - 6 pm
Nye Bevan Statue, Queen Street

Raising awareness and protesting on World Migration Day

Wednesday 3 December, 6 pm
Milgi Lounge, City Road (to be confirmed)

Cardiff's newest and fastest growing feminist group meets monthly.

Wednesday 3 December, 7 pm


Saturday 6 December, Central London

March on parliament. More info here: Coach stopping 8 am, Cardiff Museum Steps and 8.30 am Newport Bus StationTickets - £18 waged or £10 student/unwagedE-mail
to reserve a place asap!

Wednesday 10 December, 12 noon
Borders Agency, 31-33 Newport Road

Following the protest outside the UK border Agency on 25th Novemer when ID cards came into force, there will be another protest when the Cardiff office starts to register people on Wednesday 10th December. Called by No Borders South Wales.

Wednesday 10 December, 7.30 pm
Glebeland Club (above Belle Vue Pub)
Glebeland St

With trade union reps, shop stewards, activists and people from the community. Organised by South Wales Chartists - Supporters of the People Before Profit Charter

Thursday 11 December, 7.30 pm
Royal Hotel
St Mary's Street

With union reps, shop stewards, activists and people from the community. All welcome. Organised by South Wales Chartists - Supporters of the People Before Profit Charter.

Friday 12 December, 5 - 7 pm
Glamorgan Building, Cardiff University

Prof Kevin Morgan, school of City and Regional Planning at Cardiff University, believes the planned roadways would desecrate one of the city’s greatest assets, a top-grade Park. He has planned a head-to-head debate between senior City Councillors, the Heritage Lottery Fund and their critics. This is a chance to question and challenge the plans to build roads to suit the largest lorries and to channel traffic through the memorial woodland in Bute Park.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Armistice Day in Aberystwyth

Aberystwyth is the first local council to officially comemorate non combatants as part of remembrance, indeed it is the only local authority in Britain to have an officially sanctioned event where a wreath of white poppies is lain at the Cenotaph (as well as the traditional wreath of red poppies) to remember all victims of war after a vote on the council in 2004. It has not been without controversy. We recently received in our big red postbag this statement from Aberystwyth Peace & Justice Network

“On behalf of our town Council, Aberystwyth Peace and Justice Network wouldlike to invite you to a service of remembrance and peace. Please forward this message to your networks.

Once again this year Aberystwyth Town Council will lay a white poppy wreathat the war memorial. In taking this action our Council is unique in Britain.But the decision to maintain the tradition was not made easily. It took the casting vote of Mayor, Sue Jones-Davies. So, the initiative needs the activesupport of everyone committed to working for a peaceful and just world.

The white poppy not only commemorates all those who suffer in wars, it alsosends out the message that, ‘there are better ways to resolve conflicts than killing strangers’. Britain is the world’s second largest arms exporter. The white poppy represents hope for a culture in which preparation for armed conflict is considered immoral rather than a valid economic activity.

This year’s ceremony takes place on Saturday 8th November at 11am. It willbe led by Rhidian Griffith, an elder of Capel y Morfa, Aberystwyth. Côr Gobaith will sing No More War and Mae Gen I Freuddwyd. The latter is asong based on Martin Luther King Jr’s historic speech ‘I have a dream’. Words are by Myrddin Ap Dafydd and the song envisages a world of peace,harmony and justice.

Prior to the Council’s decision, Aberystwth Peace and Justice Network and the Royal British Legion failed to reconcile the red and white poppy traditions. In September Aberystwyth RBL wrote to the Council to declin ebecause ‘the White Poppy is not a charitable thing… November is the Remembrance of those who gave their lives in the service of their country.’

Meanwhile, Assembly Member Bethan Jenkins, a former Guild of Students President in Aberystwyth University, has called on Neath and Port Talbot Council to follow Aberystwth’s example. ‘I hope Councils all over Wales heedBethan’s call,’ said Lotte Reimer of AP&JN.”

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Remembrance Sunday - A soldier's Declaration

The "old lie" featured recently in the South Wales Echo who inform us that the people who fought in World War One died for "our" freedom. In truth, working class people were sent to butcher working class people from other countries on behalf of their rulers. A whole generation was damned so that the elites in our society could extend their power and wealth -as in World War One, so in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Siegfried Sassoon, the great poet, was swept up by patriotism and in 1914-15 joined up. He gained a reputation for exceptional bravery, including the single-handed capture of a German trench. He would go out on night raids and bombing patrols and known for his manic courage. He was decorated for bravery.

Two years later he realised "the whole damn thing was a lie" and decided to make a stand against the war. He hurled his medals into the River Mersey, before making the following declaration that was printed in the Times and read and discussed in Parliament.

I am making this statement as an act of wilful defiance of military authority because I believe that the war is being deliberately prolonged by those who have the power to end it.

I am a soldier, convinced that I am acting on behalf of soldiers. I believe that the war upon which I entered as a war of defence and liberation has now become a war of agression and conquest. I believe that the purposes for which I and my fellow soldiers entered upon this war should have been so clearly stated as to have made it impossible to change them and that had this been done the objects which actuated us would now be attainable by negotiation.

I have seen and endured the sufferings of the troops and I can no longer be a party to prolonging these sufferings for ends which I believe to be evil and unjust. I am not protesting against the conduct of the war, but against the political errors and insincerities for which the fighting men are being sacrificed.

On behalf of those who are suffering now, I make this protest against the deception which is being practised upon them; also I believe it may help to destroy the callous complacency with which the majority of those at home regard the continuance of agonies which they do not share and which they have not enough imagination to realise.

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Quote of the Week

"Which is the greater crime, to rob a bank or to own one?''
- Bertolt Brecht

Back by popular demand!

After a short absence, our "quote of the week" feature returns with this gem from Bertolt Brecht's satire of decaying & rotting capitalism, The Three-Penny Opera, sent to us by one Mrs EH Jones of Treharris Street, Roath.

As our many readers and correspondents know our site aims to be the 'voice of the streets'.

If you have a favourite quote why not send it to our Big Red Postbag at:

We receive a high volume of emails and correspondence, but will endeavor to reply to all enquiries, comments as soon as humanly possible.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Obama Victory

"We lead the world in battling immediate evils and promoting the ultimate good . . .We must lead by building a 21st century military.... I strongly support the expansion of our ground forces by adding 65,000 soldiers to the Army and 27,000 Marines."
- Barack Obama, April 2007

"a new dawn of American leadership is at hand. To those who would tear ... this world down – we will defeat you... "
- Barack Obama, Victory speech signalling a continuation of the wider 'war on terror'

"From day one of the Obama victory, which will unleash a wave of high expectations on the domestic and global fronts, activist pressure is crucial to achieve anything. I think antiwar activists should turn up in large numbers to the inauguration with banners reading, "Congrats Barack, now out of Kabul and Iraq!"
- Tariq Ali

Anthony Arnove, an American peace activist & author of Iraq - The Logic of Withdrawal has eloquently decoded what an Obama victory means for the Iraqi people here.

We reproduce his response to the US election below, read other commentary from the US left here and here

The first thing to say is that there should be no honeymoon. The Democrats have held a majority in the House and Senate for two years, yet have continued to fund the occupation of Iraq, to allow warrantless wiretaps, to expand the military budget.

But the Democrats can no longer use the excuse of Bush and the need to win the White House to continue to defy the widespread desire for change. That means we need to challenge Obama from the first day he takes office, with public protest and mobilization.

Second, we have to insist that Obama's "let's not and say we did" position on withdrawal from Iraq is unacceptable. Withdrawal means withdrawal, not redeployment of some troops to Afghanistan while leaving tens of thousands of troops for "counter-insurgency," maintaining long-term bases, establishing the largest foreign Central Intelligence Agency station and U.S. embassy in Baghdad, and allowing mercenaries to remain.

We can't let Iraq slip into the background, out of the headlines, and accept a repacking of the occupation as a solution.

Third, we need to be clear that the problem with the so-called Bush Doctrine of preventive war is not that it was misapplied, but that it is wrong on principle. We must pressure Obama to renounce--which so far he has shown no signs of doing--regime change in Iran and the right to strike countries like Syria and Somalia at will.

That applies to U.S. allies such as Israel as well, to which this obscene power has long been extended (along with the right to maintain an arsenal of nuclear weapons, like other U.S. allies that have not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, India and Pakistan, in contrast to Iran).

Last, we need to say to Obama that we want an end to the ideological war on Arabs and Muslims, on immigrants, and the outrageous powers according to the executive to detain and torture, to use secret evidence, to hold people in Guantánamo Bay or prisons in Afghanistan and Iraq. Guantánamo should be closed immediately and the territory completely returned to Cuba.

Renditions and torture should be renounced without qualification. The United States should end its defiance of the international convention on violence against children (protecting the right to execute minors) and on the use of land mines and cluster munitions, as well as nuclear weapons (the new generation of so-called mini-nukes).

Now is not a time for "bipartisanship." We have seen all too much of that. Bipartisanship has led to all the problems we presently confront, with the complicity and, in many cases, full-throated support of the Democrats. Now is time for a radical break.

But we should not for a moment hold our breath or expect Obama to deliver this of his own initiative. Nothing in his career or policy statements--or in the lessons of our history--should lead us to expect that.

If anything, we should anticipate Obama will govern to the right of his campaign promises, not the left. Last century, we saw two presidents legislate to the left of the policies they advocated as candidates: Franklin Roosevelt and Richard Nixon. The reason was not to be explained by their personal characteristics, but the fact that both were confronted by massive social movements that disrupted business as usual and forced unexpected democratic changes from below.

Monday, 3 November 2008


Some of our people - members, supporters and friends - have been involved in creating a satirical regular radio news-broadcast. You can listen here

Episode 2. War Report.

Richard Branson mislables middle east in sat nav disaster.
Miss Georgia on imperialism.
Gordon Ramsay's African Kitchen Nighmares.
Sell. Sell. Sell. Bail out. Shoot. Kill. Kill. Invade. Sell.

So was the theory coming from John Mcain’s campaign team on how best to deal with the global crisis.

At Have Your News we stood bemused as Cliff’s mortgage went up and Harry’s mother defaulted on her china dog repayments.

Have Your News Iceland was nationalised. Over here we were caught up in an orchestrated buyout of our parent company after Lehman Brothers hit the wall.

We even started making jokes. “Is that the new credit crunch cereal bar you’re eating” quipped Cliff. But he was laughing on the other side of his face when his HBOS shares dropped faster than a heavy pile of books that were tied together. The comic genius however, keeps flowing like a boat on a nice river.

Things are just moving so fast. Even Ninjas can’t keep up. If you are finding it hard then please take some advice from our pamphlet. “How to kick the crunch and stay awake” available from Starbucks TM coffee shops. Handy tips like “Buy one cappuccino, not two” and “Don’t get skinny latte, buy a Creamyacino TM for the same price” are invaluable in this time of need. Gordon Brown saved his leadership by simply spending a load of cash and all his rivals could say was “I would spend £500 billion.

Definitely. I could do that no problem. Look at the size of my….”.

It’s not all bad news though, cheer up! Gregg’s the pasty maker has announced record profits. All empty houses are now to be turned into Gregg’s “Pasty Palaces” instead of homes to feed the hungry this Christmas.

Ordering Roquefort and caramelised pear warm salad? Better get a steak bake. Screamed the financial times lifestyle supplement headline last week.

Even sacked Bank of Scotland boss Sir Fred Goodwin who left on £4.15 million had to say goodbye to his dreams. “Looks like the closest thing I’ll be getting to my dream home in the Caribbean this Christmas is the thousand island dressing on my tuna melt” said the glum banker. Our hearts go out to all facing trouble; hopefully we can cheer you up a little.

Have Your News will be back with a U.S election Global Crisis special.