Category Archives: Uncategorized

Cuts Put Gateshead Special Schools in Crisis

Gateshead headteachers and teachers appeal for people to sign a petition to get the town’s funding crisis debated in Parliament.

# 4 of 6 special schools in the borough have made teachers redundant.

# Schools face a dire situation.

# School funding has stood still for 8 years.

# The needs of vulnerable children increasingly cannot be met.

# There is no money for repairs.

# Parents are asked to help with funding some school activities.

# It is predicated that within three years, schools in Gateshead will not have enough money to fund the schools or pay staff.

Whilst I fully support the iniative to get the Gateshead school funding crisis debated in Parliament, I strongly believe that signing petitions is not enough in days like these….

The planned poverty aka austerity and cuts to services establishment consensus across Europe was rejected in the UK with the Brexit vote and the election of Jeremy Corbyn. People in Gateshead voted 57% to Leave. Was that any wonder given what government cuts have done to Gateshead? Gateshead has record levels of child poverty and health inequality and the schools are in a crisis.

But let’s not forget that Gateshead has had a Labour Council for donkey’s years. Yes, they have protested verbally about the cuts but have they led a determined campaign with the support of trade unions and the people to stop the cuts? No.

During the last election one of the biggest and most enthusiastic mass meetings with Jeremy Corbyn was in Gateshead. A town that voted for Brexit which is potentially solid for Corbyn if he doesn’t cave in to the Blairites.

The ‘People’s Vote’ shenanigans is a smokescreen to hide the real threat a Corbyn government could be the establishment EU pro-austerity status quo.

Reversing the referendum decision will not fund the special schools in Gateshead. Look at what the EU neoliberal ‘the market comes first’ policies are doing to education and health services in Greece and the Spanish State.

Only a Left Labour government can start to reverse the cuts to services in places like Gateshead but it will not happen unless we make it happen. Sign the petition by all means but most of all get on the streets, into your unions and pressurise Labour councillors to actually stand up and fight the cuts.

The ‘People’s Vote’ campaign is a trick to stop Corbyn getting elected. Stop it! General Election now!

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The Paddy Ashdown EU consensus

The death of Paddy Ashdown reminded me how all the establishment politicians united two years ago to berate and bully people to vote for the status quo of the Bosses’ Club EU and the planned poverty aka austerity consensus.

Windbag, turncoat and clown Ramsay McKinnock, who as a nominal Left-winger back in the day had opposed the EU had no trouble working with Ashdown and Cameron.

Despite being the majority capitalist position, both in the UK and worldwide the working class in the main ignored the likes of Ashdown, Cameron and Kinnock and voted to put two fingers up to the system.

What a tragedy that Jeremy Corbyn went back on his long held and correct opposition to the neoliberal EU and went along with the establishment consensus.

It’s a messy situation but even at this late stage it is positive that Corbyn is defending the position that a future Labour government will fight for a Brexit in favour of the working class.

If he caves in and supports a 2nd referendum then the class collaborationism of Kinnock and the Blairites with the likes of Ashdown will have won in the LP and a new situation will inevitably open up….

La lucha sigue….

Endnote

“This is the kind of politician, this is the kind of politician, who …will, will be…greatly missed. [solemnly, to the camera] A great…a great parliamentarian of our time, and a close personal friend. I am heartbroken.”

#ResistTrump ‘American Dream’ can only be realised through Socialism

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Trump’s speech was a mass of contradictions and demagogic tub thumping.
A billionaire promising to ‘never let down’ the forgotten people, the workers and middle class.
A commitment to build roads, bridges and infrastructure and ‘put Americans to work.’ Some promise! Where will the money come from for that? The banks? The billionaires?
Big words, easy to say, but just wait until they are seen to be empty when his billionaire cabinet get their snouts in the trough. Imagine the disappointment and anger when he does indeed let his supporters down.
Trump blamed every country in the world and foreigners for the problems Americans face. It’s everyone else’s fault apart from the system and that system is called capitalism.
‘America First! American First’ Sounds ominous. He pledges ‘not to interfere’ in other countries but then swears he will ‘wipe out ISIS.’
Everything will be ok because of the US military and because ‘god will protect us.’
Trump’s election reflects not a fundamental shift to the right. The US capitalist establishment and their bought and paid for political parties are both totally discredited. A vacuum has been filled temporarily.
Every process provokes an opposite reaction and Trump has woken up the youth and sections of the working class who are already mobilising against him. There is a polarisation in which socialist ideas can and will grow and not just in the USA. Trump has provoked international protests across the globe.

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Trump, like all capitalist politicians riffs on the ‘American Dream.’ To the working class ‘the dream’ means good jobs, healthcare, quality education for the young and an end to racism and oppression. That dream can only be made real by socialism. Game on!

#USElections2016 “Don’t Mourn – ORGANISE!”

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The reaction to Trump’s victory by some on the Left reminds me of Bertolt Brecht’s words:

“Some party hack decreed that the people
had lost the government’s confidence
and could only regain it with redoubled effort.
If that is the case, would it not be simpler,
If the government simply dissolved the people
And elected another?”

Blaming Americans and the electorate is a superficial knee-jerk reaction which we heard after the BREXIT vote in the UK.

Liberals weep and wail that Americans dared to revolt against the US establishment and rejected corporate candidate Hillary Clinton who spent $500,000 million on the election campaign.

Trump articulates the policies of corporate America in a blunt way and for sure in a less articulate manner than professional politicians like Clinton but what are the real policy differences? Did Clinton represent a radical alternative to Trump? Obviously not.

Marx commented on this phenomena:
“The oppressed are allowed once every few years to decide which particular representatives of the oppressing class are to represent and repress them.”

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To people in the Middle East, Afghanistan and Pakistan being bombed by Obama, Trump or the first woman US President makes little difference.

Many young people will be shocked by the victory of Trump and fear conflict and war. Let us be clear – the privately owned right wing media have unleashed their own monster. Decades of propaganda from Fox News and shock jocks scapegoating the poor, blacks, Latinos, immigrants and minorities have had consequences.

However, corporate America will seek to rein in Trump and chip-off his rougher edges.

Every process has an opposite. The anti-establishment mood and anger in the US has had its expression on the Left. Don’t forget the mass movement behind openly Socialist Bernie Saunders who was stopped from gaining the Democratic nomination by Clinton’s shenanigans and gerrymandering.

Clearly Bernie made a massive political mistake by not standing as an independent as all the indications show that he would have beaten the false and pretend anti-establishment Trump.

The US election results cannot be characterised crudely and simply as a shift to the right. An election is a snapshot of a moment in time but the movie is more complicated and nuanced and full of opportunities for the Left.

As Trostky pointed out in 1934 in “If America Should Go Communist” the road to Socialist change is not straight but the material conditions do exist:

“Today, quite unprepared, you are being forced to face those social contradictions that grow up unsuspected in every society. You have conquered nature by means of the tools that your inventive genius has created, only to find that your tools have all but destroyed you. Contrary to all your hopes and desires, your unheard-of wealth has produced unheard-of misfortunes. You have discovered that social development does not follow a simple formula. Hence you have been thrust into the school of the dialectic – to stay.

It is clear that today in the 21st century millions of Americans are looking for a radical alternative and that the ‘Tweedledum & Tweedledummer’ corporate politics of the Republicans and Democrats is a dead end for the working class.

Perhaps this whip of reaction will serve to speed up the process of the great American working class finally breaking with the ‘lesser evil-ism’ which has brought Trump to the Presidency and finally get to grips with setting up their own party of and for the 99%. A campaign being led by SOCIALIST ALTERNATIVE in the USA

As the great Swedish/US trade unionist and Socialist Joe Hill said: “Don’t mourn, organize!”

 

When Las Ramblas Spoke Geordie Scene 7

Scene 7
{ Stevie´s house. }

(Doorbell rings. Sound of front door opening)

Mr. Mearns : Mr. Walker?
Stevie : Yes?
Mr.Mearns : I’m Mr. Mearns. We spoke on the phone about the Fairs Cup programmes. I’m not too late am I?
Stevie : No, I haven’t sold them yet. Come in. We’ll go into the sitting room.
Stevie : Would you like a cuppa?
Mr. Mearns : Yes please.
Stevie : Alright, I’ll get the programmes for you to look at.

Stevie : It’s a complete set of programmes right through to the final and where there were away programmes they’re in there as well.
Mr. Mearns : They’re in almost mint condition.
Stevie : Yes, I’ve kept them in plastic all these years. Only read them once and I’ve hardly touched the away programmes. The final one is autographed by all the players, Bob Moncur, Ian Mc Faul. They´re all there. To Stevie best of luck. Newcastle United, Fairs Cup winners 1969.
Mr. Mearns : You don’t look old enough to have gone to the matches. How did you come by them?
Stevie : Me Dad. He went to every match. I remember the night we won. He came home mortal. He was laughing and crying at the same time. He did this scrap book as well but I’m keeping that. He’d kill me if he knew I was selling the programmes.
Mr. Mearns : So you’re not going to tell him are you?
Stevie : I can’t. He’s dead.
Mr. Mearns : Oh. If you don’t mind me asking. If they mean so much to you why are you selling them?
Stevie : I need the money.
Mr. Mearns : Yes times are tough.
Stevie : Yeah, I´m going to the Nou Camp to see the Toon.
Mr. Mearns : Very poetic.

When Las Ramblas Spoke Geordie Scene 6

Scene 6
{ Magpie Restaurant, St James Park. }

( Sound of knives and forks on plates and glasses clinking. )

Stat : So I’ll book the hotel and Trotsky will deal with the tickets. We’ll catch a flight the day before the match.
Stevie : Try to keep the costs down Stat we’re not all made of money.
Stat : I’ll do my best.
Iddy : This is a bit different to when we used to scran a pie and cup of bovril on the Leazes End, isn’t it ? How do you manage to scoff all this down at half time ? You must miss loads of the second half.
Stat : They don´t serve meals during the match. If you must know they give sandwiches to Platinum Club members.
Stevie : Cucumber?
Stat : Whatever we want.
Iddy : Nah, I’ve never wanted a royal box to meself. I like to be where the action is.
Stat : You mean fighting?
Iddy : Nah, y’knaa the singing, the jumping up and doon when we score, the crack with the lads.
Stat : The Taylor Report just passed you by didn’t it ?
Stevie : Standing’s not dangerous.
Iddy : It is if you stand on your seat.
Stevie : Iddy, did you know that some of the boxes are soundproofed?
Iddy : You’re joking!
Stat : Yes, it’s true. The hospitality guests don’t like bad language.
Iddy : They shouldn’t fucking swear then.
Stat : It’s not them. It’s the crowd.
Iddy : But they are the crowd, aren’t they ?
Stat : No they´re not. They’ve come to be entertained. They’re customers.
Iddy : Ah yeah. We’ve got the same problem on the railways. They’ve tarted the trains up, put us in poncy uniforms and hats and told us to say yes sir no madam to THE CUSTOMERS. To me they’re still bloody passengers.
Stat : Things have moved on. Soccer is part of the entertainment business now. It’s like when you buy a ticket for the theatre.
Stevie : He’s never been to the theatre.
Stat : Let me finish. When you go to the theatre you get a good seat, clean and modern facilities and you don’t expect anyone to hurl abuse at the actors.
Iddy : Yeah, but the actors don’t usually play shite do they ?
Stat : You two are living in the past.
Stevie : No we’re not, we just can’t afford the present. The past was cheaper. Do you really think football is better now?
Stat : 100% better. Attendances are 20% up. There´s been a 1,000% increase in profits in the last 5 years. Newcastle sold 500,000 tops last year. You can´t argue with the figures.
Stevie : I’m not talking about that. What about the atmosphere? The passion? The pride?
Stat : As Sir John says, Newcastle´s success is attracting business to Tyneside, it has a knock on effect.
Stevie : The pits? The Shipyards?
Stat : You don’t understand. The future is leisure and retail. Look at me. We started with one sport’s shop in the Metro Centre. We’ve got five now. I reckon we have sold 70% of the tops in Newcastle. We can’t lose. There are plans to produce special edition tops for the League and FA Cups and of course special limited editions for Europe. The punters can’t get enough, business is booming. I have a lot to thank Sir John and NUFC Plc for.
Iddy : I hope you’ll be bringing tops for the lads to wear in Barcelona then.
Stat : Er, I’ll see if I can sort out a discount or something.
Stevie : You what? Do you not think you’ve had enough money off me?
Stat : What do you mean?
Stevie : We had to fork out over 50 quid this Christmas on a new strip for the lad. Wor lass worked overtime in the Metro Centre to pay for it. You can stuff your bloody discount. You’re not getting another penny off me.
Stat : I think we should pay up and go. 15 quid each should cover it.
Iddy : I thought it was your treat?
Stat : You wouldn’t want me to insult you by paying for you would you?
Iddy : Nah really Stat you can insult me anytime you want.
Stevie : Here tek it.
Stat : I’ll get the bill.

Stevie : He never changes does he?
Iddy : Yeah, he’s the only guy I know who throws his money around at himself.
Stat : That’s probably why he’s well off and we’re skint.
Iddy : Listen if this Barcelona trip is too expensive for you I can lend you something if you want.
Stevie : Thanks mate. I’ll manage. I’m due a big cheque soon.
Iddy : Hey, look at that big gadgee on the door.
Stevie : Aye? He’s a big bastard alright. But who is he?
Iddy : (sings.) Remember Nottingham Forest! Remember Nottingham Forest!
Stevie : Yeah. Bryan Clough. Two European Cups. Stuart Pearce. Too good to go down. What else?
Iddy : Nah man. FA Cup ‘74. three one down. Pat Howard unjustly sent off. Pitch invasion. Fightback with ten men. Four three to us. Fucking brilliant.
Stevie : It’s not is it?
Iddy : It is. Big Tommy who led the pitch invasion from the Leazes end.
Iddy & Stevie : (singing.) REMEMBER NOTTINGHAM FOREST! REMEMBER NOTTINGHAM FOREST! REMEMBER NOTTINGHAM FOREST!
Big Tommy : I’m sorry lads but I’ll have to ask you to leave. The management don’t allow singing at St James during the week. There are a lot of people here who are not football fans.
Stevie : And on match days?
Big Tommy : Only in the cheaper seats and the away end.
Iddy : It’s Big Tommy isn’t?
Big Tommy : Me name’s Tommy yeah, so what?
Iddy : (singing quietly.) Remember Nottingham Forest?
Big Tommy : Christ. Keep it down mate, you’ll get me sacked.
Iddy : You were my hero Tommy. You changed football history and got us to Wembley.
Big Tommy : Aye it was a long time ago. Y’knaa Cloughie said that the Forest players were so shit scared after the pitch invasion they didn’t dare win. I like to think I played my part.
Stevie : Pity you didn’t do the same in the final.
Big Tommy : I was banned from going.
Iddy : I always wondered why we lost. Hey Tommy, let us see the pitch, go on mate. We can invade it for old times sake.
Big Tommy : I’m supposed to keep people off the pitch. It’s more than me job’s worth.
Iddy : Go on man, please.
Big Tommy : No.
Iddy : (singing.) REMEMBER NOTTINGHAM FOREST!
Big Tommy : Sssh! Come on then. Five minutes.

( Restaurant sounds end. Silence. Then sound of footsteps and plastic seat backs springing up.)

Big Tommy : Leave the seats alone, will you?
Stevie : Behave Iddy. I haven’t set foot in here since we nearly went down to the third.
Big Tommy : Lost interest?
Stevie : No me job when the yards shut.
Big Tommy : Sorry mate.
Stevie : I’ve spent the last five years in the pub watching Newcastle. It’s not the same as being there though. Are you one of the lucky few?
Big Tommy : What! On these wages? No, working here I sometimes see some of the players and Kenny. That’s enough for me. I still feel I´m part of it all though.
Iddy : Look this used to be the Paddock . We saw our first match here. Who was it against?
Stevie : Can’t remember. Stat will though. He always remembers.
Iddy : And that’s the Leazes End over there. (Singing.) It’s in the Leazes End, where Geordies never end, and all the Sunderland fans lie dead at your feet.
Iddy, Stevie & Big Tommy : La la la la la la la la la la
Iddy : (In Motsonesque voice.) And Newcastle are three one down to Notts Forest. My word! Pat Howard has unbelievably been sent off. The crowd are furious and quite rightly so. But what’s this? Big Tommy from Wallsend has jumped over the wall and yes, he’s on the pitch followed by Long Benton Boot Boys. Big Tommy is running towards the centre circle and his fat belly has flopped out for all to see. Incredible!
( Silence followed by restaurant sounds.)

Stat : Where have you two been?
Iddy : Invading the pitch.
Stat : I hope you get banned for life.
Stevie : Don’t worry we already have been.
Iddy : Are we pissing off then?
Stat : Yes, things to do. Shirts to sell.
Stevie : Money to count.
Iddy : See you Tommy and thanks a lot. Make sure you keep the hooligans off the pitch.
Big Tommy : I will. See y’s lads.

WTRSG

When Las Ramblas Spoke Geordie Scene 1

Scene 1
{ An English class in Barcelona. }

(Sound of kids talking in Catalan and desks opening and shutting.)

Trotsky : Hi kids.
Kids : Hi.
Trotsky: If you’re good today and don’t make too much noise we can have a conversation class. I know today’s a special day for everyone. Now listen, you can see my football top. What team is it?
Kids : Juventus. Juventus.
Trotsky : No. No. Juve aren’t the only team to play in black and white. Anyone know?
Josep: Notts County.
Trotsky : Very clever Josep. We all know you’ve got satellite TV. Any others? Las Urracas? The Magpies?
Josep : Newcastle.
Trotsky : That’s correct Josep and that’s why we´re going to finish the class 15 minutes early so everyone can get home and see Newcastle shaft Barça.
Kids : ¿Qué es shaft?
Trotsky : It doesn’t matter. Now, we need to work on the pronunciation. Where are Barça tonight ?
Kids : N.E.W.C.A.S.T.L.E.
Trotsky : No! No! No! Let’s practice that again. It’s NY’CASSEL. Repeat after me, NY’CASSEL!
Kids : NY’CASSEL!
Trotsky : Mas rapido! NY’CASSEL!
Kids : NY’CASSEL! BARÇA!

Trotsky : Okay, quiet please. I’ll have to do some grammar with you. I think the Director is listening. Shh. Today we’re going to learn the present perfect. Josep, can you give
me an example?
Josep : Si, pues, Barça have gone to England and they are going to win to Newcastle..
Trotsky : Very good but the phrase is, Newcastle are going to beat Barça or Barça are going to lose against Newcastle.
Kids : Imposible.
Josep : English football is terrible. The ball is always in the sky and it’s very long.
Trotsky : You mean the long ball game… have gone is the present perfect. It links the past and the present. For example Josep I see you have a Ronaldo shirt on. Ronaldo is not in Newcastle tonight, where has he gone ?
Josep : Italia.
Trotsky : In English please and the full phrase.
Josep : Ronaldo has gone to Italy.
Trotsky : Okay I want everyone to think of a phrase or question in the present perfect. Susanna?
Susanna : Barça have won the European Cup. What have Newcastle won ?
Trotsky : Nowt recently.
Susanna : ¿ Qué es nowt ?
Trotsky : It doesn’t matter, Roger?
Roger : Shearer has broken his uncle and….
Trotsky : The word you want is ankle and I’ll break yours if I get one more smart comment.
Roger : ¿Qué ?
Trotsky : In English please. Alfonso ?
Alfonso : Manchester….
Trotsky : Manchester what ?
Alfonso : No entiendo
Trotsky : How many times have I got to tell you? There are two Manchesters. City or United ?
Alfonso : Ah si. Manchester United have won the league four….
Trotsky : Right that’s it. You! Stand in the corner and everyone else open your books and do exercise four on page 56.

( Bell rings.Sound of kids talking in Catalan and desks moving. )

( Sound of Catalan Rumba. Glasses tinkling and people cheering in Catalan.)

Trotsky : Una cerveza por favor.
Barman : Ah English! You are Newcastle no?
Trotsky : Yes, I am Newcastle.
Barman : I am sorry but Barça win. Spanish league is best in world.
Trotsky : All your players are foreign.
Barman : ¿Qué?
Trotsky : Nada, gracias.

( Barça fans cheer as players run onto pitch. )

Trotsky : HOWAY THE LADS! DO IT FOR ME! COME ON!

WTRSG