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.”

Do clothes maketh the man?

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Major, Blair and Brown playing the establishment part

Jeremy Corbyn was predictably attacked by the Daily Heil for looking ‘scruffy and disrespectful’ at the Cenotaph this year.  When the ruling class fear the possibility of a Left Labour government any line of attack is legitimate.

Thirty seven years ago the MSM carried out an almost identical attack on the then Labour leader Michael Foot.

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Thatcher, praying for a war in 1981 to go up in the polls

Foot was accused of wearing a donkey jacket to the Remembrance Day service in 1981. A right wing Labour MP said he was, “disgusted to see that the leader of Her Majesty’s opposition looked more like an Irish navvy than a party leader”.

Years later the Telegraph admitted that the attack on Foot had been unfair. According to  Foot’s official biographer, Lord Morgan, the coat was not a donkey jacket – which would have leather shoulders – but a “a short, blue-green overcoat” bought for Mr Foot by his wife, Jill at considerable expense.

It was no accident the Tories and the Labour Right-wing through their kept press accused Foot of wearing a donkey jacket and looking like an Irish navvy. Thatcher was low in the polls and they needed to undermine Foot, so any means was necessary. It was also significant that they tried to link Foot to the way working class people dressed at the time, as a couple of years previously thousands of local authority workers, many in donkey jackets had been striking for decent pay. The Tories hated Foot’s opposition to nuclear weapons but they hate the working class more.

Ex-political editor of the Guardian Michael White first attacked Corbyn’s sartorial choices in 2015 when he asked the question, Jeremy Corbyn: is the world ready for his socks and sandals? In a bizarre article White mused: “I woke this morning after a good night’s sleep to face a nagging question in my head. Did Jeremy Corbyn use to wear open-toed sandals around Westminster in hot weather? Does he still? They’re comfy (I wear them myself), but ridiculous. If memory serves, he wore them with socks, white socks even”.

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Corbyn showing he is unfit to be PM by wearing socks with sandals

What is this obsession with the clothing of Left-wing Labour politicians? As Michael Rosen wrote in his poem, The War of Corbyn’s Coat

It’s not his coat they hate.

That’s not really their cause

What gets up all their noses?

He opposes all their wars.

The photo of Corbyn next to Theresa May is telling. Behind them are three former PMs in almost identical coats. Being members of the establishment like Major, Blair and Brown certainly are, brings a certain responsibility to ‘look the part, be the part’ as Proposition Joe said to Avon in The Wire.

The expensive clothes and formal, almost identical way most UK politicians dress expresses their consensus on the big issues of supporting capitalism and keeping the working class down. The look is meant to covey the power and uniformity of the elite. Jeremy Corbyn does not conform politically and is certainly not part of the political elite, so why would he turn up at the Cenotaph looking exactly like Major, Blair and Brown?

The ruling class have a long history of using clothes to differentiate themselves from the great unwashed. Look at the uniforms in the armed services and the rows of undeserved medals on the chests of Charles Windsor and his family.

Over one hundred years ago, Keir Hardie, the first Labour MP caused outrage when he turned up to the Gasworks (as he called Parliament) without a Top Hat! Hardie was clear that a Labour representative should not ape ruling class dress rules.

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Top hats to be worn by all MPs is an official Rees-Mogg policy.

But it is not only the UK where clothes play a part in politics. When PODEMOS made their electoral breakthrough the young deputies turned up to parliament without ties and some of the men even had pony tails!

The establishment parties were outraged. The morning TV magazine  programmes spewed out attacks on the PODEMOS ‘hippies’. A conservative PP deputy Villalobos even expressed a fear she could catch fleas from a PODEMOS deputy who had rastas!

When it comes to clothes socialists and the Left can never please the establishment. A couple of years after Michael Foot was unfairly criticised for what he wore at the Cenotaph, a majority of socialist councillors were elected in Liverpool. The struggle of the City that Dared to Fight Thatcher is still a reference for those who want to implement Left-wing policies at a local level.

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Militant leaders of Liverpool Council like Derek Hatton and Tony Mulhearn were accused of being ‘too flashy’ and wearing sharp suits. So, Michael Foot and Jeremy Corbyn are too scruffy and Derek Hatton and Tony Mulhearn were too smart…..

Maybe it is not really about the clothes and it is all about the socialist ideas…..

 

 

 

UN POVERTY REPORT a damning condemnation of UK capitalism

Philip Alston, special rapporteur on extreme poverty, travelled across the country to examine the impact of austerity and also came to Newcastle…

This report is a damning condemnation of UK capitalism.

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According to his research, 14 million people – a fifth of the population – live in poverty. Four million of these are more than 50% below the poverty line, and 1.5 million are destitute, unable to afford basics essentials.
Alston interviewed council leaders: “On the local authority budget cuts, Mr Alston told a press conference: “The leader of Newcastle told me ‘we have been reduced to emergency service provision, we don’t have the money to do anything more.
“Yet when I meet the Treasury they say it’s fine, these councils have a lot of money. It is totally an economic analysis that ignores the damage being done to society.”

Nick Forbes, leader of Newcastle City Council, says he hopes the UN report will result in major changes.

He added: “Earlier this month I shared our city’s painful experiences of being a pilot for Universal credit, amid the wider impact of Government-ordered austerity.”

What is missing from the report is the lamentable role of ‘Labour’ councils, in passing on Tory cuts over many years to the people of the North East.

Nick Forbes can can condemn central government all he likes but what has he and the vast majority of ‘Labour’ councils done to fight back against the cuts?

In my home-town 57% voted to leave the EU. Gateshead is a borough where 27% of children are born into and live their lives in poverty.

Liberals, Tories, Blairites and #FBPE fanatics look down their noses at working class people who voted to leave the EU.

The campaign for a so-called #PeoplesVote is merely a continuation of the status quo which has put 14 million in poverty.

What is needed is a GENERAL ELECTION NOW to put a Jeremy Corbyn​ government In power which will implement policies which will benefit the people whose poverty is outlined in this devastating UN report.

Red Wedge – Questions to a former Young Socialist

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Please explain your role in Red Wedge. I was chair of the Labour Party Young Socialists (LPYS) 1984-1986 and Editor of Socialist Youth (LP Monthly Youth Paper) The LPYS was led by the Militant and had over 600 branches and was an overwhelmingly working class organisation. During the Miner’s strike we were doing mass work in support of the strike. Young people brought their musical tastes into the LPYS and we promoted bands at locals and national level. For example we worked with Billy Bragg and Paul Weller. Both participated in and played at a lobby of Parliament we held against compulsory Youth Training Schemes (YTS) We were also involving a wider layer of artists and groups in our campaigns such as the Housemartins and the Communards. Neil Kinnock, the leader of the LP at the time was engaged in a political witch-hunt against the Militant who were leading mass struggles against Thatcher in Liverpool. Kinnock and the LP right wing wanted to move against the LPYS but it was difficult because of our support in the wider movement because of our campaigning work on behalf of young people.

In 1985 Peter Mandelson was appointed Director of Communications at the LP and with Labour Students, who supported Kinnock, started to work on strategies to undermine the LPYS. One of those strategies was Red Wedge. If Mandelson did not exactly come up with the idea of Red Wedge he certainly used it to attempt to sideline the LPYS. At the first Red Wedge meetings LP officials and Billy Bragg took the lead. As the official youth wing of the LP we attended meetings and argued we should be allowed to speak at meetings and have stalls where we could distribute political materials and recruit young people to the LPYS. In general the artists were genuinely sympathetic to us and Paul Weller supported our right to be involved as he knew us and what we stood for. At a particular meeting one of the LP officials said that there should not be ‘political’ speakers at the Red Wedge gigs as ‘young people were not party political.’ They were playing on the fact that traditional pro-capitalist and pro-system politicians would come across badly. This was also an attempt to stop the LPYS from having any influence and a platform to get across our socialist ideas to a wide mass audience. Craig Charles (Red Dwarf), the Liverpool poet, suggested that Derek Hatton, the Militant leader of Liverpool City Council should speak at the gigs as ‘he was dead popular’ in Liverpool.’ This was met by nervous shuffling of feet by the LP officials and staring at the floor! In the end, although the LPYS were officially excluded from speaking at the gigs, through our contacts and relationships with their artists we managed to distribute our materials at the gigs and we recruited many young people to the LPYS and the Militant.

YTS Lobby 1985

What were your personal reasons for involving yourself? It was part of my political work at the time.

Why do you think that Red Wedge emerged at the time that it did? It was a time of great movements. Thatcherism had declared war on the working class. I had been a Punk in the 1970s and had attended Rock Against Racism / ANL gigs. When I joined the Militant and LPYS in 1979 I naturally took my music into the movement as did my contemporaries. There was a red radical line from Punk to Red Wedge. Young people suffered greatly under Thatcher and became radical, even revolutionary in the case of the youth around the LPYS and Militant. The artists involved in Red Wedge were young people too and could not fail to be affected by the prevailing mood amongst their fans.
What do you feel the aims of Red Wedge were? For the LPYS, Red Wedge was a continuation of our solidarity work with the miners and our campaigns against compulsory YTS. In a way I saw it as our revolutionary soundtrack. The songs mostly coincided with the way young people were feeling. However, Mandelson and Kinnock and the LP bureaucracy had a much more limited view of Red Wedge. They saw it as an electoral tool to get Kinnock into Nº10. They limited the radical message of the youth and turned it into a bland electioneering exercise.

Many of those in the Labour party at the time feel that Red Wedge was a failure as they didn’t win the 1987 election. To what extent do you feel it had a wider impact on involving young people in politics and why? Nothing is wasted in nature. Red Wedge ‘failed’ in one way because it was expropriated by the bureaucratic LP machine which had limited electoral and ‘moderate’ aims. They blunted the radical feelings of young people and their aspirations. However, the ‘failure’ of Red Wedge was part of the wider political process. Kinnock had sold out the miner’s strike and the Liverpool Council battle and refused to back the LPYS School Student’s strikes in 1985/86 against compulsory YTS. Kinnock had alienated himself from the revolutionary youth and sections of the working class. He went on the expel many Militant activists and eventually closed down the LPYS. Red Wedge ‘failed’ because it was highjacked by the LP right wing.

The real failure, from the point of view of the Labour and trade union movement and the  youth, who desperately needed radical change was Kinnock. He used his quasi-left credentials to make the LP entirely safe for capitalism by expelling socialists, closing down the magnificent LPYS which was connecting with masses of young people. As a young man I considered Kinnock to be a vain clown who was too stupid to realise he was being played by the ruling class. He lost TWO general elections when the Tories were absolutely hated in working class communities. A complete failure for the movement but on a personal level he was rewarded by the ruling class with cushy well paid jobs in the EU and a seat in the House of Lords. I have not changed my opinion about Kinnock.

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As the youth vote is incredibly low at the moment, do you feel something like Red Wedge could possibly enthral young people in this day and age and why? I am in favour of the youth today using their music and culture to further their political aims but THEY NEED TO BE IN CONTROL. The main lesson of the Red Wedge experience is for young people to hold onto their political and cultural independence. Young people are becoming radicalised again around the world and their music is playing a part. Look at Grime. We will have revolutionary music again which will inspire the movement and act as its soundtrack. My advice to the new generation is that the youth need to be autonomous and not allow ‘official’ political parties and careerist politicians and artists to expropriate their music and culture for reformist political aims.

Please feel free to share any other reflections you have on Red Wedge:
I consider Billy Bragg has the same relationship to genuine socialism as Bono and Geldof have to fighting world poverty. They have generated a lot of self publicity and promoted themselves and little else. The real fight to end poverty and in favour of socialism goes on…..

A couple of Facebook messages on Billy Bragg’s page:
“As I’ve mentioned previously Billy Bragg did the dirty on us over Red Wedge. The LPYS had promoted him during the miner’s strike and he did the YTURC lobby of parliament with Paul Weller.
Mandelson was appointed Director of Communications in 1985 and was a lot cleverer than Kinnock. They came up with the idea of RED WEDGE to sideline the LPYS but we fought it all the way.
I remember at a meeting with loads of celebs they pushed the idea that there should be no speeches at the gigs as young people ‘weren’t political.’ They also said the LPYS couldn’t be too prominent at the gigs.

Craig Charles (Red Dwarf) piped up: “Why don’t we get that Derek Hatton to speak? He’s dead popular in Liverpool.’ Shuffling of feet and looking at the floor…..
Paul Heaton of the Housemartins said he would participate in Red Wedge but only if they put ‘nationalisation of the music industry’ in the programme.
Bragg backed Kinnock on the issue and the rest was sell-out history……
Did you think at that time of youthful revolt you would soon be calling salt of the earth working class Socialists ‘extremists’ and suck up to Neil Kinnock and end up asking people to vote for the Lib Dems……? Asking for a friend Billy.”

Red Wedge: bringing Labour party politics to young music fans

Bragg: “Newcastle was heaven and hell. The best gig but the worst day. Right through the tour we had constant problems with the extremists, like our friends in the Young Socialists.”

General Election 2010: Billy Bragg pledges to support Liberal Democrats

Billy Bragg, the singer, has pledged to back the Liberal Democrats as they have the ”best manifesto”.

PODEMOS IMPLEMENT THEIR OWN ARTICLE 155

#CataloniaIndependence

LATEST….

Pablo Iglesias tonight enacted his own version on the Spanish State’s Article 155 and condemned and withdrew the declaration of PODEM (Podemos in Catalonia) ‘s support for the Catalan Republic by leader Albano Dante Fachin and called elections.

Pablo Iglesias returns to his Stalinist roots.

The struggle for a genuine mass party of the working class continues in the Spanish State.

#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!