Uniting for social justice

On the occasions that national debate rises above the issue of Gordon Brown’s temper, the topic is cuts, cuts and more cuts. Not cuts for the bankers or the rich tax evaders, only cuts for the public sector. This obsession is economically damaging – risking a new recession - and disastrous for the millions who work for and use public services.

The financial markets were let off the leash, bankers and shareholders greedily pursued super profits, and we were landed with the worst financial crisis in history. But still these people live in a world far removed from most of us. The Royal Bank of Scotland, 84% state owned, and on course for a £4bn loss this year, is about to dish out £1.3bn in bonuses. This is rewarding failure on an obscene scale.

But the consensus among our political parties is that the public sector must pay for an economic crisis it did not cause. People who have worked hard to provide vital services, often for low wages, face attacks on jobs, wages and pensions. This consensus has to be challenged. The public sector cannot be the scapegoat for a private sector that has failed us abysmally. We need to value public service above private profits.

With an election just weeks away we really need to shift the terms of debate towards a much more positive view of public services and public servants.
The PCS union – representing civil servants and public sector workers – is asking all parliamentary candidates to sign up to five pledges. And they are asking all their members to ‘Make Your Vote Count’.

Here are the pledges:

1. I pledge to work to ensure that public services are properly resourced and delivered by the public sector and that there are no further local office closures, public sector job cuts or privatizations.

2. I pledge to support measures aimed at closing the UK tax gap including recruiting HMRC staff and ensuring tax loopholes are closed.

3. I pledge to support civil service national pay bargaining and to press the government to offer pay increases to public sector workers at least in line with inflation.

4. I pledge to honour the 2005 commitment on public sector pensions and defend the rights of existing members of the civil service compensation scheme.

5. I pledge to campaign to ensure any changes to public services are only made after proper equality impact assessments have been conducted and their findings implemented.

Dutch troops to leave Afghanistan

Latest news carries the shocking report that NATO airstrikes have killed 33 civilians in Afghanistan. Opposition to the occupation is growing, especially in those countries who have troops deployed there. Dutch troops are to be withdrawn following the collapse of the Dutch centre-right coalition over the issue of their deployment, raising a risk of a domino effect in other countries. There is an urgent need for the implementation of a peace process. The ever informative Juan Cole raises pertinent questions that examine NATO policy in Afghanistan in his ‘Five Questions for the Afghan Surge; Or, Getting Past the Hype’. It is well worth a read.

This is from Salma's blog.

Truth behind Daily Express smears

Respect Party leader, Salma Yaqoob has taken the Daily Express to task for its demonisation of asylum seekers.

The Daily Express had an
exclusive yesterday about the way immigrants are having ‘fun and games as they wait to get into Britain’. Apparently, French charities have converted a warehouse to provide sheltered accommodation for immigrants at Calais. The report describes the centre like it was some kind of holiday resort, where guests ‘are being treated like VIP’s’. Read past the headlines though and you find the centre was actually ‘closed down 12 days previously after Calais authorities deemed it unfit for public use’. Some resort.

Read a bit further and you find that the notorious CRS riot squads cleared the centre of the remaining charity workers and users, with the aid of their batons and riot shields. Not exactly my idea of a holiday. In other words, the Express story is in substance a non-story. Just another way to feed hatred and suspicion about immigrants. As if we don’t have enough already. And even if there did exist for a brief period of time a well resourced centre for those in need of shelter, so what?

Surely, that is a humane thing to do for the many men, women and children gathered in Calais in the desperate hope of starting a new life? Of course it is, but you won’t find many politicians saying so. Instead, most are too happy to pander to ugly demonizations of asylum seekers and immigrants.

Viva Palestina Convoy Celebration Day

Tuesday 23 February 2010 sees a celebration of the recent Viva Palestina convoy to Gaza. 

The public event from 7pm - 9pm at the Conway Hall will include: 
  • Keynote speech by George Galloway MP 
  • A pictorial slideshow and presentation of the Viva Palestina convoy and the desperate humanitarian situation in Gaza 
  • An award ceremony to the representatives of the Viva Palestina Convoy.
Venue: The Conway Hall 25 Red Lion Square, Holborn, London, WC1R 4RL
Nearest tube station is Holborn (Central and Piccadilly lines) approx 3 min walk.

The organisers are the Palestinian Forum of Britain (PFB), Muslim Association of Britain (MAB), Islamic Unity Forum (IUF) with support from British Muslim Initiative (BMI) , Islamic Forum of Europe (IFE) , Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) , Stop The War Coalition (STW) , Palestinian Return Centre (PRC) , Federation of Student Islamic Societies (FOSIS)


Galloway demands answers over Dubai assassination

Respect MP George Galloway has written to the Foreign Secretary, the Home Secretary and the Prime Minister and tabled Parliamentary Questions concerning the news this morning that six of the suspects in the assassination of a Palestinian national in Dubai were British passport holders.

The Parliamentary Questions:

To ask the Foreign Secretary
What discussions he has had with his counterpart in Dubai concerning the Interpol request made by the authorities in Dubai in relation to six British passport holders suspected of involvement in the murder of a Palestinian national in a Dubai hotel and if he will make statement.

To ask The Home Secretary

If the following British passport holders Louis Graham, Paul Keeley, James Clarke, Melvyn Mildiner, Michael Barney, Stephen Hodes reported to Interpol by the authorities in Dubai are British citizens and if he will make a statement.

To ask the Home Secretary

If any of the following British passport holders: Louis Graham, Paul Keeley, James Clarke, Melvyn Mildiner, Michael Barney, Stephen Hodes, are also nationals of other states and if so what states and will he make a statement.

To ask the Prime minister

If he has had discussions with the ruler of Dubai about the grave international crisis over the murder of a Palestinian national allegedly by a group of 11 assassins including six British passport holders and if he will make a statement.

Why am I standing for Respect?

“I am proud to be a Respect party candidate for Enfield Southgate constituency, as I believe in Peace, Justice and Equality for all. I will be campaigning against cuts in education, healthcare, care for the elderly and other vulnerable groups in the community, etc.

Mainstream politicians have let us all down; they don't care about ordinary people. They grovel to the rich and powerful. They line their pockets with expenses. It's no wonder people don't feel like voting. Respect is offering a different type of politics.

All three so called ‘BIG’ parties propose big cuts in public services which will destroy our already suffering economy. Respect opposes these cuts to avoid more job losses.

Present government has spent billions on bailing out the banking system and wants to make cuts in public services. Why should we pay for the mistakes made by bankers who still get huge bonuses? Respect would take control of the banks and invest in jobs and public services.

Invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan in the name of war on terror is another mistake of new labour which is costing Britain billions of pounds and lives of our soldiers. No wonder people are being deprived of their rights to jobs and public services. This is an unwinnable conflict. Respect opposes this British and US adventure. We are campaigning to bring the troops home now. We do not want any more deaths for US power. We should escalate our efforts for peace.

One of the best things about London is its cultural diversity, and its 'live and let live' attitude, Some want to scapegoat for lack of resources. Instead of blaming the council or the government, they blame immigrants. Respect rejects this rubbish.

We fight for equality for all communities and resources for all. Sticking together is a better way to fight for houses and services. “