Fight the County Council cuts, but pick our battles; save our libraries

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Another round of cuts has been announced by the council, and another attack on our public services is being rolled out – well enough is enough, let us throw a spanner in their works and save our libraries.

We won’t be able to stop all the cuts at once, the only way to do that would be a change of administration in Parliament, and in local government – even then it would take weeks, months or even years for the budget and the policy to trickle down, arguably you wouldn’t start feeling the effects until the next financial year (by then it could be too late).

We need to be against all the cuts, but if we fight to stop all cuts we run the risk of stopping none. We have to pick and choose our battles, and we have to fight the battles we stand a chance of winning. Otherwise we are setting ourselves up for failure and the more long term negative effect of demoralisation. If we win small battles, if we win some battles and reverse some cuts, it weakens the position of cuts, and it strengthens our own hand, it makes us feel empowered, and when we are empowered, we are strong.

Chip away at the cuts, slowly but surely undermine the position through a series of smaller victories. The cuts to libraries is a battle we could win, it has been won before, and it can be won again. Why? Because it effects so many different people, it brings together a community, and they can galvanise around it, it is tangible – it is in your face. It should be the focus, the vanguard in our war against the local cuts.

We have to put forward the position that we are opposed to the cuts in principal, but if we spread ourselves too thin, the message is more diluted, and it is harder to get a tangible victory. Focus all our energies and resources on a single campaign, like libraries, campaign around stopping the closure of the libraries, while having the general anti-cut message in the background and at least then we stand the chance of claiming a victory.  Even if the only victory we end up claiming is stopping the closure of the libraries, we will have made a difference to a community. There are other positives as this helps create the campaigning infrastructure for future battles, the community links that are needed in any campaign, provides valuable experience and helps empower people.

So how do we move that forward?

1. A county wide response
Unity is strength, if the library campaigns are isolated they are easier to defeat – their needs to be a county wide response, a coordinated effort. Local groups need to be linked up and supporting one another in the communities battle to save their library

2. Raise awareness
People can’t get angry about something they don’t know about, we need to use all the available methods to raise awareness, social media campaigns, stickers, posters and petitions. Every possible way to raise awareness has to be explored, and the more innovative the better.

3. Protests
We love us a good protest and as part of a wider anti-cuts strategy it can play a pivotal part of showing our strength, and the opposition towards the closure. These can be at council meetings, and outside our libraries, and of course a speaker or two would be great.

4. Direct action
If we are going to draw a line in the sand and so no closures, we have to do more than a two hour protest, and we have to do more than a petition. We have to make it politically impossible for them to close the libraries, these means getting wider community support, but it also means making it as difficult as possible for them. Direct action has to be the way forward, occupy our libraries, carry out read ins, make it colourful, make it fun, make it innovative but most of all make it engaging so that more people get involved in the campaign.

5. Local support, local led
These campaigns have to be led from within the community or they will fail, every community has unsung heroes, and leaders waiting in them. If these campaigns are not coming from within the community, they won’t succeed, identify local leaders, and have as many local people not just involved in the campaign, but running the campaign as possible.

Get angry, get involved, get organised – save our libraries!

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How can we be a civilised society while allowing homelessness to fester?

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Homelessness is all our problem, it is an issue that effects us all. Whether directly through being on the streets ourselves, or indirectly through the society which we call our own.

You would think a problem of this magnitude would require a society wide effort to solve. Yet time and again we have been left wanting, and for those suffering this societal blight, it just isn’t good enough.

Make no mistake homelessness is a dirty stain on our society, we can not call ourselves civilised while we have people struggling for the basic necessities of survival, we cannot call ourselves a civilised society and turn a blind eye to the suffering of those we see on the streets every day.

I wish I could say I was shocked at the news by Crisis which reported that homelessness is set to reach over half a million by 2041, but the writing has been on the wall for a long time. The government has failed, is failing, and will continue to fail when it comes to homelessness, and it can be for only one reason – they simply don’t care enough. Time and again charities and community groups are picking up the slack, frantically trying to put a plaster on a problem that has been festering for too long.

It is extremely hard to get accurate data on homelessness, it wouldn’t be surprising if this number was a rather conservative estimate. Regardless of the exact figures the trajectory is clear – homelessness is going to continue to rise. We can and do need to do more, it is an indictment of the failure of our society.

It is easy to think it could not happen to me, or it is not my problem but eight million people are only a pay day away from being on the street and unless you have a crystal ball that can see the future, you don’t know what is around the corner.

It is clear the government will not act on this issue, not unless we force them. There should be national outrage over this, our governments continue to fail the people in their care yet again.

How many groups of people can the Tories betray, how many people in our society have to be cruel victims of their heartless policies before enough is enough? One person suffering on the streets is too many and one thing is abundantly clear, if we do not take action now, hundreds of thousands of people are going to be suffering in the future.

If Trump & America were ‘strong’ they wouldn’t need to constantly remind us.

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America is the strongest country in the world, militarily it outspends the next eight countries combined. They spend more on their military than China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, France, UK, India and Germany, so why does Donald Trump feel the need to tell everyone what they are capable of?

The world economy is so wrapped up in the dollar that internal economic problems in the US nearly brought the world economy to its knees ten years ago. Arguably the world economy was built by the US, and mainly for the US.

Sun Tzu states; “Appear weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak.”

So why is Donald Trump giving it bluster and big mouth? It isn’t a sign of strength to tell everyone you’re strong, it isn’t a sign of strength to keep repeating how great you are. These are signs of weakness, using big bold statements to shock everyone, to deflect from the truth, is an attempt to try and hide behind them.

If you look at Donald Trump’s words with this in mind then, his over the top reaction to North Korea becomes (if it wasn’t so scary) comical. North Korea cannot stand up to the US military, it cannot commit economically (the US has had sanctions and embargo’s on them since forever).

These countries are not on equal footing and far from it. Now if you compare how Trump is ‘handling’ (I use that term loosely) North Korea with how Obama handled Iran, it clearly shows us which is the correct way to handle these kind of situations.

Ultimately a country like America telling the world they are ready for fire, that they are locked and loaded, that they have the greatest nuclear arsenal, doesn’t prove they are strong, it proves they are weak. You could expect that kind of geopolitical play from a two bit player, or a despotic dictator, but from a country at the top like America? If it’s first response is that kind of rhetoric, empty as it probably is, what else can they do? How do they ramp that up? It must feel that its position is threatened.

True strength would have been reaching a compromise, and defusing the situation without having to resort to the threat of nuclear war. If a country as insignificant as North Korea can bring the world to the brink of nuclear war, it doesn’t bode well for the future of humanity.

It then brings us to one of two possibilities, either Donald Trump is a weak president, or America is in a weakening position in the world and so it is lashing out. It could be one or the other, or it could be a little bit of both, only time will tell.

Can we really trust a rogue nuclear state like America?

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As the doomsday clock inches ever closer to midnight it’s time we start talking about the biggest rogue state in the world, the playground bully of countries – America. We all need to ask ourselves – Can we really trust a rogue nuclear state like America?

Trump the front man of this medley of destruction, the big baby who has come to epitomize everything that is wrong within our western society, is now getting a hard on over the red button. He has warned fire and fury, while boasting that America has the strongest and most powerful nuclear arsenal it has ever had.

You would be mistaken for thinking that his lines were drawn from some cheesy 80s action film, or that he is trying to emulate the villains of Die Hard, but sadly this is the real world and leaders around the globe will be listening.

After all America has spent the majority of its history at war, it used its position of power and influence post ww2 to web a tangled weave of empire around the globe. Its arrogance and position further elevated once the Berlin Wall came down, as it reigned as the sole superpower.

It has invaded countless countries, it has let nothing stand in its way, taking whatever it wants by any means necessary, be it through force, ‘diplomacy,’ economic warfare or subterfuge. It has used secret services to assassinate democratically elected leaders, it has waged war to protect the interest of American business against sovereign nations, and it has backed military coup after military coup – all in the pursuit of world hegemony.

It is with a sense of irony then that a world order that America created, with it firmly sitting at the top, is now under threat not by a foreign power, but by its own president. The world at large has been enthralled to American power and has watched rather helplessly during the American century, but America isn’t what it once was, if there ever was a time to break America’s stranglehold on the world, surely this would be it?

Surely the UN and other global power players must now be looking at America for what it is; a rogue state and a threat to world peace. I have little faith in these institutions, seeing how tied up they are to the US (they even got away with waging an illegal war). But just Imagine if Putin were making similar comments to Trump, we would be calling for action – yet America as the ruling superpower of the world can do as it pleases.

All empires must fall, and we are slowly seeing the wheels come off of this one. The only question left then is: do we want to be its final victims?

The media don’t care about Venezuela, they care about attacking Corbyn.

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I’m no expert on Venezuela, I wouldn’t even call myself a layman when it comes to Venezuelan politics, but I’m shocked at the speed so many political commentators seem to have become one. Let alone the fact Corbyn is somehow responsible for it all, and now must write an apology in his own blood, while shouting “SHAME! MADURO I CONDEMN THEE!” all day and everyday until the media find something else to blame him for.

The speed and ferocity with which the media seem to care about Venezuela, and the internal struggle that is happening is astonishing considering their track record of only whispering on these issues where our elected government are concerned.

Where was the media rage when Erdogan went on a brutal crack down, after all Theresa May actually went and visited them, human rights wasn’t on the agenda then.

Where were the media masses wanting to exact penance from Theresa May after she cosied up to Saudi Arabia, doing a grubby little weapons deal. Right now British weapons are responsible for what is happening in Yemen, but the media silence is deafening.

Why didn’t we demand Liam Fox get on his knees and grovel after hailing the ‘shared values’ we have with the Duterte regime? Where was the condemnation of his government and the human rights abuses he is carrying out with his war on drugs?

Why didn’t we demand the Royal Family or the government  condemn the ruling family of Bahrain? After all the king was invited to the royal wedding and Theresa May recently visited the country. What about the human rights abuses in that country, the suppression and the crackdowns?

These things don’t excuse what is happening in Venezuela, but the difference in their reporting by the media does go some way to shine a light on the true intentions of our media class.

The fact the government can then talk about it like they give a shit just goes to show how hypocritical they’re being, for them it is just more shit to throw at Corbyn in the hope that something eventually sticks.

The government are quite open about human rights being a casualty in the quest to make cash, so maybe that is why they can get so worked up about Venezuela, because they are not making enough or any money out of the country.

Now I don’t know the extent of the human rights abuses in Venezuela, but it seems pretty clear both sides are involved. It was only reported a few weeks ago that the CIA want regime change and are operating within the country to achieve that, but this important piece of the puzzle seems to get ignored. The economy of Venezuela, the socio-economic factors, the geopolitical factors, they are all being ignored, or downplayed. In their place we are getting a back to back rendition of Project Blame Corbyn, followed by socialism epic fails.

Regardless of whether you support Corbyn or not, whether you are a socialist or not, reducing what is happening in Venezuela to a judgement on socialism, or as a smear on Corbyn is a huge disservice to Venezuelan politics.

There is a clear lack of balanced reporting, with the media more concerned about going after Corbyn than going after the facts. So it is clear what is more important to these commentators, it isn’t human rights, it isn’t justice, it isn’t about shining a light on what is happening in the country, it is about undermining the credibility of Corbyn.

I can’t tell you what is happening in Venezuela, but do some research on the subject, look in to news sources that actually want to report the truth because it is clear what we are getting from the mainstream media is a diatribe on Corbyn and the ills of socialism.

Vote me, I support Corbyn – A hollow battlecry

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Telling someone you’re a Corbyn supporter so they should get your vote is not enough, taking a vote for granted because you say you’re a socialist is not enough. There needs to be more, much more in order to galvanise the kind of support we need at grassroots level.

That means setting out a local vision, working within local communities and building an (at first) informal bottom up structure within our local constituency. The internal struggle within the CLP over Corbyn is one huge distraction, it’s a movement – it isn’t about Corbyn, it isn’t even about the Labour Party *gasp*. It is about that hungry person you passed on your way to work, or that homeless person you see outside your local shop, it is about a single mother facing eviction, or an elderly person that dies because of winter. It is about those suffering at the bottom, and the more we get bedded to internal struggles, the more we let them down, the more we look internally, the less we are doing externally.

So don’t expect people to support you just because you support Corbyn, or just because you’re a socialist. You need to prove to the people that you are worthy of their support, you need to show them, with your actions not just your words that you are on their side, and that they can rely on you to fight with and for them.

The vote me because I support Corbyn message is unsustainable (Corbyn won’t be here forever), while it will galvanise us to a degree, it can’t go much further than that. I want to vote for a local candidate whether that is in an internal election, a local election or a general election because I like what they’re having to say, I like where they want to take my community and I can see through their track record that they’re trustworthy – they mean what they’re saying.

If we want to transform our communities we can’t rely on Corbyn, we can’t wait until the next GE. The power to transform our communities is with all of us, the power of the movement is not with one man at the top, but all those engaged in the struggle. Less vote me because I support Corbyn, and more tapping in to that message of hope and unity that he brought to the mainstream.

Now is our chance, so let us harness the energy Corbyn has unleashed and utilise the message, but let us take ownership of it and make it our own. Make it local, make it relevant, take it and make it part of the DNA of our communities.

I could see the necessity when Labour were in a full blown civil war, but we have won that war, it is now time to win the peace.

Helping Hands Help You Stand

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Hello Brothers
Hello Sisters
Hello Comrades

Words with meaning uttered without thought
Thoughts without words resembling nought

What is a Brother?
What is a Sister?
What is a Comrade?

When we say brother does it have meaning
Or do we say it without feeling?
When we say sister does it have meaning
Or do we say it without caring?
When we say comrade does it have meaning
Or do we say it without thinking?

Lost in translation warning to all battle stations
Wide eyed words stay silent stay stunned

Look on Brothers
Look on Sisters
Look on Comrades

There is nothing to see here but my bondage
My suffering screened behind idealogical knowledge
Purity masking your contempt for the concept
This time we need to get it correct

What is a Brother?
It is you, it is me
What is a Sister?
It is her, it is him
What is a Comrade?
It is all of us.

An injury to one is an injury to all
Ignoring our suffering makes us cruel

Think Brother
Think Sister
Think Comrade

Next time you might be the one to fall
You will be caught by your comrades
Sheltered at the side of your sisters
And you shall battle beside your brothers

We are Brothers
We are Sisters
We are Comrades

For we are defined by our joint struggle
These words unite us and give us strength
They are actions never to be held in contempt

Goodbye Brothers
Goodbye Sisters
Goodbye Comrades