Practical solidarity: Labour must adapt the way it campaigns so it helps those most in need

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One day campaigns and calls for Theresa May to sling it are great at galvanizing support, but if the next election isn’t within the next six months, we run the risk of running out of steam.

Words have power that is clear, but words and actions working in unison will lay the foundation for the kind of change we need to see in our society. Which is why it is unsustainable in the long run to keep up momentum indefinitely.

Why? Because if there are no results, people will grow bored, people drop out, and slowly but surely the momentum slows to a crawl before going in to reverse. We have momentum on our side, at the moment, and no doubt the Tories will be trying to delay until the winds change in their favour.

So what can we do to help sustain activity, to keep our momentum up?

We need to adopt a more community minded, grassroots approach to our campaigning – non traditional forms of campaigning which seek to build up networks within communities, and effect real change within them.

It’s great marching to end homelessness, or against the harsh reality of the cuts, those kind of public displays of peoples anger, and dissatisfaction with the system are integral but you hardly ever see immediate results.

Contrast a march against homelessness with a Labour led drive to support the homeless within their communities, to alleviate the harsh realities of the cuts. When you see that a homeless man is going to get a roof over his head, or isn’t going to go hungry that night, you see a direct return on your political capital.

When you are bringing your politics to life through your work in your community and help stop a family getting evicted, or put food on a single mothers table, so neither her or her child go hungry that night – you see results. Politics in action effecting change on a community level, which feeds back into a national narrative.

Not only this but it is through these networks of resistance that we can sustain momentum, we see small successes, thus keeping people engaged politically. While at the same time engaging with the people that a) need our help the most and b) we need to have a political voice c) providing the apparatus/network for future political work

We need to be radical, we need to be innovative. Combine the social, community and the political, and provide cross community solutions – you have a presence, you are fighting back at the system, and you’re carrying out practical politics.

History is littered with examples of it being successful, and it is a political necessity in this country already. People on the bread line can’t wait to the next election, a disabled person house bound due to cuts, cannot wait to the next election. The people who are suffering most cannot afford to wait, and we shouldn’t leave them behind.

While momentum is on our side, while we have the Tories on the run, it is the perfect opportunity to expand our political activity and get out into our communities supporting those in need, with our actions and deeds.

Stand Together

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On benefits struggling to pay bills
We stand with you!
Single mother working two jobs
We stand with you!
Grieving over the austerity kills
We stand with you!
Victim of the callous cuts
We stand with you!
Home made cell
We stand with you!
Freezing to death
We stand with you!
Empty cupboards
We stand with you!
No roof over your head
We stand with you!
Being driven to suicide
We stand with you!
Scapegoated citizens
We stand with you!

Stand together to know your strength
A thousand whispers make waves
Have no doubt they fear our unity
Stay silent no more!
Make our power known.

Clean For The Queen – A Slap In The Face For The People Of Northampton

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Clean for the Queen – a slap in the face to the people of Northampton.

Clean for the Queen is a national initiative to get the downtrodden and desperate people of this country cleaning their own communities, after all our councils have been that drastically butchered by central government to the point that they’re no longer willing to.

In their own words director of the Clean for The Queen campaign Adrian Evans puts it; “We hope a million people will join us in a mass litter pick to give our beautiful country the facelift it deserves.” I don’t know about you, but surely its my governments job to make this country beautiful? Why not provide jobs to litter pickers? Instead of getting unpaid volunteers to do it? Why not give this country a facelift anyway? Why are we having to do it?

It gets worse as Adrian states; “Our ambition is to create a community inspired, grass-roots mass action event – one that will become a recurring annual clean up.” Not only is this not and never has been community inspired, but we should be looking at why we need an annual clean up? Is this to become the norm? The peasants turning out to clean for her maj?

I have no problem with people being empowered over their communities, I have no problem with communities coming together to achieve, I do however have a problem of normal people being forced to do something the council exist to do, and to carry out something that at one time in our not so distant past, people were employed to do.

People should take pride in their communities, and be encouraged to do so, for their neighbours sake, for their own sake, people should take pride in their surroundings because its part of their community. If there is any initiatives like this it should be for themselves, not some super rich woman that lives in multiple palaces, who lets face it has probably never held a brush, let alone used a litter bin.

Here in lies the insult not only to us but also to the many communities up and down this country feeling the harsh effects of corporate highwaymen, and political butchers, in the form of their enforced austerity measures.

What really adds salt to the wounds is the council cuts that are happening in this town, perhaps some of the biggest in the whole country, as our county council simply ceases to exist in any meaningful level.

Within a backdrop where many people in this country cannot afford to eat, it is beyond insulting. Far from what presents the Queen receives on her 90th birthday, my heart goes out to the many families up and down this country which are struggling to heat their homes, to feed their children. I’m more concerned with the homeless person you pass on the street, or the many children that won’t be getting any presents on their birthdays.

Living somewhere that is clean, is of course important but what about the many human casualties in this failed austerity gamble? Surely what is more important is that every person in this country is living in a home? That everyone is fed, clothed, warm, that those that are disabled are receiving adequate care? That our NHS is being torn to pieces by privatisation jackals foaming at the mouth of the prospect of getting their teeth into our health service?

I’m a republican, I don’t believe we need a state backed monarchy in the 21st century, but wouldn’t it of been much better for the Queen on her 90th birthday celebration, to I don’t know? Help the many poor and needy people in this country that are suffering under a brutal ideologically driven mob of a government, whose only concern seems to be how they can line their pockets of their rich chums.

County Council: Death By A Thousand Cuts

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Lingchi was an an ancient Chinese torture method which is more widely known in the west as death by a thousand cuts, a torture method this council seems to have adopted as its model for local government policy.

Make no mistake that sooner or later people will die because of the butchering of our local services, make no mistake that people are already suffering under the brunt of the county councils new torture regime.

This is an ideological restructuring of local government, the Tories have already committed themselves to destroying the state on a national level, and now their cronies at a local level are going full steam ahead with this ideological mission in their destruction of local services.

Removing lifelines for some and completely changing the face of our local services, is of course spruced up with fancy words like “efficiency savings” but regardless of what words they use to make these cuts more palatable it will never disguise them from the cold hard reality, and when reality bites believe me people will be angry.

Earlier this year the County Council agreed to outsource all its services, and now it is going to be cutting a further £77 million from its budget, no doubt they love to gamble with the future of our town, sadly the only losers in this will be us, the people of Northampton.

As it was reported the budget “Proposals include a reduction in children’s centre services, a reduction in funds for the fire service and highways maintenance, a cut in the subsidies given to the bus services, the cessation of Nourish school meals service and decommissioning two care homes run by Olympus Care Services.”

Just how much more do they think the people can take? Just how much more of this burden do we have to shoulder? We were never responsible for the recession, yet time and again we are the ones footing the bill.

These cuts, like the cuts at national level are being billed as the only way, that there is no alternative, but this is pure political posturing, there is always an alternative. When these cuts continue to hammer home just keep one thing in mind, there is but one group of people to blame for them; The Conservative Party.

We are now locked into a race to the bottom, and who knows where it will end? No support for young people, no care for the elderly? Just how far are they willing to fall, and how much suffering are we going to have to endure?

Instead of a council with a commitment to slash and burn, how great would it be to have a council committed to helping the people? To homing the homeless, to protecting those that need it, to investing in the future of the town.

Because that is the alternative, investment, investing in the future instead of planting the seeds of this towns suffering, creating revenue outside of tax. We are expected to believe that outsourcing and businesses (which we will be paying to carry out these services), will be more efficient.

Well why is that the case? Instead of throwing money at private companies (making them very rich), surely the brilliant minds in government can operate these things as good, if not better. Instead of them being operated for the profit of private companies they should and could be operated for the improvement of the town, for the benefit of the people.

The governments in post war Britain recognised this, that is how they dug their way out of a 200% deficit, through investment, through public ownership, and ultimately through a commitment to helping people, instead of cutting them piece meal.

Just how much more can the council take? How much more can we take?

What are your views on the cuts? Are you afraid of the future? Let me know in the comments.

What are we hoping for?

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What are we building? What are we fighting for? I’m no longer sure. It seems to me that the left has become the most complex and convoluted system for lobbying the government that has ever existed.

While communities have come under prolonged and sustained attack, completely ripped apart for generations now, it looks to me that we are arguing over what kind of biscuits to bring to the revolution, and lets not get started on the tea, or we will be here till tea time.

Where is the vision? The ambition? The hope and the passion? Where is the strategy in acting as a glorified lobby group?

This week we witnessed the Greek people vote oxi (no to me and you) to austerity, and from the response you would think they had just smashed the capitalist hegemony of the globe. I think it is great that they did mind you but I don’t want to look for Greece to hope, I want to look to the left in the UK to provide my people with hope.

What are we doing? Arguing over austerity and like Canute trying to turn back the tide, or in our case convince the Tory party or the Labour party to change course? To take pity on us poor peasants and allow us to have a little bit more of the harvest next year? Or to find a heart and stop sending us to our deaths with a stroke of their pens?

In the meantime how insignificant are the left becoming? Take Left Unity for example, the party I am involved with – it is trying to emulate and act like a traditional party. Like it stands any chance of beating these guys at their own game, like it is in any position to even contemplate taking them on at their own game.

If Left Unity is to survive it needs to stop trying to be a traditional party, it needs to rip apart the rule book on what a political party is, and create something new, something new and inspiring that the people of the country can believe in and get behind!

All I am seeing is more of the same, and more of the same has got us into this mess in the first place. We know the fight to change society and the face of this country is a long one, but what are we doing to bring about that goal? A campaign here, a petition there and a march on the odd occasion.

Yes these things sometimes do have the desired effect, our masters change their course and we gain a small victory with which we may build something a little better or bigger in the future. Or people pack their things up and go home, it is all the same.

We have been operating that way for generations, and it clearly is not hitting the mark anymore. It may have had an effect in the 20th century, but we are not in the 20th century anymore. We need to adapt, we need to grow and we need to stop flogging a dead horse.

I do not have all the answers, I do not even know all the problems but please just try to think outside the box, stop trying to do what you’ve always done because it is what you’ve always done. We need to change, we need to stop pushing blame onto everything else and accept our responsibility in the downfall of the left.

We need to take stock of where we are, re-evaluate where we want to be and actually come up with something worth while. I don’t want to be in a focus group, I do not want to just be a lobbyist to whatever overlord we have that year. I want to be part of something fresh and new, new not just in name but in structure, outlook, strategy – something we can actually call revolutionary.

By revolutionary I am not saying we take out the pitch forks and storm Buckingham Palace, but something the left have completely lost the ability to do and that is talk to people on a level, talk with people, not down to them, not preaching to them but with them.

By revolutionary I’m talking about our outlook, how we conduct ourselves, what we consider to be political action. This linear form of politics is getting us no where, it isn’t even fit for this day and age.

We can hold a rally of 250,000 people and you can all pat yourselves on the back and say that it is a movement now, but rallies don’t make movements, at a rally what are you doing? Standing still listening to someone tell you something. Then you can go home, you may have learnt something but what has changed in your community? Unless you live in London, not a damn deal.

We need to be building up resistance, we need to be building up networks and be engaged in activities which are empowering to communities and empowering to ourselves, this has to be creative and it has to be local.

All political activity and the voice of opposition against these unjust, unfair and immoral acts are great but what purpose are they serving in the long run? What are we doing outside and around that which truly is creating a movement, truly is doing something beneficial to the cause?

There is this hollow shell in the place of communities up and down the country, what are we doing to solve that problem? The left is a husk, it must be great for academics that love boring meetings and arguing the finer points of the events of the Russian revolution, but what else?

Surely there has to be more to what we are doing than this? Surely there is something we are missing? Otherwise, if this is all there is, if this is as good as it gets? We may as well pack our bags and give the revolution a miss, the weather will be shit and it’s not like it’s going to be on the tele anyway.

How long are we going to be defined by which punches the government are throwing at us and which ones we are quick enough to dodge? These negative reactive campaigns which are ultimately not providing hope, not creating positivity, not rolling out change within communities. I do not want to survive anymore, where the best I can hope for is if we manage to bloody the governments nose once in a while.

We need to build something, we need to create something, we need to thrive.

Regurgitation Education.

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Dangerous to mix fallacy and fantasy
when digesting the media haphazardly
acting spontaneous is a rarity
in a system of complete conformity
Why do we have austerity
when we can make poverty history
maybe it’s because we have planned poverty
like that has control on the economy
it’s a false dichotomy

you have to ask yourself
why did they lie to me
why do they lie to me

it’s all about the powerful and powerless
the powerless make you feel worthless
Which makes them appear powerful
But we got to remain hopeful
and remember we are the powerful
we number in the billions while
they remain in the hundreds

Together we roar louder than thunder
Together we can make the system go under

Food Crime Today, Thought Crime Tomorrow.

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The rising tide of food theft in Northampton an ocean that is on the rise across this whole country, is something our leaders should be completely ashamed of and if they were acting for the benefit of the poor and needy, no doubt they would be.

The Chronicle and Echo (Northampton Local Paper) publishes the details of the court, in an effort to name and shame criminals, to bring some form of justice or maybe because we all just missed the good old fashion medieval stocks.

So I was surprised, saddened and shocked to see the developments of our times, a man fined £70 for stealing MILK and CEREAL.

If someone, a HUMAN BEING gets to the point that they are forced to steal to eat, the response of any civilised society and any decent human being would be to tackle the problems causing it in the first place, hunger, poverty and of course politicians.

Our response, and this tells any watching alien civilisation just how doomed we are, our response is to fine them and give them a criminal record. Would our government, our high towered overlords prefer that these people just starve to death or lie down and die?

This is appalling and disgusting and I have read similar reports across the whole country. We are criminalising the poor and those suffering the effects of poverty, while the causes are left to fester like a cancer at the centre of our society and ultimately while those responsible for that environment live in luxury, this is a gross injustice and one that should make you feel angry.

The one saving grace and I doubt something you will see reported in the Chron (Chronicle and Echo) was the response by the people of Northampton and beyond. On the same day this was reported Bianca Todd from CCY (Community Court Yard) put a shout out on Facebook to raise money to not only pay off the court fine but provide food for the individual, which was met with great kindness and empathy.

What logic leads our law makers to the conclusion that those struggling to survive and those struggling to make ends meet, even those that are homeless should be fined for acts which take place directly because of that poverty. If you have no money, how can you pay a fine? If you cannot afford basic essentials and basic human needs, then how is a fine going to help that situation?

We live in a society where the poor feel the full force of the law, yet the wealthy can use that wealth to not only influence the law but to hide from it as well. How many bankers have gone to jail for their part in destroying the UK economy in 2008? How many people suffering from poverty have gone to jail as a direct consequence of their actions?

This has to stop, we need to act.

One member one vote – but please vote our way.

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Left Unity a party that was built with internal democracy in mind, with yearly elections a prominent feature of how we hold the party to account. We operate a one member, one vote system, where ideally members are free agents to choose who they want representing them.

How turned off I have been then to see key groups within LU (no groups are recognised as a subset of LU, so these operate within LU unofficially) releasing list after list of who their members should vote for. It makes a mockery of our democracy, and is completely alien to the principals LU is trying to further within the workers movement, and the wider community.

The kind of politics I’ve started to witness forming around and within Left Unity this past year, is exactly what I joined LU to get away from. It was a breath of fresh air away from the sectarian ramblings of madmen, cultist despots and thought police.

It will be a sad day for LU, for the left and also the masses of working people that have been alienated by the left if anyone of these outside factions assumes control through majority representation on the NC, as we already know they vote the same, free debate and thought within the party would be finished, and as a result the party would be finished also.

Vote however YOU want, vote for what YOU believe yourself, vote for what YOU believe in – I don’t know kind of left politics you’re trying to build or be part of, but I’ll tell you what we don’t want, uniformity of thought, uniformity of process, – centralised control over how we should act. We joined LU to get away from these failed past models of thought control, and alienation.

Down with this democratic deficit, this undemocratic beast we have nurtured within the party and allowed to grow unchallenged, enough with this shit! Normal people unaffiliated to any of these vultures, without some kind of sectarian loyalty to this brand of socialism or the next, are going to be left behind, they’re already being pushed out.

What is socialism? What is the workers movement, what does it mean to be involved with left politics? What does it mean to you to be a member of the working class? I don’t need to look to someone for the answer, I don’t need to report to someone for “suggestions” – neither do I need to think about it, because I feel it in my gut, it is in my heart.

Some of these positions are representative, and I find it extremely difficult to understand how someone can truly represent sections of the party, if they being forced (coerced/softpower) to vote in a way which has no direct link to the people they are representing.

This is a problem that Left Unity needs to face up to and address, otherwise democracy within the party is a mockery, a thinly veiled facade and LU will fall even quicker into the abyss of failure, a train wreck and a failed experiment. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want that to happen.

How angry we would of all been if the current EC or NC released a list telling people who they should vote for, what kind of party do we want to be involved with? Like the Grand Old Duke of York marching his men up and down the hill, how long are we going to be stuck doing the same things over and over again? The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

Lets face it the left has been a sinking ship for a long time now, with groups diminishing in size and capability, we can either bury our head in the sand and think everything is peachy fucking creamy, or we can look at ourselves, because we can spruce it up with fancy words and theories as to why the left is weakening, ultimately we are to blame for it, groups are to blame for it. We either change, adapt, advance and grow, or we are dead, and we have lost.

The most positive forces which have come to the fore in recent years haven’t come from the traditionally walked path, like the FocusE15 Mothers, there is a lot of hope and new ideas circulating not only in the UK but in the world, so lets end this stale politics of the past, it is time for a new kind of politics.

The path to unity is not paved with swords, the road to socialism is built upon the cooperation and friendship of the people.

Northampton Council Meeting of Contempt

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Northampton Borough Council has shown complete and utter contempt for the chamber, the position and most importantly the people of Northampton, as they spend their last full meeting before the elections patting themselves on the back and electioneering.

They seem to have forgotten the problems facing the administration, and will face up until the time of the election, they seem to have completely forgotten that their position is to represent the people that elected them.

I wish I could say this kind of behaviour shocked me, surprised me even but time and again they have ignored the concerns of residents, time and again they have ignored our views and warnings, and time and again they have put their own interests ahead of the people of Northampton.

Lets not forget how the Chron have played into the egoist fantasies of the council leader Mr.Mackintosh without a week going by when his face isn’t offending my computer screen. I could write endlessly listing the failures of this council, but everyone living in the town is already well aware of them.

They seem to be living in a different town to you and I, for among their many glowing achievements (which the council recognised) were the Northgate bus station, which has been a complete and utter disaster, causing untold amount of traffic delays, let alone the distress it has caused bus users and the general public.

Mary Markham even goes on to congratulate them all on how well they have done at combatting homelessness, even though figures released suggest homelessness has increased year on year during their control of the council.

The only shocking thing from the whole night is that the Labour group walked out in protest, finally an opposition – shame they are only four years too late. It would have been great if they had shown this kind of passion while we have had to put up this this lot.

[each week I will pick a local news story and cover it with my own opinion, the news article this blog is in relation to can be found here: http://goo.gl/QR8kbq ]

Kindness doesn’t kill, cuts do!

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A campaign recently launched in Northampton called “Kill with Kindness” (yes that is its real name), has the aim of encouraging people not to be kind to homeless people.

It declares that homeless people are drunks and drug addicts and by giving them money you are therefore feeding their habits and killing them.

It declares that you should instead give your money to charity which has already been butchered in this county, maybe its time the council supported its services properly, so we didn’t have to prop them up!

This campaign is dehumanising, demonising and degrading and feeds into the myth that homeless people are to blame for their situation.

Not all homeless people are drunks, and not all of them are drug addicts and any campaign which starts off with this assumption is very insulting and damaging.

Instead of attacking the powerless, vulnerable and poor, they should run a campaign that tackles the root causes. Why not have a campaign called “help the homeless” or “home the homeless” – why run a campaign that sends the message that homeless are undeserving of kindness?

This campaign takes place within a backdrop of our county council butchering its services, meaning more adults are going to be vulnerable, and ultimately thrown on the scrapheap.

When are they going to tackle the underlying problems and come up with proper solutions to these problems? Homelessness, addiction – they take away our support network and then have the cheek to say we’re less than human (not worthy of kindness).

Social housing programs are few and far between not only in Northampton but the whole country, social enterprises and charities have had their funding cut and removed by local government, meaning less services and support for the homeless.

Homeless people are wait for it – people too. If a homeless person spends a couple of quid on alcohol, then who are we stop them? Would it be better if they drunk a bottle of wine a day?

What are the underlying causes of homelessness addiction? I don’t think the cause of these problems are created by the kindness of strangers, or by homeless people getting a few quid begging.

More than likely the causes of these problems relate to where they find themselves I.e on the streets, mental health related, there are a myriad of reasons why a homeless person may drink but one thing we can be certain of it definitely isn’t kindness that is killing them.

[each week I will pick a local news story and cover it with my own opinion, the news article this blog is in relation to can be found here: http://www.northamptonchron.co.uk/news/local/shoppers-in-northampton-urged-not-to-give-money-to-beggars-in-the-town-centre-1-6600489%5D