How can Greens and wider Left in Wigan best mount a challenge to Labour & UKIP at next year’s elections and beyond?


Syriza

Greece’s ‘Coalition of the Radical Left’ Syriza (photo of their recent Conference shown above) which has grown in the last five years to become the country’s largest political party; Denmark’s Red-Green Alliance; Spain’s Podemos, and here in England, Lewisham’s People Before Profit coalition (there are many other similar examples) all point the way to best way for Greens, Socialists and the wider Left to not only mount a serious challenge to the established parties at local and national elections, but how to build up the radical Green, Socialist and wider Left movement in the longer term.

As the great revolutionary Lenin also famously said in his pamphlet: What is to be done

“Only those who are unsure of themselves can fear to enter into temporary alliances, even with unreliable people. Not a single party could be built without such alliances.”

Based on the above examples, and the work of those in Lewisham (were sadly, their local coalition does not yet include the Green Party) I think ‘Wigan People Before Profit‘ would be a pretty good name for us to suggest for a campaigning and electoral alliance or coalition of all parties, groups and individuals on the Left of our own, in the Wigan area, which might more effectively challenge Labour and the Tories, and insurgent UKIP at the May elections, than any of those parties, groups and/or individuals attempting to do it alone.

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This has to be a better idea than repeated ‘Life of Brian’ type offerings from the Left (in which I’d include the Greens and CAP as well as Left Unity and the SWP and SP in Wigan) and our continued competing with one another for party members, and at the polls.

It makes sense all the more so when lots of working class people self-evidently can’t see or don’t understand that UKIP, far from being a ‘People’s Army’ with their best interests at heart, is really a ‘Thatcherism on steroids’ party, who are, should they get a whiff of power, potentially far more dangerous to them and other ordinary working class people than the Tories or Labour have ever been.

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I make the point because many similarly, including even those of a left-wing inclination, can’t see or understand what it is that we’re all generally saying that is so different from one another when it comes to issues such as fracking, the environment and climate change, TTIP, privatisation of the NHS, cuts and austerity, the banks, the need for greater equality and social justice, a ban on zero hours contracts, better trades union and workplace rights, opposition to wars overseas, the need to end the scapegoating of Muslims, and/or benefit claimants, and blaming the EU and Eastern European and other migrants, for all our problems, etc, etc, etc?

And why should they? Aren’t they more or less the same?


 

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TUSCLogo

 


The question begging is: why can’t Wigan’s Community Action Party, Wigan & Leigh Greens, Wigan Left Unity and local supporters of the Trade Unionist & Socialist Coalition, plus any other Left party or group, or any one else on the Left who isn’t presently aligned with any party or group who might want to sign up to the idea, not only agree not to stand against each other in the elections, but to even be as radical as to agree to work together and campaign together, wherever possible and practically feasible, in our respective workplaces, unions and other organisations, and in our respective communities, to promote our commonly shared policies to the wider public, in both the run up to the elections and afterwards? Also, to give expression to this with an agreed name, such as I am suggesting, which might also be added to the ballot paper after the name of any other party, which would identify them as part of a local coalition as well as the Greens, LU, CAP, TUSC or whoever?

No one need for anyone to abandon their own existing party identity

There’s absolutely no one need for anyone to abandon their own existing party identity or allegiances (or none) but rather only for everyone to simply agree and say as individuals and members of whatever party in the Wigan area they are in (or not), [the main reason for it being because none of us are in a position to seriously challenge Labour across the Borough by ourselves, and because it makes practical sense to work with others of not too dissimilar political views], that they are also going to be working with others, on such a basis, as part of a broader local coalition of the Left called “Wigan People Before Profit” (or Wigan Borough or Wigan & Leigh or whatever) which aims to support a commonly agreed slate of candidates to stand in all of Wigan Borough’s 25 wards in May (rather than the 17 wards which 19 candidates from CAP/GP/LU/TUSC stood in last time).

Who knows, maybe, or might it be going too far, we could even possibly agree to collectively explore the possibility of supporting/fielding a candidate at the General election in one or more of Wigan’s three constituencies on a similar basis?

In the election, a member of CAP for example, could under this arrangement, stand as both a CAP and Wigan People Before Profit candidate; a member of Left Unity, as Left Unity & WPBP; a member of the Green Party, as GP and WPBP; a supporter of TUSC, as TUSC and WPBP and so on. Something similar was done last May when Dawud Islam stood for both TUSC and the Respect Party in Ward in Rochdale, so it’s entirely possible, and not rocket science. Indeed TUSC and Left Unity are already discussing the possibility of a similar kind of arrangement between themselves.

Such a coalition would obviously be a political news item across the Borough, and would surely help show that a fair chunk of the Left in our area are at least attempting to work more closely together, and supporting each other, whatever the party they are in, as well as those not in any party, and if elected, have agreed (if we can manage to do that) to similarly work together on the Council as a group.

This has got to have much more credibility with the electorate than say even 6 from the Greens, 9 from CAP, 8 from Left Unity and two from TUSC would have, all simply standing separately and just pushing their own individual ‘small national party’ message locally.

A single borough wide leaflet like TUSC produced in Salford with all the candidates listed, explaining what WPBP is about, and outlining a basic set of principles the Coalition is agreed on would surely help to present us as potentially THE most serious borough wide political opposition to Labour from the Left EVER, and provide a platform from which we could additionally help push back UKIP in the process.

Our perspective I believe, should be to help to develop a new Left political culture in Wigan which might lay the basis in the not to distant future for candidates from the Left, from what ever party (or none) to get elected, right across the Borough, and in the meantime, to work constructively together towards common objectives. This kind of arrangement should also provide better conditions for ‘comradely’ debate between everyone involved, and maybe even to resolve some if not all of the things that currently divide us into our existing separate parties.

We surely cannot but at the very least explore it as a possibility?

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Join Fight Against Fracking or Live in Fracking Hell!

Doreen & John Stopforth, who just coincidentally, I was in Wigan with yesterday, and are featured in this cartoon video, should consider themselves comparatively lucky! The area where they live, between Preston and Southport, is only going to be blighted by fracking for shale gas, unless of course that is, something is done to prevent it.

For those of us who live in former coal mining areas like Wigan, St. Helens, Salford and Bolton, etc, the prospects are far worse. What we’re in for is a double whammy of fracking for shale gas, combined with the likely massive expansion of methane gas extraction from the many millions of tons of unworked coal seams still beneath us – i.e. what the industry calls coal bed methane or CBM.

The facts however, are that we don’t need any of it! It won’t create many jobs, and that’s even if the whole lot of it, wasn’t also at the same time a potentially huge environmental disaster waiting to happen! There are also much better and more environmentally friendly alternatives at our disposal, which could not only help us to become wholly self-sufficient in energy, but within a twelve months period, help put over a third of those currently without jobs, into decently paid employment.

The Tories just want their rich business buddies to make as much money as they can out of it all, as quickly as possible, whatever the consequences, and quite literally don’t give a toss what we think, since the areas concerned are never likely to ever vote for them! We can all sit idly by and do nothing about it, and to prevent it, or we can fight the whole thing. I’m for fighting! Who’s for joining me and those who think like me?

POSTSCRIPT:

While the mega rich prefer to live in a landscape that looks like this:

St. George's Hill, Weybridge, Surrey. In 1649 the Diggers, led by Gerrard Winstanley, sought to reclaim the common land in this photo, in order to lay the basis for making the Earth a common treasury for all. In 2013 the very same land is being marketed online as Europe's PREMIER PRIVATE estate and a haven for the mega wealthy. You literally couldn't make it up. Talk about rubbing our noses in it! See: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hj8rLLhu6_A

St. George’s Hill, Weybridge, Surrey. In 1649 the Diggers, led by Gerrard Winstanley, sought to reclaim the common land in this photo, in order to lay the basis for making the Earth a common treasury for all. In 2013 the very same land is being marketed online as Europe’s PREMIER PRIVATE estate and a haven for the mega wealthy. You literally couldn’t make it up. Talk about rubbing our noses in it! See: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hj8rLLhu6_A

The kind of landscape they’d like us Plebs to live in would look like this:

A view of what Chat Moss, and the entire area between the Trafford Centre and Ellesmere Port might look like, once companies like Igas get the go ahead to start fracking for shale gas.  Bearing in mind the same area also has as equally large undergound 'reserves' of coal bed methane, this scene would only represent half the picture, and there could well be twice the number of well heads.  But we shouldn't worry so the industry say. It's all perfectly safe and it will create lots of new jobs!

A view of what Chat Moss, and the entire area between the Trafford Centre and Ellesmere Port might look like, once companies like Igas get the go ahead to start fracking for shale gas.
Bearing in mind the same area also has as equally large undergound ‘reserves’ of coal bed methane, this scene would only represent half the picture, and there could well be twice the number of well heads.
But we shouldn’t worry so the industry say. It’s all perfectly safe and it will create lots of new jobs!

This is just another example, if you ask me, how we’re not all in it together whatsoever.

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AN ECONOMY FOR THE 99% – share ideas and tools to make it happen!

The conference will be an opportunity to meet new people and enjoy a creative, friendly and vibrant atmosphere.

The conference will be an opportunity to meet new people and enjoy a creative, friendly and vibrant atmosphere.

Organised by Climate Survivors and the Alliance for Jobs and Climate

Whilst austerity is presented as the only way, many local groups are working together in creative ways with positive results such as Incredible Edible who take unused land and grow food for free; a housing co-op who train and employ the long term unemployed and bring empty properties back into use; ‘Move Your Money’ who give us back ethical control over our money and/or help us access trustable credit unions; Charter for Abundance proposing a shorter working week and affordable leisure (*Full programme below).

They are showing there is another way…. there are lots of other ways.  Keynote speaker – author and broadcaster Charles Secrett – declares ‘It’s the economy stupid!’ and he and others will share evidence based visions of economics that not only provide jobs and services but re-green and re-balance our planet.

The conference will be an opportunity to meet new people and enjoy a creative, friendly and vibrant atmosphere.  The organisers would love to hear your ideas, thoughts, feelings and of any projects you are involved in.

Would be great to see you there.  Please visit the eventbrite page to book.  The organisers’ intention is that is should be affordable to all – £5 waged, £2 concession or complementary if unfinanced.

http://economyfor99percent_manchester.eventbrite.co.uk/

Workshops (provisionally)…   ((NB There will also be an evening follow on with songs from Banner Theatre at 7pm))

* It’s the Economy stupid! - Keynote speaker Charles Secrett explodes the myth that austerity is the only way and explores the diversity of positive alternatives.

* Charter for Abundance - Imagine a world where we work less hours, leisure is affordable, green space is abundant, food is fresh and local, goods are non toxic and biodegradable, energy is non polluting and affordable, all have the opportunity for useful and meaningful work.  ‘Entirely possible’ say the authors of the Charter.

* Incredible Edible - In the UK we import around 70% of what we eat.  This food growing group believe food-miles-free-fresh-local produce is possible for all.  They voraciously plant food on any available idle land – and then eat it.. for free!

Housing shortage, what shortage? - At least a million houses are lying empty and yet people desperately need homes.  What if those seeking jobs and skills could be trained and bring those properties back into use?  A local innovative housing project, doing just that, will present this workshop.

Move your money - It seems that the bulk of the money is out of our reach,controlled by the few… but if we organise together then we can be pretty powerful.  Are you happy with the way your ‘banked’ money is used?  This workshop will help you have more choice and/or access banking services even if your income is low.

* One Million Climate Jobs - People need jobs and the climate needs fixing – why can’t the two be put together?  They can to the benefit of all and planet – assert the facilitators of this workshop!

Beyond the Fragments - The secretary of the Alliance for Jobs and Climate shares the experience of how diverse groups working together enriches and strengthens all. 

* Skilling up – How can we be best equipped as a movement for the period ahead?

Meditation for all - Self care and relaxation for stretched activists… Ommm :)

Economics and empathy - How would our economy look if love and care of people and planet were at it’s core?

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Camp Frack 2 Makes Big Splash in the Rain!

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“Not a great turnout due to weather, but we all had a great time, and I’m sure some good stuff will come out of it in the next few months. I’m getting a really good buzz about it, rather like the anti-roads protests back at the beginning of the 90s, and I think this is going to have really positive results in the next few years.”

This is how environmental activist Paul Mobbs described the Camp Frack 2 event at Mere Brow, near Tarleton in Lancashire on the weekend of the 10th, 11th & 12th May.

The event was certainly a unique occurrence despite the wind and the rain.

The Camp brought together for the first time, a diverse range of trades union and environmental groups and organisations who have generally not worked closely together ever before. These would include a range of local residents groups opposed to fracking from across Britain and Ireland, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, the Campaign against Climate Change, Frack Off, Biofuels Watch, as well as trades unionists from a number of national unions.

Equally as important, rather than simply seeking to raise greater public awareness of the need to oppose fracking and other forms of extreme energy on the grounds of their potentially huge environmental destructiveness, those responsible for organising the Camp, also agreed to counterpose to them,  as well as the burning of fossil fuels in general, and the continued growth in unemployment and austerity, an alternative, co-ordinated approach to all these issues, in the shape of the proposals of the One Million Climate Jobs Report.

935511_10200693437890633_891148024_nOne Million Climate Jobs Now

The proposals contained in the One Million Climate Jobs Report, which is supported nationally by the PCS, UCU, TSSA, CWU and most recently the country’s largest union UNITE, advances much more environmentally friendly and sustainable alternatives to shale gas and coal bed methane extraction, which would not only help secure Britain’s energy sovereignty and reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 80% over the next 20 years, but would also put over a third of those currently unemployed immediately into decently paid work within a 12 months period.

OneMillionClimateJobsThis jobs figure also contrasts starkly with the less than 10,000 jobs the fracking company Cuadrilla optimistically suggests, that the exploitation of shale gas reserves in Britain might generate over the next 35 years, and which would necessarily disappear once the gas has all been burnt or ceases to be commercially viable to extract.

How could one million climate jobs be created and what type of jobs would they be?

As the Report outlines, see: http://www.climate-change- jobs.org/sites/default/files/1MillionClimateJobs_2010.PDF this could be done at a net cost of £18billion per annum, i.e at a small fraction of the cost of bailing out the banks, and the interest we are paying on that debt, by creating:

* 425,000 jobs in developing and producing renewable electricty via wave, tidal, wind, solar and hydro power.

* 175,000 jobs in refitting, renovating and insulating everyone’s homes, public buildings and businesses so as to reduce energy usage and everyone’s energy bills in the process.

* 300,000 jobs in the development of a better, more efficient, massively expanded, fully integrated and cheaper public transport system. Also, by switching freight from road and air to rail, and replacing petrol and diesel engines with ones which will run using renewable energy.

* 100,000 jobs in agriculture, industry and education, so as to produce more of our own food in Britain, reducing natural gas leaks, including from landfill sites. Also, in redesigning industrial processes, and, in educating and training people in the new technologies and skills required to develop and bring about all of the above. It’s not rocket science!

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Speaking on behalf of the Camp Frack 2 organising group Stephen Hall said: “Even if fracking for shale gas and other forms of extreme energy could be shown to be 100% safe, which in our view is impossible, we still don’t actually need any of these forms of energy whatsoever.

“Additionally, if what we are saying about the dangers of fracking, our continuing to rely on fossil fuels, and the growing threat of climate change are wrong, what’s the worst that can happen? The worst that can happen is we will create one million much needed sustainable jobs at decent rates of pay.

“On the other hand, if those who say fracking is safe, and who are climate change deniers are wrong, and we do nothing to address the threat of irreversible climate change, what we will be faced with as is an environmental and climate catastrophe that threatens the very existence of human life as a whole.

In our view it is not a question of how we can afford to do what we are proposing as an alternative, but rather how can we not afford it.”

Some media coverage of this weekend’s ‘Camp Frack’:

ITN/Granada video on-line at –
http://www.itv.com/news/granada/story/2013-05-11/lancashire-fracking-protest/

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-lancashire-22477559
Anti-fracking protest camp set up near Tarleton, Lancashire
BBC News, 12/5/13

http://www.lep.co.uk/news/business/hundreds-gather-at-anti-frack-camp-1-5663169
Hundreds gather at anti frack camp
Lancashire Evening Post, 12/5/13

http://www.otsnews.co.uk/update-anti-fracking-protest-march-takes-place-mere-brow-banks-southport/

There was also coverage on BBC Radio Lancashire and BBC’s Breakfast News on the 10th May.

And for those on-site Friday who might have missed it, here’s the absurd
response from the Conservative Party –
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/blog/2013/may/10/spectator-policy-climate-shale-gas

Photos from Camp Frack 2: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10151601288116506.1073741831.774651505&type=1

More Photos from CF2 @ https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.419629514811906.1073741827.265991500175709&type=1

Posted in Campaigns & Events, Climate Change, News, Programme & Policies, Trade Unions, Viewpoint, Youth | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Wigan Diggers’ Festival Flyer

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Greater Manchester MAY DAY March & Rally

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Organised jointly by Greater Manchester Association of Trades Union Councils & Manchester & Salford Trades Union Councils.

Let’s make this the biggest and loudest May Day event we’ve had in Greater Manchester for many a year!

Facebook Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/548537061857654/

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Sign up to Support Ken Loach’s Appeal

ken-loach1The welfare state is being dismantled by the coalition government, bringing great suffering to the most vulnerable in society and eroding the living conditions of millions of ordinary people. Worse still, the Labour Party is not presenting a strong opposition to austerity and instead appears to have wholeheartedly adopted neo-liberal policy, advocating its own brand of austerity and privatisation.

Ken Loach’s The Spirit of ’45 gives us a perspective on the achievements of the post-war generation, transforming the lives of ordinary people by bringing improved health, housing, education and social security to the people of Britain. We need to defend these achievements and continue the tradition of protecting the most vulnerable in society.

Support Ken Loach’s appeal to discuss the formation of a new political party of the Left to bring together those who wish to defend the welfare state and present an economic alternative to austerity. Over 6,000 people have signed up already.

For further details go to: http://leftunity.org/appeal/

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