Saturday, 25 December 2010

Million Climate Jobs Public Meeting, Oxford Town Hall, 25th Jan 2011

One Million Climate Jobs
Solving the economic and environmental crises

We face an economic crisis and an environmental crisis in Britain and across the world. We need solutions to both beginning now. Climate activists, and several national trade unions, are launching a campaign to make the government create one million green climate jobs. The Campaign Against Climate Change has produced a pamphlet that explains how we can do that and why we must. It will be followed up in early 2011 by a book, presenting the case in greater detail.
To find solutions to the climate crisis and the recession, we need more public spending, the opposite of current government policy. We have people who need jobs and work that needs to be done. A million climate jobs in the UK will not solve all the economy's problems. But it will take a million human beings off the dole and put them to work saving the future.

Oxford Public Meeting
One Million Climate Jobs
Solving the economic and environmental crises
Council Chamber, Oxford Town Hall,
7:30 pm, Tuesday, 25th January
Mark Bergfeld – National Union of Students Executive
Jonathan Neale – Editor, One Million Climate Jobs
David Ricketts – UNITE Community & Youth Workers Union
Craig Simmons – Oxford Green Party

Called by the Campaign against Climate Change and
Oxfordshire Anti-Cuts Alliance

One Million Climate Jobs
In 2009, the Campaign against Climate Change Trade Union Group – working with academics, climate activists, the TUC and several UK trade unions including the CWU, PCS, TSSA, UCU and UNITE – decided to fight to make the government create one million green ‘climate’ jobs. We produced a report ‘One Million Climate Jobs NOW!’

Thousands of copies of this report have been sold around the world. There are now over two and a half million unemployed people in Britain. We have people who need jobs, and work that must be done.

This latest report sets out how, and why, the government must create one million climate jobs – in renewable energy, refitting buildings, public transport, industry and education – if we are to solve the economic crisis and avoid environmental catastrophe.

The report details a scientifically sound, do-able and inspiring alternative to the present government’s vicious and unwarranted programme of public service cuts.

One Million Climate Jobs Report
Published by the Campaign against Climate Change.
Available from Bookmarks, 1 Bloomsbury St., London, WC1B 3QE (0207 637 1848)
£2.50 or £18 for 10 copies

In Oxford, contact Nancy Lindisfarne 07981607107

Carbon cuts not job cuts
Green jobs- Where the main political parties stand

Labour Party
"Labour’s policy anticipated that an additional 400,000 jobs in the low carbon sector would be created by 2015, taking the total figure to well over 1.2 million" (Ed Milliband July 2010)

Liberal Democrat Party
The Liberal Democrat manifesto pledge is to create 57,000 jobs by investing £400 million upgrading disused shipyards to enable the production of off-shore wind turbines.

Conservative Party
"The Government believes that climate change is one of the gravest threats we face, and that urgent action at home and abroad is required. We need to use a wide range of levers to cut carbon emissions, decarbonise the economy and support the creation of new green jobs and technologies" (No target given)

Green Party Policy
"Our major and immediate priority is the creation of an extra million jobs and training places. An immediate £44bn package of measures would include workforce training, investment in renewables, public transport, insulation, social housing and waste management "

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Oxford Anti Cuts Calendar

Oxfordshire Anti Cuts Alliance calendar:
21st Dec - Lobby Full Council 2pm County Hall (OACA)
9th Jan - CWU rally demonstration against privatisation and cuts Assemble 11am Church Green, Witney
Jan - Public Meeting against library service cuts - Town Hall, St Aldates (date and time tbc )
Jan - Public Meeting against youth service cuts - Town Hall, St Aldates (date and time tbc)
12th February - Local Demonstration against public service cuts - Assemble Manzil Way and march to Bonn Square (time tbc)
15th February - Lobby Council on day budget is set - 9am County Hall
26th March - TUC demonstration against cuts

For more info see facebook page: here

Friday, 10 December 2010

Youth Centre closures in Oxford

Police intimidate 12 year old for involvement with a protest against Youth Club closures planned by the Tory led County Council.

The story has been reported by the Guardian

For details of the protest see Oxford Right to Work Facebook Group

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Week of activity

This coming week will be a week of protests against government cuts. Both locally and nationally, people are taking to the streets to oppose tuition fee increases, abolition of the Education Maintenance Allowance, cuts to higher and further education and the closure of 20 local youth centres.

These are key campaigns which, if they are successful, will lead the way to further victories in the fight to defend public services.

On Wednesday, UCU and NUS have called a day of local action against education cuts and tuition fee increases. There will be a lunchtime protest at Oxford and Cherwell Valley College, Oxpens Road (12.45pm-1.15pm) called by OCVC UCU and an evening rally in Bonn Square (5pm) called by Ruskin UCU and supported by Oxfordshire Anti-Cuts Alliance.

On Thursday, there will be a national demonstration called by London Region UCU and University of London Students Union. Oxfordshire Unison Health, Oxford UCU and Right to Work have booked coaches leaving 9.30am from outlide the Taylorian Institute, St Giles. To book places, call 07890081211.

On Friday, Save Our Youth Services have called a demonstration at 5pm outside David Cameron's Office, High Street Witney, against the closure of 20 local youth centres.

Next Monday, there will be lunchtime protests against cutting Education Maintenance Allowance, which supports 16-19 year olds to continue in education. Further details will be sent later in the week.

Further ahead, we are calling a lobby outside the County Council Cabinet meeting 2pm on 21stDecember. This will be an opportunity to draw together all our concerns about local and national cuts and demand that our local political representatives act on them.

This coming week will be crucial in terms of showing the strength of feeling against government cuts and also people's willingness to fight them. Please make every effort to get involved in as many events as you can.

Oxfordshire Anti-Cuts Alliance

Friday, 3 December 2010

Join Oxford Right to Work Facebook Group

Join Oxford Right to Work Facebook Group here

Oxford RTW is affiliated to the Oxfordshire Anti Cuts Alliance, join OACA Facebook Group here

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Head of Tory Council in Web Rant

The Tory County Council leader Keith Mitchell, responsible for pushing through perhaps 1,000 job losses in Oxfordshire, has posted the following rant on his blog:

"Student rabble invade County Hall Reflecting on the acts of trespass and vandalism when a scruffy rabble invaded County Hall, it seems that a good number of these oiks were school children rather than college or university students. This raises two questions in my mind:

First, locally, in Oxfordshire, how did all these teenagers bunk off their studies? What are the truancy records for Oxford schools on the afternoon of 30 November? I hope school teachers were not complicit in encouraging these children to bunk off school?

Secondly, given that there were similar example of lawlessness across the country, what is driving this national outbreak of unlawful behaviour? I suspect the hard left are working up a campaign to make such lawlessness appear to be the norm and therefore to become acceptable."

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Nov 27th 500 march against cuts in Oxford

Oxford mail report: here
Join the Anti Cuts Alliance Facebook Group: here

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Oxford University Occupation

Hundreds of Oxford University students with Ruskin students and 6th form college students have occupied the Radcliffe camera in protest against the plans to raise tuition fees pricing many out of an education or making them start life with a huge debt. There is also the issue of the scrapping of the Education Maintenance Allowance which support further education students attending college. Please send messages of support from trade unions and community organisations c/o 07986572812 or 07747840661

Occupation statement

November 24th, 2010

University of Oxford Radcliffe Camera Occupation Statement:

We – students and residents of Oxford from a range of institutions and backgrounds – are occupying the Radcliffe Camera because we oppose all public sector cuts. We stand in solidarity with those who are affected by the cuts and those who are resisting them.

We believe that education should be public and free for all. To this end we demand that the University of Oxford reiterate its opposition to education cuts and commit to not increasing fees for any courses. We also demand that the University pledge never to privatise.

These demands are non-negotiable. We will only accept a response from the University in the form of a public statement by the Vice Chancellor to the national media.

The University should not pursue or support any action taken against those involved in this legitimate and peaceful form of protest.

We call upon other education institutions in Oxford and nationwide to publicly support these principles and demands.

This library is now open to all members of the public and we invite you to join us.


Today, students went into occupation of the Radcliffe Camera in central Oxford in protest at government cuts to education. Messages of support have been sent by Oxfordshire Anti-Cuts Alliance and Oxford & District Trades Council.
Oxfordshire Anti-Cuts Alliance gives its full support to those students who have occupied university buildings in protest at government education cuts. They are expressing their right to protest against cuts which will do lasting damage to our economy for generations. Ideologically motivated cuts to public services will wreck lives and destroy the services on which we all rely. We call on people to support the occupation and to join us on Saturday from 11.30am in Manzil Way . We will be marching to a rally in Bonn Square to show the strength of public feeling on this issue and to help build a movement which can force a change of government policy.

-- ._,_.___

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Oxford Anti Cuts Campaign Builds Momentum

Public Meeting
How we can challenge the cuts locally?
16th November 2010
7.30pm, Oxford Town Hall Guest Speakers: Jeremy Dear (Gen. Sec. NUJ) Alex Gordon (President RMT)

Demonstrate Sat 27th November
Assemble 11.30 am. Mazil Way, Cowley Road March to rally in Bonn Square

Oxford Anti-Cuts Alliance is supported by: Oxford & District Trades Council, Unite BMW SE625, Oxfordshire NUT, Oxfordshire NASUWT, Unison Oxfordshire County branch, Unison Oxford City branch, Unison Oxfordshire Health, PCS Oxon & Bucks DWP, Oxford NUJ, UCU Oxford & Cherwell Valley College, UCU Ruskin College, Ruskin College Student’s Union, Oxford Keep Our NHS Public, Oxford People’s Charter Campaign, Oxford Save Our Services, Oxford Right to Work, Oxford Coalition of Resistance, Oxford for Peace and Justice, Oxford CND, Oxford Stop the War, New Internationalist.

To get involved, contact us on 07967392229 /

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Student Protest Facebook Group

We need unity to break the Con-Dems’ attacks. Stand with the protesters against victimisation.

Wednesday’s national NUS/UCU 50,000 strong national demonstration was a magnificent show of strength against the Con Dems’ savage attacks on education. The Tories want to make swingeing cuts, introduce £9,000 tuition fees and cut EMA. These attacks will close the doors to higher education and further education for a generation of young people.

During the demonstration over 5,000 students showed their determination to defend the future of education by occupying the Tory party HQ and its courtyards for several hours. The mood was good-spirited, with chants, singing and flares.

Yet at least 32 people have now been arrested, and the police and media appear to be launching a witch-hunt condemning peaceful protesters as “criminals” and violent.

A great deal is being made of a few windows smashed during the protest, but the real vandals are those waging a war on our education system.

We reject any attempt to characterise the Millbank protest as small, “extremist” or unrepresentative of our movement.

We celebrate the fact that thousands of students were willing to send a message to the Tories that we will fight to win. Occupations are a long established tradition in the student movement that should be defended. It is this kind of action in France and Greece that has been an inspiration to many workers and students in Britain faced with such a huge assault on jobs, benefits, housing and the public sector.

We stand with the protesters, and anyone who is victimised as a result of the protest.

Initial signatories include (all in a personal capacity):
Mark Bergfeld, NUS NEC
Ashok Kumar, Vice-President Education LSE
Vicki Baars, NUS LGBT Officer women’s place
Sean Rillo Raczka, Birkbeck SU Chair and NUS NEC (Mature Students’ Rep)
Nathan Bolton, Campaigns Officer Essex SU
James Haywood, Campaigns Officer Goldsmiths College SU
Steve Hedley, London regional organiser RMT
Wanda Canton, Women’s Officer QMUL
Michael Chessum, Education and Campaigns Officer UCL SU
Jade Baker, Education Officer Westminster Uni SU
Dan Swain, Essex Uni SU Postgrad Officer

To add your name or organisation email

Join our facebook page here

From the site:

Mike's Letter from America No20

Mid-term Elections: Why the Democrats lost (and why the Tea Party haven’t won)

The opinion polls before the recent midterm elections reported that the Republicans and Democrats were neck-and-neck. They also predicted – correctly - that the Democrats were about to lose.

Confused? Well, it all comes down to what the media dubbed the ‘enthusiasm gap’. If you ask the electorate as a whole, they rate the Democrats, and Obama in particular, in the high-40s%. But polls of people who said they are definitely going to vote gave the Republicans a clear lead. In other words, there are more apathetic Democrat than Republican voters. Come November 2nd, the GOP was able to get out its vote, while Democrats stayed at home. We are now faced with strong Republican majority in the House of Representatives, and a reduced Democratic majority in the Senate, which means that Obama is seriously weakened for the last two years of his term.

Why did this happen? Well, apparently it’s all our fault. According to the White House it is all because moaning leftists are carping unfairly about the greatest president since FDR. To White House spokesperson Robert Gibbs, we are a bunch of ingrates with unrealistic expectations, while Vice-President Biden told liberals to stop ‘whining’ about the administration. The argument goes that Obama has been saddled with a huge deficit and two wars that he inherited from Bush (true) and an obstructive Republican congressional minority that filibusters everything in sight (also true). Therefore we should all have stopped moaning and worked for his reelection. If we do not muster the same enthusiasm for Democrats as the Tea Party and other assorted crazies do for the Republicans, we will have nobody but ourselves to blame if [insert name of far-right conservative bogeyman here] is in the White House come 2013.

To borrow a memorable phrase from Blackadder, there’s only one thing wrong with this argument: it’s bollocks. The Democrats have given their supporters plenty to be unenthusiastic about. Obama has not just continued but escalated the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan. He got out of Iraq, but only by declaring that the 50,000 troops still there are not combat troops. The much trumpeted healthcare reform (which Democrat candidates seemed curiously unwilling to defend in their election campaigns) is so timid and peace-meal that even the good things about it have largely not yet come into effect. And it’s not the case that the Democrats could not get things done if they wanted – the anti-gay ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy, which fell victim to yet another Republican filibuster in the Senate, would be gone by now had Obama’s own Department of Justice not appealed when it was struck down in the courts.

The best example of the Democrats’ apparent unwillingness to do anything, even to save their own skins, is the issue of tax cuts. Passed back in the early days of George W’s presidency, these had an expiry date attached to them by Congress at the time, and are about to run out. On the eve of the elections, the Democrats hit on the idea of extending them except for people earning over $250,000 a year. This would have undermined the Republicans’ claim that Democrats are the party of high taxes, won them popularity among 98% of the population, and only alienated the top 2% who mainly vote Republican anyway. But instead of doing something both progressive and popular the Dems decided to postpone any vote on the tax cuts until after the elections. With those elections now lost, they are talking of ‘compromise’ on the issue – although having already agreed with 98% of the Bush tax cuts, it’s hard to see how they can compromise any further.

While November 2nd was undoubtedly a bad day for the Democrats, it would be wrong to buy into the media idea that it represents an historic shift to the right. To begin with, less than 40% of the eligible population voted, so the swing of 7% to the Republicans compared to Obama’s victory in 2008 translates in reality to only 3% of the electorate. Many more – some 40 million people compared to 2008 – simply stayed away, disgusted with both parties. Far from being a seismic shift, this was just a typical midterm election, in which voters – rather like British voters in by-elections - cast a protest vote against whoever is in office at the time.

If the Democrats were losers, so were the much-hyped ‘Tea Party’. The majority of Republican Tea Party candidates were beaten, and when they ran against ‘moderate’ Republicans they usually did badly (with the notable exception of Marco Rubio in the Florida senate race, who beat both a Democrat and the ex-Republican governor running as an independent). In Sarah Palin’s Alaska, the official Republican senate candidate – Joe Miller, a Tea Partier – looks set to lose to a fellow Republican who wasn’t even on the ballot. The USA allows ‘write-in’ votes, and Miller’s political fate right now rests on whether the voters were able to spell the name of his rival, Lisa Murkowski. In Colorado, anti-immigrant Republican Tom Tancredo ran as an independent for governor, and while he beat the official Republican candidate, he lost by a humiliating 14% margin to the Democrat.

In straight Democrat vs Republican races, the Tea Party did little better. The most high-profile of Sarah Palin’s ‘Momma Grizzlies’, Christine ‘masturbation is a sin’ O’Donnell, lost heavily in Delaware, as was expected. More seriously for the Republicans, in Nevada Tea Partier Sharron Angle, who was touted to beat the Democrats’ unpopular senate leader Harry Reid, lost by a clear 5% margin. Results like this ensured that the Democrats held on to the Senate more comfortably than any of the pollsters had predicted.

So America is not moving to the right, but do the Democrats get this? Of course not. In those three-way races with Republican ‘independents’ running, the Dems’ leadership often stabbed their own candidates in the back. Florida’s Kendrick Meek was pressured to withdraw by Bill Clinton, no less, while in the election for governor of Rhode Island, Obama failed to endorse the official Democratic candidate – who, to his credit, told the president he could ‘shove it’.

As with all elections, especially the close ones, enormous pressure was placed on the left to back whoever was most likely to beat the Republicans, no matter how right-wing they were. The folly of this strategy was shown most clearly in West Virginia, where Jesse Johnson was running a credible campaign for the Mountain Party, the local affiliate of the Greens. Johnson was never going to win the election for senator, but he was polling well, and getting good media coverage. Come election day, however, voters closed ranks behind right-wing Democrat Joe Manchin, who is in the pocket of the coal companies, and was filmed in one campaign ad shooting a copy of the proposed ‘Cap and Trade’ anti-climate change legislation. Manchin won, and has rewarded the Democratic Party for its loyalty by hinting he may cross over to the Republicans anyway.

The next two years, with Republicans in control of half of Congress, will certainly not be easy. But it is important not to buy into the idea that the country has moved decisively to the right, or the equally dangerous idea that we have to loyally fall in line behind Obama. Left candidates who gain even a half-respectable vote are very rare, but they exist. West Virginia’s Jesse Johnson made inroads because he is an activist, who linked his campaign to workers’ struggles and the fight against the environmental degradation of his state by big coal companies. Those are the kinds of struggles that will stop the Republicans in their tracks.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Oxford protest against Vodaphone tax dodge

The Vodaphone shop in Oxford was shut down by protestors today as part of a growing nationwide campaign against major tax avoidance by the firm. More info on the protest at Indymedia and Socialist Worker web sites.

Friday, 29 October 2010

Oxford Students protest against tuition fees

Over 1,500 students took part in a protest against tuition fees yesterday. More footage and information here

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Oxford UAF coach tickets to Nov 6th

Buy Oxford coach tickets to national demonstration against Islamaphobia, racism and fascism on Nov 6th on line here

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Budget Protest this Weds 20th October Bonn Square 5.30pm

On Tuesday 12th October, representatives from trades unions, campaigns and community groups representing thousands of people across Oxfordshire came together to express their opposition to cuts in public services, jobs, pay and pensions which they say will damage Oxfordshire's economy irreparably.

16 different organisations, representing people from all walks of life signed up to the following statement and agreed to form a united campaign, Oxfordshire Anti-Cuts Alliance, to build resistance to the cuts:

"We believe that the savage spending cuts proposed by the coalition government will wreck millions of people's lives. They will decimate public services, cut jobs, pay and pensions, and risk plunging the British economy into further difficulties.

"We believe there is an alternative. We could raise revenue through progressive taxation, plugging tax loopholes, cancelling Trident and adopting a green approach to public spending - investing in renewable energy and public transport to create a million jobs. We call on our elected representatives to oppose all cuts in jobs and public services."

The alliance has also called on people to join an Oxfordshire Day of Action Against Cuts on the 20th October when people from across the county will demonstrate their anger against the cuts at various events, including an evening rally in Bonn Square. The group will be running an information stall during the day on Cornmarket Street, central Oxford, which will provide analysis of the Comprehensive Spendng Review as it is released, showing the impact on local people.

From 5.30pm, people will gather together in Bonn Square to demonstrate opposition to the cuts and hear from various campaigns and trades unions working to oppose them.

Groups at the meeting included Right to Work, Peoples Charter and Save Our Services.

Right to Work pamphlet - Defending the welfare state

Cameron’s Con-Dem government is set to launch the biggest attack on working people since the 1920s. A financial crisis caused by the greed of bankers is being used as an excuse to dismantle the welfare state.

Workers are being made to pay for a mess they didn’t create. The price they will pay is the destruction of public services, a drive to push down wages and the loss of well over a million jobs across the public and private sectors.

We are faced with the spectre of mass unemployment with the threat that a generation of young people will be lost to the dole queue.

But none of this is necessary. The cuts are being made while big business and the rich fail to pay billions in taxes and while billions more are squandered on illegal wars and a new generation of nuclear weapons.

This pamphlet argues that Cameron’s cuts are completely unnecessary. It seeks to arm activists with the arguments they need to use at work or college.

The money is there to pay for decent public services for all. We have to resist the Tory assault on our way of life and build a movement capable of opposing the cuts and fighting for a better world.

Order from:

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Right to Work protest at Tory Conference

7000 marched against Tory cuts in Birminghamlast Sunday!!

See photos here:

Activists prepare for protests on Wednesday 20thOctober.

The day of the Comprehensive Spending Review.

In locations all over the U.K., including Oxford!!

Other locations:

Last Sunday

We came in our thousands, defying pouring rain, to tell David Cameron and the Tories we won't pay for a crisis we did not create.

A physically impaired contingent led the way, expressing their anger over attacks on benefits, and behind them came a sea of trade union banners. Large contingents of trade unionists were joined by campaign bodies, students, pensioners and the unemployed.

There were people from the Labour Party, the Green Party, the Socialist Workers Party and no party.

The chief steward, Chris Bambery, said 7000 marched, not to be outdone the PCS general secretary quoted a figure of 10,000.

As one civil servant said, 'with this rain everyone whose marching is here to be counted.'

MPs Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell were joined at the pre-march rally with a diverse range of speakers - reflecting all those who will be targeted by George Osborne on 20 October.

After the march some 300 people crammed into a lively meeting on "Building the Resistance in Europe to Cuts & Austerity" with Jorge Costa, a Portuguese Left Bloc MP, Greek trade unionist Dina Garane and Chris Bambery of Right to Work.

Sunday's protest exceeded organisers expectations. This has been the biggest protest against the Con-Dem cuts but as Paul Brandon, chair of Right to Work, said this was just the firing of the starting pistol.

We need to use Sunday to build the protests on 19, 20 and 23 October; to build for the TUC national demonstration next march and to argue the need for a French, Greek and Spanish style general strike.

The alliances we need locally and nationally need to reflect Sunday's unity. It requires co-operation not competition. A national anti-cuts movement needs to grow organically, not to be imposed by one group.

Right to Work wants to talk to all those pledged to build the resistance in that spirit.

On Sunday 5 December we will host a national meeting on how to fight the cuts. We do not intend to launch another campaign but instead to provide a forum where can learn from each other and work together.

In the mean time we wish to extend and deepen local Right to Work groups to help create strong and vibrant networks of resistance.


Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Sabotaging the War Machine 9th Oct

Sabotaging the war machine
An evening of discussion and short films,
featuring the 'EDO decommissioners'.
Sat 9th Oct - 7pm
East Oxford Community Centre,
Princes St / Cowley Rd

On 17th Jan 2009, Israeli bombs had been falling on Gaza
for 3 weeks. Around 1400 people had been killed,
including 300 children. Large, passionate demos and
pickets had taken place in cities across the world and had
largely been ignored.

That night, in response, six people broke into the
weapons manufacturer EDO in Brighton, which supplies
arms to Israel. They caused £300,000 damage, stopping
work for several weeks.

In June 2010 they were found not guilty by a jury
who agreed that their attempt to prevent war crimes
was justified.

This is a rare opportunity to hear them speak
about their experiences and learn more about
the inspiring (ongoing) campaign against EDO.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Mike's Letter from America No19

Storm in a Tea Cup?

So, what’s the story with the Tea Party? The US media talks about little else in this year’s mid-term election season, amid stories of incumbent Republican senators and congressmen being overturned in primary elections by candidates from the ultra-conservative Right. If the more alarmist predictions are to be believed, the USA today is somewhere near where Germany was in 1932.

The latest story that has caught the media’s attention is the victory of Christine O’Donnell in the Republican primary elections for the Delaware senate race. O’Donnell is the craziest of crazies, who believes that creationism should be taught in schools, masturbation is a sin, and that genetic engineering has produced ‘mice with fully-functioning human brains’. The likes of O’Donnell provide comic relief, and she has given the satirists the kind of material not seen since Sarah Palin’s run for vice-president. But her victory comes in the wake of more serious mobilizations such as the Islamophobic campaign against the Park51 community centre in New York, and the ‘Restoring Honor’ rally in Washington DC organized by Palin and the increasingly-unhinged Fox News pundit Glenn Beck.

So what is the ‘Tea Party’, and is it a serious threat? It began in April last year as a series of rallies against (imaginary) Obama tax rises, in which participants were invited to send tea bags to their congressmen in imitation of the Boston Tea Party. (Of course, had these people been around in the 1770s, they would probably have condemned the original Tea Party as an act of wanton destruction of private property by a bunch of terrorists). Since then, having dropped the original, embarrassing title of ‘teabaggers’, the movement has formed itself into a large, rather unfocussed, but undeniably real presence. It embraces criticisms of federal government taxes and spending, a visceral dislike of Obama that borders on (and usually crosses into) racism, anti-immigrant sentiment, Islamophobia, and an exaggerated fear of ’socialism’. Although some of their leaders would deny it, the Tea Party usually embraces right-wing conspiracy theories that Obama is a Kenyan-born Muslim, or that climate change is a hoax. It would be easy to dismiss them as kooks, but they have successfully overthrown more moderate Republicans, their ideas are promoted to a mass audience by Fox News, and they influence more traditional conservatives such as former Republican House Leader Newt Gingrich, who gleefully whipped up the racist frenzy against the ‘Ground Zero Mosque’.

But beneath the media hype the Tea Party is not all it seems. Far from being a popular mass movement, it receives massive corporate funding, especially from the oil-billionaire Koch brothers, who have an obvious personal interest in low taxes, weak regulation of industry, and continuing reliance on fossil fuels. The average Tea Partier is over 40, of above-average income, white and male, a demographic that is increasingly unrepresentative of the USA. Polls suggest that only about 25% of the population support the Tea Party and even more worryingly for them, 50% have not even heard of them. A movement that has failed to even enter the consciousness of half the population is hardly on the verge of seizing power. They have also exposed cracks within their own movement and within the Republican Party as a whole. ‘Mouse-brain’ O’Donnell was roundly attacked on Fox News by ‘Bush’s Brain’ Karl Rove, and there was talk of the official Republican Party denying her support or funds. In Alaska and Florida there are ‘moderate’ Republicans running as independents against the official party candidate. The Tea Party itself is an amorphous mishmash of ideas and prejudices, and the libertarian (pro-free market, but also pro-civil liberties and anti-war) section of the movement is not an easy ally for ultra-conservative homophobic religious fanatics such as O’Donnell.

It would be wrong, however, to dismiss the threat from the Tea Party entirely. As we have seen with the BNP in Britain and the Front National in France, a minority far-right movement may not be able to gain power, but it can still poison the well by pulling the whole political spectrum to the right. If, as everyone expects, the Democrats lose control of the House of Representatives in November, it will be to a Republican Party which is farther to the right than ever before. Laws such as Arizona’s racist SC1070 (which allows the police to question anyone they even suspect is an illegal immigrant) are a taste of what could happen at a federal level. The Tea Party may not be fascists, but sections of this new Right movement talk and act in a fascistic way. The campaign against Park51 was the classic example of racist divide-and-rule at a time of economic recession, and its leaders have links to the EDL and Dutch racist politician Geert Wilders, who spoke at their 9/11 hatefest in New York. Glenn Beck, who is so quick to accuse Obama of being Hitler, uses some of the same rhetorical devices as the Fuehrer – appealing to the lower-middle classes’ sense of alienation, presenting his white gentile audience as victims of conspiracies by non-Christians (Muslims, this time), while presenting himself as a messianic deliverer who will ‘restore honor’ to his country.

One other ingredient is necessary for the far-right to thrive – a lack of opposition. The Democrats’ timidity has allowed the Tea Partiers to flaunt their prejudices almost unopposed, but the USA’s small socialist left was central to the inspiring opposition to the racists’ anti-mosque and Qur’an-burning antics on September 11th. The prospect of a conservative victory in the elections is depressing, but it will not be a disaster so long as there is resistance from outside the walls of the Capitol.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Protest at Tory Party Conference

Oxford Right to Work

Tory Cuts Wreck Lives-
Don’t let the Tories slash essential public services!
It’s time to raise your voice against the cuts!

Protest at the Conservative Party Conference
Sunday October 3rd 2010

Oxford subsidised coach leaves St Giles 9.30am
Tickets £10 waged £5 unwaged
To book phone 07947857906

Supported/sponsored by Oxford Right to Work, Oxford UNISON Health Branch, Oxfordshire National Union of Teachers, South Central No1 CWU and Oxford and District TUC

More info at RTW National website

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Mike's Letter from America No18

It's not a Mosque and it's not a Ground Zero

You know it's an election year when politicians start whipping up fear against minorities.

First gay marriage (legalized in California, then banned, unbanned, and now in legal limbo) was supposed to undermine American society. Then Arizona passed a racist law allowing the police to demand to see the papers of anyone they think is an illegal immigrant (that is, anyone who looks Latino). Now, however, the Republicans think they have found the trump card to winning the mid-term elections in November: The 'Ground Zero Mosque'.

Firstly, we need to get one thing clear – the 'Ground Zero Mosque' is not at Ground Zero and is not a Mosque. A Muslim group called the Cordoba Initiative plans to build a 13-story interfaith community centre, and were given the OK by New York City two weeks ago. Of these thirteen floors, only two will be devoted to prayer space. Far from being 'at Ground Zero', the building will be two blocks away from the former site of the World Trade Center. So it would more accurate to call it the 'Half a Mile from Ground Zero Building that's 15.3% Mosque'.

Until recently, this project was wholly uncontroversial. However, a concerted campaign starting in the far-right blogosphere has whipped up an Islamophobic attack against building a mosque on 'hallowed ground' amid claims that the building – established by a moderate Sufi group that stresses interfaith outreach – will be a terrorist recruiting center.

It's not hard to unpick the hypocrisy and warped thinking of these people. Apparently a mosque offends the 'hallowed ground' status of the area, but a Burger King, the 'New York Dolls' strip club, and countless stalls selling 9/11 tourist kitsch are entirely in keeping with the solemnity of the site. Of course, the feelings of 9/11 victims' families have been used to attack the project (even though many families publicly support it), but the fact that Ground Zero is a grave for hundreds of people has not stopped plans to build the new 'Freedom Tower' as prime real estate on it. Tenants are already being lined up for this new office space, including a Chinese company that will set up a 'China Center' in the tower. In another era, the right would have complained about 'godless Chinese Communists' setting up shop on 'hallowed ground' – but that was yesterday's scapegoat, yesterday's bogeyman.

The campaign against Park51 (to give the centre its proper name) could be dismissed as yet another publicity stunt by the borderline-insane world of far-right bloggers, as it is being peddled by the same sort of people who claim to have located President Obama's Kenyan birth certificate. Pamela Geller, the blogger who started the whole frenzy, believes Obama is the secret illegitimate son of Malcolm X, and that the Nazis were inspired by Muslim ideas! However, the moment Obama himself made some moderate comments in support of Park51, the mainstream Republicans seized upon the issue, promising to make it a cornerstone of their election campaign.

This is a classic 'wedge issue' – a distraction cynically designed to win votes for the right by whipping up fear and playing on people's emotions. Some Republicans are quite open about this – one congressman admitted that opposing gay marriage wasn't going to work as an issue for them, but that the 'Ground Zero Mosque' was. They were aided by the president's clumsy intervention, doing the familiar Obama two-step of taking a principled stand (his speech defending Park51) then spoiling it by losing his nerve and back-peddling (saying that he supported the right of New York's Muslims to build the centre, but wouldn't support them actually do it). With Obama dithering, the Republicans scented blood, pinning the issue on the president (who, according to a recent poll, 46% of Republican supporters believe is a Muslim).

Many top Democrats followed Obama's unprincipled lead. New York governor David Paterson has talked of 'compromise' and offered a site for the 'mosque' further from Ground Zero – as if allowing the center to be driven up-town by an Islamophobic hate campaign is somehow a liberal act. Democratic senate leader Harry Reid (involved in a close reelection race in Nevada) was equally bad, echoing Paterson's view that Park51 should be built somewhere else. Even former Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean, something of a hero to the left of the party, has backed this line of 'compromise' with racists. Far from being ashamed of their cowardice, the Democrats have had the chutzpah to attack the left. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs complained of Obama's critics on the left that 'they will [only] be satisfied when we have Canadian healthcare and we've eliminated the Pentagon'. Both sound good to me, Robert.

The Republicans' rhetorical attacks on Muslims are bad enough, but they will only fuel the very real attacks faced by America's Muslim community. The facebook page 'say no to the Mosque at Ground Zero' is full of racist abuse and even direct threats of violence. In Jacksonville, Florida, a bomb exploded outside a mosque, fortunately killing nobody. In Tennessee, a mosque was burned to the ground. In Florida, a church plans to mark the 9/11 anniversary with a 'Koran Burning'. This is the sort of atmosphere that could lead to Muslims being attacked or even killed, and the Republicans are pouring fuel on the fire while the Democrats remain silent.

Fortunately, there is resistance. A challenge by a conservative Christian group to building a mosque in Murfreesboro, Tennessee sparked off a big, multi-faith campaign in defence of the Muslim community. Movements such as this point the way to challenging the racists, but we also need to build a principled alternative to the Democratic Party.

If you've ever wondered where the term 'Ground Zero' comes from, it originally meant the center point of a nuclear explosion. At the 'real' Ground Zero in Hiroshima, the Japanese built not a lucrative office development but a Peace Memorial Park. In 1996, UNESCO declared it a World Heritage Site – over the objections of the USA. Still, America honours the dead of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in its own way – check out these cool atom bomb earrings!

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Oxford Budget Day Protest 5pm Cornmarket

George Osborne will announce his emergency budget at 12.30pm on Tuesday 22 June . Right to Work will be now be holding a demonstration outside
Downing Street from 11am onwards to greet George Osborne as he leaves to present his austerity day budget. Later in the evening local protests will be taking place nationwide.

Oxford Right to Work Protest
5pm Cornmarket (Outside HSBC)
Confirmed speakers so far include : Oxfordshire Unison Health branch, Ruskin Students Union, Oxford & District TUC, Save Temple Cowley Pools & Fitness centre campaign, Oxford Unite Against Fascism, The Peoples's Charter, Oxfordshire NUT, plus Mizz Lyrikal from Oxford Love Music Hate Racism

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Free Joe Glenton Meeting June 10th

Oxford Stop the War
Event: Public Meeting - Free Joe glenton!
Date: 10th JUNE
Time: 7.30pm

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Oxford Stop the War Coalition Question Time

Oxford Stop the War Coalition invites you to a

General Election Question Time

Tuesday 20th April 7.30pm
Oxford Town Hall, St Aldates

Featuring local General Election candidates. 

Confirmed so far candidates from Labour, Liberal Democrats, Green Party and Ukip. Also invited- the candidate from the Conservative Party.

The panel with be joined by Sami Ramadami from the Stop the War Coalition.

All welcome. Please come and put your questions to the panel.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Letter from America No 18

One Year of Obama

Barack Obama has now been in office for over a year, and, given the heightened expectations around his ‘Hope and Change’ rhetoric, it is not surprising to find his presidency falling short of expectations. I’m going to leave aside the hysterical criticism of Obama from the rabid right – these people think anybody to the left of Ronald Reagan is a socialist, and just cannot get over the fact that a Black Democrat is president. No, there are more realistic reasons for opposing Obama than those offered by right-wing conspiracy theorists.

Obama’s commitment to sending more troops to Afghanistan was a blow to those on the left who had faith in him. It was, however, hardly a betrayal, as he had constantly said he would do so during his election campaign. Although Obama seems to have genuinely opposed the Iraq war from the beginning (unlike most of the Democrats in Congress, who voted for it at the time), in his debates with John McCain he criticised it not on principle, but because it was the ‘wrong war,’ distracting the US from what, presumably, is the ‘right war’ in Afghanistan. What is more worrying is the depth of Obama’s commitment to the ‘right war’. The 30,000 troops he committed late last year was the MAXIMUM number recommended by the generals. In other words, Obama is almost more militaristic than the military. Since Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize last October, the US military presence Afghanistan has become bigger than that in Iraq.

Obama is also moving to the right on the economy. The recession forced him to break long-standing free-market taboos by pumping money into the economy, which was a welcome step. However, in his State of the Union address in January he promised a spending freeze and was positively Thatcheresque in his praise of small businesses as the key to job creation.

Obama’s biggest failure, however, is in healthcare reform. Despite the claims made by Republicans that they are a Trojan Horse for socialism, Obama’s proposals are incredibly modest, focusing on reform of the private health insurance companies, rather than the creation of an NHS-style comprehensive public system. Even these cautious reforms have been watered down by conservative Democrats in Congress;  the House of Representatives passed an amendment effectively banning abortion from being paid for by health insurance, while the Senate removed the idea of the ‘public option’, a government-run scheme that would compete with (but not replace) private health insurance. What is left of the ‘reforms’ might even make the system worse, as the 40 million Americans currently uninsured will be mandated to buy insurance through the very private companies that are the cause of the whole mess that is U.S. health ‘care’.

Obama and the Democrats have proceeding with amazing caution for a party that controls the presidency and has huge majorities in both houses of Congress. From day one, Obama has preached ‘bipartisanship’, despite the fact that the Republicans have vowed to do everything they can to disrupt his agenda. Their tactics of using delaying measures in Congress alongside corporate-funded, fake-grass-roots demonstrations have been remarkably effective. Rather than respond by mobilizing their own supporters, the Democrats have obsessed about parliamentary procedure, and attempt to smooth-talk the mythical ‘moderate’ Republicans into voting for reform by removing any measures that might offend the big insurance companies.

It need not have been this way. Obama swept to victory in 2008 on a wave of enthusiasm and the hard work put in by a movement of new, young activists. Some people, such as Michael Moore and err… me, wrongly believed that this movement might take on its own momentum, and push Obama to the left despite himself. What we underestimated was how far ‘Obama the movement’ was a top-down affair with the sole aim of getting Obama elected. It was demobilized as soon as he was in the White House, apart from the odd mass email from HQ urging supporters to write to their congressman. Also demobilized was any kind of independent movement that might have held Obama’s feet to the fire. The anti-war movement, already divided, was undermined when the pro-Democrat section decided to pack up for the duration of the election and put all its hopes in an Obama presidency. This strategy has been repaid in drone attacks and civilian deaths in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

As has been the case throughout U.S. history, the real movements for change are coming from outside the Democratic Party. Last year’s massive march in Washington for same-sex marriage rights was mobilized by a coalition of grassroots organizations, including socialists, and was opposed by Democratic politicians and even the mainstream gay rights organizations until they realized they could not stop it. And it had Lady Gaga as a speaker, which is something the Christian Right will never have.


Saturday, 27 February 2010

Oxford Radical Forum

Comrades and travellers,

We are excited to announce the current programme for the Oxford Radical Forum 2010, which will be taking place Friday – Sunday, 5 – 7 March.

Once again Wadham College will play host to a broad range of critical debates and discussions on the radical left, with leading speakers, commentars, activists and academics. As always the event is entirely FREEand we are also pleased to announce a Forum dinner on the Friday night, and an evening social on the Saturday night.

We hope to see many of you at Wadham over the course of the Forum and hope that you will join us in making this another successful and fruitful event.

Getting to Wadham College:

<< We view re-energising popular discussion and action on the left a necessity. Our belief in the need for an event in Oxford bringing together progressive politics stems both from a conviction in the continued and critical relevancy of Marxist and leftist ideas and theory and from the sad and persistent weakness of focused or organised progressive political organisation locally and nationally, despite such pressing conditions of political and economic crisis, and despite the very many who would under more favourable circumstances participate in such interventions. Therefore we are hosting again this forum which will continue to address these issues and draw in individuals from the two universities in Oxford, the city and beyond to consider critically ideas about social progress and transformation. Ultimately ORF seeks to contribute to a critical culture of left debate, theory and action, as well as to cement political and intellectual links between individuals and groups who will have a basis upon which to work in the future. >>


(NB: All venues will be around the Ho Chi Minh Quad in Wadham College. The exact room will be clearly inidcated on the day.)

- – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - -


2:30 – 3:45


With the ‘Seeds For Change’ collective.

4:30 – 6:00


Paul Gilroy (author, There Aint no Black in the Union Jack; Anthony Giddens Prof., London School of Economics).

6:45 – 8:15


Paul Blackledge (author, Reflections on the Marxist Theory of History; Leeds Metropolitan University); Ruth Kinna (author, William Morris: The Art of Socialism; editor, Anarchist Studies; Loughborough University).



All Forum attendees welcome…

Monday, 22 February 2010

Be part of building a network of activists to fight for jobs, solidarity and public services!!

Oxford Right To Work Campaign meeting

Thursday 4th March 7.30 pm,

Friends Meeting House, St Giles, Oxford


Tracey Rogers, PCS

Shao Dow, Love Music Hate Racism

Dave McGrath, CWU

Plus speakers from: FBU, UCU, student activist from Sussex

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Oxford Right to Work Meeting 4th March

Unite to fight job and public service cuts!! Fight racism, defend the planet!!
Oxford Right To Work Campaign public meeting. Activist speakers from public and private sector unions, students and anti-racists, Peoples Charter etc...

Thursday 4th March 7.30
Friends Meeting House, St Giles, Oxford

Come along and help build a network of activists to fight the cuts. We need to fight the cuts, whoever wins the next election.