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.

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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.