Archive for the ‘Local government’ Category

by Phil Duncan

Last week local government elections were held in many parts of Britain.

As expected Labour did very badly and the Conservatives did pretty well.  In addition, the Welsh nationalists advanced and the Scottish nationalists stalled.  And UKIP was annihilated.  The Liberal Democrats’ ‘resurgence’ failed to emerge.

The Conservatives gained 563 council seats and Labour lost 382.  Plaid Cymru gained 33.

The Conservatives made progress in some traditional Labour heartlands, including the poorest council area in the whole of Britain, which went Tory.  Labour also lost control of Glasgow for the first time in decades.

The Tories displaced Labour as the largest party in terms of council seats in (more…)

This is the first in what will be an ongoing series on militant and revolutionary women

glasgow-rent-strike

Working class women played key role in 1915 Glasgow rent strike

by Marianne Kemp

With the partial commodification of state housing – mainly through the imposition of market rents – and the growth of precarious and low-paid work, along with b are existence-level benefits, state house tenants face very hard circumstances.  In the early 1990s Auckland state housing tenants, with the assistance of the Communist Party, formed the State House Action Committee and fought back through rent strikes and occupations.  Both SHAC and the CPNZ  are long gone and, although there have been tenant protests since, there has been no significant tenant movement to carry on the work of SHAC.  It would certainly be a contribution to the struggle if someone produced a reflective history of SHAC – ie an account of its strengths, weaknesses, successes, failures and the lessons for the future.

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Working class women and men organised physical defence against the lackeys of the landlords

It can also be helpful to learn about and reflect on previous struggles by working class tenants in both private and state sector rental housing.  There are some important differences between state-owned and privately-owned housing – for instance, it’s a lot easier to put more pressure on a few private landlords than on the state with all its power but, on the other hand, the state has a lot more tenants who can be mobilised against it.  However the changes in state housing, in particular the imposition of commodification via market rents, means there are now increasingly significant similarities between these two forms of rental housing.  This means state housing tenants today can draw inspiration and lessons from earlier struggles against private landlords as well as against the capitalist state as landlord.

One of the most dramatic and significant struggles by working class tenants, certainly in the English-speaking world, took place in (more…)

_89618677_8In the last NZ elections, most of us at Redline saw no point in voting.  We argued that there simply wasn’t anything to vote for and that non-voting at least indicated disillusionment with the system.  New Zealand is not the only place with falling voter turnout – indeed, it’s an international trend.  Ironically it is often accompanied by a greater number of political parties.  It is almost as if there is a new rule – the more political parties, the fewer the real choices.  Instead, we have a kind of tyranny of the centre.  In the article below prominent Irish republican figure Sean Bresnahan of the 1916 Societies look at last week’s elections for the Stormont Assembly, the body which pretends to act as a parliament for the northern state in Ireland.  He reflects on the low turnout there and the crisis of legitimacy it should herald for the Sinn Fein-Democratic Unionist Party regime there.  One positive from the election, not mentioned by Sean, is that two candidates from the leftist People Before Profits Alliance, were elected to the Assembly. 

by Sean Bresnahan

Following yesterday’s elections to Stormont, many reports, and indeed complaints, about low voter turnout are beginning to surface, with some arguing if you didn’t vote you have no right to complain and others suggesting voting should be mandatory and people compelled to vote or be fined. So much for free choice (as if one exists in the first place).

In my opinion a low turnout is a good thing. Were the turnout to fall below 50 percent then the Sinn Fein-DUP coalition could not claim a mandate for the austerity programme they are inflicting on our communities on behalf of their bosses in London. This is why I sat at home, as I will not allow my vote – not even were it to be spoiled – to legitimise the attacks they are perpetrating on working people.

While some claim it incredible that people complained but didn’t vote, for me what is incredible is that people still believe voting in a liberal democratic system can change anything of note. Maybe those who sat at home have realised this and thus refuse to participate in an organised farce, set up to secure consent for that which has not in fact been agreed to: austerity.

In reality, decisions are not taken within the outward framework of liberal democracy. They are reached and implemented elsewhere, with politicians thrust forward every so often as paid perjurers to (more…)

This piece first appeared on Redline in March 2012, but we’re giving it another airing as a lot of people don’t know about this history.  Since this year marks the 100th anniversary of NZ Capitalism Ltd’s ‘B’ – but sometimes ‘A’ – management team, we’ll be making sure that Labour’s history is very well highlighted on the blog. 

by Philip Ferguson

For Labourite mayor of Auckland, Len Brown, screwing over wharfies is the name of the game

The Ports of Auckland dispute has shown yet again – as if any more proof should really be necessary – that it is absolutely futile for workers to support Labour, give the Labour Party money or have their unions affiliated to the outfit.  While the left and union movement rally around the wharfies, Labour mainly sits on the fence.  One of their politicians, Len Brown, whose mayoral election campaign MUNZ in Auckland rather foolishly gave several thousand dollars to, is actually part of the assault on wharfies’ conditions.

There are so many examples of how, when it’s not directly attacking workers, Labour is always in the rearguard and never the vanguard of struggles for people’s rights.

For instance, these days Labour likes to parade its ‘anti-racist’ credentials.  However take something that was only 50-odd years ago – the way in which the NZ Rugby Football Union excluded Maori players from All Black teams touring South Africa.  Labour actually supported that piece of racism.  As the official New Zealand History On-line site records: (more…)

Hurricane Katrina: a disaster for New Orleans' working class, but an opportunity for capitalists

Hurricane Katrina: a disaster for New Orleans’ working class, but an opportunity for capitalists

by The Spark

Ten years ago, Hurricane Katrina set off one of the worst catastrophes in American history. It was not simply a natural disaster, but rather a social one. Every step taken by the government at every level before, during and after the storm stands as a testament to the consequences of placing the interests of the wealthy before the well-being of the working population.

More than 1800 people lost their lives in the flooding caused when the levees protecting the lowest-lying places, which happened to also be the poorest areas of the city, collapsed. More than 200,000 people from the city of New Orleans alone were displaced from their homes.

The flooding and what followed were no accident, but the result of deliberate policies on the part of the local ruling class and its politicians. Corporations and the government carried out commercial and industrial development along the Mississippi River and its delta, ignoring warnings from engineers that it would cause the disappearance of islands and wetlands that protected the city against hurricanes that regularly hit the Gulf Coast.

The worst flooding hit the poorest areas of the city. The working population had been expelled from the French Quarter decades earlier, and most of the neighborhoods where workers and the poor lived were in the lowest-lying areas. Despite 40 years of (more…)

Freddie Gray

Freddie Gray: brutally murdered by Baltimore cops

by The Spark

A young man is dead in Baltimore, killed by six murdering cops. In the same week, a murdering cop goes free in Chicago when a prosecutor and a judge tie up his trial in the knots of a legal technicality. Different cities, different parts of the “justice system,” but part of the same big picture.

With his hands cuffed behind his back, with his legs in shackles, Freddie Gray was thrown into the back of a Baltimore police van, no seatbelt, nothing to secure him in place, and then ridden around for 42 minutes, over bumpy roads, around sharp fast turns, punctuated by sudden reversals and stops, BS-bs-md-ci-p28-freddie-gray-march-hairston-760x492tossing him around the back of the van, bouncing him off its walls, unable to protect or brace himself with his feet or his hands. It’s what Baltimore cops call a “rough ride,” and what Philadelphia cops call a “nickel ride.”

By the end of that murderous ride, Freddie Gray was for all practical purposes dead, although it took him another seven days to die. His spinal cord had been almost severed, three neck vertebrae were fractured, his larynx crushed.

And why was he in police custody? Because, according to the police account, a cop (more…)

RMTU members do difficult work in all weathers around the clock

RMTU members do difficult work in all weathers around the clock

by Edna Welthorpe

Two hundreds workers belonging to the Rail and Maritime Transport Union (RMTU) at Lyttelton have voted to take action against the Port Company following an unsatisfactory offer by the company in recent contract negotiations. From December 17, they’ll be ceasing overtime work indefinitely. They have also voted for a series of full stoppages if the company doesn’t amend its position.

RMTU organiser John Kerr says the offer made by the company during bargaining was insufficient for the workers to want to accept it, especially given Port company boss Peter Davies’ 18% salary increase and what Kerr describes as “the appalling (more…)