Tuesday, September 29, 2009

You can help elect socialist wharfie Sam Wainwright

Voting begins this week for the local government elections.

Socialist Alliance member Sam Wainwright is campaigning for election to the Hilton ward of the Fremantle Council.

While it is too early to say who will win the position, we have certainly run an energetic and ambitious campaign including letterboxing the ward at least three times and Sam has personally doorknocked about 80% of the ward.

Now we'd like to ask your help in this final stage of the campaign:

1. If you know anybody in the Fremantle Council area (and especially in the Hilton Ward) please phone or email them today to encourage them to vote for Sam and to spread the word about Sam's campaign among their friends in Hilton ward. Voting is not compulsory, so even convincing people to get out and cast any vote will also make a difference.

2. Please consider making a donation towards the election costs. Donations can be sent to:
Sam Wainwright
c/- Socialist Alliance,
PO Box 204,

3. If you want to give any other practical help: Contact Justine Kamprad 0418 906 316.

Please check out Sam's blog site:

Media reports on Sam's campaign:

Sam's election flyer:

If you have any questions about the campaign, contact Sam Wainwright:
Sam 0412 751 508
Email: Samuel.Wainwright@yahoo.com.au

Monday, September 28, 2009

Forum on human rights in Sri Lanka

The Centre for Human Rights Education
Curtin University

is pleased to be supporting a free public seminar on:

Sri Lanka’s Human Rights Catastrophe

What is the real situation in Sri Lanka?

How and why it is being hidden?

What can be done about it?

On May 19 2009, the Government of Sri Lanka declared it had won the war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (Tamil Tigers). However, with the war’s end, evidence of human rights violations & war crimes is emerging. Independent media (Times- UK) recently reported deaths of 1400 civilians per week in military run camps where 300 000 war refugees (including 80 000 children) are currently being interned indefinitely. This is amidst widespread reports of mass torture (including rape & starvation) of civilians in the camps and the blockade of humanitarian relief and medical supplies by Sri Lankan Govt Forces.

Date: Tuesday 29 September 2009

Time: 6.30pm - 8.30pm

Venue: Lecture Theatre 101, Building 213, Curtin University (Bentley Campus)
RSVP: via email to ekumaran@gmail.com as seats are limited.

Guest Presentations By:

Dr. John Whitehall

Paediatrician & Associate Professor in Public Health at James Cook University, Queensland

Dr. Whitehall has done voluntary medical work in Sri Lanka in 2004 and 2005, and in 2006 was a finalist for Senior Australian of the Year for his work raising relief funds for victims of the Asian tsunami. He is the co-author of the book War and Medicine, a collection of short stories of the experiences of medical practitioners in North-East Sri Lanka.

Dr. Brian Senewiratne

Consultant Physician, Queensland

A Sinhalese Australian, Dr. Brian Senewiratne is a cousin of the former Sri Lankan president. Having witnessed the atrocities committed by members of his family, he has been an outspoken human rights activist and a key advocate for the protection of civilian rights in Sri Lanka for over the past two decades, having delivered numerous presentations at various forums including at the United Nations and also several conferences for the Prevention of Genocide. He has also been internationally recognised for his human rights work with an Educators Award from the Canadians for Genocide Education Organisation.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Honduras: the struggle against the coup

The struggle against the coup

Public forum with Santiago Reyes, member of the Honduras United Left (via video link)

6.30pm, Mon 28 Sept
Perth Activist Centre, 15 / 5 Aberdeen St, East Perth (next to McIver station)

After 88 days of popular protest against the June 28 military coup in Honduras, the legitimate president Manuel Zelaya announced his return to the capital from refuge in the Brazilian embassy. This audacious act sparked another wave of popular mass action for democracy and against the coup regime.

The military responded with severe repression including a curfew (that effectively condemned 7 million people to house arrest). This repression (and the promise of Zelaya's return) only sparked the mass movement which succeeded in expelling police and soldiers from a number of parts of the country.

The situation is unresolved but immense political pressure is building on the coup regime from within the country and internationally.

Come and discuss the prospects of this struggle for democracy in Honduras and its implications for Latin America and the world.

Protest calling on the Australian government to immediately condemn the repressive actions of the coup regime and demand the reinstatement of the democratically elected president, Manuel Zelaya.

PROTEST Saturday September 26, 12 noon
Outside Wesley Church

Corner Hay & Williams Streets, Perth

Phone 0409 762 081, 0419 812 872, 0413 976 638

See Green Left article and other links below that:

Honduras Updates: Street battles rage as military attacks pro-democracy uprising

Federico Fuentes, Caracas

September 24 — Street battles are continuing to rage late into the night of September 23 in the poor neighborhoods of the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa, after a day marked by a brutal military and police attack on a massive demonstration in support of ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya.

Zelaya, whose pro-poor policies outraged the Honduran elite and US corporations, was overthrown in a June 28 military coup and exiled to Costa Rica. On September 21, Zelaya stunned the world by announcing he had re-entered Honduras and was inside the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa.

This announcement — after 88 straight days of resistance to the coup with strikes, protests and road blockades by the poor majority —set off a renewed wave of mobilisations across the country to demand Zelaya’s reinstatement as the legitimate president.

As battles between unarmed protesters and heavily armed security forces raged on Honduran streets, world leaders condemned the coup regime at the United Nations General Assembly meeting.

However, while governments from across the world called for the immediate restitution of Zelaya, US President Barack Obama managed to go through his entire speech without mentioning the word Honduras once.

This is despite the fact that all officers in the Honduran military, which carried out the coup and was shooting live rounds at unarmed protesters as Obama spoke, are trained by the US military. This military training has not ceased since the coup.

The presentation of the public position of his government — which is desperately seeking a way to end the anti-coup insurrection that has broken out in the impoverished Central American nation —was left to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and State Department spokesperson Ian Kelly.

Dirian Pereira, from the international commission of National Front of Resistance Against the Coup (FNRG) , spoke to Green Left Weekly again over the phone from Tegucigalpa, sounding clearly shaken by the brutality of the repression metered out earlier in the day. Her voice trembling, she said: “In all honesty, the repression was extreme. There was no contemplation nor respect nor anything for human rights.

”The repression was extremely strong.

“We still do not know what the coup regime aims to do with the opposition, because as each day passes, the situation becomes more and more intense. Each day is more and more intense.”

Called by the FNRG , the massive protest that began at 8am on September 23 was a strong demonstration of the people’s will to see Zelaya, their elected president, return to the presidential palace.

Due to a spate of lootings caused by the coup regime imposing a total curfew that led to shortages of food and medicine, the regime temporarily lifted between 10am and 5pm today.

Pereira said: “The mobilisation was extremely large, making use of the fact that the curfew had been lifted. The people spilled out onto the streets en masse .... The police tried to provoke the protestors in order to create chaos, but the resistance ignored them.”

The aim of the protest was to peacefully march to an area close by the Brazil embassy, where Zelaya remains despite the regime cutting off electricity, blocking food and firing tear gas into the compound.

Gilberto Rios, a leader of the FNRG, told GLW over the phone: “When we got to the zone, the police, without any prior provocation on behalf of the protestors, began launching tear gas canister.

“The march was quickly dispersed. Many had to be taken to hospital and a number of young people were arrested.”

Despite this, the battle on the streets of Tegucigalpa continues.

“Right now, throughout the night, there have been a number of shoot outs in the different colonias [poor neighbourhoods] of the capital”, Pereira said.

“There are parts that are practically in insurrection, there are colonias that have declared themselves liberated zones.

“They are well organised, they have set up three, fours layers of barricades to stop the police entering.”

Both explained that the repression by the regime, which has left an unknown number of people dead and hundreds arrested, had increased support for the resistance.

“Everything is possible”, Rios told GLW. “There is a strong feeling of rejection towards the Honduran Armed Forces that have been attacking its own people, similarly with the police….

“Where I live, the police came to repress peaceful protests and that caused even more people, who although against the coup had not joined the resistance, to join the street battles.”

However, as the intensity of the situation mounts, “sectors of the population are beginning to feel that some kind of foreign intervention can prevent a bloodbath”.

Rios insisted, however, that “for us, the problem must be resolved internally”.

Pereira said the talk of possible foreign intervention was coming mostly from right-wing forces who are feeling desperate, as they are losing control of the situation.

Rios said the coup leader Robert Micheletti “has explained it in the following terms: they consider themselves to be a ‘little Berlin’, they feel like the Nazis when they were completely surrounded at the end of the war.”

The coup regime has shifted from arguing it was invincible to “now talking about how they are willing to die in the government palace before handing over power”.

Rios had earlier in the night told GLW that the FNRG had not been able to meet due to the confusion and pace of events. However, Pereira later confirmed they had meet.

However, for strategically purposes the resistance has not yet announced what its next steps will be.

When ready, information would be conveyed via Radio Globo, Pereira said. Radio Globo has acted as a voice for the resistance and its broadcasts are often disrupted and sabotaged has by the military.

Pereira called for people around the world to “remain alert to what is occurring, denounce it, hold solidarity actions and remain up to date on news coming out of Honduras, because here the news is changing from hour to hour, it is changing every little while”.

Rios said: “All of this [international solidarity] is important for saving lives.”

Pereira said: “I want to say to the whole world that we continue to stand firm resisting. We are not going to allow this to slip through our hands, because just now, we have the people with us.”

Open letter to Stephen Smith on Honduras

Australia must act for democracy in Honduras An open letter to the Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs

To: Stephen Smith
Minister for Foreign Affairs
PO Box 6022, Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600
Tel: (02) 6277 7500 Fax: (02) 6273 4112
Email: Stephen.Smith.MP@aph.gov.au

Cc: Electorate office
953A Beaufort St
Inglewood WA 6932
Tel: (08) 9272 3411 Fax: (08) 9272 3477

September 24, 2009

Dear Minister Smith,

The people and nation of Honduras urgently need the support of democratic governments and peoples around the world.

The current military dictatorship in Honduras, which on June 28 overthrew the elected government of President Manuel Zelaya Rosales in a coup d’etat, has unleashed a wave of repression against tens of thousands of people who have taken to the streets demanding Zelaya’s immediate restoration as president.

Zelaya re-entered Honduras on foot on September 21 and was given asylum by the Brazilian government in its embassy in Tegucigalpa. However, on September 22, as thousands of people assembled outside the embassy to welcome Zelaya home, the coup regime headed by Roberto Micheletti cut electricity and water to the embassy and tear-gassed, pepper-sprayed and fired on the president’s supporters, seriously injuring some.

With Zelaya’s return, the incessant violations of human rights and fundamental liberties perpetrated by the dictatorship over the last 85 days have significantly increased. Hundreds more civilians have been arrested and images have emerged of large numbers of protesters being rounded up and detained in a sports stadium in Tegucigalpa. The military has now imposed a total curfew in the country – an attempt to prevent the Honduran people from expressing their wish for the restoration of democracy in their country.

Speaking to international media on September 21, Zelaya called on Honduras’ armed forces to “respect the human rights of the Honduran people … To the commander general of the armed forces ... I peacefully make a call for sanity, so that there is no violence on the streets. The people here are unarmed, shouting for joy.”

It is a fundamental human right of all peoples to determine their own government and political future and during the last three months the people of Honduras have made very clear what they want with peaceful protests, strikes and road blockades, on a daily basis. On September 15, three million people rallied in more than 20 cities and towns across Honduras demanding an end to the coup.

We join with the nine governments of Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America, the Organisation of American States, the UN General Assembly and the Rio Group in their call for Zelaya to be immediately reinstated as the legitimate president of Honduras and for the democratically elected government to be able to resume its duties. We note also that the European Union and almost every government in the world have officially condemned the coup, and call on the Australian government to urgently:
• Demand that the coup leaders respect the integrity of the Brazilian embassy and immediately stop the repression against civilians;
• Actively support the reinstatement of democratically-elected President Manuel Zelaya, including supporting all calls for his reinstatement made at the 64th meeting of the United Nations General Assembly this week;
• Demand the immediate release of all political and social movement activists who have been detained by the military;
• Support President Zelaya’s and the Honduran people’s rejection of the terms of the “Arias agreement”, which would legitimise the coup leaders’ actions, and work for the reinstatement of Zelaya to the presidency without conditions of any kind, in accordance with the will of the people of Honduras.
• Not recognise the results of Honduran elections in November if those elections are carried out while the coup government remains in power, the position of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR).
• Support the calls of the Honduran people for the coup leaders to be arrested and tried for their crimes.
• Pressure the United States administration to end its training of the Honduran military.

We applaud the millions of courageous Hondurans who have peacefully protested for three months to defend democracy, despite severe intimidation and assault by the military, and pledge our active solidarity with them until the coup is overturned and democratic rights are assured in Honduras.

Yours in support of the democratic rights of all peoples,

Bea Bleile, Margarita Windisch, Dick Nichols
National Conveners, Socialist Alliance

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Good news: Zelaya returns to Honduras - coup regime faces defeat

Some good news to report:

Elected president of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya has returned to Honduras and has been under the protection of the Brazilian Embassy. This makes it very likely that the coup regime will fall quite soon. Zelaya's return is an important victory in itself - the fact that he has returned peacefully and unhindered undermines the arguments used to justify ongoing support for the coup. When the coup falls, this will be a dramatic victory for democracy in Latin America and a significant blow to US imperialism.

[It is worthy of note that to this day, the Australian government has refused to condemn the coup! Shame on Kevin Rudd! Shame Stephen Smith!]

Honduras: Zelaya returns — the people celebrate

Regular updates about the situation can be found at:

A Sydney Morning Herald report (http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-world/clinton-zelayas-return-could-help-honduras-crisis-20090922-fz9l.html) makes clear that the US will be pushing for Zelaya's return under "appropriate circumstances" - that is they will be seeking the greatest compromises out of Zelaya and the Honduran resistance against the coup. However, the key thing will be that Zelaya's return, regardless of the specifics will ensure that the November elections will not be controlled by the coup regime.

Clinton: Zelaya's return could help Honduras crisis

SMH: 22 Sept 2009
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Costa Rican President Oscar Arias said Monday that ousted leader Manuel Zelaya's surprise return to Honduras offers an opportunity to end the country's political crisis.

"Now that President Zelaya is back it would be opportune to restore him to his position under appropriate circumstances, get on with the election that is currently scheduled for November, have a peaceful transition of presidential authority and get Honduras back to constitutional and democratic order," Clinton told reporters as she met with Arias in New York. [MORE]

Venezuela’s Chavez Calls on Honduras Coup Government to Peacefully Hand over Power to Manuel Zelaya

Caracas, September 21, 2009 (Venezuelanalysis.com) - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez today congratulated the democratically elected president of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya on his "heroic" return to his homeland eighty-six days after he was ousted by a military coup on June 28. Chavez also called on the coup regime, headed by Roberto Micheletti, to peacefully hand over power to Zelaya. [MORE]

Excerpt from "The Field":


2:04 p.m.: Connecting the dots... The return of Zelaya has all the markings of a very well coordinated operation by the Honduran civil resistance and the member countries of the Organization of American States (OAS). The choice of Brazil's embassy - the Latin American country with the largest Air Force - pretty much guarantees that the coup regime can't possibly think it can violate the sovereignty of that space. That the US State Department confirmed, this morning, that Zelaya is in Honduras while the coup regime denied it strongly suggests it had advance knowledge that this would happen today (if not active participation).

This is a textbook example of what we've referred to before as "dilemma actions." It puts the coup regime on the horns of a dilemma, in which it has no good options. It can leave Zelaya to put together his government again from the Brazilian embassy with the active support of so many sectors of Honduran civil society, or it can try to arrest the President, provoking a nonviolent insurrection from the people of the kind that has toppled many a regime throughout history. Minute by minute, hour by hour, and, soon, day by day, the coup regime is losing its grip. At some point it will have to choose either to unleash a terrible violent wave of state terrorism upon the country's own people - which will provoke all out insurrection in response (guaranteed by Article 3 of the Honduran Constitution) - or Micheletti and his Simian Council can start packing their bags and seeking asylum someplace like Panama. Meanwhile, the people are coming down from the hills to meet their elected president. This, kind readers, is immediate history.

2:24 p.m.: Some other consequences of today's breaking development: President Zelaya today erases any of the talk or speculation that he did not have the courage to put himself at risk in this struggle, which will also have an emboldening effect on every single individual among the hundreds of thousands in the civil resistance. The effect is causing all to think: If he's willing to risk all, then so am I.

This move also makes a laughing stock out of Micheletti and his security forces. Remember our reports about how airfields throughout the country were blocked by buses and other vehicles, so paranoid was the regime about Zelaya's potential return? That Zelaya slipped through the security net demonstrates that the coup regime does not have the control it claims to have. Micheletti - the usurper dictator - has also helped elevate his status as a national buffoon with his early claims today that Zelaya hadn't really returned. He accused the media that reported his return of lying and of "media terrorism." Well, now the same pro-coup newspapers that reported his tantrum have this photo, taken today, of President Zelaya and his cabinet members inside the Brazilian Embassy:

There you have it. Countdown to complete mental breakdown by Micheletti and his dwindling core of supporters (and, yes, that includes a grouplet of US expats that have been blogging constant disinformation from Honduras - their self-delusion and dishonesty to all is now crashing on the rocks of reality, too).

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Photos from the Perth protest for freedom for the Cuban 5

Friday, September 11, 2009

Truth in advertising (at last)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Liverpool: “a city that dared to fight” Thurs 17 Sept

Perth Socialist Alliance meeting

6.30pm, Thurs 17 September
Perth Activist Centre, 15 / 5 Aberdeen St, East Perth

Report from a participant:
Steve Jenkins
Former member, Liverpool City Council

In the 1980s, the Liverpool City Council (in Britain) took an heroic stand against the Thatcher government’s austerity drive - and won! 25 years ago (July 1984), the council won an increase in funding for its urban regeneration plan because of the mass resistance tactics promoted by the revolutionary socialists in the then Militant Tendency who were an influential part of the council.

Steve Jenkins, as part of the “Broad Left” of the Labour party (which included the Militant Tendency), was a member of the council at the time.

Ph Alex 9218 9608, 0413 976 638 ** www.socialist-alliance.org/perth

25 years ago: Liverpool - a city that dared to fight
[This article is by Tony Mulhearn - a member of the Socialist Party of England and Wales]

ON 9 July 1984 Liverpool City council, led by Militant (the Socialist Party's predecessor), won a sensational victory over the ruthless Tory government of Margaret Thatcher.
They secured extra funding for the council's urban regeneration programme. The principled stand by the 47 Liverpool Labour councillors, allied to a mass movement of the city's workers and wider working class, stands in stark contrast to today's sleazy and spineless Labour leaders.

"DANEGELD," THUNDERED the Times. Danegeld was the tribute in gold demanded from the English rulers in the thirteenth century by the invading Danes in exchange for not engaging in pillage and plunder.

"Two unlovely black eyes," declared the Daily Mail, when it condemned the Tory environment secretary Patrick Jenkin's retreat over additional funding for Liverpool City council in 1984. It wrote: "The Trotskyites and others of the hard left who run Liverpool have had the best of the fight with him in their threat to defy the law on that city's overspending."

"A cowardly deal" was the headline of the Daily Express which went on: "Patrick Jenkin seems to have bought himself some peace from the Militant-led Liverpool City council. This is a shoddy and cowardly deal... Mr Jenkin has shown that defiance pays."

These headlines were just some of the reactions to the Militant-led Liverpool City council's success in securing £30 million from the Thatcher government on 9 July 1984.

In contrast to the outrage expressed by the media were the scenes of exultation that greeted the councillors when they reported the outcome of the negotiations with Jenkin to a 600-strong meeting of the Liverpool District Labour Party.


Liverpool was the only council to secure extra funding from a Thatcher government wedded to the principles of monetarism espoused by the likes of economists Milton Friedman and Frederick Hayek, whose monetarist model was also embraced by Chile's bloodthirsty dictator Augusto Pinochet with murderous consequences for the Chilean working class.
This victory enabled the council to carry out its electoral programme, included the building of 5,000 houses, opening six new sports centres, creating 2,000 jobs and refusing to carry out £10 million worth of cuts which had been the legacy of the Liberal/Tory alliance which had ruled Liverpool for the previous 20 years, with a short interregnum of Labour rule.

This anniversary is particularly significant as it occurs at a time of national and global capitalist upheaval, and the mind-boggling revelations about the behaviour of MPs who have aped the actions of the greedy bankers by using every phoney device to stuff their pockets with gold.

The next thing to come under the spotlight should be the lucrative consultancies and directorships of MPs and ex-ministers who have become millionaires overnight having presided over the privatisation of publicly-owned companies.

Also, temporarily hidden from the public gaze, the private porkers in the financial sector continue to stack up personal wealth. A couple of examples show that, in spite of the near-criminal activity of the bankers, Peter Mandelson's philosophy of 'being relaxed about people being filthy rich' is alive and well and, in spite of Brown's bluster about 'responsible banking,' continues to shape the outlook of New Labour.

In 2008, in the midst of the economic crisis, bankers earned on average £255,000 more than their counterparts in other branches of private industry. Incredibly Northern Rock's non-executive directors' salaries rose by 33% after it was nationalised.

Recently, City sources revealed that RBS, bailed out by the taxpayer, and milch cow for Fred 'the Shred' Goodwin, made a deal with its head of global banking John Hourican which grants him a package which, given the rise in the RBS share price, doubles his stake on paper to £11 million in two months. And only last week the government approved a £10 million remuneration package to Goodwin's successor, Stephen Hester.

Against these figures, the frame-up against the 47 Liverpool Labour councillors by the District Auditor, who charged them with losing the Liverpool rate payers £106,000, is truly grotesque.

Terry Fields and Dave Nellist were two MPs who gave unconditional support to the Liverpool City council and who were expelled from Labour as a result of the witch-hunt unleashed by the then Labour Party leader (now Lord) Neil Kinnock.

His Lordship has been uncharacteristically silent about the 'grotesque chaos'* overwhelming a Parliamentary Labour Party that, as a consequence of his action in unleashing a pogrom to cleanse Labour of socialists, no longer remotely reflects the interests of the working class (* the scurrilous term used by Neil Kinnock in his infamous 1985 Labour Party conference speech to attack the Liverpool 47).

In contrast to the behaviour of the current crop of charlatans, Terry, Dave and later Pat Wall in Bradford, accepted only the average wage of the workers they represented who were working in industry.

It is a tribute to their dedication to socialism that their names are mentioned more and more over the airwaves and in the local press during public discussion on the current parliamentary revelations. For example, I was contacted by Radio Merseyside to explain the role of Terry Fields as a firefighters' rep and MP in the context of the present parliamentary bacchanalia.

The passage of time has not diminished the achievements of the 47, nor undermined the importance of the struggle. In spite of the distortions of establishment spokespersons, aided and abetted by the lies of right wing parliamentarians and trade union leaders, the record of the 47 remains stubbornly intact.

The 47 inherited a catastrophic financial situation when they took control in 1983. The outgoing Liberal-Tory alliance had deliberately underspent throughout the 1970s as a cynical ploy to maintain electoral support. In one year they actually cut the rates (a forerunner of today's council tax).

This was achieved by increasing rents, terminating the house-building programme and shedding thousands of jobs, in addition to cuts in other sectors. Thus Liberal council leader Trevor Jones was able to claim he presided over the lowest rate increases in Liverpool's history. He was knighted by a drooling Thatcher for services rendered.


These events had as their background the Thatcher government's dislike of local government or, more precisely, Thatcher's hatred of local democracy which often then resulted in the election of Labour councils.

Part of the Tories' programme when they were elected in 1979 included decentralising state power and devolving decision-making to localities. In fact, the opposite took place. Using the device of the block grant system which penalised local authorities who exceeded the government's prescribed spending limits, the government succeeded in slashing local authority expenditure.

The percentage of local expenditure financed by central government fell drastically from 61% in 1979-80 to 48% in 1985-86. That 13% shortfall had to be funded by local councils if services were to be maintained.

However, such was the Tories' ruthless determination to drive down local expenditure, they introduced a policy of rate-capping with savage penalties for those councils who exceeded the limitations imposed by central government. For every £1 breach of expenditure, £2 would be lost in rate support grant.

Initially, all Labour-controlled local authorities had agreed to support a campaign against the policy of rate-capping. Amongst the leaders of this campaign, it is incredible to recall, were David Blunkett and Ken Livingstone, with Neil Kinnock as their parliamentary cheerleader.

However, the consequences for Liverpool were more severe than all other authorities. In 1984-85 the total target of expenditure set by the government for all English authorities was 6% lower than their expenditure in 1980-81, but Liverpool's target, as a consequence of the rating policy of the Liberal/Tory alliance, was 11% lower than its spending in 1980-81.

Liverpool's officials estimated that between 1978-79 and 1983-84, the city had lost between £26 million and £34 million in government grants as a result of the government lowering Liverpool's spending target. This was the £30 million (on average) that the council explained the government had stolen.
Thus, the years of rate-slashing policies by the Liberal-Tory alliance in Liverpool meant that the financial position of the city was in even greater dire straits than all other local authorities.

The government's policies meant that, in order to balance the books, a local authority would either have to increase the rates, sometimes massively to compensate for Tory cuts, or savagely cut back on jobs and services.

The Liverpool District Labour Party's policy was to reject both of these options and instead to carry out its electoral promises. In the elections of 1983 a key component of the Liverpool party's electoral programme was 'No rate or rent increases to compensate for Tory cuts.'

That campaign explained to the Liverpool electorate the consequences of Liberal/Tory rule. The campaign also explained the pernicious slashing policies of the Tory government and gave a commitment that a radical socialist programme would be implemented. This included house building, job creation, rent reductions and improvement of services, linked to a campaign to retrieve funding from central government. The result was the magnificent electoral victory in 1983 with Labour gaining 12 seats, giving Labour 51 seats against the Liberal/Tory total of 48.

The massive financial crisis already described, which Liverpool Labour inherited, was seen as a reason for the implementation of the electoral programme rather than, as is usually the case with all the pro-capitalist politicians, a reason to retreat.

If Liverpool's expenditure had increased at the same rate as other authorities and even within government guidelines through that period, then the city's target set by the government for 1984-85 would have been much higher. In addition to the problems caused by the Liberals' financial jiggery-pokery through the 1970s and early 1980s, in 1983 the incoming Labour council inherited a budget which included £8 million to £10 million of unallocated cuts.

Against this background it was a diabolical lie for the right wing to allege that the crisis in Liverpool was of the 47's own making. Jack Straw, for instance, who in 1984 advocated a rate rise of 60%, has to this day never retracted the lies spewed out by him and his colleagues.

His excuse over the scandal about his parliamentary claim for full council tax when he had already been allowed a 50% discount was that "accountancy does not appear to be my strongest suit." This admission serves to underline his ignorance about the real depth of Liverpool's financial crisis that even Patrick Jenkin was compelled to recognise.

Mass struggle

But the victory was not achieved merely by slick negotiation between the councillors and Patrick Jenkin. Jenkin's promise to 'do his very best' to ameliorate some of Liverpool's problems wasn't solely due to his compassion having seen, in his words, 'housing conditions the likes of which I've never seen.'

It was also prompted by the mass support enjoyed by the council evidenced by the 1,000-strong demonstration which followed him around the housing estates which he viewed on his visit to Liverpool.

He was also conscious of the magnificent electoral support as well as the physical support shown by the great demonstrations that marched through the city in support of the council's policies, particularly the demonstration on budget day the previous March when a one-day strike took place, supported by 30,000 local authority workers. 50,000 people marched through the city that day in support of the council's proposed 'deficit budget'. That support was the reason Thatcher had despatched Jenkin to the city to get a real flavour of the situation on the ground.


The council meeting following the funding victory was greeted with scenes of jubilation more akin to welcoming a returning football team having won the FA cup. The lobby of the council saw local authority workers, striking miners, young people, unemployed and parents with their young children, all listening to the victory speeches. Labour speakers were greeted with cheers, while over the benches of the Liberals and Tories hung a mood of demoralisation.

The support for the council was based on concrete changes to better people's lives. For instance, before the local press joined the Rupert Murdoch/Robert Maxwell media axis in its demonisation of the councillors, the Daily Post carried a headline 'House-proud city has got it right.' It reported the comments of a housing expert, Alice Coleman, who had carried out extensive research into housing conditions nationally and internationally.

'Liverpool,' she declared at a meeting to assess the council's housing policy, 'has got it right.' She completely concurred with the main thrust of the Urban Regeneration Strategy and the council's conviction that the majority of people preferred to live in traditional houses.

Moreover, the spin-off effect of the city's housing programme on employment had been publicly recognised by building companies who are not usually friends of Labour. In the three years from April 1983 to May 1985 it was estimated that 6,489 jobs had been generated in the private sector as a result of the house-building programme.

Twenty-five years late, the chattering classes agonise over the disengagement of people in general from politics and their disillusionment with the mainstream parties. Chat shows on various agencies of the media usually draw the conclusion that the party leaders, particularly Gordon Brown, lack charisma, or they don't have the ability to crack a good gag.

The logic of this argument is that New Labour should persuade Ken Dodd to lead the party and they would romp home at the next election with a massive majority based on a 99% turnout!

The Liverpool 47 attracted the highest Labour vote in history, and higher than in any election since world war two even though the population of the city had declined from 700,000 in 1945 to 460,000 in 1983. While turnout for local elections in recent years has ranged from 11% to 20%, the turnout in 1983 and 1984 was 45% to 55%. A clear message that if policies which correspond to the needs and aspirations of the working class are implemented, then the support will be forthcoming.

It was this level of support that gave the ruling class and its allies at the tops of the Labour movement an enormous problem.

The council leaders warned the workers that the Tories would bide their time and wait for the opportunity to take their revenge, particularly with the vengeful Margaret Thatcher determined to crush any opposition. They explained the urgency of stepping up the national campaign to persuade other major councils to take the Liverpool road and to compel Thatcher to retreat.

Tragically, this strategy did not succeed. One by one, the other councils involved in the anti-rate capping campaign capitulated under Tory pressure, aided and abetted by the national Labour leadership, particularly by the treachery of Labour leader Neil Kinnock. Ken Livingstone in London and David Blunkett in Sheffield, sounded the retreat which turned into a rout, eventually leaving Liverpool in isolation. This retreat was accompanied by a hysterical media campaign designed to isolate Liverpool, with deputy Labour leader Roy Hattersley accusing the Liverpool councillors of 'literal corruption'.

In spite of their unparalleled record of achievement, the power of the state eventually prevailed. Thatcher's district auditor, supported by the House of Lords, removed the 47 councillors from office, cheered on by the Labour leaders. Kinnock and his lieutenant, witchfinder-general Peter Kilfolye, finished the job on behalf of the capitalist state by expelling the majority of the 47 from the Labour Party.

Since then many gallons of ink, acres of newsprint, and speeches by right wing charlatans have attempted to denigrate the 47's period of office. But the record has been written in concrete buildings and stands as a monument to the socialist achievements of the Liverpool City council of 1983-87. Achievements symbolised by the incredible victory over Patrick Jenkin 25 years ago.

republished from:

Saturday, September 5, 2009

UN Rapporteur agrees Intervention is racist

Aboriginal control of Aboriginal affairs!
By Bea Bleile

The Socialist Alliance was one of many signatories to a letter presented to Professor James Anaya, UN Human Rights Rapporteur, upon his arrival in Australia. The letter stated that "special measures" taken under the Northern Territory Emergency Response or Intervention are racist and that "consultations in their current form are manipulative and are aimed at maintaining racist legislation."

Michael Anderson, an Aboriginal leader from the northwest of NSW, wrote in his submission to Anaya, "The recent 'Closing of the Gap' initiative is designed to win the hearts and minds of the Australian public whilst assimilation proceeds."

Anaya arrived in Australia on August 15 and, during his 11 day visit, met Government authorities, representatives of Indigenous communities and organisations in Canberra, South Australia, Western Australia, the Northern Territory, Queensland and New South Wales.

He received numerous submissions and traveled to Indigenous communities in both remote and urban areas to listen to people. And, having concluded his fact finding tour, Anaya agrees: the Northern Territory Intervention is racist.

According to his preliminary statement released on August 27, the Northern Territory Intervention is of particular concern because measures like compulsory income management, imposition of compulsory leases and community-wide bans on alcohol consumption and pornography "overtly discriminate against Aboriginal peoples, infringe their right of self-determination and stigmatize already stigmatized communities."

Anaya states explicitly that the Northern Territory Intervention is "incompatible with the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, to which Australia has affirmed its support," and urges the Government "to act swiftly to reinstate the protections of the Racial Discrimination Act in regard to the Indigenous peoples of the Northern Territory."

The Rapporteur reports finding numerous examples of successful Indigenous programs addressing for example alcoholism, domestic violence, health and education in ways which are culturally appropriate and adapted to local needs, and stresses the importance of continued funding for such programs.

But Anaya heard of many instances where government programs failed to take into consideration already existing local programs, thus duplicating or replacing these local programs and denying and undermining "local decision-making through Indigenous peoples' own institutions."

This contravenes international human rights norms which guarantee "the right of Indigenous peoples to participate fully at all levels of decision-making in matters which may affect their rights" and Anaya emphasises that "government programs must respect the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander peoples to maintain their distinct cultural identities, languages and connections with traditional lands and to be in control of their affairs."

The Socialist Alliance has been calling for self-determination and Aboriginal control of Aboriginal affairs all along.

In contrast, Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin joined politicians from both sides of politics in rejecting Anaya's findings, although she lauded him as "one of the world's leading human rights advocates and legal scholars" and welcomed the "extraordinary opportunity for an honest and open exchange of views and experiences" when he arrived.

As Michael Anderson wrote in his submission to the Rapporteur "Australia is a colonial country that has mastered the art of deceiving the eye. The words and actions of government appear on the surface to be honorable but scratch the surface and you will see institutional racism personified."

Richard Downs, spokesperson for the Ampilatwatja community walk-off in protest at the Northern Territory Intervention, slammed Aboriginal leader and former ALP President Warren Mundine for rejecting Anaya's report and called on Mundine to "get out of his air-conditioned office" and "visit the people on the ground".

The Socialist Alliance calls on the Rudd government to accept Anaya's report, to immediately reinstate the Racial Discrimination Act, to put an end to the Northern Territory Intervention and any "land-for-housing deals", and to provide adequate funding and support services to all Aboriginal communities, in particular homelands and remote communities.

We will continue to stand in solidarity with our Aboriginal brothers and sisters and support their struggle for land, justice and liberation.

Bea Bleile is a National Co-convener of the Socialist Alliance and convenes its National Indigenous Rights Working Group

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Cuban Ambassador in the Perth Activist Centre

Cuban Ambassador, Abelardo Curbelo spoke to members and supporters of the Australia-Cuba Friendship Society on August 27. He spoke about the continuing blockade against Cuba and answered questions about the attitude of the new Obama administration which has toned down some of the diplomatic aggression towards Cuba but so far shows no sign of ending the blockade or freeing the Cuban Five.

A video was shown about the case of the Cuban Five and a birthday cake was brought out to mark Fidel Castro's birthday.

Perth Hills: Stopping uranium mining - why renewable energy is the answer

Perth Hills Socialist Alliance forum

Stopping uranium mining:
Why renewable energy is the answer

Hear Jo Vallentine, lifelong opponent of uranium mining and nuclear power explain why ‘no nukes is good nukes’ – and how to build a movement to stop them.

Hear Paul Wilkes of Sustainable Energy Now explain why renewable energy solutions are available now to answer Australia’s energy needs.

St Cuthbert’s Good Shepherd Meeting Room
Corner Darlington Rd & Hillsden Rd, Darlington
3:30pm, Saturday October 3
Entry by donation

9299 6453