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Guest blog: Parliament to Debate Money Creation for First Time

This is a guest blog from Positive Money. Positive Money is a movement to democratise money and banking so that it works for society and not against it. They raise awareness and understanding of the fact that most of the UK’s money is created by banks as they issue loans.

The UK parliament debates Money Creation for the first time in 170 Years

Parliament places huge scrutiny on how taxpayers’ money is spent. But for the last 170 years, parliament has largely ignored the question of how money is created in the first place. This will change on Thursday 20th November when MPs will be given the opportunity to attend a debate on money creation and society.

Bh5rHGcCEAAuI46Money creation affects almost every aspect of our lives and is directly connected to almost all public policy, including public and private debt levels, house prices, and rising inequality, but it remains very poorly understood. A recent poll found that 7 out of 10 MPs believed that only the government can create money, when in fact 97% of money is created by banks when they make loans, as recently confirmed by the Bank of England.

This debate has cross-party support. It is being hosted Caroline Lucas (Green), Michael Meacher (Labour) and Steve Baker (Con). Positive Money have launched a campaign calling on MPs to attend the debate – Whatever their position, they need to be there. Lacking a basic understanding of where money comes from leaves our MPs ill-equipped to prevent another financial crisis, tackle the housing crisis or understand the drivers of growing inequality.

Please call on your MP to attend the debate. We have just over a week to make the most of this historic opportunity.

Email your MP. You can use our email template to ask them for their commitment to be there.

Phone your MP. This is the quickest way to let them know the debate has been announced and find out if they are planning to go. (Call the House of Commons switchboard on 020 7219 3000)

Tweet your MP. Include the hashtag #sovereignmoney in your message so we can follow your conversation.


Guest blog: Fees have failed, we demand free education!

This is a guest blog from the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts.

CALL OUT: Fees have failed, we demand free education!

On November 19, thousands of students will march on Parliament to demand an end to tuition fees and education cuts as well as the abolition of student debt. Sounds optimistic? No: Germany became the most recent in a long line of countries to abolish university fees and if they can do it, so can we.

Education is something that benefits all of society. It is only just that it be publicly funded at every level, by progressive taxation. This means taxing the rich and those who own vast amounts of property, as well as cracking down on the tax avoided by big businesses.

We don’t just want to scrap tuition fees though; we want a radically transformed education system; a liberated curriculum which is democratically controlled by workers and students and living grants and living wages for all, at all levels of education.

BRITAIN-EDUCATION-POLITICS-DEMOWe will not win this alone, and we will not win it just by passing policy in student unions; we will win with a movement which joins with others in society, and we will win by occupying, organising and agitating in our colleges, schools, communities and workplaces.

We ask you to join us to take part in non-violent direct action during the National Demonstration for Free Education on November 19.

The demo is only the beginning.

187790-london-student-protests

We need local waves of action which involve a far broader section of the community than a national demonstration. Get active on your campuses: occupy, blockade and resist on December 3.

Organise in your workplace and your college and bring the fight to your hometown; work with Unions and local groups to march on your city on December 6. We can win this, but we have to do it together.


Guest blog: National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts

This is a guest blog from the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts.

On November 19th, thousands of students will march through London in what is likely to be the biggest demonstration in several years. We could well be on the verge of a new wave of student activism.

But we all know from experience that A to B marches are never enough. In order to build a serious campaign for free education, the national demo has to be the beginning of a mass campaign in the streets and on campuses.

That is why the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts is calling two more days of action in early December to provide a focus for mobilisation.

NCAFC

Wednesday December 3rd

On Wednesday 3rd December (facebook event HERE), we are calling for a day of action and walkouts. This will involve:

  • Walking out of lectures and classes
  • Launching occupations
  • Protesting in your local area

Use the time between the national demo and the day of action to build for it on your campus. Put on meetings and rallies, hold campus demos, occupy, run stalls and spread the word. If you want help to build on your campus, we’re always here to help: email againstfeesandcuts@gmail.com

For the facebook event, click here. Post your activities into it and we’ll list them in the description.

 

Saturday December 6th

On Saturday 6th December (facebook event HERE), we are calling for marches for education in local areas. Wherever you are, take over your town centre: make noise, make a fuss and be visible.

Most importantly, this is the chance to get a wider layer of people involved in the campaign. Don’t just focus on students, get the community out with you. Contact local trade unions, trades councils and community groups. We want parents, teachers and workers to march with us for free education! Now is the time to start building this: put up a facebook event up now!

Post your activities into the facebook event, or email us, and we’ll list them in the description.

 

December 13th and 14th

We will be hosting a national conference on 13th and 14th December – a national meeting  for everyone involved in the free education movement to plan the next steps. This will be a democratic assembly: everyone will have a vote and we will decide on things collectively and elect a new national committee. We’ll also plan a strategy, and have lots of discussions and workshops about the student movement. Click here for the facebook event.


Guest blog: Open Letter from a Firefighter

This is a guest blog from a Firefighter. The letter was written before firefighters in England took part in 96 hours of industrial action last weekend. The original letter can be seen in full here. You can also see a follow up article following the strike action here

 

Dear Citizen of the United Kingdom,

It is with a heavy heart that I feel I have to write to you. I am a Firefighter and I feel it’s my duty to explain to you why I have chosen to take Industrial Action. This I’m afraid is the only option I have left. I have spent my working life serving you. I have seen and done things that nobody should ever have to, but I do it and live with the scars because I am Firefighter, it’s what I do. I am there when you need me the most, willing to lay my life on the line to help you and your family in your darkest hour. I am not a hero, in fact I resent that title. I am a human being just like you, only a human who has dedicated their life to train and train and train again for any situation. Who has fought through heat and smoke to be there when you need me the most. Who has studied for hours numerous cars to know the best way to cut you free. Who has swum in icy lakes to save you from drowning. This is to name but a few.  I don’t do it for thanks, I don’t do it for praise, I don’t do it for money,  I do it because I am a Firefighter. It’s what I do. The only thing I ask, which I never thought I’d have to, is to be treated fairly and with respect.

The current Government have decided that since the financial crisis, people like me will have to pay for it. People who are easy targets. This not only includes nurses, teachers, police, ambulance staff and other essential  services, but people who rely on benefits through no fault of their own to survive. We continue to be penalised while the real crooks get away with it. The Government have decided my future and I must accept whatever decision they seem fit.  No negotiation, no looking at any evidence provided, just dictating what I must concede to. This I can not do. It is not in my nature to lie down and accept what is unfair and unjust.  I am a Firefighter, the clue is in my title, I will fight for what I feel is right just as much as I would fight for you or your family’s life.

FBUThis weekend sees 96 hours of Industrial Action been taken all over England. In Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, Industrial Action will be avoided as negotiations have taken place and the relevant authorities have seen sense in sitting round a table and compromising to find a solution.  I am bitterly disappointed that the current Conservative Government, particularly Eric Pickles along with the current Fire Minister Penny Mordaunt  and former Fire Minister Brandon Lewis, think so little of us that this has not been an option.

It has become apparent that members of the public think that I am asking for more pension and more pay. This is certainly not the case, even if the Government let you believe this. I am not asking for a single penny more.  Just what I signed up to and what I was told I was guaranteed. The Government have started to lay new pension regulations which will be unattainable for many Firefighters’. The Fire Brigade Union has plenty of evidence to back this up*. In my 50’s, I will be asked to take a fitness test which hasn’t been laid out in writing, so I have no idea what it will involve. If I fail the unknown test I will face the choice of dismissal or a heavily reduced pension.  A decision I feel is immoral for just getting older. The Government are also taking more pension contributions for longer and then paying out less.  This is unacceptable without any negotiation.The last time I checked we were in a Democracy, not a Dictatorship. My message to the Government is simple. Negotiate with us, don’t put us in a situation where we have no choice but to strike. It’s not fair on Firefighters or the Public. You have a responsibility to all of us. Take it seriously. This is not a game.

Please do not think that the decision to take Industrial Action has been taken lightly. It pains me that this has been our only option and even now the Government refuse to negotiate. I wish for no lives to be endangered, but this is only the beginning of our fight. More cuts are to come. You will have less and less Firefighters, less and less Fire Stations.The Government will try to tell you Fires are a thing of the past. This is not true. We still face overwhelmingly difficult fires on a daily basis across the UK. The Government however fail to tell you that flooding has significantly increased. They fail to tell you how the Fire and Rescue Service have had to face new threats with Terrorism as 7/7 showed. We face new challenges with more and more chemicals that are used in the modern world. The Government don’t tell you that much of what I do isn’t in my ‘role map’ but I do it voluntary so I can deal with anything thrown at me. We may be called Firefighters, but fires are only the start of it.

I implore you to speak to your MP and tell them your feelings. You can find them here http://findyourmp.parliament.uk. Go out and show your support on the picket lines. Speak to a Firefighter, they will be happy to answer any questions you have. We need you!  Help us to stand up for the future of not only ourselves, but the future of the Fire and Rescue Service in England.

Thank you for reading.

Yours sincerely

A Firefighter of England.

* http://www.fbu.org.uk/


Guest blog: Sisters Uncut

This a guest blog from Sisters Uncut a new network being set up to highlight cuts to domestic violence services. Find out more here.

sisters_504Calling all self-defining women who are furious about the impact of cuts to domestic violence services. A group of women from the direct action group UK Uncut are starting a ‘sister’ group – ‘Sisters Uncut.’ We plan to organise solely on the issue of cuts to domestic violence services in the run up to the general election. We need your help!

We are deeply concerned by the impact austerity is having on women. Doors are being closed on women fleeing violence. Refuges are being shut down, money for domestic violence services is shrinking, legal aid has been cut, social housing is scarce and private rents are extortionate. What’s more, local councils are selling out contracts to services who are running them on a shoe string – putting the safety of survivors at risk and deteriorating the working conditions for those who work with abused women. All the while, the number of women who are killed every week due to domestic violence is on the increase.

Austerity is adversely affecting women and is a reflection of gender inequalities within central and local government and the wider culture of misogyny in our society. We want to fight this and we want to do it together and we want to use direct action.

10387601_746606704857_8405796455147665116_nWhat do we want? Two things: 1. That local authorities provide adequate funding for domestic violence services and this is ring-fenced (meaning they have to spend it on these services). 2. Survivors of domestic violence are given priority when they apply for social housing.

How do we want to achieve this? A consistent campaign of direct action in the lead up to the election E.g. occupations, sit-ins, civil disobedience, road blocks etc. We want this to be relentless, we want women’s voices to be heard, for the powerful and privileged to realise that we’ve had enough of their entitlement and that we demand our rights.

Who do we want to target? Local authorities and the government. Local council budgets have been drastically cut because of decisions made by central government. But local authorities need to be held to account, they are choosing to ignore the needs of women, they are choosing to enable and maintain a culture that holds women responsible for the violence inflicted upon them, they are choosing to ignore women’s needs.

Who are ‘we’? We envision Sisters Uncut as an umbrella group to link up feminist groups and individuals. We want to have regular, open meetings for all self-defining women who wish to get involved. The meetings are for self-defining women so that they can be safe spaces for survivors. Our association with UK Uncut means we can use the UK Uncut platform to generate support, tie in our messaging with UK Uncut’s and draw on the group’s success at mobilising large numbers of people to take direct action against austerity.

Although we have an idea of what we want to achieve and how to make this happen, we would love to get input from a diversity of individuals and groups. We need as many women involved as possible for this to work: its time that we show the government what a real coalition looks like. Please join us for an open meeting where we can discuss all of the above in more detail and begin organising together!

Time: 
19.00-21.00

Date:
 6 November

Location: Cross Roads Women’s Centre, 25 Wolsey Mews, NW5 2DX

A creche will be provided.


Guest blog: Occupy Democracy

This is a guest blog from Occupy Democracy. Find out more about the project, and see a full list of workshops here. Follow @occupydemocracy and #occupydemmocracy to stay up to speed.

Our time is now.

In Hong Kong, hundreds of people are fighting courageously for the right to a real vote. They know that a system where candidates are decided by the state is no democracy.

In Scotland, 45% of people rejected Westminster rule. They know that a system that takes the power to make local decisions out of their hands is no democracy.

We know that democracy is not just about having a vote every four, now five years. It is about having the power to make your voice heard. We know that a government that answers to profit before people is no democracy.

ODIn the UK today, record numbers of people are homeless, record numbers rely on food banks to feed their families, and record numbers face fuel poverty as energy prices rise eight times faster than wages.

At the same time, inequality is back on the rise, making us one of the most unequal countries in the developed world. The amount we ask businesses to contribute to our social services in tax is set to be the lowest of any of the G20 countries. Tax evasion and avoidance costs the UK £95bn a year, enough to fund the NHS in England.

Nobody voted to be made homeless, hungry or unemployed.  It is clear whose voices are being heard.

We need to start a movement for real democracy. The voices of the majority have been ignored for too long. We need to give ourselves the tools to hold our politicians to account, and to end the corporate lobbying power that drowns our voices out.

To do it, we need a movement that cannot be ignored. That is why we are occupying Parliament Square from the 17th – 26th of October, to begin a fight for a real democracy (see the original call to action). There, in the shadow of Nelson Mandela’s statue, we will transform the Square into a civic space where we can re-envision what our society could be like, with talks, workshops, community assemblies, music and theatre.

385590There is one thing that every successful social justice movement has had to overcome: the prevalence of the belief that the status quo is how it has to be. That there is no alternative. All of us can feel weakened and ground down by that belief, but all of us must have the courage to overcome it. To imagine a different future for ourselves. To show each other that there is an alternative. Because the current system relies entirely on our believing that there isn’t.

The austerity measures imposed on us for the sake of economic growth, our continued reliance on dirty coal and oil, our hospitals closing, our transit systems worsening while fares rise, our children attending under-funded schools with exhausted underpaid teachers – we only accept these things because we let ourselves believe there is no other way of doing things.

But please, join us for the Occupation. Try imagining there is another way. Do it with people you love, people you trust, with experts and activists and people to be inspired by. If you’re reading this, you’re invited. Your friends, family, colleagues are invited. Now is the time to produce our vision of a sane, workable, inspiring alternative, together. Come to learn, discuss and participate. Dare to believe that there is an alternative.

We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.

Rise, like lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number!
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you:
Ye are many—they are few!


Guest blog: #stopMIPIM

This is a guest blog from Digs, a grass roots group supporting and empowering Hackney renters. Digs are one of the groups involved in organising #stopMIPIM. These actions are part of a week of strikes and protests that are seeing people reclaim the political agenda after the political party conference season. Join in this Saturday at the big demo in London.

 

Why does London have 344,000 people on council waiting lists? Why is homelessness soaring despite Boris Johnson’s promise to rid London of rough sleeping? And why are more and more people pushed into bad housing in an exploitative private rented sector?

These are the kind of questions politicians are finding it more and more difficult to ignore, as peoples’ chance of decent, secure housing is torn apart by a historically brutal housing crisis.

For answers to these questions, more people are looking to the dark, murky world of property investment, represented in perhaps its most odious form by MIPIM, the world’s largest property fair. This is the prestigious annual event where wealthy, profit-hungry developers rub shoulders with local councils and public bodies to sell off public land.

MIPIMMany of the ‘regeneration’ projects which have left local people displaced and short changed can be traced back to MIPIM conferences of previous years. And these deals have led to terrible results for local people as they are forcibly removed from their homes and communities into housing that is neither secure nor affordable. Social housing units are replaced with luxury flats. And meanwhile leaseholders are forced by developers to sell their homes at significantly less than market value.

Boris Johnson, who opened MIPIM this morning, argues we need to build our way out of this housing crisis. But build what, and for whom?

The vast majority of new housing stock being built in London is sold to investors seeking lucrative returns. Unsurprisingly, this isn’t producing the genuinely affordable housing people of London so desperately need. MIPIM normally happens in Cannes, France but this year it comes to London for the first time. An error of scheduling you might think when you consider the movement for housing justice growing so rapidly across the capital.

This year’s #stopMIPIM actions promise to be bigger and louder than previous years. The devastation wreaked by the current housing crisis has acted as a tidal wave pulling more and more people into action. People who have never seen themselves as political before are tired of standing by while their homes and communities are sold from underneath them.

As well as the swell of grass roots activism that MIPIM has inspired, local councils have been boycotting the event, voicing their opposition to the housing policies MIPIM represents. Tower Hamlet, Hackney, Hammersmith and Fulham and Islington Council are among those who’ve confirmed they won’t be attending MIPIM.

Here’s some of the ways you can get involved:


CALL OUT: October 18th and week of actions

Join the UK Uncut bloc on the TUC rally on Saturday 18. Meet under Waterloo Bridge at 11am. Look out for the UK Uncut flags. We’ll join the main march and have some fun along the way. At the end of the rally in Hyde Park, meet at Hyde Park Corner to join Occupy Democracy in Parliament Square.

The political party conference season is finally over – now we can get on with some real politics. They’ve had their say, now we’re going to have ours.

Let’s talk about tax dodging by the super-rich costing us £100bn a year. Let’s talk about CORPORATE welfare hand-outs that cost us £85bn a year. Let’s talk about how the 5 richest families in the UK are wealthier than the bottom 20% of the population – 12.6m people! Let’s talk about how in the world’s 6th richest country, there’s more than enough money to ensure everyone has a place to call home, food on the table and access to vital public services: free education, health and care. Let’s talk about how austerity is a political choice, not an economic necessity. Let’s talk about the alternatives.

The Conservatives attack the poor. We can’t believe a word the FibDems say. UKIP blame foreigners. And Miliband forgot most of his speech – the bit about taking on the banks, making the super-rich pay up, reversing the cuts and standing up for people.

Political parties are rapidly proving themselves to be obsolete. But that doesn’t mean that politics doesn’t matter. Politics doesn’t belong to the architects of austerity in Westminster, it belongs to us, the people.

The ‘big’ parties have a membership of less than 400,000. The trade unions have a combined membership of over 6.5m. And they’re mobilising. On Saturday October 18, hundreds of thousands of people will be on the streets of London, demanding an end to austerity from the government and poverty pay from the big companies. Join the UK Uncut bloc on the demo.

marchBut marching alone won’t change things. In the week leading up to the march, workers will be taking part in strikes. Strike action is direct action. And people will be mobilising to make themselves heard on issues from fracking to housing.

UK Uncut has always supported workers taking action. On March 26 2011, when half a million people were on the streets, UK Uncutters took part in one of the biggest acts of civil disobedience in this country for decades when we occupied Fortnum and Mason. When 750,000 people went on strike on June 30 2011, UK Uncutters supported their pickets with Big Society Big Breakfast. When 2m people went on strike later that year, UK Uncutters supported them with SolidariTEA. And when hundreds of thousands of workers marched on October 20 2012 UK Uncutters joined the march, and then joined up with DPAC to block a major road.

solidariTEA4In the lead up to the march, support the people on strike – go to their picket and take them a cup of solidaritea. Take a pic and share it on twitter with #UKUncut. And find the local actions and protests happening near you.

Then join the UK Uncut bloc on October 18. Join the facebook event and check back here for details. Bring flags, bring banners, bring your friends and family. And watch this space for some surprises to be announced.

See you on the streets.

Actions and strikes:

Saturday 11 – Global Frackdownhappening everywhere! AND European wide day of action against TTIP

Monday 13-Wednesday 15 – strikes in NHS, local government and civil service! Happening nationwide

Wednesday 15-Friday 17 – Homes for People not Profit – actions in London

Saturday 18 – demos in London, Glasgow and Belfast

Join the UK Uncut bloc on the TUC rally on Saturday 18. Meet under Waterloo Bridge at 11am. Look out for the UK Uncut flags. We’ll join the main march and have some fun along the way. At the end of the rally in Hyde Park, meet at Hyde Park Corner to join Occupy Democracy in Parliament Square.


Crash Clegg’s Conference Speech

It’s time for Clegg’s big speech, and time for us to take action. We’ve had enough of being attacked by a cabinet of millionaires. At 1pm today let’s tell Clegg what we think of four years of Con Dem government, and show them we’re going to fight them all the way.

On Twitter:

At 1pm click these links to tweet at him, or make up your own. Tweet .@nick_clegg and use #ldconf and #UKUncut

Four years of Con Dem government

Clegg’s lies about tuition fees

More broken promises

Hands off our NHS

Letting the Tories into power

On Facebook:

At 1pm go to the Liberal Democrats facebook page and comment under their latest post. Be creative, and tell them what you think of the Con Dem government. Or you can copy and paste these comments below:

1.

Under the Con Dem coalition we’ve seen four years of savage cuts to public services. The public have been punished for a financial crisis that was caused by the rich. And what has Clegg done to rein in the Tory tyranny? Nothing. Instead we’ve seen the Fib Dems break promises and back policies that have caused suffering for millions of people. In the world’s sixth biggest economy, nearly 1 million people have been driven to food banks to feed themselves while in the last five years  the wealth of the richest 1,000 people in the UK has more than doubled and super-rich tax dodgers avoid over £100bn every year.

2.

Nick Clegg we’re sick of your lies. You promised a fairer tax system and to introduce a mansion tax. You promised you wouldn’t raise university tuition fees. You promised you’d protect the NHS and Sure Start Centres. And what happened? You climbed into bed with the Tories, went back on your promises and pushed through a whole host of ruthless austerity measures. You’ve demonised the marginalised as ‘benefit scroungers’ whilst letting the bankers and corporate tax dodgers off scot-free.

This is only going to work if everyone gets involved, so join in.

See you online


CALL OUT: Crash the Conferences: #ldconf

We’re coming for you Clegg!

We’ve already heard from the Tories and Labour, where Cameron/Miliband/Balls/Osborne gleefully sang the same song on austerity and cuts. Now the Liberal Democrat conference is upon us and no doubt they’ll be joining in loud and clear!

At 1pm on Wednesday October 8th, while the Lib Dems gather to hear Clegg’s big speech, we’re going to crash their conference. When Clegg starts talking, let’s flood the Lib Dems on facebook and trash Clegg on twitter – let’s tell Clegg that we will never forgive his lies and never forget that none of the cuts would have happened if he hadn’t teamed up with the Tories. More details here.

clegg-crown-copyright-prime-ministers-officeUnder the Con Dem coalition we’ve seen four years of savage cuts to public services. The public have been punished for a financial crisis that was caused by the rich. And what has Clegg done to rein in the Tory tyranny? Nothing. Instead we’ve seen the Fib Dems break promises and back policies that have caused suffering for millions of people.

They promised they’d implement a fairer tax system and introduce a mansion tax. They promised they wouldn’t raise university tuition fees. They promised they’d protect the NHS and Sure Start Centres. And what happened? They climbed into bed with the Tories, went back on their promises and pushed through a whole host of ruthless austerity measures. They’ve demonised the marginalised as ‘benefit scroungers’ whilst letting the bankers and corporate tax dodgers off scot-free.

Last week together we hijacked Cameron’s speech. Now it’s Clegg’s turn. Let’s not let the Lib Dem architects of austerity off the hook!

Nick Clegg will be making his speech this Wednesday at 1pm. Be ready.

See you online.