Sunday, 22 July 2012

If you are right, you have the right to fight

Language: under and over estimated in equal proportions, the use of it everyday to define, refine and confine sections of the community depending on the users capability or understanding. Two words used a considerable amount at the minute are militant and protester, usually in the same sentence.

From the free online dictionary:

Militant: to be vigorously active and aggressive, especially in support of a cause: militant reformers.
Protester: an expression or declaration of an objection, disapproval, or dissent, often in opposition to something a person is powerless to prevent or avoid: a protest against increased taxation.

Or from the Oxford dictionary;

Militant: favouring confrontational or violent methods in support of a political or social cause.
Protester: a person who publicly demonstrates opposition to something; a demonstrator.

These are the words that management and the media use everyday to describe working class people who are fighting for their basic rights to a livable wage and safe working conditions. Words that are unfair in their use that serve only to alienate and separate those standing up and speaking out from the rest of the working class who may well have resigned themselves to their own fate and scare any potential fence sitters away from joining a picket line, march or rally.

To stand up for what is right does not make you militant, it makes you passionate. To be passionate about a cause is not wrong.

To know you are right gives you the right to fight and this is exactly what people such as the Essex Fire Brigades Union members are doing, the cuts being faced by Essex fire crews affect the safety of every man, woman and child living in Essex. The cuts being pushed through in Essex are not for savings, they are of an ideological nature, this in itself is a very dangerous ethos for any fire authority to operate by because, ultimately, cuts costs lives. The budget for Essex Fire Service has increased from £70m to £77m, with reserves that went up from £4m to £12m, yet the management continue to plunder the service with devastating and needless cuts. In the 36 months since the initial dispute started there have been 160 firefighters lost.

The people of Essex that are standing up rightfully against these sweeping and savage cuts are also having the very essence of their human rights eroded by a totalitarian dictatorship who have imposed restrictions on their right to freedom of expression. It is a psychological war of oppression that would not be out of place in 1930's Germany. This is a problem shared in the wider community, something I feel becoming ever more present across all our daily lives with the creep of fascism spreading through society.

It is the elephant in the room nobody wants to talk about, the George Orwell state is upon us.

Outside Essex County Council - No more cuts

Essex to their credit have stood together in the face of some vociferous adversity from senior management. From body cameras being employed to spy on firefighters to CCTV being installed on community owned fire stations at the tax payers expense! Even police escort off stations on strike dates and fear of discipline and reprisal for daring to use words on a fire station that you can use in everyday life outside those very walls. The strike in Essex is a local dispute but it has national importance for us all, not just in the fire service but across all workers in the UK suffering in these times of austerity. Unions need to up their game by supporting each other both visibly at rallies and picket lines to financially aiding those people taking the decisions to withdraw their labour. This is not a decision made lightly. The show of unity and strength in Essex is something we should use to launch our own fight backs and we too must support them however we can.

Never have truer words been spoken

Whilst it is sad that workers across the country have felt that in order to be heard and have a chance of defending their working conditions they must take the challenging steps of strike action, let us not forget that this all comes against the back drop of billions of pounds of our money being spent on buying machines that deliver nothing but death, destruction and misery to countless souls around the globe. News just this week that the new stealth bomber being delivered to the UK is to be at a cool £100m for each jet, we can afford to wage illegal wars but not ensure we can retire in comfort after a life of service.

The march and rally in Essex was a resounding success but more can be and must be done if we are to continue this fight against ill judged idealism.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

The people united will never be divided

The boiling frog theory: throw a frog into a pan of hot water and he will jump out, put him into a pan of cold water and gradually turn up the heat and he will not sense the danger, he will sit there and perish.

This is the scenario today facing the public sector across the country.

Bit by bit public services are being eroded, department by department, until they are gone, privatised to be run for a profit by people that may not have our best interests at heart. These are classic divide and conquer tactics for the government and their pay masters who rely on the knowledge that (generally speaking) we will not stand up and speak out if something does not directly affect us. hey know a power grab will result in a violent kick back by the people but by picking us off one by one we will not see the bigger picture and react only when it is too late.

The result will be services that are nothing but a shell of their former selves.

The Independent today featured an article called 'how the coalition carved up the NHS' and was well worth reading. Key points it highlighted were the fact that the Tories viewed "choice, competition and a greater willingness to make use of the private sector" as the best way to improve the performance of the NHS; it goes on to say "the existing NHS executive was to be abolished and in its place a new economic regulator charged with proofing competition across the service, any willing provider as to be allowed to supply NHS care at NHS prices".

This is all well and good but as with all services that are privatised you get neither choice nor competition, prices increase steadily and then exponentially. Think train fares that happened to go up by 6% on average this year followed by the usual comments about how the increased fares will go to improving services, I guess we can live in hope.

What is more likely to happen with the NHS is that the vultures will circle and descend upon trusts across the country and fees will remain steady, for a while, but then costs will gradually increase with a number of excuses being reeled out for why and it will have happened steadily, over a period of time and the people will forget to ask what has changed?

Privatisation is a disease spreading through all public services, from vital services being outsourced such as training centres and workshops in the fire and rescue service, to entire police forces looking to privatise in some parts of the country. 

These profiteering pirates will serve only to line their pockets, not serve the people in their time of need.

The cuts agendas, the pensions lies and privatisation are all part of a bigger plan to chip away and fragment the public sector. The NHS, though the largest, is but one part of the public sector being  attacked that provide vital services to us all, with bi-weekly bin collections becoming a more regular occurrence, fewer street cleaners, fewer teachers to help shape our future generations bright minds, fewer firefighters and fewer police to arrest the banking terrorists mainly responsible for the economic crisis engulfing the world.

The need to stand up and speak out for each other is not a new concept but it is one that has become less obvious in recent times, our strength is our unity and by showing unity amongst all people within the public sector and to the very people they serve, the fight becomes a stronger one. This fight is not between each other but against the government, their paymasters and the banking terrorists. 

I shall finish with this play on words of a famous poem by Pastor Martin Niemoller:

"First they came for the Socialist,
but I did not speak out because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionist,
but I did not speak out because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Muslims,
but I did not speak out because I was not a Muslim.
Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me"

Friday, 6 July 2012

12 years and still roaming free

The British Grand Prix, scene of many a late night camp fire sing alongs at Camp Gallagher.

Since the ripe old age of 14 I have attended all but one of the Silverstone Formula 1 Grand Prix, with 12 of these coming by way of 4 days and 3 nights camping. In this time I have yet to put my hand in my pocket for overzealous teenage gate keepers looking to pocket a few quid and hand the rest to farmers, who I imagine have a similar tax arrangement as Jimmy Carr.

Now at the age of 29 (and old man time creeping up on me) the novelty of walking for miles on end around the area, looking for holes in fences, gates to climb or ditches to scurry through or leap over has worn as thin as Alan Shearers hair line. This year was even more off putting as carrying an injured shoulder left me with neither the gumption, nor the ability, to climb anything I could not swing my leg over.

After much deliberation (and an hour of walking in the only sun I thought I was going to see for the weekend) we stopped for a couple of pints at the village pub whilst everyone else had long given up and paid their camping fee and were now setting up. As the sun beat down my friend and I decided to bite the bullet and pay the £50 for a bit of grass, 5 toilets and 2 shower cubicles. On our slow walk to the main gate we were still debating whether we should offer the teenage gate keepers £20 quid in their pockets in exchange for letting two out of shape and out of ideas old boys in to the camp site.

Luck it seems was on our side.

As we made our way up the long drive way to the entrance a convoy of 4x4's toeing caravans sped past us and joined the back of what was an already long line of eager petrol heads, so we strolled up to and through the gate without stopping.

Success was ours and all it took was a little patience...except we were in the wrong field and separated from Camp Gallagher by some impenetrable fencing.

With defeat snatched from the jaws of victory we turned on a dime and back out of the entrance and headed towards the correct gate. I could only put our mistake down to heat exhaustion, exasperated by the Corona consumption on the village pub wall.

Our excuses were set, in through the gate we went but it must have been a change of shift. An actor on his phone was all that stood between us and the mud bath awaiting us. He did not even give us a second look, such was the importance of his call. We were in and it was almost time for dinner. In the 2 hours it took us to get in the boys had already set up.

Every cloud has a silver lining.