Report from a Coventry Socialist on International Women’s Day protest in Israel-Palestine

Report from a Coventry Socialist on International Women’s Day protest in Israel – Palestine

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Protest in Tel Aviv

On a recent visit to Israel a member of Coventry Socialist Party attended a protest linked to International Women’s Day initiated by Socialist Struggle, part of the Committee for a Workers’ International and the Socialist Party’s sister organisation in Israel – Palestine.  Socialist Struggle then proceeded to support a protest organised to demand bilingual education in Jaffa.

Below is a report with pictures

Demonstrations in Tel Aviv and Haifa

Last week saw protests organised in the cities of Tel Aviv and Haifa by members of Socialist Struggle (Maavak Sozialisti / Nidal Eshteraki), to fight against sexism and the oppression of women under capitalist society. The protests, which took place during the same week as International Women’s Day, drew attention to the link between the current system , the situation for women and why socialist change is needed across the world.

In Tel Aviv the vibrant and lively protest saw hundreds of leaflets distributed outlining the Socialist viewpoint, with copies of The Maavak, the newspaper of Socialist Struggle being sold.

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The newspaper ‘Maavak’ and leaflet against sexism and oppression

The poor situation facing women was highlighted – from the fact that since 2011 over 100 women have been murdered in Israel, mostly by their partners,  that there are around 200,000 victims of domestic violence, street harassment and that women receive less pay amongst many other issues.

Struggle together

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Marching through the streets

A speaker for Socialist Struggle won applause by calling for solidarity with the strike of Palestinian teachers in the West Bank which was taking place at the time.

The leaflet pointed out that Palestinian women in the Occupied Territories are the main victims of the collective punishment measures such as house demolitions and the closure and denial of access to social services, health care and so on, whilst the call by government ministers for Jewish citizens to carry guns only increases the risk of Jewish and Arab women, including from violence by family members.

Furthermore that there needs to be a joint struggle of women and men, Israeli and Palestinian for social justice and peace, an end to the policy of ‘conflict management’ and an end to the occupation and settlements which promises only more rounds of bloodshed.

Fight the system

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Fighting for Socialism

A key aspect of the protest was to point out that

‘Sexism and discrimination against women are nurtured and emboldened by poverty, privatisation, unemployment, wars and environment destruction – these are not an act of fate, but the result of the capitalist system being waged for the sake of profit and not the needs of the majority. International Women’s Day shows a long tradition of working class women’s struggle against discrimination and against capitalist exploitation.’

Demanding bilingual education in Jaffa

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Fighting for bilingual education

After completing the protest against oppression of women, members of Socialist Struggle joined a rally in a main square in Tel Aviv outside the national theatre where hundreds of Israelis and Palestinians met to demand bilingual and integrated education in Jaffa.  In 2014 after the Gaza war far right activists incited by the racist propaganda of the Israeli government executed an arson attack on the bi-lingual school in Jerusalem. The attackers were arrested and identified themselves as activists of the fascist group LAHAVA that receives funding from the state which led to a series of protest on this issue in Jerusalem.

Read more about this protest from 972 magazine here

Socialist Struggle take part in joint Israeli-Palestinian Women’s Day demonstration

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No to the Occupation

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Members of Socialist Struggle also took part in a joint Israeli-Palestinian Women’s day demonstration on 4th March.  This took place next to an Israeli army check point south of the Palestinian village of Beit Jala in the Occupied West Bank as part of a series of monthly protests against the Occupation.

For more information and to find out more about the struggle for Socialism, please fill in the form below. Indicate if you would like to receive a bulletin produced by Coventry Socialist Party on Israel-Palestine

 

NUT protest in Coventry against Tory academy plans

NUT protest in Coventry against Tory academy plans

nut protest

Coventry NUT (National Union of Teachers) has organised a protest this week against Tory plans to turn every school in the country into an academy. The protest is outside Coventry DFE (Department for Education) offices in the Butts on Wednesday 23rd at 4.30pm.

We have already seen the negative effects of “academisation” in Coventry, with a number of schools such as Blue Coat, Grace Academy and Woodlands facing financial difficulty – Woodlands Academy is currently under threat of closure.

Forcing all schools to become academies is indicative of the Tories’ desire to privatise public services, by removing schools from local authority control and handing them over to big businesses. Teachers, parents and students need to fight these plans – save our schools!

Protest outside Coventry DFE on Wednesday 23rd at 4.30pm! 

Good riddance to IDS – time for all the Tories to go!

Good riddance to IDS – time for all the Tories to go!

Goodbye!

Goodbye!

Coventry Socialist Party celebrates the news that Iain Duncan Smith has resigned from his position as Work and Pensions Secretary. He states that the cuts to disability benefit were ‘not defensible’.

We find it highly unlikely that IDS has found a conscience – after all it is he who was overseeing savage cuts across the board to our welfare system prior to these latest proposed changes.

His decision represents a deep crisis in the Tory party which is also finding an expression with the leadership split over the EU referendum.

This is further example that the government is weak. The situation is crying out for organised mass pressure and resistance from working class people. The TUC needs to organise a mass national demonstration, not as a one off, but to prepare the ground for co-ordinated industrial action across the public and private sector, leading to a 24 hour general strike.

One Tory down, now let’s get rid of this whole government, build a mass fightback against austerity and for a socialist alternative to the nightmare of capitalism.

Please get involved by filling in the form below

Dave Nellist on the 25th anniversary of the release of the Birmingham Six

Dave Nellist on the 25th anniversary of the release of the Birmingham Six

The Birmingham Six celebrating their successful appeal

To mark the 25th anniversary – on 14 March – of the release of the Birmingham Six, Dave Nellist, former Coventry Labour MP, remembers their arrest and the campaign for their release. This article was originally carried in the Socialist Party’s newspaper, The Socialist.

On the night of Thursday, 21st November 1974, two IRA bombs exploded in central Birmingham pubs, destroying the Mulberry Bush and the Tavern in the Town, killing 21 people and injuring over 160. Many of the victims were themselves Irish.

Alongside the overwhelming sense of revulsion at the death and injury of ordinary working class people, the bombings triggered a wave of anti-Irish sentiment, particularly in the West Midlands. Petrol bombs were thrown at the Irish community centre in Digbeth, at an Irish pub in Kingstanding, and at Irish businesses and schools.

Workers walked out of the Leyland plant in Longbridge carrying placards demanding the hanging of the bombers. Support from small, fringe, allegedly Marxist groups in Britain for the right of the IRA to conduct an ‘armed struggle’ affected factory sales of genuine Marxist papers like the Militant.

Militant was in favour of workers’ unity in Northern Ireland, a struggle for a socialist Ireland with full rights for all minorities, and a socialist federation on an equal and voluntary basis of Ireland with England, Scotland and Wales.

Militant resolutely opposed the IRA’s campaign of individual terrorism which further divided working class people.

Six men from Birmingham who, before the bombs had exploded, had been travelling to Belfast, were arrested and beaten by West Midlands police during three days of lengthy periods of interrogation, which also involved food and sleep deprivation. Four of the men ‘confessed’. 14 prison officers charged with assault arising from the case were later all acquitted.

Scientific tests showed that statements the Six had made during their questioning had been altered at a later date. Forensic evidence ‘proving’ that two of the six had been handling explosives was challenged by an expert for the defence (the former Chief Inspector of Explosives for the Home Office) and later discredited.

16 years in jail

The Birmingham Six: Paddy Hill, Hugh Callaghan, Richard McIlkenny, Gerry Hunter, Billy Power and Johnny Walker, served 16 years in high security jails for that false accusation and wrong conviction.

Much of the investigative work in the 1980s which demolished the forensic evidence and alleged confessions was done for Granada TVs ‘World in Action’ by Chris Mullin (later to become a Labour government minister) and published in his book ‘Error of Judgement’.

At the Court of Appeal in 1991 new evidence was heard of police fabrication and suppression of evidence which, together with the discrediting of the forced confessions and the tainted forensic evidence, was so strong that the prosecution service decided not to oppose the appeal. Three police officers, including a superintendent, were later charged with perjury and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, but were never actually prosecuted.

The release of the Birmingham Six on 14 March 1991 was followed by a number of others who had been convicted of terrorist offences in the 1970s including the Guildford Four, and Judith Ward who had served 19 years of a 30-year sentence for the M62 coach bombing. The cases were joined by other miscarriages, including in the next six years 27 people having convictions quashed or charges dropped after evidence from West Midlands detectives was discredited.

Several of the Birmingham Six have continued campaigning, not only on their own behalf, but also for others.

Paddy Hill, less than five months after his release in 1991, accompanied me to Israel/Palestine as part of a week-long international delegation to attend the appeal of Mahmoud Masarwa, a Palestinian trade unionist wrongly convicted by Israeli courts of terrorism. A year later Paddy Hill was the main speaker at my election rally in the 1992 general election.

CWI-organised delagation to Israel-Palestine in August 1991. Dave Nellist on the left, Paddy Hill 2nd from right, Ann Whelan (Bridgewater 3 campaign) in the centre

More recently Paddy has campaigned alongside ‘Justice4the21’ – the group set up by family and relatives of those who died in the 1974 Birmingham pub bombings – and supported their petition for a new inquiry.

The Birmingham Six were political scapegoats. They were beaten and tortured until four of them ‘confessed’. For 16 ½ years millions of pounds of public money was used to sustain those wrongful convictions, and no one from the police or legal system was ever successfully prosecuted for the fraud and perjury that convicted them.

Wider accountability of the police and democratic control over them have yet to be achieved, as developing revelations about undercover policing and many other issues still show.

Record number of evictions in Coventry

Record number of evictions in Coventry

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Anti-bedroom tax campaigners prevent a tenant from being evicted

Figures released by the Ministry of Justice have shown a record number of tenants were evicted in Coventry last year. 288 homes were repossessed in the city, a 14% rise from 2014 – and the Citizens Advice Bureau has reported a 100% rise in enquiries about homelessness.

Sophie Parks, communications and marketing manager for Coventry CAB, was quoted in the Coventry Telegraph saying “The cost of living and low wages are factors but undoubtedly it is welfare reforms that are the predominant cause [of the rise in evictions].”

The MOJ figures only cover private tenancies, but last year Coventry Against the Bedroom Tax campaigners prevented two evictions from social housing properties which were caused by the bedroom tax and other benefit cuts. Sadly more evictions are to be expected with benefit cuts continuing to bite.

Coventry has become a paradise for landlords, with low regulation and plenty of students to exploit with higher rents – regardless of the consequences for communities throughout the city. The council should introduce compulsory registration for all landlords, and a cap on rents – but perhaps it’s not surprising that they haven’t done this, as at least eight Labour councillors including council leader Ann Lucas are believed to be landlords!

Coventry Socialist Party calls for:

  • No evictions here! An end to all evictions caused by benefit cuts and the bedroom tax. Join Coventry Against the Bedroom Tax‘s Anti Eviction Network!
  • Build council homes! For thousands of new council homes in Coventry.
  • End landlordism! Compulsory registration for all landlords in the city, to stop dodgy landlords ripping us off.
  • Cap rents not benefits! For a cap on rents to stop landlords milking tenants and raking in housing benefit with extortionate rents.

 

Protest against closure of Woodlands Academy

Protest against closure of Woodlands Academy

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Protest outside Woodlands Academy (photo Cov Telegraph)

Over 200 staff, parents and pupils gathered outside the gates of Woodlands Academy on a very cold and wet afternoon to protest at the proposals to effectively close Coventry’s only all boys school. Please read and share the below report from Jane Nellist, joint divisional secretary of Coventry National Union of Teachers (NUT) which represents many teaching staff at the school.

A consultation letter was sent to all parents and staff outlining plans to close Woodlands School and merge pupils into the neighbouring Tile Hill Academy, currently an all girls school, and that it would be renamed and become a co-ed school in 2017.

Woodlands School was built in 1954 as a purpose built Comprehensive school, one of the very first Comprehensive schools in the country.  It became an Academy in 2011 even though teachers and unions protested against the proposals and took strike action against the conversion.  At the time, unions warned that there was no guarantees of extra funding and new school buildings. That’s exactly what has happened.

We know that by 2020, Coventry will need to find many more school places for children that are currently in Primary Schools in the city due to population growth, and that’s without accounting for further housebuilding in the city.

This situation highlights the government’s chaotic  education policies with the growth in Academies along with the demise of the Local Authority and sensible democratic accountability, oversight and planning for school places. It is also a consequence of the government’s policy of agreeing to Free school expansion, including a Free school in the area, Finham 2, which has added to the destabilisation of school places in this area of Coventry.

The Department for Education, whilst agreeing to the Free Schools and pushing schools into becoming Academies is failing to step in and support schools. The marketisation of our schools and increased competition, encouraged by the Tories, is proving a disaster.

This has all contributed to the very worrying situation of the planned closure of one of Coventry’s schools, and the job losses of teachers and support staff at Woodlands.

Parents are angry, pupils are unsettled and staff are left with not knowing if they have a job.

Coventry parents, pupils and education staff deserve far better.

 

 

For a fighting students union – vote Aidan for President

Vote Aidan for President – for a fighting Socialist president and a fighting students union!

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Socialist Students including Aidan (centre) fighting for decent housing

Coventry Socialist Students have decided to make a stand during this year’s Student Union elections. One of the societies organisers, Aidan O’Toole is running for the position of President on a fighting socialist platform.

Since New Labour introduced tuition fees in 1998, students have been seeing increasing attacks on their right to education, the most recent being the scrapping of maintenance grants for students who need them the most for loans instead. This will add to the high levels of debt students face and act as a massive barrier to students from working class families.

We need an education fightback, for a national campaign to stop these attacks students are facing and to bring back free education and maintenance grants. A national movement is needed to force the government to change course – by linking up with other student unions and trade unions representing staff this could be done!

A prominent issue facing students in Coventry is the circus that is the housing market. Students are faced with dodgy landlords and rogue letting agencies from all angles, and are routinely exploited with high rent, expensive agency fees and substandard conditions! Things don’t have to be this way, and Socialist Students members on the SU council including Aidan have successfully put forward motions that allow the SU to fight dodgy landlords and letting agencies like FututeLets, but they haven’t.

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Aidan (second from right) campaigning with TUC Young Workers for a £10 an hour minimum wage

A fighting Socialist president would make sure that the full weight of the SU will be fighting for better housing. As housing effects the whole of Coventry a cross city campaign, with local activist organisations and resident associations, should be organised to force the council to act in the interests of its residents and not just the landlords.

Aidan says that if elected he will follow the example set by former Coventry MP Dave Nellist, who only took a workers wage, by only taking the average income of a working student and donating the rest of the salary to causes that support students and workers.

A key demand of the campaign is the call for a £10 an hour minimum wage, which Socialist Students also proposed to the SU council and was passed as policy – however, the union has not called for the university pay all staff at least this wage. If elected Aidan will campaign for all SU and university staff to be paid at least £10 an hour as a step towards a real living wage.

Coventry University SU is bureaucratic and run by careerists, but it doesn’t have to be like this. Students can change it by getting involved in the fight for a decent future, decent jobs, decent wages and decent homes.

As Socialists, our society has decided that by raising our demands we will provide a programme of policies that will allow students to take the fight outside the bureaucratic student council and into the wider community. For a fighting SU we need a fighting Socialist! Vote Aidan for CUSU President!

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For a president that will:

• Fight for free education and the restoration of student grants. We don’t deserve to leave university with £50k debt over our heads. We need to organise both at Coventry and also nationally to stop the Tory onslaught on our rights to education!

• Reject the full Sabb salary and only take the income of an average working student. Our representatives should not get special privileges.

• Campaign for a £10/hour min wage for SU & University workers. This is the TUC living wage. Say no to poverty wages!

• Organise against the casualisation of education. Education is not a commodity and the provision of education is not a business. A joint campaign with the UCU will unite both students and lecturers.

• Stand up to dodgy landlords and rogue letting agency’s domination the housing market. Across Coventry campaign to force the local council to tackle the housing problem, with the Tenants Union playing a central role.

Determined Junior Doctors begin 48 hour strike in Coventry

Determined Junior Doctors begin 48 hour strike in Coventry

Junior Doctors took to the picket line at the entrance to Walsgrave Hospital once again this morning despite the relentless rain.

It marked the beginning of the first of three 48 hour strikes planned by the BMA for 9-10 March, 6-7 and 26-27 April, in response to Health Minister Jeremy Hunt’s declaration of war on the doctors by imposing a contract which will remove safeguards to them working more unsocial hours, and for less pay.

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It’s clear that this dispute is over so much more than pay and hours. Junior doctors know the NHS is under threat. This contract is part of the Tories’ plan to destabilise the NHS, run it down, claim it is failing, and then pass it over to the eagerly waiting hands of the private sector.

Doctors didn’t pick this fight but make no mistake, they are determined to win it! They know what’s at stake. It is essential for all health workers and all of us who use the NHS to support them in their fight. Other health unions need to show the determination of their BMA colleagues and come together to organise coordinated action to save the NHS.

Emergency protest

A national demonstration in March should be called as an emergency to galvanise support behind health workers and build for an intensive campaign to defeat the government.

Fifa: invest in working class sport, not profits

Fifa: invest in working class sport, not profits

Coventry City fans protest against owners SISU

The below article from The Socialist was written by Socialist Party member Jane Nellist, who is joint divisional secretary of Coventry NUT and the secretary of Coventry Trades Council.

Fifa, football’s corruption-ridden international governing body, elected its new president on 26 February.

I’m a lifelong Baggies supporter (West Bromwich Albion). Like millions of working people across our planet, I enjoy the thrills, as well as the frustrations, of a game of football. It offers 90 minutes of escape from the drudgery of living under capitalism and the pressure of work and austerity.

But just as workers in their workplaces are exploited by big business, those at the top of the organisations that run football exploit the fans.

It’s often described as the ‘beautiful game’. But behind it lie ugly, bribe-taking, pro-big business organisations, the biggest being Fifa itself.

Even a scene from the new Sacha Baron Cohen film Grimsby refers to this. The main character, Nobby, a football hooligan, is told by his brother, a top spy: “Meet the head of the biggest crime syndicate in the world.” Nobby replies: “What, she runs Fifa?”

The big question for football fans around the world is: can Fifa reform itself? New president Gianni Infantino spent €500,000 of European football organisation Uefa’s money to travel the world in the run-up to the election.

Can Infantino fumigate this multi-billion pound organisation of the stench of corruption? I don’t think so. It’s too infected with greed and bribery for us to have any faith in it.

Football’s huge profits should be democratically controlled by fans, and invested in local communities across the world. To enable boys and girls to enjoy the true spirit of the game. The social interaction, team work, discipline, exercise – the joy of playing.

As the Socialist Party’s John Reid has excellently argued in his sell-out book Reclaim the Game: “the fight to democratise football is linked with getting rid of big business domination within it.” It’s time to show Fifa the red card!

  • ‘Reclaim the Game’ by John Reid: a socialist approach for football – £3 from leftbooks.co.uk