Dave Nellist speaks at Birmingham bin workers picket line – join the protest this Sunday!

Dave Nellist speaks at Birmingham bin workers picket line – join the protest this Sunday!

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Bin workers attending the National Shop Stewards Network conference

Former Coventry Militant Labour MP Dave Nellist recently spoke on the picket line of the Birmingham bin workers dispute, which has resumed after the Labour council reneged on a deal they had agreed with the union. Watch the video below:

Workers have been issued with redundancy notices after the council withdrew an offer which meant there would be no redundancies. Other workers also face a £4000 a year pay cut.

There is a rally to support the bin workers being held in Birmingham on Sunday 17th September at 11am outside the council officers. Please come along to show solidarity with the workers in this dispute!

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Youth in Coventry and Birmingham demand a real living wage of at least £10 per hour

Youth in Coventry and Birmingham demand a real living wage of at least £10 per hour

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Socialist Youth campaigner supporting a real living wage of £10 per hour!

Youth Fight for Jobs were out on the streets of Coventry and Birmingham on Friday 1st April talking to the public about the introduction of the ‘national living wage’ and building the fight for a real living wage of at least £10 per hour, with no exemptions!

Hundreds of leaflets were distributed in both cities explaining that the Tories have not introduced a genuine living wage and that millions will stay face a battle against poverty.

Read this article from the current issue of The Socialist for more information

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In Birmingham

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End poverty pay!

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.

Hundreds protest across West Midlands against Tory Austerity Budget

Hundreds protest across West Midlands against Tory Austerity Budget

The Tories emergency budget on 8th July saw vicious attacks on huge sections of society. But one group particularly hard hit was young people. The abolition of student grants, attacks on our right to housing benefit and that under-25s will be excluded from the new so-called living wage, mean young people are facing an even more bleak and uncertain future. But Osborne’s cuts budget was met with resistance. Protests took place around the country. In the West Midlands, Youth Fight for Jobs and young members of the Socialist Party organised 6 events throughout the day.

Despite catching the only times during the day where it rained, protests were held in Wolverhampton and Nuneaton while the budget proposals were being announced. With Youth Fight for Jobs organised events taking place later on in the day in Stoke and Worcester as well.

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  Nuneaton Protesters

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Wolverhampton

Aidan from Nuneaton reported;“We had loads of good conversations with people who were disgusted with Tory austerity and happily signed petitions and took leaflets away about building the anti-austerity movement”

100 people also attended an early evening demonstration in Coventry, that marched from Broadgate Square to Coventry Council House. Linking the latest draconian austerity measures with the proposed attacks on Trade Union facility time by Coventry’s Labour Council.

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Coventry protesters march to the Council House

In Birmingham an energetic crowd over of over 300 people heard from numerous speakers of different ages, some being new to the experience.

A group photograph was taken in support of the Greek people, after which, everyone marched to the West Midlands BBC office. Chanting all the way, and gaining attention from passers-by, the march delivered a letter to the West Midlands BBC director requesting they present more anti-austerity coverage.

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Birmingham

YFJ’s lively stalls and their demands of a £10 an hour minimum wage, rebuilding public services and a 24-hour general strike were extremely popular. A short but vibrant rally included speakers from the RMT, CWU and Unison as well as YFJ and campaigners against cuts to local library services.

Overall, with a youthful and fresh feeling, the protests have added to the range of demonstrations held across the region and has received much positive feedback from people. Over 150 people signed up to be involved in YFJ’s future anti austerity campaigns across the West Midlands who had never participated in political activity before.

Nellist calls for halt to Bedroom Tax evictions

Former city councillor, Dave Nellist, has called for an end to Bedroom Tax evictions. The call came as the Leader of the Labour Party, Ed Miliband, was reported, by the Sunday People (01 Sept), as planning to announce later this month that a future Labour government would scrap the Tax.

Dave Nellist speaking on a Anti-Council Cuts Protest

Dave Nellist speaking on a Anti-Council Cuts Protest

Mr Nellist said:

“If the announcement takes place, and if it is honoured, that would be welcome. But if Labour now finally agree that the Bedroom Tax should not exist they should immediately take measures to shield people from its consequences.

Firstly, where councils own housing stock, or where councillors sit on housing association boards, they should immediately halt enforcement measures against tenants in arrears.

Secondly, councils should step up discretionary housing payments to all affected tenants so no one goes into arrears because of the Tax.

And Labour nationally should announce a future Labour government would reimburse any council for spending, using reserves, or borrowing to protect tenants between now and the abolition of the Tax.

Anything less than such a robust response and some might think the Labour leak is less a genuine proposal than a cynical attempt to shore up Labour’s weak opinion poll position in the run up to their Conference.”

Mr Nellist has been speaking at a number of meetings in the Midlands setting up ‘anti Bedroom Tax’ groups following the suicide in May of 53 year old grandmother, Stephanie Bottrill, of Kingstanding, Birmingham.  The groups have set up networks to support people in arrears, and to organise community opposition to evictions.

Mr Nellist added:

“Whilst this Labour announcement would be welcomed, on its own it’s not enough to reverse the savage attacks which have taken place on working people in general, and on the poorest sections of society in particular.

Ed Miliband needs not only to promise to scrap the Bedroom Tax, but announce policies to end the indignity of the need for food banks, to reverse the cuts in the real value of benefits, to lift real wages and pensions, and to end the growing scandal of zero hour contracts which for many hundreds of thousands of young people are the only alternative to long-term unemployment.

It’s to tackle those wider issues, which Labour is still ignoring, that needs a new political party, one that will challenge all the pro austerity parties at the ballot box. The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition intends to stand 600 candidates at next May’s elections highlighting all the attacks on working people and their families and offering a break from the austerity coalition which still unites all the big four parties.”