Friday, January 27, 2012


The Tricycle in London has established a reputation for groundbreaking political theatre, and their upcoming season, which will run across the theatre,cinema and galley will continue this, exploring the Nuclear Bomb and its proliferation from 1940 to the present day, and the dangers we face.

The season includes ten short plays by some of Britain and America's best playwrights performed in two parts, an extraordinary international film festival (with cult classics like Dr Strangelove and insightful documentaries like Countdown to Zero), exhibitions with talented artists including Ralph Steadman, and talks including 'How to split the Atom'. More details can be found on the website:

SPECIAL PREVIEW OFFER: We have a limited number of £10 tickets (usually £14) for February performances for each blast of THE BOMB – a partial history. Be quick to get yours! Book in advance either online or via the box office with the promotional code: NUCLEAR

(Offer excludes 20 Feb, 23 Feb, 28 Feb & 29 Feb. Only a limited number of ticket are available at this price)

Box Office: 020 7328 1000

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

In Place of Austerity by Dexter Whitfield

A review by Nick Grant in Socialist Review, January 2012

Understanding the real reasons for the assault on public sector workers is a first crucial step in calibrating our best response, especially if we hope to win some battles in this prolonged war.

Dexter Whitfield systematically aids our task in this essential handbook for all those engaged in resistance from within unions as well as community and national coalitions. Whitfield argues that even with equitable taxation providing increased revenue for public health, education, welfare, housing and other services, the prevailing neoliberal consensus forces all recent UK governments to provide the political petri dish for four capitalist objectives.

Firstly, the marketisation and privatisation of services provide "new opportunities for capital accumulation". Governments create self-abolishing markets that lead to the transfer of functions to private enterprise. Business takes an ever larger role in public policy making.

So we have, for example, Michael Gove announcing on 1 December the entrance of US education privateer Edison into the UK "free" school game, despite it's abysmal track record in school provision and management. Secondly, "power thereby shifts from state to capital", from employees to employers, from service users to private contractors.

Deregulation weakens unions, and employees' basic entitlements. Council-based trade union facility agreements, for example, could end up in the dustbin of history in 2012 if the Taxpayers Alliance and the Daily Telegraph get their way.

Thirdly, "risk, cost and responsibility are transferred from the state to individuals". Most services are thus provided by private contractors working to contract as agents of the state. Veolia, the world's biggest water utility, for example, probably empties your bins, paying employees less than before on worse hours and conditions.

Fourthly, as a contradiction "capital can reduce the role of the state, yet safeguard corporate welfare". Tax breaks, subsidies and regulatory concessions increase both secrecy and business involvement in public policy making. Together these approaches amount to a deconstruction of democracy at all levels from your town hall via Westminster, Holyrood and Cardiff to Brussels. Whitfield then notes, crucially, the massive contradiction for such neoliberalism in the post-2008 recession. It failed.

Deregulation, marketisation, competition and debt-driven consumerism brought about the erosion of transparent, democratic accountability and withthem came shameless greed, profiteering and illegal and corrupt practices.

There is a vast amount of data and analysis here to arm most of us in our daily fights with bosses of all kinds. There is a blind spot, however. Both socialism in general and the Labour Party in particular, despite much talk of social need, are beyond Whitfield's scope, despite his concluding note that, "The deconstruction of democracy will not be defeated by trade unions, community organisations, civil society organisations or political groups acting alone." This crucial question of the agency of change is one we cannot duck.

In Place of Austerity is published by Spokesman, £18

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Friday, January 6, 2012


Dear friends,

We hope this letter finds you all well, and wish you all the best for new year.

As you are of course aware, the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, and the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, have both had a dramatic impact around the world. In response to this massive disaster and its tragic consequences to people's lives and environment, the people of Japan are trying to take steps towards recovery. Meanwhile, the nuclear power plant is still unstable and workers are forced to continue working in life-threatening conditions. As the radioactive contamination spreads, many people including children are forced to suffer from prolonged radiation exposure, unable to evacuate due to lack of support from the government.

It is vital that we do not continue to make the same mistakes. It is now time for humanity to put an end to the nuclear age that started with Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In Japan, well over half the population now supports the goal of breaking away from nuclear power. However, many people question whether it is practically possible to bring nuclear power to an end. For these reasons and more, as you may have heard, a coalition of Japan-based organizations will hold the Global Conference for a Nuclear Power Free World ( in Yokohama, Japan on January 14-15, 2012.

Lack of recent media coverage threatens to diminish public attention to the dangers of nuclear power. For this reason we are writing to ask for your support. We would greatly appreciate your help to encourage individuals, organizations and companies to help, take action and participate in this vitally important conference as a positive step towards the future.

- This conference will create a venue for people from all around the world to gather in Japan and respond to the reality of Fukushima.

- We will bring together the voices of people who suffer from radiation exposure all around the world, whether by nuclear power or nuclear weapons - "Global Hibakusha". We will learn from each other's experiences to illustrate the human and environmental consequences of the nuclear chain.

- The conference will also aim to demonstrate that it is realistically possible to create a society that is not dependent on nuclear power.

- Through learning from experiences from around the world, we aim to create a road map for the safe removal of existing nuclear power plants, and from there, present alternative policies based on renewable energy and propose action plans that can be implemented by Japan and other countries.

People from Japan and around the world are encouraged to join the Conference through any of the following ways:

- Provide an individual or organizational message and photograph in support of the Conference (email to

- Participate in the conference here:

- Share information about the conference with your network

- Donate to support the organization of the conference here:

This event will be an important and positive step for Japan and other countries towards taking action for a nuclear power free world. The presence of both organizations and independent citizens will show that efforts since the disaster to learn from Fukushima have not gone unnoticed. It is also a chance for us to show the people of Fukushima, many of whom feel despondent about the future, that positive action is being taken.

The Organizing Committee is made up of the Citizens' Nuclear Information Centre (CNIC), FoE Japan, Green Action, Greenpeace Japan, the Institute for Sustainable Energy Policies (ISEP) and Peace Boat. While the Organizing Committee is now striving to raise the funds for the conference, we would also like to ask for any suggestions for funding or publicity. If you have any suggestions or ideas, please contact us at any time.

The input of individuals and organizations such as yourself is vital to the success of this conference. Please support us in taking these steps towards a sustainable, nuclear free world!

Thank you for your attention. We look forward to your support.

Kind regards,
Akira Kawasaki
Executive Committee, Peace Boat Organizing Committee, Global Conference for a Nuclear Power Free World

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