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Showing posts from February, 2012

Let’s Build the Houses – Quick!

by Cathy Davis & Alan Wigfield

Some 4.5 million people are waiting for good quality, permanent council and housing association homes. In response to equally devastating shortages in 1945, Attlee's newly elected Labour Government prioritised council house-building, built to a high standard. We draw inspiration from this experience, and argue that a future government needs to emulate this achievement, prioritise high standard housing and 'build the houses – quick!'

This timely pamphlet develops the argument advanced in the authors' socialist critique of New Labour’s record, Housing: Did it have to be like this? (published in 2010), by taking account of developments under the Coalition Government and making proposals for a fundamental change of direction. For 15 years, privatisation has dominated discussion about the future of housing in the UK. This series of pamphlets will get people re-thinking priorities and planning alternatives. Let’s build the houses – quick! is …

Report from Hawaii - Darkness in Paradise

Dave Webb, Chair of CND, sent this eyewitness report on the increasing militarisation of Hawaii.

Been here a couple of days now – it’s an amazing place. A range of volcanic islands and a holiday paradise that is also one of the many military oppressed islands in the Pacific Region. The political and military importance of this region is not escaping the islanders. President Obama’s moves to escalate the US military presence here is threatening even further the lives and livelihoods of the people. It is unlikely that holidaymakers will be aware of the history of the Islands and the past and present domination of the US military industrial complex there – which exercises a cynical and arrogant display of power.

We are staying on Oahu, one of the Hawaii chain and the Island that includes Honolulu and Pearl Harbour and yesterday we had a 10-hour tour (known as the De-Tour) of the militarization of Oahu. Kyle Kajihiro, former director of the American Friends Services Committee peace program,…

Framing Ideas - Lord Byron

The new issue of The Spokesman includes Lord Byron's scintillating speech in defence of Nottinghamshire's followers of Ned Ludd, made 200 years ago.

George Gordon Byron, the 6th Baron Byron, was the ‘examplar’ of the aristocratic rebel, according to Bertrand Russell. At ten years old, after living modestly in Aberdeen, he suddenly found himself a Lord and the owner of Newstead Abbey, the Byrons’ ancestral home in Nottinghamshire. From there, he was to make a powerful impact on the wider world, which resonates to this day. In Greece on the 29 February, 2012 the Byron League is organising an international meeting to mark the 200th anniversary of the good Lord’s maiden speech against the Framework Bill and in favour of social justice. The Spokesman will be there.

In 1812, a popular uprising swept across parts of the Midlands and North of England. The development of new machines for textile production was causing widespread distress. Independent manufacturers were being squeezed out…

The Right to Useful Work

In her article for the Guardian, Green jobs: a utopia we nearly had, Green jobs: a utopia we nearly had, Anna Karpf revisits workers' plans for their enterprises to produce socially useful goods, which unleashed much creative energy during the 1970s and continue to resonate to this day.

"Four decades ago, a green way out of recession was proposed. Lucas Aerospace, a major designer and manufacturer of combat aircraft and missile systems, planned to close a number of factories and make 20% of its 18,000-strong workforce redundant. The shop stewards combine committee, representing the 13 different trades unions in the company, decided to draw up "an alternative corporate plan for socially useful and environmentally desirable production". It sent out a questionnaire to the company's 17 plants, as well as outside experts, asking for an inventory of skills and machinery that already existed, and ideas about what they should make.

The company's workers – both blue an…

Pivot Toward Asia-Pacific

Youngsil Kang from Gangjeong village on Jeju Island joined me at Bath Iron Works yesterday as workers streamed out of the shipyard at 3:30 pm. Youngsil is traveling around the U.S. for two months and did a talk in New York City last week. We were lucky to have her visit Bath yesterday. Two local newspapers covered her visit - one of the stories will appear in the paper today and the other next Thursday.

It was a surprise for the workers to see the Korean banner Youngsil held (No Navy Base) but of course they did not know what it said. I called out to them as they passed by telling them she was from South Korea and that she came from a place where the Aegis destroyers they build will be ported.

Usually on such a day I've had at least a dozen workers take my flyers but yesterday, with three cameramen snapping photos, only two took Youngsil's letter. (One of those taking photos was BIW worker Peter Woodruff who shares a weekly radio show with me on WBOR at Bowdoin College. Youngsil…