Govt bans peaceful protest against war criminal

We will defy the ban on peaceful protest
13/06/2008

Liberal Democrat Shadow Home Secretary, Chris Huhne has requested Home Secretary Jacqui Smith to lift the ban on the peaceful protest against George Bush this Sunday. The Stop the War Coalition has vowed to defy the ban.

Lindsey German, Convenor of the Stop the War Coalition said, “We are still intending to march to Whitehall this Sunday. We don’t accept that this is an issue of security, it’s an issue of the right to protest against the greatest war criminal the world has ever seen.

Coming after the 42 days fiasco we see the ban as a further infringement of our civil liberties. So we will have to defy the ban.”

The Left List will have a major presence on the demonstration and call on our supporters to join us on the march. Stop the War put out the following press release after Chris Huhne’s letter to the Home Office earlier today.

British right to protest must not be curtailed by US requests

Liberal Democrat Shadow Home Secretary, Chris Huhne today wrote to Jacqui Smith calling on her to overturn the ban on a march against George Bush this Sunday.

Calling the ban ‘the final straw’ after Wednesday’s vote on 42-day detention, he wrote: “Just because the votes of these protesters cannot be bought, it does not mean that their voices should not be heard by those in 10 Downing Street.

“In this country we have a long tradition of peaceful protest and would be shocked if British civil liberties were curtailed at the request of a foreign government.”

Respect for the Shell strikers

From the website:

Respect MP George Galloway has today offered full support to the Shell tanker drivers, members of the Unite union, who have begun a four day strike.

“No one takes the decision to strike lightly,” he said. “Anyone who’s ever lost a day’s pay by taking industrial action will know what the tanker drivers have gone through to reach this point.

“Their strike deserves the support of working people across Britain, whose pay is being held down below the true rate of inflation. Instead of macho posturing, as he’s doing over our civil liberties, Gordon Brown would be better off ensuring fair pay for the tanker drivers, who after all work in an industry that is making record profits from the price of oil.”

Galloway has written to the Unite union and to tanker drivers offering support from Respect.

Message of support:

The billionaire-owned press and politicians from all the establishment parties seem to think that workers who transport fuel don’t have to pay for it at the pump or through soaring prices for food and domestic heating.

Of course you do. And like the rest of us you are fleeced by the robber barons of the oil industry, only for you it’s twice over.

I and Respect know you have not decided to strike lightly. You are fully justified in taking action to achieve long overdue pay increases – which are needed now to keep pace with inflation. The Bank of England has acknowledged that it is not the pay of working people that is driving inflation. Rather it is the greed of companies such as Shell who are profiteering from the price of oil.

In any sane society you would have decent pay, pensioners would not be frightened to turn the heating on in winter for fear of the bills, and our scarce natural resources would be husbanded carefully to meet the needs of everyone on the planet and future generations.

Instead, we’ve got obscene profits alongside rising prices, repossessions, job insecurity and stress.

It’s not only the whole trade union movement who should back you. It is everyone who is hit by the rising cost of a loaf of bread or a packet of rice; the majority of people in Britain who spend most of their income on food and fuel. The lorry owners have something to fall back on. Those who work for a living have nothing except their ability to stand together for the common good.

In pursuing this entirely justified action for decent pay you are not only helping yourselves and your families; you are providing an example for everyone else. If you win, the teachers in your children’s schools might feel emboldened to take further action for decent pay and proper funding for education; others might fight for the pay & resources that will stop vital staff from leaving our public services.

The zealots of failed free market economics say that this will lead to a wage-price spiral. Well it won’t do if the government stepped in to control prices, to prevent profiteering, just as we did in previous national emergencies, just as we did during the Second World War.

This government says we should lock people up for 42 days on the grounds of national security. If they were sincere about that, they’d be banging up the saboteurs who run the oil and gas companies. But all the establishment parties are happy for us to be held hostage by the corporations.

Respect doesn’t agree. And we support you 100 percent.

In solidarity,
George Galloway MP

The Green Party has also backed the action by tanker drivers:

principal speaker Caroline Lucas MEP has pledged the party’s support for the pay claim of the Shell contract drivers […] She also reiterated the Greens’ policy to levy a windfall tax on oil profits to pay for investment to lower fuel bills. […]

“The drivers have our unreserved support in their pay claim. As the demand for oil outstrips supply, Shell profits have soared to £14billion a year – they can afford to pay fair wages. Instead, they choose to squeeze workers for everything they can get.

“It’s about time oil corporations were held to account. They are the winners from the fuel crisis. As pensioners struggle to keep warm, workers have their wages driven down and people worldwide fall victim to deadly floods, storms and droughts, the oil bosses pat each other on the back and award themselves another bonus.

“Shell should stump up, pay their hauliers properly right now, and end this strike. Then they should expect a windfall tax on their enormous profits, gained at the expense of ordinary people. We need warm homes, proper public transport and efficient freight transfer, and the oil profiteers should be paying for it.”

The Irish people say no, the Eurocrats hear yes

Right, so. A victory for popular sovereignty, first of all.

Ireland’s constitutional “oddity” (as it was described by some commentators) means that – would you believe it – the people must be consulted on major changes in the country’s affairs.

By a narrow but significant margin, the No campaign won:

All but six constituencies have rejected the treaty.

Ireland was the only country to hold a referendum on the treaty. The campaign for a no vote won significant majorities among the urban working class and in rural areas in particular.

All the established parties in the Irish Republic backed the treaty. The Labour Party backed it as did some trade unions and the Green Party was split on the issue, with their government ministers campaigning for a yes vote. The bosses organisations spent millions campaigning in favour of the treaty.

Activists from the left and the anti-war movement have held rallies across the country and delivered leaflets to millions of homes.

Socialist Appeal describes the significance of the vote:

Thus a small nation of 4.2 million (with an electorate of just over 3 million) may decide the fate of the latest attempt to achieve some kind of EU-wide Constitution. Had the citizens of other EU countries (almost 500 million of them) been allowed to vote most likely many of them would have voted in a similar manner.

What the vote reveals is an instinctive mistrust of the European Union bureaucracy and what it stands for. We should not forget that the European Union has been used as an excuse, in all countries that make it up, for draconian anti-working policies over a period of decades. Let us not forget the Maastricht Treaty with its stringent conditions on public spending, which were used to justify cuts in pensions, social welfare and so on. Everything was done with the excuse that “this is necessary if we want to be a part of Europe”.

So long as the economy was booming workers could, to a degree, tolerate these attacks on their living standards. After all, there were jobs. Yes, jobs with worsening conditions and longer hours, but there was an outlet. Now unemployment is growing, inflation is on the up and workers across Europe are feeling the pinch. And Ireland is no exception.

In this vote we see a rejection of the policies of the present three-party Irish coalition government. Before the previous Prime Minister, Bertie Ahern, resigned there was concern that the electorate might use the referendum to cast a vote of no confidence in him. With Ahern gone they though this problem had been removed. They ignore the fact that working people in Ireland can see that the new Prime Minister stands for the same things. It is against policy that the electorate has voted, not individuals.

The vote was also a rejection of the big business interests that lie behind the European Union. It is also an indication that things are going to be different in Ireland from now on. The level of strikes has gone up, with some very militant struggles in the recent period. The Trade Union leaders campaigned for a “Yes” vote but failed to convince the workers. In the coming period they will also fail to hold back the tide of militancy.

This was not just one little referendum in a small corner of Europe. It is the tip of an iceberg of a much bigger picture, one of growing instability across Europe and one of growing polarisation between the classes, where the workers and the capitalists are moving in opposite directions.

It was no surprise to hear, even before the result of the referendum had been officially declared, that Gordon Brown had assured the EU president that the UK government would ratify the constitutional treaty – despite Ireland effectively killing it.

I’ll give the final word to the RMT Gen Sec, Bob Crow:

“The Irish referendum result is a massive victory for democracy and the Constitution is now dead in the water, despite our own government’s attempt to railroad it through without the referendum the British people were promised.”