Hull Anti-Cuts Protests, Feb 24

Today the LibDem run Hull City Council attempted to set its cuts budget.

At midday a crowd of many hundreds protested around the city and at 4.30 gathered again outside the Guildhall. A locally donated PA system kept the crowd entertained. Maybe a dozen speeches were heard. A crowd of 40 at a time were allowed into the gallery of the council chamber.

Occasional raised voices challenged the councillors and eventually they adjourned and called for the Gallery to be cleared. A mini invasion of the Guildhall took place.

Picture from a protester looking out from the Guildhall balcony to the demonstration below.

Hull is facing around £80 million worth of cuts this year entailing some 2000 jobs all told.

It will be the worst hit authority in the region.

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Vote Yes to AV

AV doesn’t make a huge difference to voting in  our electoral system. But it makes some. It won’t give us PR but it will get us a little closer there. The Green Party supports AV on May 5th.

But beware of the NO to AV arguments – sometimes they make things up. Here’s a handy guide below.

Martin

10 Facts About The Alternative Vote (AV)

1. If you ever said to someone going to the shops – “get me a coke or if they haven’t got that I’ll have a lemonade’, then you understand the principle behind AV voting. It only sounds complicated if you explain it badly, which the No campaigners are doing on purpose (finding the most wordy academic text they can).

2. Simply rank the candidates in order 1,2,3 etc. You can put as few or as many preferences as you want. If you only want to choose one candidate, like you HAVE to under our present system first-past-the-post (FPTP), you can. The difference is that FPTP ONLY lets you choose one candidate which leads to more wasted votes and immense pressure to vote tactically which gives a distorted view of what people really want.

Imagine being a Tory living in Margaret Hodge’s constituency of Barking and hating the Labour party but wanting to stop the BNP, to make your vote count you are forced to vote Labour otherwise your vote would be wasted and risk the BNP winning with a small share of the vote. This adds another vote to the Labour pile and gives the impression that this is total support for their policies, whereas almost the opposite is in fact the case from this voter and probably many others effectively forced to vote the same if they want their vote to count and stop the BNP.

But FPTP is even worse than this, because it may be that loads of people have changed their mind in the constituency since the last election (which is the only source of information tactical voters really have) and although extremely unlikely maybe your Labour vote might be wasted and another candidate might have been better placed to beat the BNP if you had voted for them instead, so it is possible the BNP candidate wins with a dismal 20 something percent of the vote on a low turnout just because the majority who dislike them had voted for a range of parties.

Think this can’t happen? The BNP have won county councillor seats with just 29% of the vote under our present system. With AV you can vote with your heart and show your true first preference and so on. The Tory can stop the BNP with any one of his preferences, including showing that Labour were only his final preference but this still beats the BNP who he did not rank. AV does away with the electoral roulette that voters currently have to play under the present system of first-past-the-post (FPTP).

3. If you order a chicken curry at a restaurant, but are told that has sold out then decide to have a lasagne instead, you have only had one meal. The same is true for AV, only ONE of your preferences will count towards the end result. Don’t be fooled by propaganda saying otherwise.

4. In every UK general election bar 1997 and 1983, it is predicted that AV would have distributed seats more in line with vote share, i.e. a more proportional or fairer result.

5. Australia has used AV for over 90 years with just one hung parliament from 38 elections. Our present system first-past-the-post has delivered five hung parliaments and three non-working majorities over a similar time-span. So to claim that AV will deliver more coalition government is not necessarily true. Both India and Canada use the Westminster system of first-past-the-post. Canada has now had five hung parliaments out of the last 8 elections and India has a 18 party ruling coalition.

6. NO2AV are claiming millions will have to be spent on counting machines. Australia has used AV for over 90 years and still doesn’t use counting machines. NO2AV are just making things up.

7. “Many Britons already use AV when electing representatives for charities, churches, companies, trade unions, societies and voluntary organisations.”

8. “Whether or not they know it, many millions of Britons already have extensive experience of using preferential selection because they have been regular voters in Big Brother, Strictly Come Dancing and The X Factor. They not only understand this form of voting; they enjoy it. The no campaign assumes nevertheless that they are incapable of writing 1, 2, 3 on a ballot”.

9. Politicians use AV to elect their own because they know it is more representative, yet want to deny us the chance to use the same system to elect them.

“Labour and the Lib Dems both elect their leaders by AV. Funnily enough, ever since the 1960s, when the Tories started to elect their leaders, they have used either AV or a close cousin. Had they used first past the post in their last contest, the leader of the Tory party would not be David Cameron. It would be David Davis.” Both points 7, 8 & 9 succinctly put by Andrew Rawnsley in the Observer.

10. AV will reduce the number of safe seats. Safe seats lead to the sort of complacency and corruption we saw during the expenses scandal because most of our MPs currently have ‘seats for life’.

Politicians don’t want the Alternative Vote because it will make them work harder to win their seats. They will have to win more support right across their constituencies and no longer can they pretend that only their party has all the answers. Parties will have to be more positive about each other and be honest about where they agree so as not to alienate potential preferences of their rival party’s voters. In short, AV will change politics and the effect will strengthen over many elections. AV will pull away the shroud of FPTP that obscures what people’s real preferences are.

We have this once in a lifetime chance to tell the politicians they are wrong. We need to take it. We are going to be up against the might of the establishment and all the media but people power can prevail. Vote YES on May 5th. See YES to Fairer Votes for more.

(Thanks to Neil Harding for this – http://neilharding.blogspot.com/2011/02/10-facts-about-alternative-vote-av.html )

The god that must be satisfied.

After the recent announcement that:  “… UK unemployment rose by 49,000 to almost 2.5 million in the three months to the end of November 2010, according to the latest Office for National Statistics figures.” – we are starkly reminded that the prospects are a million job losses over the next few years.

The ConDem cuts are estimated to cost 500,000 jobs in the public sector and a knock-on effect of 500,000 jobs in the private sector. Some commentators estimate 1.2 million jobs lost.

But the cuts are unnecessary. The Greens have been saying this for some time –  we all stood against them in 2010.

If we tax fairly we can halve the deficit by 2014 and even create a million jobs and training places.

In the last year the 1000 richest people in Britain INCREASED their wealth by £77 billion but yet the deficit is only £85 billion. Will they be taxed at a greater rate? No.

Adding insult to injury, over vthe past year, HMRC have failed to collect the 50% income tax due to the Treasury from those on £150,000 OR OVER! Due to being unable to process tax codes in time or some such feeble-minded excuse. This is scandalous.

Now, instead of a Robin Hood Tax, where a micro 0.1% tax on international finance trades would WIPE OUT the deficit, we get the Sheriff of Nottingham.

The ConDem millonaire-bankers plan will be the “tax heist of the century” where profits made abroad will no longer be subject to tax here.  This favours the banks in particular. This will cost tens of billions to the state and guess who will make up the shortfall?

This major attack on British civil society has been contrived by propagandising the deficit as a god that must be satisfied at all costs. By our sacrifice.

The high priests of all the major religions – Conservative,  Labour and Liberal Democrat all agree on this. They just disagree on the “scale and pace”.

Of course, as usual, the élite are exempt.

Belief in “mammon” isn’t a new religion. Today’s gods are the banks and “the bottom line”. Profit clearly comes before people. Wealth comes before “the wealth of the nation”, goods come before the Common Good.

Cast out are pagans and heretics such as the Greens and socialists, who dare to question these clearly self-evident truths.

But as Egypt shows us, if you exploit and sacrifice people mercilessly for years and decades, they will “rise up like lions” and your days of selling pyramids will be over.

The point of life is not to enrich the banks! Or to make the rich and powerful more rich and more powerful! Nor to believe in these self-serving religions of money, banks and power, nor their priests, acolytes and altar boys.

It is to live in harmony with others, with other states, with the physical world and its limited resources. And the chief enemy of this is selfishness.

But the days of believing in money for the sake of money are over.

Greens welcome Hull Lib Dems attack on cuts

I’m really pleased to learn that Council Leader Carl Minns and the Lib Dem councillors in Hull are doing the right thing and speaking up against the government led cuts.

They speak against the “scale and pace” of the cuts even though it involves their own party leaders because they realise how profoundly these cuts will affect frontline services and vulnerable people across Hull.

In the Green Party we’ve consistently stood against all these cuts.  We fought all the cuts promised by the other parties in the General Election. They’re vicious and they’re not needed; there are major alternatives. The deficit can be wound down simply by taxing more fairly – which this government refuses to do.

To add further insult to injury, the government now has a major plan to change tax law to favour international banks and big businesses to the tune of tens of billion of pounds more! George Monbiot is calling this the tax heist of the century!

Guess who will also be paying for that?!

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Martin Deane stood for Parliament in Hull last year and will stand for Council in May.

http://twitter.com/MartinJDeane

http://hullgreens.blogspot.com