Sunday, 17 December 2017

HDV: 4 December lobby of Haringey Civic Centre -- YouTube video!

url:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T0hDcrh9D70&sns=em

"Ecosocialism and local power in the UK" by Gordon Peters, November, 2017



The general question addressed was ‘How can ecosocialism respond to the operation of power in capitalist accumulation and reproduction?’ Does ecosocialism help provide answers to struggles taking place in the local state and in sites of contest?

I want to suggest that it does in 4 broad ways:

1] The Refusal Strategy
This has a long lineage in class struggles in many different ways, but came to be articulated by the Italian Autonomists. Here I can only draw together some links from very different places in recent times and which all have as their distinct characteristics a refusal to yield to the capitalist logic and to say no to displacement. For instance, indigenous struggles in Latin America particularly against mining, deforestation and land grabbing demand an anti-capitalist sustainability and in Bolivia were enshrined in the Cochabamba Declaration and the Rights of Mother Earth. The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement when applied to fossil fuels and Leave It in the Ground, anti-fracking protests in southern England and in Lancashire and Yorkshire, and campaigns on housing rights against estate demolition are increasingly confronting the demands of corporate capital and in their own sites of struggle re-framing demands in terms of rights to land, community, place to live, clean air and water, and freedoms, which are essentially ecosocialist. 

The housing struggles in London are having to resist speculation and maximising value from land which depends on further debt creation and the actual emisseration of working class people by displacement of social housing, and in some cases further polarising class relations by building blocks with separate entries for ‘affordable’ and higher price housing. I am involved in Haringey with the StopHDV campaign where the local state and the multi-national corporation Lendlease aim to establish a financial nexus worth several billion pounds as a 'development vehicle’ and in the process re-make Tottenham and Wood Green thereby displacing thousands of people. As the plaintiff in a Judicial Review I have taken this struggle into the High Court, along with a broad coalition of people on the ground. Marching and protesting against the Council we refuse to accept the Haringey Development Vehicle, and in the court our final submission to the Council/corporate argument is ‘we say not so’. This is the Refusal Strategy and it echoes to some degree the methods of 'In and Against the State’, in the 1970s, where workers were employed by but refused to be co-opted by the local state. It is however broader and puts much more emphasis on the protection of place and the right to a decent environment, mobilising residents as well as trades unionists.

2] Social Protection, Community and Natural Rights.
My contention is that these are being more necessarily inter-weaved.In the Haringey struggle for instance the role of the local state and capital become more inter-twined. Debt accumulates on a promise of returned profit for company and authority, with the risk of default held by the public purse [local authority] and demolition of estates required for revaluation. Debts for supposedly affordable housing also accumulate. In the free market transfer of value to companies and to richer buyers and renters, fighting to preserve a ‘no go’ area for demolition [as distinct from locally agreed refurbishment] becomes a vital demand: this is our place, this is our land. We are fighting, amongst other things, against a new debt spiral - to use the phrase of David Harvey - not a debt cycle. The fight against both social cleansing as it has come to be known, and local despoliation, tends then to unify the issues of social protection, community and natural rights [in this case in an urban setting]. Urban density is a further issue at stake in the case of Northumberland Park estate in Tottenham which is adjacent to the Lea Valley Regional Park in London.The human world is also the natural world, and the natural world contains the human world, in cities all the moreso. The campaign for London as a National Park City is one way of recognising this, but unfortunately not much linked to community issues and social exploitation to date.


3] Place-based collective alternatives and the Partner State.
Troncoso and Utratel in a recent article in Red Pepper talk about the Partner State as ‘’a fluid facilitator to assist and emancipate the bottom-up counter power that keeps it in check’’. In other words there is some kind of dialectical tension between the demands of ‘the commons’ -  sometimes through open source, sometimes through organising and devising more horizontal power structures from below which make more sense for local infrastructure - and the hierarchically inclined and generally pro-capitalist structures of which they are part. There are traditions of municipalist participation to build on from an ecosocialist perspective, including that espoused by Murray Bookchin who called himself a social ecologist and drew in part from the Vermont town halls experience. In an altogether different setting, the political experiment in Kobane and Rojava in war-torn Syria draws on municipalism and eco-feminism while fighting both for survival and for a non-hierarchical, non-exploitative future. Closer to home, I would cite examples such as the Isle of Eigg Community Trust in Scotland, the Peoples Plan in Lambeth allied to the fight to retain Cressingham Gardens local estate, Our Tottenham movement and local planning initiative in Haringey, and arising demands to set up Community Land Trusts as showing the potential of transformative power.I see no reason why such initiatives cannot be allied to demands for the restoration of Council housing, with participative management [not Arms Length Management Organisations such as the one which went so wrong at Grenfell]. Radical municipalism may be due a rebirth, and another indication here is that offered by Plan C [see Radical Municipalism: Demanding the Future -by Plan C and Bertie Russell, 30 October, 2017 in Bella Caledonia]. I was a chief officer in Hackney in the 1980s when the ‘’radical socialist borough’’ had a Redprint for localisation which ground into the dust mainly because of an inability of the Council to deal with trade union demands. That is a lesson for any partner state.

There are probably better examples of place-based collective alternatives in Germany than in the UK, particularly with regard to municipalised energy production, ownership and distribution.Participatory budgeting is more advanced in Brazil than the UK but it is another example of re-framing what we want and what is needed from below. My contention is that the nature of the current struggles to resist corporate takeovers of whole communities and the fight for social protection and environment require place-based collective alternatives to be put forward and linked to other similar struggles framed as an ecosocialist challenge to the further creation of debt and capitalist social relations.

4] A Just Transition.
Here I am suggesting that as well as knowing how and when to refuse, how and where to protect, and where and what to re-organise, an ecosocialist praxis needs a strong sense of a direction to something better. It in a way turns utopia on its head as the utopians are the capitalists, the big corporates and those who run local states who go into partnership with them in a constantly re-branding drive for new wealth which in fact trickles up, not down. In looking at ‘transitional demands’ [a phrase redolent of another tradition] towards something achievable and recognisable, I have found the Just Transitions and Energy Democracy document produced by the Public and Commercial Service Union as relevant as anything. Their first of ten demands is for ‘worker involvement through their trade unions in building the public services of the future in a worker-public partnership based on social need and not private greed’. It also includes a national plan for renewable energy, frameworks for democratic control and energy democracy at different levels, transition process to zero carbon, and new statutory rights. There is of course much more to be said on this, on climate action and trade union involvement now coming together more, on banks and green investment, on the million green jobs proposals, on the TUC’s 2017 commitment to action on climate change, and for what must be demanded of a Corbyn government for that matter. My unifying point is that an ecosocialist praxis examines what has to be tackled, acts on it and learns from practice while informing a better theoretical understanding of what is necessary and possible. The four elements set out here do not pretend an answer universally applicable. Rather they may provide a framework for contesting the spaces and places occupied by capitalist dynamics and a way of bringing together forces of the commons and harnessing popular demands for open-ness, fairness and sustainability in the actual living circumstances of people. And the aggregation of these amounts to an ecosocialist alternative.When we demonstrate that capital is at the root of the disturbance of the metabolic interaction between humanity and nature then we are far from being an academic or utopian or any other sideshow.

Gordon Peters, November, 2017

Thursday, 14 December 2017

It wasn't the EU


Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Reel News videos of CoP23 and linked events


Here's the final versions, all public now -  

Just Transition (26 min version):  https://youtu.be/b8rq0RCU_vU

Just Transition (13 min version):  https://youtu.be/6PFT31GDhOM

BiFab Occupation as a stand alone film (6 min): https://youtu.be/KZvsU1dcgrI

They'll also be going up on the Reel news Facebook page over the next few days. https://www.facebook.com/ReelNews

Greener Jobs Alliance submission on the Clean Growth Strategy

Greener Jobs Alliance submission on the Clean Growth Strategy
Introduction
The Greener Jobs Alliance (GJA) is a partnership body inclusive of trade unions, student organisations, campaign groups and a policy think tank. It is active on the issue of jobs and the skills needed to transition to a low-carbon economy
The GJA welcomes the decision to publish a Clean Growth Strategy. It is intended to complement the UK Industrial Strategy published in November, 2018.  Many of the policies will make a positive contribution to the transition to a low carbon economy. However, taken together they fall well short of what is needed to meet UK commitments under the Climate Change Act, the Paris Agreement, and the Sustainable Development Goals
In the absence of a consultation pro forma we have used the headings in the strategy proposals to frame our response.

1.       Accelerating Clean Growth
The ambition is to ‘develop world leading Green Finance capabilities’. The proposal to ‘set up a Green Finance Taskforce to provide recommendations for delivery of the public and private investment we need to meet our carbon budgets and maximise the UK’s share of the global green finance market’ is the main mechanism for doing this. Surely if we are going to drive the investment at the scale required we are going to need more than an advisory task force. The composition of this taskforce is crucial, including engagement with the workforce and union representatives. Public funding is crucial to support green technological innovation.  The Green Investment Bank could have provided this but the Government sold it off to Macquarie, an asset stripping investment bank, in 2017.
A state-owned investment bank that operates in line with both the industrial and clean growth strategies could play a crucial role in financing key sectors of the economy. A ‘taskforce’ with no powers to directly intervene will not be able to leverage the huge sums needed. This will be compounded by the uncertain future predicted for the UK in the global financial market.
A proposed £20 million fund to support clean technology is better than nothing, but falls far short of the amount needed to transform how we use energy. Far from ‘accelerating clean growth’ the proposals contained in this section wont even get us out of 1st gear.  We are at the point in climate change science when developing the proposed ‘voluntary’ finance management standard will be too little, too late.

2.       Improving business and industry efficiency
The range of measures proposed maintains this blind faith in the voluntary approach. For example, voluntary building standards to support improvements in the energy efficiency performance of business buildings. Legally binding standards that are effectively enforced are what is required.
There is not a single reference in the whole document to engagement with the workforce and union representatives. Even though the Paris Agreement is mentioned there is no commitment to the principle of just transition. This lays a requirement on governments to ensure that their low carbon strategies do not adversely impact on employees. There should be effective consultation procedures in place to consider the needs and views of workers in the context of business efficiency measures. This will be particularly important in the 7 priority sectors identified by the Government.
The view of the GJA is that recognition rights for Workplace Environment Reps would help to drive energy efficiency and sustainability at work through support effective employee engagement, and comply with UK responsibilities under the Paris Agreement.
3.       Improving the energy efficiency of our homes
The track record of the government on this is very poor. The strategy was an important opportunity to provide a clear commitment to make all new homes carbon neutral. The Zero Carbon Homes Regulations due to start in 2016 was an attempt to provide this but the Government scrapped them in 2015. Unsurprisingly there is also no reference to the disastrous Green Deal.  The UK still has the least energy efficient housing stock in Europe. There is a wealth of research that highlights how a large-scale energy efficiency programme could create a huge number of jobs, dramatically reduce emissions, and significantly alleviate fuel poverty. There is probably not a single other clean growth measure where the advantages so completely outweigh the disadvantages.
Despite this the strategy fails to offer the infrastructure change needed to address this so that all homes, currently around 2.3 million households, are removed from fuel poverty by 2025. The proposal to consider ‘options with a view to consulting in 2018’ lacks any sense of urgency as does the caveat of only if it is ‘practical, cost-effective and affordable’ by 2030.

4.       Accelerating the shift to low carbon transport
The GJA has previously commented on the Government’s Clean Air strategy. This section of the strategy suffers from the same limitations. There is a focus on longer term measures rather than properly funded initiatives that can be taken in the short-term to tackle the scandal of pollution levels generated by transport. Waiting until 2040 before ending the sale of petrol or diesel vehicles underpins this lack of urgency.
The balance between improving public transport and conversion to electric vehicles is not right. Electric cars generate significant levels of particulate matter so simply replacing petrol and diesel with electric is not going to address some of the most dangerous aspects of air pollution. If the electricity is not generated by renewables it will also fail to effectively address greenhouse emissions. Far more power to raise money needs to be provided to local authorities to improve public transport and introduce mitigation measures. The mass public transport sector also needs to be brought under public control to address the fragmented nature of the infrastructure.

5.       Delivering clean, smart, flexible power
The strategy makes positive references to renewables. It does include a bizarre claim that the ‘power sector has seen dramatic falls in the price of renewable energy due to government policies, with global investment estimated at $2.8 trillion since 2007. This has driven down the cost of solar cells by 80 per cent since 2008, meaning we are now beginning to see solar deploying in the UK without government support.’ (Page 24) In fact it is R+D decisions made by the Chinese Government that has brought down the cost and increased efficiency not UK government policy.
We are particularly disappointed in the lack of reference to support for solar power and community energy. Not surprisingly the strategy maintains a blind faith that the private sector will up its game. ‘We will continue to work with Ofgem and the National Grid to create a more independent system operator which will help to keep household bills low through greater competition, coordination and innovation across the system.’ As with other challenges in this strategy it is the GJA view that the energy sector needs to be brought under democratic ownership if decarbonisation is going to be consistent with future carbon budgets.

6.       Enhancing the Benefits and Value of Our Natural Resources
This section covers a wide range of different issues – agriculture, farming, food, forestry, waste and resource use. We are currently failing to meet voluntary targets set for reducing agricultural emissions and the urgent need to tackle livestock emissions. The UK reliance on food imports also raises the issue of carbon leakage and imports. If we maintain or even increase our imports of high carbon emission foodstuff we are contributing to carbon emissions elsewhere. This is of course not acknowledged in the strategy.

7.       Leading in the public sector
There has been a missed opportunity to provide a framework for the public sector to play a major role. The £255 million promised for energy efficiency improvements is a fraction of the amount that has been stripped away from public sector finances in the last 7 years. A voluntary emissions reduction target of 30% by 2020-21 is unlikely to deliver especially in the absence of much clearer targeted support.

8.       Government leadership in driving clean growth
In some ways the 3 proposals in this section are the most disappointing. The ‘big idea’ is a ‘Green Great Britain Week’. This is no substitute for a concerted campaign throughout the year to engage the public. Skills is mentioned once (Page 37) in relation to technical education. The strategy would have been a perfect opportunity to show how the UK intended to implement Article 12 of the Paris Agreement on Education and Training.
‘Parties shall cooperate in taking measures, as appropriate, to enhance climate change education, training, public awareness, public participation and public access to information, recognizing the importance of these steps with respect to enhancing actions under this Agreement.’
This requirement is not mentioned in the strategy. Even the Industrial Strategy which is designed to complement the Clean Growth Strategy fails to reference this obligation and the section on Skills is far too narrowly focused.

9.       Conclusion
There is not a single reference to engagement with the workforce who will have to deliver this strategy. It means an opportunity to implement this part of the Paris Agreement has been missed -‘Taking into account the imperatives of a just transition of the workforce and the creation of decent work and quality jobs in accordance with nationally defined development priorities,’
This is compounded by the lack of civic engagement referenced above. The Government has admitted that it is currently not on target to meet the 5th Carbon Budget’s 57% target reduction. Lord Deben, Chair of the Committee on Climate Change has warned against using “the use of accounting flexibilities or reliance on international carbon credits to make up the difference. The strategy refers to the importance of the Stern Report yet fails to draw the lessons from it on market failure. Only 30% of the emissions reductions identified have been counted according to the Government Minister, Claire Perry, which underlines the problems with a document high on aspirations but low on policy detail.


GJA 11/12/17

Sunday, 3 December 2017

PCS DVSA strike on the 4 and 5 December

To unions and trades councils in the SERTUC region

Dear Colleague

Are you able to show support for PCS driving test officers on Monday and Tuesday in Morden, Enfield, Oxford or Gillingham?

Either at the picket line, or in the form of a solidarity message? Please see below for details

All best wishes, Megan

Megan Dobney
Regional Secretary
London, East & South East Region of the TUC

SERTUC, Congress House, Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3LS
020 7467 1291    07879 631 785

@mdobney





From: Sharon Leslie [mailto:sharonl@pcs.org.uk]
Sent: 30 November 2017 15:38
To: Megan Dobney <MDobney@TUC.ORG.UK>
Cc: Darren Lewis <DLewis@tuc.org.uk>; Richard Edwards <richarde@pcs.org.uk>
Subject: PCS DVSA members to Strike over Safety on the 4 and 5 December
Importance: High

Dear Megan 

Please can you arrange for the press release below regarding the PCS DVSA strike on the 4 and 5 December to be circulated to affiliate unions and SERTUC’s MP contacts?
We particularly welcome solidarity support at our picket lines and encourage messages of support to be sent to: Midsbargaining@pcs.org.uk
PCS MEDIA RELEASE
Thursday 30th November   
 Strike action disrupts new driving tests   
Members of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) in the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) will take 48 hour strike action on Monday 4th December ending at Midnight on the 5th December. This adds to the action short of a strike which began last week (23rd) in a dispute over the new driving test and also working patterns.
This action has already led to hundreds of tests being cancelled in the first week of the action.
In a perverse move DVSA has withdrawn overtime from striking workers and also imposed leave schedules meaning that an even greater backlog of thousands of tests is inevitable due to the imposed reductions in service. 
A ballot in October saw an 84% vote for strike action on a 70% turnout.
The strike action across the DVSA which begins on the 4th December will see up to 14,000 driving tests cancelled on the day the new driving test is launched.  
Other effects of the action include reduced roadside checks on vehicles, reduced enforcement checks on lorries and other vehicles coming into the U.K and a significant reduction of tachograph testing. 
PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka commented
“PCS members in the DVSA have tried to negotiate around their concerns but the door has been slammed shut in their face. They now feel they have no alternative but to take industrial action to bring home to the public how damaging the DVSA proposals are. No one takes strike action lightly and we acknowledge the disruption to the driving tests for learner drivers keen to pass their test but the Government could avoid this strike even now at the 11th hour by agreeing to serious talks and withdrawing their most damaging proposals. I have today written to the Transport Minister Chris Grayling urging him to intervene.”
ENDS
Notes
For information contact PCS National Press Officer Steve Battlemuch on 07515 605755 or via email steveb@pcs.org.uk
Picket lines in the SERTUC region will be from 7:30 am – see details below:
·         Morden DTC, 10 Tudor Drive, SM4 4PE
·         Enfield MPTC, Solar Way, Enfield EN3 7XY
·         Oxford, James Wolfe Road OX4 2PY
·         Gillingham MPTC, Unit 1 Astra Park, Courteney Road, Gillingham, Kent ME8 0EZ
Mark Serwotka is available for interviews on Monday 4th Dec from 1pm at Millbank studio.
PCS is one of the UK's largest unions and represents civil and public servants in central government and in parts of government transferred to the private sector. Mark Serwotka is the general secretary and the president is Janice Godrich – on Twitter @janicegodrich
Follow PCS on Twitter @pcs_union
Many thanks

Sharon Leslie
PCS London & SE Regional Secretary

Saturday, 2 December 2017

2/12/2017 MARCH IN LAMBETH IN SUPPORT OF CRESSINGHAM GARDENS CAMPAIGN

PHOTOs FROM 2/12/2017 MARCH IN LAMBETH IN SUPPORT OF CRESSINGHAM GARDENS CAMPAIGN [AGAINST LAMBETH COUNCIL DEMOLITION] AND SUPPORTED BY FOLK FROM SOUTHWARK AND OTHERS SUCH AS DPAC [DISABLED PEOPLE AGAINST CUTS], AND STOP HDV - HARINGEY DEVELOPMENT VEHICLE - PHIL ROSE, HARINGEY BRANCH SEC.OF UNITE COMMUNITY SPEAKING IN PIC 1. SOLIDARITY, GORDON