Monday, 31 May 2010

Reaction to Israeli murders in international waters

Scottish Socialist Party condemn Israeli murder of Humanitarian Aid workers.


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Sunday, 9 May 2010

Post Election Rant

by Wenceslas Wellesley

I'm so excited I could just soil myself. An old Etonian who inherited most of his personal wealth and who has co-opted most of his old school mates into his "team" is currently in talks with another posh-school old boy to decide who is going to run my country. Whoop-de-f***ing-doo. We're in a time warp going back to the 18th Century, where we'll all have to start tugging our forelocks to anyone wearing a wig, renting our hovels from his lordship in the big house, and being turned off our land for his poaching rabbits or looking at his wife's tits. Ranting???? I've hardly f***ing started!!!

Gordon Brown has fought the campaign of a worm that couldn't quite be arsed to turn. Why didn't he stick it to us morning, noon and night that the very bankers who caused all the shit we are in are the very people who BANKROLLED the Tories' campaign which spent 4 times what Labour were able to summon !!!!??? Why did he campaign like a speak your weight machine which only took one foot out of its mouth long enough to insert the other??? Why did he apologise to that woman when actually she WAS (albeit mildly) bigotted?? Why the hell did he allow the MP's expenses scandal to look like a government problem, when Tory MPs had to pay back on average nearly TWICE what Labour MPs paid back, and HIS payback was less than Cameron's OR Clegg's.

Still, Liverpool's back in Labour hands. So us scousers have seemingly forgiven ourselves for Degsy. OK I'm going for a lie down...

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Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Notes from the SLLU Feminist network meeting

Notes of the meeting of the SLLU Feminist Network on Sunday 2nd May

At this meeting we talked about the involvement of men at our regular Sunday meetings. Coincidentally there were only women here today so it seemed a good time to talk about it. It was something we had talked about at the very beginning of the network over a year ago but had never returned to.

Our feelings about two recent meetings were shared.

At one of these meetings the group had to deal with a man who seemed to be there with a view to being deliberately if not confrontational certainly challenging.

At the second meeting, the men present were totally supportive. However, it was felt by some that the dynamics of this meeting was different.

The differences are subtle and sometimes hard to pin down.

Thinking about it, we noticed the following :-

Chat speed was much faster – this had made it difficult to read and reflect on each person’s contribution. It had been difficult to show that people were being heard.

Individual contributions had been much longer.

The effect on some had been to silence them, the effect on others was to feel they had to say more than the normally would.

[13:47] : Well I just have to say this is one of the few places where I don’t feel stressed out

[13:47] : I mean I don’t feel I have to comment on everything

[13:47:: This is a very nice group like that

[13:47] : In other contexts, you feel you need to pick up on everything.

[13:48] : I usually talk 90% of the time. I always struggle to take less of the space and here I find that struggle easier

[13:48: Interesting.

[13:49: One might have thought, that the effect of women only would be to make it easier for you to talk, not to be silent.

[13:49: I find that pretty interesting.

[13:50] : Well I think there is a lack of triggers

[13:50: Ahh. OK.

[13:50] : Lack of verbal dominance play

[13:50: Right.

[13:50: if you understand what I’m saying

[13:50] : Yes, entirely.

[13:50: Good point may be that men raise the feeling of competitiveness

The above is interesting not just because of the content but in the feel of the dialogue. The space that someone is given to express a view and the evidence that she is being listened to.

We talked about whether the ‘physical’ presence of a male avi made a difference to the dynamics within the group.

[13:38] : But I think of it mostly as my own prejudice, I react to a male shape differently. So it’s kind of my own fault I guess

13:39] I'm very sensitive to the nature of the avi.

[13:40] : maybe we could put up a screen ;)

[13:40] : smile

[13:40: Like in a synagogue?

[13:40: lol

[13:41] : haha

[13:41] : exactly :)

[13:41] : Why don’t we just put them in these boxes

[13:41] : and sit on them

[13:41] : I have a few folding screens

[13:41] : Lol


Having said all of this (and taking into account the difficulties of determining gender and wanting especially to be welcoming of transgender people) all of us were reluctant to exclude anyone who shared our aims or who genuinely wanted to engage with us.

“it would hurt my soul to exclude comrades”

“I know you are right ... I hate the idea of excluding”

“ but on the one hand, women only space is really important. especially in particular settings and the involvement of men can really change the dynamic and it's not about exclusion, more about maintaining a safe space for women”

These were some of the suggestions generated:-

Always having a facilitator

Putting up a poster with some of the ground rules

Having some meetings which are women only

Meetings in the main SLLU group discussing feminist issues

Passing out copies of our ground rules to newcomers

Excluding ‘trolls’ or those who are obviously antagonistic

Turning on our typing animation

Sending out copies of these notes to generate thought and discussion


PS Some interesting posts on the subject :-

“I find it odd to realize that most men don't observe something that is obvious to every woman I know: that there is a competitive male dynamic to groups that is completely different from the way female groups act. They don't know, of course, because unless the group is overwhelmingly female, the dynamic of any mixed group always defaults to male, with women fading back into supporting conversational roles. Maybe it's the kind of thing you can only observe by contrast to the extremely anti-competitive nature of female groups.

The easiest way to put it (and this is hardly original) is that men in groups are focused on their role within the group. Women in groups are focused on the group. Men gain status by standing out from the group; women gain status by submerging themselves into it — by strengthening the group, often at the expense of themselves.”


Research shows that in western culture there are gender differences where men and women tend to use different paradigms for communication. Women tend to communicate with a goal of establishing connection and men tend to communicate with a goal of establishing status.”


Our Ground Rules

The SL Left Unity Feminist Network is made up of members from around the world with varying viewpoints on lefty issues and various perspectives on feminism. There will be times when we disagree, perhaps passionately so, on topics discussed. This is fine, of course, and to be expected, but we need guidelines to help us ensure - as far as possible - that debate and discussion is kept respectful and that people feel safe to air their views.

No aggression - under any circumstances. We can disagree but we'll endeavour to do so respectfully and constructively. Personal attacks have no place in this group.

Confidentiality - Group members may share their personal experiences and/or opinions. Those experiences and contributions to group discussions should never be shared outwith the group. However, since it is difficult to monitor and enforce all of these guidelines in SL, I would ask all group members to think about what they are sharing and consider that everyone may not respect the rules of the group. It has been known for people to post chatlogs and IM's on blogs or to share them inappropriately with other people.

Non discriminatory - The network, like the general SLLU group, opposes discrimination in any form on the basis of race, religion, language, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, age or ability.

Non judgemental - a tough call sometimes, but important in fostering an atmosphere where we can challenge and disagree without judging or silencing those who have differing or opposing views

Be mindful of your own and others contribution to the group. We should aim to include the views of others, to make sure everyone has space to contribute and to encourage everyone to share. It is destructive for any group to be dominated by one or a few participants. Sometimes people may just want to listen or be quiet and there must be space for this too.

Be mindful that people will have had lots of different experiences which may have impacted them in some way or arouse strong emotions for them. Think before you make statements.

Be mindful that even if you have shared similar experiences to a group member, that they may have chosen - or had to - deal with that experience differently from you. It sometimes helps if we are clear that we are speaking from our own experiences rather than generalising.

We all have responsibility to follow the ground rules and challenge within the group when they are not being followed.

We don't need to agree! Let's listen to each other, debate, challenge (ourselves and others), discuss, explore, learn and develop.

If ground rules are not followed, we decide as a group how to deal with each individual situation. No one group member should have a monopoly on this, or any other decision, for the network.

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Monday, 3 May 2010

UK Election

My contribution as to how I am voting can be found HERE

Below are SLLU member Elle Finistair and Galaxia Rhaidra's contributions. Email contributions to me, Plot Tracer at, or send to me by notecard inworld.


Hi I am known as Elle Finistair on sl.

I will be voting Labour on 6th May because of all the things Labour have achieved and will continue to do and because the Tories policies scare me.

How can it be right to give 3000 millionaires a £200,000 tax break and take away the winter fuel allowance paid to pensioners, because the Tories call it a gimmick. Its vital to keep our elderly warm in the winter.

The world is changing, and Labour's manifesto rises to this challenge.
As Gordon Brown says in his introduction to the manifesto, "Over the next ten years, we will confront major challenges - intensive global competition, climate change, an ageing society, and bringing stability to Afghanistan." Labour accepts the need for change, and our manifesto
sets out how this will happen. In particular, we show how we will give the maximum protection to front line public services. I don't usually read these kind of documents, but this election it is important to have all the facts.

Gordon Brown is a serious man for serious times, and many people aren’t aware of his achievements. Look at the work our Government have been giving to the third world on our behalf.

In the last ten years there have been thirty-four million extra children going to school in Africa, 3.2 million extra people on AIDS drugs or anti-viral drugs, and half the amount of deaths from malaria.

An accident in geography should not decide whether you live or die. To have AIDS in London or Edinburgh is not a death sentence, and it’s not acceptable that it’s a death sentence in Africa.

The recession has hit Britain hard, but it has hit people in the developing world a lot harder. I am proud that we have been helping those in our society that need extra support and also making big positive changes to the lives of people in the developing world.

All best wishes


From Galaxia Rhiadra

Foundation for Proportional Representation-based Socialism
Website: Forum: Newsletter 8 (16 April 2010)

Editor’s note: I, Steve Wallis, have written all the articles in this newsletter. I would welcome replies to points in this newsletter and articles/letters for future newsletters, posted to the forum (with the web address above) or emailed to me personally at Various socialist organisations in Britain (Respect, the Socialist Party, CPGB, CPB and Democratic Socialist Alliance) and Alex Callinicos of the SWP have come out in favour of PR, and I’d welcome the involvement of members of those organisations in the Foundation.

As with previous Foundation newsletters, anyone who agrees with (some or most of) the politics in it can download it from the website ( in Word or PDF format, print it out, photocopy it and distribute it.

Vote Socialist, Green or Liberal Democrat
- and prepare for a Greece-style revolt!

There is a general election in the UK on Thursday 6 May, at which voters will have the opportunity to dismiss Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown. The Conservative Party (Tories) are currently leading in the opinion polls, but not by a sufficient margin to gain an overall majority. It looks as though other parties, particularly the Liberal Democrats (Lib Dems), will hold the balance of power and be able to determine the shape of the next government.

The electoral system in the UK, misleadingly called "first-past-the-post" with the candidate who receives the highest vote in a particular constituency getting elected, is extremely unfair. In only about 150 of the 650 constituencies - the so-called "marginals" - is there any realistic chance of causing an upset, so most people’s votes are "wasted". The so-called "floating voters", who tend to be quite well-off and middle class, decide between Labour, the Tories and Lib Dems (plus the Scottish National Party or Plaid Cymru in Scotland or Wales) as to who is elected. Well, that is not entirely true! A credible well-known candidate of one of the "fringe parties" or an independent, of the left or right, may stand a chance of causing a massive upset if they put forward well-argued election material and perhaps are featured enough in the media. Also in this election, for the first time, there are also live TV debates between the leaders of the three main parties (Labour’s Gordon Brown, the Tories’ David Cameron and the Lib Dems’ Nick Clegg). This is providing the Lib Dems with a great opportunity to make big advances and even win in supposedly safe Labour seats or Labour-Tory marginals!

People tend to vote out ignorance, to a large extent. The parties produce manifestos, which are supposed to be their contract with the people to justify us not having a vote for another four or five years. However, very few people bother to read them and rely on snippets featured in the TV, on newspapers or in election leaflets, as to who to vote for. These snippets are based on the biases of journalists and media bosses (plus the whims of party members/leaders in the case of the parties’ own material).

See below for proposals of how to run elections more fairly, under capitalism or in a future socialist society.

I felt that, for such an important election, it was necessary for me to read the full manifestos, downloaded from the parties’ websites, in order to come to an informed decision. Some of the Tories’ arguments for people power in their manifesto were quite convincing, but were completely dropped by Cameron in the first TV debate! They cynically argue for big cuts in corporation tax at the same time as professing to be reducing the deficit more than Labour, and have a very tough stance on crime and immigration to appease the right-wing press and similar minded voters such as Sun readers.

Although the Liberal Democrats have traditionally been the centre party, and have sometimes claimed to be "equidistant" from Labour and the Tories, there has been such a massive shift to the left in society as a result of the credit crunch (and the actions of many individual activists) with a hatred of bankers, the rich generally and of course politicians (which has even forced the Tories to pretend to want to hit the rich and help the poor), that the Lib Dems have now come up with a manifesto that is on the whole far to the left of Labour. Don’t believe me? Download it from and decide for yourself! Socialists have traditionally argued that the Lib Dems (and Liberals before them) are just another big business party and criticised "do-gooders". Well, it is a justification for my New Good Intentions Manifesto (see or, which argues that wanting to make the world a better or worse place is a better guide to what side people are on in struggles in society than what class they are in.

The Lib Dems have, to some extent at least, costed their programme, unlike Labour or the Tories who have blatantly advocated many (usually small) measures which add up to large unfunded spending commitments. Some have criticised them for calling for "savage cuts", but in reality no government (Labour, Tory, Lib Dem or a coalition) could carry out cuts significant enough to seriously bring down the deficit quite simply because it is not economic to do so! Sacking workers necessitates redundancy pay, benefits and lost tax receipts taking money out of the economy (and quite possibly causing a double dip recession). That is why cuts identified so far have been limited to contracts like IT and not filling vacancies, avoiding redundancy pay (or passing such needs on to the private sector). Furthermore, workers are not just going to take such attacks lying down. There has already been an upsurge in industrial action, but that is nothing compared to what will happen with the level of cuts envisaged by the major parties! And if they can’t carry out such attacks, there is a further complication - the money markets will stop lending (by buying bonds) to UK plc, so the government will have to go cap-in-hand to the European Union or International Monetary Fund. And that opens up the possibility, if we adopt good enough strategies and tactics, of not just triggering a strike wave and huge demos like in Greece, but socialist revolution! The next section will be devoted to discussing a programme for avoiding cuts, as a contribution to the necessary debate on what to do in that situation.

But voting Lib Dem is not sufficient! Good votes for socialist candidates, and the Green Party which has produced a reformist socialist manifesto (that I’ve also downloaded from and also provides detailed costings), even for those candidates that fail to get elected, will indicate support for left-wing policies and give a boost to the inevitable movement that will take place after the general election. Anti-cuts MPs in parliament would be particularly important, and I’d particularly identify Socialist Party councillor and former Labour MP Dave Nellist (standing for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition which includes the SWP, against Labour warmonger Bob Ainsworth in Coventry), Respect’s George Galloway, Abjol Miah and Salma Yaqoob, former Scottish Socialist Party MSPs Colin Fox (standing against Chancellor Alistair Darling in Edinburgh) and Tommy Sheridan (now of Solidarity and part of the Scottish Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition), the Green Party’s Caroline Lucas, Adrian Ramsay and Darren Johnson as standing a good chance. Although I am generally arguing for a Lib Dem vote against Labour or the Tories, an exception should be made for left-wing Labour MPs (such as John McDonnell, Jon Cruddas, Jeremy Corbyn and Diane Abbott).

No cuts - nationalise banks and use bailout money!
Close tax loopholes - force the rich to pay tax!

The scale of the economic crisis in Britain, in which there has been a longer recession than any other Western country despite the massive stimulus package, is so severe due to previous Tory governments decimating manufacturing and industries like coal and steel to try to smash the trade unions, with the economy now relying on services largely based in the City of London. After the run on Northern Rock, that looks foolhardy. There are big opportunities for the left, and the right blaming immigration. We need to put across our ideas skilfully, particularly with respect to where we suggest the money should come from to avoid the cuts planned by the main parties. Whereas most socialists oppose wars, Trident and ID cards, as well as taxing the rich of course, the economic problems are too great for such savings to be sufficient.

Around £1.3 trillion (i.e. £1,300,000,000,000) of our money has been spent by Labour on bailing out the banks. Socialists should argue strongly for nationalising all the banks, but this would cost money the government doesn’t have unless we only compensate pension schemes. This would allow whatever’s left of the bank bailout money to be used for the benefit of all, avoiding cuts. We should also argue for all banks, whether currently nationalised, part-nationalised or private, to be run democratically from below with most control in the hands of borrowers, savers and workers (plus government representatives). Marxists typically argue for workers’ control, but it seems clear that those whose money is at stake should have at least as much control as those who happen to work at a particular bank. If the European Union objects, a socialist government may need to withdraw (unless socialists come to power across Europe at once).

The Liberal Democrats have been criticised for being "unrealistic" about saving £4.6 billion from closing tax loopholes. Meanwhile the Greens claim in their manifesto that they can save £10 billion from closing tax havens and clamping down on tax avoidance and evasion. It may be that international agreements are necessary to get the really big sums of money that the rich avoid in this way. It may also be that rich people and corporations relocate to elsewhere in the world to continue avoiding paying a fair share of tax. There are two answers to that - don’t let them take their assets with them and encourage revolutions in other countries so they have nowhere to run to!

Proposals for real democracy - under capitalism or socialism

The "alternative vote" (AV) system has been proposed by the Labour Party for electing members to the House of Commons. With AV, voters specify as many candidates as they like for their vote to be transferred to if their earlier preferences are eliminated, until one candidate gets over 50%. Though sometimes called a form of proportional representation (PR), it is not proportional; Labour would have had a bigger landslide in 1997 if conducted under AV!

Like the Electoral Reform Society and Liberal Democrats, this Foundation favours the "single transferable vote" (STV) form of PR. With it, there are multi-member constituencies and votes are transferred if earlier preferences are eliminated or get more votes than required to be elected. As well as being fairer it gives voters the opportunity to choose between candidates of the same party, removing power from party machines.

Measures are also needed to guard against politicians selling out. There should also be annual elections and the ability to recall a whole government, triggering a general election via a petition of some proportion of the electorate.

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Sunday, 2 May 2010

May Day at Flagg!

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