BadArt world tour event in Skipton has succesful launch

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BadArt exhibit curator and artist Peter Harris (left) wth Bradford Socialist Party member and exhibitor Alan Hardman (right) – photo Paul Gerrard

Skipton is a quiet market town better known as the ‘Gateway to the Yorkshire Dales’ than it is for revolution. But on Friday 6th October socialist artists and activists, as well as the general public, from Manchester, Lancashire and West Yorkshire gathered there to view a dazzling selection of work by artists loosely grouped around BadArt.

Paul Gerrard, North West Socialist Party

Here were surrealist collages, intricate installations, disturbing paintings, photographs of demos, bold placards, banners, posters and cartoons in amazing variety. There was no monopoly of style or political position. The organiser of the show, Peter Harris, explains: ‘the diversity of the show was my main focus…. The arts enrich our lives as does the power of the imagination and although completely focused on the primary need for a socialist transformation of society we must never lose sight of the importance of creativity’.

Alan Hardman, a legendary cartoonist whose work has appeared in the Militant and the Socialist over four decades, was present to meet visitors and talk about his work. As ever he was generous with his time and his prints. Unfortunately Jean Stockdale, an internationally known ‘Outsider’ artist who was inspired to exhibit here, was unable to attend.

BadArt is not a school or a genre but a shared recognition that art can inspire us in our struggle and that imagination must be part of the DNA of a socialist future, where no-one will be an ‘artist’ because everyone is one, free to develop their creativity without political or economic constraints. As Trotsky and his collaborators put it ‘to develop intellectual creation an anarchist regime of individual liberty should from the first be established’. Several of the exhibitors here have had no formal artistic training, but have a passion to create.

The event was attended by 80 people, more than any other preview at the gallery, and, in addition to personal art sales, raised £150 for BadArt. The 17th century Mill Bridge Gallery overlooking the 18th century Leeds – Liverpool Canal provided a fitting setting for art which points to a socialist future.

The exhibit is open 10am-4pm on Thursdays and 10am-5pm Fridays and Saturdays

For more information see badartworld.net and https://www.facebook.com/Badartworldnet/

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Keighley Rejects the EDL

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EDL march through Keighley whilst locals tell them they’re not welcome – photo Iain Dalton

“Get out of our town and take your racism with you,” was one of the messages hurled by shoppers at the small contingent of EDL members trying to stage a demonstration in Keighley. Massively outnumbered by police, around 40 members of far-right EDL met a respinse that celarly indicated Keighley folk didn’t want them there.

Iain Dalton, Socialist Party West Yorkshire Organiser

This protest on Saturday 2nd September, was originally supposed to be one of two demonstrations that day, with EDL members set to descend on Bradford where threats of acid attacks against women wearing the Burka had been made in the preceeding week.

Yet the Bradford protest was called off, and the Keighley demonstration only took place due to the 4 lines of police seperating them from angry locals. An indication of the EDL’s poor state of organisation at present was they didn’t appear to have a megaphone, so no-one apart from them could hear their racist message.

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Socialist Party banner on one of the counter-demos – photo Tanis Belsham-Wray

Around 100 people, locals and anti-fascist campaigners gathered to oppose them on the other side of Church Green, whilst Unite Against Fascism held a similar sized protest which was kettled by the police around 500 metres down the road.

Socialist Party members from Bradford district, and neighbouring towns, intervened in both counter-protests, getting a good response to our leaflets linking the need to oppose the divise politics of the far-right with a clear opposition to austerity and the capitalist system.

 

Angry march against Bradford council-approved incinerator

Marching against the Aire Valley incinerator – photo Iain Dalton

Between 500 and 600 people showed a palpable level of anger not only to the proposed building of a waste incinerator in Keighley, Yorkshire, but also the decision by Bradford’s Labour-run council to pass the plans.

Peter Robson, Bradford Socialist Party

Conversations we had with people at the protest on 25 March soon turned to anger towards the council with one protester saying: “Where was the consultation for this plant? People are still not aware that it will even be built and they have railroaded this through!”

“Incin-er-ate” one of the placards on the march – photo Iain Dalton

Pollution

If this site is built we can expect a 180-foot-tall stack and toxic smoke covering the district. Around 60 wagons a day are expected to add to the pollution. All of this contravenes Bradford council’s own environment project and plans. Clearly, cash speaks louder than the health of people.

People on the inspiring march into Keighley town centre engaged with us on the route, applauding us for making a stand. Motorists and passengers sounding their horns.

Socialist Party members joined the march and distributed a leaflet opposing the incinerator – photo Iain Dalton

At the rally in the town centre one speaker put the facts straight about employment at the plant saying the initial estimate of 500 jobs to be created was now actually 79 at best. The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition banner was unfolded and drew a lot of attention with people linking cuts, poor life chances and the building of this plant.

We will now become more active in this campaign and hopefully the local community can push Bradford council back on the horrendous decision taken.

Leaflet distributed on the demo

 

Bradford: Anti-cuts lobby against poor-bashing budget

Bradford Socialist Party members were in attendance along with other activists at the lobby of the council on 23 February outside Bradford City Hall. Some Labour councillors came and talked to us as we attempted to persuade them to set a no-cuts budget.

Peter Robson, Bradford Socialist Party

This was a marked difference from 2016 when they were openly hostile towards us. But our attempts to offer an anti-austerity budget did not stop the Labour-run council making a further £40 million of cuts which, with the already millions that have decimated this city, is a legacy they should be ashamed of.

Not only will these cuts yet again attack the poorest, with the Edmund Street centre already closed as a refuge for the homeless. To add insult to injury, after the dirty work was done, they announced to the local press that they now want to rehouse 20% of people in care homes back into their own homes!

Clearly, some of these people are very ill and it would be unbelievable to send them home. And to what? With these cuts, there will be no carers left at this rate. We will continue to challenge these councillors.

1,500 join Women’s March in Shipley

'Feminist Zealots' on the Women's March on Shipley - photo Iain Dalton

‘Feminist Zealots’ on the Women’s March on Shipley – photo Iain Dalton

Around 1,500 people joined a march in Shipley held in solidarity with the Women’s March on Washington taking place in the wake of the inauguration of Donald Trump as President of the USA.

Iain Dalton, Socialist Party West Yorkshire organiser

The march was called by Shipley’s ‘Feminist Zealots’ a reference to a derogatory comment made by local MP, and Trump supporter, Philip Davies. Whilst organisers stressed the demo wasn;t about the Tory MP, a number of protesters brought placards aimed at him, as well as at Trump. The ‘Feminist Zealots’ themselves organised a free cake stall – a gesture aimed in response to Davies comments that “women want to have their cake and eat it”.

Many of the protestors had come from Shipley itself, with others coming from nearby towns like Baildon, Saltaire, Silsdon, Yeadon and Pudsey amongst those I spoke to. Many expressed their anger at the way the comments  of individuals like Davies and Trump can legitimate sexist behaviour.

Socialist Party members carry our 'Dump Trump' banner on the march - photo Iain Dalton

Socialist Party members carry our ‘Dump Trump’ banner on the march – photo Iain Dalton

Socialist Party members from Bradford joined the march, bringing our ‘Dump Trump’ banner along. We ran out of the several hundred leaflets we had printed, also selling numerous copies of the Socialist.

Succesful Public Meeting Discusses Next Steps in Campaign to Save Edmund Street Day Centre

“This is about the council trying to move the poor out of the city centre to create an image of prosperity and recovery in Bradford. But it’s an illusion, the council are trying to make believe that poverty doesn’t exist here”. These comments summed up the feeling of the motivations behind Bradford Council’s decision to cut funding to the Edmund Street Day Centre at a public meeting of 25 people on Thursday 6th October.

Iain Dalton, Socialist Party West Yorkshire organiser

The ‘Save Edmund Street Day Centre’ campaign has been initiated recently by Bradford Socialist Party members, receiving significant coverage in local print and radio media. The meeting was attended by service users, people involved in the voluntary and community sectors as well as anti-cuts activists. Disgracefully, despite being invited, not one of the councillors for the ward the service is based in turned up to the meeting, to the anger of numerous service users.

Peter Robson, Bradford Socialist Party branch secretary, who has helped spearhead the campaign so far, opened up the meeting, putting the closure of the day centre in the context of Bradford Council’s passing on of the Tory austerity agenda onto the people of the city.

He was well aware of the valuable services provided by the day centre as a former probation officer who had referred people there in the past, and commented what a loss to vulnerable people the closure of the day centre will be.

Ron, a service user, spoke next, explaining the worries many service users have that the facilities to be offered at the Salvation Army centre, a smaller center which is to allegedly take on running the service, will be able to provide. He also pointed out that the Salvation Army is a mile and a half away up a steep hill from Edmund Street, and that service users have worries regarding the Salvation Army’s attitude to the LGBT community.

Mike Quiggan, from the Bradford Resource Centre was the final speaker. He pointed out that Bradford historically has had a vibrant array of community organisations that have tackled issues of poverty and stood in solidarity with each other, often backed by the trade union movement. Yet he pointed out that this has been whittled away in the more recent period, citing “The introduction of capitalist managerial techniques from the private sector” as a key factor in the fragmenting of Bradford’s Community & Voluntary sector. He pledged to appeal for the support of Bradford Trades Council for the campaign.

A wide ranging discussion took place, with service users and volunteers highlighting the valuable interlinked services that will be lost with the move, and questioning whether this had even been considered by the council. Whilst the day centre will be moved, a substance abuse service on the same street will remain there, fracturing the vital link between the two.

A campaign planning meeting will take place next week to thrash out a strategy involving many of the valuable suggestions made at the meeting – key to this will be pressurising the council to reverse this decision, including lobbying the upcoming council meeting on the 18th October.

Save Edmund Street Day Centre

The campaign has received coverage in the Telegraph and Argus, who took this photo - their article can be read at http://www.thetelegraphandargus.co.uk/news/14728760.Campaigners_hit_out_at_day_shelter_move/?commentSort=score

The campaign has received coverage in the Telegraph and Argus, who took this photo – their article can be read at http://www.thetelegraphandargus.co.uk/news/14728760.Campaigners_hit_out_at_day_shelter_move/?commentSort=score

Socialist Party members in Bradford have spent the last weeks mobilising against the closure of the Edmund Street day centre after it came to our attention that it will close on December 1st after the council transfered funding for the service to another provider.

Peter Robson, Bradford Socialist Party

The move comes after Bradford (Labour) Council in it’s wisdom awarded the contract to the Salvation Army, who run a smaller building some mile and a half outside the city centre up a steep hill. This is a disgraceful situation.

The Day Centre has been in existence for 40 years since it opened it’s doors in 1976 to the disposed, poor and homeless of Bradford and it’s district. The Probation Service, Social Services and the NHS have often made referrals to there, with it literally keeping people alive at times. With the benefits cuts also kicking in now you can see the issues in Cities and towns like this up and down the nation, many service users have also said that they will not be able to get to the new centre due to finance or health issues and of course, winter is around the corner.

However, it is not only the service users that are worried, as the staff not being guaranteed and security under this transfer and often we know what Tupe means, a lesser service for these people and a race to the bottom on terms and conditions.

And what was Bradford councils response, they said it was awarded to the Salvation Army after a competitive tendering process. And there is the problem, people and vulnerable people at that have become pawns in a ‘competitive tendering process’ which takes no account of their needs – this just a money saving exercise if council were honest.

This Labour run council is sitting on millions of pounds of reserves, and their response has always been when  challenged  is that this is for a rainy day. Well, to continue the metaphor, it is a torrent now, they should be using it to fund services and building a campaign to win the necessary funding for the city.

Please like the Facebook site https://www.facebook.com/Save-Edmund-Street-Day-centre-938191652974461 and support the progress of this essential campaign to save a truly important service. And look for details of the public meeting we will call soon!