Tag Archives: Iain Dalton

Protest against cuts to early help children’s services in Bradford

bradford early help protest

Trade unionists, service users and supporters protest against proposed cuts to early help service – photo Iain Dalton

Around 20 people gathered in Centenary Square ahead of Bradford Council’s monthly meeting to protest against the proposals in the consultation of the the early help service, part of the Children’s Services directorate of the council.

Iain Dalton, Socialist Party West Yorkshire Organiser

The plans which are currently being consulted on propose £13m cut mostly in making up to 480 staff redundant but also downgrading children’s centre across the district, currently used by 22,000 children aged 0-4 years old, 60% of all under fives.

Trade unionists in the council, users of the service and their supporters distributed leaflets produced by the local unite branch, with a warm reception from the public.

David Ward, former Lib-Dem MP, and now an independent councillor in Bolton & Undercliffe ward – spoke to demonstrators opposing the proposals and mentioned the Green group on the council were challenging the proposals too.

Unfortunately, the response from the Labour leadership on the council is to double down on pushing these cutbacks through. Val Slater, the Executive member covering the service told the local press “Naturally people have a right to protest but until Government starts to address our major concerns regarding funding for children’s social care, then we have to manage with the limited funding we have.” As if the government are going to change their position without pressure being exerted on them to do so.

If Labour councillors want to follow through on Jeremy Corbyn’s anti-austerity policies then they ought to be leading the fight to force the money out of the government to fund vital local services, such as this or the library service which faces a further near £1m worth of cuts in the forthcoming budget proposals. Anything less than doing so is a dereliction of duty for those who want to fight the cuts, which should include putting forward a no-cuts budget for 2018-19.

In the meantime, campaigners are planning for a second, larger demonstration to take place outside the council budget setting meeting in February. Socialist Party members will be arguing that this should be opened out to all those fighting against the various raft of cuts being made by the council.

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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.

 

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.

Lecturers Strike at Bradford Uni for Fair Pay

Socialist Party joins UCU members on the picket line at Bradford Uni - photo Iain Dalton

Socialist Party joins UCU members on the picket line at Bradford Uni – photo Iain Dalton

UCU members have been out at the University of Bradford on Wednesday & Thursday as part of the national dispute over pay and casualisation. Despite the weather, a dozen pickets were present on the second day when Socialist Party members locally visited the picket line.

Iain Dalton, Socialist Party West Yorkshire Organiser

Many of the pickets talked about ongoing job reviews at the University which they believed were designed to cut staff pay, by making job descriptions more vague. Other pickets talked about how with the union they had challenged this procedure, in some cases forcing the university to recognise additional duties they were undertkaing and increase pay!

Tish, one of the UCU reps at the University, spoke to us about her concerns over education in general, including her local school which has been turned into an academy. The common theme in all the Tories plans for education, is increasing marketisation of the sector.

UCU pickets at Bradford University – photo Iain Dalton

Hundreds Attend Corbyn Rally in Bradford

Jeremy Corbyn outdoor rally in Bradford

Jeremy Corbyn outdoor rally in Bradford

With rallies in Liverpool, London and other major cities running out of space, the organisers of Jeremy Corbyn’s labour leadership election rally in Bradford took the hint and opted for an outdoor rally.

Iain Dalton, Socialist Party West Yorkshire Organiser

Corbyn himself arrived to almost a rock star reception – to the tune of ‘The Final Countdown’, surrounded by paparrazi to a cheering crowd – except instead of a stadium, he was speaking to around 700 supporters on a cricket pitch.

Press photographers and cameramen buzz around Jeremy Corbyn as he walks to the stage

Press photographers and cameramen buzz around Jeremy Corbyn as he walks to the stage

Those gathered came from a wide variety of backgrounds, but the majority were those enthused by seeing a now prominent political figure that articulated their anti-austerity, pro-working class views, whether they were older activists disillusioned by New Labour or young people getting active for the first time.

Clearly with many of the reported 140,000 new members and 70,000 supporters signed up since the election been Corbyn supporters then it is possible Corbyn could win. But given the attempts to undermine his campaign by the right-wing majority of the Parliamentary Labour Party and others, alongside the media – there would be obstacles even after winning the leadership election as the make-up of the platform of the rally showed.

For example, the rally was hosted by newly elected Bradford East MP Imran Hussain. Whilst Hussain gave quite a fighting speech at the rally, he had previously been Deputy Leader of Bradford Council until his election, where the council has recently passed eye-watering levels of cuts.

If Corbyn’s words at the rally saying that we can’t just accept another five years are to be put into practise then as well as MP’s voting to defend jobs, services & welfare, it also means councils refusing to pass on Tory cuts like Bradford Council have. Given Imran Hussain also remains a councillor, then we hope him and other Corbyn supporting local councillors will be voting against further cuts budgets come next February.

Also speaking was Unison regional officer John Cafferty, someone many Unison activists would not consider left-wing. Yet the platform also saw a young student union officer speak reflecting the refreshing change that many would view the anti-austerity, anti-war platform that Corbyn is articulating.

Hundreds attended the Jeremy Corbyn rally in Bradford

Hundreds attended the Jeremy Corbyn rally in Bradford

Speaking to several young rally attendees afterwards, then a number admitted having been turned off from voting Labour in the general election as many of the views articulated by party’s leadership seemed like a watered down version of the Tories, several of them had instead voted Green. This viewpoint was echoed at the rally by the left-wing MP for Leeds East, Richard Burgon, commenting that “Many people said on the doorstep ‘I’m not voting Labour as you’re all the same'”

A number of those attending had signed up as Labour supporters to vote for Corbyn and see how things develop from there. On the platform a GMB speaker said of Corbyn “He’s the only hope for the Labour Party” whilst Imran Hussain commented “This opportunity (to elect a left-wing labour leader) will not present itself again in a generation”.

Yet the post-election anti-austerity mood, that the reception Corbyn is receiving reflects but also the big demos organised by Socialist Party members and others in cities such as Leeds and Sheffield, will not go away after this leadership contest. After the contest, Corbyn should call a conference of his supporters, but also of the trade unions which support a fighting anti-austerity programme (including those not affiliated to the party) to discuss where next to turn this mood & support into anti-austerity & socialist change.

(See also editorial from the Socialist on Corbyn’s campaign)

Bus Strike Solid on Second Day

Huge picket lines at Bradford First bus workers strike - photo Iain Dalton

Huge picket lines at Bradford First bus workers strike – photo Iain Dalton

Despite on-off hailstorms, the mood remained buoyant during the second day of the strike by First West Yorkshire drivers and engineers at the Bowling depot in Bradford.

Iain Dalton, West Yorkshire Socialist Party organiser

Bradford bus station has been eerily quiet as First run the largest number of services from the station, yet only a handful, operating out of other depots, are running. Whilst I was present, a delivery driver (an ex-bus driver himself)  refused to cross the picket line meeting huge cheers and applause from the strikers.

Metro poster showing the much reduced bus service in Bradford during the strike

Metro poster showing the much reduced bus service in Bradford during the strike

Hundreds of drivers manned the picket lines showing the tremendous support for the strike, officially against the transfer of the 576 service to Halifax depot with a loss of eight jobs, but in reality over deeper grievances with the company.

One shop steward explained to us how there used to be twenty spare buses for every hundred in use to maintain services with repairs, maintenance and breakdowns. Now there are as few as three, meaning that frequently buses services are cancelled altogether, leaving passengers waiting without knowing when a bus will turn up as well as increased passenger numbers on the services that still do run.

Shift lengths have increased, with new starters now doing twelve hour shifts on a lower pay rates. There have been 90 jobs gone and not replaced in the last four years to the extent that the services only function on overtime. A ban on this due to the strike, on Sunday meant a whole number of services didn’t run.

First bus workers striking - photo Iain Dalton

First bus workers striking – photo Iain Dalton

Given the close timing to the general election a number of local politicians came down to the picket line, including Respect MP George Galloway and local council leader David Green. Green said Labour would be re-regulating bus services, yet Metro had been discussing introducing ‘Quality Contracts’ for years and not moving forward with even this partial reform due to opposition of profit hungry bus operating companies.

The Socialist Party on the otherhand, whilst welcoming measures to check the profiteering of the bus companies, calls for the renationalisation of bus services, alongside all public transport. Operated under the democratic control of bus workers and services users, we could channel the money currently overflowing shareholders back pockets into investment in improving bus services, pay and conditions and letting fare prices.

Socialist Party members from Leeds and Bradford, including local TUSC candidate for Bowling & Barkerend Ian Slattery, visited the picket lines and sold several copies of the Socialist