#oneaday, Day 69, The results are in…

So we had a referendum and some people had elections too. I voted yes, so am a right loser – although it was interesting to see the tweet:

‘33% vote yes – a crushing defeat. 35 vote for Tories – a 5 year mandate’

However, the time is passed now…

What interested me was the gains made by Labour. Although the Conservatives gained lots of councillors, Labour gained control of several councils. So what happens now? well, there has already been lots of posturing, Labour & Tory’s claiming victory. What I would like to see is these new (and existing) Labour controlled councils setting illegal budgets. That is budgets whereby services are delivered and there is not enough money to pay for them. Services that people need. Children’s Centres. Youth Services. Social care. That is opposition, but it would be a gutsy move. It would be a gutsy move, saying we reject these cuts and want to deliver quality services to the people we are elected to serve.

Will they do it? Who knows. But ti would set out the stall for the next lot of elections, which in council terms will be a year in some areas.

#oneaday, Day 65, Marching on together

Saturday 26th March 2011.

400,000 people took to the streets of London to let the coalition government know that we did not agree with the cuts they were making, and that an alternative was possible. I was there as a youth worker and trade unionist with my union, which is also a part of the Choose Youth coalition – services for young people have been particularly affected by the cuts councils have been forced to make by a reduction in government funding.

It’s now about a month since the march and rally. In the days that followed there was lots of discussion, particularly around the violence that took place, the arrest of UK Uncut members at Fortnum & Mason, and around ownership of the day when there was condemnation of the actions taken by some groups. This led me to read more about protests, and I discovered what a black bloc is, among other things. (It is a group who wear black so they can come together, but are not an organised group like UK Uncut).

In the coverage that followed I was on the front page of the Observer and page 5 of the Sunday Mirror. I was a part of something, that whilst did not create an immediate government U urn I think raised awareness of the issues with the public. Certainly the slowing down of the NHS Bill was an embarrassment to the government.

Now I was fairly near the front, but even so by the time I got to Hyde Park it was time for me to leave. I didn’t see any violence or trouble, and it was a very positive experience for me – the biggest march I have attended so far, and as I passed Downing Street with a banner, a more experienced union comrade turned tome and said ‘Remember this, you won’t the chance very often.’

With a riot in Bristol a few days ago, it seems that civil unrest – and questions over how this is policed – is not going away, and may even be on the rise. Do I condemn or condone violence? I can certainly understand the strength of feeling – personally I don’t think it is the best way to get your point across, but when the democratic route stops working… Most change usually comes about from acts of defiance or violence. The public at large though will generally be against it – even more so if direct action affects them. The prevalent attitude seems to be that we should be thankful that we have jobs etc etc. Polls seem to swing for and against the cuts, but I think it is only now, as the impact starts to be felt, the job losses hit home and services disappear that the public will get really agitated – and now, it might just be too late…

#oneaday, Day 61, Preparing to March

Well I have arranged my travel for Saturday to journey to London for the TUC March for the Alternative. I have thought about what I will need to take in case of kettling (unlikely if you stick with the main event I think) and other supplies.

This will be the biggest march I have attended so far in my career as an activist. Arguably it is the most important. What is the alternative? In short:

  • a crackdown on tax avoidance
  • a Robin Hood tax on banks and finance
  • policies and time to let economic growth and full employment raise the tax that will close the deficit

I am not a deficit denier – I just don’t think that the Tory-led coalition are tackling it in the right way – it is too much, too soon. The retail price index is at 5.5%. Youth employment is massively high. People I know are living in fear that there job will be cut by councils forced to make hard choices by the government, destroying services for communities. This all set against a back drop of £1m missiles being launched and a Royal wedding being planned.

So my message on Saturday to the government will be to stop, collaborate and listen to, and work with, the people of this country – no one voted for the level of cuts and change we are seeing. We need to apply the brakes before we break Britain.

 

#oneaday, Day 39, The Choose Youth Rally

This weekend, I went up to Solihull to steward at the national Choose Youth rally. This was a number of organisations and trade unions coming together to make a noise about the threats to youth services around the country – both local authority and voluntary sector.

This was the biggest rally I have attended in my time as a trade unionist – over 1000 people. And it was a very diverse group. 120 young people had travelled up from Devon. There were pensioners from the Midlands. Youth workers, youth work lecturers, trade unionists, MPs, councillors and more.

The event looked very impressive. Big video screens meant you could see everything that was going on wherever you were in the massive hall. There were activities to take part in, performances and some great testimonies from young people as to why the youth service should be kept.

A couple of my favourite quotes from the day:

£6 billion awarded in bankers bonuses would fund youth service in England and Wales for 22 years

‘I walked out in the student walkout protests. My teacher asked where I was going. I said I was hoping to go to university.’

“we have a saying in my school, doing a Clegg, it’s when you say one thing and do another”

You can view footage of the rally here, join the campaign on Facebook, and see what others have said by looking at the #chooseyouth hashtag on Twitter.

#oneaday, Day 20, Outrage!

Tonight I did something odd. First, some context.

I used to live in Peterborough, where the MP is Stewart Jackson of the Conservative party. As such, I followed him on Twitter – you can see what he Tweets about here. He got in some bother once by Tweeting that sex education increased the STI rate.

Anyway, I don’t live there anymore, but never unfollowed him. Tonight, Mr J tweeted:

‘Not Going Out – rare example of brilliant BBC comedy’

A brief exchange ensued, the jist being ‘What about such and such’ covering classic and more recent comedy. The upshot was that I agreed with a Tory MP.

I fear I may be disowned shortly.

Also – who knew Stewart Jackson likes Gavin & Stacey?

#oneaday, Day 8, Let’s get political

I don’t consider myself to be politically active, however compared to the average person it seems that I am. I am an active member of a trade union, and a member of a political party. I have also voted at every election I have been eligible to vote in, European, local and national.

I have attended a number of meetings, conferences in rallies, mostly around youth work and defending it. Today there was an event in London – Netroots – discussing the pros and cons of online activism. And today dear readers I ask you to get involved in that and sign an online petition: http://www.petition.co.uk/withdraw-proposal-to-cease-the-whole-of-the-youth-service-in-warwickshire

Yes, the council in Warwickshire want to scrap the entire youth service to find the savings required of them by the government. I believe that this would be a false economy. Youth works often work with groups of young people – professionals who do interventions higher up the scale of need tend to work with individuals, which is more costly. In fact, youth work was found to be very cost effective by the Audit Commission.

You can read more about the Benefits of Youth Work here.

As a youth worker I have seen how the work can benefit young people from all walks of life, and it promotes values – such as equality – that I think are really important for society.

So, if you agree, then please add your name to the petition. If not – lets have a heated debated!