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Letters — We grannies wrecked a council meeting, and we don’t regret it

Issue 2805
Grannies for the Future

The Dorset “Granarchists” are blocked by security guards from accessing Dorset County Hall. (Extinction Rebellion Wimborne)

Annie and I are grannies. I only became one last year and the joy and love this brings to me is immeasurable. But it’s often tainted as I think about what lies ahead for this precious little girl.

Once you acknowledge the scale of the climate and ecological emergency we are in, and then you get to see how this world is run, there is nothing else to do but take action. 

We are ruled through manipulation and with a lack of care for the majority. So, last month, when Annie and I read that our council in Dorset would be debating climate change and fossil fuels, we knew we had to go along. We were pretty sure the Tory majority would be whipped into voting badly—and they didn’t surprise us.

As expected they were ready to vote for the expansion of fossil fuels on the back of the misleading claim that the Ukraine crisis means we need to. So, we disrupted their terrible motion.

We walked into the back of the council chamber, calmly placed our glued hands onto a large table, and read out our statements. With a roar from the right, heckling and some jostling, the meeting was reconvened into another room.

We left after about an hour, after un-glueing ourselves, and sent off our photos and a press statement to the media. Then we went to the pub to debrief.

Annie and I have been surprised at the press coverage, so we hope we’ve helped highlight the debate around the extreme folly of expanding fossil fuels.

As a Labour councillor, I’ve taken a bit of flack locally for our action.  We wait to see what the police will do and how much we’ll be charged for the table repair—it was leather inlaid, oops!

But we stand by our action to call out all those local councillors complicit with a misleading, greedy and heartless government.

Giovanna Lewis

Grannies for the Future, Dorset


Our union is ready to fight Tories   

As the cost of living crisis worsens, the PCS union national executive has unanimously agreed to move to a statutory ballot over pay and pensions.

This follows a consultative ballot where we achieved a 45 percent turnout with 80 percent voting for industrial action. Through an emergency motion at our annual conference later this month, we are asking members to take on the government over soaring prices and the falling value of pay and pensions.

Given the anti-union legislation, there is still much that we need to do to ensure that when we ballot, we can beat the 50 percent turnout threshold required. But we are confident that campaigning and member-involvement will mean that we can win the vote—and then move to action.

It’s likely that our ballot will be in September, so we have to keep the momentum going. PCS is also pushing to get as many of our members on the TUC demo on the 18 June. It is essential we send the biggest message possible to the Tories and employers that we will not pay for their crisis.

We are united around this even though there are different views in the union around the Ukraine war. We raised the position of “No to Russia’s invasion, no to Nato expansion” at the national executive in March and April but were defeated on this issue. Further debate on the Ukraine war will also be held at our annual conference.

Paul Williams PCS NEC (pc)

Marianne Owens PCS NEC (pc)

Sarah Ensor PCS NEC (pc)


It’s back to school for me    

I went back to my south London school last week for the first time since 1977. I did not go for nostalgic reasons—I hated school—but to show my support for the striking teachers of John Fisher School in their fight against homophobia.

The school in the 1970s was a bastion of reaction. Teachers, many of whom were Catholic priests, pushed anti-abortion propaganda. Sex education consisted of “don’t do it, it’s a mortal sin”.

Today, the teachers told me, things are better, but not nearly good enough. The Catholic Archdiocese of Southwark, which runs the school, banned an LGBT+ author from the school and they sacked governors who didn’t agree.

A homophobic group of parents is organising against the workers. But the teachers and support staff have responded in just the right way—by starting six days of strike action. It was fantastic to join the picket line and bring solidarity from my Unison union branch.

Tony Phillips

East London


Abortion rights threatened here too

The attacks on a woman’s right to control over her own body aren’t confined to the US. In Oxford last week an ancient law was used to drag a woman to court and accuse her of “procuring her own abortion” by using abortion pills.

The maximum sentence under the 1861 Offences Against the Persons Act can be life imprisonment. This example shows that the law still criminalises women who have abortion without the required consent.

Women on low incomes, migrants, women of colour and women in relationships with domestic violence that can’t reach clinics are worst affected. These laws are putting lives at risk. 

The right says that they are “protecting women and unborn children.” But those same people vote to cut benefits and refuse to raise the minimum wage so that a family can actually afford to live. 

The Crown Court case in Oxford should serve as a wake-up call for us. Our right to control our bodies is under attack.

The plea hearing is on 15 July. Everyone that agrees with a woman’s right to choose should join the protest at the court.

Kate

Oxford


Will fascism revert?

In its article on contemporary fascism Socialist Worker argues that although the exterior of the far right has changed, its fundamentals remain intact (Socialist Worker, 11 May). That means the need for a street militia and so on. I’m not sure that’s true.

Haven’t the leaders of the “Euro-fascist” parties decided that most of what they want can be achieved within a “democratic” system by using right wing populism? Why would Marine Le Pen need street thugs when she has riot police?

James

By email


What did you do in the war?

It’s so easy to be dismissive of the Labour governments of the 1990s and 2000s isn’t it? (Socialist Worker, 11 May).

While we in Labour were lifting millions of children out of poverty, what were you posers on the “revolutionary left” doing? Criticising from the sidelines, of course.

Anthony Jones 

Manchester 


Election windfall

So the tax-evading chancellor Rishi Sunak has decided we could have a windfall tax on energy companies after all. 

Just a week ago the Tories were telling us that such a move would prevent vital investment in new technologies, and opening more oil fields.

I wonder what could have changed his mind? Anything to do with losing 500 seats in the local elections?

Jane

On Facebook 


Right want to ditch Starmer 

Aren’t the Labour right secretly happy that the party did badly in the elections?

Sir Keir has clearly outlived his usefulness and now it’s time to insert someone that represents Blairism in its purest form—Wes Streeting.

Dave

Essex

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