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Showing posts from 2010

The 2011 Olof Palme Memorial Peace Lecture

The Praxis Centre, Leeds Metropolitan University and Leeds City Council Peace Links Group present: The 2011 Olof Palme Memorial Peace Lecture

Olof Palme, World Interests - and what Wikileaks tells us about diplomacy as an institution Century by Professor Johan Galtung

Johan Galtung is founder and Director of TRANSCEND - A Peace and Development Network for Conflict Transformation by Peaceful Means, with more than 300 members from over 80 countries around the world and Rector of TRANSCEND Peace University (TPU).

Professor Galtung has published more than 1000 articles covering a wide-range of fields, including peaceful conflict transformation, deep culture, peace pedagogy, reconciliation, development, peace building and empowerment, global governance, direct structural and cultural peace/violence, peace journalism, and reflections on current events, and more than 100 books translated into dozens of languages.

The lecture will take place at Leeds Civic Hall on Sunday 23rd January from 6.00pm.

Looking for something different this Christmas?

The Levellers and the English Revolution
by H.N. Brailsford and edited by Christopher Hill

NOW at the festive price of £12.50 post-free

'To our generation fell the good fortune of re-discovering the Levellers. To the classical liberal historians they meant rather less than nothing. This neglect is puzzling. At the crisis of the English Revolution it was from the Levellers and not from its commanders that the victorious New Model army derived its political ideas and its democratic drive.' H.N. Brailsford.

'One can see why Brailsford devoted to the the Levellers the last years of his dedicated life. He thought of this book not as a mere history, but as a profoundly political study, which would convey a message from him to the younger generation.' CHRISTOPHER HILL

For more information about Brailsford's seminal work and other relevant titles, please visit:

736 pages Indexed

“No Peace Without Justice”

The London Session of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine

By Frank Barat and Michael Mansfield QC

Countless United Nations Security Council and General Assembly resolutions have been passed and violated; The Goldstone Report has been attacked and dismissed and the recent UNHRC fact finding Mission on the Freedom Flotilla incident, condemning Israel’s actions in the strongest possible terms, has been rejected as biased by Israel and was hardly mentioned in the higher spheres of the UN. The reason most often given to explain this lack of political action being that ‘it will harm the peace process.’

We are made to believe that the Israel/Palestine conflict is a never ending one and that, when it comes to this issue, International Law is irrelevant.

But civil society knows better. This conflict is about International Law and nothing else. Not harming the peace process means not harming more than 17 years (from the Oslo agreement in 1993 until now) of settlement building, bombing, murder and ass…

The Russell Tribunal on Palestine - London Session Registration


The Russell Tribunal on Palestine is an International People’s Tribunal created by a large group of citizens involved in the promotion of peace and justice in the Middle East. It was launched in Brussels in March 2009, and held its first public session in Barcelona a year later, when the Tribunal found European Union member states in breach of international and internal European Union law with respect to protecting the human rights of Palestinians.

The Tribunal will hold its second public session in London at the Law Society in Chancery Lane during the weekend of 20-21 November. The theme of this session is Corporate Complicity in Israel’s Violations of International Human Rights Law and International Humanitarian Law.

You are cordially invited to attend. Places are limited so we recommend early registration to avoid disappointment. Tickets cost £15 each and are valid for both days . Please advise when registering if you will be attending only on one day. It will then be possi…

What Price Austerity?

The Spokesman 110
Edited by Tony Simpson

‘Whilst still in opposition, in August 2009, the then Shadow Chancellor, George Osborne, argued for what he called ‘progressive’ and ‘fundamental’ reform of public services. The alternative, according to the Chancellor in waiting, was ‘deep cuts in the quality of those services’. Praying in aid Tony Blair and Alan Milburn, who were by then advocating something similar, he said that what was true ‘in the years of plenty’ was doubly true in an age of austerity.

Now installed, Chancellor Osborne has set about his austere task with a will. As the comprehensive spending review looks to slice further tens of billions from departmental budgets, the cuts are already scything through public services round the country. Local government workers in their tens of thousands have received Section 118 redundancy notices, as have their counterparts in the Civil Service and sundry quangos. Public service, and all its outworks, is being chopped hard. Osborne shows l…

London concert (benefit for Russell Tribunal on Palestine). Reminder.

The Russell Tribunal on Palestine, with the help of the French Institute, is organising a concert in honor of Stephane Hessel.

Stephane Hessel will introduce the Russell Tribunal on Palestine during a reception following the concert.

You can book tickets here: or by phone: 0207 073 1350

Looking forward to see you on Monday 11 October.

Warm regards
Frank Barat
Russell Tribunal on Palestine

"Not to believe in the possibility of dramatic change is to forget that things have changed, not enough, of course, but enough to show what is possible. We have been surprised before in history. We can be surprised again. Indeed, WE can do the surprising" (Howard Zinn)

Vanunu on Facebook - 30th September action

Dear Friends and Supporters,

Just a quick update and a suggestion for an action you can take as outlined below. Since our last circular and Mordechai's surprise release from prison, two weeks early, he has left Jerusalem and moved to Tel Aviv. With help from friends he has found a simple place to live, and he tells us he greatly enjoys swimming at least once every day in the sea.

Also, a new appeal, the fifth, regarding Mordechai's restrictions has just been sent to the Supreme Court, but no date has yet been set for the hearing.

Now, for all of you on Facebook we would like to encourage you to take up Mordechai's novel suggestion - below - as well as to circulate the idea as widely as possible with sympathetic groups and people.

Message from Mordechai:
I have a mission for you and others, to ask world wide facebook people, to write on their page on September 30th: "FREEDOM FOR VANUNU NOW," This is 24 years since I lost my freedom 1986-2010. "FREEDOM FOR VANUNU N…

HOUSING: Did it have to be like this?

A socialist critique of New Labour's performance
By Cathy Davis & Alan Wigfield

'If New Labour had abolished the Right to Buy and instituted a large scale local authority building and modernisation programme, if it had created a sector of good quality affordable rented housing that a wide range of citizens might be proud to live in and that was democratically accountable, we would now be looking at a completely different scenario. As it is, they failed collectively to recognize the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity presented to them by their election in 1997. In doing so, thirteen years of New Labour have made it much easier for the Conservatives and Liberals to cut and transfer and abolish.'

Dr Cathy Davis, University of Salford
Alan Wigfield, Sheffield Hallam University,
Chair, Sheffield City Council Housing Committee 1986-92

Socialist Renewal no. 53
978 085124 782 3
£6.00 36 pages Pamphlet

Energetic and Fascinating Revival

Oi for England
Not Too Tame Theatre Company with RWCMD, Venue 13, Edinburgh Fringe
August 19 - 29, 2010

“Right, f--- it!” Trevor Griffiths' opening line sets the tone for his punchy 1982 one-act play. Skinhead band “Ammunition” has been offered an election night gig for the fine sum of £30. For the four of them, “doleboys “ all, the sum is a fortune. The drama picks at the splits between the band members over what is intended to be a massive Nazi event.

Outside on the Manchester streets gangs of Asians are out for blood in response to an assault on one of their own. As it unwinds Trevor Griffiths’ structure is a writing master class in compression and texture, rounded off with a brilliant and unexpected twist.

“We're for our own kind” may be the motif but the politics of identity are always fissiparous. Just like this month’s falling out within the BNP the band is split by the fact of one of them, Finn, being a mick. Left on his own his relationship with landlord’s daughter Gloria…

Vanunu update

Dear Friend and Vanunu supporter,

It is a long time since we last sent you any news of Mordechai for which we apologise. It has been a complicated and difficult period particularly with Mordechai not wanting the campaign for his freedom to continue. However, we thought now was the time for an update, because if you hadn't seen the relevant issues of the Morning Star, Scottish Herald or, just this week, The Guardian, you probably wouldn't be fully aware of what Mordechai had been suffering, once again, at the hands of the vindictive and malicious Israeli authorities.

For some while Mordechai has been threatened with a return to prison for speaking with foreigners; including friends, supporters and journalists. For breaking this restriction he was eventually sentenced to six months in prison. He appealed against this and at a hearing of the Supreme Court, some months ago, this sentence was reduced to three months. As an alternative Mordechai was offered to do a period of Community…

Two reviews of The Wages of Thin

Two reviews of
The Wages of Thin
An early play by Trevor Griffiths

At the Old Red Lion Theatre, 418 St John Street, London EC1V 4NJ (Angel Tube), until 15th May 2010

Review by Theo Bosanquet,
What’s on Stage, 2010

In 1969, six years before Comedians brought him international acclaim, Trevor Griffiths wrote this one act black comedy, which sat gathering dust in a filing cabinet for over 30 years before it was published by his wife in a recent anthology of his plays.

Set in a public toilet, it centres on Alfred Rimbaud Thin, a white collar worker who finds himself accosted by two violent and shady 'detectives'. Telling him he's being questioned in relation to a murder case (the dead body happens to be in one of the cubicles), they proceed to press this ordinary man into laying bare his private life, most notably the fact that he's gay.

Written in the wake of the 1967 Sexual Offences Act, which decriminalised homosexuality, it ruminates on the issue of sexual privacy, and feels r…

A Special Relationship ... with Truth?

The Spokesman 108

Edited by Ken Coates

‘… If one studied official American military doctrine, one could be excused for failing to find any relationships, anywhere, but those of subordination. ‘Full Spectrum Dominance’ is still the official credo of the American military-industrial complex, and there, it might be thought, is an end of it. But Britain is perhaps unique among the dominated in seeking actually to celebrate its subordination. That is why it was so refreshing to hear Clare Short testifying before the Chilcot Inquiry.

When Sir John asked her if she had any comments to make on the re-evaluation of her experiences, which she had described with some candour, she said that she thought that her old Department of International Development had not been adequately involved; that the machinery of Government ‘has broken down quite badly’; and that the role of the Attorney General must be adjudged unsafe following his various pronouncements on the legality of the war. But then she added a…

New book challenges privatization claims

Mar 31, 2010

One of the world’s leading authorities on the privatization of public services has published a new book dismantling the corporations’ sales pitch.

Professor Dexter Whitfield has assembled his wide-ranging work on privatization into a new, intensively researched and detailed book. Global Auction of Public Assets outlines how over the last three decades major international corporations have fought to turn public services that meet basic human needs into commodities to be traded.

Whitfield is the director of the European Services Strategy Unit, an agency committed to the provision of good quality public services by democratically accountable public bodies.

In 2008, Whitfield made an engaging presentation to CUPE New Brunswick’s P3 Summit. He set Canada’s work to keep services public in the context of the global push by corporations to turn public services into profit-making ventures.

His book traces the history of privatization and public private partnerships from the time of…

Inside the Left by Fenner Brockway

Morning Star, Monday 22 March 2010
Reviewed by John Green

Many today will not remember the legendary Labour MP Fenner Brockway, who died in 1988.

Hopefully, this reissue of the first volume of his autobiography by Spokesman Books will make him better known to a new generation.

Like Tony Benn, Brockway was one of those rare figures who started early on as a principled socialist and remained so to the end of his life.

His political career spanned the bulk of the 20th century and for most of that time he was at the centre of progressive politics nationally and internationally.

He was a founder member, among other organisations, of the Independent Labour Party (ILP), the Movement for Colonial Freedom - now Liberation - War on Want and CND.

He became an MP for the ILP at a very young age and, after its demise, for the Labour Party. Vehemently anti-war, he spent several years in various prisons as a conscientious objector during the first world war.

His description of the treatment he and other &qu…

Selling off the family silver

Global Auction of Public Assets
Dexter Whitfield

Dexter Whitfield is Director of the European Services Strategy Unit as well as being attached to the University of Adelaide in Australia. He has written widely on the privatisation of public services in the UK and undertaken commissioned work for trade unions fighting privatisation in a number of local authorities, including the London borough of Barnet, where the Tories are piloting ‘shrinking the council’. His new book is the first critical analysis of Public Private Partnerships across the world.

It is an impressive study which demonstrates the extent to which the selling off of public infrastructure has become common practice. The study includes the US, France, Ireland, Germany, Canada, Russia, Australia, China, India, Brazil and South Africa as well as the UK.

Whitfield derives from this comprehensive survey a strong critique of privatisation. He demonstrates that Public Private Partnerships (PPPS) are not an alternative to public inve…

Trevor Griffiths, Bill Brand And Political Television Drama

The Genesis of Bill Brand.

“The political mini-series is by no means foreign to television as examples such as Washington Behind Closed Doors (1977), Blind Ambition (1979), The West Wing (1999-2006), and the 1975 Granada TV British television series The Nearly Man (featuring Tony Britton as a right-wing Labour MP) all show. But rather than interrogating political elements influencing individual lives they often focus upon personal melodramatic issues. In this way they fall within familiar conventions of the type of television drama that Griffiths sought both to utilize and subvert. Personal relationships do occupy key levels of Bill Brand but they are never divorced from the historical and political context of a society that attempts to control individual lives and from which some form of different alternative direction is needed. Since Griffiths has spoken of the significant “detail of the lives of the characters” in this series, it is important to analyze how each episode functions a…

Second Time Around: A classic revisited

Herald Angels
Bill Hagerty

The Miracle of Fleet Street: the Story of the Daily Herald, by George Lansbury (Labour Publishing Company, 1925, price unknown; republished by Spokesman Books, 20009, pp168, £15.00)

This is not exactly the whole story of what, in the early 1930s, was to become Britain's biggest-selling daily newspaper. Those wishing to learn about the ferocious pre-Second World War circulation battles, or the anguished slide that saw the paper metamorphose into the short-lived IPC Sun before being given garish new clothes and soaring away under the control of fledgling emperor Rupert Murdoch, must look elsewhere.

Having been born in 1911 as a daily strike-bulletin when London print Unions came out for a 48-hour working week, and resurrected the following year with capital of around £300 as a co-operative Labour venture, the Herald had been publishing consistently for only 13 years when Labour leader-to-be Lansbury recounted its trials and tribulations — there were many —on t…

Public cost of private benefit - A review

Global Auction of Public Assets
Dexter Whitfield

Dexter Whitfield has been one of the most well-informed and effective critics of the whole programme of privatisation of Britain's public services, begun by Margaret Thatcher and continued by New Labour. He is the director of the European Services Strategy Unit, continuing the work of the Centre for Public Services, which he founded in 1973, and has more recently sought to spread his critique worldwide, as more and more countries have begun to move their social infrastructure from a public service into private profit-making businesses. This new book is the result of this extension of his interest. It is, as were his earlier books on the attack on UK public services, both thoroughly researched and immaculately presented.

What began as a specifically British exercise by Thatcher to strengthen the power of capital in relation to labour has been taken up by giant corporations of capital operating in both the developed and developing …

Regime Changers Anonymous

Spokesman 107
Edited by Ken Coates

'The Security Service was officially launched in 1909 with a staff of two, who were supposed to defend the realm against Germany. Later they made a painless adjustment and began to defend it against Russia. As the two engaged ever larger numbers of accomplices it became clear that the realm which they defended consisted of ever smaller tracts of establishment England, setting its bounds somewhat short of the area occupied by the masses of the British common people …

… What can be done to clip the wings of all these spooks? Well, first of all, as far as the junior members of the team are concerned, substantial cuts can be made in their budgets. What precisely is all this intrigue for? How is it to be justified? It should surely be possible to control the expenditures of this kind of service in such a way as to reduce them to a minimum.

Then we shall be told that we need an intelligence service to apprehend terrorists. There are, unfortunately, numerou…

Bill Brand the screenplays by Trevor Griffiths

Tribune - 8th January 2010

Bill Brand: The Screenplays
by Trevor Griffiths
Spokesman Books, £18

"Trevor Griffiths is best known for stage plays such as Thatcher’s Children, Oi for England and the recently revived Comedians, as well as his screenplays for such films as Reds and Fatherland. But 30-odd years ago he wrote Bill Brand, an ambitious television series broadcast on ITV at peak time – 9pm – in 1976. It starred Jack Shepherd as an idealistic young left-wing MP who finds himself at odds with the pragmatists in a party which wants to hang on to power. Bill Brand showed, once again, the ability of this talented political playwright to dramatise the ideological conflicts of the left during those tumultuous years. Here, in all their glory, are his original scripts."

Keith Richmond

Availble to BUY NOW from Spokesman Books