Friday, 27 April 2007

The Green Party in Kirklees

I promised a post about the green party in Huddersfield. If you don't fancy reading it all though, i can summarise it fairly well, they're rubbish!

In Huddersfield the Greens currently hold three council seats, in the Newsome ward of Kirklees Council. The local councillors (if not the local party) are firmly on the right of the party, the most left activity that happened here recently was when co-party speaker Derek Wall spoke at a public meeting
Their actions on the council were partly responsible for ending the weekly collection of rubbish bins, instead changing collections to fortnightly. They did increase recycling bin collections from every four weeks to fortnightly too, but altogether it was a cut in services (there were 5 collections every 4 weeks, now there are only 4). This caused havoc at christmas as added to the usual reductions we didn't get bins collected for 4 weeks, leading to people having rubbish piles cos it wouldn't fit in bins. Most recently they joined in coalition with the liberal democrats and conservatices in voting through a cuts budget in the council.
Ultimately the greens in kirklees are pro-capitalist with a green tinge, they do happen to get a few prestige green projects the go-ahead such as installing two wind turbines on one of the council buildings, but this hardly makes a dint in the environmental catastrophes occuring under capitalism.

Thursday, 26 April 2007

Local Elections - An Update

This week sees the Socialist devoting a whole page to the election campaigns in Huddersfield. Both campaigns are going well. In ashbrow, Mel Mills, the anti-cuts candidate campaign is going well and she has agreed to come to speak at the Campaign for A new Workers Party (CNWP) conference in a few weeks. In Crosland Moor & netherton the camapign is going even better, quite a few workers and youth from the local community have turned out to support the campaign, helping leaflet and canvass, with one young asian guy translating a leaflet and translating for us on the doorstep. In desperation the sitting labour councillor resorted to lying about how jackie has voted in the council, but almost no-one in the ward believes him, they're sick of the main three parties and want an alternative, an alternative the Save Huddersfield NHS candidate Ian Slattery is providing.
The weekend sees on friday a campaign to defeat stalls day of action across the country which we will be tacking part in, with follwoing saturday featuring an ISR day of action against the BNP tied in with an anti-cuts day of action and demonstration in the town centre, the signs are good of at least one more fighting working class councillor on the council prepared to stand up for ordinary people. More importantly whatever the outcome, the camapign for a new workers party here will go from an idea, to a reality after the election with camapigns coming together on this saturday to demand an alternative. As Mel says, "It's time for the working class to get up of it's knees and fight".

please note the link to the feature in the socialist may not work until friday 27/04/07

Tuesday, 24 April 2007

Fear of Crime - My Final Year Project

After a gruelling last week or so I've finally finished my final year project for university, I just handed it in a few minutes ago.
My study looked at fear of crime, but more specifically, what situational and environmental factors led people to feel vulnerable to crime. Moreover, the study also looked at fear in relation to distinct crime types rather than just as a broad entity - to do this it looked at one property crime (burglary), one violent crime (assault), one serious crime (terrorism) and one fairly trivial 'crime' anti-social behaviour.
This was done through a questionnaire (simply because there were so many things i was examining it wasn't worth doing a qualitative study). Each crime type was given two potential locations (one which was associated with the crime and one which had very similar features but wasn't associated). These each had four environmental factors (presence of crime prevention measure, presence of a familiar person, presence of a unknown person (and potential offender) as well as the physical condition of the area.
The major findings were that people feel vulnerable differently for each crime type, and that the situational factors related to thsi also vary, so for example people doing security checks in a cinema increases vulnerability to becoming a victim of terrorism.
The main important finding was that there are many social factors related to fear of crime that a more caring world could solve, for me fear of crime is intimately bound up with capitalist alienation and only a socialist world can solve it.

Friday, 20 April 2007

Whats to Come

I'm having a little bit of a break to finish of my final year project for univeristy, however when I come back i'll be blogging on The End of The Hamptons by Corey Dolgon a book i recently finished reading, fear of crime (what my project is about), a local elections update and the green party in Huddersfield. I'm also going to start adding the various non-CWI blogs that I read (sorry I haven't got round to doing it earlier.

Monday, 16 April 2007

This is just a quick message about one of the CWI's international website, which was set up in support of workers struggles in China and is really worth checking out. Apart from some of the articles on Chinese History which are quite interesting, it features reports of workers struggles in China which we simply don't hear about through the mainstream media. To get to it follow this link

Friday, 13 April 2007

Fear of Crime and the 'Law and Order' card

In elections we often hear about the main political parties playing the 'law and order' card of setting out tougher and tougher policies to tackle crime rates. Last years local elections saw the 'foreign prisoners scandal' that led to the replacement of then Home Secretary Charles Clarke by John Reid.

'Law and order' ideology arose in the late 70's promoted in this country by Thatcher and the Tories who made crime an electoral issue. It arose as a response to the re-habilitative ideal that collapsed in the 60's and 70's where the penal system (prisons, police etc.) focussed on trying to re-integrate offenders back into society by treating them as if something was wrong with them (like in medicine). The problem wasn't that something was wrong with all offenders, however, it was the capitalist system that can never provide for everyone, as it requires ever increasing concentration of wealth (which underlies many property crimes). Not only this the whole nature of intense competition and struggle for survival under such a system places huge strains and stresses on individuals (which underlies all crime and things such as drug abuse and alchoholism). No matter how much you treat some individuals you are fighting a losing battle as the system is the big problem that causes the others.

As such crime rates were rising and the old rehabilitative system was seen as falling apart. Taking the quasi-religious notion that offenders are evil or somehow implicitly wrong no matter what and also the idea that if you make the penal system scary enough nobody will offend (even though as I've explained the nature of the system means that people will commit criminal offences regardless of this), 'law and order' ideology took the position that one had to have heavy sanctions for offenders and and lots of police officers to appear threatening.

Of course marxists should point out that any bulking up of the penal system is a bulking up of the state of forces that can be used against the working class in struggle, indeed Thatcher used her extra 'coppers' to batter the 1984-85 miners strike. Demands should be posed to counter the grip of the ruling classes on the state forces (such as more openness, democratisation etc.), although ultimately the tops of these forces will side with the ruling class and indecision will help workers struggles.

We also have to understand why 'law and order' ideology appeal to some workers and continues to do so. The reason was that the rehabilitative ideal was failing to reduce or even control crime which threatens working class people. No-one wants to be the victim of a rape, burglary or assault, workers and other people are afraid of crime, they don't want to become victims to it. In this situation saying that you could immediately reduce the crime rate by scaring people out of doing it presents itself as an easy solution to the problem. However, it is a solution that was never going to work and hasn't as is shown by the huge increase in crime and prison population that has occured for the last almost thirty years.

We need to not pose a return to the rehabilitative ideal (although some elements such as giving people the opportunity to access decent education will still be relevant), but to rid ourselves of the capitalist system that breeds mass crime and fight for a socialist world.

Thursday, 5 April 2007

Blair has no solutions to crime problem

This article is taken from this week's socialist, again written by myself.

Blair's crime review - No solutions to crime or crowded prisons - Iain Dalton

TONY BLAIR has had 53 'law and order' bills passed in ten years at number ten, but still thinks he isn't being tough enough on crime yet. New Labour's latest crime review includes extending 'early intervention' to monitoring all children to examine their 'risk' of criminality.
'Summary justice', ie 'on the spot' fines, would be extended as would fixed penalty notices and ASBOs, which lack even the limited accountability of the undemocratic judiciary. The review also wants to increase police DNA databases to all suspects they come into contact with.
So it is more of the same authoritarian policy we have come to expect. Blair also decided that "the pace of public service reform in criminal justice needed to match that in health and education" (the guardian, 28 March) and is proposing 'workforce reform' (read privatisation) of court, probation and prison staff and the introduction of league tables for courts (which already exist for prisons).
Such proposals show New Labour have no real solutions to the record prison population announced last week and the gun and knife crime in the headlines recently. Not that the other capitalist parties have solutions. The Tories decry the logical conclusions of some of the policies they first put into practice during their 18-year rule while the Lib-Dems claim that Blair has adopted some of their policies.
In the guardian on the same day as the crime review, an article on Britain's high levels of poverty, low pay, youth unemployment and McJobs showed that life is bleak for young people.
Although there is no simple relationship between crime and poverty, the two are intimately associated with each other and are rooted in the exploitative capitalist system. We can win higher pay, better working conditions and other reforms under capitalism, but we need a socialist world to make these problems a thing of the past.

Monday, 2 April 2007

Why Police Racism is Criminal

This is a different kind of post. Instead of the usual rant i'm gonna present an arguement that cuts across some of the capitalist ideas that we see in the media (particularly of the right wing kind). I'll probably try and do more of these, but for today i'll cover police racism.

Now we're told in the capitalist media that racism is bad of course, but it's usually in the context of their capitalist morality that makes a rich person good and a poor person bad generally. And when most non-whites are poor, that makes them bad. In the context of crime we're told that being racist is wrong, but hating poor people is okay cos they're benefit cheats and criminals, if not yet then later on. So then it becomes okay to be racist again even though you're condemning racism. (Racism is not just against non-whites obviously, this is just the main form in this country at the present time).
In reality everyone is the same, we're just subjected to different material conditions, and racism is a tool of capitalism which is used to divide workers from each other. We have to oppose racism not just because it's daft but because unless workers are united it makes it even harder for us to live the kind of life we wish.

Let's get back to the point, why is police racism criminal? Well, racism within the police means that the police spend their time harrasing non-whites instead of catching criminals and obviously, however little time is spent doing this instead, this wastes police time where they could actually be doing their jobs and since wasting police time is against the law, police racism is thus criminal.

(Obviously the same goes for when the police attack strikers etc. which is why the demand for a democratic police force is important)