17 Aug 2016

Grunwick Changed Me

Grunwick Changed Me

Maya Amin-Smith explores the impact of the Grunwick dispute, which began in August 1976, and finds out how members of her family became involved, and how they look back on it now.
The Grunwick dispute, at a film processing plant in north west London, is widely regarded as a landmark in British trade union history. For the first time, a high-profile strike involved women from South Asian immigrant communities, many of whom were fairly recent arrivals in the UK. Few if any had experience of industrial action - and the press at the time quickly noticed what they called 'strikers in saris', an image which challenged the perception that strikes were largely led by white men.
But aside from the public legacy of the Grunwick dispute, what was the personal impact on the people involved?
Maya Amin-Smith was born fifteen years after the strike was abandoned, into an Indian family of East-African immigrants. Her family had settled in the Chapter Road area of Dollis Hill where the Grunwick factory was situated. Indeed, two of her great aunts worked at the film processing plant themselves.
There's little sign now in the narrow streets of Dollis Hill that this was once the site of a long and bitter struggle, but now that the dust has settled, Maya explores the impact that this industrial action has had not only on her family, but on families like hers within the South Asian immigrant community, and how it's remembered now.

29 Jul 2016

Michaela Secondary Free School punishes children for having hard-up parents

Friday, 29 July 2016

Michaela Secondary Free School punishes children for having hard-up parents

I suspect not many of my readers also read the Daily Mail so here is a brief summary of an on-line story carried by the Mail LINK.

Katharine Birbalsingh who hit the headlines when she became Michael Gove's darling after she told a Tory Conference that the education system was broken based on her experience at a London secondary school, is head of Michaela Secondary Free School in Wembley Park.  The school advertises its strict discipline policy and 'private school ethos' and has a laudatory comment from Boris Johnson hanging on its exterior.

The Mail story is not about the school's strict umbrella code (black or navy blue only) or its service to parents whereby they can text pictures of school shoes they are about to buy for approval LINK, but about its attitude towards the children of hard-up families.

The Mail reveals that children whose parents are behind with meal payments are put in lunch isolation, being made to sit on their own for the whole lunch hour, and are given a sandwich instead of a hot meal with dessert.

The Mail quotes a letter from the deputy headteacher, Barry Smith, to unemployed care worker Dionne Kelly. Dione had paid by the time she received the letter but her child was punished anyway:
The deadline for this term's lunch payment was 1st June 2016. You are currently £75 overdue. If this full amount is not received within this week your child will be placed into Lunch isolation.

They will receive a sandwich and a piece of fruit only. Only when the outstanding sum is paid in full will they be allowed to eat lunch with their classmates.
Birbalsingh told the Mail that the letter was sent in an attempt to encourage the parent to change her ways and support her son by paying for his food.

Sam Royston of the Children's Society said, 'No school should punish and potentially stigmatise a child because a parent has not paid for, or is unable to afford, school meals.'


8 Jul 2016

Grunwick and Lucas 40 Years On: Union Rights, Workers' Control

Grunwick and Lucas 40 Years On: Union Rights, Workers' Control
Screening of The Year of the Beaver and The Lucas Plan, with discussion and brief talks by Kerria Box (Grunwick 40) and Solfed.
22nd July 7pm at LARC, 62 Fieldgate Street, E1 (nearest tubes Whitechapel, Aldgate East.)
Organised by Breaking the Frame, Grunwick 40 and North London Solidarity Federation. FREE/donation.
1976 was a high tide of workers’ struggle and the year it all began to change. Giving the lie to racist and sexist myths that Asian women were submissive and would work for a pittance, workers at the Grunwick plant in Willesden rallied the left behind their struggle for the right to join the union. At the Lucas Aerospace arms company, the Shops Stewards’ Combine Committee took the fight to the bosses, with their workers’ Alternative Plan for socially useful production.
In 2016 we are still facing the fiction of ‘foreigners taking our jobs’. In the face of climate change and militarism, we again need industrial conversion, from fossil fuels and Trident to renewables, and to stop the bosses replacing our jobs with robots. Join us for 2 films and discussion, showing how workers’ rights and ideas are crucial to facing those challenges.
Refreshments will be available for a donation. Contact info@breakingtheframe.org.uk for more information. Venue is wheelchair accessible.
  • !Save the date for the Lucas Plan 40th Anniversary Conference in Birmingham Saturday November 26th - more information soon at http://lucasplan.org.uk/

14 Jun 2016

London Greens send their solidarity to the UNISON strikers in Barnet,

London Greens send their solidarity to the UNISON strikers in Barnet, you are making a stand for public libraries which are under attack all overLondon and throughout the UK. You are not only defending pay and conditions, but also standing up for education and culture. The abolition of ignorance is a central principle of the welfare state and it should be an aim of local and central government, by defending this you are representing all of us.
Secretary Green Left
London Federation of Green Parties Trade Union Liaison Officer pp GPTU

12 Jun 2016

Message from Shahrar & Another Europe is Possible leafletting Kilburn 2pm to 4pm, Saturday 18 June

Firstly, a huge thank you to everybody who helped in the London Assembly election campaign and to Jafar Hassan for his sterling efforts as local constitutency candidate!
There's been no let off for election campaigning with the EU referendum vote soon upon us. I write to encourage you to participate in a joint stall we are holding with Camden Labour:
2pm to 4pmSaturday 18 June joint stall outside Kilburn Market - this is on Kilburn High Road, south of Brondesbury and Kilburn stations or north of Kilburn Park and Kilburn High Road  Seehttps://goo.gl/maps/VUPS1rTSUQw  

Our Green Party contact for this day is Francesca Gater. Please contact Fran on francescagater@mail.be and on the day itself 07917 881 648.
Thank you to everybody who has already volunteered their time and resources. 

4 Jun 2016

NHS Kill or Cure? STP knowns and unknowns - some key questions

acknowledgements to http://wembleymatters.blogspot.co.uk/

NHS Kill or Cure? STP knowns and unknowns - some key questions

So much creeps up on NHS 'reform'  and realisation of its true repercussions known only to a few who can penetrate the jargon, that I am pleased to publish this early warningby Robin Sharp and Peter Latham  taken from the website of Brent Patients Voice

 Sustainability & Transformation Plans (STPs) being prepared across the country on the orders of NHS chief Simon Stevens. There is a plausible view that they present the greatest threat to the NHS since the 1948 settlement. Although there is much that we don’t know, veils are removed almost every day.

This is a brief account of what we have so far gleaned. We don’t think we should delay further sharing it with our readers. What follows is based on a note we sent to Brent’s Chief Executive, Carolyn Downs, for a meeting she kindly offered us on 1st June about the process for preparing these plans. She is the local government lead for the 8 NW London boroughs.
Overall the national STP process as well as its local iteration appears to be radical and internally self-contradictory, but moving forward in semi-secrecy at an unacceptable speed. If it was clear that clinicians and other professionals who deliver care, as well as the wider public, were going to have a proper input before STPs were finalised and implemented we would be content to wait for our turn. However this does not seem to be the case.

By virtue of the NHSE National Planning Guidance for 2016/2017 NHS CCGs and Trusts are required to produce and submit STPs in outline (checkpoint) form by mid-April and in full by the end of June, with implementation beginning in October. Local authorities, though not subject to NHSE jurisdiction, are to be engaged in the process of production. Clinicians and patients are to be involved, presumably after the full STP has been submitted. STPs cover newly-created areas called “footprints”. In the case of our area the footprint consists of the 8 boroughs already grouped together for the purpose of 'Shaping a Healthier Future', 'Whole Systems Integrated Care' and 'Transforming Primary Care'.

The main purposes of STPs are 

to speed up implementation of the changes in ways of working between hospitals, GPs and community services outlined in The Five Year Forward View and;
to eliminate financial deficits, i.e. spending above budgets, in short order.

The Guidance makes no reference to current NHS shortcomings, pressures, staff shortages or population growth but strongly asserts that in the short term better services can be delivered with fewer resources. It has a list of questions to be answered which seem likely to provoke cynicism among front line staff.

The NHSE publication: General Practice: the Five Year Forward View issued on 21 April 2016 with Introduction by Simon Stevens describes a major transformation of NHS GP practices that Sarah McDonnell for Brent CCG recently described at the Brent Health and Wellbeing Board as a 'cottage industry', and Dr Sarah Basham characterised as 'getting more corporate'. This is set out in Chapter 5 at page 49.

The vehicle proposed for this transformation is the new 'Multispeciality Community Provider'(MCP) contract:

"Today the range of services funded within general practice owes much to history rather than optimal working arrangements for GPs or patients. The MCP model is about creating a new clinical model and a new business model for the integrated provision of primary and community services, based on the GP registered list, but fully integrating a wider range of services and including relevant specialists wherever that is the best thing to do, irrespective of current institutional arrangements. At the heart of the MCP model the provider ultimately holds a single whole population budget for the full breadth of services it provides, including primary medical and community services."

So-called Accountable Care Partnerships, including GP federations with patient lists averaging 170,000, would be formed to provide these services in place of the old model of care with the individual GP practice at the centre, going back to the 1948 origins of the NHS. These would still need to address the long-standing problem as to who pays when long-term residential care is needed for individuals who should not be in hospital but cannot care for themselves at home. The current shortfall in social care funding, even when supplemented by the Better Care Fund, only exacerbates this dilemma. These deep issues are not going to be solved by a series of hastily written and implemented STPs.

Moreover this is the point at which the STP process becomes self-contradictory. The major change in primary care, the “new model of care”, has not begun to be sold to GPs and the public, far less designed and accepted. It will need time and a good deal of money to be tested and to demonstrate its advantages. This is completely inconsistent with a requirement to eliminate NHS deficits in a couple of years or even less.

The trend in NHS Trust deficits is moving sharply downwards from a surplus 4 years ago to £800m in 2015 and £2.45bn this year (though experts say the true figure is closer to £3bn). Rising demand, higher costs of agency staff because permanent staff are not available and over-use of management consultants are factors. There is no evidence that this trend can be significantly reversed over the five-year planning period without reductions in the care delivered. Most key care outcome indicators are already on a downward trend.

Some questions and issues:

Is not a candid analysis of the current situation and immediate prospects the essential basis for realistic STP planning?

Can such planning be done without full involvement of medical and social care professionals?

Does not the recent dispute with junior hospital doctors just highlight the deterioration in relations between core staff and political leadership, whereas trust between these two elements in the system is essential for successful reform?

Why has the national political leadership made no effort to justify to Parliament and the public the major changes in GP/patient relationship envisaged by the Five Year Forward View proposals for transforming primary care?

Is not the structure of the footprints (and regional leaders above the footprints) where official representatives are meant to have delegated powers to commit their organisations an attempt to sidestep the legislation of the Health and Social Care Act 2012 with its devolved and GP-led commissioning by a centralised top-down planning system without any recourse to fresh legislation?

How can the secretive and rushed process for STPs ordained by Simon Stevens end up securing any measure of public consent? When is serious public and clinical engagement going to begin?

Is it not the case that projects to group GPs into federations working with other providers to deliver packages of care in the community or “out of hospital” will not deliver savings in the short term – even if GPs manage to understand and approve of them – with the consequence that closing acute hospital beds and A&E departments (in NW London 500 beds and two more A&E's) becomes once again the preferred method of acceding to HM Treasury demands?

Bearing in mind that outline STPs already submitted are not in the public domain and that local authorities are party to them, have elected Brent councillors seen and approved them or authorised officials to proceed without reference to them? Will the final STP submissions be considered in public before submission at the end of June?

Should we not recognise that the health and social care workforce is going flat out and that there are no more large “efficiency savings” to extract under the present financial settlement? Is not the underlying question here how much the UK taxpayer wishes to spend on health and social care as a proportion of GDP if the NHS 'free at the point of delivery model” is to be preserved? Or is the intention of this Government initiative to facilitate an extension of commercial provision of NHS medical and local authority social care?

Robin Sharp and Peter Latham
Brent Patient Voice
31st May 2016

25 May 2016

Frack Free Ryedale has launched a people's declaration against fracking

Al Williams' via Time to Act on Climate Change - planning group

Hey everyone,

Sue Gough from Frack Free Ryedale has launched a people's declaration against fracking in response to yesterday's decision to frack at Kirby Misperton in Yorkshire, vowing to continue the fight and asking for support from across the country.

Please can people sign and share it. Thanks

22 May 2016

***** The Brent Walk for Change *****

***** The Brent Walk for Change *****

Hello Friends. Would you like to join us? This will be a shared sponsored walk to enjoy ourselves, exchange ideas and to collect some change from our sponsors to help fund our groups. It is open to any voluntary organisations in Brent working for Environmental and/or Social Justice. You don’t have to fund-raise if you don’t want to.

It will take place on 17th July 2016 starting at 2.30.

It is about 6 miles long with points along the way where people can join or leave.  We will start from  Stonebridge Park Station and walk the Brent River Park path (kingfishers have been seen here)  to Wembley Stadium area (Wembley Park Station) then follow Barnhill Road taking in the new Chalkhill Park, St David’s Open Space (orchard, BMX track, canal feeder – muntjac deer have been seen here). Birchen Grove (coffee/tea available at Garden Centre cafĂ© if we are early enough), Welsh Harp to Silver Jubilee Park, cross into Fryent Country Park for a picnic on Gotsfords Hill then through the recently added Masons Field to Kingsbury Station.

We would be glad if your group would like to join us. If you would, then please contact the organisers, Martin Francis and Pam Laurance.

Contact details:
Martin - mafran@globalnet.co.uk    07910 315 139
Pam - info@brentfoe.com    07985 375 798

Martin is an experienced “Guided Nature Walker”. He runs the Brent Schools without Walls Scheme. http://www.brentschoolwithoutwalls.btck.co.uk/
Pam is one of the joint coordinators of the Brent Friends of the Earth Group

Martin will do a risk assessment of the route and both of us have insurance for our own groups but please note that each group is responsible for the health and safety of people coming from your group and for your own fundraising. (We have some fundraising forms we can email to you if you would like them.) I am attaching a map of the route.

If it rains on the day please phone to find out if we are carrying on or postponing.

17th July 2016 – 2.30

7 May 2016

How Brent Greens fared in the GLA and Kilburn elections

There are full details of the Brent and Harrow results on www.wembleymatters.blogspot.co.uk.  In summary  we came third in the London Mayoral campaign and Sian Berry achieved the highest number of second preference votes. In the Brent and Harrow constituency contest Jafar Hassan and the Lib Dem candidate jostled for third place with an eventual narrow margin for the Lib Dems. On the London list we won two AM seats for Sian Berry and Caroline Russell with Shahrar Ali just missing out on a third Green seat.

In the Kilburn by-election there was again a narrow margin between Lib Dems and Greens with Pete Murry achieving a 9% vote which is one of our better by-election votes. There was a 7 vote margin between Greens and Lib Dems in the Lib Dem's favour but there was a discrepancy of 14 votes between the total votes cast and each candidate's vote totalled.  A long and arduous recount may have made a difference but it not justifiable for a third place.

This is what the Green Party had to say yesterday:

The Green Party has recorded its best ever election results in London where Sian Berry, the Green Party’s London Mayoral candidate, came third and the Party retained its two London Assembly seats.

On the Assembly, councillors Sian Berry and Caroline Russell replace Baroness Jenny Jones and Darren Johnson, who have both stepped down after 16 years of outstanding service.
The Scottish Greens enjoyed a superb night, growing their representation from two MSPs to six. In winning election, 21-year-old rising star Ross Greer became the youngest-ever MSP .
Reacting to the outstanding results in the capital, Natalie Bennett, Green Party Leader, said:
The Greens standout results in London demonstrate how a positive campaign with good ideas for London can resonate widely with voters. We thank all our candidates, activists and supporters for delivering our biggest and best campaign in London to date.
Sian Berry said:
Today is a victory for the politics of bringing Londoners together not dividing them. I’m proud that Londoners have voted for good, positive ideas in such numbers. In every vote Greens have cemented our position as the number three party in London, coming third in the vote for mayor, on the Londonwide list and in a majority of constituencies. The immediate priority for Greens on the London Assembly now will be to push the new mayor to make the right decisions on road-building and estate demolitions and to clean up our city’s filthy air.
In the local elections, the Green Party saw strong results in the West Midlands and the South West. In Stroud, where Natalie visited on the eve of the poll, the Party retained five councillors and added three gains. The party retained all its councillors in Solihull and made two gains. The party now have 27 Green Party councillors on 11 councils in its growing West Midlands powerbase (including making a breakthrough in Cannock Chase and winning a hard-fought seat in Worcester that led to the Tories losing control of the council). The party also won a first-ever seat on Weymouth and Portland council.
Reacting to the local election results, Natalie said:
My thanks to everyone who voted Green yesterday, particularly those who voted Green for the first time, of whom I know there were many.
I also want to thank all of the candidates, members and supporters who helped us to stand in the largest-ever number of council seats, 54% in these elections compared to 25% in 2012.
That reflects the growth and development of the Green Party since then, with membership five times larger, and we’re looking forward to the county elections next year to further increase our representation.
The new Green councillors will join a team who are dedicated to standing up for the most disadvantaged, to taking real steps to alleviate the ever-worsening housing crisis, and to helping communities live within the environmental limits of our one fragile planet.
The breakthroughs we have made mean more councils will now have Green voices, voices that scrutinise, challenge, and ask tough questions. Sadly, we have lost some long-term, dedicated, valued councillors in Norwich, Oxford and other places. I thank them for their years of service to their communities and the Green Party and am sure that the parties there will be bouncing back in coming years, with strong representation still on both councils.
The final Green tally of English council seats will not be known until Sunday when the Bristol City council count is completed. Bristol is the Greens’ stronghold in the South-West and the party is poised to increase it representation from 14 councillors.
The Scottish Greens increased the presence in Parliament threefold and achieved almost a 14% increase on their best-ever total in the regional vote across Scotland.
Turning her attention to Scotland, Natalie said:
This was a great night for the Scottish Green Party and they are taking a great team into Holyrood. As well as the much respected Alison Johnstone and Patrick Harvie, Ross Greer will be the youngest MSP and land reform campaigner Andy Wightman will be a formidable force.

2 May 2016

How to vote Green on Thursday


It's less than a week until the 5th May elections, and over 1500 Green candidates across the UK are campaigning to be elected to councils, assemblies and as mayors. Greens make a real difference in local communities - they fight for clean air, for decent homes and for a society that works for the common good, not just the privileged few. 

Locally we have Jafar Hassan standing for the Brent and Harrow constituency and Shahrar Ali is Number 3 on the Green Party List - vote Green on the orange ballot paper. 

Sian Berry's campaign for Mayor is rapidly gaining support. While we were leafleting in Queen's Park yesterday a Brent Labour councillor commented on her positive presentation of Green policies. Give her your first preference vote for Mayor.

30 Apr 2016

Jafar Hassan explains why you should vote Green in the GLA election next week

This is what Jafar Hassan told the Harrow Times when asked why people should vote for him as the Green candidate for the Brent and Harrow constituency. LINK

Green Party candidate Jafar Hassan said:
"London is in an awful housing crisis and the Green Party are the only ones with a viable plan to support and protect renters, and ensure housing is genuinely affordable. 

"This city is becoming more expensive to live in, making it harder for communities to stick together, but also making it completely unfair for those travelling from the zones in Harrow and Brent. We are campaigning to introduce a flat fares system making it cheaper to travel if you're a part time worker or living in the outer parts of London. 

"Investment in cycling and speeding up the introduction of zero emissions taxis and buses. During the school rush on busy roads around Brent and Harrow it is a disgrace that children are being exposed to so much toxic air on a daily basis. I will be fighting for safer cycling routes and ensuring all of the bus routes in our boroughs are electric powered. 

"I've lived in north west London my whole life, I studied both my journalism degree and masters in politics in London. This city along with my upbringing has shaped who I am. My mum who came to this country from Iraq before even turning 20 raised my sister and I on her own. I learnt from her the importance of persevering through difficult times and never losing hope. I will fight to give London back to Londoners and give them the Green policies they want. 

"We absolutely need more Greens on the London Assembly. Your votes for the Green Party in London elections have ensured investment for Cycle Superhighway and Cycle Hire, helped create the London Living Wage Unit, meaning that 60,000 Londoners are now paid a Living Wage, and pushed new housing developments to have more affordable housing. If you only want to give us one vote make sure it is on the orange ballot paper, where if you vote Green, you get Green."

If you want more Green Assembly Members vote Green on the orange ballot paper

26 Apr 2016

Junior doctors' strike: The Green Party stands in solidarity with NHS staff

Junior doctors' strike: The Green Party stands in solidarity with NHS staff

Green Party press release
For immediate release – 26 April 2016
Junior doctors' strike: The Green Party stands in solidarity with NHS staff
* Natalie Bennett: 'The government must change the way it treats our NHS’
* Larry Sanders: 'Junior doctors are heroes in the fight for a high quality NHS' 
Speaking ahead of the planned junior doctors' strike, Natalie Bennett, Leader of the Green Party of England and Wales, said:
“It is sad that junior doctors have been forced to this point by the obstinate approach of the health secretary, whose flat-out refusal to drop his insistence on imposing a new contract has scuppered any possibility of meaningful talks with the British Medical Association.
“Industrial action is a last resort and I know from having spent time on the picket lines over recent months that junior doctors are taking this unprecedented action with a heavy heart.
“The government must change the way it treats our NHS and reopen negotiations with the junior doctors. A caring health secretary would negotiate with the junior doctors to produce an acceptable contract.
“Until then, I, and fellow Green Party members and supporters will continue to stand in solidarity with NHS staff as we fight for what’s right.”
Larry Sanders (1), the Green Party's Health and Social Care Spokesperson and the brother of US presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders, added:
“The Green Party supports the junior doctors’ strike because the new contract, if imposed, would have disastrous effects on patients and the NHS.
“We are pleased that medical risks will be minimised by the back-up of senior doctors.
“The junior doctors are heroes in the fight for a high quality NHS. They do not want to strike; their pride is in their work.
“Jeremy Hunt is attempting to force a contract on them which puts patients at risk and reduces their pay. If he succeeds he will drive devoted doctors from the NHS. We already have too few doctors, nurses and hospital beds, with £22 billion of further cuts in the pipe line. A victory for Hunt would be an important step towards a profit-based NHS.”