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The Watermelon Spring/Summer ’12 – KILL THE BILL AND SAVE THE NHS

View the latest edition of The Watermelon Spring/Summer 2012.


From the Guardian Letters: Solidarity campaign to support the people of Greece

The people of Greece face an unprecedented economic and political crisis (Violence grips Athens, 13 February). They are being driven to poverty and mass unemployment by the demands of the so-called Troika. Hospitals in Greece are running out of medicines, nearly half of all young people are unemployed, workers in some sectors have not been paid for months, the living conditions of pensioners are being severely attacked, and many people are forced to resort to soup kitchens or scavenge from rubbish dumps.

Now the Troika demands a cut of 23% to the minimum wage, the sacking of tens of thousands of public sector workers and further cuts to pensions which have already lost nearly 50% of their value. International capital is asset stripping an entire country and ripping apart its social fabric. Greece is at the cutting edge of the austerity measures that are being introduced across Europe. All the evidence shows that while these measures may protect the interests of the rich, they just make matters worse for the majority of the population. What happens in Greece today we will see inPortugal tomorrow and in Ireland the day after. In Britain, the coalition government is pursuing similar measures which will see workers’ earnings reduced, see them working longer for a smaller pension, and the NHS dismantled, along with other public services.

Mikis Theodorakis, famous Greek composer of Zorba’s Dance, and Manolis Glezos, veteran resistance fighter against the Nazi occupation, have issued a call for a European Front to defend the people of Greece and all those facing austerity. We have decided to support this call and work with trade unions, campaigns and parties across Europe to establish a European Solidarity Campaign to defend the people of Greece. We will organise solidarity and raise practical support for the people of Greece; they cannot be made to pay for a crisis for which they are not responsible.
Tony Benn 
Len McCluskey General secretary, Unite
Mark Serwotka General secretary, PCS
Bob Crow General secretary, RMT
Billy Hayes General secretary, CWU
Michelle Stanistreet General secretary, NUJ
Manuel Cortes General secretary, TSSA
Matt Wrack General secretary, FBU
Christine Blower General secretary, NUT
Jeremy Corbyn MP
Caroline Lucas MP
John McDonnell MP
Andrew Burgin Secretary, Coalition of Resistance
Romayne Phoenix Chair, Coalition of Resistance
Imran Khan Co-chair, People’s Charter
John Hendy Co-chair, People’s Charter
Frank Cooper President, National Pensioners Convention
Tariq Ali
Owen Jones
Lee Jasper Black Activists Rising Against Cuts
Paul Mackney Vice-chair, Coalition of Resistance
James Meadway Senior economist, New Economics Foundation
Kate Hudson
Lindsey German
Rachel Newton Convenor, People’s Charter
Sean Rilla Razka President-elect, ULU
Pete Murry Green party trade union group
Peter Allen Convenor, Green Left
Patrick Sikorski RMT
Chris Bambery
Clare Solomon Co-editor Springtime: The New Student Rebellions
Cherry Sewell Coalition of Resistance
Cat Boyd Chair, Coalition of Resistance Glasgow


Appeal from Tony Benn, President of the Coalition of Resistance

Dear Friends and Comrades

I write, at this critical time, to urge you to:

  • become an individual member of Coalition of Resistance (CoR) and affiliate your organisation to CoR ; and/or
  • make a regular donation of £2 a month (more if you can) by Standing Order;
  • Download a standing order form here…
Tony BennTony Benn, President of Coalition of Resistance

You can also register for our mailing list, visit ourwebsite and join our Facebook group.

The Coalition of Resistance (COR) emerged from an appeal I made in August 2010, for a broad movement against the ConDem government’s malicious attempts to dismantle the welfare state.

The first Coalition of Resistance Conference of over 1,200 people was held on 27 November 2010.  In recognition of the international nature of the crisis, we also hosted a European-wide Conference Against Austerity of over 600 was held on 1 October 2011.

Our aims are detailed on this page, but basically we are seeking to develop and sustain an umbrella organisation to bring together the local and national campaigns to defend the education, NHS, pensions, housing and the Welfare State.

We have seen many demonstrations, including three magnificent student demonstrations, culminating in a TUC march of half-a-million on 26 March 2011.  We are also witnessing an unprecedented outbreak of occupations across the globe.

A new phase began with the co-ordinated pensions strike by UCU, NUT, PCS and ATL on 30 June.  With 3 million workers being balloted, we are now heading for the biggest nationally co-ordinated strike since the 1926 General Strike on 30 November.  Whilst the formal dispute is over public sector pensions, it is clear that November 30th also represents a fundamental challenge to this relatively unstable ConDem Government.

Our immediate task is to turn the 30 November Pension strike into a Festival of Resistance against cuts and privatisation and in defence of the Welfare State. Everyone can be involved in this, see

We will need to be ready to sustain the fight beyond that date – for example to organise a common day of protest across Europe. To do this we need to consolidate the affiliations and increase funds for the Coalition of Resistance.

Yours in comradeship

Tony Benn

President of the Coalition of Resistance


THE WATERMELON Newsletter of Green Left November/December 2011 SPECIAL

Read the November/December 2011 Special Edition of The Watermelon:

The Watermelon N30 Strike Special


cambridge permaculture meeting


Statement from Green Left on Occupations

“Green Left commends those in London and elsewhere who are engaged in ongoing public protest against corporate greed and for a fairer world. They are an example to us all. We are proud to publish the initial statement of Occupy London”


Green Left statement on BAE redundancies

Green Left offers its support and solidarity to the BAE workers facing redundancy. We believe that everyone has the right to work in secure and rewarding employment and we actively campaign with others in the struggle to make this a reality.

However, we do not mourn the loss of jobs in the defence industry . Rather than producing weapons of war workers at BAE should be employed in the war against Climate Change. We support the policy of a Just Transition to a greener economy where workers wages are protected as they make their transition into new areas of industry – even if this covers a period of unemployment or retraining. Just Transition schemes have been shown to be cost effective and also prevent the destructive wider  effects to families and within our communities.

The Green Party, at its recent conference, unanimously expressed support for the One Million Climate Jobs Campaign. The campaign booklet, which we recommend everyone to read, and which is available here “” sets out clearly and coherently how one million climate jobs could be planned and paid for as part of the UK’s contribution to dealing with the international climate change emergency. Employment would be secure and sustainable, in the transformation of the transport, power generation and housing stock. The initiative would dramatically reduce carbon emissions and dramatically increase employment.

We have no doubt that the skilled workforce at BAE would be valuable in various roles throughout the new and necessary green industries , as could members of the armed forces who are also facing redundancy.
Workers for the World Unite !




At a meeting in Tottenham on August 16th, organised by a Caribbean-community local radio station, Jenny Jones took a welcome stand against the use of water cannon and plastic or rubber bullets. Greens should certainly campaign for these weapons never to be used on unarmed civilians, for they cause horrendous injuries.


Jenny rightly acknowledged the role of excessive and discriminatory stop and search policies as one contributory factor in the riots. She noted that the Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA) on which she sits plays an important role in monitoring the use of stop and search and holding the police to account. But evidently not enough.


Surprisingly, however, Jenny said little about the future of the police force. The MPA is to be abolished this autumn. Government plans for elected local police chiefs promise a form of elected dictatorship which favours populist pressures for tougher policing whilst removing present forms of ongoing scrutiny. We need to press for greater democratic control of the police at local and regional level. Some debate is needed within the Green Party about how this can be achieved, and how minority ethnic communities can have a say in the governance of the police.


Another urgent demand, which Jenny didn’t mention, is to reverse the cuts in legal aid. Many local law centres have been closed, and enormous pressure will be placed on the few solicitors’ firms available to defend those accused of riot offences.


The Green Party’s largely white middle class support places us at risk of being perceived as ‘outsiders’ by communities facing the aftermath of the riots. Our social justice agenda – jobs, housing, attacking inequality, restoring the public education system – was never more needed. But some parts of this agenda are missing or under-developed –we need to fight cuts in the local voluntary sector, and to press for less conditionality in the benefits system. However, this may be a battle within the party, since some supporters are unfortunately distant from inner city concerns. I recently got an e-mail from a senior Welsh Green suggesting that ‘boot camp’ treatment of the unemployed is sometimes desirable ! Tragically, much of what unemployed and disabled people perceive as job centre harassment will extend even to those who have lost homes, vehicles and livelihoods in the riots. The ‘citizen’s income’ vision is not an adequate answer to the short term need for a major rise in JSA and an end to the punitive conditions for claiming it, which help to drive youth into the underground economy.

Anne Gray is an activist in Haringey




 the nuclear power crisis

Radioactivity still leaks from the stricken Japanese nuclear reactors at Fukushima Daiichi, almost six months after the humanitarian disaster of the massive earthquake and tsunami on 11 March 2011. It will be at least January 2012 before the leaks can be stopped. The scrapped nuclear reactors, still highly radioactive and toxic, will take many years and vast expense to decontaminate, monuments to the folly of power generation from nuclear fission.

The Tokyo nuclear power company held back vital information, and failed to divulge failures in safety standards. Japanese public opinion has turned decisively against nuclear power. On 6 August, Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan marked the 66th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing * in 1945 by declaring that ‘I will reduce Japan’s reliance on nuclear power, aiming at creating a society that will not rely on atomic power generation.’ Before the Fukushima disaster Japan had planned to raise nuclear generation from about 30% to 53% by 2030.

After mass anti-nuclear protests across Germany, all German nuclear power plants will be phased-out by 2022.

In the UK, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority announced in early August the closure of the Mox plutonium recycling plant at Sellafield in Cumbria, due to events in Japan. This business depended on the shipment of weapons-usable material from Japan, always a crazy concept open to piracy and terrorism long before Fukushima.


The nuclear-convert environmentalist Mark Lynas spent two years researching a book **, published in July, praising nuclear power, ridiculing greens who oppose nuclear, implying that even Chernobyl was hardly more than a harmless picnic. Inconveniently for Lynas, the Fukushima nuclear disaster struck a few months before his book publication date. Unfazed, Lynas hastily included his anodyne assessment that Fukushima changed nothing; a gratuitous evidence-free conclusion made long before any rigorous scientific analysis is available.

Continuing to invest in nuclear power is totally irresponsible.

* ‘Children of the Ashes’, Robert Jungk, Pelican 1963


** ‘The God Species’, Mark Lynas, Fourth Estate 2011


Malcolm Bailey is a former Nuclear Physicist  



Coalition of Resistance – Fighting the cuts


At the recent COR conference I was elected as Green Left’s representative on the National Council and have been on the Steering Committee of COR since its foundation a year ago. The National Council will meet in October to elect a new Steering Committee and I will be standing for re-election. Romayne Phoenix, former National Campaigns Coordinator on GPEx, and a leading member of both Green Left and the Green Party Trade Union Group has been the Chair of COR since its first conference last November and many other Greens have also been involved.


Recently following the riots in England’s cities COR held a very successful event in London called ‘Riots, Recession and Resistance’ which was addressed by among others, John Mc Donnell MPLee Jasper (Black Activists Rising against the Cuts) Symeon Browne (Tottenham Youth Worker) Zita Holbourne (PCS National Executive) and others. This was attended by many activists from communities affected by the riots, together with trade unionists and others. COR are organising a whole series of meetings nationally to address the issues around the recent unrest, not the least of which is cuts to public services and income inequality.


Here is the COR website with information on what is happening nationally.


COR is also calling on the TUC (who are organising demonstrations at both the Lib Dem and Tory conferences) to ensure that the demonstrations are large and well organised and are doing everything possible to support them.


The same cuts and austerity programme which we are seeing in Britain is also widespread across Europe. COR is organising a Pan European Anti-Austerity Conference on October 1st in London which is being widely supported by a variety of social movements, trade unions and political groups across Europe, including Caroline Lucas. We want as many Greens as possible to attend the conference, which will also have a session on the G8 Summit taking place in Nice in November, where COR hopes to help organise a Counter Summit to challenge the prevailing economic orthodoxy in Europe.


Further information on the COR European Anti-Austerity website


Dr Joseph Healy is on the CoR steering committee



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