‘A Very British Coup’?

A very british coupFriday 7th October, 7:30pm, Unity House, Fennel Street, Loughborough

Discussion to be introduced by Liz Gray from Leicester, a Labour Party member, Quaker and Corbyn supporter

It’s 2020.  Jeremy Corbyn has swept to power as Prime Minister heading a Labour government committed to a radical socialist programme.  What obstacles might he face from the establishment and how might he and his supporters overcome them?

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Sonja’s event at the New Walks Museum

On  8th October, Sonja Grossner is featuring at New Walk museum, Leicester as part of Everybody’s Reading festival.

Sonja writes: “…. with the play and poems about my book as well as other things, music, workshops, poems. Lots happening.  The play is about the first part of my book, ‘ The Troubles to Greet Beauty’. For me will be quite emotional. Hope you can come. Play is on at 11, 12, 2.30 and 3.30. I have a slot at 11.15 right after the play and will most probably be playing my violin, gypsy tunes and Bartok duets.

Everybody’s Reading is a festival of all things reading, taking place across Leicester city in schools, libraries and venues, ranging from bars, cafes, pubs, and coffee shops.

Everybody’s Reading is dedicated to encouraging every person in Leicester to hear spoken word artists, poets, authors and community writers in their local community venues and offers funding to help make this happen. With a large variety of genres catered to, it is guaranteed there is something for everyone to enjoy from anywhere in the city.

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What’s going on in the Labour Party?

Split labour party logoFriday 29th July, 7:30pm, Unity House, Fennel Street, Loughborough

Is this just an internal Labour Party power struggle or a symptom of a wide spread malaise in British politics?


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“A week is a long time in politics!”

MasksFriday 1st July, 7:30pm, Unity House, Fennel Street, Loughborough
Come and join the Friday Room progressive discussion group to discuss the unfolding consequences of the movement of the tectonic plates in British politics during the last 7 days.

Where now for progressive politics?

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Interesting Times!

EUrefFriday 10th June, 7:30pm, Unity House, Fennel Street, Loughborough

A brief round table discussion introduced by Green Party, Labour and Lib Dem speakers.

On the eve of the Referendum, which way forward for progressives?

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Geoff Gay Tribute evening

GeoffAn Evening of film, music, poetry and folk song The Friday Room, Unity House, Fennel St., Loughborough. Friday 20th May 7:30 – 10:00 pm Refreshments provided.

The following letter from Ray Sutton was published in the Loughborough Echo Letters Page.

Dear Sir

Further to the tributes you published last week following the death of Geoff Gay, may I, as his friend and comrade of almost 50 years, add some further details?

From his youth Geoff was a man of the Left, totally dedicated to the cause of the working class. He lived his whole life in a fit of rage against social injustice and inequality and for thirty years before he joined the Labour Party, his political commitment led him to take part in a vast array of causes and campaigns.

Geoff fought for world peace and nuclear disarmament and opposed all forms of racial discrimination. Active in the National Union of Teachers, he also showed solidarity with other groups of workers in struggle. During the Miners Strike of 1984-5 he supported the Leicestershire ‘Dirty Thirty’, helping with the nightly food collections around Loughborough and putting up miners pickets from South Wales and County Durham for weeks on his living room floor.

Geoff obtained his qualifications to teach maths at Leicester University but he was also an active supporter of the Open University and tried as I do to foster education and debate in the wider community among people who have not had the same opportunities. Geoff’s passion for science led him to launch ‘Loughborough Logic’. He was also an active participant in the Socialist Forum and Left Unity and a founder of the still existing local political discussion group the ‘Friday Room’. One of the last campaigns Geoff was involved in was Unlock Democracy, a national movement to win Proportional Representation. He believed ardently that our present first-past-the-post voting system is unbalanced and unfair.

The numerous well researched letters Geoff wrote on these topics which the Echo published over the years were a joy to read. But until the very end he remained totally committed. In the last conversations I had with Geoff he spoke as a retired teacher of his opposition to privately run academy schools. He also thought the privatisation by stealth of the NHS under this government ought to be resisted and spoke of his sympathy for the junior doctors in their endeavours to win a fairer working contract.

Geoff’s allegiance to the Labour Party in his final years was never tainted by tribalism. He believed that the transition to a more just society would come about through the co-operation and direct action of the many, not merely the election of the few. Thus he tried to build a broad democratic alliance for social change and could list among his numerous friends, members of the local Green Party.

In an age of squalid political manoeuvres and compromise Geoff Gay stood out as a beacon of integrity. He was a real Socialist and valiant for truth. In the ranks of those who still campaign to achieve the ideals that inspired and motivated him, Geoff’s passing is a tragic loss.

Yours sincerely

Dr Ray Sutton MA

There will be a planning meeting in the Swan this Friday 6th May at 7:30. It would be good to see as many people as possible.

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The EU, what are the questions? Follow up

We had a a very informative discussion at the last Friday Room meeting  at which we were able to explore the issues behind the EU debate without anyone trying to push a particular outcome. Here are some notes I made. If anyone at the meeting would like to clarify or add to this report please comment below or email me directly:

Regulation and independence from Brussels
Regulations are seen as too complex and unevenly applied. However, it may be that, where the directive says things like: “These are not intended to be enforced onerously on small businesses”, that it is over-enthusiastic UK regulators rather than Brussels that is the problem.

The word democracy, in its narrow sense of voting on decisions, was originally conceived to work with small groups of citizens, but throughout the world it seems to work less satisfactory at larger scales.
UK democracy is in a bad state, with a widespread disillusionment with politics and an unrepresentative government. (The first-past-the-post voting system must bear some blame for this.)
There is a need for a better Europe-wide democracy, which I think implies the development of participatory decision-making beyond simple voting systems. See the “European Citizens’ Initiative” and indeed the activities of 38 Degrees.

Needs to be put in perspective. We are faced with a potential massive and total loss of control over our institutions to the international corporations. Compared to this, the partial and negotiable sharing of control to our neighbours is trivial. Note however that the EU has yet to conclude the TTIP talks, so it is not clear how much EU membership can shield us from world domination by the corporations.

Not on everybody’s list of issues, but there is good evidence that a high level of corruption is incompatible with the level of prosperity that goes with EU membership. Greece and Italy both have such a high level of corruption, which means that bailouts to these countries have gone to feeding corruption rather than remedying matters.
EU needs to develop better anti-corruption policies. Note that corruption in Turkey is at an even greater level.

Peace and morality
Peace with Europe is maintained by things like mutual dependence, working together, and being closer neighbours, and not so much by the making of rules. We would like to change the emphasis away from the individual and towards the community, and to see moral values such as human rights upheld. We don’t trust our own government.

Is the referendum decision reversible?
If we vote to stay in, surely we could just have another referendum after a reasonable time?
On the other hand, if we vote to leave would it not require very complex negotiations to get back?

Role for 38 Degrees
Has voted not to take sides but maybe take some sort of myth-busting role. Maybe there is a role in which it is accepted that there are indeed a lot of issues where the EU needs to do much better. (As we concluded.)
38 Degrees should draw up a list of these issues, get people to say if they agree or disagree and in effect say to the powers that be in the EU: “If we stay in, these are the changes that we require” or perhaps better “regardless of which way the vote goes, these are the changes that we want”.
Further, 38 Degrees should make contact and liaise with all the other European, pro-democracy grass-roots movements.
The politicians have had their go, now is the time for the people to say what they really want!

John Greenwood

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