Just Stop Oil activists arrested under vicious Public Order Act

They have carried out no actions, caused no disruption, but the police arrested 27 Just Stop Oil supporters on suspicion of planning to cause considerable disruption at airports during the summer. The police said that those they detained were “key organisers”. Officers arrested the 27 people when they were either sharing food at a community event or were at their homes.
The raids took place in ten counties, including Greater London, Oxford, Surrey, Norfolk, Manchester and West Yorkshire. JSO commented: “The British state has acted unlawfully in detaining a total of at least 27 ordinary people…Their only crime? They are Just Stop Oil supporters.” If you believe that we should not be continuing to extract and burn fossil fuels, you may be marked out as “a dangerous radical”.

A new offence, which was introduced in the repressive Public Order Act 2023 and aimed to severely restrict our right to protest, makes it illegal to conspire to disrupt national infrastructure. When the police carry out raids such as these, they seize equipment in the search for those regarded as “suspect”. The loss of equipment results in heavy financial losses for Just Stop Oil. “Every time they raid us we lose phones and laptops. They must have a mountain by now,” said JSO. Those released on bail were subject to a condition that forbids them from travelling within 1 kilometre of a British airport, unless they are “passing through” by vehicle or public transport.

JSO activists’ courage and determination are undimmed: “We refuse to die for fossil fuels and we refuse to stand by while millions are murdered. We demand that our government stops the extraction and burning of oil, gas and coal by 2030 and that they support and finance other countries to make a fast, fair and just transition.” (JB)

Jacinda Ardern launches a new programme for kinder global political leadership

Dame Jacinda Ardern, the former Prime Minister of New Zealand, has announced a new initiative on leading with kindness and empathy for global political leaders. She describes the programme, named ‘Field’, as an initiative for leaders hoping to “challenge and change” the status quo of politics. The aim is to create a network of like-minded political leaders who use idealism, speak to people with hope and optimism rather than fear or blame, and want to unite, rather than divide as they look to solve the challenges ahead.” Jacinda said that it was all part of her ongoing mission to help rehumanise leadership,

In her time as Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern won support from across the world for bringing a fresh style to politics; based on empathetic leadership. In an era when many nations turned to leaders who emphasise strength, threats, posturing and even bullying, she advocated a different way.

Ardern says it takes courage and strength to be an empathetic leader, making the point that since we teach our children to live with kindness, empathy and compassion, we should also encourage our political leaders to model these behaviours. Rather than blaming others, she advocates a political leadership that steps up to solve problems above scapegoating people.

As Britain goes to the polls today to elect a new leader, we can but hope that whoever wins adopts Jacinda Ardern’s leadership style and helps make the UK a kinder more compassionate country. The evidence to date, from Starmer, the clear favourite to win, suggests this is a vain hope.  Using just one example, the treatment of his former colleague and friend, Jeremy Corbyn, suggests a level of ruthlessness that is deeply worrying in any leader, particularly one that is predicted to win a landslide.
We can but hope that, if he wins, this authoritarian bullying leadership style is not translated into other areas of British political life 
Perhaps, if successful one of Starmer’s first tasks should be to enrol on Jacinda’s programme. (MT)

Renowned French Nazi hunter says vote for the fascists

Renowned French Nazi hunter, Serge Klarsfeld, now 88, has advised Jews to support the far-right National Rally (RN). “Marine Le Pen is the head of a party which supports Israel and supports the Jews,” Klarsfeld said, in an interview with the Associated Press.

Klarsfeld gave the advice, which is contradicted by many Jewish activists, as negotiations continue between Macron’s Ensemble and the left bloc New Popular Front, which includes France Unbowed, in addition to the Socialist Party, Greens and Communists. The left bloc are determined to prevent RN from gaining an overall majority which Marine LePen has made a condition of her party becoming the government.

The deadline for withdrawals for the second round passed at 6pm on July 2nd. By that time 218 candidates who had qualified to compete in the second round withdrew. Of those, 130 were on the left and 82 came from Ensemble. It appears that both centrists and supposed leftists are unable to understand the concept of solidarity. Macron told his cabinet that, “We will not govern with France Unbowed”. Greens candidate Charlotte Minvielle also told France 24 that Jean-Luc Mélenchon, of France Unbowed would not lead a government of the left because he, “is not a consensual figure”. Surely, in a united front it is for the members to choose the leadership, not for pre-existing leaders to make demands of who can and cannot be part of the government? Despite coming third Macron still wants to act as if he has the right of veto over the next government. This is a policy that simply plays into the hands of the far right.

As human rights groups and trade unions organised a rally in Paris last night calling for unity, the leaders of the fragile alliance still seem more intent on fighting amongst themselves than they do in defeating the far right. Meanwhile, we see clearly how Zionists are prepared to forgive a party that has been dogged by antisemitism and Holocaust denial, because their hatred of a left that champions the beleaguered Palestinians is more important to them than the very real threat of a party with a history of antisemitism. Klarsfeld’s comments show how for many Zionists lack of support for a far-right Israeli state engaged in genocide, as documented by the United Nations and the International Criminal Court, is seen as an attack on all Jews. (DM)

Cost of Living Crisis

Headline figures for inflation are going down and wages are beginning to catch up with price rises. But this does not mean that the cost of living is going down. The increase in the cost of living is slowing down but we are still worse off than we were three years ago. And if you look at the cost of necessities like food, energy and housing we are a lot worse off.

Wages have risen on average by 18% since 2021, while house prices have risen by 12%. But the high interest rates imposed by the Bank of England to control inflation have increased the cost of a mortgage. The Halifax recently reported that buying a house is now unaffordable for anyone on the average wage. And if you were hoping to save for a deposit while renting, forget it. In the same period rents have gone up by 25%.

Food prices are still going up, albeit more slowly than before. But according to the Office of National Statistics food prices are 31% higher than in 2021. That is just the average. Some of the basic items have increased by even more. Last year Dave Middleton wrote in the Sunday Socialist that a basket of essential food items from a budget supermarket had risen by 34% in a year, with some basics like bread, milk and cheese going up by a lot more.

Energy prices soared when Russia invaded Ukraine and have come down a lot since then. But the energy price cap means that an average family who were paying around £1000 for gas and electricity in 2021 are now paying just over £1500. That is a 50% increase.

The poorest people are worst affected by this because most of their money goes on these life essentials and they are likely to be on benefits and/or a minimum wage which has not kept pace with inflation. But even well organised workers and professionals had ten years of wages falling behind prices before things began to go pear shaped in 2020. We are all worse off and the cost of living crisis has not gone away. (MS)

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