On Thursday 23 June, Britain will take the huge decision to remain in or leave the EU. Sadly, many feel that much of the debate so far has been an alienating squabble between different factions of the Tory party. But this isn't their referendum; it's your referendum.
That's why Momentum, following a decision by our national committee to back a left case for IN and support Another Europe is Possible, has created #YourReferendum, an open, online platform for campaigning and organising tools, to take the debate out of Westminster and into our communities.
#YourReferendum is your platform to take back the debate from the Tories, UKIP and 'Project Fear' and make it yours.
Momentum exists to increase participation in politics; #YourReferendum is a great opportunity for us to do exactly that. The #YourReferendum web page will develop alongside the activism that takes place across the country. Please send us any templates or resources you're using in your campaigning, so that we can share it with thousands of other citizen campaigners across the UK. If you’re organising any campaigning activities of events, please publicise them on a shared Another Europe is Possible, Momentum and DiEM events map.
Here are some ideas for how you can get involved with #YourReferendum:
1. Create templates or toolkits of how you are campaigning or would like to campaign. We’re especially keen to promote ways of campaigning that push back against the immigrant scapegoating in the mainstream debate, and which make the case for workers' rights, environmental justice and the clamping down of unaccountable corporate and financial power. Please email any resources to email@example.com and we'll add them to the website.
2. Organise a voter registration drive. The deadline for registering to vote is Tuesday 7 June. You can download flyers and information about voter registration from the #YourReferendum website. Publicise your event on a shared Another Europe is Possible, Momentum and DiEM events map.
3. Organise In-Out public debates using the participatory debate template on the #YourReferendum website. All those who conclude they are for a left IN could then engage in other campaigning activities like phonebanking and door knocking. Publicise your event on our shared events map.
4. Promote the Another Europe is Possible national tour and organise #YourReferendum activities off the back of the events. If you can’t make it to any of the dates, some of the events will be live streamed here.
5. Organise events for Euro 2016 matches. Momentum Football has an event for the England vs. Russia match with John McDonnell. The Euros present an excellent opportunity to marry football and politics and to root discussions about the EU referendum in our communities and the issues that matter to us.
6. Organise canvassing teams to either join Labour IN activities taking place near you or receive our own data to engage with left wing, younger, and other voters who might feel distant from the standard messaging from the Cameron-led IN campaign and feel that Labour IN has not been sufficiently distinctive.
7. Tell us about your events so they can be advertised to Momentum supporters near you.
8. Come up with other ideas for what we should be doing and share them with us at firstname.lastname@example.org
We will launch #YourReferendum, tomorrow at Another Europe is Possible’s national event with John McDonnell, Yanis Varoufakis and others. We will promote and improve it at all the stops of the Another Europe speaking tour this week.
John McDonnell will be speaking in Leicester on Wednesday 1 June about the EU referendum. Book your tickets here.
We hope you’ll join us over the next month as we take back the Europe debate from the reactionary and conservative forces that currently dominate.
This is the copy of an open letter that I am sending to my MP about Student loans. Please use as a template and write to your MP if you feel as strongly about this subject as I do.
150A West Wycombe Road
26th May 2016
Dear Mr Baker
The Student Loan Debacle
This is an open letter to you as my Member of Parliament. I would greatly value your support and I have no doubt, so would the thousands of young graduates, like my children.
My children took out student loans at the age of eighteen to study their chosen subjects at the Universities of Aberdeen and Falmouth. Whilst they were undergraduates, fees were increased in the UK to £9,000 per year, from £3,000 – a huge hike in student fees. When they took out their student loans, they were told the loans were at a very low interest rate, and at the time that was around 0.5%.
They were still in the Sixth Form at school, when they agreed to their student loans. They had no experience of loans, credit cards or mortgages. Like all the other thousands of students in the UK, they trusted the Government that the interest rate would remain low - at around 0.5%.
They have both graduated with huge debts in the tens of thousands. However they have just learned, the underhand way, that the Government have sold their loans to a private company, which has caused the interest rates to skyrocket. At no point were they consulted about this, and of course they would never have agreed to this enormous increase in fees.
Now graduates, they feel they have been cheated by a government who encouraged them to undertake higher education, despite trebling the cost of attending university.
The current interest rate is now around 3.9%. They were told their loans would remain around 0.5% interest. In fact the current interest rate is greater than many mortgage companies are charging when people buy a house and their loans are likely to double, year on year, with the additional interest that they will be charged. Graduates will need to be earning in excess of £40,000 pa to keep pace - I believe a really top notch starting salary for an average graduate is about £25,000 pa - and don't get me started on the number of companies that are insisting on graduates working for nothing in internships, or we'll be here all day and night.
I feel they have been mis-sold the loan. A commercial firm would not be allowed to buy loans from another company and then hike the interest rates. This is not what they and thousands of others signed up to. How can this be allowed? How can their loan agreements be altered without their prior knowledge or permission.
This is a disgraceful act by a government which encouraged them, when at school, to go on to higher education – helped by a government loan with the promise of a low interest repayment scheme. Along with many of their former university colleagues - and their Parents - they have lost their trust in this Government.
Their contract was with the government and they were not asked to make a new contract with the private company, which I believe is unlawful.
They should refuse to pay this loan, as they have no contract with the new company, but the repayments are deducted at source, before any salary is paid out, so they have no choice - which I suspect may also be unlawful? I appreciate that they agreed to this when the original loan was taken out, but since the contractural arrangements have changed, without their express permission, I think this should be properly examined.
They have been told that, as graduates, they are the future leaders of the country in politics, engineering and commerce. I hope and believe that when their generation reaches parliament, our future government is never so short sighted as to treat their “future leaders” in such an underhand way.
Mr Baker, I am putting this to you, in the hope you will be able to bring some pressure to bear on the outrageous situation this government has now left them and their generation in, due to the unacceptable hike in interest on their already large student loans and without their prior knowledge. This is not the way to keep our future leaders’ trust……..or votes.
I was one of the lucky ones, as I graduated five years ago and was given a full grant. As my earnings are meagre, this was highly beneficial for me but many mature graduates would have the means to pay for their tuition. It is criminal that our young people are starting out their lives saddled with debts of up to double their starting salary and likely to double, year on year, because the interest rates have hiked without their permission or agreement. I look forward to hearing from you and I value your support.
Sue Ing-Simmons FDA Interior Design
The Rt Hon David Cameron MP.
10 Downing Street
The Rt Hon Jeremy Corbyn
Leader of the Parliamentary Labour Party
House of Commons
JOINT STATEMENT FROM COMMUNITY, UNITE and GMB ON BRITISH STEEL WORKERS PENSION
The steel trade unions – Community, Unite and GMB – have been in dialogue with the UK Government and Tata Steel for a number of weeks to secure a sustainable future for our industry. A number of bidders have made it clear that the British Steel Pension Scheme (BSPS) presents a major challenge to any sale. We also fully understand the great importance of this pension scheme to both current and former steelworkers and steel communities across the UK.
There has been a lot of speculation that any sale of Tata’s assets would involve the BSPS going into the Pension Protection Fund (PPF). The trade unions believe that such a move would be an unmitigated disaster. The PPF is a financial safety net but it would see every member of the scheme take an unnecessary cut in pension benefits. The financial health of the BSPS is such that going into the PPF can certainly be avoided.
We welcome the announcement of a government consultation on the future of the BSPS and the trade unions will of course make a full submission in due course. It is important that all stakeholders continue to explore all available options that avoid the need for the scheme to go into the PPF, which would be the worst deal for scheme members. We will seek to work constructively with the UK Government and the scheme trustees to deliver the best possible deal for our members. We need to ensure that there are cast iron safeguards in place so this unique situation does not result in employers dodging their pensions responsibilites.
It is important to remember that Tata Steel remains the employer and sponsor of the BSPS. They have significant legal, social and moral responsibilities with regards to the British steel industry and those men and women who have worked and continue to work within it.
As we have done so throughout this process, we will continue to be led by our members in the steel industry. In the midst of this crisis and great uncertainty, they continue to produce world class steel that supports the UK’s entire industrial base. The steel industry’s highly skilled and dedicated workforce will surely be the foundation on which a sustainable, profitable future for the industry will be built.
One of the biggest worries about TTIP, the secretive Transatlantic Trade deal, is the potential threat it poses to our NHS, National Health Service.
The Conservative government have failed to reassure the general public that the NHS is not threatened by the deal as it stands.
That same government has been holding a long-standing fire sale of Britain's assets.
The Queen's speech was more of the same - cut, cut and cut again, sell, sell and sell again, sometimes not even to the highest bidder - leaving the NHS in an ever increasingly vulnerable position.
All is not lost as far as protecting the NHS from TTIP goes but time is running out.
The request below asks that you contact David Cameron and let him know that you are backing an amendment to the Queen's speech that will protect the NHS from potential TTIP threats:
It’s all over the papers. Labour have tabled an amendment to the Queen’s Speech that would take the NHS out of TTIP, the EU-US trade deal. We have until Wednesday to ensure that David Cameron accepts it. Will you take two minutes NOW to add your voice to the thousands calling on him to act?
Update Friday from JeremyCorbynforPM:
Another great win for Labour, led by Jeremy Corbyn - as Cameron folds and accepts the NHS amendment to the Queen's Speech.
But our opposition to TTIP doesn't stop there - as Jeremy said:
“I would personally go much further because my concerns about TTIP are not just about the effect on public services but also the principle of investor protection that goes within TTIP – planned rules which would in effect almost enfranchise global corporations at the expense of national governments. This protection of the NHS is an important step but it’s not the whole step.”
TO: ELECTORAL COMMISSION
Ensure all survivors of domestic abuse who live in refuges and other safe houses can register to vote and use their Human Right to "vote in elections and have a say in the choice of government" (European Convention of Human Rights, Protocol 1, Article 3).
Why is this important?I have found it impossible to register to vote as I live in a Safe House in Bristol. With the local elections happening right now, and the EU referendum coming up, I'm left without a vote, without a voice, without a say on local Councillor appointment, City Mayor, the Police Crime Commissioner position or whether we stay in or out of the EU.
My struggle to register made me realise this is a huge issue that no one even realises.
As I live in a safe house it is vital for my safety that my name and address do not appear on the electoral register. The current system does provide an 'anonymous registration' process designed to protect vulnerable or at risk people who can't disclose their residential address. However this form requires evidenced approval through proven Court Injunction, written signature from a Police Superintendent or Adult Social Services management.
For many in my situation, (estimated at 70% of all residents in Bristol safe houses by support staff here) their registration would not be eligible for sign off. Taking away the civil right, human right that was fought so hard for back in 1918 that introduced the 'Representation of the People Act' allowing women the right to vote.
Across England there are over 250 independent refuges providing safe emergency accommodation for people fleeing domestic abuse. Thousands of people living in secure residential accommodation where location secrecy is of utmost importance. Thousands of people who will not be able to register to vote. That is a huge number of women being denied basic Human Rights. The Human Rights Act (1998) states "it is unlawful for public authority to act in a way which is incompatible with European Convention right".
Safe houses and refuges by their very nature ensure all residents staying with them are in need of safety and security after leaving abuse. Therefore having management level able to sign the anonymous registration form is more than enough evidence for each residents need for anonymity. Such a simple solution for such an important change that needs to be made.
Please sign and share this petition so we can no longer be kept in silence. Thank you.
Wednesday's PMQs in the UK has become something of a mixture of Whitehall farce come vaudeville come pantomime with David Cameron occupying a few lead roles notably the villain of the piece, the comedy element and an ugly sister. When Mr Cameron's anger rises he looks anything but pretty.
May 4, one day ahead of British elections - local, by, PCC and mayoral - Rick Ethel Stack a member of Corbyn 50yrs+ was left spitting feathers after tuning in to watch PMQs from the House of Commons: so much so she complained to the Beeb,
I felt the need for some pointless exertion of my fingers and grey matter, so I complained pointlessly to the BBC:
This blog will include a range of reports and opinion pieces covering many issues. It will be YOUR Voice.