“Everyone” is getting geared up for the summer of celebration, or at least so the Establishment tells us. But these are welcome diversions from more serious issues, says James Bloodworth.
Over the past six weeks I’ve had mixed feelings towards the proposals to close 36 Remploy factories, leading to compulsory redundancies for 1,518 disabled workers. On the one hand, I’ve always been against sheltered workplaces which feel to me like a relic from a bygone age. But on the other hand, the government’s timing of this move, coinciding with high unemployment, cuts to support funding and the erosion of employment rights feels very unfair and misjudged.
There’s no love lost between many Labour activists and George Galloway: but hatred has a tendency to blind, and it is the overriding reason that a man widely ridiculed for posturing as a cat on Celebrity Big Brother is underestimated again and again.
Don’t be misled by John Redwood. The cuts are real, they’ve begun, and they are set to continue for five more years.
It was to be the biggest strike in a generation. People were openly and unabashedly comparing Wednesday’s day of action over public sector pensions to the general strike of 1926. It was to bring Britain to a standstill. Mark a turning point in the battle against the cuts instigated by the spawns of the evil Iron Lady. Become a talking point that would strike fear into the cold heart of Cameron and pave the way to bigger, more decisive action.
It was not an auspicious start to my day of trades union militancy; the first picket I saw as I hurtled up South London’s Walworth Road was manned by a grand total of two somewhat forlon GMB strikers. An upward fist of solidarity from the saddle fetched only a puzzled look.
Today’s strike is likely to be the biggest co-ordinated day of action for a generation. While the strike is headlined as one about pensions, there are – of course – a lot of other concerns motivating public service workers: service cuts, staff reductions, pay freezes, reform of the NHS and a general feeling of the squeeze.
Another day, another tale of arts’ funding woe. Organisations on the brink of collapse, art centres closing, individuals facing redundancy. It’s a gritty reality, but after months of doom mongers dominating the headlines, isn’t it time to shake off the funeral garb and come out of mourning?
In March, the Arts Council announced huge cuts to arts funding in this country, with over 200 organisations losing 100% of their funding. The news spelt doomsday for many involved – but as the dust begins to settle, what does the future hold for the British arts scene? Laura Thornley meets three of the casualties as they attempt to find alternative ways to bounce back.
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