August, who lives in Moseley, sends a first-hand account of Birmingham students’ march against climate change.
More than five hundred Birmingham students bunked off school today to march against climate change.
All Birmingham-based photographs reproduced with permission: copyright August Goff
Youth Strike 4 Climate coordinated young people from various educational establishments across the city who met up in the city centre.
They marched from Victoria Square, down New Street, through Pigeon Park and back to Victoria Square to protest against the inaction of governments to tackle climate change.
The march was organised by Katie Riley, a Birmingham student. She spoke at the rally, saying:
“Educate the youth of tomorrow and the parliament of today because people who don’t know what climate change is about don’t know how dangerous it is. Some people think the topic is dull and boring because the curriculum makes it like that. So, we need to change how people view climate change in order to get the change we deserve.”
Councillors from local political parties attended, as did Jess Phillips, Labour MP for Yardley.
Similar events have taken place in 100 British towns and other cities including London, Edinburgh, Canterbury, Oxford and Cambridge, calling for urgent action to tackle climate change, cut emissions and switch to renewable energy.
A few hours later a message was received from Irish colleagues, sending a podcast with messages from two 11-year-olds, Eve O’Connor and Beth Malone, who are involved in the schools climate strikes movement. Thousands turned out in Dublin and demonstrations were held in many towns.
Keep Our NHS Public Birmingham (KONP) says, “It looks like we’ve won our campaign for a publicly-funded (non-PFI) Midland Metropolitan Hospital in Smethwick/West Birmingham!”
The construction of the Midland Metropolitan Hospital in Smethwick collapsed after Carillion crashed spectacularly in Jan 2018 leaving the hospital half built. Then the bankers behind the ‘private finance initiative’ pulled the plug on the deal.
KONP Birmingham immediately organised a protest outside the hospital site demanding that the Treasury, health ministers and the Government should fully fund the hospital and run it properly under government and NHS control! Supporters included Birmingham TUC (BTUC), Unite the Union West Midlands, Unite the Community Birmingham, West Midlands Pensioners Convention and Birmingham Against the Cuts.
A month later, the Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals Trust Board voted to tell the Government that the only viable option for the completion was direct government funding, a full vindication of the KONP Birmingham campaign argument.
The Government and Hospital Trust has now reached an agreement to finish construction work with the Government providing funding for the remainder of the building work at Midland Metropolitan Hospital – which will see the new hospital built by 2022.
Birmingham Against The Cuts (BATC) says: “We believe that the Midland Met fiasco is a final nail in the coffin of successive governments’ love affair with PFI /2”
BATC gives a very cautious welcome for a publicly funded Midland Met Hospital in Smethwick/West B’ham (no PFI!) and expresses its continuing concerns:
Firstly, there is a delay in starting completion until early summer 2019, partly because the half built hospital was rotting away without any protection for 6 months and an additional £20m worth of work will have to be done from this September.
Additionally, the Hospital’s Trust Board Chief Executive has been dropping in phrases to his announcements such as “making cost improvement programmes above national norms”, “limited reconfigurations”, etc, which reflect the concern in Dr John Lister’s 2016 review (right) of the privately financed hospital published by KONPB and BTUC when the Midland Met was first mooted.
One-party rule for the foreseeable future?
On Sunday evening two of our readers were considering the future and seeing no possibility of anything other than an elective dictatorship, after boundary changes expected to boost the Conservatives by 20 English seats.
The younger generation and their children will bear the brunt
As yet, most people in their 20s and 30s merely express mild concern about this prospect – they don’t seem to realise the implications of such apathy for all who are not wealthy, not of Oxbridge/Russell Group ability or not in good health.
Award-winning journalist Matthew Norman has asked three questions:
How long do you think it will be before a party other than the Conservatives is in position to form a government?
Can you imagine it within two decades, or three?
Can you envisage it in your lifetime at all?
An article he wrote last February referred to “our enfeebled democracy” and his sense that “Britain is shuffling on its Zimmer towards one-party statehood”. The points made included:
- Labour is politically wounded by its huge losses in Scotland.
- Labour has also been financially weakened by the Government’s Trade Union Bill halving what it gets from the unions.
- Government will continue to sidestep the Commons by using statutory instruments and
- threaten to create new peers whenever the Lords don’t rubberstamp cruel and oppressive measures.
- Government will inflict more austerity on the poorest, continue to award beneficial concessions for the richest
- and allow the health of city dwellers and the climate to be even more affected by many forms of pollution which benefit big business.
Matthew Norman finds it “incredibly depressing . . . that no one gives a damn”
The writer puts it more mildly, like Yeats she finds that: “The best lack all conviction, while the worst/Are full of passionate intensity”.
Democracy appears to be doomed – unless the cross-party alliance to promote electoral reform gains ground.
As news comes in that over 50 CLPs have voted to support Jeremy Corbyn, another side of the coin has been revealed.
A new Labour Party member, who joined because of Jeremy Corbyn’s principled track record, went to a “hustings” meeting this week. She writes:
“There were about 170 people present from all wards of the constituency. They allowed 3 minute speeches from supporters of both Jeremy Corbyn and Owen Smith – equal numbers – and judging from a ‘clapometer’ perspective, the JC supporters were in the majority, probably two thirds to one third.
“The invitation to the event had said there would be a ballot but, when we got to that part of the agenda, the chair stated that, at a previous meeting (a year ago) it had been decided that there would not be a vote.
“As people objected to this proposal, there was a show of hands of who wanted to vote and who didn’t, probably about 50:50 or 60:40 for those who wanted to vote. Yet the chair, who counted the hands announced that the numbers were 57:36 in favour of not voting – a total of 93, when almost double that number were present.
“She obviously made a mistake, onlyans giving figures for one side of the room where there were more OS supporters, but was this deliberate?
“The meeting was called with a view to endorsing one or the other of the candidates. They failed to do this, when they saw the pro-JC mood of the meeting, saying that those present didn’t represent the whole constituency anyway, with some on holiday or unable to make it, so they wouldn’t proceed to a ballot.
“I can’t believe that this type of manipulation happened. It will be interesting to see which way the vote eventually goes when the whole membership sends in their official ballots.”