Month: March 2016

THANET, POVERTY & JEREMY CORBYN

This film was screened in March 2016 at a meeting of Momentum Thanet. It highlights poverty and deprivation in Thanet, East Kent and the repeated failures to regenerate the area. Is a new way forward possible, through people power and Jeremy Corbyn?  In the coming months Momentum Thanet will be  canvassing the views and ideas of local people to put together an alternative economic plan for Thanet, which it will present to the shadow chancellor John McDonnell and his treasury team.

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FILM: JEREMY CORBYN 20 YEARS AGO

jeremy corbyn 1990s
A historic film of Jeremy Corbyn in action 20 years ago will be screened this Wednesday in Broadstairs.
He speaks about Europe, socialism, the battle for the welfare state and the importance of protest.
The film will be shown at a meeting hosted by Thanet Left Forum, entitled “How Can We Beat The Tory Offensive?”
After the screening there will be an open discussion.
The screening will take place at 7pm on Wednesday 16 March in the Red Hall, 11 Grosvenor Rd, Broadstairs CT10 2BT. All welcome.

When Bobby & Chrissie met Jackie

 Councillors Bobby & Chrissy…

jackie walker subtle

….And Jackie

A debate called “Why My Party is Great”  was held recently before students of  St George’s School in Thanet with three people representing the major parties in the local council.  Momentum Thanet’s JACKIE WALKER, representing Labour, describes her encounter with UKIP’s Chris Well (leader of Thanet District Council) and Tory Bob Bayford ( leader of the opposition in TDC).

We each have three minutes for statements and then questions.

The suitably suited and booted Bayford begins, picking through a sheaf of notes, mumbling general election quotes about how we achieve a fair and prosperous society.

He sees no irony in this.

I explain to students a few economic facts about Thanet, of the 43% of children in Newington living in poverty and ask how austerity – cutting money from schools, street cleaning and housing so we can pay back the country’s debts – could help an area with the highest unemployment figures in the county?

And what are we doing paying back all debt when no one else is, I ask, when not even the US, the richest country in the world, or Germany the most powerful country in Europe is doing the same.

Austerity is also the reason that our local Conservative MPs voted to take £30 a week from the income of disabled people.

I tell students at the present time that the LP is the only political party opposed to austerity.

Well’s hearty rendition of what a splendid country Britain is, and how we don’t need Johnny Foreigner interfering with our splendid-ness, is obviously a well-used ploy to raise a cheer from audiences old enough to feel nostalgic for some imagined past.

Today it falls flat.

The questions from the students are, as you might expect – the EU, Manston, education, the future for Thanet and migration.

Wells agrees with me that the airport has become a political football and implies it might never reopen.

On rubbish – Well’s comfort zone – he waxes lyrical on sacking operatives and suing punters , raising smiles from many students.

A disparaging gesture about the lifestyle of the mostly white, working class Cliftonville voters who elected him makes Wells feel even more relaxed with his performance and he eases his considerable frame into his chair, UKIP’s resounding success in changing Thanet for the better flooding his political neurons.

Game over!  The debate, he can see, is easily won, until I say, “Hold on!” to the students.

“This is why you need to find the truth before you believe what some politicians tell you. These initiatives on dog poo (and rubbish of course) were started by Labour!”

It’s Poogate! The smile on Well’s face freezes.

As for the state of Thanet and the future, well, despite the poverty and the austerity yet to come, Wells and Bayford think things are mostly pretty ok in good old Thanetland, so by time we get to migration the gloves are off.

Wells has already blamed the EU for pretty much everything (except I have to admit, poo on the streets) but adds that the reason we have so many (ahem!) immigrants in Thanet (statistics are apparently meaningless to UKIP) is the low cost of housing!

Trick answer again, I say, telling the kids of the below average number of people born outside the UK in Thanet (8.59%) as compared to richer areas like Canterbury (10.2%) and the much richer London (39%).

Perhaps we need more immigrants then?

Interesting thing about these kids, even though they are at a secondary modern school, they can add up.

Asked what we would do to change education for the better, Wells and Bayford talk tests and standards and by then, I’d really had enough of their nonsense, pointing to the almost unprecedented crisis in teacher vacancies, the undermining of the teaching profession and, worse of all in Kent, the grammar school system.

When they’re asked students, to the obvious surprise of Bayford and Wells, overwhelmingly condemn the failed (for the majority) grammar school system that the Tories are now expanding in Kent by a legal back door.

The debate ends and the time comes for the vote.

I expect the worse. I’d been warned – Thanet kids tend to be reactionary.

It’s a show of hands: eight hands for Tories, maybe 10 for UKIP and the balance of over 200 were enthusiastically Labour!

My mouth falls open….

And then comes the clanger of the day – the “Can I say one more thing?” from Bayford moment.

The teacher nods.

“When I was 16, I was a socialist too,” he pleads, “but I grew out of it.”

The hall falls silent.

This confirms my fears. Not only is our council run by people with only the faintest grasp of facts, they are stupid too.

“Do you know how condescending that is, Cllr Bayford,” I ask, the full amplification resounding through the hall, “not just to the students but to me?”

He blushes.

The mumbling which so appropriately started Bayford’s contribution to the debate seems an apt way for him to finish and for him and Wells to leave as students queue to find out more about Momentum and Labour politics from me.

 

 

 

BOOK LAUNCH: FULL OF GRACE

To mark the release of her new book, Full of Grace, on Friday 15 April, Broadstairs resident Patricia Mahoney will be reading extracts at the Tom Thumb Theatre, Clifftonville.

Guitarist Jamie Moore will be performing incidental music.

The stories, set in the 1950s and 60s follow a young Canadian girl, Mary Margaret,
and her journey from “inquisitive child to young woman – with a stop over in gawky
adolescence.”

Patricia Mahoney was born in Ottawa, Canada and moved to London in
1984.

She worked in the performing arts in both countries as a senior manager,
artistic director, campaigner, actor, director and playwright.

Five of her plays have been professionally produced in her native Canada. Most recently, she has written short stories, poetry and flash fiction.

After over 25 years in London she and her husband Jamie Moore moved to the Kent coast and settled in Broadstairs.

The book launch and readings will take place at 8pm on Friday 15 April at the Tom Thumb Theatre. Tickets are £5.

For more details email info@beachkeys.co.uk.

MOMENTUM’S JACKIE TAKES TURNER BY STORM

jackie2

Jackie Walker of  Momentum Thanet threw a political hand grenade into the international women’s festival at the Turner Contemporary last week.

Jackie, local organiser of the Corbyn support group, was speaking at the first event in the newly established Power of Women Thanet festival.

While other speakers stressed the importance of personal effort for women to succeed in a male world, Jackie told a packed audience that it was only political change which would make a real difference to the position of women.

She said: “The child who died on Turkish shores, washed up like so much detritus, the more than 600 unaccompanied refugee children freezing tonight under tents not far from here, being treated as if they are of no concern, have no choice in what happens to them.”

Jackie spoke of her mother who was “part of Martin Luther King civil rights movement in America, who was beaten and tortured and called a communist because of her activism and her refusal to be be oppressed.”

“It was her courage in becoming a migrant that brought me to Britain,” she said. “And today when we celebrate the achievement of women across the globe I applaud and honor the struggles of migrant women everywhere who strive in often awful conditions … every minute of their day to give their families the life of their dreams.”

For the full text of Jackie’s speech see below.

 

WHAT FUTURE FOR GIRLS?

 

This is the text of a presentation given by Momentum Thanet organiser JACKIE WALKER at the Turner Contemporary in Margate as a speaker on a panel invited to take part in the Power of Women Thanet event in March 2016

 

I have to say, and with all respect, that I must disagree with much of what the previous speakers have said [about success being centred around individual effort and confidence].

 

 

We like to think we are a country of animal and children lovers, but are we?

 

The child who died on Turkish shores, washed up like so much detritus, the more than 600 unaccompanied refugee children freezing tonight under tents not far from here, being treated as if they are of no concern, have no choice in what happens to them.

 

Recently there’s been, in my opinion, too much focus on personal, individual development, personal volition.

 

So we see attendance at personal therapies, at gyms, self-awareness courses going up, while, until very recently, interest in politics, taking action, and reaction in solidarity with others has been out of fashion.

 

If you do well or badly, it’s all about the individual.

 

Now I think there’s a whole lot of people who have power (the establishment) who just love it that we think way … and that’s one of the things I want to change.

 

I’m on this panel because I’m active politically both in Thanet and nationally. I’m an active member of the Labour party, I’m the vice Chair of Momentum, I’m the Organiser of Momentum Thanet and I’m active in anti racist organisations locally.

 

I’m also here because I’m a writer and in 2008 I sold a memoir at auction for enough money to change my life ….. not enough to never work again, but enough to give me a breather, to think what I really wanted to do with the at least 30 years of active life … which will bring me till I’m at least 92.

 

My slot is called politics and change –I know for some people the two are not synonymous. I know the level of cynicism about politics and I get it, I really do. But I’m going to tell you why for me politics is the way to change things.

 

There’s no point being involved in politics unless you want to change things – a lot. And I do.

 

So when I’m talking about politics and why I do it, what I’m really talking about is how my life experience has made me know, not think, that we need fundamental change in how we do things if we want to make all our lives better.

 

As we used to say in what youngsters now call the “olden days”, the personal for me is very much the political, and I live it, and have lived the political, every day of my life.

 

I’m going to tell you something of my story.

 

Like all of us and our histories – we used to say “herstories” – we are the product of not just our own lives but of many other lives before us, people we know and don’t know. People related to us by blood, by culture, by circumstance –  and not.

 

So on this International Women’s Day I want to pay tribute to the women of my family who fought and died to survive the kidnappers and the slaving ships, the whip, the slave masters and the hangman. I pay tribute to the women (and men) who fought and died for the emancipation of slaves.

 

This emancipation was not solely achieved by Wilberforce and a nice tidy vote in parliament by the way – real change never works like that. It takes action, and the emancipation would never have happened without the sacrifice of men and women, some white but mostly black, many who gave up their lives and wellbeing to the cause.

 

I want to pay tribute to my mother who migrated across three continents, who was part of Martin Luther King civil rights movement in America, who was beaten and tortured and called a communist because of her activism and her refusal to be be oppressed.

 

It was her courage in becoming a migrant that brought me to Britain.

 

She saw Britain, like others from the Caribbean of her generation, as a sort of promised land because she, like King, she had a dream, and like every migrant her dream was about what she wanted the lives of all children, of her children, and her children’s children, to be.  I still have that dream.

 

And today when we celebrate the achievement of women across the globe I applaud and honor the struggles of migrant women everywhere who strive in often awful conditions, in better conditions, and even for the lucky ones in good conditions, every minute of their day to give their families the life of their dreams.

 

Now like King my mother never did get to that promised land, she didn’t get to see what we achieved.

 

My mother died when I was 11, and at that time we were like many migrants, hopelessly poor, but she gave me that vision, and I used that to get to where I wanted to be – part of that age-long struggle for equality and justice.

 

After she died I was taken into a children’s home and, to cut a long story short, started to share my life with the kind of children that no one – including at times their own parents – wanted. That’s the brutal truth of how it was and how it still is.

 

I left care, got a job, put myself through university, became a teacher and worked for 10 years in schools in the poorest area in London.

 

You may be able to able to imagine the deprivation of the lives of these children but the cruelty many of my students faced – inside and outside of their homes – even now I still find barely believable.

 

After a while I moved to Dorset, became an adviser working on equalities, on development, I became a specialist on anti-racist work in majority white communities – all very good preparation for living in Thanet!

 

I worked with bigots, with racists, with churches and charities. I worked on projects with maladjusted young people, in public schools with the financial and class elite and their children, with local communities, with the police, in prisons, with sex offenders and murderers.

 

I worked with 14 year olds who had murdered their parents and with the brightest person I – and the educational psychologist who tested him – had ever met, who spent the first three years of his life locked in a cupboard underneath the stairs and, let me say, this child was so damaged by what society had done to him, it was a success in anyone’s terms that he survived to breath. But I have to say, there was good and bad in them all, all the people I’ve worked with.

 

But what I saw, what I heard, simply reinforced the shocking truth of my own life experience – that it’s not a coincidence that our prisons are full of the poor, of the mentally ill, of ethnic minorities and the socially maimed, and that the middle class are not born better than others.

We make societies failures. We are all responsible for those people who “fail”. After that – knowing that – given what I had experienced, what could I do but become political.

 

Now I can hear some of you saying, “but politics never changed anything”.  I would just say, tell that to the women who campaigned and died for the vote, to the women campaigning to change the enslaving laws on marriage in the 19th century, to the labour movement women campaigning for paid holidays, for maternity leave and protection against the exploitation of child labour.

 

Tell it to women campaigning for the right to choose, for the right to equal pay, for protection from violence, for child care provision ….. I could go on.

 

It’s simple.

 

I want the world to be a better place for my children … that’s what I care about. But what I know is, if I don’t fight for your children too, if your kids turn our mad or bad or blue (not in the political sense), my kids can’t be really all right unless yours are too.

 

Yes – politics is a blunt tool, it’s a misshapen tool but it’s the one we’ve got to make that kind of real social change happen.

 

Making the change? It’s not up to “girls” it’s up to me and you!

 

NEW THANET WATCH OUT NOW

TW36 Poster

You can get the new Thanet Watch from the following shops and newsagents… Or you can get a copy directly from us. Just ring 07989 070843.

MARGATE
Hooked On Books, 21 High St.
Margate Gallery, 2 Lombard St.
Costcutter, 4 Cecil St (opp Thanet Council)

CLIFTONVILLE
Vera’s News, 314 Northdown Rd
TNS News, 79 Upper Dane Rd

RAMSGATE
RJ Offlicence and News, 56 High St
Ben Uncle/Loco, 80 High St
Toni’s News, 17 King St
Michael’s Bookshop, 72 King St
Gerry’s, Albert Court
Dunwells Newsagents, 157 Grange Rd

BROADSTAIRS & ST PETERS
Londis, 5 High St
The Chapel, 44-46, Albion St
Budgens, Broadway Garage
Harveys, 4 The Broadway
Victory News, 4 Nelson Pl
The Bottleneck, 7-9 Charlotte St
Dumpton PO, 210 Ramsgate Rd, Dumpton
Reading Street PO, 30 Reading St

BIRCHINGTON
Macys, 20 Station Approach Rd
The Bottle Shop, 21 Station Rd

WESTGATE
Edwards Supermarket, 51 Station Rd
Budget Beaters, 54 Station Rd
Corkscrew, 55 Station Rd
Best One, 56 St Mildreds Rd