Jody Betzien

The newly formed Left Unity party held its first major policy conference in Manchester on March 29, following its founding conference in November last year. The party has its origins in a call for a new party to the left of Labour made by veteran left-wing filmmaker Ken Loach.
More than 400 members of the Left Unity party project gathered in London on November 30 for the party's founding conference. The fledgling project has its origins in a call earlier in the year for a new party to the left of Labour made by veteran left film maker Ken Loach. Against the backdrop of the most brutal austerity experienced in Britain for generations and with the British left fractured, the call met with strong support.
Germany’s September 22 federal elections delivered victory to the ruling conservative Christian Democratic Alliance, despite forces to their left winning a majority of seats. Die Linke (the Left Party) has emerged the third largest in the Bundestag (German parliament). The Chancellor Angela Merkel-led alliance scored their best result since German re-unification in 1990, with more than 18 million votes (41.5%).
Kate Hudson is a veteran British left-wing activist and former chair of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. Hudson was a candidate for the left-wing Respect party in last year's Manchester municipal by-election, but stood down after Respect leader George Galloway made “unacceptable and unretracted statements about the nature of rape”. Since then, Hudson has joined other left-wing activists, including film maker Ken Loach, in pushing the Left Unity initiative for anew left-wing party, which has received support from thousands of people across Britain.
Frances O’Grady, head of the British Trade Union Congress (TUC), set the tone in the opening session of the People's Assembly in London on June 22, declaring: “The Bullingdon boys are waging class war against ordinary people. We will retaliate, it is time to fight back against a government of millionaires.” O'Grady's reference to Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne by the exclusive upper-class Oxford University society they belonged reflects the anger at the Conservative-Liberal Democrats war on the poor.
Sibylle Kaczorek and Jody Betzien, from the Australian , interviewed Yiannis Bournous in Athens. Yiannis is a leading activst in the Coalition of the Radical Left (Syriza), Greek's rapidly growing left party.
Red carpet and champagne marked the start of the first Red-Green Alliance (RGA) congress since the party tripled its mandate at a poll in September last year. The 385 delegates representing the 8000 members packed a basketball stadium in the migrant and working class Copenhagen suburb of Norrebro to grapple with the party's new increased influence on Danish politics. Party membership has more than doubled in the past two years, with the party welcoming into its ranks many ex-members of the Social Democratic and Socialist People's party.
Literature Nobel laureate and Germany's most famous living author Gunter Grass labelled Israel a threat to "already fragile world peace" in his poem “Was gesagt werden muss” (“What must be said”). The work, published by German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung on April 4, accuses "the West" of hypocrisy in relation to the arming of Israel. In publishing the poem, Grass, who regards himself as "irrevocably connected to the country of Israel” has made a big contribution to breaking a long standing German taboo about publicly criticising Israel's warmongering.
The ability of real politics to focus debate is impressive. The climate movement has long debated what policy mechanisms can best combat climate change. Various market based mechanisms, emission trading schemes, regulation and direct government investment have been proposed. The answer is urgently needed. We know there is already too much carbon in the atmosphere to ensure a safe climate. What we do in the next 10 years is crucial. Heading down the wrong track for a couple of years is time wasted.
Susan Balog is a single mother and student who works in the retail industry for three hours, or sometimes four, on Sundays. Following Labor’s award modernisation process, she suddenly found herself worse off. Last week, she represented herself in Fair Work Australia and became the first worker to successfully get a “take home pay order” against her employer.
On October 26, 150 people rallied at Federation Square to demand the Australian government accept the 78 Sri Lankans asylum seekers currently moored off Indonesia’s Riau Islands.
This month the federal Labor government announced a pilot seasonal worker scheme in the horticulture industry. Under the trial, up to 2500 visas will be available over three years for workers from Kiribati, Tonga, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea to work in Australia for up to seven out of any 12 months. Swan Hill in Victoria and Griffith in NSW, among other horticultural districts, are being considered for the pilot.
Only a foolish punter looking to lose their hard-earned cash would back an upset at the state elections on November 25. Although polls indicate a narrowing of Premier Steve Bracks’ lead, the state Labor government is likely to be returned with a comfortable margin.
The Second Latin American and Asia Pacific Solidarity Gathering, held on October 21-22, was attended by 200 people. Organised by the Latin American Solidarity Network (LasNet), it was addressed by Gissel Gonzales from Bolivia’s Coalition in Defence of Water and Life; Maria de Lourdes Vicente da Silva, an organiser with the Landless Workers Movement (MST) in Brazil; Rosa del Carmen Curihuentro Lancaleo, a journalist and a Mapuche (the indigenous community of Chile and Argentina); and Heriberto Salas, a representative from the Mexican People for the Defence of the Earth, among others.
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