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From The Socialist newspaper, 12 January 2011

Labour baroness wants politics kept out of the Forest of Dean

Mark Harper, the Tory MP for the Forest of Dean, has 'concerns' about job security, but that is all he has in common with the millions of public sector workers whose jobs are currently under threat. This slick politician who spoke at a local anti-cuts rally in 2006 and praised his constituents for fighting hospital closures and NHS cuts, is now telling them to 'wait and see' before deciding whether privatising half of the Forest of Dean will be a bad thing.

Sue Powell, Gloucestershire Socialist Party

Locally, Harper is being called a traitor and a turncoat (that's the polite version). No one is in a mood to wait; they already know how the cuts will affect their community and fear that they will lose the very hospitals they fought so hard to save.

A magnificent protest movement, including a 3,000 strong demo in the forest on 3 January, has been organised by Hands Off Our Forest (HOOF). However, under the helm of Labour's shadow leader of the House of Lords, Baroness Jan Royall, the campaign has declared itself to be "non-political".

At a public meeting in December, amidst numerous demands to look into the right to recall MPs and unseat Harper, she explained: "I know and like Mark Harper ... he's a good MP but I believe he is fundamentally wrong about the forest".

Privatisation

Royall separated privatisation of the Forest of Dean from the other forests, which she will not campaign for. According to Royall, privatisation of utilities and transport is fine, but privatising "our forest" is not.

There is no wall between the Con-Dem plans for forests and plans to dismantle public ownership and services. People in the Forest of Dean see the cuts as a class issue.

The latest local media survey shows just 2% in favour of forest privatisation. Only 14% think the government is doing a good job, 81% say they are not.

Four days after the HOOF rally, Socialist Party member Lee Hyett accompanied a constituent to Harper's surgery.

Lee asked Harper if he could guarantee job safety for the 49 Forest of Dean Forestry Commission workers. Harper refused to give that guarantee.

When asked why the usual parliamentary procedure of a white paper preceded by a green paper along with a consultation process had not been observed, Harper replied that he didn't know!

The campaign to save local libraries has already had a big impact. In the private sector, 200 Unite members at the Ribena plant in Coleford are being balloted for strike action over a wage dispute. These campaigns need to be linked together to create a mass campaign together with trade unions.

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In The Socialist 12 January 2011:


Anti-cuts campaign

Bankers get billions - We get cuts


Youth fight for jobs

March for a future - Join the demonstrations on 29 January

More attacks on rights for young workers

Axe falls on courses at UWIC

Students at Leeds Trinity re-occupy


International socialist news and analysis

Tunisia: Wave of protests against repressive regime


National Shop Stewards Network

Rage at inequality fires workers' action

NSSN National: Anti-Cuts Conference

NSSN debate: The way forward for the anti-cuts movement

National Shop Stewards Network: Strategy and tactics - a dialogue

Labour baroness wants politics kept out of the Forest of Dean

Fighting Labour's cuts in Waltham Forest


Socialist Party news and analysis

Jobs cut while the rich carry on partying

The plot thickens at News International

'Big Oil' cuts corners on safety to boost profits

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition

Councils ramp up service charges

Campaigners tell PM: 'No to Royal Mail privatisation'

Police moles attempt to discredit protest movements


Socialist Party workplace news

Unison rejects NHS pay freeze

Kirklees council: First round victory in cuts battle

Darlington: Newsquest strikes continue to spread

Rotherham teachers strike

Workplace news in brief


 

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Related links:

Forest of Dean:

triangleLetters

triangleForest of Dean Socialist Party: After 30th November, how can we defeat the cuts?

triangleHands off our forests!

triangleLabour baroness wants politics kept out of the Forest of Dean

triangleHands off the Forest of Dean!

Labour:

triangleThe Socialist inbox

triangleMake a stand: set legal no-cuts council budgets

triangleTo win back working-class trust Labour must take the 'Liverpool road'

triangleThe Socialist Inbox

Privatisation:

triangleChildren need intensive care? We don't care!

triangleSave the NHS: kick out the Tories

triangleFrimley NHS Trust: Strikers remain determined to defeat privatisation

Cuts:

triangleUnite regional committee votes to support anti-cuts Enfield councillor

triangleCouncil cuts continue... So must the fightback

Socialist Party:

triangleWest London Socialist Party: Scotland - is the stage set for a new independence struggle?

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