A Call from Gaza
Mohammad Arafat sent me this story about Gaza and what happened to his friend. He wishes me to share it.
There is an over production of food globally but around half, much expensively produced cost wise and environmentally, goes to waste. This adds to the cost. Locally produced food can be beneficial since it is easier for the consumer to identify the producer and transport costs are reduced as are CO2 emissions. It is not always the case that local produce is cheaper since it may be cost effective to transport out of season produce than store it in warehouses which may be at a distance from the producer, only to be transported to supermarkets again at a distance.
Struggling countries like Cuba may face huge bills importing food so they encourage more and more people to use unused space to grow crops. Havana, it is estimated, can supply food to about 50% of her people. For most cities a target of 10% would be a huge achievement.
In March 2012 a delegation from the Socialist Labour Party in the UK visited Cuba and saw local initiatives to grow organic crops for food and medicine. In January that year the SLP had put a resolution to the Party's Triennial Congress in Blackpool which was remitted for further consideration. Four members of the SLP delegation: Andrew Jordan, President, Shangara Singh, West Midlands President, John McLeod, Brighton and John Tyrrell, West Midlands had a discussion on a site just outside Havana.
More recently the SLP held a day school at the Uplands Allotments in Handsworth, Birmingham, led by Malcolm Currie whose wife, Balbir, is Secretary of the Allotment Association. We discussed local initiatives on food issues, including local production and supply.
Speak out to stop history being repeated
It was necessary for someone to speak clearly about what is happening in an attempt to cash in politically on Thatcher's passing. Glenda Jackson, Labour MP, did just that and claims that her mail reflected a great majority supported her. She said that her reason for giving this carefully considered speech at this time was to "stop history being rewritten". Other Labour MPs either stayed away or joined in with tributes. For Jackson and some others like David Winnick, neither course was acceptable,
One of the invited celebrities for the Thatcher funeral show is none other than Tony Blair who has taken the opportunity to press Miliband to repeat history, and the Labour "grandees" like Mandelson and Milburn are joining in. "Labour mustn't be see as just a protest party" they warn because that's how they ended up in opposition for years before, until the New Labour project took hold. Absolutely right from the point of view that Labour need clear policies for action. Wrong that the country needs more policies built on the base of Thatcherism. Socialism became a dirty word and avoided by New Labour which proceeded to trash Labour Party basics. "You too can become an entrepreneur and play the games in which you can enrich yourself" without having to join the Tory club. That's alright for the few - Blair and Mandelson are examples of members of an elite group of multimillionaires indistinguishable from the Tories in behaviour. Miliband has retorted and says he is moving on. Clearly with much caution.
As for Arthur Scargill, as iconic a figure as Thatcher, opportunities to bring out the old lies and distortions pepper the media. Scargill has long refused to comment on Thatcher in interviews. He well understands that the issues are not about personalities but about policies he thought, and still thinks are necessary to deal with Capitalism and its Thatcherite version which cripples us today. His ideas are set out in he policies of the party he leads, the Socialist Labour Party.
It wasn't just Thatcher that brought us to this catastrophic situation, it was the others who picked up the ball she dropped and ran with it. Privatisation was a mantra for New Labour so the wholesale privatisation of education, health, prisons was well advanced when her successors took over, helped to teir eternal shame by another party, the Liberal Democrats. So Labour will have to take a radically different route of action. A return to the past in adopting the post-war Labour stand by introducing a health service based on guiding principles that still stand as a shining beacon to the world, wouldn't be a bad idea.