JOIN US AT LOVE DIFFERENCE AT CARGO ON 7TH SEPTEMBER!

Have you ever attended a debate and thought, we've discussed the issues but what about the action?

Have you ever watched a film and thought, that really inspired me but what does this mean in the real world?


Have you ever been to a party and thought, wouldn't it be great if politics could be as exciting as this?


Well guess what, all of this is happening this Sunday at one of the coolest venues in London.
On the 7th September between 1pm and midnight, come and join us at Cargo, London for a free festival of political and cultural debate, film and live music. ThIs is part of a one-off series of exceptional and unique all day long mini-festivals in London, Northampton and Bristol, organised with European Alternatives to mark the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue.

LoveDifference Festival will bring the best contemporary music, video art and film from the UK and Europe to three diverse English towns and cities, each of which has a unique recent experience of European immigration.

Mixing UK acts such as The Blessing and hot London electronica sensation Christopher D Ashley with successful Central European acts such as Muzykoterapia (Poland) and Ohm Square (Czech Republic), as well as dialogue artists, writers and filmmakers such as TS Eliot prize-winning poet George Szirtes (Hungary/UK), legendary British filmmaker Ken Loach and Polish artist Joanna Rajkowska (famous for installing a palm tree on Jerusalem Avenue in Warsaw) the festival celebrates cultural exchange and innovation like no other festival is currently attempting.


The Festival also brings together different cultural and political movements and organisations in England and Europe, including Compass Youth, the cultural representations of Poland and Hungary, Pulse Festival of Eastern European music, the Watershed Cinema in Bristol and the Northampton Arts Collective.

With a political as well as cultural edge, the LoveDifference Festival is a long overdue, updated take on an old-fashioned debate to promote a new European ideal of culture, travel, youth and exchange. It pulls European discussion away from tired clichés and into exciting fresh and young venues such as Cargo in London and The Fishmarket Gallery in Northampton. LoveDifference Festival brings the political agenda down from the distant EU bureaucracy to grassroots level of the people whose everyday lives are affected by each and every decision.

In the firm belief that cultural diversity is to be celebrated and cherished, LoveDifference Festival aims to promote the benefits and inspirations that a diverse and unique community can have. Creating a bridge for UK understanding of European cultures and arts, food and lifestyles, LoveDifference Festival is at the forefront of understanding across borders and The European Year of Intercultural Dialogue.

On the 7th September between 2pm and midnight, come and join us at Cargo, London for a free festival of political and cultural debate, film and live music. We have an amazing line-up of speakers including

Chuka Umunna, Compass
Jon Cruddas MP
Sandra Cueva, Unison
Ildiko Takacs, Hungarian Cultural Centre
Anna Tryc-Bromley, Polish Cultural Institute

Istvan Hegedus, Hungarian Europe Centre

We will also be featuring an exciting showcase of video artists such as Joanna Rajkowska and Ani Vaseva without forgetting live music by Ohm Square and The Invisible.

See here for directions to Cargo at 83 Rivington Street, Shoreditch, London. Nearest tube is Old Street. Check here for more details.

If you would like to find out more about what we do click here, fill in our survey to join the network or contact compassyouth7@gmail.com.

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THE FORGOTTEN WARS - THE HIDDEN REASONS


Like most armed conflicts, as soon as it breaks out they quickly find ways of not only financing themselves but also bringing enormous profits to its main actors – and the unfolding wars in the Congo have been no different. Mass systematic scramble for Congo's enormous treasure trove of diamonds, gold, copper, cobalt, coltan, tin, timber and coffee, have been, according to the UN, the sole driving force of the unfolding wars.

The wrongly and yet overly-reported tribal bloodlettings status ascribed to the unfolding wars have not only been used as an instrument to justify the persistence of the armed conflicts by its main actors; but have cooperated the conflict into the long-held stereotypes that Africans are interminably trapped in "tribal bloodletting," hence, rationalizing the continue ambiguous and reluctant passive actions of the world community when voicing the conflicts whilst the real driving force is nothing but economic interests.

Some of these natural resources, the Alluvial diamonds for instance, can be found in a myriad of rivers criss-crossing the Congo; and its extraction requires little prior knowledge or technical equipment. Such availability and easy access to these natural resources, the UN has claimed, not only sustains but actively perpetuates the wars.

Behind these mass pillages, and indeed behind most of the mass killing and atrocities being perpetuated, are two principle actors – the Rwandan and Ugandan government, in alliance with certain Congolese armed political groups. Together, these alliances have actively continued to fuel interethnic conflicts by using the treat of their own security to justify and legitimize their military occupations and controls of Congo’s richly diverse mineral areas.

In spite of the fact that neither diamonds nor coltan can be found on the Rwandan or Ugandan soils, in 2001 a UN-appointed panel of investigators on the systematic “illegal” exploitation of Congo’s natural resources and other forms of wealth delivered two groundbreaking reports unraveling large volumes of primary evidence implicating Rwanda and Uganda in the systematic plundering of Congo’s gold, coltan and diamonds (to only name a few)

The true revenue that both countries have made over the past decade will, most probably, remain a mystery but the UN-appointed panel estimated that between 1999 and 2000, Rwanda, alone, made some US 250 Millions from coltan and US 3 Million from diamonds looted in Eastern Congo; and its counterpart Uganda made some US 3 Million from diamonds and around US 150 Million from coltan and gold export (although Uganda produces no coltan and only small artisan gold).

Another driving force of the unfolding wars has been tax revenue in areas under tyrannical administrations of warlords backed by Rwanda and Uganda, in alliance with certain Congolese armed groups. From 1998 to 2000, purchasers of diamonds in the Rwanda-controlled DRC areas had to pay an average 5% of the diamonds value to the military administration. This was, however, tripled in 2001 where diamonds purchasers were asked to pay 15% of the diamond value, out of which one-third was kept by the RCD-Goma and two third taken by Rwanda; whilst Uganda was reported to have earned around US 5 million a month from tax levy on its controlled DRC territories

Surely the substantial influx of billions of US dollars drawn by Rwanda and Uganda from the still on-going systematic looting of diamonds, timber, coffee and coltan from the Congo would not have been forthcoming without the unfolding wars. Rwanda, for instance, between 1999 and 2000, the looting of various Congo’s rich natural resources (alone) provided Rwanda with around 7-8% of its foreign earning. On the same year, revenue from coltan pillaged in the Congo by Rwanda provided all Rwanda needed to wage its war in the Congo.

Whilst Rwanda and Uganda and their sponsored Congolese armed groups are filling their pockets, the scale of sexual atrocities, death toll or speed at which diseases or condition such as HIV AIDS or Fistula are spreading as a direct result of the unfolding wars go beyond the meaning of humanitarian catastrophes, war crimes or crimes against humanity.

The figures are staggering. You could take all lives lost in Bosnia and Rwanda 1994, then add Darfur, then add a 9-11 every single day for 356 days and then add the Great Tsunami that struck Asia in 2005 go through Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Put all of those together, multiply them by 2 and you still won’t reach the number of lives that have been lost in the Congo since the war first ignited. International NGOs claim that more than 5.4 million have been killed so far; but experts and doctors on the ground count more than 10 Million killed.

ORGANISING AND SUPPORTING CAMPAIGNS YOU CAN GET INVOLVED IN

We have built and facilitate a dynamic and vibrant network that campaigns for greater equality and democracy and nurtures progressive values across society. We work with as many parts of the labour movement as possible, to reach out to as many partners outside the traditional social democratic family.

Creating local and university groups

We are developing our regional activity, focusing on creating groups where they currently don’t exist and building capacity where they do.

We aim to have 20 local groups by the end of the year and have already recruited several campus and regional representatives to coordinate our activity at a local level in London, North West, Scotland, West Midlands and Yorkshire & Humber. See here if you want to contact one or become a rep yourself.

Building partnerships with exciting groups

We have developed speaker pool to reach the hearts and minds of progressive students and young people. We lobby Compass MPs to take our campaigns to the heart of government and to act as a bridge to supporters in this country.

We also partner with progressive media, trade unions, community groups and socially responsible businesses, focusing on those in which Compass Youth members are already involved in.

We have opened the debate in the Labour Party such as with the campaign for treasurer, selection for NEC Youth Rep, deputy leadership campaign and the selection campaign for Chuka Umuna.

We have organised debates with UK & European Parliament, student & trade unions, but also from European political parties, community & campaigning groups, online media & press, thinktanks & universities, art collectives, & music bands. These include:

Amnesty, Avaaz, Black Socialist Society, Bristol City Council, Centre for European Reform, CND, Community, Demos, Desirs d'Avenir, Diversity & Integration Network, DJ Bootsie Quartet, European Alternatives, European Parliament, Fabian Society, Global Policy Institute, GNB, Hungarian Cultural Centre, Involve, IUSY, Labour Movement for Europe, Liberty, London Citizens, London MEPs, New Local Government Network, Northampton Arts Collective, NUS, Ohm Square, One Voice, Oxfam, PASOK, PES Activists, Pin the Pits, Policy Network, Polish Cultural Institute, PPE, Pulse Festival, The Blessing, Save the Labour Party, Save Congo, Searchlight, SERA, Spanish Socialist Youth, Sunday Best, TMP, Trinity Centre, TUC, Unions 21, UNISON, Unlock Democracy and Unite.

Organising and supporting campaigns on issues that matter to you

We actively champion events and campaigns by Compass and our progressive partners. We also organise distinctive and exciting activities ourselves with Compass or autonomously.

We have organised 10 debates over the last year as well as taking part in conferences and workshops by other progressive groups and campaigns for equalising the minimum wage, the living wage, two state solution, the NHS, against the anti missile system, civil liberties and votes for 16. We also ran the online campaign for the congestion charge campaign, which became the second most seen video of that month in the UK.

We built a dynamic and vibrant coalition of progressive young people to help campaign for Ken Livingstone’s re-election as Mayor of London. We helped organise political integration initiatives to get out the vote of EU citizens in the London elections and played an active role in supporting the Hope not Hate and We’re all Londoners coalitions. We also supported the Choose Change road show for the deputy leadership campaign for Jon Cruddas.

We have been developing a “progressive soulmates” network to shape the Your Space manifesto and campaign in general elections across Europe, building towards the European Parliament elections in 2009.

We have engaged young “progressive expats” in the UK as the eyes and ears of their countries. We have developed mini-festivals bringing together film, music and politics in the most cutting edge venues in the country, starting with London, Northampton and Bristol. Not only have we been featured by the Evening Standard, London Paper, Metro, Total Politics and Timeout but a range of blogs and magazines.

We organised a series of successful debates as part of the Your Space manifesto, organised campaign exchanges in France, Spain & US, facilitated workshops at the ECOSY Summer Camp and participated in youth leader delegations to Southern Africa and Greece.

We want to build international campaigns on issues that cross borders through further campaign exchanges and summer academies.

Check out how we can

You've got an idea or activity that you'd like to develop with us, an issue that matters to you or would just like to find out more?

Contact us now at youthchair@compassonline.org.uk

DEVELOP YOUR SKILLS AND TURN YOUR IDEAS INTO ACTION

We want develop a deep understanding of the political and social issues to organise for action in a way that ensures our campaigns influence both government and communities. Using our Programme for Renewal as a platform, we are actively engaging young people throughout the year to gain a better understanding of these issues which will feed into our ideas competition.

Developing your skills and your issues

We build capacity and facilitate involvement of young people through skills, issues and liaison networks. We unlock all of the talents of the Compass Youth membership through skills networks.

We are developing workshops on developing skills of our members to organise in collaboration with both youth leaders & progressive groups. We will feed in ideas from members through Issues Networks to enhance the “Living in the 21st Century” process. We will jointly organise “policy parties” & “kitchen cabinet” debates with the progressive groups we are working with as part of the ideas competition across London and encourage you to facilitate local debates elsewhere in the country where we can. We are also organising workshops on reclaiming the cultural identity of mining communities and young migrant communities.

Producing tools to help you campaign where you are

We work constructively with NGOs and act as a recruiting tool by inspiring potential members. We are co-producing a variety of toolkits with NGOs on how to run campaigns, such as on the living wage and a speakers list featuring exciting topics from the next generation of political thinkers.

Promoting your ideas and activities

We develop our profile and reach across the media, notably in pioneering innovative ways of promoting our ideas. We want to make Compass Youth, make it visual, make it personal, give it a face.

We have re developed our website and launched viral video channels and open source tool to input into the Labour Party manifesto as well as designed eye-catching flyers produced by you. We are also featuring articles by our members, including a "born free and equal" series coming soon. Bringing together all the articles on our blog, we will also produce a user generated pamphlet of how Compass Youth turns ideas into action.

Check out how we can

You've got an idea or activity that you'd like to develop with us, an issue that matters to you or would just like to find out more?

Contact us now at youthchair@compassonline.org.uk

LISTENING TO YOU TO FIND OUT WHAT ISSUES REALLY MATTER


We want to involve you through activities that encourage social change in the community and help develop a coalition of young activists. Most importantly, we will try as hard as possible to make sure they relate to your everyday lives and champion the values of equality and democracy.

Engaging campaigning groups to bring activists together

In practice, we have engaged youth leaders across the progressive movement (from labour clubs to student unions, from single issue groups to trade unions) to jointly facilitate or sponsor activities but also work together at enabling young people who are excluded from politics to get involved.

We attract new members through an agile and personalised approach, targeting progressive audiences and encouraging our existing members to help in this recruitment drive. Using online tools (such as our website and other social networking tools, such as Facebook, Youtube, Flickr, and Netvibes), we have increased our reach to close to 900 young people, many of whom are community organisers.

Telling your stories to inspire young people

Attracting these people has led us to attract youth leaders to participate in telling their stories of youth activism to generate a buzz about the “Living in the 21st century” ideas competition. These range from youth & student clubs of the labour movement home (Labour Clubs & NUS) and abroad (i.e. PSOE, PS, PASOK, SPA ECOSY, IUSY, PES), but also social entrepreneurs & campaigners (Amnesty, Oxfam, CSV, Searchlight).

As part of the "Living in the 21st century" ideas competition, we filmed members submitting their ideas by video.

Listening to you to track causes and campaigns

We track emerging issues and unmet needs for young people to build campaigns and coalitions around them.

We have been listening in to the conversations taking place online through our personalised listening service, reaching out beyond the activity of our own blog and finding out what are the issues being discussed by other bloggers and what are the campaigns being developed by other online activists. As this available to everyone, young people can also get informed about the issues and get involved in the debate.

We have also been asking our members the issues that matter to them and activities that excited them. Given that the top issues that mattered to our members were equality, international relations & citizenship/integration, we have focused our events on these themes. Given that the top skills members were interested in were writing articles/guides, campaigning and lobbying politicians we are developing activities around these. You can still tell us the issues that matter to you here.


Attracting funding to organise activities for you

We actively engage with building engagement with progressive funders and sponsors. We enter into partnerships with social democratic journals. We have also successfully attracted sponsorship from the biggest trade union in the UK and a European NGO for two all day events.

Check out how we can
You've got an idea or activity that you'd like to develop with us, an issue that matters to you or would just like to find out more?

Contact us now at youthchair@compassonline.org.uk

HOLIDAY OR PAY - FIGHT FOR JUSTICE


EAST TO WEST FOR OBAMA

After our trip to the States to take part in Obama's campaign, we are getting involved on August 16, our Obama East to West Bridges rally will take place on London Bridge. Please invite all your friends, grab together your Obama t-shirts, badges and signs (paint your own) and meet us outside the Barrow Boy and Banker pub on 6-8 Borough High Street, London near London Bridge at 1:30 PM, followed by a meeting on the balcony at the pub ending from 2:30 to 4:00.


See here for a map of the pub location. Please drop the local campaign team a line at obamalondon@gmail.com to let us know you’re coming. And by the way, if you’ll be in town for the rally, why not round it off by attending this fabulous grassroots fundraiser with what sounds like a really rocking band.

A NEW REFORM ACT TO EXTEND UNIVERSAL SUFFRAGE TO THE AGE OF 16


In 1918, after the suffragette campaign, the fourth reform act was introduced, famously granting suffrage to women over the age of 30. In 1928 the fifth great reform act was passed, another revolutionary act which made female suffrage equal to male suffrage at the age of 21. Forty-one years later the sixth great reform act extended the franchise to 18 after a high court appeal by the NUS. Today, there is an opportunity to make history; there is a strong case for an additional reform act, which would extend suffrage to the age of 16. This article puts the case for the extension of the franchise.

Those arguing against votes at 16 claim that 16-17 year olds are politically ignorant and apathetic to politics; that 16-year-olds lack maturity and understanding of the significance of such an issue as important as voting; and that extending the franchise would be a simple waste of taxpayers' money and would only reduce the electoral turnouts.

However, we are largely responsible young adults, who are mature enough to make significant decisions regarding our own future. For example, whether to remain in full-time education or get a job, or even join the army. Those who remain in full-time education then must chose their A-levels subjects or other equivalent qualifications, which will determine their career. Why then, if 16 year olds are deemed mature and responsible enough to join the armed forces, are they not deemed responsible or mature enough to elect those responsible for sending the armed forces to war? In addition, since 16 year olds already make substantial decisions regarding their own lives, why are they deemed irresponsible to be trusted with the right to elect their rulers?

As to reducing electoral turnouts, they are already at a record low: the 2005 general election had a turnout of 61.3%, and the recent Church Street by-election in Westminster (Council) had a turnout of a feeble 17%. Also, it is impossible to classify all 16-17 year olds as a single group, we are in fact each individually minded and will chose to vote in a certain way or not vote at all. Also, as the electoral figures demonstrate, there is an existing apathy and lack of interest in politics among the general public, not a specific age group, showing a failure of all political parties to win widespread support and engage the public in the democratic process. Many 16-17 year olds are more actively involved in politics than many of their older peers: some are members of political parties, and more are members of pressure groups which tend to have more of an appeal to young people. Record numbers of 16-17 year olds choose to study politics at A-level, and many more chose to study it university.

Furthermore, political ignorance is no reason to deprive an individual of their democratic rights: there are and always have been and always will be politically ignorant individuals of all age groups, yet their suffrage is not taken away from them. Moreover, extending the franchise to 16 and granting increased rights and responsibilities is likely to improve the self and public image of youths, in face of the constant demonization of youths by the media.

Lorin Bell-Cross
Compass Youth Activist

CITIZENS NOT CRIMINALS: VOTES AT 16!

Votes at 16 Coalition and Compass Youth would like to invite you to a major meeting for votes at 16 at Labour party Conference 2008 on 23rd September. We are pleased to announce an amazing line-up of speakers including:
At 16, we can choose a career and pay taxes, leave home, join the armed forces, and make lots of decisions about our future. At 16, we've been taught how to become citizens but we're denied the chance to put it into practice. At a time when people feel that politics isn't relevant to them, young people need to be encouraged to take part in democracy, not kept out from it. It's time we gave young people the basic right of any citizen - the right to vote. Join us. Make history.

Come and make your voice count and sign up here or contact youthchair@compassonline.org.uk!


Tuesday 23rd September, 13.00-14.00pm

Charter Suite 1, Manchester Central (Secure Zone - pass required)

Please check out Votes at 16 and how Compass Youth has been campaigning to support the coalition, from when Julie Morgan MP presented a private members bill to lower the voting age last year, an event she organised on this and urging our members to send a letter to their MPs to support the campaign.

WINDFALL TAX: OVER 45 LABOUR MPS SAY YES WE CAN!


Our campaign for a sensible one-off windfall tax on the energy and oil companies has got off to a great start but we need your help!

Having spoken to many Labour MPs and even a few ministers in recent days we know there’s support for this measure. The campaign has also gained the support of the influential Labour weekly Tribune.

However the government is coming under immense pressure from the energy and oil industry not to levy a windfall tax. In letters to the press, in response to our campaign, the energy industry claim we can’t afford a windfall tax, why then do figures show for just the first 6 months of the year BP, Centrica and Shell made the equivalent of £1000 profit per second? This debate isn’t just about pounds and pennies, it’s about real people’s lives, people who simply can’t afford the recent price rises, the millions already in or facing fuel poverty while these corporations make unearned windfall profits that harm society.

We need you to lobby MPs and ministers immediately to demonstrate strong support for this measure and say: windfall tax: yes we can! The more MPs we get the more likely it is that the government will see sense and back this one off sensible measure.

New signatories say ’yes we can’ levy ‘a windfall for social & environmental justice’:

Lord Richard Rogers; Stephen Hale, Green Alliance ; Mark Serwotka, General Secretary, PCS; Stephen Twigg, Labour PPC, Liverpool West Derby; John Austin MP; John Battle MP; Derek Wyatt MP; Diane Abbott MP; Frank Cook MP; David Crausby MP; Martin Caton MP; Ann Cryer MP; Jon Cruddas MP; Jim Devine MP; Andrew Dismore MP; Jim Dobbin MP; David Drew MP; Dr Ian Gibson MP; David Heyes MP; Lyndsay Hoyle MP; Brian Iddon MP; Peter Kilfoyle MP; Khalid Mahmood MP; Albert Owen MP; Hywel Francis MP; David Hamilton MP; Jim Sheridan MP; Geoffrey Robinson MP; Linda Riordan MP; Dr Desmond Turner MP; Paddy Tipping MP; Jim Sheridan MP; Ian Stewart MP; Dari Taylor MP; Joan Walley MP; Mary Creagh MP; Gwyn Prosser MP; Gavin Strang MP; Kelvin Hopkins MP; David Taylor MP; Michael Clapham MP; Fabian Hamilton MP; Jeremy Corbyn MP; Brian Donohoe MP.

Join our growing list of names and sign up to the statement here.

You tell us why we need a windfall tax. Here are just a few of the hundreds of comments we’ve had so far from people supporting a windfall tax.

From Robin in Bath: “These companies have made huge profits that arise directly from the increase in prices. A windfall tax is entirely justified.”

From Gordon in Birmingham: “For me, I cannot afford to pay the high rising electric and gas bills the Government must do more to help very low income people.”

From Lesley in Swanley: “This current unacceptable situation affects us all, to a lesser or larger extent. The benefits of a windfall tax would affect us all too, and I would urge the Government to levy this windfall tax as soon as possible.”

Lobby MPs and write to the Chancellor of the Exchequer:

Please use the campaign template letters below to lobby MPs and encourage them to sign up to the campaign. Please also write to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and urge him to adopt a windfall tax here.

Encourage friends and colleagues to sign up to the campaign:

We need as many people as possible to support this, please encourage your friends and colleagues to sign up to the campaign for a sensible one-off windfall tax on the energy and oil companies for social and environmental justice.

Forward this email to as many people as you can and ask them to sign up here.

The UK energy and oil companies, windfall tax and fuel poverty: key facts you need to know
  • Profits in the energy “market” have risen almost six-fold since 2003: from £557m to now over £3bn.
  • Since 2000 we have faced gas price rises of 100% and electricity price rises of 61% - home energy prices are still rising by up to 35% whilst the price of oil is finally dropping. Energy companies have consistently put the rise in gas prices down to the price of oil.
  • Electricity prices have gone up 3 times more for consumers than generators – a huge unaccounted for gap.
  • Labour has cut fuel poverty from 6.5million in 1996 to 2.5million now. Let’s keep that figure down.
  • Energy companies have now complained that a windfall tax would damage their businesses. The 1997 windfall tax did not damage the companies taxed, just as Gordon Brown said then it wouldn’t. It did not allude to greater borrowing or reduced business investment.
With millions of Britons in or facing fuel poverty as winter approaches and as the energy and oil companies continue to make unearned profits every second of every day, tell the government to adopt a windfall tax for social and environmental justice immediately!

Let’s keep up the pressure and send a clear message to the government that yes we can levy a sensible one-off windfall tax.

Thanks for all your support so far.

Gavin

P.S: Why not make a one-off donation to help fund the research and costs of this important campaign here. We will never have the resources of the energy industry to spend on lobbying, but every penny you give us will be used to keep them on the run and make the case for a sensible one-off windfall tax.

PROGRESSIVE FUSION, PROGRESSIVE SCHMUSION

In response to Sunder Katwala's article here, it remains to be seen how David Milliband develops his ideas into a governing strategy, but at least someone with imagination and intellectual engagement would be infinitely preferable to a simple 'sway with the wind' time-server like Jack Straw.

I must say though that, in all the talk of Blairites and Brownites, nowhere is the sufficient recognition of the depth and scale of the sheer anger and resentment at the party within our core heartlands. To reverse this, it's no good just talking the talk about "change", values, progressive fusion or whatever else: it needs to be made resoundingly clear from a series of concrete measures that Labour is prepared to break from the tyranny of neoliberal fatalism. This can be caricatured as a "shopping-list" but it is about demonstrating in practical and demonstrable steps that the government is prepared to intervene and prioritise public goods over corporate profit.

"Change" is not a positive value in and of itself. Change, at a relentless and bewildering pace, is the hallmark of the global economy. Down-sizing and outsourcing are "change", but working people want concrete social and economic rights to prevent a race to the bottom. In some ways, Labour needs to recover its core mission, and adapt this to new circumstances, not to reinvent itself totally in some postmodern spirit of endless mutability.

And finally, "Blairite pluralism" and Brown's big-tent politics have been utterly maladroit in their choices of allies. Yes, they've worked with people like Bernie Ecclestone, Richard Branson, Digby Jones. and all the various PFI contactors - but precious little in terms of serious engagement with other progressive parties, NGO's, trade unions etc. It's notable that the exceptions to this (the LIb/Lab coalition in Scotland that stopped tuition fees; the Lab/Plaid coalition in Wales that has had a moratorium on PFI; the Lab/Green productive alliance on environmental issuies in London) have all been facilitated via proportional electoral systems.

This suggests if we really want to overcome self-defeating factionalism and "change the way we do politics", we could show some real courage and imagination by embracing PR. It would mean that our campaigns would cease to be addressed to the "few" (the swing voters in marginal seats"). Instead, a PR would incentivise the party for picking up votes in every corner of the land, including making it worthwhile to campaign for votes in our own core areas. This could have a dramatic impact not only on the style of our campaings, but on breaking the arm-lock of the Daily Mail readership over the kind of policies we feel able to win an election around.

Blair ducked it, and Brown's "Governance of Britain" appears to be running aground into pretty marginal tinkering. Don't get me wrong - electoral reform is not sufficient in and of itself to "do politics differently". But without it, nice sounding words like "pluralism" and "progressive fusion" wil ring a little hollow.

By Michael Calderbank, Electoral Reform Society and Votes for 16 Coalition

GET OUT THE KIWI VOTE!

On Wednesday 13 August we'll be holding a movie night to support our enrollment drive amongst kiwis here in London. It would be great if you could join us!

Thanks to all those who have already indicated they will be attending our 'get out the vote' fundraiser in Soho this Wednesday. There are still a few tickets available (details below).

We'll be screening No 2, a New Zealand film written and directed by Toa Fraser, which tells the story of a Fijian-Kiwi matriarch gathering her discordant clan around one last fete. No 2 won the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival in 2006.

The screening will kick off at 7.30 at Framestore, a special effects company with its own cinema in Soho (19-23 Wells Street, W1T 3PQ). See here for directions.

Tickets are £10 and include a glass of bubbly on the night.

Seats are limited. To reserve your spot please email Jacinda at jacinda@jacindaardern.org.nz.

Enroll yourself

Next Saturday the All Blacks will be playing South Africa. A great opportunity to enroll a few kiwis (in half time of course!) at the local pubs in Putney etc. The game kicks off at 2pm. If you're free and fancy watching the game over a pint and enrolling a few people while you're at it, email kiwivote@gmail.com

Cottage meetings

For those of you who have never come across them before, cottage meetings are a bit like tupperware parties, but with candidates instead of kitchenware. You book a time, invite your friends/neighbors/random kiwi friends, and have an informal chat. It's a good chance to learn what the candidates about and ask all the burning policy questions you have. You can hold the meeting at your place, the local pub or cafe, just about anywhere. You decide.

If you are interested in hosting a 'cottage meeting' drop Jacinda a line (NZ Labour's London based list candidate) to organise a suitable time. She'll be going along to meetings like this right through till the election.

We look forward to seeing you soon!

Kiwivote team

THE FORGOTTEN WARS - THE CAUSES


For a decade, one of the nastiest and bloodiest wars and humanitarian catastrophes since World War II has pounded one corner of Africa –the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). International NGOs claim more than 5.4 million have, so far, been brutally massacred but experts and doctors on the ground count over 10 Million killed since the wars first ignited in 1994 – and yet blood still running like water - claiming as many as 45, 000 lives each month but we rarely hear anything about this!

The Causes


The root causes of the unfolding wars are quite complex. However, one fundamental fact is that they stemmed from the wave of violence unleashed by Genocide that struck Rwanda in 1994. In Congo, however, the unfolding wars “officially” begun in 1998 when the late President Laurent Kabila dismissed the Rwandans and Ugandans military officials who had helped him end the 32 years reign of President Joseph Mobutu in May 1997.

This coincided with growing speculations – one of which was that Rwanda, as a reward for his role in ousting President Mobutu in May 1997, would annex (or maintain its military presence) in Eastern Congo because of the growing security threats a large number of Hutus responsible for the 1994 Genocide living in refugee camps in eastern Congo paused to the young republic.

These unfounded speculations were, in turn, systematically exploited for political points and popularity – and, as a result, brought about hostile attitudes and violent languages toward Congolese Tutsis across the Congo, whom, because of cultural similarities and a shared spoken language with Rwandan Tutsis, are alleged as privileging ties with the Rwandan Tutsis regime in Kigali over national loyalty. As a result,

Partially as a result of all this, the dismissed Rwandan Tutsis and Ugandan troops, under the pretext of the enemy of my enemy is my friend, went off, re-grouped and realigned with President Mobutu’s military disciples and local Congolese Tutsis militia and then launched a bloody offensive rebellion against the Kabila government, who, equally, under the same pretext of the enemy of my enemy is my friend, realigned with local anti-Tutsis armed groups and other regional forces to fight what they perceived to be a Tutsi hegemony in the Great Lack region.

This turned the Congo into huge battlefields, which, at some points, involved 9 regional forces –Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, Angola, Namibia, Chad, Sudan, Libya and Zimbabwe, dozens of indigenous armed militias groups and western based private military companies fighting spontaneous wars.

As a result, the whole country, particularly the eastern regions, has been transformed into hotbeds of barbaric atrocities. No rule of law seems to exist and life has lost its basic value. Eastern Congo has since been left at the mercy of tyrannical administration of warlords. It has been transformed into, what can only be termed as, concentration camps, where nothing but extreme sexual atrocities, ethnically motivated persecution and systematic massacres reign.

Unable to be protected by the Kinshasa government and abandoned by the international community, those still trapped in this corner of the world have no hopes but to wait for their time. If lucky enough he or she will be shot dead, if not, he or she will endure a slow painful death depending upon the mood of their killers. Some are set ablaze alive or slaughter by machetes whilst women and young girls are subjected to the worse public brutal gang rapes that go beyond the mere meaning of rapes.

SAVE THE CONGO SERIES

We have published the first part of 6 series article by Vava Tampa – Chair of Save the Congo, a student & youth led forum championing the restoration of peace in the forgotten wars rigged corner of the world –East Congo.

His series of articles are an attempt to raise awareness of one the nastiest and bloodiest unknown wars and humanitarian tragedies that has so far claim more than 5.4 Million live and blood still running like water – claiming as many as 45 000 live each month; as well as to defy the wrong and yet overly-reported “ethnic bloodletting” status ascribed to the unfolding wars by Western media and statesmen – hence justifying their gross failure in paving the way for another Genocide as well as not taking concrete steps towards the restoration of peace, security, justice and human dignity in the Congo.

Your comments are welcome; and if you wish to learn more or get involve contact him directly on vava-tampa@hotmail.co.uk. Watch this space for the first article in the series!

LOVE DIFFERENCE!

This September, European Alternatives in partnership with Compass Youth presents a one-off series of exceptional and unique day-long mini-festivals in London, Northampton and Bristol to mark the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue.

In a celebration of Central and Eastern European culture, LoveDifference Festival brings the best contemporary music, video art and film from the UK and Europe to three diverse English towns and cities, each of which has a unique recent experience of European immigration.

Mixing UK acts such as The Blessing and hot London electronica sensation Christopher D Ashley with successful Central European acts such as Muzykoterapia (Poland) and Ohm Square (Czech Republic), as well as dialogue artists, writers and filmmakers such as TS Eliot prize-winning poet George Szirtes (Hungary/UK), legendary British filmmaker Ken Loach and Polish artist Joanna Rajkowska (famous for installing a palm tree on Jerusalem Avenue in Warsaw) the festival celebrates cultural exchange and innovation like no other festival is currently attempting.

The Festival also brings together different cultural and political movements and organisations in England and Europe, including Compass Youth, the cultural representations of Poland and Hungary, Pulse Festival of Eastern European music, the Watershed Cinema in Bristol and the Northampton Arts Collective.

With a political as well as cultural edge, the LoveDifference Festival is a long overdue, updated take on an old-fashioned debate to promote a new European ideal of culture, travel, youth and exchange. It pulls European discussion away from tired clichés and into exciting fresh and young venues such as Cargo in London and The Fishmarket Gallery in Northampton. LoveDifference Festival brings the political agenda down from the distant EU bureaucracy to grassroots level of the people whose everyday lives are affected by each and every decision.

In the firm belief that cultural diversity is to be celebrated and cherished, LoveDifference Festival aims to promote the benefits and inspirations that a diverse and unique community can have. Creating a bridge for UK understanding of European cultures and arts, food and lifestyles, LoveDifference Festival is at the forefront of understanding across borders and The European Year of Intercultural Dialogue.

Details of each of the events:

The full programme will be available here.

SUPPORT A WINDFALL FOR SOCIAL & ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE


Rising energy and fuel prices are affecting everyone but it's the poorest and those on fixed incomes who are paying the heaviest price. The warm summer weather will not mask the anxiety and anger at dramatically rising bills for the essentials of life - light and heat. We believe that the moment is right for the government to levy a sensible one off windfall tax to guarantee social and environmental justice both now and in the future. This is why.

The average annual spend on domestic energy per household has now breached £1200. Since 2000 we have faced gas price rises of 100% and electricity price rises of 61% - with further increases including British Gas raising its gas bills by a record 35%. Simultaneously the main energy providers have seen their profits rise from £557 million in 2003 to now over £3 billion. This alongside the recent news of profits made by oil companies - BP is now making £37 million a day with a 23% increase in profits to £6.7 billion for the first 6 months of 2008.

The current spike in the price of oil means these companies are receiving unearned and undeserved windfall profits that are damaging to the rest of society, not least because the unprecedented price rises are fuelling inflation and therefore the cost of borrowing and repaying mortgages.

The government estimates that 2.5 million families are living in fuel poverty, whilst Energywatch puts the figure at over 4 million. Yet despite the billions made in profits, the energy industry spends just £50 million a year combating fuel poverty and has only agreed to raise this to £150 million a year by 2010. But every 10% increase in energy prices mean an extra 400,000 people go into fuel poverty.

At the same time there is a lack of investment in securing renewable energy to help Britain become energy independent and more carbon neutral. By 2020 the UK wants 15% of all energy to be from renewable sources, this is currently only 2%. Increased investment is urgently needed if the government is to meet its target.

Just as government responded to the oil shocks of the 1970s and invested in North Sea oil - to the ongoing benefit of the now privatised energy and oil companies - so government must intervene again to secure sustainable energy supplies for the 21st century and reduce the fear of fuel poverty. It's absolutely right that the corporations who are benefiting from that original investment and the later privatisation pay their fair share to society.

As precedent a similar windfall tax was levied when Labour came to power in 1997 on the unearned profits of the newly privatised utilities and raised £4.5 billion. Similarly in 1981 the Conservative government levied a windfall tax on the main clearing banks - justified on the grounds that increased interest rates led to substantial unearned profits. In 2008 the spike in the price of oil has today lead to substantial unearned profits for the main oil and energy companies - we therefore call on the government to levy a windfall tax.

Revenues from the tax should be ring-fenced to deliver social and environmental justice for all. Part of the money raised should be used to immediately help those struggling with rising fuel bills and should be particularly targeted at families in or facing fuel poverty. However the best strategy to eliminate fuel poverty forever is to ensure every home is insulated and energy efficient to the highest standards. Therefore much of the money raised should be used to kick-start a national programme of home energy efficiency and installing renewable energy, starting with the homes of the fuel poor.

Used in the right way this could benefit the UK economy as a whole - just as the New Deal in 1997 created new jobs for the long term unemployed, such an investment could see the creation of hundreds of thousands of new jobs in renewable energy production, insulation, building renovation and other sectors.

To ensure social and environmental justice please:

Add your signature here!

Lobby your MP here

You can also support this campaign by donating here

Join the group

Join the cause (on Facebook)

Pledge your support

Print out customised flyers


Promote on your site or blog

Create a local version of this pledge


Text ‘pledge windfall’ to 60022 (in the UK only)

Add profile

Watch the videos

LISTENING TO YOU TO FIND OUT WHAT ISSUES REALLY MATTER


We want to involve you through activities that encourage social change in the community and help develop a coalition of young activists. Most importantly, we will try as hard as possible to make sure they relate to your everyday lives and champion the values of equality and democracy.

Engaging campaigning groups to bring activists together

In practice, we have engaged youth leaders across the progressive movement (from labour clubs to student unions, from single issue groups to trade unions) to jointly facilitate or sponsor activities but also work together at enabling young people who are excluded from politics to get involved.

We attract new members through an agile and personalised approach, targeting progressive audiences and encouraging our existing members to help in this recruitment drive. Using online tools (such as our website and other social networking tools, such as Facebook, Youtube, Flickr, and Netvibes), we have increased our reach to about 700 young people, many of whom are community organisers.

Telling your stories to inspire young people

Attracting these people has led us to attract youth leaders to participate in telling their stories of youth activism to generate a buzz about the “Living in the 21st century” ideas competition we will be launching in September. These range from youth & student clubs of the labour movement home (Labour Clubs & NUS) and abroad (i.e. PSOE, PS, PASOK, SPA ECOSY, IUSY, PES), but also social entrepreneurs & campaigners (Amnesty, Oxfam, CSV, Searchlight).

Listening to you to track causes and campaigns

We track emerging issues and unmet needs for young people to build campaigns and coalitions around them.

We have been listening in to the conversations taking place online through our personalised listening service, reaching out beyond the activity of our own blog and finding out what are the issues being discussed by other bloggers and what are the campaigns being developed by other online activists. As this available to everyone, young people can also get informed about the issues and get involved in the debate.

We have also been asking our members the issues that matter to them and activities that excited them. Given that the top issues that mattered to our members were equality, international relations & citizenship/integration, we have focused our events on these themes. Given that the top skills members were interested in were writing articles/guides, campaigning and lobbying politicians we are developing activities around these. You can still tell us the issues that matter to you here.


Attracting funding to organise activities for you

We actively engage with building engagement with progressive funders and sponsors. We enter into partnerships with social democratic journals. We have also successfully attracted sponsorship from the biggest trade union in the UK and a European NGO for two all day events.

Check out how we can
You've got an idea or activity that you'd like to develop with us, an issue that matters to you or would just like to find out more?

Contact us now at youthchair@compassonline.org.uk

IDEAS AND ACTIONS TO CHANGE THE WORLD


The democratic left through Compass has the opportunity to shape debate and policy; the Compass Programme for Renewal, a program to lead the country towards a modern, efficient, inclusive, collectivist, environmentalist social democracy has laid down the foundation of ideas on which to build upon. The left is in urgent need of an alternative political economy which provides the wherewithal to enable people to strive to be the masters of markets; it is this new political economy that Compass Youth will build.

We believe that in the long term, the objective of social democracy is to provide an effective, constant counter-balance to capitalism. New Labour’s strategy inverts the historic purpose of social democracy – to make people the masters of markets – not the servants. In the process the unique role of the public sector and the public realm in promoting the values of equality, solidarity and liberty is contaminated by the competitive and individualistic values of the market.

We also understand that social democracy is not concerned solely with the economic sphere. Its aim is to ensure that the popular will prevails over the agenda of a narrow elite or closed hierarchy. To the democratic left process must be everything. As such the means become the ends – the politics of democratic self-governance.

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A hegemonic social democratic project will only be built by contesting and winning the battle for freedom – by defining real freedom not as freedom from or freedom within the constraints of the market but freedom to build our lives, our communities and our societies as we see fit– by doing it together.

Democracy is the key to that dream and is at the centre of the new politics that Compass Youth strives to build for young people. The autonomous Youth Wing of Compass seeks to turn ideas into action, with an internationalist perspective because social democracy’s objective must be to promote itself as a serious political force in all parts of the global economy.

Compass Youth aims to build and facilitate a dynamic and vibrant network that campaigns for greater equality and democracy and nurtures progressive values across society. Compass Youth will look to work with as many parts of the Labour Movement as possible, to reach out to as many partners outside the traditional Social-Democratic family.

We recognise the need to engage the next generation in being the actors of that change. We feel it is time to engage in distinctive and influential ways to shape our future. We believe that it is necessary to build a truly social democratic party in which activists must be willing to argue for social democratic values if it wants to inspire loyalty; be rooted in our communities if wants to be relevant; and willing to seek new solutions, new partners and new strategies if it wants to be effective. We aim to make connections that will keep the Labour movement in touch with the most dynamic and innovative ideas and campaigns, but also enhance mutual understanding between the Labour party and the wider progressive movement.

At the heart of what drives Compass Youth is that it is shaped by the ideas and people that form it. We aim to build a coalition of young social democrats not only in the British Labour and Trades Union movement, but across Europe and the Globe. In a globalised world advanced capitalism sees no borders, Compass Youth also sees no borders to the fight back - Democratic Socialism must go global, and we will work to make that a reality. Our core values are:

  1. We need an ideological vision of the good society to show politicians and voters where government is seeking to go: the richness of human potential in today’s society requires pluralism & egalitarianism to be embraced in radical, distinctive ways by democratic left politics.
  2. Liberty demands equality: promoting freedom for all means closing the income, wealth and opportunity gap.
  3. Only collective choices and a culture of citizenship will transform the world: we must value social goods and share responsibility for maintaining them.
  4. Democracy must be cherished for its intrinsic worth and be revitalised: we need a change of culture to reconnect citizens and politicians.
  5. The public sphere must be reclaimed, public servants empowered and citizens engaged: the public service ethos must not be sacrificed to consumerism and new forms of public governance and innovation must be developed.
  6. Progressive multilateralism must govern international relations: we need to tackle global inequalities for a secure and just world.
  7. Capitalism must be managed for the many, not the few: markets have their value but they should be regulated for the public good.
  8. Environmental sustainability must become an organising principle of the left: individuals cannot achieve a sustainable world without government help.
Check out how we can
You've got an idea or activity that you'd like to develop with us, an issue that matters to you or would just like to find out more?

Contact us now at youthchair@compassonline.org.uk