Friday, 18 May 2007

Peace Tax continued again

Helen's letter:
This message was also sent to: Claude Moraes MEP, Gerard Batten MEP, Robert Evans MEP, Mary Honeyball MEP, Baroness Sarah Ludford MEP, Jean Lambert MEP, John Bowis OBE MEP, Syed Kamall MEP

Thursday 10 May 2007

Dear John Bowis OBE, Gerard Batten, Claude Moraes, Jean Lambert, Syed Kamall, Robert Evans, Charles Tannock, Mary Honeyball and Baroness Sarah Ludford,

I am one of your constituents, living in north-west London, and you are my representatives at the European Parliament. Apart from Jean Lambert, whom I have heard speak and who is well known for her green credentials, forgive me that I do not know what campaigns and causes
the rest of you are involved in, but I am hoping that the issue I raise here will strike a chord with at least one of you and that I shall have at least one reply.

I am a retired teacher and college lecturer, and so my income tax is deducted at source via PAYE. I am one of the millions of people who have demonstrated consistently against war, and are horrified that our hard-earned money is being creamed off at source to pay for military
weapons,the illegal invasion of Iraq and the deaths of innocent civilians. I no longer feel able to accept this system without challenging it. I have joined the campaign group 'Conscience' which is
advocating the right of European citizens to have that part of one's taxes currently devoted to killing, to be ring-fenced for a 'Peace Tax' devoted to positive mediation to prevent war, and compensation for victims of war. Some members of 'Conscience' have already taken this
matter in the European Court of Human Rights on the basis of Article 9 of the European Convention which protects 'our right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion and to manifest that religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice and observance.' I need to hear
from you, please,whether or not you are in support of this movement.

I shall be writing also to my British MP, but unfortunately she has voted consistently against investigating the Iraq War, so she is unlikely to ally herself to this critical cause.I do hope that MEPs are more enlightened.

Yours sincerely,
(Mrs.) Helen Dymond

A response from Charles Tannock

Dear Ms Dymond

I do not support this "Conscience" movement or its fiscal philosophy nor does the UK Conservative Party to my knowledge in the UK House of Commons, which would anyway be in charge of direct UK taxation not the European Parliament of which I am a member. I do not believe in ring fencing direct taxes according to one's personal beliefs no matter how strongly or sincerely held (eg animal rights activists opposed to intensive farming, antinuclear protesteres opposed to nuclear power etc) as this would create an impossible precedent in which people would opt out of all sorts of things they did not like and demand their taxes back making government budgeting impossible! To my knowledge no country in the world upholds such an approach as you suggest. In a democrcay you vote for a party and only if it has majority control can it decide to change spending patterns, although I accept we politicians within reason
must be as sensitive to differing views as possible, but this would not in my view mean reducing funding of the armed forces which defend the security of the whole country. I regret I cannot be more helpful but doubt any responsible mainstream party could support such a policy.

Dr. Charles Tannock MEP

London Region
Deputy Coordinator Foreign Affairs Committee for EPP-ED Group
UK Conservative Foreign Affairs Spokesman

Office of Dr. Charles Tannock MEP
Conservative/London Region

European Parliament
ASP 14 E 101
Rue Wiertz
B-1047 Brussels
Tel: +32 2 28 45870 Fax: +32 2 28 49870

and another one from Peter Hulme

Dear Ms Dymond,

Thank you for your email.

My position on the British involvement in Iraq is as follows, copied from a posting on the internet in November 2004..

"I would have supported an allied invasion of Iraq, including the deployment of British Armed Forces, if this had been sanctioned by a United Nations Resolution. I am not a lawyer, but I do not believe there was a UN Resolution to this effect. I do not therefore support the Government's justification for sending our troops to Iraq.

My support for such a UN Resolution would be conditional upon the invasion being in the UK national interest, and a clear and unambiguous statement of the aims of an invasion from the outset.

I would consider UK national interest to include security of our borders; safety of British subjects overseas; protection of British economic interests including free and fair international trade; and the upholding of international law to promote peace and stability. I would
not be in favour of interference in the internal affairs of another sovereign state unless these principles are at stake."

There have always been people who oppose war and refuse to fight in one for various reasons. In WWII such persons often became medical personnel, stretcher bearers, etc. In more modern times, the proposal has been to withhold a proportion of one's taxes. I think this will be
difficult when one's taxes are taken under the PAYE system, but I can only applaud you for trying.

Best Regards,

Peter Hulme Cross
One London Group
London Assembly

Tel:- 020 7983 4919
and one just in from the Lib Dems

16th May 2007

Dear Ms Dymond,

Thank you for your email dated 10th May 2007 regarding taxes. I am replying on behalf of my colleagues at the London Assembly, Sally Hamwee, Dee Doocey, Graham Tope and Mike Tuffrey.

Thank you for your interesting thoughts on taxes but unfortunately taxation is a matter for Westminster not the London Assembly, so we have no powers over this subject.

We do however sympathise with your concerns. We can confirm that the Liberal Democrats in parliament voted against the horrific Iraq war, and that Ming Campbell has in the past called for early withdrawal of UK troops backed up by re-energised talks and negotiations with Middle Eastern powers.

Thank you for writing to us.

Yours sincerely,
Geoff Pope AM
Liberal Democrat Assembly Member

Peace Direct job

Peace Direct are currently advertising for the position of Project Manager
on the Truce 2012 project.

Salary £25,000 plus 6% pension contribution, 25 days holiday. More information about the position can be found here.

Truce 2012 is a project to develop leadership and conflict resolution skills
in young people in East London in the run up to the Olympics.

Peace Tax, continued

A big Thank you to Zaria, Carl and Kathryn for acknowledging my efforts and between them all, making my Blog happen!
Now I don't know how to attach files to this Blog. I would like to post up two responses I have received very recently from our elected representatives on the subject of Peace Tax. I wrote to all MEP's and London Assembly Members outlining the Peace Tax Campaign position and requesting that each of them state their position. The Tory MEP Charles Tannock is by definition a joke anyway, but they do point up for me, again, the problem of INERTIA/NOT MY PROBLEM as the most insidious form of opposition to change. However the issue has been raised, it has been in their face for a few minutes and this is just a beginning.

AS I dont know how to attach a file to this and it may not be possible anyway, I will if I may send them to Kathryn and see if she can (if time and inclination) do anything with them.

Thanks, for support 'n all

Helen D.

Wednesday, 16 May 2007

building the alternative homework

For the next workshop (9 June) we have been given links to examples of building the alternative through direct action:

- achievements of landless peasants in Brazil

- the story of a squatters estate agency, 1970s London

- article in Peace News about the Diggers, and their relevance for contemporary activists

- Starhawk’s journals about the G8 protests at Gleneagles in 2005, particularly the Ecovillage at Stirling, and the Cre8 building of a community garden.

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

NVDA TOT in Glasgow, and London?

Fabulous! Kathryn just wrote to encourage people to continue discussions sparked by last Saturday's training on the blog. I'm anxious to hear about the content, the vibe and thoughts, experiences, about Saturday's TTT training.

About two weeks ago, I went to Glasgow for a training of trainers NVDA workshop. I went because I knew I had to miss Saturday's workshop, and because I'd never been to Glasgow so my partner and I made a long weekend of it.

The workshop was .... good. The trainers were completely competent and knowledgeable about training people for doing actions. The participants ranged from 'grassroots weapons inspectors' (full-time Faslane activits) to students with little NVDA experience, but keen to learn more, to ... a couple of, well one other come to think of it, person like me -- had done loads of NVDA years ago, but wasn't too sure about the climate and police response these days. We were seeking a 're-fresher' course if you like.

What was disappointing to me was the lack of community building exercises, I spent from Friday night to Sunday afternoon with 13 other activists, and the atmosphere was friendly but there was never that 'click' for us a whole group, you know? I clicked with individuals, but there was nothing particularly pulling us together as a group.

And then, another short-coming for me was this notion that we all held the same assumptions about the role and importance of NVDA. OK, it was a TOT on how to get groups ready in 90 minutes (or if you're lucky one day) for an action, but I would have liked some discussion on the effectiveness and timeliness and a vast array of other things about NVDA.

How was the London training? What were the main issues?