Archive | May, 2012

Class – new think tank launches

22 May

by Rachel YatesClass logo

The Centre for Labour and Social Studies (Class) is a new think tank established by Unite the Union, GMB and the Institute of Employment Rights to act as a centre for left debate and discussion. Originating in the labour movement, Class is working with a broad coalition of supporters, academics and experts to develop and advance alternative policies for today.

Through high quality, intellectually compelling publications and events Class seeks to shape ideas that can inspire the trade union movement, cement a broad alliance of social forces and influence policy development to ensure the political agenda is on the side of working people.

Visit the new Class website: http://classonline.org.uk/

Follow Class on Twitter: @classthinktank

Like Class on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Class-Centre-for-Labour-and-Social-Studies/278894568854115

The Spirit Level – a documentary film

22 May

This is your chance: the film which will change the political debate and make the world a better place. Its message: equality works. Tax the bankers, cut the pay of the people at the top and pay more to the nurses, the cleaners, the MacDonald’s worker, the supermarket check-out staff, (well, let’s be frank – 90% of us) and the world will be a happier place, the economy will be more successful and we will live longer.

The gap between rich and poor is at its highest level for 30 years. Over the last year there have been protests from Cairo to New York to London – now it’s time for action, and a documentary is the most powerful way we can raise awareness and mobilise people.

WHAT IS THE SPIRIT LEVEL?

“The Spirit Level” is an award-winning book which uses rigorous analysis of 25 years of research to show how a more equal society is better for all of us, including the rich.  It shows how nearly all social ills – stress, poor educational performance, high crime rates, unwanted teenage pregnancies – are more common in those societies with a big gap between rich and poor.

Lynsey Hanley in the Guardian said, It’s impossible to overstate the implications of (this) thesis”,  The Economist stated “It is a sweeping claim, yet the evidence, here painstakingly marshalled, is hard to dispute”. The New Statesman listed it as one of their top ten books of the decade. It’s impact has been so great that it has provoked numerous attacks from  organisations that support low taxes for the rich such as the Taxpayers’ Alliance (“we oppose all tax rises”) and Policy Exchange (“the most influential think tank on the right”)

WHY IS EQUALITY IMPORTANT?

Inequality has suddenly become an issue politicians and commentators are talking and writing about, even the International Monetary Fund. Min Zhu, a deputy managing director of the IMF said in November 2011: “We see concerns about the link between tax and social justice almost everywhere we look. In the Occupy movement; in the Arab spring; in the debates on George Bush’s tax cuts in the U.S., on how to distribute the pain of austerity in Europe.” Min was saying this at a time when the IMF published a report saying that taxes should be used to reduce inequality, which their report showed was bad for economic growth.

The argument is being heard right now, with battles over austerity in Greece, and Obama saying “no challenge is more urgent” than inequality in the US.

WHAT CAN THIS FILM ACHIEVE?

Documentary films have the power to have a huge impact: An Inconvenient Truth created global awareness of climate change. The End of the Line, about the threat of over fishing, helped force companies and governments to change their policies through screenings at the United Nations, the European Commission, and US House of Representatives. Our executive producer was the driving force behind this film, and everything that we learnt from this, and other films since, about creating a social network to disseminate and distribute a film will be used on The Spirit Level.

We will make a film that is talked and written about, that gets into cinemas and televisions, so millions can see it. And, most importantly, this will help us achieve real, tangible change in policies and attitudes.

We strongly believe we are at a tipping point and a big international documentary about the need for greater equality can make a big difference.

WHAT WILL YOU SEE IN THE FILM?

The film will mix observational documentary, animation and commentary from leading world figures in politics, economics and health, to tell the story of how chasing the capitalist dream of materialism has led us to the point of social, economic and environment collapse. It confronts the critics, exposes the inconvenient truths, and puts forward a manifesto for a better world.

Filmed across the globe, we see at first hand how people in different countries – including Sweden, Portugal, the USA and UK,  are tackling the same basic issues but with different results and why the differences are due to inequality. We will tell the human stories of fear and empathy, of gated communities, the huge rise in anxiety, fatter populations, street gangs, and the lives and futures of our children. It is through the stories and voices of the people in the film that we get a window into how the tide of inequality is affecting us in the developed world.

Over the course of the film, we will hear from expert voices in academia, politics and journalism as they weave together these human stories with hard evidence to explain why we’ve bought into chasing economic growth, and how this has led to rising inequality in our societies.

The film’s clear purpose is to achieve social change. It is linked to a campaign and has clear “asks” at the end of the film: what you can do as a consumer, what you can do as a citizen and what you can do as a campaigner.

WHAT DO WE NEED?

There has been an enormous amount of support from organisations and individuals for the film and its message – ensuring we have a solid foundation for wide distribution. Because we have the film rights to the book and the full co-operation of its authors, we’ve also done an enormous amount of research. Now we need to raise the money to hire a professional film crew to start filming here and overseas – and we hope to raise £30,000 in this campaign (that’s 50,000 dollars)

It’s a lot of money by crowd funding standards but then over 100,000 people have bought the book. You can make this film happen by pre-buying the down load of the film. Just 2,500 people worldwide need to pay £12 (20 dollars) for this now, and we will achieve our target. This may seem to be a lot of people, but we are appealing for supporters in all the countries of the world where the book has been sold. And you can give more if you want – see the different ways to support the film opposite.

IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT MONEY

It really isn’t. Yes, we do need it (for obvious reasons), but whether you can support us financially or not you can help us by spreading the word via facebook, twitter and blogs.

This film is about a movement and a campaign, and by participating, you can help make it happen. Together, we can do for public understanding of inequality what An Inconvenient Truth did for the public understanding of climate change. A better life is possible for all of us.

TELL your friends, family, colleagues, neighbours, students about this campaign and share this page: Indiegogo.com/spiritlevelfilm

SHARE it through Facebook

SHARE through Twitter with our handle @SpiritLevelDoc

SIGN UP to our mailing list for updates on the campaign as it progresses

BLOG, TWEET, RETWEET.

If you believe in a better future for everyone, please help us get the message out.


 Katharine Round, Director

‘A Future That Works’

21 May

by Amy Jackson


The TUC is to organise a mass demonstration in London under the banner of ‘A Future That Works’ on Saturday 20 October 2012. A march through central London will culminate in a rally in Hyde Park.

On March 26 2010 the TUC’s ‘March for the Alternative’ attracted 500,000 people to a march and rally in London.

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: “The tide is turning against austerity. We were told that spending cuts were needed to get the economy growing, yet they have driven the UK back into recession. We were told that we were all in it together, yet Mr Cameron’s main purpose at the G8 summit seemed to be protecting the banks against the growing international support for a Robin Hood tax – and the last Budget’s centrepiece was cutting the 50p tax rate.

“It is becoming ever clearer that this government does not have the policies – or even much of a commitment – to build a prosperous economy that can generate the jobs and industries we need for the future.

“Rather than bold policies for investment and growth, the best that ministers can do is half-baked proposals to make it easier to sack people.

“That is why we expect a huge turnout from the growing numbers that want a future that works. With the USA and France now setting out the alternative, it’s time the UK also changed course.”

Left Out will definitely be marching on October 20th for A Future That Works.

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