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Harpham's Battle Rages On

Last month Harry Harpham, Labour MP for Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough, died. He had served in Sheffield City Council and became an MP not long before being diagnosed with cancer. This is not an obituary, although it's worth recording that Sheffield Trades Council called him "a working class gentleman, pleasant-mannered and kind" and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said that "to the very end he was fighting for working people". This is significant. He worked down the pits, moving here from Nottingham after the miners' strike in 1985. The dispute with the Conservative government was bitter, with militarised police actions like the violent Battle of Orgreave. Harpham, supporting the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign, moved a resolution to get Sheffield City Council to call for an inquiry into the events, after years of lies and cover ups. At that time, climate change was hardly recognised. The closures were a purely financial and political move. The few remaining mines were largely privatised and eventually mothballed. The same is happening with other industries now. Jobs are 'outsourced' to cheap labour countries. Short-term contracts replace careers. Staffing levels are cut again and again. Uber, for example, looks set to destroy working conditions for taxi drivers. They sneaked into Sheffield with massive financial clout, enough to seal a deal with the Council which the public are not even allowed to see. Airbnb looks set to decimate the hotel industry. Journalism is replaced by 'churnalism' based on advertising press releases. A combination of corporate muscle, privatisation, cuts and new technology is slashing at professions like teaching, medicine and administration. The working world is changing, becoming very different from that of our parents. We need ideas and organisations at the grassroots to support people, and this column has highlighted many. One hopeful sign is the revival of co-operative working, where principles of mutual aid replace the fiercely competitive greed motive. A new generation is finding empowerment and pleasure in self-organising, in co-ops ranging from housing to food, from finance to transport. For a full list of local co-ops, see sheffield.coop. If you're interested, a good starting point is Principle 5, a recently opened co-operative resource centre in Aizlewoods Mill in Nursery Street. Named after one of the International Statements of Co-operative Identity - the principle of education for co-operation - it provides existing and proposed co-ops with support and information about the vast co-operative movement. Organiser Steve Thompson says, “The development of a co-operative commonwealth can bring about a more equitable and socially just society to replace or minimise the private profit motive of capitalism [...] It is easy to see why co-operators have put so much effort and dedication into building the co-operative alternative. It is also easy to see why there has been such a concerted effort by the upholders of the status quo to denigrate it.” We need to fight for better ways to live and work, to have a vision of a better future than the glittering delusions of market capitalism. As Harry Harpham said, “Working people have never been handed change - we've had to fight for it”. No-one has all the answers, but clearly, more than ever, we need to take on Harpham's fight. otjc.org.uk principle5.org.uk alt-sheff.org MARDI GRAS SAT 19 MAR | 2pm–2am | Hagglers Corner Sharrow Festival fundraiser with afternoon children's activities and dance workshops (Bollywood, Bhangra, African Fusion and Street Dance) followed by a lively evening line-up - Mango Rescue Team, Hot Diamond Aces, InaVibe, Son de América, Sheffield Samba Band and DJs. Tickets £5 via partyforthepeople.org.uk. RED MENACE #2 SAT 19 MAR | 7PM | RS BAR, ST MARY'S ROAD A night of solidarity and raging live music, raising funds for next month's Anarchist Bookfair (Saturday 23 April at the Showroom). Dru Blues, Lunar Maria, Chris Rust, The Washbrook Family Band, Dead Badgers and more in an inappropriately named venue, The Royal Standard. Link )

Next article in issue 96

BIS: Office closure plan is bad policy

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