Dear fellow members and friends
Please note the change in the “Future Rides” grid. Changed circumstances mean that Roger can no longer do his mysteriously titled ride on 4 August.- and unfortunately it’s not possible because of train availability to move it to 18 August. But it will be re-scheduled for later the year – which I’m sure will delight classicists no end.
I was going to move my Chiddingly ride to the 4th and can still do this. But,thanks to Jim, I now realise that only the Hastings line is available on the 18th which does limit the possibilities more than a little. [Actually all routes are OK that day – my mistake – sorry – Jim]. So, for the moment, at least, I’m leaving my ride on the 18th – with the possibility of moving it to 4th later. But either way we do now need a volunteer (or volunteers) for either 4th or 18th August – any offers?
Jim asked me to include a People’s Assembly report – which you will find below.
With the Tour de France almost upon us – starts on Sunday 30th in Corsica- it seems a not inapproproate time to ask what about women’s racing. You don’t have to be at all interested in the competive side of cycling to recognise that this is yet another field where the position of women is lagging – when compared to, say, the situation in professional tennis.
Many years ago now someone said of the late Beryl Burton that had she been French she would have been as famous as Joan of Arc. Since then things may have progressed a little –but, in spite of the well-earned fame of Victoria Pendleton, Lizzie Armistead, Laura Trott, Dani King, Jo Rowsell and a few others, there’s still a long way to go, Nicole Cooke spoke of the parlous state of women’s road racing but tried to be optimistic. “I hope I will look on in 10 years’s time and see a vibrant and healthy women’s road scene, “ she said .
But the process is so slow. One way to sense how slow is to go now to the end of this newsletter and read Swiftsure’s comments on the “ladies races at Olympia” back in 1896
But there is some progress. Recently the CTC reported “ our elite women’s road racing squad, put in a strong showing this week at the penultimate round of the Johnson Health Tech Grand Prix Series in Woking. The team finished fourth on the night and Tamina Oliver, who led for a large section of the race, a creditable 13th, despite a heavy crash earlier in the season.”
The CTC were far less impressed by Sussex Police refusal to accept reports from the CTC Road Justice campaign to its Operation Crackdown- in contrast to other parts of the country where such reports have led to successful prosecutions
And last week was “Bike Week” I ask you!
* * * * *
The People’s Assembly Against Austerity: London, 22 June Jim reports
I must admit I’d wondered whether this would be worth going to, or just another series of rousing speeches, telling us either how bad things are or that we are going to win (but not telling us how). What we wanted, I felt, was some practical ideas on how to organise and how to fight back.
Organising the conference itself must have been a logistical nightmare, with around 4,000 delegates, two plenaries and 15 parallel sessions. There were plenty of rough edges showing, and many of the contributions served only to confirm my fears. Yet there was a germ of hope. The People’s Assembly is meant to be a broad coalition, and we were exhorted, in a characteristically hilarious speech by Mark Steel, to abandon the left stereotype of arguing about our few differences and concentrate on building on our common ground.
One parallel session involved delegates breaking into regional groups and self-organising; the Brighton contingent, trying to make itself heard in a corner of a very noisy hall, brought the term “herding cats” once more to mind, but at least we all wrote our email addresses down and hopefully there will be local mailings and meetings.
The final plenary was the time for the rousing speeches – and none better than the one delivered by Tony Benn, who received a long standing ovation just for being there. I was particularly pleased to see Tony in such fine form; the last time I’d seen him, at the Stop the War conference in February, he had not looked well at all, and had remained seated; this time he stood, including when applauding the other speakers. Len McClusky of Unite got another standing ovation. Rania Khan, a councillor from Tower Hamlets, told an intriguing story of how her council has simply ignored the mantra that “there is no alternative” and managed to find one, keeping public services going and even offering university grants. I’d like to find out more about how they have managed this.
The final message came from an inspiring contribution by Mark Serwotka, the general secretary of PCS. After reeling off a list of policies that effectively constituted a manifesto for change, he signed off with the following words: “Sock it to these vicious ruling class bastards!”
Expect more from the People’s Assembly, including hopefully local meetings, and on the national scene, a big demo at the Tory conference in Manchester on 29 September, and a Day of Civil Disobedience on 5 November.
PS Looking at Flickr, I can see that our own Nick was also there and photographed many of the speakers – click here to view Nick’s photos.