War on Want has issued the following statement regarding the Newcastle City Council motion on local authority pennions and procurement policy:
The motion was passed unanimously, with full cross party support, at a recent council meeting. It is now official Newcastle City Council policy.
In November 2015, the government announced a proposal to block local councils from deciding how to invest their pension funds. Under the new plan, the government will have the power to veto investment decisions made locally on ethical grounds concerning human rights, arms trade, fossil fuels and much else.
Councillor Mick Bowman, North Heaton ward, said:
This vindictive and ideologically motivated proposal, reminiscent of the notorious Clause 28 introduced by the Tories in 1988, is a blanket attempt to prevent local councils from having an ethical procurement and pensions investment policy.Ryvka Barnard, Senior Militarism and Security Campaigner at War on Want, said:
Newcastle is a city with a proud commitment to human rights and many local councillors are active in social justice campaigns, including the movement for justice for Palestine, and we are determined to do whatever we can to block this proposal.
Newcastle City Council is fighting back, as are councils across the country, rightly concerned by the government’s attack on democracy and local decision making.Over 10,000 people have responded to the government consultation, rejecting the proposal.
So much for George Osborne’s so called ‘devolution revolution’. The government’s action has consistently failed to match its rhetoric when it comes to localism and devolving power. This plan amounts to a shutdown of local democratic space and is a dangerous threat to the growing power of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which aims to end UK complicity in Israel’s abuses of Palestinian human rights.
The ‘Protect Local Democracy’ campaign, initiated by War on Want, has been endorsed by a broad range of groups concerned with the human rights and environmental implications of the proposal. UNISON has also expressed concern that the proposal will deny pension scheme members their right to have their pension funds invested in their best interests.