Thursday, 28 February 2013

Politics and DC Comics

The decision of DC Comics to hire Orson Scott-Card to write a Superman story caused controversy for a while both inside the comics community itself and in wider activist circles. That dispute has now seemingly faded away. However DC Comics has now decided to establish some political context to its' fictional universe with two new titles announced in the Previews catalogue today.

Previously DC comics (and its major rival Marvel) have tended to avoid overtly political story lines, though DC did run an amusing plot with (then) businessman Lex Luthor running for President of the USA. This story was promoted with little badges (or buttons as the Americans call them) with the message Lex for President". He won of course but carried on with his nefarious plans regardless of high office, well until he was exposed by our heroes Superman and Batman!

Well what did you expect?

Marvel Comics ran a special edition of Spiderman in which Barak Obama appeared and got several reprints as sales shot up! Only one comic actually promoted Obama for president, that of Savage Dragon, a small circulation title (published by Image). The author/artist Eric Larson pictured Barak with the Dragon endorsing him on the front cover.

Usually politicians (in the real world) only get cameo appearances, with fictional ones occasionally being the villains of the piece.  In the X-Men (Marvel Comics) there is an underlying tale of anti-mutant prejudice used by politicians to make a name for themselves. An interesting fictional parallel with with real world racism, but a plot device none the less.

Probably the best known comic book interface with the real world is the use of the Guy Fawkes mask from Alan Moore's V for Vendetta, something regularly worn by "anti-capitalist" protesters, though whether they are aware of its origins are another matter.

DC has now announced two titles under the heading of the 1% and the 99% which takes up direct political themes within the universe inhabited by their superheroes. The first of these titles (The Green Team) is actually quite close to normal DC fare in that it is about rich kids with so much money that they buy their super powers and take on tasks.  They are the 1%.

The second title approaches politics from the left. The Movement appears to be inspired by the current wave of protest movements. The solicitation blurb states:

We are faceless. We are limitless. We see all and do not forgive. Who defends the powerless against the greedy and the CORRUPT..... When those who are sworn to protect us abuse their power, when toxic government calls down superhuman lackeys to force order on the populace.. finally, there is a force, a citizens army to push order BACK. ...We have our OWN super humans now. 

The two books together sound fun. And thoughtful. Worth looking out for in May.

Who says comics are just for kids*?
*A survey for Diamond Comics puts the average age of comic readers at 35.

DC Comics:

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

SWP leadership: "destroy all students" (and other opponents of course!)

The leadership of the Socialist Workers Party have never liked the Internet, an agency of the middle class as they see it. Except of course it isn't anything of the sort and like the printing press has enabled knowledge (and gossip) disseminate to the wider masses whether Professor Callinicos likes it or not.

Of course its the young who are always most proficient with the tools of modern technology, so imagine the surprise on the faces on the four who were expelled from the SWP for daring to chat amongst themselves on Facebook. The Internet allows for instantaneous communication with others across not only the country but as it says on the label, the World Wide Web!

The SWP have more of a problem with technology than they realise. Its' been pointed out (and I have tried it) that if you "google" SWP it always seems to associate the initials with the word rape. That means that for the foreseeable future when anyone wants to find out about the SWP that's what they will see. Even a neutral computer programme has turned against the professor and his clan.

The Central Committee (we-who-are-not-a-faction) have now turned their ire against the students in their current struggle against their critics of how they handled the "Comrade delta" rape crisis. The latest documents from the "opposition" state:

A motion submitted to a branch by two well-respected long standing comrades in the organisation (and now circulating widely) essentially lays the ground for a justification for forcing a split between the students and the party, while justifying taking disciplinary measures against students who remain in the organisation post-conference. 

In other words the prof is going to sacrifice his current generation of students in the hope that this October he can recruit a new layer of more compliant students to his cult. How he proposes to do that without any presence at freshers fairs is anyones guess.

This situation has not gone unnoticed elsewhere  as Soviet Goon Boy writes on his blog :

Not only do they take the view that their gruesome mishandling of a rape allegation is just internet froth of no interest to anyone but students; they further think that, hey, students have no memory, and if we lost almost the entirety of SWSS next month, well, another lot will be along in October and we can just pick up where we left off with a more malleable student organisation. This is assuming students are too stupid to use Google and find out about the group that wants to recruit them.

So where does this leave the SWP? SGB explains;

There is, again, a very definite profile there, at least when you strip out the fulltime party workers. Certain districts are more loyal than others of course, but it’s the age and occupational profile that’s most striking. The List of Shame reveals a very strong bias towards members of the NUT, UCU and PCS; and, from my own knowledge of the people involved, they’re very much the Downturn generation, people who joined in the 1980s predominantly. Actually, rather few of the teachers did join through NUT militancy – they generally joined as students and stuck with the party as they went into the teaching profession.

Anyone familiar with the internal workings of the SWP will be aware that this layer of membership has traditionally been the most fanatically loyal to whatever wheeze is emanating from the CC at any given point in time. There’s also scope for an anthropological study of SWP teachers, who both form a relatively privileged freemasonry in the party and simultaneously have a masochistic tendency to defer to the most boorish and overbearing elements of the apparat. On a rhetorical level, this manifests itself in a buttock-clenchingly stentorian “Leninism” that’s slightly over the top even by SWP standards.

The future of the SWP will be left with the types who might purchase The Oldie in other words. A soon to be dead party, a bit like some of the ageing Stalinist sects like the New Communist Party.

As you might expect this is not the only outrage being perpetrated on the party faithful. It seems even the "discussion" (limited as it is) is being run with a bias towards the profs supporters.

At yesterday's faction meeting in Manchester, CC supporters declined to debate IDOOP with equal time for each side.  It seems they don't have the confidence to argue their case politically without the advantage of 45 minutes for one side against 6 for the other.  3 more comrades joined the faction at the meeting.  As at the national faction caucus, comrades on arriving found that the room booking had mysteriously vanished.  The room for tonight's Leeds faction meeting had also been cancelled by someone else. 

Not that anyone should be surprised as the Professor always stated that the "Conference of a special kind" was only being held to "confirm the decisions" of the recent Annual one, which includes both the findings and way the "Comrade delta" case was dealt with. 

Its' clear that the "opposition" are losing the internal fight and one has to ask why they would want to either take control of  or remain in a party that has been tainted so badly by their disgustingly inept handling of a serious (alleged) criminal case.

A split is inevitable and in addition to the students, some experienced cadre, they are also seemingly set to lose one of few their remaining trade unionists of any note. Even the usually compliant Sue Bond (PCS Vice President) has thrown her hat in with the opposition.

Will the last person out of the conference hall please turn out the lights.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

ACT NOW! Arrested Turkish Trade Unionists need our help!

As regular readers will be aware there have been a large number of arrests of trade unionists in Turkey. On Thursday 20th February I published the statement by the International Trade Union Confederation  (ITUC) outlining what had happened and calling for solidarity.

Labourstart has now launched a campaign to call on the Turkish Government to release our fellow trade unionists. I have urgently issued their appeal on my PCS e-mail lists.

Please send a message of protest to the Turkish Prime Minister now!

Go to:

The European Federation of Public Services Unions have issued the following statement:

Turkish police go after trade unionists of KESK –again. Stop harassing the unions.

(19 February 2013) EPSU has been informed that almost 100 people have been arrested in raids including on trade union offices in Turkey. Trade unionists have been detained. The arrests are made in an attempt to find people linked to the suicide bomber that killed a security guard at the US embassy and which has been linked by the police to the organisation DHKP-C. EPSU rejects such acts of violence.
We condemn the massive attack by the Turkish state ruled by the AKP on trade unionists of the public service confederation of KESK and its affiliates. It is not the first time and many of our colleagues are in jail on trumped up charges without substantial evidence. Our colleagues are detained for months while waiting their trial. The European Commission and international human rights organisations have pointed out on several occasions that the laws relating to terrorist activity the Turkish government is using are flawed and are abused. The Turkish government is trying to break the trade union to silence outspoken critics.
EPSU will be in contact with the European Commission. 

Education International also comments here:

I also call on my own union the British civil service union, the PCS to issue a statement in support of our imprisoned colleagues.

Morocco imprisons Trade Union Leaders:

From the International Transport Workers Federation:

ITF condemns Moroccan court decision

21 February 2013
The ITF has condemned as ‘utterly unbelievable’ a totally unexpected decision by a Moroccan court to jail trade union leaders Said Elhairech and Mohamed Chamchati.
The criminal Court of First Instance in Rabat yesterday sentenced to one year in jail Elhairech, the general secretary of the Moroccan Ports Union, part of the ITF-affiliated UMT, and chair of the ITF Arab World regional committee. He will appeal against the charges of participating in obstructing freedom of action according to article 288 of the Moroccan Criminal Code (criminalisation of trade union action).

The same court has reportedly also sentenced Mohamed Chamchati, general secretary of the Moroccan merchant seafarers’ union, to two and a half years’ imprisonment. More details of the charges are expected soon.

Elhairech was released in October 2012 with his innocence proven and all charges dropped, except one minor one, following his arrest for ‘sabotage and endangering national security’ in June that year. He had utterly rejected the charges and the ITF was unequivocal in its stance that he had been wrongly targeted following his very effective work on behalf of crews stranded by the cessation of operations of the Comarit-Comanav ferry company, work he undertook at the ITF’s request.

Mohamed Chamchati was also unjustly arrested in June 2012 on clearly mistaken charges. In November he and other union officials were released without charge.

ITF president Paddy Crumlin stated: “These sentences defy belief. Last year Said and Mohamed faced serious, cooked-up charges of sabotage and endangering national security. Following worldwide protests led by the ITF those ridiculous charges were rightly dropped. Now, in a shocking breach of trust and logic they have once again come under legal attack for their legitimate trade union work in defence of workers rights.”

He continued: “These men are guilty of nothing more than being effective trade unionists. We will fight these unjust and idiotic decisions all the way.”

For related ITF press and news online stories see here. For other news and videos, visit the ITF’s Free Said campaign page here.

Monday, 25 February 2013

The far left's nihilism over the Middle East

George Galloway MP of the totally misnamed "Respect" party caused outrage recently by refusing to discuss the Middle East with an "Israeli" citizen in Oxford has drawn attention to the continuing hypocrisy of the far left when it comes to Middle Eastern politics.

If you won't talk, then conflict will only continue. How does that help anyone Mr Galloway?

I have criticised the Stop the War Campaign for failing to act on the Syrian conflict which in my view calls into question whether they are actually "ant-war" or just one-sided partisans in most given conflicts. One thing is for certain is that they are not pacifists, which is hardly surprising when they are led by Lyndsey German and John Rees a couple who left the Socialist Workers Party to found their own Marxist group called Counterfire.

The various Marxist groups either concentrate their fire on Israel, which they consider the "lynch pin of Western Imperialism" whatever that nonsense actually means or actively ignore any developments in the Middle East that don't suit their armchair anti-imperialism. Most of them don't seem to give a damn about the deaths of civilians in Syria, hence the lack of demonstrations, pickets or anything else they might jump to if Israel deems to defend itself.

The following article was published on the Stand for Peace website and goes into detail about the far left and their approach to the Middle East conflict:

Killing Jews is Simple

This is a cross-post from

Over the past few decades, the unholy alliance in the West between Islamist groups and the far-Left has appeared resilient to ideological differences. But while these groups have collaborated in support of violence against Israel and over a mutual hatred for Western values, the question of Syria — and the regime’s violence against Palestinian refugees — is now triggering a powerful division. The far-Left remains broadly supportive of Assad, while Islamist groups now call for the destruction of the Syrian regime. Why is it that these ostensibly disparate ideologies can work together for the destruction of the Jewish State but are left divided when it comes to the Arab slaughter of Palestinians?

In November, the Working Group for Palestinian Refugees in Syria quietly released a report claiming that 672 Palestinians have been killed in Syria since the beginning of the uprising in early 2011. In recent months, Syrian warplanes have attacked the al-Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus, killing scores of Palestinians, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Despite the murderous attacks carried out by Assad’s forces, there has been little condemnation from ‘pro-Palestinian’ organisations in the West. Such groups have instead spent their time concentrating on November’s conflict between Israel and the Palestinian terror group Hamas. The fighting led to 177 Palestinian deaths, of which 120 were terrorists. According to the United Nation’s own figures, this ratio of civilian to combatant deaths is the lowest for any asymmetric conflict in the history of warfare. In contrast, the estimated ratio for NATO’s operations in Afghanistan has been three civilians for every combatant killed.

In the streets of Western cities, Israel’s conflict with Hamas sparked huge protests by anti-Israel groups. In London, many thousands of people protested outside the Israeli embassy, waving the flags of terror groups Hamas and Hezbollah. The rallies went on for several days, with high profile journalists and politicians, including leading Labour Party MPs, addressing the crowds and calling for “justice”. In contrast, these same groups have not held a single rally against Assad regime’s murderous attacks over the past two years, despite the 60,000 dead. At the end of December, another rally outside the Israeli embassy in London was organised to protest Israel’s Cast Lead military operation — all the way back in 2008 — against Hamas rocket fire. It seems that in the anti-Israel groups’ haste to avoid criticising the Syrian regime, even Israel’s legitimate acts of self-defence four years ago are more worthy of moral outrage than Assad’s current killing spree. It would appear that the efforts made by the Jewish State to defend itself are deplorable, while the wholesale slaughter of 60,000 Syrians and Palestinians by Arab despots is, at worst, morally ambiguous.

Among the Palestinians themselves, there is a similar disunity. While Left-leaning Palestinian groups such as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine are fighting alongside Assad’s forces, Islamist terror groups such as Hamas have become staunchly opposed to the Syrian regime.

In Britain, the far-Left at best refuses to condemn the Syrian regime, and at worst, it openly supports Assad. Most of the UK’s Muslim Brotherhood groups, however, oppose the regime and call for the violent overthrow of Assad. Why is this split in opinion a new development? What of the clash between socialist values and Islamist theocracy? How does the far-Left’s supposed support for gay rights work with Sharia law? Or the Islamists’ barefaced hatred for liberal democracy? All these questions should have divided the network of anti-Western ideologies a long time ago.

In a sign of the changing landscape, it was the Palestine Return Centre (PRC) which produced the report detailing Palestinian deaths in Syria. The PRC is considered a key advocacy group for Hamas in the UK. Their report into the Palestinians’ plight in Syria marked one of the very few times that the conditions for Palestinians in Arab countries have been discussed by groups which declare themselves to be “pro-Palestinian”. This is in spite of the repression and discrimination that Palestinian refugees have always suffered in other Arab states, such as Jordan, Kuwait and Lebanon. The PRC’s report was released quietly — media coverage was limited to a few Arab newspapers, and groups such as the Palestine Solidarity Campaign carried no mention of the publication at all.

As Hamas began distancing itself from the Assad regime, the PRC has adjusted its rhetoric towards Syria’s actions accordingly. At the beginning of the uprising, the PRC published pieces praising the Syrian regime for its hospitality towards Palestinian refugees. One piece even claimed that Palestinians were better off in Syria than anywhere else. Recently however, the PRC has released statements condemning the “Assad regime”. It is interesting that while the PRC was listed as an official sponsor of the 2011 Al Quds rally — an annual anti-Israel March through London in support of the pro-Assad Iranian Government – the group was nowhere to be found on the official literature for the 2012 rally.

British far-Left groups such as the Stop the War have mostly managed to avoid talking about Syria; or instead, they focus on condemning any prospect of Western support for rebels as evidence of “imperialism”. Stop the War convener Lindsey German has backed the “right” of Russia and China to oppose UN resolutions that censure the Assad regime. In January, when Stop the War organised a demonstration “against intervention in Iran and Syria”, the speakers were all representatives from far-Left groups. Islamist organizations were conspicuously absent.

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), whose committee is run by members of several leading far-Left groups, also remains carefully silent. Their website, updated daily with polemics against the “Zionist regime”, has managed to avoid entirely mentioning Syria and its killing of Palestinian refugees. When questioned on its silence by the journalist Jonathan Freedland, the PSC refused to condemn Syria’s murder of Palestinians and declared they “don’t take sides”.

A number of leading figures in Britain have even adopted an openly pro-Assad position. Syrian State News has reported British MP George Galloway saying that, “the global war currently being waged on Syria is similar to the one waged against Egypt in 1956 … Syria will be victorious over this war under the leadership of President Bashar al-Assad similar to the victory of the late Jamal Abdelnasser”.

The Communist Party of Great Britain (Maoist-Leninist) eschews any caution, declaring: “This congress salutes the people and leaders of Syria in their continuing resistance to the murderous Islamist rebellion fomented by the West … Victory to Syria! Victory to President Assad! Death to imperialism!”Where it all gets interesting is with those groups that attempt to fuse together Islamist and far-Left ideology. Pro-Hamas group Viva Palestina, led by George Galloway MP, is one such example of a far-Left – Islamist alliance falling apart over Syria. In the past, Viva Palestina has collaborated closely with the Muslim Brotherhood in Britain, as well as leading far-Left groups.

In 2012, Galloway announced his intention to send Viva Palestina’s ‘convoy to Palestine’ through Syria. In outrage, a number of groups pulled out of the planned convoy. Abdul Wahab el-Sayed Omar, of British Solidarity for Syria, said: “They could easily go through Egypt instead. The only explanation I can see is that this is a propaganda move aimed at helping the Syrian regime.”  In May 2012, the Viva Palestina convoy, led by Galloway, entered Syria without their customary Muslim Brotherhood contingent. As expected, the convoy’s presence was exploited for purposes of Syrian propaganda, and was received by the governor of Latakia and the local Ba’ath Party secretary. The convoy members thanked the Syrians for their hospitality and publicly denounced the West’s pressure on Syria to stop the massacres.

The divisions manifesting between the far-Left and their erstwhile Islamist allies are intriguing. There is no true moral disparity; the cause of disagreement is purely ideological. For Hamas and its supporters in the UK, Palestinians dying in Syria offers the recruitment tool to establish Muslim Brotherhood Islamism in a post-Assad state. For the far-Left, Assad’s killing of the Palestinians is necessary in the greater fight against “Western imperialism”. While Islamist alliances with the far-Left were once kept strong through a mutual hatred of Jews and the West, the slaughter of Palestinians in Syria has become a question of priorities – that is, should Palestinian deaths be useful or necessary?

It is this nihilism that explains why the far-Left – self-declared champions of human rights and liberalism — has never exhibited revulsion for their Islamist allies’ support for the subjugation of women, hatred of homosexuals and support for terrorism against Jews. Instead, the divergence has come about over what sort of tyranny should repress the Syrian people. Should it be Galloway’s Assad? Or the PRC’s Muslim Brotherhood? For the lone Syrian liberal, whether exiled in Britain or fighting in Syria, the choice is bleak. Meanwhile, the Palestinian people — exploited, sacrificed and betrayed for decades by the ideological designs of the far-Left, Arab nationalists and Iranian Islamists — face a future that looks to be just as awful as their past

Sunday, 24 February 2013

The TUSC should be careful what they wish for!

The By-election in Eastleigh is fast approaching and the main political parties are fighting for their piece of the electoral pie. The Liberal Democrats currently hold the seat vacated by Chris Huhne their former MP now facing a custodial sentence for perverting the course of justice. Nick Clegg needs a win badly for his failing party fortunes and were currently ahead in the opinion polls until now.

The news of a fresh scandal, this time about alleged sexual harassment about the Liberal Democrats could do them some considerable damage. To have one misdemeanour is bad news but two in a row? Simply careless one has to say.

Over the next four days their Conservative, Labour and UKIP opponents will be trying their best to undermine the Liberal vote. Thursday night could get interesting. There are of course other candidates from the political fringes standing, one of which is the so-called Trade Union & Socialist Coalition. This tiny organisation was set up by the Socialist Party and has manged to attract the support of the RMT union.

The RMT are not happy bunnies at the moment as "their" candidate is not attracting much publicity. They have issued a press release which complains;

With less than a week to go in the Eastleigh by election, promoted by the resignation of Con-Dem criminal Chris Huhne, transport union RMT today blasted a deliberate media blackout of working class candidate Darren Procter, a member of the union's executive and the candidate of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC).

Bob Crow their vainglorious General Secretary adds;

"It's scandalous that yet again the press are only interested in the same old tired party hacks from the same old failed political parties that created the current financial mess and whose culture of self-serving led to this by election being called in the first place."

Problem is the TUSC is actually not seen as a serious contender by anyone else other than those involved in it. At the last General Election The Sunday Times reported that the TUSC managed to get 0.04% of the vote. The fact the media don't take any notice of them is not a conspiracy as comrade Crow seems to think but the simple fact it is a no hope organisation . Period.

Thing is the RMT/TUSC should be careful what they wish for. In addition to their involvement there is a little matter of the Socialist Workers Party being a major component of the alliance. They haven't been ignored by the media recently, but for the wrong reasons.  As has been widely covered in the mainstream media and across the Internet there is the problem of "Comrade Delta" and allegations of "rape" being tried by the SWP themselves.

There is more coming to light on this scandal as reports widely appearing on line suggest the the woman involved was just 17 at the time these events are alleged to have happened. The following post covers the issues well:

Go to:

This story is likely to go grow, especially with the latest revelations. The involvement of the SWP in the TUSC may turn out to be a major problem for the RMT and the Socialist Party if they continue their "alliance" with the SWP. The RMT needs to seriously consider the ramifications of being too closely tied to the now toxic SWP "brand".

There are also leading activists from the PCS union at the top of the TUSC hierarchy. Chris Baugh (PCS Assistant General Secretary) and John McInally (PCS Vice President) should also reconsider whether their ties with the SWP are wise at this time. As far as I am concerned the SWP cannot be considered a part of the wider Labour and trade union movement any more.

As for voters in Eastleigh, we'll see how they vote on Thursday.  Labour would seem the wise choice to me.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Unison, the SWP and George Galloway

Last weekend the Socialist Workers Party made an ill-fated intervention at the Unison Women's Conference with a leaflet that well, beggared belief. Despite all the widespread condemnation of their handling of the "Comrade Delta" rape case the SWP  tried defending the position of Professor Callinicos and his followers.

Cath Elliot, the mover of the resolution that sought to "No Platform" "Rape Deniers"  has written a very useful and informative piece at her website ( ). In this she says:

I was made aware during conference that some SWP activists were planning to speak against the Galloway motion.
Word had somehow got out to them that there was a risk the party would be getting a dishonourable mention in my moving speech. I am after all one of the union activists who recently signed the open letter to the SWP Central Committee asking them to reconsider their stance, so the SWP had held a meeting and, egged on from the back of the conference hall by a full-time SWP employee, were preparing to justify the Kangaroo Court tactics Comrade W had been subjected to, and to defend the indefensible.
I was baffled by this decision, especially given the party’s now much publicised record on handling rape and sexual violence within its own ranks. But on the Saturday morning the motion was due to be heard, after I’d seen that at least one of the SWP women involved had signed the now notorious 500 signature shit list, and after this leaflet had been handed to me on my way into the conference venue, I was also bloody angry.

At the same time the SWP Professor is assembling his cult followers are preparing a "redoubt" at the "Special" SWP Party conference in which they also show that they have learnt no lessons from their crass, if not criminal behaviour in dealing with a serious allegation of sexual assault. Their motion to the meeting states:

We therefore condemn the actions of those members who have circumvented these principles by campaigning to overturn conference decisions outside the structures of the party, using blogs and the bourgeois media. Many of these contributions have been characterised by the use of slurs, abuse and un-comradely language that seem designed to stop serious debate and make joint work impossible, as well as damaging the party’s reputation.

The debates inside the party have been fuelled by the outcome of the Disputes Committee report to conference. This Special Conference affirms its belief in the integrity of the comrades on the DC and of the investigation they conducted. We note the DC was re-elected without challenge at the January 2013 conference. The DC report was approved by conference and the case concerned must be regarded as closed. This means that both comrades involved in the case are members in good standing, with the right to engage in political activity as party members.

Full Motion at:

Not a hint of contrition or shame.

The Prof is obviously getting more deranged in his panic as he continues to wheel out the "first family" of Troskyism in support of his claim to the "SWP silver" The opposition under Richard "I swallowed a dictionary" Seymour is not only in the minority but is clearly foundering by failing to understand how vicious and brutal the SWP leadership is becoming. Seymour and his followers appear to be trying to compromise with the Prof, but comments made by his supporters indicate that the "oppositionists" are heading for the lynch mob chop.

The motion moved at Unison conference makes reference to George Galloway and Cath Elliot ends her blog with the video of his storming out of the Oxford students debate.

The on-line Oxford students magazine  writes:

George Galloway, the Respect MP for Bradford West, has been accused by Oxford students of anti-Semitism.

Mr Galloway “stormed out” of a debate at Christ Church on Wednesday evening, upon finding out that his opponent, Eylon Aslan-Levy, a third-year PPEist at Brasenose, was an Israeli citizen.
After arriving to the debate two hours late, Mr Galloway had spoken for ten minutes in favour of the motion ‘Israel should withdraw immediately from the West Bank’, before giving way to Aslan-Levy.
Less than three minutes into Aslan-Levy’s speech against the motion, Galloway was made aware that his opponent was an Israeli citizen.

“I have been misled,” Mr Galloway then commented, interrupting Aslan-Levy’s speech. “I don’t debate with Israelis”. He then left the room with his wife, Putri Gayatri Pertiwi, as some members of the audience shouted out, “racist!” He was then escorted out of Christ Church by a college porter. When prompted to explain why Aslan-Levy’s nationality prompted him to abandon the debate, Galloway stated that “I don’t recognise Israel.”

In a statement late on Wednesday evening Galloway explained that “I refused this evening to debate with an Israeli, a supporter of the Apartheid state of Israel.

“The reason is simple; No recognition, No normalisation. Just Boycott, divestment and sanctions, until the Apartheid state is defeated.” Mr Galloway is a leading political proponent of the campaign to ‘boycott’ Israeli goods, services and – it emerged on Wednesday – people.
After the debate Aslan-Levy said that “I am appalled that an MP would storm out of a debate with me for no reason other than my heritage.

“To refuse to talk to someone just because of their nationality is pure racism, and totally unacceptable for a member of parliament.”
Aslan-Levy later told the Daily Mail that “[Mr Galloway] clearly had a problem not because I am Israeli - I’m sure he would have talked to an Israeli Arab, he didn’t want to talk to me because I am an Israeli Jew.”
He argued that the Respect MP should discontinue his membership of the House of Commons. “I absolutely do not think someone with those kind of views should be allowed to continue as a Member of Parliament”, he said.

Mahmood Naji, the organiser of the debate, told Cherwell that he “condemned Mr Galloway’s walkout, on the basis of his opponent’s nationality.”

He went on to deny that he had “misled” the MP. “At no point during my email exchange with Mr Galloway’s secretary was Eylon’s nationality ever brought up or mentioned.” He added, “nor do I expect to have to tell the speaker what his opponent’s nationality is.”

Between them Galloway and the SWP are doing a good job of exposing what the far-left are really are.


Friday, 22 February 2013

A double threat to the future of PCS

All the Civil Service unions are facing threats of severe cuts to the amount of Facility Time that their reps can use during official hours. Negotiations are still continuing but today a letter was circulated outlining the DWP's decision on facilities for attending Conference which turned out to be quite harsh:

I can confirm that NEC members who attend National Conference, and GEC members who attend Group Conference, in their capacity as committee members may use paid facility time for that purpose providing they have prior approval from their line manager and have sufficient facility time available to cover their attendance.
Paid facility time will not be allowed for elected delegates or trainee delegates to attend National or Group Conference. Just to be clear, I am not saying that their attendance is not permitted. If they wish to attend conference, they can apply for annual leave; flexi leave or unpaid special leave.
However, any absence must be approved in advance and meet the requirements of the business. Decisions to allow time off will be made locally.

This differs considerably from the arrangements in other Departments like the Home Office where the decision was much more favourable. Their Management wrote:

You will be aware that we have an existing facilities agreement which makes provision for union members to be allowed special leave to attend conferences as delegates or trainee delegates. Without prejudice to our future discussions around trade union facilities, I can confirm that under this agreement members would be permitted special leave to attend conferences in May 2013

There is a caveat to this however: 

The agreement limits the paid TUA time available annually to any individual as 15 days (40 days for NEC members) and you should therefore make GEC members and delegates aware that paid time off to attend conference would count against this TUA allowance.

According to comments made by Fran Heathcote at the North Yorkshire Branch AGM Management claim that since PCS did not sign up to the ERS (back in 2003 apparently!) it means that they do not have to give notice. According to NEC member Ian Albert:

I had not seen the letter but had heard that this was probably DWP's position. There is still work going on in Group and nationally to achieve a better negotiated position.

As you say, their argument bizarrely is that since we (PCS) didn't sign up to the last ERS framework some years ago they don't have to give the 6 months' notice. But in practise they have formally withdrawn and written to say this, and I think giving the appropriate notice.

There is a mixed economy out there on who is getting time and who isn't for this year's conference. It's completely unfair and unsatisfactory.

The future of how PCS operates is clearly going to be difficult as Francis Maude continues his attack on the unions by insisting that all TUA (trade union only) duties will have a default position of being unpaid. This will put many current reps off of undertaking such duties, especially if there is no alternative but to do them during work time. Many women in particular will not be able to attend evening meetings if they have child care responsibilities. 

The knock on effect will be to drive away many of the people who do trade union work who are not politically motivated and just "do their bit" for members. In turn this will leave the PCS more and more in the hands of the political activist class that already dominate the union bureaucracy. As Dougie Mckinlay a PCS rep from Scotland pointed out about the forthcoming PCS Conference:

The most worrying thing I can see is that the NEC and GEC will be voting through whatever they want and that'll suit them as nobody will be there to question what they're doing.

In time PCS could become nothing more than a front for the extremists of the Socialist Party and their SWP allies. This will of course further isolate PCS and more importantly the interests of it's members from political reality and weaken our ability to defend members. 

It has never been more important to change the way PCS is run by electing a new mainstream leadership. I urge members to support and vote for the 4themembers Group in the elections later this year. Only by returning PCS to the political mainstream can we hope to reclaim PCS for its' members. 

Please go to: for more information.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Statement from International Trade Union Confederation

Turkey: More Than 100 Trade Unionists Arrested

Turkey: More Than 100 Trade Unionists Arrested

19 February 2013: The ITUC has strongly condemned the full-scale attacks against Turkey’s public sector union carried out by the authorities. On Tuesday 19 February, the police issued arrest warrants for 167 people in 28 of the country’s 81 provinces for alleged links with a terrorist organisation.

It went on to arrest over 50 people in Istanbul, and raided the headquarters of public sector union KESK in Ankara. Over a hundred members of KESK, including Steering Committee member Akman Simsek, were arrested. Mr. Simsek and his wife were later on taken into custody.
In addition to Mr. Simsek and his wife, the police also arrested a woman while she was awaiting her treatment for cancer. A three-month-old baby also ended up in jail, as both its mother and father were arrested.

It is not the first time that the ITUC has to protest the misuse of anti-terrorism laws in Turkey. “We can no longer accept that trade unionists are arrested, detained and jailed under false accusations of terrorism. The Turkish authorities must immediately and unconditionally release all arrested trade union members and stop labelling them as terrorists. In a true democracy, trade unionists have the right to play their legitimate role without having to fear being arrested,” said Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Time for PCS to have a proper International policy

One of the problems having a union dominated by the Socialist Party and the SWP is that they manage to skew not only domestic policy away from proper trade unionism with their private agendas, but it also affects every  other aspect of the work that PCS undertakes. International work in particular is distorted by the Marxist agenda.

Hence the PCS website states that Palestinian solidarity work is "central" to the unions international work. In practise this means prioritising the work of the so-called Palestine Solidarity Campaign, an organisation that generally takes the line of the terrorist Hamas organisation. Why?

If PCS as a union wishes to intervene effectively in difficult international issues then the starting point for its' work must be solidarity with other Trade Unions around the world. Only this way can we assist our brothers and sisters in other countries overcome conflicts and bring together working men and women on both sides of such divides.

The problems don't end there, PCS backs the Cuba Solidarity Campaign which supports the Cuban Government who do not allow free trade unions in their country. PCS also backs Hugo Chavez in Venezuela who is on record as saying that trade unions are not necessary for his "revolution".

At the same time real trade unionists who need our support like the Korean Government Employees Union (KGEU) whose leader is in hospital following a hunger strike is ignored by PCS.

A disgraceful state of affairs.

Labourstart has been pushing this and the fight for Mexican workers union rights in campaigns over the last few weeks, but PCS leaders remain silent, preferring to commemorate the failure of Militant in Liverpool 30 years ago. Over the coming year I will be covering these important issues both on this blog and my PCS e-mail lists as part of a campaign to win PCS back to proper international Trade Union work.

As a start I would like to draw your attention to the following three stories:

 Public Services International

KGEU poster
On 25th February the new Korean President Park Guenhye will take office. Let’s make sure that she will not forget this day! PSI calls upon President-elect Park Guenhye to commit to the basic human and labour rights that public workers are entitled to, to recognize the KGEU and to reinstate the dismissed workers. This would be a signal of hope that would pave the way for a renewed dialogue and normalization of labour relations in the public sector in Korea.

Continued at:

 Trade Unions Linking Israel & Palestine

La CGT.According to this report in L’Express, the general secretary of the French national trade union centre CGT, Bernard Thibault, has visited Palestine and Israel.  In the course of his visit, Thibault, who is expected to step down from his role in March, will meet with leaders of the Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions as well as the Histadrut in Israel.

Thibault expressed his full support for an independent Palestinian state side by side with Israel.

Continued at:

Harry's Place

Cuba: A Human Rights story:

Yoani Sanchez arrives in Brazil

After finally getting a passport allowing her to travel outside Cuba, the great dissident blogger Yoani Sanchez has arrived in Brazil.

You can follow her blog posts here and her tweets here.
A small group of pro-Castro demonstrators have made a point of trying to harrass and silence her. They blocked the screening of a documentary film about her.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Why is my union (PCS) involved with this nonsense

Thirty years ago the Militant Tendency, a Trotskyist group buried inside the Labour Party had amongst other things taken control of Liverpool Council. They made a right bloody mess of it too! Will anybody forget Neil Kinnock's famous speech;

'I'l tell you what happens with impossible promises. You start with far-fetched resolutions. They are then pickled into a rigid dogma, a code, and you go through the years sticking to that, out-dated, misplaced, irrelevant to the real needs, and you end in the grotesque chaos of a Labour council – a Labour council! – hiring taxis to scuttle round a city handing out redundancy notices to its own workers. I'm telling you, I'm telling you, and you'll listen, you can't play politics with people's jobs and people's services.

This marked the beginning of the end for the Militant inside the Labour Party. For nearly two decades or more Militant (real name the Revolutionary Socialist League) had been practising the trotskyist policy of "entrism" trying to turn large sections of the Labour Party into a Marxist organisation. At the time of Kinnock's speech they had taken control of the Labour Party Young Socialists (LPYS) , had control of a number of Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs) and had three MPs.

Along with the rest of the so-called Labour Left, they had made Labour unelectable. The situation in Liverpool however got out of control for the Militant comrades as their Liverpool Council was forced to lay off its' workers using taxis to deliver the redundancy notices.

Today the Militant tendency is a lot smaller than it was then and has changed its' name to the Socialist Party. It does have a presence in some trade unions, in particular the PCS civil service union, which it dominates in conjuction with Mark Serwotka and the Socialist Workers Party. The union is often used by these groups for the benefit of their projects.

The latest wheeze is to sponsor an Exibition devoted to the lunacy of the Militants time at the helm of Liverpool Council. The PCS website promotes the following meeting;

Exhibition: Liverpool Socialist Council 1983-1987

27 April 2013
This exhibition marks the 30th anniversary of the election of the Liverpool Socialist Council in May 1983.  The exhibition shows that in the three years prior to 1983, some £120 million had been slashed from Liverpool City Council's budget by the Tory government.  The socialist Labour council of 1983 refused to implement Tory cuts and instead led a mass campaign of resistance.
Meeting will commence at 10:30am at the Adelphi Hotel, doors open at 9:30am to view the exhibition.  Speakers include Len McCluskey (General Secretary of Unite the Union), Janice Godrich (President of PCS) and Tony Benn.

You can find the flyer for the meeting here:

What any of this has to do with our union is anybodies guess. If the comrades want to celebrate the failure of socialism I'd rather they didn't drag PCS into it. Perhaps Janice can tell us how much the union is spending on this ridiculous event. I'd love to know, because as far as I'm concerned its not worth a penny of anyones subscriptions.

PCS have also been promoting their own alternative to the current economic crisis. If this is an example of their socialism god help us.

Still the nations taxi drivers might make a few quid!

Monday, 18 February 2013

Time to end the death threats

On Sunday The Sun newspaper gave front page headlines to resident hate cleric Anjem Choudary  who had apparently called on his followers to claim "Jihadi Seekers Allowance" so that they could plan and make "Holy War". Choudary is a egotistic, publicity-seeking self appointed guru who uses the religion of Islam for his own purposes.

Most Muslims tell us he is not representative of them, something I would concur with, unfortunately he is far from being alone. There are far too many of these charlatans around not only in this country but abroad as well.

Peter Tatchell reports today that Muslim MPs who supported gay marriage in Parliament have been receiving death threats and fatwas from Islamic extremists & clerics both in the UK and abroad. He writes:

Mufti Muhammed Aslam Naqshbandi Bandhalevi, imam at the Jamia Islamia Rizvia mosque in Bradford, has issued a fatwa, or ruling, declaring one of the five pro-gay marriage Muslim MPs, Sadiq Khan, an “apostate” and that he should “repent before Allah”, reports the Daily Mail. Mr Khan has received death threats since the parliamentary vote and is now under police protection.

Mufti Muhammad Aslam Naqshbandi of Jamia Islamia Rizvia mosque in Southfield said that Muslims MPs who supported the right of gay couples to marry had put themselves outside of Islam, according to a report by the Pakistan-based newspaper, The News International.

The same paper reports that at least three Pakistani clerics have declared that the MPs were no longer Muslims and they must repent.

Several UK-based Islamist sects have denounced the MPs, including Hizb ut-Tahrir; as have posts on extremist websites such as Islamic Awakening and

At the same time The Times reports that four missionaries caught distributing (or planning to distribute Christian literature in Libya have been arrested and could possibly face the death penalty as it is illegal to preach any religion other than Islam under Libyan law.

There has been a drive against Christians in a number of countries in the Middle east since the rise of Islamism, with many fleeing for their lives in places like Iraq or facing deepening persecution as the Coptic Christians are in Egypt. The situation developing in Libya is just the latest manifestation of growing intolerance, but one that is clearly deep rooted in "tradition".

The use of the death penalty against "unbelievers" was recently highlighted in the case of a child accused of desecrating and burning pages of the Koran in Pakistan. Turns out she was innocent. the "crime" had apparently been committed by a cleric hoping to drive Christians out of his neighbourhood. This hadn't stopped a mob wanting to kill her without trial and the threat to the small and vulnerable Christian community was very real.

The point is that whilst Choudary and his mates may well not be representative of the Muslim community, there is an intolerant tendency within Islam which they are to latch on to amongst a proportion of their community. The time has come for all Muslims to demand the end to the threat of death for perceived slights against their beliefs. The extremists both here and abroad have to be combated and taken head on.

Tolerance is a virtue that everyone of every race religion or creed should learn. Free speech and criticism has to be allowed in every country in the world. Only this way can we all truly begin to be free. After all if someone really believes in their faith how can words alone threaten them? Or does the manifestation of violence come from the insecurity of those whose social and political positions rely on unquestioning obedience and the threat of death to those who question them.

One might now ask who the true unbeliever really is?

Sunday, 17 February 2013

A bizarre weekend for the SWP

This weekend got quite difficult for the comrades of the Socialist Workers Party by all accounts.

Unison Women's Conference - an update

Firstly as I drew your attention to the leaflet distributed by SWP members at the Unison women's conference, an ill considered intervention given their own scandalous actions over allegations of rape inside the SWP.

Unison members were discussing a motion which called for a policy of "No Platform" for "rape deniers". The targets of the motion were people like George Galloway MP whose ridiculous on-line video defending Julian Assange caused consternation right across the political spectrum. Over at Socialist Unity, one rather paranoid conspiracy theorist exclaimed that the attack on Galloway was the work of the CIA. Ridiculous nonsense of course.

This notion prompted a response from the actual mover of the motion at the Conference, Cath Elliot who told Socialist Unity in no uncertain terms:

I’m the person who moved the Galloway/rape deniers motion at UNISON Women’s Conference and I can confirm I’m neither a rightwing CIA stooge nor interested in witch-hunting anyone. The debate went down the way it did because the SWP chose to reveal their complete hypocrisy by producing and distributing the ridiculous leaflet featured at the top of the post, and by choosing to defend the behaviour of the CC in their opposing speeches.

and responded to further criticism thus:

It’s not actually a no-platform motion in the true sense of the phrase. If you read the text of motion 30 the relevant bullet points are:
2)Encourage UNISON spokespeople to refuse to share a platform with George Galloway, or any other speakers who contribute to rape culture by blaming and undermining rape victims.
3) To liaise with the NEC, Labour Link, and other UNISON bodies to try and ensure that UNISON never offers a platform to any speakers who are rape deniers, and who blame and undermine rape victims, and that it never officially supports any event that does.
So to answer your question, no, as a member of Respect no one would be going against the spirit of the motion if they wanted to share a platform with you, not unless you’d publicly made similar comments to Galloway’s anyway.

The SWP has lost all credibility in Unison it would seem.

Manoeuvres in the dark

The opposition inside the SWP held a meeting in the University of London Union (ULU) today which was attended by around 100 people judging by an incident that took place. Some supporters of Professor Callinicos, the leading SWP guru attempted to gain entry but were refused entry on a vote of 60 to 40.

This upset Anna Gluckstein no end and she wrote on her facebook page:

"As you know I never do facebook, but today I feel compelled to. Today there was a faction meeting in central London. I went along with a couple of comrades and others and we were barred from entry! This was not only me, this was two CC members and two of our journalists. I had invited my mum to the meeting and then I had to tell her she wasn't allowed to come. I understand that there will be organisational points that the comrades in the faction may wish to discuss and we would have left at that point, but they were having a five hour meeting in which general political perspectives were to be discussed. 

Chanie was very upset about this situation as we have never had closed political discussions from other members. We are all in the same organisation, how can this happen? where is the democracy in this?"

I wonder if any member of the SWP can just waltz into a meeting of the Central Committee when they feel like it? Of course not. The Prof's supporters are crying wolf, especially as the four members of the SWP who were expelled for chatting amongst themselves on facebook (free thought is obviously a crime in SWP land) had their case heard by the Disciplinary Committee (that's the one that found "Comrade delta" "innocent"). Guess what? They lost their case.

Roll on March 10th. The Prof's lynch mobs await!

This article is now cross-posted at Harry's Place

Saturday, 16 February 2013

UPDATED: Saturday Notes & Updates

There have been a few developments in a couple of the stories I have been covering on this blog which I have outlined below:

The SWP Crisis and the "real world"

There is an unconfirmed rumour that at a meeting of the Unite Against Fascism last week Martin Smith was "removed" from his post as Assistant Secretary of the UAF. If true this would be a serious blow to the credibility (such as it remains) of the Socialist Workers Party, especially as Alex Callinicos wants  Smith to "return to full time political activity."

Smith remains listed at the UAF website though.

Meanwhile there is a Unison Women's Conference taking place today at which the SWP is trying to make a "major intervention". However controversy has taken place over the subject matter for their main leaflet entitled "Challenge those who trivialise rape". Not a very wise choice given the current controversies surrounding the SWP.

You can see their leaflet on twitter here:

One observer stated that there had been an argument between Cathy Elliot (a Guardian feminist) and the SWP over this.

For a more detailed examination of the latest news on the SWP, I have written an article for Harry's Place which was published this morning:

Finally (for now) there is an amusing take on the whole affair here:

UPDATE: The list of 500 Central Committee supporters includes at least 10 members of PCS. I have identified Anna Owen (Euston), Candy Udwin and Marriane Owen (who is currently standing for the PCS National Executive Committee on the Democracy alliance slate). Others mentioned are: Helen S (Birmingham), Cathy C (West London), Geoff D (Birmingham), Joel H (Walthamstow), Pete J (Birmingham) Russel W (Leeds), Jukie W (Nottingham).

My only comment is: You lot should all be ashamed of yourslves.

Gay Author offers his services to DC Comics

Following the protests over DC Comics hiring "homophobic" science fiction writer Orson Scott-Card, award winning author David Garrold has written to DC offering his services to write a Superman story "for balance". He says;

“I see that you have hired a writer for Superman who has written strongly of his opposition to equal rights for LGBT people. And I see that there is an online petition protesting that move,” he wrote on Facebook. “Perhaps you could balance that decision by hiring an openly gay writer to draft a Superman story for a future issue.”

Garrold is probably best known for writing the famous "The trouble with tribbles" episode for Star Trek, and has written and published quite a few other well known peices of TV and literature. I would welcome his "take" on Superman. However the argument that he should be hired "for balance" seems a bit spurious since DC has (and does) hire "openly gay writers" (and artists for that matter).

In any case the debate continues unabated and you can read the full report (with comments) at:

And now Enid Blyton

I was sent a link to a story about a growing controversy in Beaconsfield over plans to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Enid Blyton moving to their town. Not all the residents are happy and the arguments taking place do have some parallels with the Orson Scott-Card row.

Bylton's writings are probably seen by most as somewhat dated these days and I only have vague memories of her books from my childhood since I started reading DC Comics at a very early age (and never looked back) but they still sell hundreds of thousands of copies apparently. Much of her stuff is considered racist by many, whilst others see her books as "products of the time she lived in". Another debate that will continue unabated whilst her work remains in print.

You can find the article from the Daily Telegraph here:

Friday, 15 February 2013

Trade Unions Linking Israel & Palestine

Guest Post by Eric Lee

Histadrut takes on the government yet again – new round of strike threats over contract work

Last year’s historic general strike which caused the right-wing Netanyahu government to cave into to union demands for restriction of contract labour turned out to be the beginning of a long fight. Yesterday the Histadrut, Israel’s national trade union centre, formally declared a dispute with the government, meaning that in another 14 days, strikes and other industrial action become possible once again.

Spain: 5 key union federations back Israel boycott campaign and Palestinian ‘right of return’

Last month five key Spanish trade unions in the Galicia region publicly embraced the campaign of boycotts, divestments and sanctions (BDS) targetting Israel.

West Bank health care workers strike – demand payment of salaries on time

First it was the teachers, and now it’s the health care workers in the West Bank who have been forced to take strike action to protest late payment (and sometimes non-payment) of their salaries.  The health care workers union has announced a one day strike for Thursday, threatening to shut the entire system down and opening up clinics only one day a week to serve the local population.

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