Friday, 31 May 2013

A riposte to the Socialist Unity website

A few days ago I found reason to take issue with the comments policy undertaken by the Socialist Unity website. In doing so I noted that there was little opportunity to tackle the shibboleths of the politics of the far left, but noted that whilst the main parties of the Trotskyist milieu (Socialist Workers Party and  Socialist Party) did not allow comments on their sites, Socialist Unity was one of the places where there was at least some debate.

However the debate there became noticeably limited when it came to discussing the Woolich Terrorist atrocity. In raising this issue again I note that the main censor at Socialist Unity Tony Collins does not consider the incident to be terrorist. He attacks the Socialist Party/National Shop Stewards Network thus;

FFS, even the Socialist Party’s National Shop Stewards Network has given in to the narrative and called the murder a “terrorist attack”. What happened to not surrendering to mass media hysteria?

Bizarre to say the least.

In another post criticising one of the posters he opines that:

Grow up and debate like an adult.

Really Tony? Sounds like double standards to me. He refers to my recent article published both here and at Harry's Place:

One right-wing commenter is upset cos I wouldn’t allow his comment through. He said “we need to deal with the EDL and hate preachers equally” – but then guess what he did? He spent the entire comment only talking about the Muslim side of the equation, about the problem with these Muslims. 6 paragraphs. Nothing at all about the EDL – apart from the platitude, the “we must take them seriously”. The rest of the post was about the Muslims.

You people are appeasers and are totally surrendering to racism. And seriously, don’t bleat about censorship. You’ve got the entire mass media saying exactly the same things you are bravely saying.
The real censorship comes from you people, who won’t even admit the rest of us to the debate unless it’s on your terms.

I’m proud of the anti-racist stand this site takes. We don’t give in to fake concern about racism from people who never do a damned thing to combat it. There’s one consistent thread from these people – they never simply stand with Muslims to fight against racism. They always, always try to switch the debate to “what are we gonna do about these extremist Muslims then?”

The reason I took this issue up is not because he censored my views (which he distorts in his response) but he undertook to censor everyone who dared raise the question of how we should deal with hate preachers. This was noted by the blogger from Hatful of History whose "complaint about being deleted" was duly deleted. The censorship was also picked up by "treelover" over at Urban 75, one of the few places on the far-left where wide ranging free debate does take place.

For the record the thread on Socialist Unity had published 40 comments nearly all of which had seemingly concentrated on the far-right/EDL. I responded to the following comment:

This morning the EDL page has over 114,000 ‘likes’, meaning that over 114,000 people are now part of the EDL network and receive EDL messages in their fb feed. I’d say that this is important in a political sense.
My rather innocuous contribution was:

That is worrying and shows why we need to respond to the the atrocity by (a) standing up to the BNP/EDL and (b) the Hate preachers of Islamism at the same time.
Another left wing blog had problems with local Salafists last weekend:
These people are dangerous and a threat to us all regardless of how “left-wing” people consider themselves. The Salafists in Tunisia have already been attacking Trade Unions and at one point burnt down 3 TU offices which was reported on Labourstart.
It needs to be remembered that these people are also a threat to Muslims, not just because they aim to create strife in the wider community (by provoking the boneheads of the far-right) but want to impose their will on other Muslims the vast majority of whom just want to get on with their lives.
Everyone needs to remember by the way that there is no one Muslim Community. My immediate neighbours are from Kosovo and are totally westernised whilst many of my work colleagues differ in country of origin, dress and culture.
Tackling the hate preachers will have to take a multi-faceted approach.
Too much for Socialist Unity, which is seemingly becoming more shrill in its debating methods.  Hardly bleating on about "Muslims" as Tony Collins puts it so nicely.

Andrew Coates responded to my comments on the thread at Harry's Place by stating that "Socialist Unity live in their own little world".

The far left prove yet again that they are part of the problem and never the solution.

Thursday, 30 May 2013

PCS: Its time to end the current dispute

Despite all the evidence showing that the continuing industrial action is (a) having no effect on the Government and (b) is leading to lower turnouts of members as each of the piecemeal strikes take place the PCS Grandees led by Mark Serwotka are hell bent on carrying on regardless.

Next week a series of regional strikes are due to be held in the two largest Government Departments, the HMRC and the DWP. Members where in clear despair when they discovered they were being called on yet again to lose yet another days pay for what they increasingly see as being for "no good reason", even some of the more "hard core" members are questioning the continuation of the dispute.

With barely a third of members having participated at the height of the strike, the numbers are now clearly set to decline as in addition to one day strikes next week, PCS has also announced a further national one day strike at the end of June.

There was even consternation amongst many PCS reps on the ground, who whilst "loyally" handing out leaflets for next week are themselves under no illusions as to the veracity of continuing action. Their mood can be described as simply "going through the motions". This dispute also comes at a time when union reps in the civil service face huge cuts to "Facility time". This will seriously affect the ability of Reps to conduct their duties on behalf of members.

The far-left who continue to dominate the PCS union seem oblivious to the consequences of continuing a dispute which not only has no end in sight but also so far has achieved zero. The Socialist Party who effectively control PCS through the Left Unity formation no longer can even claim to have a "General Strike" in view as their ultimate aim. This is clearly a non-stater despite all their earlier protestations.

Members will only be prepared to go so far and although it could be said that a protest was necessary to let the Government know our feelings, the key "demands" of the dispute are long defeated. Pensions have already been changed, the Pay freeze will continue to be implemented and changes to conditions of service will not hit current members. That's the reality.

The right to strike is a basic human right and there will be times when they are necessary, but there also comes a time when striking simply because the PCS leaders are motivated by an unrealistic political agenda (and by a couple of vainglorious egos) become damaging.

That point has been reached in the current dispute.

The current strikes must now come to an end. 

There may come a time when members in some areas will need to take action, especially over the threatened privatisation of the Courts. A campaign needs to be launched on this issue and links made with the large sections of magistrates, police and the judiciary that are opposed to this.

In other words the PCS union needs to sit down and re-think its' long term industrial and political strategy. The current one isn't working.

Mark Serwotka and his  Socialist Party allies are not up for the task. They are stuck in a mindset that isn't fit for the twenty-first century. They need to go.

The far-left have badly damaged this union. If they carry on this way they'll totally wreck it. 

Just ask the members in SOCA!

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Unite leader welcomes Islamic Jihad terrorist to the UK


Cross posted from Trade Unions 
Linking Israel & Palestine

Adrian Weir [pictured], the assistant chief of staff at Unite, Britain’s largest trade union, gave a speech recently at a demonstration protesting Israel’s hosting the UEFA Under-21 football championship.

He began the speech by delivering “the solidarity greetings of General Secretary, Len McCluskey, the Executive Council of Unite and our 1.5 million members in Britain and Ireland”. The speech is the usual litany of half-truths and outright lies that one expects from the PSC — e.g., Israel “is effectively an apartheid state” — but also includes this sentence: “Friends, on behalf of Unite I welcome Mahmoud Sarsak here today.”

Mahmoud Sarsak is, apparently, a member of the Palestine national football team who was detained by Israel and held without trial. Following a hunger strike, he was released from jail in July 2012.

The Israelis accused Sarsak of having planted a bomb that injured an Israeli soldier and being a member of Islamic Jihad, one of the more extreme and violent Islamist groups. Sarsak’s supporters deny this.

But according to this report in a Turkish newspaper, upon his return to Gaza, where he was greeted as a hero, doubt was cast upon his version of things. Here is what Today’s Zaman wrote:

“Israel has accused Sarsak of being active in the violent group Islamic Jihad, a claim he denied while in custody. However, senior Islamic Jihad officials were present during his reception Tuesday, and one of the group’s leaders, Nafez Azzam, praised the footballer as ‘one of our noble members.’


Trade Unions Linking Israel & Palestine can be found here:

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

The far left, hate clerics and censorship

Most websites run by far-left groups lack one thing; a comments box. This is certainly the case with the two "biggest fish" in the very small pond that the far-left operate in, the Socialist Party (Militant) and the Socialist Workers Party. These two groups don't even have a proper letters page in their main publications The Socialist and Socialist Worker. The only letters they take are platitudes from their own supporters, Socialist Worker being the worst culprit with seemingly almost "made up" letters.
The SWP in particular are and have been shown to be quite hostile to the Internet as their recent internal dispute showed. They expelled members for the "crime" of discussing issues pertaining to the internal workings of the SWP on their Face Book pages. In one way this showed a generational divide between the hard-line hacks who grew up in the era before the advent of the Internet and the younger (student) generation that uses tools like e-mail, twitter and Face Book  as a normal part of their daily routine.
Part of this imperative is that groups like the SWP issue "statements" on behalf of their party and these edicts cannot be challenged in public (and in private it would seem) by their members or supporters, so anyone else outside their group is highly unlikely to get the opportunity to raise a direct challenge on their website pages.
Of course there are exceptions to this. The tiny Alliance for Workers Liberty certainly does encourage debate, but with few readers the comments are few and far between. The Weekly Worker published by the tiny Communist Party of Great Britain has a very lively letters page but currently lacks a comments facility though in their case probably because of limited resources.
The Internet has led to the rise of numerous political forums, some like Urban 75 engage in open and free debate, though it is more of a chat room than a political entity in itself. There is however a website called Socialist Unity which when I first came across it a few years ago seemed to offer the same, except it doesn't.
The terrorist attack and brutal murder of Lee Rigby was at the heart of most political websites attention for the past few days. Socialist Unity published a couple of articles on the subject and debate was opened. It soon became abundantly clear that discussion was being limited by Tony Collins one of the sites Editorial Board. At first there seemed to be no problems, I posted a brief link to give an alternative view but later on I noticed that a further contribution was "awaiting moderation" (and never published) even though there was certainly nothing untoward in my contribution.
Later by chance, I noticed the guy from the Hatful of History blog questioned where his comments about the Islamic preachers had gone so I chipped in to. Both these were deleted. This continued policy of deletion was picked up by someone on the Urban 75 thread where the same issue was under discussion. The poster noted that "Tony Collins appears to be deleting any posts on SU which argue that Islamic extremists should be challenged at all levels."

Earlier Andy Newman, the main individual associated with SU had stated there needed to be a discussion so that we could "understand" why this had happened. How can we understand anything without discussing the influence and nature of the Islamist/Salafist Preachers of hate? What exactly are the political reasons behind the refusal of SU to allow debate on this?
The answer for now is we don't know. Had there been a debate we might have found out. It's difficult to speculate on the reasoning but I do note that SU tends to be a fan of the populist George Galloway and doesn't tend to offer much in the way of criticism of "Islamism". Indeed there was some consternation when SU published an article by one of Iran's clerics. One poster enquired what this piece was doing on a "socialist" website. Indeed.

The latest issue of Socialist Worker has now appeared on line and is interesting to read as their main article Together we can challenge the bigots contains no condemnation in fact quite the opposite

Socialists can see why some people want to lash out to avenge the victims of imperialism.
But individual acts of violence won’t beat our rulers.
The SWP are disgusting, no other word for it.

Like the "preachers of hate" they conflate British foreign policy with these attacks which is nonsense as these are the same people who all those years ago called for the death of Salman Rushdie just because he wrote a book they didn't like. The "Hate" tendency has always been there.

As a letter writer in The Times points out today:

....the implication... that the solution to Islamic extremism is to tailor our foreign policy to suit the wishes of those who would otherwise risk becoming violent. This is tantamount to saying a violent minority should be allowed to shape our foreign policy.


These extremists would find something else to get violent about. Have people so soon forgotten the "Muslim Patrol" that hassled women and others minding their own business because they were in a so-called "Muslim area". 

These thugs need no excuse. They simply want to impose their will on the rest of us.

As do the Marxist-Leninists such as the Socialist Workers Party. This group (and others of their ilk) will seek to take advantage of this atrocity for their own advantage.

Those of us who believe in democracy must stand up against extremism whether it comes from the far left, the far right or religious fundamentalism.

Monday, 27 May 2013

The TUSC joins UKIP in a carnival of reaction

The failing flagship project of the Socialist Party, the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) is set to try and revive its' fortunes by intervening in the European elections next year. They will be joined in this with the support of Bob Crows RMT union, though what their members will actually make of this is another matter.

The Socialist Party along with a number of other organisations (including the rump Liberal Party amongst others) contested the last Euro elections under the No to EU banner, which as I recall was not taken seriously by the electorate coming behind the virtually non-existent  Socialist Labour Party led by Arthur Scargill.

Apparently the name being mooted for this new project in some quarters is the rather unwieldley ‘Trade Unionists and Socialists Against Cuts-No2EU No to Austerity’. Not very snappy or memorable except to inveterate "Trot Watchers". Efforts are being made by the Socialist Party Grandees to get the Communist Party of Britain on board. At least they'll get the backing of a daily newspaper in the form of the dreadful Morning Star, circulation not really worth bothering about.

In an unrelated development they have managed (or allowed) the remnants of the old International Marxist Group now known as Socialist Resistance on board the TUSC steering committee. Although this is "without the power of veto" afforded to the other groups that form the coalition of the absurd.

However all is not well in the TUSC camp. The establishment of the Left Unity project has attracted a lot of attention from non-aligned socialists and activists that the SP has longed to draw into their orbit. It is currently difficult to see where LU is going. Despite obtaining some 8000 "likes" on Face Book this has only currently resulted in just over 1,000 people turning up to their meetings with some of the 90 groups being admitted to be "one one bands".

A lot of people confine their "activism to the keyboard" these days it would seem.

It isn't possible for individuals to join the TUSC, though you can "sign up" as a "supporter" pay your dues and not get any say in what the organisation gets up to. In order to do that you have to join one of the constituent organisations, three of which (the Socialist Party, Socialist Workers Party and Socialist Resistance) are tiny, very dictatorial groups that would force you to "toe the line" they want regardless of how anyone else might feel.

The alternative to this is to join the Independent Socialist Network (not to be confused with the recently established International Socialist Network set up by dissidents from the SWP). They have their own website where you get a better "flavour" of what is actually going on inside the TUSC.

There was quite a discussion at the meeting of the last TUSC Steering Committee in which according to the ISN version of events included the following points:

  • It is ridiculous that it is still not possible to join TUSC – we must push for individual membership
  • The ISN had hoped TUSC would be a stepping stone to a new Party – that is now not looking likely
  • TUSC being an umbrella group for trade unions is even less likely now that LU has been launched

There were others, these are the pertinent ones that caught my attention.

Nick Wrack a leading figure in the TUSC has this to say about the marriage of the TUSC and No 2 EU brands:

I thought it would spell the death-knell of TUSC if this proposal was implemented, as TUSC would fail to appear in major elections, with a section of the left contesting the elections yet again with a change of name. This continues to be my view, notwithstanding the suggestion from Clive Heemskerk to marry the names of No2EU and TUSC in the electoral description, which seems to be a marriage made in hell.

Some comments from ISN supporters suggest the ISN may end up throwing its lot in with Left Unity at some stage in the future. Neil Williams argues that:

...a real problem for the Left in general (and if any kills of TUSC this is likely to be it). Can you imagine an anti EU campaign with the title “Trade Unionists and Socialists Against Cuts-No2EUNo to Austerity’ – bloody daft to say the least. We have to be seen to be different, Socialist and internationalist on this issue and not line up alongside UKIP and the right wing of the Tory Party in some sort of imaginary “little England” sort of fantasy where we can cut ourselves of from the rest of the world and have no relationship with workers in Europe who are fighting like us against austerity – it is this urgent need for unity of working people across Europe that we should emphasise in any campaign. I for one will not be joining a “No2EU Mark 2″ campaign (the first one was very badly run campaign anyway) nor should the ISN.

The only reason I can see for the ISN to even consider remaining in TUSC for even a few more months would be to encourage talks between TUSC and Left Unity and the RMT and Left Unity. TUSC under the control of the SP and the inaction of the SWP has no future and we have seen no real attempt by the key players in TUSC to change anything – its one reason that so many Socialists are turning to Left Unity ....

Of course at the end of the day this matters little when the Euro elections actually take place. The anti-European vote will go en-mass to the UKIP, the "little-Englanders" of the far left won't even manage a "shoe-in" with the electorate. So they shouldn't in my opinion.

One of the reasons the Tory right wing and UKIP supporters hate the EU is that membership affords certain rights to workers under European legislation. All that would be lost at a time when there is a major offensive against trade union and workers rights under the current Coalition Government.

According the TUSC comrades leaving the European Union will lead to some kind of socialist Nirvana. The heck it won't! 

Leaving the EU would take this country into a reactionary circus, let alone the economic downturn that would inevitably  come with departure.

The EU is not perfect, there are huge problems with the way it is structured and controlled but it does represent a small step forward to a more united world. The economic crisis has seen the revival of petty nationalism across many European countries. UKIP is the manifestation of this process in Britain, there are other examples such as the rise of Catalan nationalism in Spain.

Withdrawing from the EU would be a backwards step and the far-left have shown themselves to be unable to adapt to the modern world. But then that should be no surprise to anyone as they continue to bang on about the failed ideas of long dead Russians.

Time to move on comrades. There is a real world out there. Join it.

Hat tip: 

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Time to fight the proponents of hate

The disgusting news that a French soldier was stabbed in the neck in a copycat attack in Paris yesterday  is a sign that there are those whose views and actions take them beyond the pale in a democratic society.  At the same time there have been a small number of minor attacks on Mosques in the UK in "revenge" for the atrocity in Woolich.

A number of people have been arrested for "hate" messages about Muslims/Islam on social media, twitter in particular. Whilst people should learn to control their "inner-rages" on the "twitter-sphere" (something Sally Bercow learnt to her detriment yesterday in an unrelated court case), their treatment does stand in contrast to the continuing freedom of extremists like Anjem Choudary who remain seemingly "untouchable" in their campaign to spread Jihadist hate messages.

As I wrote a couple of days ago the law must be applied equally to all, regardless of race, religion or colour. Prosecuting a handful of angry tweeters whilst allowing the preachers of hate a free-hand to continue corrupting the weak-minded and vulnerable into acts of barbaric violence will fuel mistrust between the communities and possibly inflame the situation.

As a democracy we have to allow free speech, but such rights come with responsibilities, the latter the proponents of "rights" sometimes forget.

No one has the right to spread a message inciting violence, racial or religious hatred that could or actually does result in someone getting hurt or as in this case killed. Enough is enough.

Blaming a whole community as some are trying to do is reminiscent of the Kristalnacht in 1930s Germany. We must condemn the attacks on places of worship and the ordinary Muslims like the couple in a fast food take-away recently (by men of Romanian origin for some odd reason).

There are 2.7 Million Muslims in the UK and only a tiny proportion of these are involved in the extremist circles that undertake terrorism. We didn't blame all the Irish community for the actions of the IRA and the same must apply here and now as well.

The Security Services must be allowed to do their jobs in monitoring and dealing with the criminals who perpetrate these acts, but it will take a political and cultural campaign by those of us who believe in democracy to undermine the communal base from which they spring. There is a precedent for the type of campaign needed.

The Hope not Hate campaign has proved hugely successful in opposing and undermining the neo-Nazi far-right over the past few years, so that groups like the BNP are now in total decline. In recent times they have begun focusing on the Islamist extremists, but are currently focusing on the rise of the UKIP which I consider to be a major error on their part.

UKIP (for all it's faults and yes they are legion) is not an inherently racist party and is certainly not fascist in shape or form. Yes there are people within it that need to be exposed from time to time, but the vast majority of UKIPs base is simply the more traditional anti-European Tory types that are disillusioned by David Cameron and fret about immigration in general.

Hope not Hate should focus its resources on combating the Islamist extremists that are simply fascists of a clerical nature. Rather than organise consultation about what should be done about UKIP (as they are planning at the moment), Nick Lowles and the others must change their direction to taking on the real fascist threat that is arising on the fundamentalist Islamist front.

Their website is beginning to tackle the issues arising out of the Woolich tragedy but more remains to be done otherwise the far-right in this country will start getting a boost that it should not do if we are up to the task. Evidence of this was seen yesterday as 1500 (three times the number expected) EDL supporters turned out on the streets of Newcastle.

British Muslims must do more to combat the rise of extremism within their own communities. Dare I say that some if not many will have to re-adjust themselves to accepting that they are living in a secular society and the attitudes of many will need to change especially on such issues as the rights of women and gay and lesbian people.

Tolerance works two ways. If we can get people to accept this then we are part of the way to reaching a solution.

The Hope not Hate website can be found here:

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Is purple the new anti-Semitism?

The world is full of people with strange ideas. David Ike, the former Sports commentator, Green Party activist turned conspiracy theorist certainly has some of the wackier ideas one can come across. His ideas are usefully (if such a word really applies in his case) summed up by Wikepedia who inform us that:

Icke introduced the reptoid hypothesis in The Biggest Secret (1999), which identified the Brotherhood as descendants of reptilians from the constellation Draco, who walk on two legs and appear human, and who live in tunnels and caverns inside the earth. He argues that the reptilians are the race of gods known as the Anunnaki in the Babylonian creation myth, Enûma Eliš. According to Barkun, Icke's idea of "inner-earth reptilians" is not new, though he has done more than most to expand it.

Icke has accused many prominent people of being "reptoids," including Brian MulroneyGeorge H. W. BushGeorge W. BushQueen Elizabeth IIThe Queen MotherAl GoreKris KristoffersonBoxcar Willie, and the steering committee of the Bilderberg Group. It is Icke's contention that none of these people are suing him for his statements because they are all, in reality, twelve-foot lizards.

Right. Maybe they actually know nobody will take such nonsense seriously, will they? Actually there are some it would seem.

Alice Walker, the author of The Colour Purple has been in the news recently for refusing to allow a new edition of her book to be published in Israel which she wrongly describes as being an "Apartheid state". She also believes that the world is run by the same shape shifting aliens of the David Ike variety. She is so impressed by Ike that she compares him to Malcolm X. Dunno what his followers would have thought of that since I know very little about the man.

Ms Walker reviews David Ike's book Human Race Get Off Your Knees on her official website she says:

What I was remembering was how he called our oppressors “blue eyed devils.” Now who could that have been? Well, we see them here in David Icke’s book as the descendants of the reptilian race that landed on our sweet planet the moment they could get a glimpse of it through the mist that used to cover it (before there was a moon). No kidding. Deep breath! Yes, before there was a moon!

and concludes

It’s an amazing book, HUMAN RACE GET OFF YOUR KNEES, and reading it was the ultimate reading adventure. I felt it was the first time I was able to observe, and mostly imagine and comprehend, the root of the incredible evil that has engulfed our planet. 

Incredible indeed.

Readers may be interested to know that these reptiles were created by "interbreeding" in the Middle East  and two of those key bloodlines are the Rothchilds and the Rockerfellers. Hmm, is he talking about Jews by any chance? Maybe the clue is to be found in another one of David Ikes masterpieces The Robots Rebellion (published in 1994). The Global Elite (Lizards to you and me, Jews in the minds of the dumb-witted) outlined their plans for global domination in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the hoax Tsarist anti-Semitic provocation published in Russia in 1903.

Purple according to Ike stands for Royalty in the form of the Windsors and the Queen in particular. She is the Queen to the Rothchilds..... I could go on about his rantings but they don't even make for a good laugh any more.

I wonder if the colour purple in Walker's book title has a deeper, hidden meaning? Of course not that would be a conspiracy theory wouldn't it?

Anyway must go. I hear the children hatching.


Friday, 24 May 2013

No need to "tread on eggshells" when confronting issues in the Muslim "Community"

Yesterdays terrorist attack and the brutal murder of an off duty soldier on the streets of Woolich has inevitably led to a widespread discussion not only on the Internet and in the general media about the place and presence of Islam in society, but also took place in workplaces, pubs and peoples homes. The questions that are being asked include a debate on how, in a modern, open and democratic society how such a sadistic act could have even been contemplated when there are so many legitimate and peaceful ways to make a political protest.

Its' not as if this kind of act is limited in Britain to the extremist sections of "Islamism". There was also the Soho "nail bomber" who targeted gays as part of a campaign of hate inspired by the indigenous far-right around the BNP and other neo-Nazi boneheads who inhabit the political fringe.

And then of course in Norway there was Brevik. Norway is probably one of the most tolerant and inclusive nations on the planet. Where did he spring from?

With this in mind I read at first with concern and then with a sense of relief about the publication of an Independent report on the Rochdale child sex scandal in The Times this morning. Given the current climate it might have been considered a little imprudent with the inevitable backlash against the Muslim community which invariably accompanies terrorist atrocities.

Whilst child abuse takes place in all communities regardless of religion race or colour, it is important to note that the failure to act was in part due to the fear of a racial backlash motivated by so-called "political correctness" on the part of some council staff. If we are to truly integrate the various communities into mainstream society then we must not be afraid to tackle difficult and criminal activities undertaken by men (and women) just because of ill thought out "value judgements" made by those who are responsible for the welfare of others.

The girls in this case (and others that have come to light) have been let down by the politically correct crowd that seem to predominate in social services and other parts of the state and political establishment. This must not happen again.

A crime is a crime no matter what race, religion or colour an individual is. The law must apply equally to all or it will lose general acceptability.

The reason I find myself with hope this evening is because of something that was going on whilst travelling home from work. Stuck in the inevitable traffic jam that stretches between Putney and Hammersmith there was a quiet, but audible discussion going on behind me between two young Muslim women (hijabs et al) about the nature of the soul and quoting from the Koran about "Gods" role with humanity.

As an atheist I would normally despair as I do when approached by the Jehovah Witnesses or suchlike but this time it occurred to me that actually Britain is predominately a tolerant society and these two women felt able to discuss such views without fear in the public place. And so they should.

I was proud to be reminded that we do have a broad society which whilst far from perfect (will it ever be) is a place people feel free to talk.

That means we need to stand up against those who wish to destroy such freedoms. No one has a problem campaigning against the BNP or the EDL, so isn't it time we also campaign against the Islamists, the Salafists and their ilk that spread a message of hate that is just as bad . if not worse as they hijack a religion to do so?

If we truly are to tackle the very real issue of Islamic extremism then we must not be afraid to tackle the criminal activity (i.e. hate speech and racism) promoted by these bigots (and that is what they are).  That means there is no need to tread on eggshells around the Muslim "community" (and there is not just one, there are many) and do some straight talking.

Freedom of speech means that everyone has a right to their own opinion. We all have a right to express ourselves without fear of retribution by either the state or the self appointed zealots who seek to impose their distorted world views on the rest of us.

Promotion of hate and violence is criminal. Those who promote such views must be combated. There can be no appeasement. Remember what happened last time we tried that.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Facing up to Islamic (and other) extremism

There can be no justification, religious, political or moral for the absolutely brutal murder of a British soldier by two men claiming to be acting on behalf of "Muslims"on the streets of London yesterday. Our thoughts and condolences are obviously with the family and friends of Lee Rigby at this difficult time.

The time has come to face up to the fact that there are those in our midst who are being attracted to, and acting on behalf of Preachers of hate whose twisted views brainwash the weak and vulnerable minds of their followers. I was impressed by a post which appeared on Harry's Place an excellent blog which regularly covers and exposes such extremists in which Mehrdad Amanpour outlines his case as a British Muslim against these men. He writes:

....surely it’s time for Muslims everywhere to confront some of the extreme views held within their communities and face up to the fact that such views may act as stepping-stones for some ignorant and impressionable people who go on to carry out atrocious acts of violence.

It is a fact that far too many Muslim scholars promote, and far too many Muslims believe, interpretations of Islam that are anything but moderate– for example, that non-Muslims are morally and spiritually ‘inferior’ beings to Muslims or that in an ideal ‘Islamic’ society, the death penalty should apply for a Muslim who leaves Islam, for anyone who insults the Prophet, has sex outside of marriage or takes part in a homosexual act.

Whilst I’m not suggesting that any significant number of the Muslims holding such views would ever commit or even condone the events we saw in Woolwich, I am suggesting that if someone already believes such interpretations of Islam, it would be easier for them to believe that it’s morally acceptable to behead an off-duty soldier in the street.

He continues by urging that Universities ban "hate groups" from their premises and mosques, madrassas  and Islamic faith schools that promote such hate should be closed down. Mr Amanpour continues:

Stating that non-Muslims are inferior to Muslims or that people should be killed for leaving a religion or having gay sex is simple hate speech, whether or not the speaker believes that it is ordained by Allah. The fact that hate speech is illegal under English law recognises the fact that hateful speech can sometimes promote hateful action.

Surely it’s time for the people who promote the views outlined above are treated as the criminals they are.

This is a brave view which everyone should both applaud and frankly support.

At the same time there are those who will always try to make political capital out of such tragedies as we have seen in the form of George Galloway whose disgraceful tweet was widely reported last night as were the violent reaction of the boneheads of the English Defence League rioting on the streets last night.

Some of the far-left have avoided condemning the barbaric actions of these two terrorist criminals. The Socialist Workers Party (who incidentally refused to condemn 9/11, they simply stated they "understood why it happened) have issued an equally pathetic response today. Charlie Kimber avoids using the phrase "condemn" in his on-line statement published this afternoon;

For the Tories this is an opportunity to divert attention from austerity and their party splits. Instead all the talk is of “emergency committees”, “terrorist incidents” and “national unity”.

We should not allow them to get away with such hypocrisy.
Nor should the imperialist policies of successive British governments be forgotten. 
The SWP are part of a wide swathe of the far-left who have operated in an unholy alliance with the "islamist" movement world-wide. They are cheerleaders for groups such as the Hefezat-e-islam who wanted to kill atheist bloggers in Bangladesh and destroy women's rights at the same time. 

The far-left live under the illusion that the so called "anti-imperialism" of the islamists (which is actually more of a "islamic imperialism" with their talk of a world -wide "Caliphate") will help them build the world revolution.

Nothing could be further from the truth. They like those of us who believe in democracy and free speech will be the first against the wall if these dangerous cultists ever gained power.

There needs to be an ideological offensive against all forms of extremism whether it comes from the Islamists, the far-left or the far-right.

This means eternal vigilance against the enemies of democracy. In this we cannot and must not fail.

Time to end the politics of hate.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Not so comradely on the far-left it would seem

Stories about the Socialist Workers Party and their on-going crisis have been few and far between of late, but all is still not well for the Professor and his crew as the establishment of yet another opposition group inside the SWP shows.

A blog, The Fault Lines has been established by a "group of comrades" who opposed the leaderships handling of the crisis. Their opening gambit makes quite an astonishing claim:

It was the experience of being part of the opposition that kept many of us as members.  We were energised by the comradely spirit, inspired by the debate and discussion, welcomed as people who could make valuable contributions regardless of length of time spent in the party.  It felt like an organisation we wanted to be part of.

Really? A comradely spirit? That would be the one whereby their leader, Professor Callinicos warned of "lynch mobs" to deal with opposition! Not quite, even from their perspective it would seem:

Many of us felt as though we couldn’t return to our branches, where CC loyalists fulminated with indignation and resentment.  The space available for discussion and debate inevitably closed and we are left with a choice of wait in silence or quietly leave the organisation.  We intend to do neither.

Doesn't sound like an organisation that anyone would want to be part of to be quite honest.

The latest post by Simon W refers to the loss of "the aura of competence" and in doing so re-iterates what has now become common knowledge, the false membership figures the SWP used to try and present themselves as the biggest fish in the very small pond that Trotskyists inhabit. The 7,000 plus members turned out to be just 2,300 subscription paying members of which 350 apparently quit in March alone. 

Given the two factions added up to just 1,100, even allowing for "fence sitters" that are found in most factional fights the real figure was probably much lower. Its not easy to give estimates of "quitters" as many of them have simply wandered off without joining anything else.

Meanwhile the annual Marxism 2013 bash that was once the biggest gathering of comrades on the far-left is clearly in trouble. With hardly anyone agreeing to speak they have started scraping the barrel. Disgraced Scottish trot Tommy Sheridan is unikley to to improve their tarnished image and neither will digging up ex PCS would-be-Grandees like Jane Aitchison who has been trying to revive her fortunes by appearing around the country on the SWPs "Unite the Resistance" platforms. With less than 40 people attending the Wales event, Jane has got a long way to go.

Speaking of quitters the breakaway International Socialist Network continues to amaze with the publication of its recent Steering Committee minutes on-line in which they tell us in all seriousness that:

·         It was agreed we start from the position that everything we say is for everyone in the organisation to hear, if not it has to be raised and agreed.
·         It was pointed out that sometimes the minutes could be too exhaustive. Keith F pointed out that it would be difficult, for instance to call Alex Callinicos a wanker on the Steering Committee without it being made public in the minutes.

So now you know. 

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

The "Dear Leader" of PCS claims he is "heads and shoulders" above the rest

Speaking to the HMRC Group Conference in Brighton yesterday Mark Serwotka made an astonishing and rather vainglorious remark about the PCS union in stating that:

"Our union still stands head and shoulders above every public sector union in the UK - so there is every reason to be optimistic."

Such arrogance has become the hallmark of the far-left led PCS union it would seem. This came at the end of a speech in which he had also claimed that:

"Our range of tactics have so far been very effective, demonstrated in efforts management have tried to make to disrupt our action.

Really? Don't think the rest of us have noticed that. Rather that the action has been ignored not only by the Government, but by the vast majority of members as well. The action has barely attracted a third of members even at its height, and support, particularly in some departments has been declining exponentially ever since.

Yet his followers who now dominate events at the annual bash in Brighton have decided the time has come to launch extra strikes and "increase the pressure" (as they like to see it) on the Government. A report republished on the Socialist Party website claims:

The conference opened today against the backdrop of the union's three-month national campaign that has led to strikes and walkouts involving up to 250,000 public servants nationally and in government departments and agencies.

Passing the first motion of the day delegates agreed the next phase of the campaign will include a new national strike towards the end of June and further walkouts and protests across civil and public services, alongside other unions where possible. Dates will be set at a later date.

Moving the motion Mark Serwotka said: "We should be in no doubt that we are in the fight of our lives.

More strikes? There is little appetite for those that have already been held let alone more. Some reps have complained about the lack of further consultation, not that the unions "consultative" meetings are anything of the sort. These meetings are held to lay down the "line" rather than genuine opinion gathering, and are usually packed with political activists vying to be the most militant in order to achieve "brownie points" with their various faction leaders.

The political activists who run the union are clearly living in an ideological cul-de-sac oblivious to the world around them. Recognising reality isn't and never has been one of their strong-points.

Neither is free speech either. Following their disgraceful witch-hunting of PCS reps in SOCA (see previous reports on this blog), Mark Serwotka had this to say about the UKIP:

He congratulated the protesters who drove UKIP leader Nigel Farage out of Edinburgh when he visited the city earlier this month.

Whys that then?  The actions of the so-called "Radical Independence" group were an affront to free speech and democracy. Serwotka should be ashamed of himself  for aligning himself with these reprobates. He also backs the UK Uncut protesters whose actions helped wreck the biggest TUC demo in years when we were fighting for pensions.

The PCS leadership is out of touch with the real world. Their priorities are their own political agendas. SOCA members have shown they have had enough, the majority of members have switched off from voting in elections or taking part in ballots, let alone striking for what is clearly a lost campaign.

PCS is not "heads and shoulders above the other public sector unions" as he claims. In fact the actions of Serwotka and his cronies have made life more difficult for everybody else. If this shower continue on their current course more people will begin to question their membership of the union.

The time has come for a complete change of direction for PCS, with new ideas for the 21st Century, lets  hope its not too late.

Monday, 20 May 2013

PCS: Mass resignations of Reps in SOCA

PCS Conference has got off to a bad start for Mark Serwotka and John McInally after a mass resignation of firstly 25 of the Group Executive Committee members in the Serious Organised Crime Agency (that's most of them)  plus the suspended Reps including SOCA Group President David Tattam.

The crisis doesn't stop there. Reps are quitting right across the country, with the Northern Branch resigning in total, most of the ones in Central London and the South East going, with just two remaining in the Midlands.

This follows a disastrous attempt by John McInally who despite trying to be "nice" managed to alienate all and sundry. The whole future of the SOCA group in PCS is now in doubt.

There have already been SOCA members quitting PCS in disgust, but Mark Serwotka doesn't seem to either realise or care about the damage he is doing to the union. Nothing new there then.


The Independent Left have printed their latest conference bulletin on-line in which they bemoan the refusal of the Standing Orders Committee (SOC) to publish and debate motions of boycotting "sanctions", an issue that would be purely political rather than industrial and could leave the union open to legal action by the employer.

The author of this self defeating piece is non other than Charlie MacDonald a member of the virtually unheard of Alliance for Workers Liberty (AWL). This group were wonderfully described by fellow socialist Andy Newman over at Socialist Unity as "disputatious". And "shouty" too, truth be told.

He admits that with over a quarter of DWP staff not being in the union plus the fact that Management would discipline and probably sack anyone who participated in such actions the "boycott" would be a disaster, but should have been debated anyway. I'm sure delegates could do without an argument for the sake of it but these are Trotskyists we are talking about.

Back in the real world members groaned with despair when they found out they were going to be asked to strike again. The campaigns clearly failed but the Left Unity Grandees, their PCS Democrat fellow travellers and the head-cases of the Independent Left still want to carry on regardless.

I wonder how many more people will follow the SOCA members example?

Sunday, 19 May 2013

PCS conference meets as crisis of confidence in union grows

Delegates have started arriving in Brighton for the 2013 Annual Conference of the PCS Union. This will probably be the last one in its' current format as the Government are shortly to remove all trade union specific facility time from reps across the civil service. This has already effected the DWP Group where delegates were not allowed special leave like the rest of their colleagues due to the apparent inept handling of negotiations by Left Unity.

As a result there will be empty seats in the DWP Group conference with many delegates unable to use their "annual leave" to attend. Those who are able to attend should support the South London Branch motion A103, previously published on this blog (

Of course the issue of "Facility Time" as important as it is to the survival of PCS as an effective union is not the only problem that delegates need to address. On Friday afternoon an "urgent" message for reps in the DWP (and HMRC) was sent out informing them that:

As part of our national campaign to defend pay, jobs and conditions, all PCS members in DWP and HMRC are asked to take joint regional strike action from 3 June to 7 June.
All members in the following areas are asked to take a full day’s strike action.... 

Given how badly recent turnouts have been, the leadership of PCS are determined to continue with their failed strategy. John McInally, PCS Vice President and Socialist Party hack writes:

The re-election of the Democracy Alliance national executive committee is a real blow to the government's attempt to break PCS members' resolve.
The re-election of a fighting left leadership is a mandate to continue with the strategy of industrial action of varying duration and timing which is causing disruption and real concern among management. It is also an endorsement of the union's campaign against austerity.
The alternative promoted by PCS is now widely supported and is gaining further endorsement throughout the trade union movement and beyond.

This years election saw the lowest turnout ever in PCS elections with just 9.5% of members voting. In the DWP it was even less with just 8%. Given the Democracy Alliance didn't win all the votes cast, their "mandate", whilst formally legitimate, lacks the moral high ground that McInally claims.

Most members have disengaged from the unions internal affairs and none of the factions can claim to have the backing of any substantial number of members. This of course bodes ill for the future, especially with the PCS leadership making claims about the veracity of further strike action when all the evidence shows not only declining support for action (which was supported only by a small minority of members in the initial ballot) but fails to recognise that the continuing action has led to no movement by the Government who are more than aware of the real situation on the ground than the unions leaders are prepared to admit to themselves.

In a situation like this it would be better to withdraw, regroup and rethink the unions policies before there is a real disaster, but McInally belongs to the arrogant tradition of politicians like Margaret Thatcher in that he's not for turning. The ones that will suffer will be the members, and in the long term risks the future of PCS.

The fact that the political activists of the far left have become a "caste" of their own within the union are seemingly confirmed by the scandalous "retirement of Hugh Lanning, the former PCS General Secretary. He still had two years to run in post but was allowed to take "early retirement" on a whim it would appear and then miraculously re-appear a couple of weeks later standing for General Secretary of Napo (National Association of Probation Officers).

The fact that Mark Serwotka has "recommended" him to Napo members means that he and others were obviously well aware of Lannings plans in advance and questions need to be asked about this as if all he wanted to do was change jobs, why are members subbing him through a pension when the union is in financial difficulties. Oh, I bet its' all legal, but smacks of the "bankers bonuses" syndrome that they condemn constantly.

One last issue (for now) is the continuing crisis in the Serious and Organised Crime Agency caused by the intervention of the General Secretary and his sidekick McInally who have suspended the SOCA President and two Assistant Group Secretaries and forbidden them from even attending conference to explain or defend their decisions to fellow delegates.

The entire SOCA Group Conference has been hijacked by the PCS Grandees in an obvious attempt to stifle open and democratic debate, true Marxist style. It will be interesting to see how this develops both over the week and beyond. Go to: for the background.

Contrary to the thoughts of Chairman McInally, PCS is actually becoming more and more isolated not only in the trade union movement, but in political life in general. Its' no wonder that members are switching off. PCS is now run entirely for the benefit of far-left political activists, that needs to change and change fast,

Saturday, 18 May 2013

A quick trip around the political "loons"

I had to laugh when I read this mornings edition of The Times. It seems that allies of the Prime Minister David Cameron have finally recognised that a lot of Tory activists are "mad, swivel-eyed loons". That's not going to win the PM and his chums many friends amongst the Tory "rank and file", especially at a time when the Conservative party is threatened by the rise of the UKIP.

However the rest of us will recognise that there is a certain truth to this comment as the Tories have always had their own form of the "Militant" tendency, one that is quite reactionary and xenophobic with Europe being at the centre of their grief with the party leadership. They also still bang on about single-sex marriages even though the rest of the country has accepted its' going to happen and moved on. That's the nature of "conservatism", lagging behind social and cultural change bleating on about an England that never truly was what they remember.

At the same time we saw Nigel Farage leader of UKIP get "mobbed" by the Radical Independence Movement in Edinburgh when he arrived to begin his electoral gambit in Scotland. According to reports in the media he was called "a racist" and at the same time told to "go back to England". I sometimes wonder about the logic, let alone the sanity of some of the groups that choose to protest.

Most of the actual demonstrators were students, and a quick look at their website you'll find some pictures and bios of the Radical Indpendence groups supporters. These include a fair sprinkling of the far left with members in the International Socialist Group (a Scottish breakaway from the SWP) , members of the Scottish Socialist Party, peaceniks and a former President of St Andrews Student Union, Patrick O'Hare whose CV includes supporting Arab revolutions whatever that is supposed to mean.

The fact is Nigel Farage is not a racist, nor is the UKIP related to the fascist far right in any shape or form. UKIP even bars former members of organisations like the BNP from membership in their constitution. That some have slipped through the net is not surprising given their recent growth but these malcontents are removed when exposed. They represent an old fashioned form of conservatism that has been alienated by the "posh boys" in the cabinet.

And anyway isn't telling someone to go back to England itself racist?

In any case the description of Tory activists as being "wide-eyed loons" sounds very much like the way I see the far-left activists that inhabit my trade union PCS. You should meet some of them!

They must share some of the same DNA it would seem?

Friday, 17 May 2013

Natural Justice and fair play the Serwotka way

The continuing crisis facing PCS members in the Serious & Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) took a new turn today as delegates to their Group Conference found out today. Apparently the meeting is now being run as an "Emergency Group Conference" which sounds all exiting until you find out that the whole event will be stitched up chaired by John McInally, PCS Vice President and Socialist Party "hatchet man".

There will be a meeting of the SOCA Group Executive (also chaired by McInally) before conference takes place. The notable absences will be SOCA President David Tattam and two Assistant Group Secretaries who have been suspended without "trial" and have been forbidden to attend either the GEC or both Group and National Conferences. 

Of course the main topic up for discussion will be the events up to their suspension and GEC members will be presented with a one sided exposition of events as approved by Serwotka and McInally. The "accused" of course will not be able to defend themselves or offer their version of what has been going on. Democracy in action "socialist style". 

Stalin would be proud.

On Monday delegates will be entreated to the new Standing Orders Committee report which replaces the previously agreed agenda with items approved by Serwotka and his cronies only. An exiting day is ahead as with McInally's opening speech being followed by the Dear Leader Mark Serwotka then droning on about whats going on about what delegates should accept as fact and how they have saved the unions credibility in SOCA. 

Following Serwotkas diatribe delegates will be allowed to ask a few questions before they break for tea and return to hear a presentation from the PCS Campaigns department before more tea and another presentation before they disappear to the watering hole of their choice for the evening.

Of course the people they might want to hear an alternative view from won't be present.  That's fair init!

The following day will be taken up by a composite motion written by the NEC, hijacking the whole issue in the wonderfully entitled Emergency Resolution One. If they are lucky they might be allowed to discuss issues that their members want them to, but in the time left after the highly controlled debate its' quite unlikely.

Readers will be interested to know that SOCA members are not being asked to take part in the next round of strikes taking place. Serwotka obviously doesn't want to provoke a backlash especially as he is well aware that the last time SOCA went on strike just 3% (that's 81 members out of 2,600) took part.

One thing that delegates might want to query (if they are allowed, John McInally isn't a fan of free speech as I found out last year) is why Serwotka has not allowed the ballot on the "deal" reached with Management to go ahead for the members of SOCA to decide for themselves.

Could it be that Serwotka is afraid he might lose?

Probably. Hence all this bureaucratic manoeuvring in place of democratic decision making.

Watch out for further updates.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

PCS Group elections, Napo and Hugh Lanning

The PCS Group (or Departmental) election results are being declared today, with results showing a further decline in participation by the membership in the unions internal affairs.

The first results to come my way were for the DWP Group which showed a quite awful turnout of just 8% of the members. In terms of numbers that means just over 6,000 out of 75,000 members taking part. The actual results were virtually "unchanged" from last year with Left Unity winning all but one seat which went to Joe Cox of 4themembers.

Particularly affected were the Independent Left, whose main base is in the DWP who polled under a thousand votes. This was in part due to their fratricidal infighting which led to a split between the mainly London AWL supporters and others resulting in virtually everybody that was ever in their group standing for election.

The only vote of any significance was for Lee Rock, the unfairly dismissed rep in Sheffield who polled higher than any other of his compatriots for Assistant Group Secretary. His profile obviously having been raised during the campaign for his reinstatement.

In the Home Office the Left Unity group polled poorly, with only ten of their supporters being elected (out of 35), helped by the lack of independents standing for the senior posts of President and Assistant Group Secretaries. The biggest surprise was the failure of John Bigger to get elected despite a high profile campaign to keep him from being made redundant. Other notable losses included Paul McGoay unsuccessfully stood for AGS and GEC, Rex Tyrrell & Anne-Louise McKeon-Williams.

In Revenue and Customs Lynda Priestley was re-elected Group President beating off Left Unity challenger Lorna Merry. Jake Wilde who lost his seat on the National Executive Committee can console himself with being elected as one of the two group Vice-Presidents. The other being Hector Wesley the unions cheer-leader for the Stalinist Cuban Government (go figure).

The turnout in the HMRC was low (and unpublished for some reason*) but higher than the DWP, which frankly couldn't be that difficult as this is the second largest group in the union.

* I hope to update this post later tonight or tomorrow.

Hugh Lanning and Napo

The recent posts about Hugh Lanning "retiring" two years and suddenly appearing as a candidate for the post of General Secretary for the National Association of Probation Officers (Napo) attracted some attention on their official forum and the following post appeared:

Prospective General Secretary's

Postby Unionboy » Wed May 15, 2013 9:30 pm
So we're fast approaching the election for General Secretary. Clearly we face the toughest times ever. So I did some research. Have a look at this....(10th and 12th May posts).
So I hear that at the NEC interview the candidate which isn't Ian said he was leaving PCS. Don't think he gave this version of events. Now I don't know what axe "Howie" is grinding, but I'm certainly not taking the risk.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Breaking News: Serwotka suspends PCS Reps in SOCA!

At 4PM this afternoon letters from the PCS General Secretary  Mark Serwotka were delivered to the President and other Reps in the PCS Serious and Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) suspending them from their positions in the union. They have also been told their conference attendance will not be permitted and PCS has written to Management telling them that the SOCA Reps no longer are accredited trade union Representatives.

The SOCA reps will be facing Rule 10 complaints (that allows for disciplinary action for "bringing the union into disrepute or in Socialist Party terms purging their opponents). Normally disciplinary action is not taken until after someone is actually found "guilty" by the PCS "Star Chamber". Not this time, Serwotka says he is "acting to protect the union". This extreme action by the far left PCS leadership is far from unexpected.

The background to this is the SOCA Group Executive negotiating a deal in the light of the removal of their right to strike in the a new act of Parliament due to come in force in October:


Currently PCS members have been denied their own representation in SOCA as the PCS centre has now taken over direct control.

The Reps were originally summonsed to an extraordinary meeting of the National Executive Committee which was run by Socialist Party Witch Finder General, John McInally. The SOCA President said that Serwotka and Godrich (the PCS President) should have shown respect by turning up to the meeting but were informed these two Grandees were doing "important things", which was looking at the PCS election results actually which were due at the same time.

There were strenuous attempts to get the SOCA Reps to resign, which they refused. Surely the members in SOCA are the ones who should decide who their representatives should be, not a coven of Socialist Party and SWP members on the NEC! So much for democracy!

One of the main issues that seems to have riled the PCS Grandees has been the establishment of a "Staff Association" which SOCA members appalled by the actions of the PCS leaders, have been flocking to in large numbers. Circulars telling members not to attend meetings have been falling on deaf ears and the future even of a rump PCS in SOCA is in abeyance at the moment.

According to reports, the Staff Association will be like PCS but without the "aggro" they have been getting from Serwotka and his cronies.

There will be more news to come. Watch this space!

Striking is a means to an end, not an end in itself

The right to withdraw ones labour (or strike) is a fundamental right of any worker. Without this ability then we become slaves. That right has been fought for over the past century and more by millions of trade union members around the world, sometimes in the face of fierce reprisals, deportation or worse. All over the world trade unionists languish in gaol at the behest of undemocratic regimes and corrupt employers. The right to strike must be upheld, as must be the right to join a trade union without which led to the disaster in the Rana Plaza garments factory in Bangladesh.
At the same time striking comes with certain responsibilities, in particular to the members of the unions themselves. Unions exist to protect workers from the excesses of the employer through obtaining and defending employment rights, getting a better pay deal and protecting the individual worker from persecution through the collective of the union as a whole.
In recent years in my own union many members have retained membership not because they believe that the union is going to make large social gains for them, but as a clear insurance policy for themselves as individuals should they get into trouble. As unions have declined in strength and numbers over the last couple of decades that role has become more pronounced.
The general situation is changing, as I outlined in my post yesterday (see below), the whole role of the Labour and trade Union movement needs to be re-thought given the decline of the traditional working class and in particular the disappearance of unions across a wide swathe of the private sector. The TUC is currently dominated by the big battalions of the public sector and much work needs to be done to rebuild confidence in unionism in the vastly changed private sector.
Since the virtual demise of the miners' union the NUM, there have been few cases of unions being able to win concession based on their industrial strength alone. The most obvious example of this is the RMT led by Bob Crow (who politics aside) has made gains for his members on a regular basis. However whilst there have been strikes here and there which have resulted in gains there have been as many strikes where the unions were defeated. In the current climate the unions are facing a very strident anti-trade union Government and the public sector unions in particular have attracted the ire of Ministers.
This brings me to the current PCS dispute with the Government.
A dispute has now been on-going for some time, ostensibly over Pay, Pensions and Conditions of Service. However there has been a clear and quite forthright attempt by the far-left led union to try and manoeuvre other unions to get a "General Strike". That is clearly not on the cards and at the same time the Mark Serwotka/Socialist Party leadership has managed to fall out with both Unite and the NUT to whom they were looking for support. Simultaneously the PCS dispute has clearly floundered as less and less members take part in the continuing action.
For the PCS leadership it would seem just having the strikes has become an end in itself and there has been no movement by the Government on the issues concerned. Besides the fact that the Pensions issue is no longer a "live" issue, the changes are now being implemented and Pay will remain frozen a 1% increase (at most) for the vast majority of members (the others will get sweet FA, again), the remaining question of conditions of service remain a moot point. They won't affect current members in   particular but future ones, so members (who are already struggling to cope in the current economic climate) are disengaging from the unions activities at an alarming rate.
The far-left leadership however are determined despite all the evidence to the contrary to continue the dispute. The reason for this is purely political in nature, not based on the actual needs of PCS members but for the aggrandisement of the Marxist sects to which they belong. For them just having the "fight" is an achievement since they hope in true Trotskyist "transitional programme fashion will bring the workers to see the futility of reformism and become revolutionaries to overthrow capitalism. Except it won't and is just out of date muddled last century ideology.
The trouble is they are able to maintain a certain hegemony over sections of the left who retain similar, but non-Leninist forms of socialist thinking through broad front organisations like Left Unity/Democracy Alliance in PCS). Many of the layers of trade union activists that exist in PCS (and other unions) are stuck in the mind-set of trade union political thinking that should have been ditched after the abject failure of the seventies. Given that this "conservative" layer of activists is well embedded in union structures and has interests in maintaining the ideological status quo, change is not going to be easy.
But change must come, and fast.
For more mainstream trade unionists operating in the unions is not without difficulty. Besides the more obvious hectoring and on occasion bullying that they face, there exists a pseudo-catholic form of "guilt complex" that generally keeps many reps "in-line". Move outside the socialist "box" and the consequences for the individual can be more than just undue pressure. But move they must.
With strikes having been continuing in the civil service for weeks now (and has anyone really noticed if they don't read the unions internal propaganda) and more planned the leadership are now beginning to risk the continued survival of the union. The time has come to say no.
We need to regroup, to rethink our ideas and prepare for the long-term unhindered by the chains of atavistic ideology. That is the challenge.