Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Local Elections: The TUSC kick off...

TUSC - Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition

The latest issue of the tedious Socialist Party rag  The Socialist has just been published with the inevitable headline Trade union and Socialist Coalition: Vote for a Working Class Voice. and to be fair they are the standing the largest "fringe candidates" that I've come across so far. The TUSC is standing 561 candidates which are listed by ward here.

This is apparently just short of the threshold for obtaining what the BBC refer to as "fair coverage" and is used to ensure that that time isn't wasted giving air time to the loonies of whom there are far to many in the various elections that take place. Obviously the Socialist Party thinks it should get more media coverage, especially when its "front" organisation is standing a fair amount of candidates, though nowhere near the "big four".

So just who are the TUSC? The organisation set up by the Socialist Party brings it fellow trots the Socialist Workers Party and surprisingly the RMT union as the late Bob Crow was heavily involved. In addition there is a small group called the Independent Socialist Network which is the only way individuals can actually have a say as the TUSC is an alliance and does not accept individual members. Go figure.

But then of course this is all about "class" not individual human beings in the time mannered tradition of Marx, Lenin & Trotsky.

You can be a "supporter" but all that means is you donate money and do what they ask you without having any say in how the TUSC operates.

Top down socialism.

Whilst the comrades complain about a so-called "media blackout" on their campaigns (and it has to be remembered that the Sunday Times worked out the TUSC obtained 0.04% at the last general election) some of the attention they have received of late is more than a little unwelcome.

Their decision to run Steve Hedley has attracted some adverse reaction from what should be their "natural constituency". An on-line petition making accusations over alleged domestic violence is currently doing the rounds. Though at the time of writing it had only attracted 227 signatures, discussion has taken place on such forums as the PCS Union Face Book Group (no link its a "closed" group, in more than one way it has to be said).

Given the Socialist Party control the bankrupt PCS union that should be a worrying development.

Interestingly little has been said about the SWPs involvement. This organisation was widely condemned for its handling of serious accusations against  of one its (now former) leaders and of the women (plural) who complained about their treatment by the party leadership.

There have been incidents at NUS conference and elsewhere on campus with SWP stalls being "turned over" and literature scattered to the wind. The latest such event taking place in Sheffield University, where not only was their stall wrecked, but they have been warned to stay out of the university on pain of being escorted off the premises by Security Guards. The latter because  none of them were actually students.

The TUSC is actually standing no less than 21 candidates in Sheffield, one of whom is the notorious SWP hack Maxine Bowler. A student backlash could damage even their very limited chances here. Time will tell.

The Socialist Party itself is throwing everything into its Coventry offencive, where TUSC supremo and former Labour Militant Tendency  MP Dave Nellist is trying to win back his council seat after being kicked out by Labour last time. The SP usually run under the name of Socialist Alternative but are as far as I can see using the TUSC "brand" this time for no less than 19 candidates.

The track record of the Socialist Party where they have managed to have influence or control is very poor. When they were called the Militant, they made the Labour Party unelectable, when they took control of Liverpool Council they not only bankrupted it, but as Neil Kinnock reminded everyone in his now famous speech they sent taxis around the city to had out redundancy notices. Charming.

Of course they've now destroyed the largest of the Civil Service unions, the PCS and have had to go cap in hand to Unite to be bailed out.

And they say they offer an alternative?

Yeah right.

Just the usual tired old unworkable Trotskyist nonsense.

Might provide some work for the cabbies in the unlikely event they get elected.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Election fever is upon us...for the pundits anyway.

As I sat down to write this post the BBC announced the resignation of Patrick Mercer MP for Newark following his suspension for accepting "cash for questions". They report:

Mr Mercer said he was "ashamed" of his behaviour and had decided to "fess up" by standing down straight away.

This will trigger a by-election in his Newark constituency in Nottinghamshire.

Mr Mercer was filmed by undercover reporters last year apparently agreeing to set up a parliamentary group to push for Fiji to return to the Commonwealth.

This of course may offer an opportunity to UKIP who are currently soaring in the polls and have now surpassed Labour as the front runners. The BBC continues:

UKIP leader Nigel Farage has told the BBC he would "seriously" consider standing as the party's candidate if the by-election was to be held after the European Parliament elections on 22 May.

Under parliamentary rules, a by-election cannot be held before that date.

On that we will have to wait and see.

This certainly adds to the growing "election fever" that seems to be everywhere except perhaps amongst the voters. There will be local elections across England in May, plus of course the European elections. It is my intention to cover these events but from a different perspective to that offered in the mainstream media with which I obviously cannot compete.

What interests me and will come as no surprise to regular readers of this blog is the political fringe. There will be various challenges by the far-left in the form of the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition in the local elections, NO2EU and Arthur Scargill's Socialist Labour Party in the European elections. Interestingly the SLP are only standing candidates for the European Parliament in Wales.

The fate of the two fascist MEPs Nick Griffen and Andrew Brons will also be decided in May. They are no longer in the same party having fallen out. Brons has set up the misleadingly named British Democratic Party with a handful of other of boneheads which he is the self appointed Fuhrer.

The Hope Not Hate campaign is up and running against the far right and you can find details: here

There will be others on the fringe and I'll try to fit in the more interesting ones.

Watch this space!

In case any ones wondering I will be voting Labour.

Monday, 28 April 2014

PCS Conference: going through the motions

Returning to work after a relaxing Easter break I was "delighted" to find copies of the PCS Conference Agenda sitting on my desk. Undaunted I sat down and read through (OK skimmed in parts, there's pages of the stuff) and thought I'd share a few thoughts.

The obvious "highlight" of Conference will be the debate on the proposed merger takeover of the union by Unite which will take place on the Wednesday morning. The whole question of the merger has already been covered in depth on this blog (see sidebar) and there will be more to come, but it is very noticeable that there is no mention of the crisis that has led to the need to end PCS's independent existence.

In fact the whole takeover merger is presented in reverential terms as a means to:

..create a new, powerful force for fighting back trade unionism in the public sector capable of shifting the current passive approach of the other unions which led to the squandering of the momentum generated by the joint union action over pensions... in 2011.

Yeah right. The fact that PCS has a £65 Million deficit in its pensions scheme has absolutely nothing to do with it. Hopefully the growing number of oppositionists which now includes many on the "left" of the union will quiz the NEC about this and other related issues. We'll have to wait & see.

There will be another bloody conference to discuss the "terms" offered by unite later in the year and:

..take decisions on whether to proceed to a membership ballot.


Members wait with baited breath.

The other two motions that stuck out were A49 from the Met Police in East London and A54 from DWP Somerset. These relate to organising members in age groups.

PCS has what it calls the Young Members Network (cynics call the Socialist Party Youth) which you can be in until you are some 27 years old. Trouble is the "younglings" are growing up getting older, the membership is getting older, especially with no recruitment on any kind of scale and it seems some of them are determined to hang on to their positions.

The young bureaucrats want to raise the age limit to 30 because: they take on additional workloads as branch and Group Executive Committee members, are struggling to be able to be able to allocate time to build the network and require additional support.

Not sure how raising the age limit helps. Perhaps they could consider relinquishing their posts to err...other, young members and move on.

Just a thought........

More amusingly Somerset looks in the other direction. They write that with changes to retirement age:

...the number of members in this higher age group will be on the increase, and that such members are likely to have age-related conditions and particular needs and circumstances as a result...

They then call for a "Senior Members" section organised along the lines of the young members.

Where do I sign up!

Campaign for the right to have an afternoon nap now!

Meanwhile if PCS still exists next year expect a call for those aged between 31 and 49 demanding a "Middle aged" section.

Which remains a big if at the moment.

An urgent appeal from Istanbul

Eric Lee of LabourStart asks for your support

Turkey's first mass May Day demonstrations in Istanbul's Taksim Square took place in 1976, with the participation of hundreds of thousands. A year later, half a million people took part -- but 37 were killed by gunfire.

No one has ever been prosecuted for this crime, and for decades the government banned May Day celebrations in Taksim. Attempts to meet there have been met by tear gas, violence and arrests.

The violence peaked in last year when hundreds were injured.

This year, when unions including DISK, KESK and the Chambers of Medicine and Engineers announced that they would once again attempt to commemorate May Day in Taksim, the government of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan responded by announcing a ban on the event.

When union leaders attempted to hold a small press conference in late April (pictured above), police responded with tear gas and more arrests.

Turkey's trade unionists are demanding their right to celebrate May Day peacefully in Taksim Square, to commemorate the martyrs from 1977, and to call for trade union freedom, a more democratic society, an end to precarious work and better working conditions.

Please support them:

It will take you less than one minute to send off your messageof protest to Prime Minister Erdoğan -- click here to do this:

Spread the word about this campaign to your friends, family and fellow union members email this, and post the link to the campaign on Facebook, Twitter and other social networks. If your union has a mailing list, please send on this message to as many members as you can.

Time is short. May Day is only three days away. Our brothers and sisters in Istanbul need our help right now.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Standing up to the threat of Sharia "Law"

One of the most important aspects of democratic society is that everyone regardless of race. colour or religion should be able to receive equal treatment before the law. No legal system is perfect and there will always be a need to revise, reform and even abolish laws to ensure that fairness and justice are central to any form of Legal contract between the state and its people.

Last week a new organisation was launched in the House of Lords called Sharia Watch. Their press release states:

Sharia tribunals and councils currently operate a system of family law in the UK which denies women unilateral divorce rights – even in cases of domestic violence. Sharia family law also denies child custody to women and treats their testimony as worth less than that of their husbands....

The report ‘Sharia Law – Britain’s Blind Spot’ will demonstrate how such organisations are regularly represented in the media as “moderate” and indeed are endorsed and supported by mainstream public figures.

Sharia Watch UK will show the public, and our political leaders, the extent of the threat that sharia and Islamic extremism pose to the rights and freedoms of women, freedom of speech, and democratic principles.

Anne Marie Waters opens the debate:

Sharia Watch UK seeks to highlight and expose those movements in Britain which advocate and support the advancement of sharia law in British society. We seek to explain and describe sharia law in relation to specific issues – primarily the treatment of women, freedom of speech, finance, and the marketplace.

Sharia Watch UK believes in freedom of religion, but we say that its practice must remain within the laws that have been set down by Parliament. To this end, we aim to expose the ways in which sharia law operates in Britain in contravention of the law. We will also highlight the areas in which sharia advances within the parameters of the law.

We call on the UK government to recognise that the establishment of a sharia state, or campaigning for such, is itself an extremist position. We base this on the fact that a sharia state would involve profound mistreatment of women and girls (including forced marriage and unequal legal status), the implementation of barbaric punishments (including stonings and amputations) and the complete destruction of freedom of speech and democracy.

We urge the UK government to immediately cease all funding of groups with such extremist political views, to arrest and charge people where there is evidence of any breach of laws, for example incitement to violence against women or Jews, and to ensure that laws on public order and discrimination are upheld equally across all communities irrespective of religion, cultural beliefs or background.

We urge the UK government to make a clear, unequivocal and public denouncement of sharia law and Islamist ideology, and to ensure all laws which prevent extremism are applied to the groups named in this report.

Sharia Watch UK makes a clear distinction between Muslims as human beings, and Islam as a system of belief. We believe strongly that all Muslims should be afforded equal human and civil rights alongside all other citizens. We believe equally strongly that Muslims must also be burdened with the same responsibilities as all other citizens. However, we assert that Islam is a belief system like any other and as such is liable to scrutiny, criticism, and ridicule and that it is the democratic right of all British citizens to be free to discuss any belief system, and to hold any opinions on that belief system, as they see fit.

We wish to make it clear that the information contained in this report is intended to inform both the British public and our elected representatives of the true beliefs and political philosophy of various “mainstream” Islamic organisations in the UK. We ask that the government recognises the extreme nature of such beliefs and condemns these accordingly.

Meanwhile in an update to a previous post, there is a demonstration against the Law Society tomorrow:

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Musical Interlude - Rocking over the weekend!

Just enough time for a quick music post tonight, so I thought it was time to be contemporary as people tell me that my musical taste is a wee bit old fashioned. So here are a couple of numbers from bands that are err..actually still around.

The first is from the Finnish band Battle Beast with a cracking number called Black Ninja, taken from their current album simply called Battle Beast.

More info from:

Then over in the good old US of A there is The Pretty Reckless with this thumping number, Going to Hell.

You can hear their excellent new album here:

Their Face Book page is here:


Friday, 25 April 2014

Ex-SWP members to sabotage Steve Hedley's local election campaign? UPDATED!

They continued to question him, so he stood up and replied, "Whoever hasn't sinned should throw the first stone." (Jesus, according to John 8:7)

Whilst it may seem odd for me as a very upfront and noisy atheist to quote a religious text, the passage concerned does have a point when it comes to members of the various and quite unsavoury far-left sects.

Over the past year or so I have published a fair number of pieces on the SWP's disgraceful "comrade delta" affair and also published a certain amount of coverage over the allegations made against Steve Hedley, Assistant General Secretary of the RMT.

Now as much as I find Hedley a thoroughly unpleasant fellow, I need to point out that his case was at least investigated by the RMT and he was exonerated and no charges were bought by the police. 

His case however remains "open" to some on the left and it has been bought to my attention that a number of ex-members of the Socialist Workers Party in the RS21 and International Socialist Network groups have been considering a campaign to "sabotage" his local election campaign.

Hedley is standing as a candidate  for the Trade Union & Socialist Coalition (TUSC)in the East Ham South ward of Newham Council. In an anonymised Face Book conversation the comrades tell readers that:

"domestic abuser steve hedley is standing for tusc in east ham south. the sp have some explaining to do"

"Maybe some guerrilla fly posting one night. Maybe turning up to the hustings. Maybe spamming TUSC's email address letting them know how disgusting we think it is. Maybe contacting any community organisations in the ward letting them know. Maybe some kind of social media campaign"

"you're right that the sp never distanced themselves from him at all, so this doesn't surprise me, as he stood another tusc election a couple of years ago and i suspected this might happen"

Finally they make plans:

"East Ham South (the ward he's standing in) has allotments, a nature reserve, a cemetery and playing fields. In terms of actual streets with houses on it it's very small. A group of 20 of us could go round there one weekend afternoon, flyer through every door alerting the people of east ham to the fact that they maybe don't want an abuser representing thrm would do the trick"

Now besides the obvious legal problems involved in their plan, I do find the ex-comrades of the SWP to be somewhat hypocritical in their approach to this issue.

Most of them were in the SWP for years, if not decades and were themselves part of the culture that eventually led to comrade delta allegedly abusing his position with younger female members and his was far from the only case that came to light during the unsavoury fallout that ensued when the allegations went public.

Indeed the RS21 group hung on in the SWP for nearly a year after the delta affair went "pear-shaped" despite all the evidence that the imploding cult was beyond saving. "Lynch mobs" anyone?

I haven't put any links in to cover either affair as there are far to many, even on this site. Just google and you'll find hundreds of articles and comments on both "delta" and Hedley.

Hedley, by the way is also running an election campaign to replace Bob Crow as RMT General Secretary. Surely the comrades know this? 

As far as I'm concerned the lot of them are as bad as each other. We'll never know the full truth about either case, but what we do know is that the far-left are just groups of self serving cults. 

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Are new, smaller and moderate trade unions the future?

NAHTedge logo
With most eyes focused on the probable takeover of the main civil service union PCS by Unite the news of the formation of a "new" union being formed amongst teachers broke today. The Times reports that:

A new trade union for classroom teachers is to be launched amongst growing discomfort at militancy and confrontation among the big education bodies.

It will be aimed at teachers in primary and secondary schools who have become dismayed at plans by the National Union of Teachers (NUT) to escalate its strikes. The union, the first  new such body for teachers for almost, hopes to attract those in senior posts, such as heads of departments or year groups.....

The organisation will be set up as a sister organisation to the  to the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) which represents about 28,000 heads predominately in primary schools. The creation of a direct rival will strain relations between unions and the NAHT which is far more moderate and only called one strike in its history.

The NAHT website announces:

NAHT has confirmed that it will be announcing the launch of an affiliate union, known as NAHT Edge, at annual conference in May 2014. This association will be aimed at middle leaders in schools, offering a blend of traditional trade union protection and high quality leadership development, underwritten by NAHT's experienced staff and officers.

Members of NAHT see it as a duty to mentor and support the next generation of leaders in a potentially difficult education climate. Many potential members are already part of NAHT, or have been eligible in the past, but the creation of a new organisation enables us to focus more on the needs of aspiring leaders rather than those more established in their careers.

To suit the needs of the next generation, NAHT Edge will use online media to create a direct democracy, with all active members creating policy and expressing their voice. The connection with NAHT will enable us to strengthen the bonds between middle and senior leaders and build a strong alliance for a better education system.

Membership will be live from September 2014 and the association hopes for up to 5,000 members in the first few years. Members of NAHT Edge will be members of NAHT and thus entitled to full trade union recognition and representation. However, the emphasis will also be on career and professional development. Louis Coiffait has been appointed chief executive of NAHT Edge and an advisory council will be established from among the early members.

Its only been a few months since the PCS union faced its' own split when members of the Serious Organised Crime Agency tried to negotiate a deal for compensation when they lost their right to strike following their subsuming into the police force. The PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka went berserk and ended up suspending and eventually driving out the majority of members who formed the National Crime Officers Association. (See here and here)

Their President, Mark Sutton reported in February:

We are pleased to announce that our recruitment campaign, after only 7 months, has resulted in over 1500 NCA members of staff choosing to join the NCOA.

The NCOA provide employees of the NCA a union which understands the uniqueness of their role within the Agency and is committed to focusing all of its resources on the issues that affect our members within the organisation.

We now have 45 NCOA accredited representatives in workplaces across the organisation who are actively involved in representing members in grievance, discipline and employment related matters and we encourage you to identify your nearest representative.

Meanwhile as PCS collapses under the weight of Trotskyism some idiots, well one Steve Ryan asks:

If the take over goes ahead , do we bale? If so where to ? Do we build the IWW in the civil service. maybe we should be doing that now?

That would be the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), an anarchist union, itself recently split by former egotistical PCS member Chris Ford who promptly set his own union the IWGB with just one branch but with himself as head honcho.

More likely PCS members who do not want to go into Unite, (which with the influx of trots from PCS who will immediately engage in "faction fighting" with their already present Socialist Party and SWP allies to undermine Unites links with the Labour Party) may consider the remaining option of Prospect.

Prospect: Union for professionals

Prospect is a far more level headed and mainstream union than PCS or even Unite which constantly veers to the far left under its own Marxist leadership.

If the merger does not go ahead there certainly needs to be a major political re-alignment to remove the far left wreckers who have bought PCS to its knees both politically and financially. 

The future of civil service trade unionism remains in abeyance, it requires the PCS membership and more reasonable reps to take up the challenge. 

All options need to be considered, remaining the same is not an option. 

Cornish nationalism takes the stage

Mebyon Kernow - The Party for Cornwall

With all eyes on the Scottish referendum for independence next month, one other small section of the "Celtic fringe" has now come back into the public eye. The BBC reports:

Cornish people will be granted minority status under European rules for the protection of national minorities.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander will make the announcement on a visit to the county later.

Dick Cole, leader of Mebyon Kernow, which campaigns for Cornish devolution, said: "This is a fantastic development. This is a proud day for Cornwall."

The Cornish will gain the same status as other Celtic communities the Scots, Welsh and Irish.

The small, but growing Cornish Nationalist Party announces:

Speaking on behalf of Mebyon Kernow, Party Leader Cllr Dick Cole said:

“This is a fantastic announcement for Cornwall. I am absolutely delighted that the Government has recognised the Cornish people as a National Minority and it is great to see that all the Celtic peoples of these Islands – the Cornish, Irish, Scottish and Welsh – are now afforded equal protection under the Framework Convention.

“People have been campaigning on this issue for over fifteen years and I would like to pay a heartfelt tribute to everyone who played a part in the long running fight to secure National Minority status.”

How this will influence the Scots is not known, but one interesting fact is that Mebyon Kernow is not campaigning for independence, just devolution. Their blog tells us that:

The first issue that I want to address is:

"Cornwall wouldn't be able to survive as an independent country"

Of course this is a completely misleading and nonsensical argument against the Mebyon Kernow proposal for a law-making Cornish assembly.

The statement is utterly irrelevant to the argument in favour of a Cornish Assembly and is typical of the scaremongering tactics that are used by unionist politicians.

It is irrelevant because I can't think of a single serious and well established organisation that is campaigning for Cornish independence from the UK. Mebyon Kernow's campaign is for devolution of power - not to become a stand alone nation state.

Our ethos is that decisions are best made at the lowest level possible - a principle known as subsidiarity.

We believe that there is a democratic mandate for genuine law making powers to be devolved to the people of Cornwall. Fifty thousand people have signed declarations that they believe that a Cornish assembly is required to set the right democratic priorities for Cornwall - so we are not alone!

Not only do we believe that there is a democratic mandate but we also believe that an Assembly is actually the best way to begin to tackle the distinct social and economic problems that we face here in Cornwall. How can a remote government in Westminster understand the nuances of Cornish culture and blend of economic factors that make up our society.

Let's be clear - Mebyon Kernow is not asking for SS Kernow to be cast adrift from the fleet - we simply want to have a Cornish captain with the power to run his/her ship to the best of their ability.

Cornwall doesn't need to be able to survive as an independent country - but couldn't it do a whole lot better for its people if it were able to look to itself to solve problems?

Exactly what should be considered in Scotland Wales and Ulster to be honest. Devolution is an acceptable form of democracy for the various recognised nations with the UK. Breaking up the country at a time when we should be looking to unity in the modern world seems to me somewhat of an anachronism.

Scotland (and Wales) should likewise remain within the UK framework. Ulster of course remains a seemingly unsolvable enigma.

The Cornish have the right idea.

Unity with devolution within a hopefully one day united Europe, though that will be a long way off given the obvious rise of UKIP and their xenophobic outlook.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Ecuador: Stop the persecution of social and labour activists

A joint LabourStart & Public Services International appeal

Eric Lee writes:

Ecuador's populist president must stop persecuting labour and social leaders. That's the message we're asking trade unionists around the world to send today to Rafael Correa.

An online campaign launched today on LabourStart is expected to generate thousands of messages calling on Correa to free Dr Carlos Figueroa, ex-leader of the Ecuadorian Medical Federation, Cléver Jiménez Cabrera, the Pachakutik Movement parliamentarian, his advisor, Fernando Villavicencio Valencia, ex-leader of the oil workers' trade union, and Mary Zamora, ex-president of the National Union of Teachers.

The jailed union leaders had asked the public prosecutor to investigate the propriety of the President’s order for military intervention to "rescue" him from the National Police Hospital in Quito during a political crisis in September 2010. The violent military action resulted in a number of deaths.

Correa accused the union leaders of "hacking" his email; they claim they were merely investigating corruption.

Public Services International, a global union representing millions of public sector workers, initiated the current campaign on LabourStart.

Please take a moment to show your support for the campaign - click here.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Voting recommendations for the last (?) PCS elections

The ballot papers for what might be the very last elections for the main civil service union PCS arrived this morning and will be landing on members desks or or doormats over the next few days.

The accompanying booklet is the thinnest we have seen for years as so many activists have seemingly given up on the internal electoral process. The outcome of the elections is seemingly decided already as the ruling group in PCS, the laughably named "Democracy Alliance" are the only ones contesting every available seat.

The second largest group are the rather "shouty" types of Trotskyists in the Independent Left. The main opposition group 4themembers doesn't really exist any more, though a couple of candidates are using that name.

So who should PCS members vote for?

Firstly it needs to be remembered that getting on 90% of members don't normally vote so advocating any kind of "boycott" would be pointless.

Next members should remember who are the people who got us into this mess. 

That would be Mark Serwotka and his mates in the Democracy Alliance. Led by the Socialist Party (proprietors Janice Godrich, President and "fixer" John McInally).

After years of using the union for their own barmy political purposes along with their friends in the SWP the union is no longer viable as an independent entity it would seem.

Hence the unsavoury rush to get Unite to take us over and bail out the mess the Democracy Alliance have made.

The time has come to save the union and then work for real change.

I recommend the following candidates whom I either know or have judged on the basis of their election addresses that they offer members some independent thinking:

Vice President: 


NEC Members:

Owen DODD (Home Office)
Stephen GAINSFORD (Met Police)
Gurmit KANG (DWP)
Willie SAMUEL (Commercial Sector)

Please vote for these candidates ONLY.

After the elections PCS members and activists will have to consider the future not just of the union, but also returning an Independent union back to the political mainstream and ditch the far left wreckers of the Democracy Alliance for good.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Islamists "operate like Trotskyists"

A few weeks ago I warned of the dangers of Islamists infiltrating the Labour Party (see here) and now others are waking up to the dangers of similar tactics in education and charity work. Khalid Mahmood, Labour MP for Perry Barr warned in The Sunday Times that:

"It's like the Trotskyists coming into the Labour Party in the 1980's and trying to take over from within".

Even leaving aside the fact a rather large group of them, the Militant Tendency (now re branded the Socialist Party) had been present for over a decade before then, their rise did attract most (but not all) of the various Trotskyist groupscules into the Labour Party for an extended period. Some of them (The secretive Socialist Action group) ended up as "lieutenants for Ken Livingstone during his reign as Mayor of London.

Now we see schools (and Universities) undermined by an intolerant Islamist inspired agenda. 

Girls being forced to sit at the back of classrooms, female teachers "sidelined" allegations of hate preachers being heard in school Assemblies and Christian pupils being excluded from "religious" classes because the whole curriculum was Islamic.

Such practises are unacceptable in a modern democratic society.

Another Labour MP, Tristram Hunt has also joined the call for for religious extremists to be driven from our schools. Addressing the NASUWT conference he said:

We cannot have narrow, religious motives which seek to divide and isolate dictating state schooling. We cannot have head teachers forced out, teachers undermined, curricular re-written and cultural or gender based segregation.

Those on the so-called "left" who attack secularists and others who attempt to expose this dangerous phenomena are themselves part of the problem.

Socialist Resistance doesn't want Luftur Rahman investigated despite there being ample evidence to justify Tower Hamlets be opened up to public scrutiny. Bob Pitt, who thinks Islam is above any criticism whatsoever and those that do seek to engage backward ideas are all "Islamophobes" and publishes distorted rants against secularism is currently providing cover for the Islamists and their left allies in his latest diatribe.

There are numerous others, Socialist Unity, the SWP and the rest of the anti- imperialist armchair brigade who seek (literally) unholy alliances with the Islamists to undermine our society.

The time has come to stand up against all this nonsense.

It is not Islamophobic to stand up for women's rights including the right of girls to a full and proper scientific eduction away from the religious nonsense that the Islamists promote. 

It is not Islamophobic to stand up for gay rights or democracy, free speech and human rights.

It's actually called secularism and secularists believe in the rights of all to practise their religion, but not at the expense of human rights which always come first.

Time to stand up for reason!

Time to stand up to extremists undermining our society whether Islamist or Trotskyist!

PCS President panics over growing opposition to merger

The growing opposition to the PCS/Unite merger seems to have caused some consternation amongst the PCS Grandees, in particular the Socialist Party who are the main force pushing this through. Evidence of their concerns were highlighted by PCS President Janice Godrich who writes (italics);

There has been a lot of traffic on FB sites and elsewhere on the subject of a merger between PCS and Unite and the I am making this posting to ensure that the there is an informed and serious debate. There are activists of course who are genuinely engaging in the debate and are seeking information in order to come to some kind of understanding of the issues involved and that is good, heathly and positive. I wouldn’t expect any less in PCS. However it is equally clear there are others who have decided already, without any debate whatsoever, they will oppose even formal talks on the issue.

There are a lot of reasons why both PCS Reps and members will not want a merger with Unite. Its an issue that seems to cross "party lines" both "left and right", but one thing that seems to be central to opposition is the need for a specifically civil service trade union.

The back ground is this. A few years ago when Unite general secretary spoke at our conference he raised the issue of closer working and even the possibility of a merger. PCS ADC 2013 gave the PCS NEC authority to discuss this is issue if approached by Unite. The period since has been one of intense activity for both unions and it is only in the period prior to Christmas that any talks at all have taken place. These have been reported to the PCS NEC and material has appeared in union publications and a briefing has been sent to branches. 

Just because we "agreed" to closer working with Unite doesn't mean that there is an overwhelming need for PCS to be simply subsumed within another union.

It was only on Thursday 17th April that the Unite NEC agreed continue these talks. An PCS NEC motion sets out a process in order to engage with Unite. It is PCS Conference which will decide whether or not to continue these discussions. More than that the motion sets out the most rigorous democratic process including, full reports to the PCS NEC and branches on the talks, a widespread consultation on any proposals, a special delegate conference to debate any such proposals and lastly, a ballot of members on any such proposals.

Aah, democratic debate. Does this mean that those who oppose the dissolution of PCS will be afforded space in the unions publications and website to present a case against? 

Doubtful. In fact highly improbable since the desire to force through the merger is obviously a political decision taken by the Socialist Party (by their central committee ) and we will probably see the same antics that marred the AGS election to ensure the cowardly Chris Baugh got re-elected.

In PCS the accusation that a merger is either being rushed through or the property of the NEC or “bureaucrats” is not true. Not only is a full democratic debate already taking place any potential merger could only ever take place on the basis of the most thorough democratic discussion throughout the union and on the basis on a democratic “Triple Lock” as outlined above i.e., consultation, special conference and ballot. 

There's that "democracy" word again. The Socialist Party have a habit of trying to censor political opponents through bureaucratic means. The leadership have just introduced new "complaint" rules which cover amongst other things e-mails. 

I wonder who they will target.

It has been suggested that any PCS NEC member who has not mentioned the merger and stated their “position” in their election address should not be supported. How could anyone have a position at the stage when the terms of the proposals have not been discussed or set out to express an opinion on?

For the record I would advocate not voting for Madame Godrich and her useless cronies that form the so-called "Democracy Alliance". They are responsible for the collapse of PCS and an independent voice for civil servants.

They do not deserve to be re-elected.


Further reading: 

Sunday, 20 April 2014

They kill atheists and we are deemed terrorists!

Cross-post by Maryam Namazie

Punishing apostates is a long-standing and fundamental feature of all major religions.

Islam is no different except that Islamism – an extreme Right movement with Islam as its banner – is this era’s inquisition and totalitarianism.

To the degree it has power, that is the degree it controls every single aspect of people lives and society via its Sharia laws – from what people wear, who they have sex with, to what they are allowed to think.

Islamists will kill, threaten or intimidate anyone who interprets things differently, dissents, thinks freely or transgresses their norms by living 21st century lives.

One of the characteristics of an Islamic inquisition is the policing of thought. Even for Muslims, a ‘personal’ religion is impossible under an inquisition. You can’t pick and choose as you’d like. You don’t want to wear the veil; acid in your face should teach you a lesson. You want to go to school; maybe they can gun you down on your way there. You want to be an atheist? Being a murtad is the most heinous of crimes. Saudi Arabia just issued a law equating atheism with terrorism.

The bitter irony! They kill us and we are the terrorists.

Apostasy is a prosecutable offence in 30 countries under the influence of Sharia and punishable by death in 11.

Of course there are religious justifications for the execution of apostates in the Koran and Hadith – sayings and actions of Mohammad, Islam’s prophet.

From a religious standpoint, preventing apostasy is crucial to the preservation of Islam as Islamic “scholar” Qaradawi says. I use the term scholar lightly. As Dawkins says, you do need to read more than one book to be considered a scholar. But apostasy laws and the execution of apostates are the ultimate means of political rather than religious control.

It’s used to silence anyone who questions Islamic rule. Most recently, Roya Nobakht in Iran has been charged with apostasy for saying the regime is “too Islamic” and in Bangladesh, two high school students have been arrested for apostasy for questioning the Jamaat Islami.

Challenging apostasy laws therefore is first and foremost a political challenge. Hence the establishment of the Council of Ex-Muslims, an atheist organisation, found now in the UK, Germany, Scandinavian countries, Austria, France, North America and also in Morocco – the first public atheist organisation in a country with Islam as the state religion.

Don’t forget Christianity also used to execute its apostates. It’s not that the tenets, dogma, and principles of Christianity have changed since the days of the inquisition but rather its social and political influence and its relation to the state. A religion that has been reined in by an enlightenment is very different from one that is spearheading an inquisition.

Challenging it means having the courage to think for oneself, as philosopher AC Grayling says of the Council of Ex-Muslims, breaking the taboo that comes with renouncing Islam, and paving the way for others to do so.

It’s mainly though an important aspect of the fightback against Islamism.

Some will ask why we cannot just call ourselves atheists and not ex-Muslims but atheist alone cannot describe the risks and challenges we face.

Others will say our Council is an unnecessary provocation.

It’s a provocation, yes, but unnecessary, no.

Islamists tell us all the time: don’t provoke. Don’t offend. Don’t criticise … and no one need get hurt.

If anyone believes that – and trust me there are still people who do – then they still don’t know this movement.

Islamists need no excuses. Murder and mayhem is part and parcel of their movement.

Throughout history barbarity has always been pushed back – not by tiptoeing around it, accommodating it, appeasing it, tolerating it but by facing it head on.

They say we are not allowed to leave Islam.To them I say: We are not waiting for your permission.

Friday, 18 April 2014

PCS & Unite not a merger but a takeover!

The Unite union held a special Executive Committee meeting on April 17th where Len McCluskey presented a report that indicates the PCS are seeking to "join" rather than "merge" with Unite which may come as somewhat of a surprise to PCS members.

The blog Ian's Unite site publishes the following report by Unite General Secretary, Len McCluskey:

Following a decision of the Executive Council, informal talks have been taking place with PCS on exploring a transfer of that union’s engagements into Unite.

Unite’s team has included the Chair of the Executive Council, executive officers and senior lay colleagues. PCS’s team has been led by its General Secretary and has included lay EC members. The talks have covered the constitutional, industrial, political and administrative questions which would arise from joining Unite.

Separately, the Executive Director for Finance has met his opposite number at PCS to consider financial, pension and property issues.

On this basis, there seems to be no impediment to opening formal talks on a transfer of engagements which would bring PCS into Unite. Specifically:
  • No significant revision of Unite’s rules would be required and the transfer of engagements will be on the basis of our existing rule book.
  • Subject to the resolution of pensions issues between PCS and the Pensions Regulator, there are no obvious financial issues that would obstruct a transfer (due diligence will nevertheless have to be completed before any final agreement is brought before the Council).
  • No change to Unite’s political affiliations will be sought or considered in the context of the formal discussions
  • Short-term transitional arrangements will suffice to ensure the full and complete integration of the PCS membership into Unite’s existing structures
In this context, and bearing in mind the significant industrial, organisational and political advantages that would accrue to Unite as a result of such a transfer, in terms above all of the consolidation of fighting trade unionism across the public sector, it is recommended that authority be given to open formal talks with PCS to that end.
Formal "negotiations" will now open with PCS. Some members of Unite's EC were quite rightly worried about a further "period of turmoil" that they have experienced with previous mergers. Given the political makeup of the controlling Left Unity group in PCS they should be concerned. Since they gained power well over a decade ago the far-left have managed to wreck the largest civil service union to the point where it isn't viable as an independent body it would seem.

Despite the PCS leadership telling us that there will be a small "operating surplus" in the unions finances, its' clear that from the huge pension deficit for the unions own employees (running at some £65 Million according to leaked reports in the press), something is seriously wrong.

Part of the negotiations will be about this issue and it remains possible that the talks with the Pensions Regulator could still remain a barrier as McCluskey seems to indicate in his report.

In the mean time there seems to be a quite unhealthy rush to bring about the dissolution of PCS. 

Despite the Annual Conference of the union taking place in May, McCluskey is reported as saying a special conference for PCS will take place as early as June/July and the takeover (subject to a members ballot) would be complete by January 2015.

With conference only a few short weeks away there is an urgent need for PCS members to discuss the implications of the proposals being pushed through with such undue haste by Mark Serwotka and the Socialist Party leadership.

The decision to end our unions existence cannot be taken lightly.

What it does show is that Serwotka's legacy will be remembered as one of abject failure.

Shame on you "comrades".

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Stop the slaughter - Tell Canada to end the seal hunt

IFAW logo


Right now seals are being killed in the commercial hunt in Canada.

It's cruel and it has to stop.

People around the world continue to say "no" to seal products, but the Canadian government stubbornly continues trying to sell these cruel products. They are fighting the European Union ban at the World Trade Organisation and trying to overturn the ban in Russia.

Last year, 88,573 innocent baby seals were reported clubbed or shot - many as young as 21 days old. They were killed for products no one wants or needs. Last year, the sealers admitted dumping 6,000 pelts into the ocean because there were no markets for them.

You can help end the seal hunt once and for all.

Seal pups lie defenceless on the ice as hunters approach. But even the fastest pups are no match for men with clubs or rifles. The pups die in agony.

The seal hunt has a long history, but it's a relic of the past. Rather than determine a plan to help sealers transition out of this failing industry, the Canadian government has thrown away over $50 million in tax dollars since 1996 trying to prop up the industry.

There's no reason for this merciless slaughter to continue.

The fight to protect seals is more urgent than ever. Ask the Canadian government to end commercial sealing.

Thank you for caring about the animals.

Sheryl Fink
Wildlife Campaigns Director, IFAW Canada

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Women in Saudi Arabia: a lesson for Rashida Manjoo of the so called "United Nations"

Like many other people I was really taken aback by a report that appeared in this mornings papers of remarks made by some non-entity from the United Nations who is reported as saying in The Times that:

Sexism is more pervasive and "in your face" according to the United Nations investigator into violence against women.

What planet does she live on?

Britain's far from perfect, as is her own quite dangerous country South Africa. But from reports into the position of women around the world the UK is no way the worst. In fact as Sarah AB points out at Harry's Place:

According to one recent survey the UK was the 18th best place to be a woman, and Manjoo’s report, her observations about the areas for improvement, would have been more credible if she hadn’t magnified the country’s failings in such a perverse way. She has apparently visited India – which is one of the very worst countries to be a woman – and Jordan, where a woman’s testimony was recently deemed invalid because she wasn’t veiled.

So here are a couple of videos about women in Saudi Arabia the home of Wahhabism, an extreme and violent form of Islam which enforces APARTHEID against women.

Surely someone from South Africa should be a little concerned about the position of women in the oppressive Saudi state.

Here are two videos that illustrate the very real oppression of women in Saudi Arabia.

And Ms Manjoo, talking of violence against women.

Here's a misogynist cleric justifying the beating of women in Islam:


Full stop.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Socialist Party (Ireland) “disowns” anti-abortion candidate

The largest of the Trotskyist sects in the UK, the Socialist Party is currently running a campaign to (laughably) try and replace the Labour Party with its so-called Trade Union & Socialist Coalition (TUSC). Good luck with that “comrades”, according to the local polls in London at least the Labour Party is now in the lead for all possible elections as ordinary people tire of the nonsense of the Coalition Government under Cameron and Clegg.

The TUSC is err.. still not even registering.

Not to be put off the TUSC is putting up what must be close to its entire active membership in the local elections. They report

The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) national steering committee has approved a further thirty candidates to stand under the TUSC umbrella in the local council elections taking place on May 22nd.

This brings the total figure up to 506 - with the number of councils with TUSC candidates also increasing, from 80 last week to 85 now. Most importantly, with more applications arriving even since the latest approvals broke the 500 barrier, TUSC is now less than a hundred candidates short of reaching the BBC's threshold for 'fair media coverage' in the official election period.

I’ll be taking a closer look at their antics in due course, but in the mean time their Irish equivalent has got themselves in a wee bit of bother whilst trying to run a similar campaign called the Anti-Austerity Alliance (AAA) in their elections.

One of the AAA candidates is one who seems to think the initials of the campaign stand for Anti-Abortion Alliance. Now in the UK it is normally taken as read that most people on the left are in favour of a woman’s right to choose (though I have come across the odd exception to the rule), and as an issue abortion is not as high profile as it used to be. But in Ireland?

The Irish state is probably the closest thing to a theocracy outside the Vatican and abortion is a really big issue. There even appears to be a group called Pro-Life Socialists. So well done Kevin Higgins who exposed Thomas Carty. His attitude towards women in general seems somewhat backwards as his Face Book Page indicates he would like to be a boob checker. 

Words fail me.

Now of course thanks to the exposure of Carty as a wee bit of a sexist, anti-abortion candidate the AAA have taken action to “disown”, though why they failed to make basic checks in the first place is a mystery. They write:

“He is not a candidate for the AAA. When his sexism and vocal anti-choice positions became known, the national AAA meeting did not ratify his application to be a candidate.”
Laura Fitzgerald of The Socialist Party 

TUSC - Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition

Of course our own native Socialist Party is going “hammer and tong” to stand as many candidates as possible so having a good look at their candidates might be worthwhile. I noticed that Steve Hedley (who resigned from the Socialist Party to save them from “embarrassment”) and who remains Assistant General Secretary of the RMT is one of their candidates in London. Now this is a man (regardless of other issues that may have arisen) is someone who thinks the down fall of “comrade delta” was part of a “Zionist “ plot and has been pulled up himself for his somewhat “combative” attitude towards female critics on Face Book in the past.

Not a very nice chap it would seem by all accounts. Many members of the Socialist Party seemed relieved by his departure from their organisation. I’ve heard he may be one of the candidates vying to replace Bob Crow . My advice to RMT members; choose someone else, anybody else.

Meanwhile it may be interesting to follow the fall out over the Irish affair. 

Keep an eye on Kevin Higgins blog:

Monday, 14 April 2014

Musical Interlude: Missing Persons - Words

Just have time for a short walk down memory lane tonight with this number from Missing Persons in the eighties.

The lead singer Dale Bozzio reminds me somewhat of a "prototype" of Lady Gaga and if you read the link (which is mainly photo's) below the video you'll see what I mean.

She seems to be wearing office accessories in this performance of a track called..... Words

Further reading:

Sunday, 13 April 2014

National Union of Journalists rejects Israel boycott!

The National Union of Journalists reports on its website that:

The National Union of Journalism voted against a motion to support a boycott of all Israeli goods and support the Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.

Delegates at Eastbourne were told by Michelle Stanistreet that journalists working in the Middle East, Palestine and Occupied territories would be put in jeopardy if the motion was passed. She stressed that the boycott motion would be decided by the NUJ conference and not by outside bodies, but it was a decision which must reflect the interests and safety of our own members.

She pointed out that the NUJ's colleagues in Palestine had not asked the union to introduce a boycott.

The supporters of the boycott motion, didn't exactly help themselves by coming up with the ridiculous notion that "Israel is the biggest bully in the world. 

Utter nonsense from guess who? Alan Gibson of the Socialist bloody Workers Party.

What about North Korea, China, Iran, Putin's Russia......????????

Such comments by the BDS bigots show how narrow and full of hate their views are.

Meanwhile Labour leader Ed Miliband has also spoken out against boycotts. Jewish News reports:

“My general position is against boycotts. Anyone looking also at the sensitive stage we’ve reached in the negotiations would even additionally to that general principle would realise it’s so not the solution. You’re in a very sensitive moment when you’re wanting to encourage both sides not to try to isolate one or the other.”

In order to get a peaceful solution to the Israel/Palestine conflict, the trade union movement must work for compromise and conciliation on both sides.

The BDS are part of the problem, not the solution.

Further information: 

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Socialist Unity witch hunts rank & file PCS members

One of the more ridiculous websites on the left is Socialist Unity run by Andy Newman and his obnoxious sidekick John Wight. If they are not backing Russian imperialism in the Ukraine, justifying the dictatorship of the Chinese Communist Party and denying both Tibet and Israel the right to exist they are usually promoting some other reactionary nonsense.

Male model John Wight has now published a vicious attack on members of the PCS trade union. He writes:

Members of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) are engaged in the widespread bullying and intimidation of benefit claimants in Jobcentres up and down the country. The evidence can no longer be denied and the union’s leadership must now take steps to educate its members that solidarity is more than just a word on a leaflet during a PCS pay dispute, or else face the accusation of collaborating with the government’s vicious assault on the most economically vulnerable in society under the rubric of austerity.

In the myopic world of John Wight it is ordinary hard working members of the union who are to be targeted for government policy that he doesn't agree with. 

Wight in his ignorance of both political and trade union reality goes on to conclude that:

Any trade union member who allows him or herself to be used as an instrument to attack the poor and the unemployed is deserving of contempt. And any trade union leadership that fails to act to prevent it happening is reactionary.

Such politcal buffoonery is beyond parody and should be treated with the contempt it deserves.

PCS members are Civil Servants who work across a variety of different Government Departments (and some privatised areas) who implement the policy of the democratically elected government of the day. 

PCS members are underpaid, overworked and under constant pressure. Some jobs, like those in the DWP can carry a risk of being violently attacked. The job of a trade union is to defend its' members against not only Management but also those who seek to invoke hate against them as is clearly outlined in Wights disgusting article.

Most of people who comment at that site are equally complicit with Wight in his attack on trade unionists. Take the brave, ultimately anonymous"Vanya" who writes:

PCS members in the DWP need to decide whether they are going to be part of the problem or part of the solution.

PCS members are not answerable to idiots like him. It is the Socialist Unity crowd that is part of the problem as Wight shows us with his response to a rare critic allowed to post on their rabid blog:

You stand with the camp guards if you wish, I’ll stand with the inmates.

Given that Wight has an unhealthy attitude to Jews, his analogy is appalling. 

PCS members will not be bullied by reactionary and anti-working class websites like "Socialist" Unity. 

Update: John Wights considered opinion of PCS members is:

These bastards are the lowest of the low, plain and simple, and I have zero sympathy for them.

Appalling little man.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Anarchists and the SWP

The saga of the ever isolated Socialist Workers Party came to the fore again this week as the comrades found themselves banned from having a stall at the Annual Conference of the National Union of Students. Not popular with student activists it would seem.

Undaunted the SWP promptly set up a stall outside the conference building to peddle their wares. Not a good idea it would seem as a bunch of local anarchists suddenly turned up. Liverpool Class Action takes up the story:

The SWP found out today that their rape-apologist bullshit has got no place in Liverpool. Their stall outside the NUS conference in Liverpool (it was outside because they’d already been refused entry to the conference) was turned over and their literature scattered to the wind. Let this be a lesson to them – we won’t accept their rape apologism here.

The anarchist "prose" then becomes somewhat obscene as they develop their "thoughts" on the matter at hand but to conclude they write:

It’s clear the SWP is in disarray. It is an organization in denial over the disgusting behaviour of its central committee and of its remaining membership in defence of a dying party. Our message to the rape apologist Socialist Workers Party is simple: stay out of Liverpool. You’re not wanted.

The SWP covered up rape, threw survivors under the bus and intimidate anyone who tries to confront them about it (anyone remember the Glasgow anti-bedroom tax rally?). UAF grasses militant antifascists to the police. We won’t tolerate an organization that is so misogynistic in nature and so repugnant in its political opportunism anymore. We’re drawing a line now. Try not to cross it.

This isn't the first time the SWP have had their materials "scattered to the wind" as a similar incident happened in Sussex last December. The blog The Crowd Fury

We arrived at Fulton Court (more commonly known as Library Square) as usual. One of the first things we noticed was the SWP had a stall selling their rag and there were dozens of placards nearby, ready to hand out to unsuspecting students when the march started. I considered leaving the demo again but then I thought it shouldn’t be me who’s excluded from these events, it should be the rape-enabling SWP.

I spotted a comrade who – thanks to Twitter – I knew was critical of the SWP. I approached him and told him I was uncomfortable about the SWP presence and asked if he’d like to help me get rid of them. He didn’t need much persuading! We walked around and talked to a few other comrades about our plan. As soon as there were a few of us, we marched over to the SWP stall. I poured water over their filthy papers to make them unsellable, then my comrade tipped over their table. We then grabbed the placards and destroyed them.

Over at Andrew Coates blog these types are described as the "Autonomist Police", an ironic description for a bunch of anti-authority anarchists. But then these idiots are really no better than the SWP themselves. Puerile, shouty authoritarian and self righteous to core. Don't they all realise that you simply cannot behave like this in a civilised society?

Free speech and the right to assembly are crucial to the survival of democracy. The SWP are a bunch of tossers, I have no doubt about that and should be ashamed of themselves for their actions over the "comrade delta" case. 

But then having witnessed the anarchist wreckers at work on a TUC demonstration organised to defend our pensions, I have to say they are equally dangerous. The destructive rampage that followed dismayed some of my union members that I had taken to their first ever demo. I doubt they will attend another one.

Violence inside the Labour and Trade Union movement is and should always remain unacceptable. That's why revolutionaries are a dangerous distraction. Their actions based on what they see as their superior "revolutionary morality" leads them to think they can act both outside and above the law unlike the rest of us.

Hence the road to communism will always be littered with bodies as the comrades turn on each other to gain the power to put the rest of their opponents against the wall. 

Get over yourselves comrades.

Hat-tip: David T

Thursday, 10 April 2014

PCS: From farce to pantomine

Guest post by Willie Samuel

I believe that, as a former 4themembers candidate for the NEC, and 4TM member of the DWP GEC I have been fairly influential in persuading the majority of members of the group that standing a slate was counter productive. Andy says a lot of interesting things in his piece, but he fails to set out any kind of programme for an alternative leadership. A slate that cannot offer that simple thing is unworthy of support. 4TM cannot even say whether it supports the so called 'campaign' against austerity because it lacks the courage to openly say that it is pointless, and lacks any idea of a possible alternative.

Moreover John McInally proves the point that I have repeatedly made in private up until now. That 4TM provides the rubbish opposition that the so called 'Democracy Alliance' require to keep them in power. John reckons that the 're-branded Moderates' of 4TM provide the great threat to the Socialist Party's domination of PCS. Either he's not very bright, given that 6 or 7 candidates could not form a majority, or he is very keen to retain the rump 4TM as his ideal no hope opponents.

If I had my way,there would not have been a 4TM slate at all. John would not have been able to say what he has, and he would have to actually come up with something a bit better than having to ' to unite to defeat the right wing'. Personally I have never met a 'right wing' trade unionist, it is myth that serves John and his cronies well.

There is an alternative leadership political strategy available. That is to support the only possible alternative Government, i.e. the Labour Party. To their eternal shame, the so called 'PSC Democrats' consisting of (mainly) Labour Party members continue to give legitimacy to the 'Democracy Alliance' by joining with people who seek the destruction of the Labour Party. What price a seat on the NEC? Only your political principles it seems.

I have accepted nomination for the NEC myself this year, and stand as an independent. I only did this because I hoped to use it as a platform to back Lynda Priestley for the Assistant General Secretary post. That was not to be. I did consider submitting the lyrics of a Beatles song as my election address, simply to see how many votes it would attract, but changed my mind. I restricted my satire in the end to urging people not to vote for me, which will probably be a unique election strategy.

I believe that nature abhors a vacuum. The end of a pointless opposition (as 4TM had become) may encourage a strong branch based opposition group to emerge in PCS. I very much hope it encourages others to stop hiding behind opponents of the Labour Party, just to get elected.

PCS is dying. It will either collapse or be absorbed within UNITE. Something radical needs to happen if Trade Unionism is to survive in the Civil Service. Its isn't going to come from the banal rhetoric of either John McInally or the confused statements of the remnants of 4TM.

Further reading: 

Jim Denhan has published a useful article on Unites view of the EEC, which differs (correctly in Howie's Corners view) from the narrow minded left nationalism pursued by PCS/Socialist Party leaders. 

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Socialist Party bluster hides unions collapse

The latest issue of the Socialist Party's tedious rag has just gone on-line with a rant by PCS Vice President John McInally (in a "personal capacity" of course) hilariously stating:

At stake is the leadership of one of Britain's most important unions.

Really? Just who might their opponents be?

The current NEC will be challenged by right-wing candidates of the old discredited 'Moderate' grouping rebranded as '4themembers'.

Except there will just 6 or is it 7 candidates standing from the grouping that claims to be 4TM. The organisation has closed down truth be told, though a handful of stalwarts are trying to keep the flag flying. Truth is even if all of them got elected (which is unlikely) the so-called Democratic Alliance would have an overwhelming majority.

In fact there will be more candidates standing from the even more left wing group, the Independent Left who are running a joint slate with some people called the Independent Socialists (no idea either since you ask, but they're all in the Ministry of Justice).

McInally tells us

... the left-led PCS is recognised as one of the most consistent and outspoken critics of the government's austerity programme and a leading organiser of opposition and action against government attacks.

Not sure by whom, but he continues:

Under the leadership of the Democracy Alliance - an alliance between Left Unity, in which Socialist Party members have played a key role, and the PCS Democrats - PCS has been transformed into a fighting, campaigning and democratic union.

According to figures given to members of the National Executive Committee the actual membership of PCS has declined to 243,746 (as of March 14th) and despite the threat to the "check off" system from Francis Maude, a mere 12,456 have signed up to pay subscriptions by Direct Debit. Not a healthy state of affairs at all.

As for losing members readers of this blog will recall that an entire section of the union SOCA, departed en-mass last May, yet only now has the PCS leadership seen fit to produce a paper on the loss of so many members. When asked what was going to be done to win members back the reply from the Grandees was simply "through the national campaign". Quite pathetic really.

In other words nothing. Why would these people return to a union that not only treated them with contempt but have quite happily created a new and quite viable union in their own department.

Not forgetting of course that PCS may no longer exist early next year if the Socialist Party hacks get their way.

Oh and the NEC is going to approach other unions for a pay fight. That would be local government and health unions, but strikes over pay (& other issues) have not attracted the levels of support they need to succeed as members have little faith in the propaganda that the likes of McInally & Serwotka try to feed them.

Members want a decent pay rise but are far from convinced they will get one through strike action at the moment.

The outcome of the PCS elections and most of the major conference decisions is certain, only a blip on the question of a merger can be expected. It depends on how many members of the Democratic Alliance decide to grow a pair and defy the Serwotka/Socialist Party leadership. Usually these lefties are quite compliant in following their leaders demands.

And that's why the union is in such a bloody mess.


Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Musical Interlude with The Darling Buds!

The Darling Buds were an Indie band from South Wales who formed back in the late eighties, producing three albums all of which found their way into my record collection.

Never a great commercial success, they are fondly remembered for their excellent output by their fans (I saw them live three times) and in my opinion should have been chart toppers.

The two songs featured here show their distinctive sound, with stellar vocals from Andrea Lewis.

Firstly Burst, which reached number 50 in 1988 (it really should have done much, much better, but like I say, I'm a biased fan!).

This second number It Makes No Difference is from 1991.

Monday, 7 April 2014

PCS National elections, one candidates view

Guest post by Andy Magee

4themembers will stand a small number of candidates in this year’s NEC elections & will support a number of other independents. 4TM continues to be a network of independently minded trade unionists (from across the political mainstream) committed to returning PCS to being what it was set up to be; a Trade Union.

We need your vote to ensure that we can compete and offer an alternative to the current thinking of those currently running PCS. 4TM itself continues to evolve & win or lose these elections will return in whatever guise to continue to offer that alternative and work with members to achieve results & outcomes. This is real democracy at work & not a shadow of democracy offered elsewhere.

Others have led PCS for a number of years now. Membership is in decline as we fight a government determined to make our members pay for the mistakes of others. However there really hasn’t been much success obtained by those currently running PCS against government policies.

Pensions have went up the money is already out of your salary, money you will never get back into your pocket. Performance management changes have came in and every day I hear members complain but I see little or no policies from those you have entrusted to defend you to actually do so. Is that that what you expected from a democratic alliance? These are just one or two of the issues that members have mention to me. There are many others were members feel let down by those in charge.

What about mergers or take over’s by other unions? In my NEC statement I have stated that any merger with UNITE must be governed by the membership. That means no undue influence should be exerted and that members per the PCS rules should be allowed to make the decision. I personally do not favour merger but firmly believe that PCS members should decide their own destiny in an open and democratic manner. However is that everyone’s agenda?

4TM candidates are on the side of you the ordinary member. Each of us works in an office like you, dealing with the issues that you face daily. We want to make PCS more relevant to you by bringing it back to what it should be a union. A union that has you its members at its heart. A union that can rise from the ashes to form a truly democratic organisation prepared to negotiate & fight to improve and protect your jobs, pay, terms & conditions and live within its means.

If this appeals to you & you want a union that listens and reacts then vote 4themembers candidates & independents. Look at what PCS has achieved for you over for instance the last 5 years can you really say your satisfied?

Don’t listen to the myths or the old rhetoric 4TM is a network of independently minded trade unionists (from across the political mainstream) wanting to work for you.

Andy Magee is a member of the PCS National Executive Committee and writes in a personal capacity.

Please note: A full list of recommended candidates will be published at Howie's Corner when the ballot papers are issued.

Union-busting multinational boasts "we respect people"

LabourStart Appeal by Eric Lee

Like so many companies, Swiss-based transnational Georg Fischer claims to have "core values".

These include "we respect people" -- the image above is taken from their corporate website.

But this giant company, which employs 14,000 people in 32 countries, doesn't respect the people who work for it in Turkey.

Even though the union there, Lastik-Is, has organized the majority of Georg Fischer's workforce, the company refuses to negotiate.

Worse, it's trying to break the union with one on one meetings with workers, pressing them to quit the union.

When that doesn't work, they sack the "troublemakers". So far, 37 union members have lost their jobs.

The global union IndustriALL is calling for a massive campaign to press the company to stop trying to break the union, to enter in negotiations, and to do what they say they believe in: respect people.

Please take a moment to send your message to George Fischer - click here.

Further information from IndustriALL: here

Sunday, 6 April 2014

PCS/Unite Merger: Serwotka has run PCS into the ground

Guest Post by Hubert Gieschen

I am writing this as a concerned member of PCS who has been bewildered for years by the discrepancy between the big rhetoric of PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka and the poor record of PCS in defending jobs and terms and conditions since the Coalition Government took over in 2010. The changes government is imposing across many parts of the civil service to end the check-off of union dues from the salary so that PCS is having to ask members to set up direct debit instructions, shows clearly that PCS is no longer being taken seriously. It will also lose PCS a lot of money.

In 2013 PCS Annual conference voted for a motion by its National Executive Committee (NEC) in support of merger talks with Unite. So, that's great news isn't it? PCS members will be part of Britain’s largest union, Unite and have a stronger voice and better chances of winning industrial disputes. But does PCS really have a choice or is it forced to seek the Unite umbrella and is it the right one?

In the main PCS represents workers in the civil service and ex-civil service like non-departmental public bodies (like my employer the Marine Management Organisation) and organisations outsourced from the civil service. Membership has been declining to a quarter of a million. In contrast, between 2007 and 2010 Unite had lost more members than PCS still has and Unite still has more than a million members.

The Independent reported on 9 March 2014 that PCS has a £65.5 million deficit on two of its pension schemes which is more than double its annual income. Yes, we are talking about the same union that has sent its members out like cannon fodder in a number of one-day strikes over the government's plans to male civil servants pay more into the pension pot for less in old age.

So, while Mark Serwotka's £80k annual salary should give him a decent pension full-time staff at PCS would need to work 45 years before they get half their salary in retirement according to The Independent. PCS is offerings its staff worse pension terms than the Government offers civil servants. Mark Serwotka really has run the ship into the ground. Why am I thinking of the bankers, those who squandered the assets and then needed a bailout?

Is Mark Serwotka desperate or has he simply run out of options. I remember hearing him say from the rostrum of a previous annual PCS conference that while he is General Secretary there will be no affiliation to the Labour Party. Mark Serwotka personally has steered the Make Your Vote Count Campaign towards political campaigning by PCS with the option of now of putting PCS money to fund non-Labour candidates in general elections.

In spite of its dire financial straits the PCS leadership can waste money on candidates nobody wants to vote for. Or perhaps PCS is turning itself into a historical re-enactment society at the time of the October Revolution in 1917s Russia. Going by previous attempts to fund Lenin's heirs electorally the votes received were at the 1% level as in the last European Elections with No to EU – Yes to Democracy.”It received less votes than the RMT union had members even though the late Bob Crow threw his full support behind it.

Mark Serwotka has always fancied himself as a political leader in waiting. But with PCS effectively dominated by the old Labour Militants now called the Socialist Party and to a lesser extent their allies in the SWP he has little impact outside the comfort of PCS.

Equally, Unite's Len McCluskey threat to Ed Miliband to withdrew support for Labour if he does not win the 2015 general election shows McCluskey's powerlessness. If Ed Miliband wins, Unite will be less influential. If Labour loses and he thinks that financing the heirs of Lenin against the Labour Party will bring about a change in his preferred direction, then he should remember the fate of the Socialist Labour Party under Arthur Scargill. It keeps losing its deposits.

What both Mark Serwotka and Len McCluskey seem to ignore is that their members vote as they want in general elections not as they are told the way they do in the North Korean Democratic People's Monarchy.

I had always thought that the merger was impossible while Unite maintains its affiliation to Labour. Perhaps we are seeing the first signs of a wiggling out of the conundrum by claiming to be a left alternative to Labour.

I should say that I am not a Labour supporter. I am democratic socialist. Labour lacks the courage of its conviction and eyes too much support from the rich rather than trying to persuade the population to take on the Tory policies. I believe public transport is on the whole best served by public ownership with democratic control mechanisms. But Mark and Len are too tolerant of political systems like Cuba where workers are expected to do what the Communist Party tells them. Incidentally Cuba has a government that has systematically run down public services like public transport and housing. Therefore Mark and Len have no moral claim to be an alternative.

The interests of PCS members cannot be best served by merging with a predominantly private sector union with very low organisational figures whereas in the public sector membership stands nearer two-thirds. Why would struggling Unite private sector members want to fund public sector workers defending rights that private sector workers still need to acquire. A more logical merger option for PCS would be with the largest public sector organisation Unison. That however, would not give Mark Serwotka the opportunity to pursue his Leninist dreams now that he has run PCS financially into the ground.

I oppose the Unite PCS merger as not serving either PCS or Unite members. I would theoretically consider a merger with Unison but that is far too early and conditions are not there yet. In any case the PCS leadership needs to be taken out of the cockpit so that we what we can salvage our union. In the worst case scenario we may even have to set up a new union.

Hubert Gieschen is standing for the PCS National Executive Committee in the elections that start later this month.