Thursday, 16 October 2014

Mark Serwotka demands blog post be taken down

In an extraordinary move yesterday the General Secretary of the PCS union, Mark Serwotka wrote to me demanding that I must take down a recent guest post by Margaret Rathbone about the new Revenue and Customs Union that is being formed by disgruntled PCS members in the HMRC.

Mark Serwotka states:

I am writing in relation to a posting on your personal website entitled " Revenue and Customs: Time for a new union". The piece is subtitled "Guest post by Margaret Rathbone."

This posting is damaging to the interests of PCS members. It has caused great anger and frustration not only amongst members in the HMRC but also in other parts of the union.

He then outlines the case for the recent strike with all the usual hyperbole I have come to expect and accuses the post of "being divisive".

Trouble is that he then goes on to make what I find quite a sinister demand:

I am writing to you to tell you that the posting is in direct conflict with the interests of the union and must be taken down immediately.

I look forward to your immediate reply.

For readers here is the reply I sent this morning when I was good and ready:

Normally I would thank you for your letter but given the censorious and your frankly quite outrageous demand I can only bring myself to acknowledge your missive.

Before I reply I cannot understand why you have addressed your letter to me in my role as a Branch Secretary when you clearly acknowledged that Howie's Corner is my Personal Blog. It is not advertised as anything to do with PCS either as an individual member or any capacity relating to PCS.

In fact the vast majority of the 700 plus posts are not about PCS and cover a variety of my interests and views.

I can only surmise that there may be a more malefic reason in your future intent.

Your order, and that is what you are saying, that I must remove the guest post by Margaret Rathbone is a direct attack on the right of free and open discourse. The fact that many of the activist caste who dominate PCS do not like, or as you put it "angered" by her article is frankly irrelevant to open and free discussion.

I attempted to start a discussion on the closed PCS members Face Book page but this was quickly halted as it was deemed "inappropriate" by admin. One NEC member concurred with their decision suggesting this should be debated elsewhere including my own blog. I was happy to do so as that is what blogs are for..

Additionally I contacted Margaret through a third party who agreed to set out her case in a guest post which was duly published. Since my blog contains the facility for comments, anyone not happy would have been able to state their views, but instead it seems once again only suppression of dissent is on the "comrades" agenda.

Indeed had you asked I would probably given you a right of reply, but no you chose the normal route of censorship that seems to be the usual state of affairs in PCS.

Given your actions have already led to a very successful breakaway from PCS last year, I understand why you are worried about the possible creation of yet another union. Rather than learn from the lessons of the heavy handed approach you took towards members of SOCA you repeat the same mistakes once again.

I was informed that there would be a "robust response" against those involved in the creation of the RCTU, but your heavy handed approach towards even discussing such matters is disturbing and indicative of a frankly Stalinist mindset.

Given your demand for an immediate response, I would imagine you have already planned your next possible move. If I am right then you stand as an enemy of democracy.

Prove me wrong, though I hold little hope you will.

Freedom of speech is the essential foundation of all human rights. Without it democracy will fall.

Hope that's clear comrade.


  1. Well said Howie. I can't believe how "anti trade union" PCS has made me. Who does he think he is?

  2. Howie's Corner is a Public Blog. It is not a PCS Union Blog owned by PCS Union. I could understand if you (Howie) The Host and Blogger said "Leave PCS in HMRC and join RCTU" but you did not put that in your blog. Freedom of speech is a powerful weapon sometimes we as a society forget that.

  3. Good for you Howie, tell them to sod off. Glad I am in Prospect now.

  4. Howard

    I often disagree with your views, but i agree that you have the right to say them, even on the PCS website, let alone facebook pages or your own blog site.
    If the union cannot take criticism and learn from it, perhaps there is something wrong with the union. peoples minds are changed through discussion and evidence, not shouted down by rhetoric or blinkered by censorship.
    as a member, i am sorry our executive has behaved like this, and hope he will strive to do better in future.