Saturday, 31 May 2014

Abolish Blasphemy Laws!

Abolish Blasphemy Laws

Please watch this video and the sign the petition to abolish all blasphemy laws everywhere!

Go to: :

Blasphemy laws are used to infringe upon human rights. They frequently lead to arbitary arrest, detention, poor treatment in custody including torture, dubious legal procedures and poor application of justice. The definition of the offence can be in the hands of police and judicial authorities. Governments have used blasphemy laws to silence political opponents. Individuals have fabricated blasphemy charges against others in communal disputes. Religious extremists have used blasphemy laws to attack opponents. Religious authorities have used blasphemy laws to impose orthodoxy on members minority religious groups with the sanction of the state. And people accused of blasphemy have been subject to violence by unofficial mobs.

Friday, 30 May 2014

Neither religion nor so called honour can justify murder

The stoning to death of a young pregnant woman in Pakistan by her family this week caused absolute and justifiable outrage this week. How anyone can consider there to be any "honour" in killing, let alone their own daughter is beyond most civilised people.

And yet it goes on, not just in Pakistan but here too. And the particular case in question has taken a couple of twists as The Times reported yesterday (no link £):

Her family became angry after failing to extract money from him  (the husband) before the marriage. 

Honour? Rubbish just pure bloody greed.

We are told by The Times today:

Farzana Paveen's older sister, Rhena was poisoned after her father had an argument with her parents-in-law...she was allegedly dragged back to her fathers home and poisoned. The murder was not reported to the police..

We are told tribal culture allows rich families to be above the law.


Women cannot be treated like this and it is time the the Government of Pakistan did something about this and all the other so-called "honour killings or MURDERS in plain English that go on in their society.

Nobodies life, especially women should be put at risk because of some backward tribalism that is just an excuse for for gangsterism pure and simple.

It comes as no surprise then that in yet another country that is also governed by the "religion of peace" Sudan that another gross injustice is taking place. Previously I have drawn attention the case of Meriam Ibrahim who just for marrying a Christian and apparently abandoning the Islamic faith (because her father just happened to be a Muslim) that she is to be put to death.

Full marks go to The Times who ran with this story as a front page lead today.

It is clear that women are not only treated as second class citizens in these societies, but their religion is so weak and afraid of challenge that death is seen as the penalty for leaving. A crime called Apostasy.

There should be no such crime. The death penalty is intended to cower the populations of these countries to the wishes of religious leaders who wish to prevent their power being challenged.

Given that patriarchy is ascendant in these backwards societies regardless of religion the superstitious nonsense of Islam can be used by men to dominate women.

This has to end and end now.

Women must entitled to equal rights under the law.

The world cannot stand aside and allow Meriam to be executed. There has been too much silence about the persecution of Christians let alone the injustice against women across the Muslim world.

Worship who you please, but your religion, your culture does not give you the right to murder.


Thursday, 29 May 2014

KFC - Union Buster!

A LabourStart appeal by Eric Lee

A woman union leader from Thailand faces the threat of legal action by the owners of fast food chains KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell.

Her crime? She attended the first international fast food workers' meeting recently held by the International Union of Food workers (IUF) in New York.

The threat of legal action is not the first time time union members have had problems with this company.

According to the IUF, "In 2011, three workers were terminated after they established a union and sought to bargain a collective agreement with KFC. The three workers were only reinstated by court order months later."

It will take you less than a minute to support the campaign -- please click here to send your message:

And then please spread the word about this important campaign to your friends, family and fellow union members.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Splitters! Ireland, the SWP and ...PCS?

Whilst most eyes have been looking to mainland Europe for political developments, the British press has all but ignored the Irish political scene. Now like many people Irish politics is sometimes somewhat of a mystery to me but there are one group of candidates that are instantly recognisable....the Trots.

Given the closeness of the two countries and a common language its hardly surprising that the two main Trotskyist groupings are franchises of their "latger British cousins. It has to be said that the Socialist Party Ireland has somewhat of a more successful electoral presence than their Brit "parent" organisation.

In addition to the EU elections , Ireland also had local elections in which the SP ran candidates as part of the Anti-Austerity Alliance (AAA) which proved much more successful than the TUSC run by the SP in the UK. According to the latest edition of The Socialist we are told that the AAA obtained 14 seats in Dublin, Limerick and Cork. Additionally they won an extra member of the Dial. So far so good for such a small organisation.

However the comrades did face one setback, that of the unseating of Paul Murphy the Socialist Party MEP. In a rather bitter tirade comrade Taffe has no doubt of who is responsible:

Unfortunately, Paul Murphy was not re-elected as a member of the European Parliament, despite nearly 30,000 first preference votes. One of the factors leading to his defeat was the shameful decision of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) in Ireland to stand against Paul, a sitting MEP, which opened the way for another candidate to win the seat.

This does not bode well for comradely relations in the UK:

This spiteful and blatant example of sectarianism - putting your own short-term narrow interests before the cause of the left and the working class - has been passed over in complete silence by their counterparts internationally and especially in Britain, where the SWP is formally in an alliance in the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) with the Socialist Party.

Oh dear, "putting narrow short term interests " before the "class". 

Can't have that can we?

Looking at the way that the SP behaves in the PCS, the words "Pots & Kettles" come to mind. Which continues to amaze as in the same issue, a certain Rob Williams (no, not the on actually in PCS, he got the boot) writes of the recent attempt get Unite to takeover the union:

The NEC motion to continue negotiations was defeated as was an openly anti-merger motion. However, a motion was passed which favoured continued negotiations but emphasised some bottom-line conditions PCS should put on a merger. The next issue of the Socialist will deal with this issue more fully.

Can't wait.

The arguments continue from time to time on the unions (closed) Face Book page. Such an article will be subject to forensic examination by a large number of PCS reps of that I'm sure. A typical view of the whole "merger/takeover" question was expressed quite neatly by the Independent Left who write:

Their analysis is that organised left grouping within Unite, the United Left is weak and they can take it over. As that grouping controls most of the Unite NEC they think they will take over the NEC. Once they have the NEC then they will break Unite from the Labour Party.

Of course this is the sort of machine politics that the SP has successfully practised in PCS (take over Left Unity, LU takes over the union etc). Therefore they believe that Unite will be just PCS writ large.

Could that be the Socialist Party  "putting narrow sectarian interest before the working class"?

Nah, of course not.........

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Return of the Rotten Borough?

Firstly a note: from The History Learning Site which reminds us:

Rotten boroughs were one of the curiosities of the British electoral system. Rotten boroughs were a product of a system that did not want change, where fathers passed on constituencies (and the power as a MP that went with this) to their sons as if they were property (which many saw them as), where some rotten boroughs were so bizarre that they beggared belief and where the very few who voted could not vote for whom they wanted to due to the lack of a secret ballot or challenging candidate.

Once again on Tower Hamlets:

Just when you thought the elections were all over, a recount is taking place tonight in Tower Hamlets, a Council that has attracted much attention in recent years since George Galloway and his "Respect" party opened the doors to unfettered communalism. George and his acolytes are long gone, carpetbagging to Bradford and leaving more failure and division in their wake.

The Mayor of Tower Hamlets is the controversial (to say the very least) Lutfur Rahman who is currently facing an investigation into his allocation of funding across the borough.

The Electoral Commission have issued a statement which states in part:

There have also been concerns expressed about voter intimidation, although the police have so far received no criminal allegations relating to activity at polling stations in the borough from either campaigners or voters.

An Electoral Commission spokesperson said: “Everyone should be able to vote free from intimidation and be confident that their vote is safe.

“It is also important that elections produce results voters can have confidence in and that candidates know the outcome as soon as possible. Clearly there have been issues at the Tower Hamlets count and we need to make sure we understand what happened, and the reasons for it, before reaching any conclusions.

“As part of our review we will be talking to the Returning Officer and Regional Returning Officer. We will be looking closely at what happened during the count, as well as the planning that took place beforehand.

Meanwhile the The Spectator reports the observations of a disgruntled Tory councillor:

‘There were arguments, threats, and chaos at the counting tables. Tower Hamlets First supporters were challenging vote after vote, forcing supporters of other candidates away from the tables. They often made their points ( excuse the pun) with pencils and pens, against ballot papers. The supreme ruler smiled, whilst checking town hall staff were not stopping his supporters from doing exactly what they wanted.

‘Former Cllr Mohammed Shahid Ali (defeated Mile End) was bawling in Bangla down a mobile phone at a counting table. He was asked by a (female) officer to stop and he shouted that she ( emphasise she) had no right to tell him to stop doing anything and that she (emphasise she) should go away. I drew this to the attention of the returning officer and Shahid Ali then needed to be restrained from attacking me.

‘Tower Hamlets has interesting rules on the media at counts. Mainstream journalists can only be on the counting floor if they are escorted by a member of the town hall staff at all times.

‘The special media, that supports the supreme ruler, is excluded from this, so , far example everywhere I went I was stalked by a weird old trot who kept taking flash photographs of me in my face and then grinning. He declined to say what organ he reported for.

‘He was not afraid of expressing his views as he shouted the short version of “see you next Tuesday”, during one of the declarations.

The Independent tells us that:

Defeated Labour mayoral challenger John Biggs told the Independent the campaign in the area had been “asymmetric warfare” fought in a “culture of intimidation” and that the major parties had faced challengers who were “not particularly democratic”.

"I’m sure many members of the public will be making accusations to the Electoral Commission over crowds outside polling stations, the conduct of people within the polluting stations, allegations that people turned up to vote only to be told they’d already voted and continued rumours of irregularities around postal votes.

“It saddens me to hear the place I love described as a Rotten Borough… Tower Hamlets First is overwhelming an ethically based party and the passion for the political in the Bangladeshi community is impressive, but I guess people are being led in a direction which is making them very inward looking.”

Whatever the truth of all this the saga of Tower Hamlets is far from over.

Monday, 26 May 2014

Apathy and extremism in Euro Elections

The results of the European elections came with no surprises as far as Britain was concerned. All the results are in now (except for Northern Ireland, where politics are a wee bit different to elsewhere). UKIP have topped the poll, 2% ahead of the Labour Party with the Tories pushed back into third place. Nick Clegg is finally reaping the rewards of his party's betrayal by losing all but one Lib Dem MEP and coming below the Green Party who also won an extra seat.

Of course this result is unlikely to be replicated in the General Election and it does need to be pointed out that the turnout in both the European and local elections was well below that which would be expected in 2015.

Only 34% of the electorate bothered voting for their MEP which means two thirds of the electorate failed to participate. Something that the political elite should take note of, especially when the Tories in particular carp on about turnouts in trade union ballots. Just saying.

There was some good news of course the odious Nick Griffin lost his seat, although worryingly the BNP still polled over 179,000 votes. Their vote was well down from the 5.10 % they polled last time.

So how did the far-left fringe parties do.?

Frankly the results from the far left in the UK are so derisory they are almost not worth commenting on. The largest of these wasted efforts was the NO2EU slate backed by the Socialist Party, the Communist Party of Britain and the RMT union. Their candidates polled just 31,757 votes or 0.20%, down from 0.81% last time round. Hardly surprising. Anyone wanting out of the EU would opt for UKIP as a protest vote.

Meanwhile Arthur Scargill's Socialist Labour Party was only able to stand in Wales where their "paper candidates" managed to get a grand 4,459 votes or 0.03 of the vote. Also contesting seats in Wales were the archaic Socialist Party of Great Britain who did slightly better with 6,838 votes (0.04%).

The only other Marxist group running candidates was the Socialist Equality Party (a breakaway from the Workers Revolutionary Party) who were likewise barely noticed by the electorate with 5,067 votes (0.03% of the vote).

Whatever one might think of UKIP, their vote will decline come the General Election (although they may win the Newark by-election next month), what is of concern is the rise of political extremism across Europe.

The neo-fascist National Front came top of the poll in France and the far-left Syrzia led the vote in Greece. If the Nazi Golden Dawn vote is thrown into the mix it means one in three Greek voters have voted for parties that reject democracy.

Despite the apparent stability of British democracy, voter apathy and economic woes across Europe mean that there remains a serious threat to our freedoms if we do not remain vigilant. 

In particular keep an eye on Hungary where the openly anti-Semitic and anti-Roma Jobbik Party made gains and is now the second largest party in the country. This at a time when anti-Semitic attacks are on the increase across Europe as the attack in Belgium recently demonstrated.

Recommended further reading:

The following two articles by Phil BC over at All that is Solid are well worth reading for those following the elections:

Calling UKIP racist won't stop them

Lazy thinking and election results

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Tense scenes in Tower Hamlets while far-left fail to make inroads.

The counting in the Euro elections has begun, but as many countries are not voting until today the results won't be declared until after 9 pm tonight when the last polling station has closed. Meanwhile further news has been arriving about how well the political "fringe" has been doing in the local elections.

The most disturbing story was around the re-election of Lutfur Rahman in Tower Hamlets. The Guardian reports:

Outside the count in an art deco cinema in Limehouse, more than 300 supporters of Rahman gathered to hear the result, accompanied by dozens of police officers.

Many supporters claimed that Rahman had been the victim of racism in both the media and the government.

Amid tense scenes some Labour activists, including the shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan, were stopped from leaving the building after being warned that the police could not guarantee their safety.

Before the election there was much talk of ensuring that the Police ensured no intimidation took place at the polling stations, you'd think they would have prepared for an eventuality like this. Britain is supposed to be a free democracy where politics (at least outside Northern Ireland) should be free of violence. It seems the "Islamist tendency "in Tower Hamlets is out of control.

Meanwhile the TUSC is trying to collate it's results having stood some 560 candidates. Their one claim of a "great victory" was Pyrrhic to say the least since Keith Morrell in Southampton actually stood as an independent according to the ballot paper and had a following on the ground having been the sitting councillor before he quit the Labour Party.

Amongst their attempts to put a spin on their results they highlight their candidates have exceeded 50,000 votes but given the size of the electorate their complaint that the media, especially the BBC ignore them "making their mark" just doesn't hold up. 

In Lewisham their Mayoral candidate Chris flood polled 1,354 votes, coming last with just 1.8% and came way behind all the major parties including the Residents Party who polled 8%. The Labour candidate for Mayor got elected with just over 50% of the vote and all bar on local councillor (a lone Green) are from Labour. A good result.

Fairly typical of the TUSC results are these from Plymouth. Their 19 candidates managed to just get their friends and families voting for them as they polled: 49, 45, 53, 28, 72, 56, 93, 92, 38, 32, 69, 59, 77, 80, 94, 79, 34, 55, 63 respectively.

The somewhat unpleasant Steve Hedley managed to get 307 votes in East Ham South, but only just out polled the Christian Alliance candidates. Labour won all three seats comfortably thank you comrade.

Then there's Ken Loache's new outfit Left Unity. They managed to run 11 candidates all of whom polled abysmally, though in Wigan they managed to knock the Tory into fourth and last place. However all but one of their comrades polled below 100, one as low as 39.

Hardly an auspicious start.

And no alternative to Labour.

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Far right group hides behind Facebook "shares"

Many people will have seen a "shared" photograph on their friends Facebook pages of the murdered soldier Lee Rigby complaining about a "news blackout" one year on. The image links to Britain First, a breakaway from the British National Party.

This is not the only image through which they have sought to gain publicity through as another image of campaigning against cruelty to dogs has also been doing the rounds. Both images and messages will and have a certain appeal to most reasonable people. But be warned Britain First are NOT reasonable people.

The story of Britain First was picked up by The Times newspaper today (no link £) in an article The religious zealot who hands Bibles to Muslims:

The Britain First Organisation, which has invaded mosques and handed Bibles to Muslims, is masterminded by a religious zealot with a criminal record for violence.

The organisation has even adopted a "uniform" consisting of a green jacket and trains its followers in martial arts. Britain First is currently under investigation by the police across the country.

Dominic Kennedy continues:

The organisation was founded by Jim Dowson, 49 a born again Christian who was once  a successful fundraiser for the BNP, amassing millions of pounds for the party.

Michael Collins has produced a report on Britain First over at: Hope Not Hate.

Meanwhile Lee Rigby's mother has this to say:

Lyn Rigby: Mother of Lee Rigby

Our thoughts should be with Lyn Rigby and her family at this time. Lee Rigby's Memory must not be hijacked.

Friday, 23 May 2014

Local elections; an early look at the fringe

The news that Labour had won control of Hammersmith & Fulham this morning left me with a smile on the way to work. The Tories had been planning to sell off all council housing and I cannot help but imagine this had some influence on local voters whose home were put at risk. Local Tory MP expressed obvious "sour grapes" when he blamed it on "Labour lies". David Cameron won't be happy either as this was one of his "flag ship" councils.

Meanwhile Greg Hands was not the only one with a sour face tonight as "Gorgeous" George Galloway saw his totally misnamed Respect outfit wiped out in Bradford. The Guardian reports:

George Galloway's Respect party made no gains in the city, despite Galloway touring the city in an open top bus in support of his eight candidates. He later blamed the poor result on "biradari" clan politics among the Pakistani community.

Respect has no representatives in Bradford's town hall since its five sitting councillors – elected in the euphoric aftermath of Galloway's byelection win in 2012 – quit the party last year. They now sit as an Independent grouping.

The biggest majority in Bradford was won by Labour's Imran Hussain in the Toller ward, who lost so catastrophically to Galloway in the Bradford West byelection. But on Friday, after polling 4,850 votes to Respect's 660, Hussain vowed to fight Galloway again in next year's general election -if selected as Labour's parliamentary candidate (and if Galloway choses to stand once more).
Galloway's response?:

Galloway did not attend the count, but wrote on Twitter: “It's with regret I inform you that feudal reactionary 'biradari' Labour politics is back in power in Bradford City Council. God help us. Thanks to the thousands who voted Respect yesterday and the candidates who braved foul weather and worse. We lost but we'll be back.”

After winning Bradford West in what he later dubbed the Bradford Spring, Galloway claimed to have “smashed” clan-based bloc voting.

Meanwhile in Bristol my correspondent Rick Johansen writes:

Bristol PCS Trot Mark Baker polled a spectacular 28 votes for the TUSC in the only Council Ward that returned a UKIP councillor. He was seventh out of seven and polled less than a quarter of the votes gained by Gorgeous George's odious Respect, who came sixth.

The TUSC promised to publish bulletins on their results from mid-morning today, but at the time of writing the page remains a bit scant. They did however score one victory, that of a defected Labour councillor Keith Morrell managed to get re-elected*. 

Well that's one step forward to..err somewhere I suppose.

The comrades are putting a spin on their other results, though not the abysmal 14 votes polled in one Portsmouth ward that I noticed earlier. Dave Nellist, the "Dear Leader" of the TUSC managed to come second in Coventry where he had previously been a Labour MP until he was exposed as a "cuckoo in the nest" and kicked out for his membership of the Militant Tendency.

Talking of "cuckoos", Andy Newman's home town of Swindon bucked the trend as Labour failed to take control. Nothing published on Socialist Unity as yet, though the "great man" will no doubt write some whinging excuse treatise in due course.

Lots more to come over the weekend I'm sure including results from Tower Hamlets and of course the Euro-elections. We'll be able to see how King Arthur's Socialist Labour Party fared in Wales, where the ancient Socialist Party of Great Britain is also standing.

By the way, did anyone notice the NO2EU campaign? Nah, me neither....

*Update: It has been bought to my attention that Keith Morrell actually appeared on the ballot paper as an independent, not TUSC, so not really a "gain" for them!

Thursday, 22 May 2014

NUT pushes back strike date

The National Union of Teachers has withdrawn its' threat to strike next month. In a statement to the media Christine Blower, the NUT General Secretary stated:

“As a result of pressure from the NUT, ministers have finally turned up to the joint union talks. David Laws was at the last meeting and Michael Gove will attend a future meeting.

“In order to assess whether we can make real progress on the matters of most concern to teachers the NUT has decided not to call the strike planned for the week of 23rd June. This gives the Government several more weeks to demonstrate good faith in the talks. The NUT’s National Executive will discuss the talks process again when they next meet on 19th June.

However the National Executive Committee has taken a decision to set July 10th as a possible alternative if further talks fail to achieve any movement. Ms Blower ended her press statement with the following warning:

The lobby of Parliament on 10th June will send a clear message to Government that teachers will not be silenced. If we make no significant progress in talks the strike action on the 10th July will be solely their responsibility.”

The other unions planning to take part in the action include Unite, Unison the GMB and depending on a ballot outcome my own union PCS, which voted for a ballot earlier this week.

The action on July 10th has been initiated by the far left organised in the so-called "Peoples Assembly" by former SWP leader John Rees now in the tiny Counterfire organisation. The proposed action is a watered down version of the shrill calls for a General Strike constantly pushed for by the Socialist Party and the SWP.

Members of the NUT may wish to heed the words of Ian Grayson of the moderate Broadly Speaking group:

We implacably oppose political factions using our union for their own political purposes.

We believe that this stance represent the views of the majority of NUT members: the sometimes silent majority which believes in NUT values, but is dismayed that politically motivated people, many from extreme left wing organisations, seek to control our union. We want to work with you to ensure coherent, sensible and achievable policies and strategies are pursued for the benefit of teachers, pupils and education.

Industrial action has a place within the Union’s armoury, but we oppose calls for perpetual industrial action, which unfortunately dominate the agenda at our Annual Conferences year after year. Calling for action on every issue – as so often happens – is never going to command real support across the Union, and is so often merely a gesture – a substitute for real thought about how best to further our causes.

The NUT had similar problems to PCS in finding it difficult to sustain industrial action during the pensions dispute. The action planned for July 10th remains a top down plan of action which could play into the hands of the Tory Government if support from actual members does not materialise.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

PCS Conference: NEC lose vote on merger motion but confusion reigns

The future of the main civil service union came under scrutiny this morning as the Socialist Party leadership made their bid to get conference to agree that Unite should take over PCS. You'd be hard pressed to find the report of the debate buried on the PCS website but it did appear under the title Passionate debate about our future. We are informed:

Our president Janice Godrich proposed the motion on behalf of the national executive. She said it was the "most important issue this union has faced," as we seek to"stem the tide of the cuts" and "organise in a radical way across the public sector".

However the debate did not go the way the Grandees intended despite more speakers for the motion than against. Even the intervention of John McInally's gopher in the West Country, Richard Capps did not sway the assembled delegates as he raged:

Do we really think Mark, Janice and the rest will sell out the soul of the union? Absolutely no chance.

Actually they sold the "soul" of PCS to the Socialist Party a long time ago, but even so the urge to shout yes must have been at forefront of many delegates as even branches normally loyal to the leadership from their stronghold in the DWP Group ended up voting against.

The vote was overwhelmingly defeated on a show of hands but the Chair insisted on a "card vote" which delayed conference by 30 minutes to no avail as the leadership still lost the vote:

Votes for 73212; against 109326.

The Face Book Group No to PCS-Unite merger commented:

Today, the motion calling for the merger talks to be called off fell. But the NEC also got a bloody nose as their motion calling for talks with no preconditions did too. With more restrictions on what kind of merger they can agree to, it will be interesting to see what happens next.

Therein lies the problem. A motion did get passed which authorised talks for a merger but only if certain pre-conditions are met.

So its far from over. The card vote will allow the leadership to identify the opposition (as these votes are recorded on a branch by branch basis) allowing the PCS Grandees to see where they need to make an effort in pursuit of the demise of PCS.

What Len McCluskey will make of this is not known, but the inability of of new found friends to deliver will probably not impress.  

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

PCS: A conference for activists not members

Annual conference 2014 logo

The main civil service union PCS opened what may well turn out to be its last ever conference this afternoon with what the official website describes as an "overwhelming vote" for joint action with other unions over pay. They report:

The union has an existing industrial action mandate but will consult its quarter of a million members ahead of any co-ordinated action, expected to start in July.

Alongside any co-ordinated strikes, the union will also plan a campaign of sustained targeted industrial action in the civil service and is calling on ministers and senior officials to hold genuine negotiations.

Now whilst most, if not all members would welcome a decent pay rise after all these years of pay constraint there are signs of members "disengaging" with the union. The recent NEC elections saw the lowest ever vote and participation in both of the largest groups within the union (the DWP and HMRC) plummeted further.

In the case of the HMRC the latest of the left factions Your Voice tells us that:

This year, there were 44 candidates for the GEC compared to 35 last year. Yet the turnout in the ballot dropped from 16% to 13%.

Lorna Merry got 267 less votes this year and ended up as President. Margi Rathbone got 1,071 less votes and still retains the Deputy Group Secretary position. Hamish Drummond was the top polling Assistant Group Secretary this year with 3,088 which would not have got an AGS position in 2013 despite there being one more position available. This year’s top polling ordinary GEC candidate got 2,805 votes, whilst last year’s got 4,018 and last year’s bottom polling elected candidate would have topped the list this year.

The comrades try to blame this on postal voting and go on to report the outcome of the HMRC ballot for industrial action in their conference circular Red Revenue:

THE RESULTS ARE IN. The Jobs & Staffing ballot has returned a result of 54.65% for strike action and 76.86% for action short of a strike. Now we have a mandate for action,the key debate is how we use it.

Actually 54% may sound "good" but is hardly overwhelming and what they don't tell you is the actual turnout, even in the official return. There are around 50,000 members in the HMRC. The number of people voting for industrial action was just 7,730 with 5,978 being against. Forget percentages that isn't a particularly good result especially with the vast majority (around 37,000 members) not even bothering to vote.

Of course with confusion reigning over the future of the union itself members may remain uninspired by the Socialist Party leadership. In fact at the moment it certainly is SPEW that is in control. Mark Serwotka is recovering from a serious operation in hospital and will not be back at work for some months so the person nominally in charge is the totally useless Chris Baugh, Assistant General Secretary.

Without a doubt Madame Godrich, the PCS President will be wearing the proverbial trousers in Falcon Road along with "Mr Fix it", John McInally a senior Socialist Party cadre who is also Vice President of the union.

Mark did send a message to conference about the merger and asked delegates to:

 ..look coolly at the facts and to keep our focus on a straightforward question – could joining together with Unite create a new force bringing together workers across the public sector and lead to a greater fight back against austerity?

The controversy surrounding the so called merger (its actually a takeover) will get an airing first thing tomorrow morning. With the PCS Democrats sitting on the fence as usual, it will be up to delegates from the floor of conference to question the motivation behind the merger.

After all PCS is still the sixth largest union affiliated to the TUC and we have been re-assured that our finances (despite the pensions deficit) are sound. There is no reason therefore that independent representation of civil servants should be subsumed into Unite is there?

Or is this just a move by the Socialist Party to move its resources into one project, that of breaking Unite from the Labour Party in favour of its over bloated and minuscule electoral front, the Trade Unionist & Socialist Coalition?

Monday, 19 May 2014

Voting Labour on 22 May will make a difference

Guest post by Councillor John Ferrett

If the opinion polls are anything to go by, the elections to be held on 22 May are going to be the most interesting for many a year. They are also impossible to call, given the potential impact of UKIP on the vote-share of the three main parties. We must wait and see whether Nigel Farage’s party delivers the ‘political earthquake’ he has promised. However, there is no doubt that traditional voters of Labour, the Lib Dems and, most of all, the Conservatives have been attracted by the populist policies and simple solutions that UKIP offer.

For trade unionists and, indeed workers in general, the election of UKIP representatives at a local and European level is nothing short of disastrous. UKIP’s brand of turbo-charged Thatcherism, if implemented, would see the loss of many rights that workers have fought hard to gain over many years. The right to paid holidays, the right to a cap on the working week and the right to have sufficient rest periods would all disappear if UKIP had their way in removing the protection for workers afforded by our membership of the European Union. The party have also made it clear that they have little commitment to equality, and would repeal maternity and paternity rights that allow so many to raise a family without the threat of losing their jobs. Moreover, we see a depressing parade of UKIP representatives launching attacks on the rights of women, gays and most worryingly of all, immigrants.

Whilst UKIP have shown a complete disdain for trade unions and the rights of workers, the Coalition Government is not far behind. Since 2010 we have seen the Lib Dem led Business Department, under Vince Cable, make it increasingly difficult for workers to take their case to an Employment Tribunal. In addition to introducing prohibitive charges to access the Tribunal, Cable has now introduced compulsory arbitration, which many commentators feel will give employers an even greater opportunity to ‘starve into submission’ those that have been unfairly dismissed. Therefore, it is no surprise to see the number of applications to the Tribunal has fallen by 79% in the past year.

At the Cabinet Office we have a Conservative Minister, Francis Maude, doing his bit to restrict the effectiveness of trade unions. The savage cuts in facility time for Civil Service reps could have a devastating effect on the ability of workers and their representatives to hold their employer to account at a time of great change.

Alongside these attacks on workers’ and trade union rights in the public sector sit the detrimental changes to terms and conditions, a 4-year pay freeze and a massive increase in pension contributions. Never forget that the Coalition tore-up the hard won pensions agreement struck with the last Labour Government. Furthermore, this appeared to be nothing more than an ideological attack on the public given they presented with clear evidence of the long-term affordability of the scheme.

On May 22 only Labour offer a positive and realistic alternative to the hate-filled agenda of UKIP and the persistent attacks on unions and working people embarked upon by the Coalition. Labour have set the agenda in recent times, be it on energy prices, fair rents and the over-arching cost-of-living crisis. Despite decrying Ed Miliband’s suggestions, the Coalition have invariably hijacked his ideas because they have seen that they chime with how people feel. However, the commitment of the Coalition and the Conservatives in particular, to an agenda that puts working people and their families first is superficial. Only Labour will continue to fight day-in, day-out for those that have been most disadvantaged by the programme of austerity over the past four years. That is why you should vote Labour on May 22.

John Ferrett is Leader of Portsmouth Labour Group & Labour PPC Portsmouth North

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Joint statement by PCS Democrats and UniteNOW on the proposed merger

Guest Post by Ian Albert, PCS NEC (personal capacity)

PCS Democrats and UniteNOW are lay member groupings within the PCS and UNITE respectively.

PCS Democrats are part of the Democracy Alliance on the PCS National Executive Committee (NEC). PCS Democrats work in partnership with Left Unity colleagues to deliver policies democratically agreed by Conference and subject to the overriding authority of membership ballots. The Democracy Alliance ticket won a clean sweep in the recent PCS NEC elections.

UniteNOW are a group of lay member activists dedicated to making UNITE a truly representative and member led union. UniteNOW has led the way on critical areas of policy and through its strong Executive Group and organised presence at conferences always seeks to hold Executive Officers to account.

Both PCS Democrats and UniteNOW are centre left groupings whose members overwhelmingly support the Labour Party and want to see the re-election of a Labour Government in 2015.

PCS Democrats and UniteNOW work separately within their respective unions to achieve the best results for members.

However, our groups have seen value in reaching out beyond PCS and UNITE structures. We have been in contact with each other since the process of informal talks regarding a possible PCS-UNITE merger began.

Both PCS Democrats and UniteNOW have agreed that there should be formal talks to explore the possibility of merger, but want to see certain conditions satisfied. Both PCS Democrats and UniteNOW want to ensure that members of both unions have sight of the same information and communications. This has not always been the case up to now.

Both PCS Democrats and UniteNOW groups recognise that formal talks will now take place and agree on the following points and urge lay activists to make sure that these points are aired and discussed within all Branches and constitutional committees, conferences and fora:
  • Transparency in this process is absolutely critical to building confidence amongst lay members that this transfer will take place for the right reasons and in their interests and not those of officials or political groupings;
  • Lay member participation must be at the centre of the talks and should be equally balanced on both sides as well as inclusive of the diversity of political opinions within both PCS and Unite; 
  • Financial stability of the new organisation is paramount and there must be full and open disclosure to the negotiating committees of all relevant financial details regarding income, pensions liabilities, assets and future projected spending and income;
  • Draft proposals for post-merger new public sector structure within UNITE already exist and there are some interesting aspects – particularly in relation to the future of sector conferences. However, it is essential that any new structure meets with the agreement of members that will be in the new structure and that it is primarily focused on their industrial needs and interests. It must not be put together simply to further the internal interests of any political factions;
  • In an organisation of this size it is not acceptable that the only full-time officer elected position is that of General Secretary. If a merger is agreed, both PCS Democrats and UniteNOW will work together to develop proposals for a future Rules Conference that aim to increase the number of elected senior officials as well as the accountability of existing national and regional officials. This is already policy within PCS.
Neither union has to merge and can remain independent. However, there are strong arguments in favour of the creation of a new powerful public sector group. Most members would continue to be represented in exactly the same way as now in their Branches.

But neither PCS Democrats nor UniteNOW have taken a formal position yet on whether to support the transfer of PCS into UNITE. This must await the outcome of the talks and the detailed proposals that emerge. However, as it currently stands only PCS members are guaranteed a vote in this process. PCS NEC are also proposing to hold a special conference. We think that’s right in principle. Therefore, both PCS Democrats and UniteNOW support the motion going to the UNITE Conference calling for a Special Recall Conference to give UNITE members a say as well on any final agreement.

Websites:  &

Unite to debate "anti-merger" motions at Policy Conference

Delegates from all over the UK will be arriving in Brighton from today for the Annual Conference of the PCS civil service union. Undoubtedly, the main issue on every ones mind will be the proposed takeover of PCS by the Unite union.

This won't be discussed until the first debate on Wednesday morning, so in the meantime delegates might be interested in seeing the two motions on the merger that will be debated at Unites Policy Conference

Although there is some similar wording the second motion takes a much harder stance against the merger. Neither spell out the "target" of their concerns, but its obviously PCS and the concerns over finances/pensions deficit would seemingly confirm many PCS activists worries about the parlous state of our unions financial position.

P1 Future Mergers and Transfer of Engagements

Unite welcomes the interest in mergers from other trade unions. Where both parties have similar
industrial interests, merger is something that should be considered seriously by both unions.

Even though difficulties still exist as a result of previous mergers, Unite has emerged as a strong,
United and progressive union that is at the fore front of the UK and Irish labour movements. It is
therefore essential that future mergers or transfers of undertakings/engagements do not jeopardise
this position or the union’s financial situation. The primary consideration should be the advancement of the industrial strength, organisation and ability to ensure future prosperity of the members of both unions.

We have a year to the General Election and Unite needs to be at the forefront, ensuring the conservatives or a con/lib coalition is not reelected and that the country is seen to be moving
towards a fairer society which is for the benefit of the majority rather than the minority that it currently serves.

Conference therefore calls on the Unite Executive to:
  • ensure any future mergers or transfers of undertakings/engagements do not notably damage the financial situation of Unite including though not exclusive, attention to the pension’s liabilities of any potential merger or transfer of undertakings/engagements partner;
  • examine and report back the political, industrial and financial implications of any future mergers or transfers of undertakings/engagements,should such possibilities arise to every Policy Conference;
  • ensure that the final agreement for a merger or transfers of undertakings/engagements into Unite is the property of the Unite Policy Conference.
East Midlands/GPM&ITRISC

P2 Future Mergers & Transfer of Engagements

While future mergers or transfers of undertakings/engagements may be essential and must never be
ruled out, it is clear to activists we have yet to fully consolidate previous sections of UNITE or fully
address the financial situation Unite faces.

Even though difficulties still exist, Unite has emerged as a strong, United and progressive union that
is at the forefront of the UK and Irish labour movements. It is therefore essential that future
mergers or transfers of undertakings/engagements do not jeopardise this position or the union’s
financial situation.

We are a year away from a critical General Election where Unite’s contribution will be pivotal in
ensuring the conservatives or a con/lib coalition is not re elected and that a Labour government
returns to office. Indeed the election of our Unite General Secretary was even brought forwards
from 2015 to 2013 precisely to enable Unite to give full attention to winning the 2015 General
Election. Any mergers or transfers of undertakings/engagements discussions with trade unions who
are not affiliated to the Labour Party will inevitably be a huge distraction and will take our attention,
focus and energy away from winning the 2015 General Election.

Conference therefore instructs the Unite Executive to:
  • not open formal talks aimed at mergers or transfers of undertakings/engagements with any unions prior to the 2015 General Election.
  • ensure any future mergers or transfers of undertakings/engagements beyond 2015 do not further damage the financial situation of Unite,including, although not exclusive,attention to the pension liabilities of any potential merger or transfer of undertakings/engagements partner;
  • thoroughly examine and report back to the membership on the financial implications of any future mergers or transfers of undertakings/engagements before any decisions are taken by the Executive Council;
  • ensure that the final agreement for any merger or transfers of undertakings/engagements into Unite is the property of the full Executive Council requiring a 75% majority for approval.
East Midlands/DE40 Manufacturing & Rail Branch

The "transfer of engagements/merger/takeover of PCS by Unite has an additional obstacle to over come.

The time has come for delegates to get the full unequivocal truth (if possible) about the PCS leaderships real reasons for pushing for the end of the independence of the largest civil service union.

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Weird Love


It must be a slow news day at Times Newspapers since a couple of journalists decided to cover the "Race Play" faction fight in the International Socialist Network. Although this dispute has been covered here previously, it is one of the more bizarre splits on the far-left (even for them). David Brown and Jonathon Manning write:

When Karl Marx dreamt of the socialist revolution, he failed to anticipate that it could be de-railed by the political etiquette of the bedroom.

In this case an ideological dispute over whether sexual "race play" is acceptable.

For the uninitiated race play involves a "master and slave" relationship being acted out by (usually) mixed race couples. Richard (Lenin's Tomb) Seymour ended up being accused of defending the right to be racist in bed.

Frankly what consenting adults get up to in the privacy of the bedroom is of no concern to anyone else.   Over at A Very Public Sociologist, Phil BC writes in defence of Seymour:

Rightly, he defended this and other forms of sexual behaviour some might find unpalatable as something that's up to the people involved. Reasonable, but too reasonable for many on the ISN's steering committee. Such behaviour is racist, perpetuates white privilege, demeans black people. disrespects the experience of slaves held in the colonies or transported/raised on American plantations. Well, no. For those involved, it doesn't. Sexual role play is about fantasy, about fun, having a laugh and, of course, getting off. In much the same way as the millions of couples who dress up as school boys and school girls do not alibi or condone child sex abuse, so race play does not trample on a troubled and deeply sad history. Ridiculously, the ISN's view effectively means sub/dom relationships are only open to couples of the same ethnicity. And how would the ISN ever enforce their brand of sexual political hygiene? By sending in the coitus commissars?

Sums it up really. Don't like it, don't do it. Simples!

Of course the ISN was founded as result of a split in the Socialist Workers Party over what is widely alleged to be more than just a "serious break of sexual etiquette", the "Comrade delta" affair. But their Face Book spat really does show the futility of the navel gazing of the far left sects.

Can't they ever agree simply to just disagree on some things like most normal people do in their every day lives?

Meanwhile I have just finished reading Weird Love, a reprint of stories from the fifties and sixties which leads with the wonderful McCarthyite story I fell for a commie. Worth the £3.10 cover price on its own.

Published by IDW Comics, you should be able to either get one or order a copy from your local comic shop. 

Just remember that sometimes truth is stranger than fiction and there's nowt stranger than the far-left!

Friday, 16 May 2014

The barbaric injustice of Sharia

Over at Harry's Place, Sarah AB publishes an interview with Zara Afzal who is making a film, Hidden Heart which is about the growing number of Muslim women who are having relationships outside their community. These days "mixed marriages" are par to the course and quite normal these days, most ordinary people don't even blink a eyelid at the thought.

Why should they? Love is love, regardless of race, religion or gender.

In the Muslim community however:’s just not talked about as there is a taboo around women marrying out. I wanted to make a film that showed the challenges that Western Muslim women face within themselves and in the cultural context of marrying out.

When it comes to Muslim women in other countries the word "challenges" is somewhat of an understatement. I was horrified by the following report which appeared in The Times today (no link £):

A heavily pregnant woman in Sudan has been sentenced to be flogged and executed for marrying a Christian.

Yes you read that right. It gets worse (if that's possible).

Apparently its a crime to intermarry in Sudan. In order to reach their decision the court had to declare her a Muslim despite the victims protestations. If her (absent) father was a Muslim, so is she. No choice in the "religion of peace" you see. Mrs Ishag had been brought up as an orthodox Christian by her mother and told the court:

I am a Christian and I never committed apostasy 

The Sudanese authorities gave her three days to "recant", but refused. A brave decision in face of the threat to her life.

Her refusal led to a hanging sentence.

Barbaric. No other word for it.

Her life is to be allowed to continue for two years after the baby's birth. 

Further cruelty.

Protests have been made by Human Rights organisations and a petition has been launched to put pressure on Sudan.


Thursday, 15 May 2014

Once more on the future of PCS

Delegates will be preparing to travel to Brighton over the next couple of days to attend what may turn out to be the last ever conference of the PCS, the largest of the civil service unions. As readers will be aware proposals are on the agenda to allow for Unite to simply take over the "engagements" of the union. Depending on a ballot of course.

Whilst there has been some quite vocal opposition to the merger, some from the far left and others on the mainstream, the whole issue revolves around whether PCS is fact able to continue as an independent union.

Speculation about PCS finances emerged after details of the unions pension deficit were published in the press. The Socialist Party Grandees have gone to "great lengths" to assure members that this is not the case in Circulars, letters to delegates & branch secretaries and of course on the unions Face book Page. Not all are convinced.

Even their "allies" in the SWP seem to be ambivalent and write:

Meanwhile reports from the Unite union suggest that merger proposals with the PCS are far more advanced than the PCS leadership admits.

Unite leader Len McCluskey apparently said any merger would not affect the Unite rule book or its relationship with the Labour Party.

Last year’s PCS conference only allowed talks to go ahead on the basis that there would be safeguards to protect democratic structures in the PCS and our ability to act independently of Labour.

In any case merger can’t be substituted for a serious fight against government attacks.

An interesting conclusion on their part as the second "merger" bulletin to PCS members highlights the following statement:

The aim of the merger talks is to see if it possible to create a new fighting force in the trade union movement.

Although they deny it, some consider the merger part of the long term strategy of the Socialist Party to try and break the Unite union from Labour. This would tie in with their self proclaimed Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition which receives backing from the RMT.

Certainly the Socialist Party is the main force behind the proposed dissolution of PCS and the forthcoming debate in Brighton next week is the only one of any importance for delegates to consider.

Under the terms of the subsuming of our unions interest, Unites rules and policy will supercede those of PCS where they conflict. 

So not all bad then.

However delegates need to extract the truth from the PCS leadership as this proposal could seriously undermine trade unionism in the civil service. How far they will get is another matter.

Ending the independence of the largest of the civil service unions is not a matter to be taken lightly and certainly is not one that should be in the interests of the a political sect such as the trotskyist Socialist Party.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Rising Death Toll Turns Mine Accident in Turkey to Carnage

Statement by Industriall

IndustriALL Global Union and its worldwide family mourn the deaths of hundreds of mineworkers in Soma, Manisa province in Western Turkey. As of the time of writing, 205 miners are dead and more than 80 are hospitalized. Rescue efforts continue to safeguard hundreds more miners trapped underground. Oxygen is still being pumped into the mine, however hopes are diminishing.

Belonging to a private company, the mine is organized by IndustriALL’s affiliate Maden-İş, Mineworkers’ Union of Turkey. Around 800 miners were in and around the mine when an electrical fault triggered a transformer to explode causing a large fire around noon time on Tuesday 13 May. The fire caused a power cut in the mine rendering mine cages unusable and the majority of workers trapped 2km underground and 4km from the exit. Rescue efforts have continued through the night while families of the over 200 unaccounted for miners wait at the mine’s entrance and in the local hospital.

Turkey’s record on mine safety is poor, and IndustriALL labels the deaths of mineworkers as carnage. Every death in a mine is avoidable and IndustriALL’s campaign for ratification of the ILO Convention 176 will continue in Turkey and elsewhere. Pressure is already building on Turkey’s government, criticized for ignoring safety warnings while workers pay with their lives.

Nurettin Akçul, General President and Vedat Ünal, General Secretary of Maden-İş report that the blast occurred at the time of a shift change, making it more difficult to know how many miners are still trapped underground. The Maden-İş leaders report that: “the mine is registered with necessary legal certification, all workers are covered by social security. The local union reps confirm that all workers are equipped with oxygen masks underground, but nobody knows how long the masks can keep them alive in this situation.”

The survival rate for coal miners following explosions or fires is extremely low, as compared to accidents in mines for hard rock or metal. The rescue must happen as quickly as possible following an explosion in a coal mine if those trapped are to be brought out alive. IndustriALL and everybody watching hopes that this case will be the exception to the rule. Carbon monoxide poisoning is the biggest threat to those still trapped underground.


IndustriALL Global Union wrote today to Maden-İş:

"This tragedy must rank as the worst mining tragedy in recent memory, and is made all the more tragic by the seemingly uncaring attitude of the government and mining companies. This attitude is unacceptable and must come to an end. It is intolerable that mine workers in Turkey are denied their basic human right to work in an environment that guarantees their safety, and that instead they are expected to go to work to die.

"The number of mineworkers involved in the fatal accident is mind-boggling and staggering. We call upon the private company operating the mine and the government of Turkey to ensure that as many miners as possible of the 400 still remaining in the mine pit be rescued.

"Turkey has possibly the worst safety record in terms of mining accidents and explosions in Europe and the third worst one in the world. As recently as 7 January 2013, eight mine workers lost their lives in another mine-related accident, which the President of your sister organization Genel Maden-Is correctly labelled as “killing” of mine workers.

"As a matter of urgency, IndustriALL Global Union calls upon the Turkish government to immediately ratify and implement ILO’s Convention 176 on Safety and Health in Mines to save the lives of mine workers. The “killing” must stop. IndustriALL Global Union will do everything in their power to ensure that the Turkish government act responsibly and ratify Convention 176. We once again call upon the political authorities to take the lives of mineworkers seriously and to place it above profit."

“Turkish Government and employers have responsibility for this carnage,” said Kemal Özkan, IndustriALL Global Union’s assistant general secretary. “When governments fail to protect their citizens, it is not merely irresponsible; it is a breach of one of the most fundamental duties entrusted to any government. Turkey aspires to greatness, and it can achieve it: but not at the cost of workers' lives.”

According to the official records, in 73 years more than 3000 miners have been killed in Turkey. We are watching in trepidation knowing that this accident has the potential to become the worst. Enough is enough, Turkey’s government must act now, my country’s miners cannot continue to pay with their lives for their inaction in dangerous mines.


7 March 1983: 103 killings in Armutçuk with methane explosion
10 April 1983: 10 killings in Kozlu with methane explosion
31 January 1987: 8 killings in Kozlu with dent
31 January 1990: 5 killings in Amasra with methane explosion
7 February 1990: 68 killings in Yeni Çeltik with methane explosion
3 March 1992: 263 killings in Kozlu with methane explosion
26 March 1995: 37 killings in Sorgun with methane explosion
22 November 2003: 10 killings in Ermenek with methane explosion
8 September 2004: 19 killings in Küre with fire
2 June 2006: 17 killings in Dursunbey with methane explosion
10 December 2009: 19 killings in Mustafakemalpaşa with methane explosion
17 May 2010: 30 killings in Zonguldak with methane explosion
8 January 2013: 8 killings in Kozlu with methane explosion
13 May 2014: 157 (so far killings) in Soma with fire

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

What's all this about July 10th?

Date imgae
The self appointed Peoples Assembly have announced that there will be a "mass strike" on July 10th. John Rees informs the British working class:

Teachers, civil servants, firefighters - members of the NUT, PCS, Unison, Unite and the GMB - look likely to take part in a mass strike on 10 July. It will be the largest co-ordinated action since the collapse of the pension’s dispute two years ago.

Thanks for telling me, could have missed the whole thing since nothings been mentioned or sent to PCS Reps and members, though after the report was posted on the unions Face Book page, we were told an EM (Emergency Motion) was "doing the rounds" in some branches.

Of course nothings actually set in stone is it? Rees continues:

The strikes still depends on ballots in some unions: Unison’s ballot over local government pay which starts on 23 May, for instance, and the GMB ballot on the same timescale. The PCS already has a live ballot for action but is likely to put a consultative ballot in place. The NUT is already planning action and seems likely to strike on the 10 July if that is when other unions strike. The FBU, is already taking strike action, and has pledged to take action on the 10 July as well.

Oh that's nice we're going to be asked.

As for the "live ballot" in PCS, frankly that petered out ages ago and most members will have forgotten about it, so I don't think the far-left leadership would have much choice but to ballot again.

So what should we make of all this?

It certainly makes a difference to the shrill calls for a general strike made religiously by Socialist Party and PCS Grandees like Janice Godrich that has been falling on deaf ears for longer than anyone, myself included, cares to remember.

Phil Dickens (an anarchist of sorts) writes:

which brings us to John Rees. The main contender for Grand Old Duke of the Far Left brings us the announcement that “10 July will be the largest day of strike action for two years.”

You may be surprised. As will the vast majority of members and activists in the unions apparently taking this action, who are still awaiting the results of ballots and the debates at conferences that should be the deciding factors in what happens next. But if the date itself is out of the blue, the tactic of various tiny left sects dictating struggle to rank-and-file workers with scant regard for anything but self promotion is wearily familiar.

As tiresome as the hijacking is the overblown rhetoric that surrounds it. Rees tells us that between the People’s Assembly demonstration on 21 June and the TUC demonstration in October, “the anti-austerity movement [has] the chance to hit the government twice in a few months with mass displays of opposition to its cuts programme.” Now, with the apparent July strike and possibly another in the Autumn, we have “a period of sustained opposition to the Tory coalition is opening up immediately before the general election.”.......

There is no reason why this sequence of actions should be any different than the other sequences of actions we’ve seen in past years. Lots of buzz among the left, grand days out of activists and then the deflation for workers once they realise that having been marched up to the top of the hill all they have left is to march back down again. It’s a formula which boosts the profile of certain individuals and sells a few extra papers, but ultimately doesn’t make a dent in austerity.

About sums it up really, not that I usually have much common ground with Phil, but his comments (though not his solutions) are more than reasonable comment.

Fact is that I don't see much in the way of members demanding such strikes even though they are beginning to ask about this years pay. Strikes of any sort seem more than far from most peoples minds no matter how worthy such action may or may not be.

This rather "top down" proposal has no value. Strikes only work when there is a real, and I mean real demand from members for such action to be taken. The vanguardism of the left ignores basic industrial reality. PCS was forced to abandon its strikes due to ever decreasing support. That's a fact whether the comrades choose to ignore it or not.

Currently my fear is a half baked proposal like this could undermine the unions in the future.  

Back in the late seventies the left marched around London calling for the Callaghan government to be overthrown and for a socialist alternative.

What they got was Thatcher.

Be careful what you wish for comrades.

Monday, 12 May 2014

Labours cuckoo in the nest

Regular readers will recall that I raised the alarm when Andy Newman was selected as Labour Party prospective candidate for Chippenham. Newman, a supporter of the Chinese Communist Party, Hamas and self appointed cheerleader for Yusuf Quaradawi (an anti-Semitic Islamist cleric) is not the sort of individual needed in a modern Labour Party.

The days of Stalinism may be on the wain, but his and Socialist Unity's continued support for Putin, Assad and their British "lickspittle" George Galloway detracts from the concept of modern social democracy. Even more so as the latter is a member of a political party in opposition to Labour.

Socialist Unity's connections with Galloway are all to apparent as this toadying video from RT (the Government controlled TV station shows as Galloway "interviews" the odious John Wight, Newman's co-thinker at SU: (appalling stuff)

In his latest missive he renews his attack on Anne Marie Waters, a secularist he helped drive out of the Labour Party (see here). Newman writes:

Regular readers may recall that I raised the alarm when anti-Islam activist, Anne Marie Waters, was seeking the selection to be Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Brighton Pavilion. Sadly this led to Nick Cohen writing a rather ill judged article for the Spectator, where he stood up for Anne Marie:

[Andy Newman] has campaigned against Anne Marie Waters of One Law for All , which opposes the imposition of Sharia law in the UK. In other words, he has put himself on the wrong side of the struggle between religion and women’s rights.

Nick Cohen was not alone in taking a dim view of Newman's seemingly unrelenting "misalliances" with various opponents of secularism. The fact that Anne Marie has joined UKIP is a disappointment to me and I have written to her saying so, but it does not detract from the fact that her work (along with that of others such as Maryam Namzie) on standing up for women's rights, campaigning against FGM and more is important for those of us campaigning for a more just and equal world.

As a freethinker I am prepared to listen to people from across the political spectrum about the various issues that concern me. I have a lot of time for individuals like Andrew Coates and Jim Denham despite their formal adherence to Marxism. 

Likewise I can appreciate the views of Anne Marie and Maryam on specific issues without supporting either UKIP or the Worker Communist Party of Iran which they respectively belong to.

Democracy is a broad church, but some like Newman along with Wight , Galloway and others in the SWP and Socialist Party are so obviously enemies of free speech and democracy they do need to be opposed.

And oppose them I will, both on-line and in my union!

Union-busting in the Philippines: Company sacks entire union executive

A LabourStart appeal by Eric Lee

Workers protest union-busting.

A company in the Philippines has sacked all 24 officers of the trade union rather than bargain collectively.

NXP Semiconductors didn't like its employees joining a union, which is a rare thing in the country's free trade zones, and have determined to bust the union.

One of the ones they sacked is Reden Alcantra, the president of the national metalworkers union.

We are calling on NXP to reinstate the union officials, to resume negotiations, and to respect workers' rights.

Please take a moment to send your message of protest:

Click here to send your message.