Monday, 29 September 2014

Hong Kong Trade Unions fight for democracy!

Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions strike for democracy!

The Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU) - the only independent union in China - has called for workers to strike in support of the democracy movement as mass civil disobedience actions come under heavy police attack. The Swire Beverages (Coca-Cola) union and the HKCTU unions of school teachers and dockers are striking and will be joined by other member unions.


Tensions have been building in Hong Kong since the August 31 government announcement that candidates for the position of Chief Executive would have to be vetted and approved by a pro-business, pro-Beijing committee.

The protests, originally organized by the students' federation and the Occupy Central coalition, have drawn increasing numbers of supporters. The mainland government has harshly condemned the protestors' demands and the "illegal" protests.

On October 28, the HKCTU declared "we cannot let the students fight alone", and called for workers to strike in support of 4 demands: the immediate release of all the arrested, an end to the suppression of peaceful assembly, replacing the "fake universal suffrage" formula with the genuine political reform workers have been demanding, and the resignation of Chief Executive Leung Chun Ying.

The HKCTU has been the backbone of the democracy movement, before and following Hong Kong's return to Chinese rule. Their courageous action deserves the support of trade unions everywhere.

CLICK HERE to send a message to the Hong Kong Chief Executive in support of the democratic movement and the strikers' demands!

Sunday, 28 September 2014

PCS union to face another breakaway?

Last year members in the Serious Organised Crime Agency split en-mass from the main civil service union PCS following the refusal of the unions far-left leadership to accept the agreements reached by union representatives over the subsuming of SOCA into the Police. Not only have they set up their own union, the National Crime Officers Association, the new union has increased the number of union members in the sector itself.

The whole business (see here and here) was very much hidden from the wider PCS membership, but given the number of members who left was a substantial blow to the ailing fortunes of PCS itself.

Now PCS faces a further challenge from members in the HMRC (Revenue and Customs) as disenchanted members (and others) are now seeking to form a new union.


The Revenue & Customs Trade Union (RCTU) announces on it's new website:

This is a serious attempt to form a NEW Trade Union in HM Revenue and Customs. This is backed by a significant number of union representatives ( past and present ) and a wide range of HMRC staff many of whom are members of other Civil Service unions....

It is patently obvious that the current vehicle for union organisation and negotiation in HMRC is broken and irretrievably so. The national union of which HMRC is but a group uses HMRC staff as a virtual political football, something that can only increase when that union falls , as it will, to the larger Unite union. This is unacceptable and contrary to productive industrial relations and the current union has misused and failed to protect and promote the interests of its members most visibly displayed by the falling participation of voting in union ballots and elections and an increasing use of one day stoppages with no clear strategic endgame that is suffering declining support.

We need a mature , responsible , logical approach to industrial relations . Not one of unconstrained ideologies run by political parties ( albeit vastly different from their own real lives ) few have heard of but who actually and really exercise disproportional control of your working lives at union national and group level. Do not think for one second that we are saying it is possible to change everything , overnight or otherwise , we are not . What we know is we can and will deliver a better future for HMRC staff than what they currently face from serious unresolved strategic issues with the employer through to being used as what amounts to foot soldiers in a battle with politicians for the “enjoyment” of 19th century recidivists.

What they say about "the current union" (obviously PCS, but not spelled out for diplomatic reasons) will ring true to those who have had to put up with the "19th century recidivists" in both their own groups (like the DWP) and the National union as a whole.

PCS leaders and the far-left in the HMRC are understandably not happy according to reports I've heard, but no official statement has been released to my knowledge.

There are signs that a small number of members have been quitting PCS, some joining the pre-existing Prospect union. With the end of the "check off" system coming to many departments, there may well be more than a few more. At one National Executive Committee meeting plans were made which acknowledged the possible loss of around 10% of the membership.

If the RCTU does get off the ground PCS will find recruitment in another sector even more difficult. I understand the new union is relying on "expressions of interest" as it tries to obtain recognition from the employer. How successful this will be depend on work done in the HMRC offices themselves.

Certainly a development to watch.

Please note this article was banned by PCS from their Face Book page. Defend Free Speech!

Saturday, 27 September 2014

ISIS tortures and executes Iraqi women’s-rights activist

Cross-post from Why Evolution Is True

Sameera Salih Ali al-Nuaimy

I meant to post this yesterday, but there is so little time. . . Still, it must be recorded so that the full horrors of ISIS’s behavior can be known. Both Thursday’s New York Times and Reliefweb (summarizing a condemnation by a UN envoy) report that an Iraqi lawyer, Sameera Salih Ali al-Nuaimy, was taken from her home in Iraq by members of ISIS, tortured, and then executed by firing squad. Her crime? Apostasy.

From the NYT:

Ms. Nuaimy had posted comments on her Facebook page condemning the “barbaric” bombing and destroying of mosques and shrines in Mosul, a northern Iraqi city, by the Islamic State, the militant group also known as ISIS or ISIL. She was convicted of apostasy by a “so-called court,” Mr. Zeid said, adding that her family had been barred from giving her a funeral.

The killing follows the execution of a number of Iraqi women in areas under Islamic State control documented by United Nations monitors, including two candidates contesting Iraq’s general election in Nineveh Province, who were killed in July. A third female candidate was abducted by gunmen in eastern Mosul and has not been heard from since.

And, like Pol Pot and Mao before them, ISIS targets the group most likely to make trouble: educated and literate people, especially women, whose acts of criticizing Islamic society are especially odious to devout Muslims:

United Nations monitors in Iraq have received numerous reports of executions of women by Islamic State gunmen, some after perfunctory trials, the organization said. “Educated, professional women seem to be particularly at risk,” it added.

These killings, together with abductions and the enslavement of women and children, illustrate the “utterly poisonous nature” of the extremist group, Mr. Zeid said, drawing attention to the plight of hundreds of women and girls of the Yazidi religious minority and other ethnic and religious groups sold into slavery, raped or forced into marriage after the group overran large areas of northern Iraq.

The thought that someone would be tortured for five days before being shot boggles my mind. It’s a return to medieval barbarism. And Karen Armstrong tells us this has nothing to do with religion: it’s due to enforced secularism (what??). Now tell me how execution for “apostasy” could exist without religion. And every country where that’s a crime is Islamic. FromWikipedia:

In 2011, 20 countries across the globe prohibited its citizens from apostasy; in these countries, it is a criminal offense to abandon one’s faith to become atheist, or convert to another religion. All 20 of these countries were majority Islamic nations, of which 11 were in the Middle East.

Here’s the map, with the penalties in each of the countries. Can one seriously make a case that in every one of those countries the laws against apostasy stem from colonialism, or from religion that, coopted by a malicious state, was once benign and is now odious? After all, both the Qur’an and the hadith specify punishment for leaving the faith, and in thehadith that punishment is death. Punishment for apostasy was part of the faith from the beginning.


We already know that ISIS is poisonous, and somehow—I don’t know how—it must be destroyed. Although other Muslims have condemned the group as “un-Islamic,” it’s a charge I find ludicrous, for this killing, rape, and abduction of women is merely an extension of the more moderate Islamic doctrine of marginalizing and oppressing women. Though you can face charges of “Islamophobia” for saying so, we must incessantly condemn the “moderate” Muslim practice of not allowing women to achieve their full potential. A large proportion of these “moderates” may not engage in beheadings, rapes, and tortures, but they still treat half of their population as second-class citizens—if you can even call them “citizens.” “Breeder cattle” is more like it.

Friday, 26 September 2014

About time: Britain to act against ISIS!

Parliament has finally voted to act against ISIS by sending in the RAF. The British contribution will be small, but still a vital part of the growing international coalition against the vile forces describing themselves as the "Islamic State".

Meanwhile the far and not so far left continue to shame themselves with their policy of "opposing war" which can only be seen as appeasement in the current climate. The charlatans of the Stop the War Coalition oddly worry about everything except the lives of the people being murdered as the sup their wine and polish their sandals in the local bistro this evening.

Not a word about saving the Christians.

Just how evil the West is.

Deluded, dangerously so in my opinion.

After all the StWC is run by a bunch of Marxist revolutionaries who follow a creed that has murdered more people than anyone else over the last century. Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot. Not much different to the ISIS criminals that plague a wide section of the Middle east at this very moment.

The only thing I concur with the StWC is that air strikes alone will not destroy ISIS. There will be a need to put "boots on the ground", at the very least special forces to back the Kurds who are on the front line against the new Islamist fascism.

The StWC and the other far/left rabble who oppose the intervention come from the tradition of appeasement that we saw in the thirties and left this country weak in the face of the rise not just of fascism and the Nazi's but Communism too.

Britain wasn't ready enough for the Second World War and we barely survived the initial onslaught. The threat from Islamist terrorism is very real. The Tories cuts in the military have left this country vulnerable and that's why our contribution will be smaller and more limited than it could be.

The world is a dangerous place.

No one wants war, but sometimes war is forced upon us and the battle against ISIS is a just war.

ISIS must be stopped. 

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Unison to call off October strike?


The National Executive Committee of the main civil service union, PCS decided to call for a strike in October. The unions website announced:

The NEC decided that a national strike will be called on Wednesday, 15 October. The action will be coordinated with unions representing workers in the health service which have announced action on Monday, 13 October, and with unions in local government which have announced a strike on 14 October so that there will be 3 consecutive days of strike action over pay in the public sector.

It had been my intention to comment on this decision in depth, but it seems events may now be taking a different turn.

There are rumours circulating that the local government strike on October 14th may be called off following a new offer by the employer. This appears to involve a rise of  2.2 % from 1st of January with one off payments ranging from £250 for lowest grades. going down to £100 for other grades which will be paid in December.

Whilst I consider further industrial action by my own union (PCS) to be superfluous as we have already had one poorly supported protest action back in July, I would urge trade unionists to support the TUC demonstration.

BRITAIN NEEDS A PAYRISE: Join us at the MARCH and RALLY, Saturday 18 October 2014

The march starts on Embankment 1pm , with form up from 11am. We suggest joining from the rear at Blackfriars to avoid a crush further up Embankment. After moving off, the march will go along Embankment to Northumberland Avenue, across Trafalgar Square, along Regent Street to Piccadilly Circus, and then along Piccadilly to Hyde Park Corner, where it will enter the park. The rally in Hyde Park will start as the march reaches the stage.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Laughing at the new Inquisition

Pat Condell is more than a wee bit controversial in a lot of his video monologues and isn't to every ones taste, especially to those on the left. I have to say Pat can go over the top and spoil a reasonable point by being too deliberately provocative.

However this latest offering did catch my attention and I thought worth sharing.

The reason?

What he says reminds me so much of the "comrades" in my union the PCS........ and elsewhere to be honest.

See what you think.

NSS backs school's decision to enforce ban on face coverings

Cross-post from the National Secular Society

The National Secular Society has given its backing to one of the country's top state schools after it came under fire for upholding its policy of banning the niqab.

Camden School for Girls in London was accused of 'islamophobia' after a 16-year-old pupil was told she cannot attend her A-level lessons wearing a full face veil.

The school's appearance policy states that "inappropriate dress that offends public decency or which does not allow teacher student interactions will be challenged".

The 6th form student has attended the school for the past five years but only recently started wearing the niqab.

In a statement, the governing body said: "The governors' decision was very much an educational one.

"Teachers need to see a student's whole face in order to read the visual cues it provides.

"In addition, it is important for the safety and security of the school community to know who is on site, and to be able to see and identify individuals."

The school's decision has provoked anger with over 1000 people signing a petition set up by an anonymous campaigner to "stop the Islamophobia".

A rival petition has since been set up urging people to support the school's decision to ban the Niqab from the classroom.

The National Secular Society dismissed the claim that the school's decision was in any way 'Islamophobic' as "risible".

Stephen Evans, National Secular Society campaigns manager, said: "It's not hard to see why schools may consider the ability to communicate unhindered as paramount. If schools feel that face coverings inhibit interaction in the classroom then they should be free to implement policies that enable staff and students to see each others' faces without being bullied into submission by spurious accusations of 'islamophobia'."

The school's decision was also backed by Mohammed Amin, Chair of the Conservative Muslim Forum and a patron of Tell MAMA (which monitors anti-Muslim attacks). He tweeted: "I think Camden School for Girls acted reasonably in refusing to allow a pupil to wear a niqab on educational grounds."

Meanwhile the Conservative MP for Stourbridge, Margot James, also supported the school, saying it was "important that Camden School for Girls stand their ground on the niqab, they should not be forced to teach pupils wearing a full-face veil".

The latest controversy mirrors a similar case in September 2013 when Birmingham Metropolitan College implemented a similar ban – only to overturn it following pressure from campaigners – including mass demonstration against 'Islamophobia' and a huge social media campaign including an online petition signed by 9,000.

At the time Prime Minister David Cameron said it was up to individual schools and colleges to set their own dress code.

Monday, 22 September 2014

RMT union elects pro-Labour General Secretary

The breaking news this evening is that Labour Party member Mick Cash has won the election for General Secretary of the RMT union. In a statement on the RMT website Mick said:

“I want to thank the membership of RMT for giving me an overwhelming mandate as the newly elected General Secretary. I am proud and honoured to have been given the enormous responsibility of now taking our fighting and militant union forwards, six months after the bitter loss to the Labour Movement of Bob Crow.

“Let me make this clear. There will be no deviation from the industrial, political and organising strategy mapped out by RMT under Bob’s leadership. Our fight on pay, jobs, working conditions, pensions and safety continues on every front and in every industry where we organise members.

The RMT is probably the most successful trade union in the UK, being one of the only trade unions which is in a position to deliver the goods for it's members. In the long term however there is one adjustment to Bob Crow's legacy that he really does have to tackle head on and that's the RMT backing of the irrelevant Trade Union and Socialist Coalition.

With the general election less than a year away, there is little time for Mr Cash and his supporters to re-orientate the RMT back to the political mainstream, but the fact that the far-left Steve Hedley came third in the ballot illustrates that the TUSC has little to no support amongst ordinary union members.

Change in trade unions is notoriously slow, but the need to remove the current Tory led coalition government has never been greater.

Let us hope the RMT wakes up to that basic reality in due course..

Update: The result was:

Cash - 9000
Pottage - 4000
Hedley 1885
Gordon 1125
Leach 1460

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Labour and the left must combat anti-Semitism and ISIS

The news that Viki Kirby, Labour candidate for Woking has been suspended for her vile tweets calling Hitler "Zionism's God" and advocating an ISIS attack on the Jewish state. Perhaps she would care to tell us what she thinks of the fate of the Yezadhi's under ISIS or the other religious minorities that have been murdered raped and enslaved by her friends in ISIS.

The Christian Post reports:

"[The Islamic State's] actions speak louder than its words and it is only a matter of time and patience before it reaches Palestine to fight the barbaric Jews and kill those of them hiding behind the gharqad trees — the trees of the Jews," the terror group threatens in Dabiq.

"Dabiq" is the on line publication of the ISIS fascists (which I refuse to link to) and translated into plain English interprets as massacring all Jews, not even just Zionists. The same quote for the religion of peace's Koran that Hamas use.

The Labour Party is absolutely right for suspending this woman from it's ranks. They also need to ensure there are no others like this disgraceful woman waiting in the wings. 

There is a fine line between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. All anti-Semites are anti-Zionists, the others tend to be part of the so-called anti-imperialist brigade that sees the destruction of Israel as a way of undermining the West.

Certainly the far-left (with a couple of honourable exceptions) tends to see anti-Semitism as an "inconvenience" and whilst formally condemns ISIS openly opposes any attempt to help those being massacred, including the sending of humanitarian aid.

The laughably named Stop the War Coalition published an article suggesting wind farms where a way of fighting ISIS. No sign of them during the recent demonstration against ISIS organised by the Kurdish community who are now having to flee to Turkey in their thousands from the Islamist fascists in northern Syria.

One tweet on the Independents twitter feed was particularly worrying:

Rolex44 ‏@Rolex0225 6h

@Independent That would have been ordered by Jewish Milliband.

The "Jewish" Miliband?

It will be interesting to see how the anti-racists of the "far-left" react to this story. 

Bet they'll ignore it.

Just like they try to ignore anything else that doesn't suit their blinkered outlook on the world.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Now lets unite against the coalition government

File:Logo Labour Party.svg

The Scottish referendum is over, the decision made a United Kingdom we remain. Alex Salmond has fallen on his sword and stated that a new generation of leadership is needed. His time (and hopefully that of the nationalists) is now over. The next task must be to repeat the engagement of the electorate in another campaign.

Time to kick out the Tories and their Liberal allies.

Much has been made of Gordon Browns speech (see previous post) and it may have turned the tide. Certainly it had an impact and made us all wish he'd showed that passion when he was Prime Minister. At the same time the No camp voters appeared to have been shy about coming forward to state their views giving a false impression of the Nationalists prospects.

The reason? The fanaticism of a section of the nationalist campaign.

Always off-putting. We see this in a variety of ways, inside trade unions where the far-left bully and beguile to get their way, inside the Muslim community where "being a good Muslim" always seems to be the type promoted by the fanatics with the loudest mouth and the use of intimidation both moral and physical.

Such behaviour puts ordinary folk off taking up the cudgel for what they really want.

The time has come for us the ordinary people of this country to take back the politics, the unions, the various faiths and communities from the self appointed "vanguards" or so called "community leaders" that appear out the ether.

The great victory for democracy that arose out of the referendum campaign was the high level of participation, some 84% of the electorate taking part.

Now we need to bring that political will to take part in the democratic process to the rest of the UK.

With the Labour Party conference about to start Ed Miliband must take the lead. He should heed the lesson learned by Gordon Browns speech. The Labour Party must be passionate without being fanatical. It must show a willingness to listen, to encourage ordinary voters to take part in the necessary campaign to restore social and political justice back to the UK.

The unions must line up united behind the Labour Party, their rank & file members need a new government, the public sector in particular or by the 2020 election there will not be any effective unions left in the country after the Tories continue their plans to emasculate our movement.

There are those who remain enemies within. The parasitical far left, the Socialist Party (Militant), The SWP and others whose actions have undermined the unions, the Labour Party and have helped the Tories with their blinkered fanaticism.

Labour is the only alternative.

The far-left and the nationalists (including UKIP) have nothing to offer but division.

Those who claim otherwise are the Tories best friends.

Friday, 19 September 2014

TUC silence on Russian aggression is not new

Cross-post by Eric Lee

In an otherwise excellent piece on the TUC’s passing of an idiotic resolution on Ukraine, Dale Street writes that “for the first time since the Second World War the territory of a European country has been seized by that of a neighbouring big power.”

That doesn’t sound right — and it isn’t.

In fact there have been several occasions since 1945 when European countries have been the victims of aggression by neighboring big powers.

There was the Turkish invasion of Cyprus 40 years resulting in a division of the country and an occupation of its northern part that continues until the present day.

That invasion was exceptional not only in the sense that such invasions are rare in Europe. It’s also exceptional because every other example I can think of involves the Russian army.

Russian tanks and troops invaded Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968, and while they did not redraw any borders, they did impose regimes that were considerably friendlier to the Soviets than the ones the local populations would have liked.

In the 1990s the Russian army waged a brutal war of conquest targetting the breakaway Chechen republic, burying once and for all the Leninist myth about a “right of secession”. (There never was any such right.)

More recently, in 2008 the Russian army — no longer the Red Army — invaded Georgia, wresting control of the provinces of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, turning these into “independent” states recognized only by Moscow.

Actually, that’s not entirely true. The “independent republics” of Abkhazia and South Ossetia are also recognized by Nicaragua, Venezuela and Nauru. Nauru for those of you who are not familiar with the Pacific island country formerly known as “Pleasant Island”, has a population of just over 9,000. The only country in the world that is smaller is the Vatican.

As for Nicaragua and Venezuela, this slavish kowtowing before Russian imperialism is utterly shameless. Even Cuba hasn’t gone so far as to recognize the breakaway provinces, currently occupied by Russian troops.

When tiny Georgia was facing the full might of the Russian army, a number of European leaders flew in to show solidarity, appearing at a rally in Tbilisi’s Freedom Square. These included the presidents of Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia — the same countries that are today worried yet again by Russian sabre-rattling.

Historically, the left understood all this. Prior to 1917, the view on the European left was unanimously Russophobic, with the Tsarist empire branded as a “prison-house of nationalities”.

After the first few years of the Stalinist dictatorship, much of the international left turned anti-Soviet, and once again there would be widespread protests at Stalinist aggression.

But today with post-Soviet Russia reverting to the more traditional forms of imperialist expansion, first in Chechnya, then seizing South Ossetia and Abkhazia from Georgia, then Crimea, and now eastern Ukraine, you would think that the left would have no hesitation about condemning that aggression.

But none of these have provoked any serious protests, least of all from the organized left.

On the face of it, this is quite strange.

After all, when the Soviet Union was young, and when idealistic leftists believed it incapable of doing any wrong, Stalin could order the Red Army to march into Georgia and annex it once again to Russia. Communists in Britain and elsewhere supported that invasion without protest because it was done under the banner of, well, Communism.

They were wrong, and the social democrats who opposed Stalin were right. But at least one can understand their error. Soviet imperialism at least pretended to be somehow “progressive”. Putin’s aggression makes no such pretense.

The fact that the TUC couldn’t bring itself to condemn Putin this time should come as no surprise, as they didn’t say a word when Russian tanks poured into Georgia six years ago, or Chechnya a decade before that.

Shame on the TUC and the British Left for not speaking out.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Passing of a political gangster

Embedded image permalink

One of the more fascinating organisations on the far left in the seventies and eighties was the Workers Revolutionary Party. Led by the now somewhat discredited Gerry Healy, it managed to publish a daily newspaper (Workers Press and the News Line), attract more than a few "luvvies " from the Equity Union including Vanessa and Corin Redgrave and maintain a fairly high profile on the left that far outweighed its actual influence.

More of a sect than a political party, the WRP managed to betray every single principle it said it stood for. Gerry Healy its leader was exposed in a factional dispute as a serial abuser of female members of their Young Socialists group and subsequently expelled. At first most outsiders were astonished, shocked or just bemused. The stories about Healy only began to emerge after the now famous headline "G. Healy expelled from the WRP".

Of course as events unfolded there suddenly appeared to be two News Lines one published by the rump WRP under Cliff Slaughter, Sheila Torrance and Mike Banda and the other by Healy himself. The Healy group eventually morphed into the tiny Marxist Party, barely outlasting Healy's own death in 1989.

One of Healy's main collaborators was a man called Michael Banda, a Sri Lankan trotskyist who died recently. Banda was a leading figure in the various groups that eventually became the WRP and even managed to supplant Healy as General Secretary in 1978, though actual power remained quite firmly in Healy's hands.

The WRP became renowned for its mad sectarianism, denouncing every other organisation as "Pabloites" long after Michel Pablo had left the trotskyist movement. They also ran a bizarre international campaign claiming that other veteran trotskyists were GPU/CIA agents and complicit in the murder of Leon Trotsky. Absurd to the extreme, their political line claimed that a military coup was in the offing for years and demanded a level of activism and loyalty from their membership reminiscent of religious cults.

It included demands on their women, something hidden from public view until the WRP fell apart in 1985/86. Banda took part in the coup against Healy, but soon fell out with all the other players in the organisation and ended up out on a limb.

According to a more sympathetic obituary published by A World to Win, one of the remnants of the WRP:

Banda, hitherto Healy’s strongest political ally, now began to spin around politically. He proved incapable of resisting the combined pressures of a rapidly-changing political situation, a financial meltdown and massive efforts to destabilise him politically. Casting aside decades of political training, Banda now became deeply disoriented, descending to the crudest anti-Marxism and personal attacks. He thus became the instrument of the most reactionary elements in the leadership to split the WRP down the middle, opening the party door to the Fleet Street media to witch-hunt Healy, the man who had been his closest comrade......

The manipulation of the WRP’s substantial assets and subsequent financial crisis played a crucial role in undermining a dedicated Marxist and revolutionary. This came together with a concerted international campaign to destroy his relationship with Healy, playing on Banda’s ego and volatile temperament. His actions in 1985 were those of someone who tragically could not cope with the tremendous pressure that revolutionaries come under at crucial moments in the class struggle. He thus ended up helping to destroy the very organisation he had worked so hard to create.

In many ways this view of Banda is almost the same as the line David North, an American protege of Healy, wrote about the death of his own former master:

For a long and difficult period, Gerry Healy was a crucial human link in the historical continuity of the Fourth International. For decades he fought against stalinism and opportunism. In the end he broke beneath the pressure of this tremendous struggle.

Denial. The inability to cope with the very real failings that this party went through.

Michael Banda represented a form of politics that offered up some of the worst that humanity has to offer. Imagine what world would have come into being under the likes of Banda or Healy. No different to that which became known as "Stalinism", the very thing the trotskyists themselves claim to be opposing.

Marxism (whether through Lenin, Trotsky or Stalin) has proved itself a false faith, yet continues to attract it's adherents blinded through ideology that allows the individuals ability to think for themselves to be supplanted by the party, and ultimately the leader of that party.

Banda and Healy were just two of many false messiahs. 

The far-left still contains many such people.

"Comrade delta" and the "Prof" come to mind.

Best avoided and frankly consigned to the dustbin of history!

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Gordon Brown's Better Together speech

Better Together

An excellent speech from Gordon Brown. 

Please VOTE NO and keep this country united!

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Is the SWP still working with "Comrade Delta"?

If there is one thing we all know about the Socialist Workers Party is that is parasitically sectarian when it comes to campaigns, publications and websites in order to get its members and supporters to toe the "line". So when Hope Not Hate sets up a running campaign to expose the more lunatic elements of UKIP, the SWP go and form their own campaign, Stand up to UKIP.


You see it all the time, it just happens to be the latest of their shenanigans.

One thing they really don't like is members of their cult promoting anyone elses work. So imagine my surprise when when leading SWP member Candy Udwin posted this on the PCS Union members Face Book Page:

Candy Udwin We are all better off if Scotland votes Yes. Nice video of what is described as a Yes flash mob in Glasgow

Now Dream Deferred is a website best avoided. Why? Because its the latest political project of Martin Smith, the former SWP National Secretary at the centre of serious allegations widely commented on across the media, including the mainstream press given the nature of the accusations made against him.

Now nothing has been or probably ever will be proved due to the disgraceful way the SWP cult dealt with the issue and treated the alleged victim. Even now hostility towards the SWP is very visible, especially in the universities and across the Feminist movement.

The defence of "Delta" by the Prof and his "lynch mob" not only caused outrage, but managed to split the SWP apart. It is a pale reflection of its former self, which frankly isn't a bad thing for this hateful little sect. 

One of the people on the "Disciplinary Committee" that "exonerated" him was none other than leading hack Candy Udwin. Delta subsequently left the SWP, managed to cause an outcry when he re-appeared at Liverpool Hope University and then all went quiet.

Now he has a website, working with a journalist called, you guessed it Dream Deferred. Most observers though he might just have disappeared into the ether, but no here he is and promoted once again by a leading SWP member.

Rumours of a long term plan to "rehabilitate" the man have abounded across the Internet. The arrogance of the Profs cult knows no bounds so could there be some remaining connections with Delta?

Are the SWP quietly working with delta?

Time will tell. 

And many will be watching.....

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Yale University Humanists back Islamist censorship

Yale Humanist Community

One of the major problems facing any discussion of religion, let alone Islam and/or Islamism is the problem of censorship and faux offence. There is a whole industry based within Islamic circles watching to find the smallest "slight" on their backwards superstitious creed. The reason? Simply that Islam like all other religions does not stand up to scrutiny.

There was much consternation over the attempts to ban Jesus and Mo t-shirts in the London School of Economics last year. This along with continued attempts by the Islamic Student Societies to impose gender separation at meetings held on campus represents a clear threat to secular values and equality in British society.

One of the basic tenets of democratic society is free speech. Trouble is that is a two way process, it means that we have to afford those who threaten our way of life the right to express their views as much as those we happen to agree with.

As long as people do not actually incite hate or violence against others its pretty clear what free speech entails.

Religion is one of those "sensitive" areas where it's adherents (who claim to be speaking on behalf of their "God" or "gods") really don't like being criticised and the religion that really doesn't tolerate criticism is the so-called religion of peace, Islam.

Those who leave or become critical within the world wide Muslim "community" are usually either threatened with death as "apostates" or killed or in the West witch-hunted".

Atheists, Humanists and Agnostics have a particular role in standing up for the right to be critical, after all that is what we believe. Being an atheist in some countries, such as the USA is not always easy. American politics despite the separation of religion and state is very much religiously orientated. Politicians are always praying to God or be seen to being god-fearing citizens in order to get votes.

They said it would be difficult to have a black President of the USA, but even though they now have one it remains a sheer impossibility to have an atheist one.

The USA stands for free speech far more than even we allow in this country. And yet the censors are out there, especially when it comes to Islam.

The following statement has been issued by the Yale Humanist Community following an outcry over their signing a Islamist inspired demand that Ayaan Hirsi Ali is not allowed to speak on campus:

We, the Yale Atheists, Humanists, and Agnostics, stand by our decision to criticize the Buckley Program's invitation of Ayaan Hirsi Ali to speak on Islam and the West. As a diverse group of undergraduates with a membership that includes ex-Muslims and atheists from Islamic cultures, we do not believe Ayaan Hirsi Ali represents the totality of the ex-Muslim experience. Although we acknowledge the value of her story, we do not endorse her blanket statements on all Muslims and Islam. We believe Ayaan Hirsi Ali represents a sadly common voice in the atheist community that attacks and provokes, rather than contributes to constructive criticism or dialogue. We remind our fellow atheists, Humanists, and agnostics of the rich history of dissent within our community, and do not believe belonging to this community necessitates an endorsement of all community members and their beliefs.

I'm quite sure her views "do not represent the totality of the Muslim community", she is an individual and as a human being has suffered as a result of her own individual experiences. She has a right to express these views and debate them with her detractors.

Anything else is a betrayal of free speech and democracy.

Yale Humanists should hang their heads in shame in capitulating to the Islamists with this bizarre statement.

The fight back against Islamism begins at home. 

Education is the key.

Censorship is the problem.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

PCS, the Scottish referendum and October 14th

With only a few days left until the vote takes place in Scotland, the far-left particularly in PCS is trying to take advantage of what may become not just a constitutional crisis but an economic one as well. The papers warn of disinvestment as a big sell off of British assets has been taking place. According to The Times (no link£) this currently stands at some £17 Billion, a larger amount than the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008.

We know what happened next.

When there are economic crisis's people suffer, and suffer they have. Although in the UK the economic situation has begun to improve considerably with unemployment clearly going down, the recovery remains fragile and a "Yes" vote by Scotland could and probably will have dire consequences.

Especially for the Scots themselves.

With the vote so close, even the smallest of sectarian political groupings can make a difference. The largest of the left alliances in the trade unions, PCS Left Unity has already called for a Yes vote. At the same time these comrades are asking members to participate in a second protest strike, even though the NUT which struck with them last time has voted against at a recent executive meeting by 26 to 12.

Interestingly the Socialist Party, through one its main NUT figures Jane Nellist says:

I was recently elected as National Union of Teachers(NUT) executive member with a manifesto clearly stating we needed to escalate strike action. We needed a clear calendar of action to win our demands on pay, pensions and workload as well as to seek the widest possible coordinated action with other unions.

But the executive meeting on 5 September voted against striking on 14 October, the date chosen by other trade unions including those representing support staff in schools.

Already, on social media, many teachers are expressing anger with this decision.

A clear indication of the intentions of the Socialist Party. However PCS President Janice Godrich takes a far more disingenuous approach when she writes:

...our policy is to seek maximum unity which is what we are doing. At the sept full nec two weeks ago there was not clarification on results of ballots in some unions. We have then been at the tuc representing pcs. Next week is the Scottish referendum so the special nec is been held as early as possible ie 23rd September.

I find it hard to believe that PCS won't take part in any strike given the major elements including the rumbustious Independent Left are virtually wetting themselves in anticipation. According to PCS such a strike will:

PCS is talking to these unions about how we can coordinate strike action to be as effective as possible so that we can force the government into negotiations.

Our campaign will include taking part in co-ordinated action with other unions to break the public sector pay squeeze. We are also identifying key groups of members who, if they take sustained strike action, will put real pressure on employers and the government.

However given the lack of response last time it is likely the Government will not take much notice, especially if the referendum ends in the break up of the UK. The last thing anyone will worry about (other than ourseves) will be giving pay rises to civil servants or indeed any other public sector workers.

The other problem will be one of turnout. PCS claimed that over 70% of its members took part in the strike on July 10th. Having seen figures for the largest Department where the turnout was clearly under a third, such pronouncements bare ill for the future.

What the far left hope for (though never say it) is for a crisis in which the "working class" will turn to the self appointed far left groups for "leadership" and a revolution will take place.

Backward and muddled 19th Century thinking . Its not going to happen, even demographically the "working class" is no longer a majority in our society but there's no point in trying to tell the comrades that. Their religious adherence to their ideology blinds them to political reality.

Lets hope the Scots vote no to independence and we all get to move on as one united nation building a recovery in which pay rises become a real possibility.

The rhetoric of the left is no substitute for rational thinking or behaviour.

Nationalism and Socialism are backward looking ideas, which along with Islamism remain a threat to democracy and prosperity.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Two men from two different worlds remembered.

One of the inevitable things in life is getting old. As you get older the people you watched and listened to in both the world of entertainment and politics start to pass away.  Some people you admired, some not so much or had mixed views on and of course there are those who you thought little of.

In the past week I've put up little tributes to Joan Rivers and Richard Kiel, people who brought joy into the world. Today I was saddened to learn the death of Sir Donald Sinden who I had only recently seen in an episode of Midsummer Murders.  A great actor with a distinctive voice.

There have been numerous tributes to the actor so I thought something a little different from Pathe News in 1959 would be an appropriate tribute.

The other death reported in the news this afternoon was that of Ian Paisley, the self appointed Reverend and best known leader of the loyalists in Northern Ireland. I've always found politics in Ulster an uncomfortable subject with its religious sectarianism sometimes difficult to fathom. Add to that nationalism and terrorism and you had a dangerous mix.

Fortunately the peace process has brought dividends for the people who live in Ulster and except for a few hotheads and an end to the cycle of violence in the province.

Ian Paisley was apparently quite a decent man in his private life and despite his rhetoric had been known to intervene to assist ordinary catholic families when they needed help in his constituency. However it is as a unionist firebrand that most people including myself will remember him.

Two men from two worlds who impacted on our world one way or another.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Farewell Jaws!

Richard Kiel, the actor who played the most iconic villain in the James Bond movie franchises died today.

This giant (7' 2'') but gentle man will be remembered as "Jaws" the man with the metal teeth in the movies The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker.

He will be missed by his world-wide legion of fans.

Richard "Jaws" Kiel 1939 to 2014.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Union leader hospitalized after being beaten - protest now

A LabourStart appeal by Eric Lee

Help us to demand justice for Luis Cardenas – a trade union leader at Prosegur who became the victim of a brutal and violent assault near his home in Peru.

UNI has launched a campaign in partnership with LabourStart calling on Prosegur to denounce threats and attacks on trade unionists.

Cardenas, an off-duty worker at the Spanish security firm, was left hospitalised by the attack after a cowardly and anonymous criminal smashed him across the head with a rock.

The attacker took none of Luis’ personal property, strongly suggesting Luis was targeted simply for being a trade union leader.

Shockingly, just one month earlier sick and dangerous pamphlets were circulated to Prosegur staff identifying Cardenas as a union leader and falsely accusing him of stealing union funds.

We have seen similarly damaging pamphlets distributed at Prosegur sites in Colombia but the company denies all responsibility and claims not to know who is behind them.

Such libellous and degrading material puts Prosegur workers at risk but the company still allows its distribution on Prosegur premises.

Join UNI Global Union in calling on Prosegur to publicly denounce all forms of threats and violence towards trade union members and to prevent the distribution of any material that incites violence:

Add your signature: here

Brighton Demonstration in defence of persecuted Christians


Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Should we seek an alternative to PCS......

A number of trade unions have a protest strike planned for Tuesday October 14th. This will take place a few days before the planned mass TUC demonstration on October 18th. The PCS union (along with the NUT) has already taken part in a protest strike back in July if anyone remembers for all the difference it made.

Undeterred some "comrades" are just waiting for the call such as the PCS Independent Left (a tiny grouping of malcontents) who muse:

Whilst the PCS NEC has not made a formal decision as yet, it is inconceivable that the PCS will not join in with the increasing number of unions who have called or are planning to call a strike on the 14 October. Indeed the union’s whole strategy is predicated on the need for such joint action. Unfortunately there is no evidence that a one day strike will move this government.

An odd statement if examined carefully. How can it be "inconceivable" if there is "no evidence that a one day strike" will make any difference.

A strike just for the sake of it then?

The last strike (despite claims to the contrary) was not that well supported with no other civil service taking part and the uncomfortable fact that over a third of civil servants remain un-unionised. One of the main reasons for this is that members are not persuaded that such action will achieve anything in the current climate and are unwilling to make even the small financial sacrifice participation requires when they are all struggling to make ends meet.

PCS, despite being the sixth largest union in the country is far weaker than it has ever been due to the poor and inept far left leadership who have pushed the union away from the political mainstream. No amount of naval gazing rhetoric can make up for that.

The unions Socialist Party Grandees spoke at an aptly named "fringe" meeting at which they claimed to know how how to fight austerity and the cuts (stop laughing at the back) despite the simple fact they caused the greatest attack on trade union facility time, like ever.

Undaunted Madame President told the already converted audience that:

We need to organise to defeat the cuts and secure improvements in conditions for thousands of workers. There is a common theme about involving members and community campaigning that we need to continue to explore.

While Assistant General Secretary Chris Baugh added:

It's not enough to simply say what we're against. It's an opportunity to say what's our alternative and what sort of world we want to fight for.

Unfortunately neither comrades tell us how these aims are to be achieved.

Most trade unions will be taking the obvious measure to ensure that the Tories are kicked out of Government at the next election, which frankly is essential if we even want to have trade unions to campaign on our behalf.

Not these two though. Along with large numbers of the PCS activist caste will be pushing for people to vote for the so called Trade Unionist and Socialist coalition which for the record polled a grand 0.04% at the last General Election. Talk about a wasted effort......

Quite simply they don't have any answers on how to fight the cuts except for the reductionists argument of "join the Socialist Party", the sect to which they belong

PCS Left Unity

Meanwhile further in developments PCS activists are undermine the chances of removing the coalition by backing Scottish independence. 

PCS Left Unity is strongly recommending that you vote YES. All the main Westminster parties, including Labour, are committed to austerity – the failed policies of cuts and privatisation that is destroying jobs, conditions and services and means a brutal dependency on food banks for many. Better Together only offers more of the same.

An explanation from the Labour Party members inside Left Unity is due methinks.

The far-left are so far removed from political reality they fail to see the world in anything except their own myopic terms. Pushing for strikes when a political solution should be sought through a new Labour Government.

And before they shout, no it won't give everything we demand. Life just aint like that comrades.

Breaking up the United Kingdom will likewise lead to disaster, but they know this and assume that they will get "socialism" out of this.

Except we've seen what some economic crises have led to and it's not pretty.

Across Europe and to a lesser extent the UK with UKIP, its the far-right that's on the rise.

The far left remains on the sidelines wasting so many peoples efforts.

Time for for PCS to grow up or shut up.

Only that isn't going to happen any time soon. Perhaps we the members should be looking for an alternative.

An alternative to PCS that is.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Musical Interlude -BLiSTAR

Ever had one of those evenings where nothing ever seems to go right? Yeah me to and this has been one of them.  I had to correct a couple of recent posts where I ignored my own advice to new bloggers (says the novice) when I was interviewed by Phil BC over at All that is Solid last week which was:

Remember to proof read after spell check. I sometimes forget after a hard day at work...

(For those of you who may not have seen the interview you can find it here.)

In the mean time while I get my act together I thought a Musical Interlude was due! And I'm sticking with Japan for this one.

There's some good bands over in the Land of the Rising Sun and having previously posted videos by Scandal both here and on my Face Book page I thought it time to introduce you to BLiSTAR.

Regretfully they seem to be on hiatus at the moment, but this track with vocals from Mayu, guitar by Rina and drums from Nana A is one that caught my attention.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

The Future is Unwritten…….

Guest-post by Bernard Harkins

Flag of Scotland.svg

We are as they say living in interesting times in Scotland.

On the 18th September Scotland goes to the polls to answer the question “Should Scotland be an independent country?”

The latest opinion poll shows Yes ahead for the first time with a 2% lead.

Both sides will be campaigning right up to the last minute; no one will be taking the result for granted.

I’ve written the following piece to offer an overview of what is happening and to highlight one of the main issues that has led to most debate and division in the labour and trade union movement here in Scotland that of social justice and the best way to achieve it.

I think that it’s fair to say that the debate has had its highs and lows.

People have been verbally abused for holding opposing views, eggs have been thrown and there have been reports of physical attacks.

Social media has also been deployed to attack opponents with the cybernats gaining a particularly dubious notoriety.

The more positive side of the campaign has seen meetings being organised in halls the length and breadth of Scotland by both campaigns sometimes debating the issues together and sometimes apart.

People that have shown little interest in politics up until this point have become engaged with the political process and got involved in both campaigns.

Amongst predication's of a 70% turn-out we have seen town halls extending their opening hours so that people could register to vote come the deadline for registration.

The Yes campaign includes the SNP, Green Party and SSP.

The SNP have published a White Paper setting out their vision of an independent Scotland that keeps the pound, membership of Nato and retains the Queen.

Though this is clearly designed to appeal to voters as a safety first approach to independence there are those in the Yes campaign who want an independent Scotland to take a more radical approach.

The SNP’s favoured option of a currency union has not only been ruled out by the three main UK parties but has also been dismissed as ‘Stupidity on Stilts’ by Jim Sillars a former Deputy Leader of the SNP who is calling for an independent Scotland to have its own currency.

The main No campaign is called Better Together and includes the Labour Party, Tories and Lib/Dems.

The Labour Party also has its own campaign called United with Labour.

These are strange times in Scotland for the left.

Those that under other circumstances would be expected to make common cause find themselves on different sides of the argument.

In one corner you find Tommy Sheridan supporting a Yes vote in the other George Galloway and the Morning Star opposing this view supporting No.

There are two opposing arguments put forward on the left as to the pros and cons of independence.

The main argument revolves around how best to deliver social justice.

In the Yes camp there are those who believe that an independent Scotland can be a progressive beacon to the rest of the world.

this view notably Billy Bragg who is of the view that an independent Scotland will lead to a radical reawakening of the left in the remainder of the UK or rUK as it has been called during this debate.

With the Tories only having 1 MP in Scotland a Yes vote is also advanced as the best way to ensure that Scotland never has to suffer a Tory Government again.

These same voices also believe that in an independent Scotland the Labour Party will become more radical.

The Labour vote has been targeted in a sustained way by the Yes campaign.

Nicola Sturgeon, Deputy First Minister made a direct appeal to Labour voters at the SNP spring conference saying that she did not want them to abandon their party but to vote Yes to reclaim their party.

The Radical Independence Campaign which includes the SSP has also sought to target the traditional Labour vote by organising what it terms as mass canvassing and voter registration on council estates.

On the No side the view of the left is that independence weakens the prospect of further progressive change and weakens solidarity and unity amongst the working class.

The NHS, National Minimum Wage and Pensions are cited as examples of how workers have benefited in the past from being part of a union that shares resources.

In the future the introduction of a Living Wage, 50p tax rate and removal of the Bedroom Tax are seen as policies that will advance the cause of social justice throughout Britain.

Federalism is also being floated by some in the No campaign as a basis for a future constitutional settlement.

The Red Paper for Scotland ( produced by trade unionsists, members of the Labour Party and others on the left under the red paper collective banner has sought to influence the debate, mainly in regard to a No vote.

In essence their analysis is that:-

‘The answers to the real problems facing us all will not be found in

Some political commentators outwith Scotland have also expressed constitutional change, but in political change.’

As well as offering views on the economy, class and democracy it also challenges the Labour Party to be more redistributive in its approach.

In terms of the trade union movement six major trade unions support a No vote; the GMB, the NUM, USDAW, the CWU, ASLEF and Community.

In recent days the RMT has voted in favour of supporting a Yes vote.

PCS held a special conference following consultation amongst branches which reached the decision that PCS would not support either Yes or No but take a position of PCS informs – you decide.

A number of meetings have been held around Scotland where members have been invited to hear both sides of the debate.

A booklet has also been issued to members in the past week setting out where the political parties and respective campaigns stand in relation to a series of set questions on issues such as public services, austerity and taxation.

The STUC has also remained neutral and has held events under the A Just Scotland banner to stimulate discussion.

During the course of the campaign Labour, Conservatives and Lib/Dems have all promised more powers for Scotland within the current devolved set-up should there be a No vote.

Therefore there will still be change if there is a No vote.

With the count being straight after polling stations close on the 18th September the early hours of Friday the 19th September should see clarity as to which road Scotland is travelling down and what the implications of that might be for the future of the United Kingdom.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

PCS and the cult of the personality

One of the more disturbing elements of the far left is their propensity to turn their leading figures into "demi-gods" and revere their writings into almost, if not actually religious texts. The most obvious manifestation of this is the use of Marx, Engels and Lenin as a "holy trinity" regardless of sect then followed by the prophets Trotsky or Stalin or Mao depending on their "sectual" preference.

Even today it can be seen in the reverence made due to Fidel Castro or more blatantly the hereditary Kim clan in North Korea. In the past amongst the tiny Trotskyist sects such deference has been paid to the likes of Gerry Healy and Tony Cliff to varying degrees.

Such cultism has never ended well.

An element of this exists inside the PCS union in the from of guru Mark Serwotka, its ultra-left General Secretary. Even in past faction fighting between the two main left-wing groups (the Socialist Party and the Socialist Workers Party has led to them claiming the approval of the Serwotka.  

Serwotka was once quite close to the SWP, though not a member. He sided with them against Galloway when Respect split asunder. Once happy to appear at SWP events and lend them a quote or two for their dreadful Socialist Worker rag, this more or less came to an end as a result of the "comrade delta" affair. Martin Smith was once an activist in the Passport Office in CPSA days. The influence of the SWP isn't what it used to be (and quite rightly so) as so much of the left, feminists in particular have turned against them.

Mark Serwotka remains a major figure in far left circles and is facing re-election again. Until recently it wasn't clear whether he would do so due to his health problems, known by activists but now firmly in the public domain as the result of a piece in the Guardian.

I sincerely wish Mark all the best and hope his treatment goes well. Political differences should not be allowed to cloud basic human concern and this must be a difficult period for him and his family.

However this election should be about the role he has played in frankly taking PCS to the political sidelines with quite a number of major blunders and misjudgements under his and the collective leadership of "Left Unity".

PCS has been pulled so far to the left, even most of the other trade unions find the union somewhat difficult to deal with. One of Serwotka's main desires is to create a new overtly far left socialist party to supplant Labour. The left even managed to push through a policy that laid the grounds for such an outcome by agreeing to "support or stand candidates" in "certain circumstances". 

This has yet to be implemented but ties between the main leaders of PCS like SP members Janice Godrich (President), Chris Baugh (AGS) and John McInally (VP) do in practical terms align the union with the tiny and electorally unsuccessful Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition.

During the Pensions campaign the isolation of PCS became somewhat obvious with other unions complaining about the "behaviour" of PCS representatives (which of course the "Grandees deny..), but on the eve of the Olympics when Serwotka threatened a strike in the Border Agency on the basis of just 11% in favour all patience with the union was lost.

Not only were other union leaders angry but the Sword of Damocles was finally brought down by the Government on not just PCS, but all the other civil service unions. The harshest attacks on union activists ability to organise were implemented through severe Facility Time cuts. Even now the end of "check off" threatens the financial and membership base.

PCS has never been so weak and Mark Serwotka along with his allies have to take responsibility for their role in giving the Tories an excuse to implement these attacks.

If the Tories get elected again, the civil service unions will face renewed assaults and yet the PCS leadership dominated by the ultra left of which Serwotka is a part will not be working for a Labour victory.

Mark Serwotka has proved himself a false messiah.

The old left has failed the members, but given the state of internal politics there may not even be an election anyway.

The future of PCS is not bright.

If it has one.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Remembering the far left press

Back in the days before this new fangled Internet thingy came along, the only way to get hold of the left press was to go out and purchase a copy. Not easy if you came from the leafy suburbs of Surrey, where the most left wing organisation around were the Young Liberals. In the seventies they made the Labour Party look quite conservative in many ways, but I digress.

The first left paper I ever came across was Red Weekly published by the long gone International Marxist Group, then led by Tariq Ali. At the time I was only just out of school and at catering college in London so the statement by the long haired chap selling it that “they were to the left of the Communist Party” astounded me. I didn’t come across another lefty paper until someone appeared outside the Technical college I was at with the Workers Press. I discovered this was published by the Workers Revolutionary Party.

The obvious question I posed to the young lady selling this publication was to enquire what the difference was between the WRP and the IMG since they seemed to stand for the same thing. In her apoplectic reply I discovered the meaning of the term “sectarian”. I’m sure readers can imagine the bile thrown at the “right-wing”, “Pabloite” “traitors” that the IMG apparently were. To be honest some of what she said went right over my head having little knowledge of Trotskyism at the time.

It was a while before I found out what “Pabloism” was, and only because when I went on my first demonstration I picked up a number of publications from different groups to find out more. Some were more interesting than others. Socialist Challenge was a favourite and the Spartacist a sort of “guilty pleasure” due to its insane madness. Others were deadly boring. Militant was dire, Socialist Worker to simplistic and the Morning Star a complete bore. Most of the newspapers from those days have long gone.

Only two survive. Socialist Worker, the Islamists friend and the Morning Star, though in both cases the organisations behind these publications have declined and split asunder. The SWP’s recent history is well known, but the Communist Party of Britain (no longer has the Great in it) is a pale reflection of its former self. Even the Star is no longer formally the “Party’s paper” even though the politics are .

The old CPGB started declining in the late fifties with many leaving the party over Hungary, the Socialist Labour League (forerunner of the WRP) being the main beneficiary. However they retained a base in the union through the sixties and seventies and survived a split with Sid French whose followers went on to form the New Communist Party and although minute to the extreme still manages to publish the pro North Korean New Worker. It was the rise of “Euro communism” that was the CPGBs downfall.

Fascists smashed in east Ukraine

Enter the revisionists like Martin Jacques, David Arronovitch and others, the Party’s journal Marxism Today lead a charge towards modernity making itself redundant in the process. A short lived organisation called the Democratic left appeared and then disappeared leaving a rump of old fashioned Stalinists around the Star. Combined with the collapse of Stalinism under Gorbachev the Morning Star faced further decline.

No longer subsidised by Russia or the other Eastern European states that had now freed themselves from the yolk of Communism, the Star had to fall back on the remaining “left” trade union bureaucrats. Hence its recent refusal to countenance any investigation into the Hedley affair in the RMT.

The Morning Star is not a paper I would normally take much notice of, but since Andrew Coates speculates on what may or may not be a potential split over ISIS, I picked up a lonely copy of the Star in Waitrose at lunchtime.

Still boring. Not even thick enough to line the cat litter tray with. A quid wasted. I won’t be in hurry to pick up a copy again any time soon.

The Stars time has long gone. It has no place in the modern world. Neither does the Communist Party.

The left press is a pale reflection of what existed back in the day. They still squabble though, just check out the Weekly Worker, but the old left does still carry on with just enough influence to do some damage, like the remnants of Militant (now called the Socialist Party) in PCS.

It is a political cul-de-sac though, they’re going nowhere. Even the “paper sale” seems to have had its day.

But then Marxism has had its day and been found wanting. Time to move on comrades.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Joan Rivers Remembered

I was saddened to hear that Joan Rivers the fabulous Jewish-American comedienne died at the age of 81 today.

Joan will be remembered for her wonderful sense of of humour. The following performance is from 1982.

Shalom. May you rest in peace.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

A success against BDS!

On Saturday 23rd August I cross-posted news of a worrying development in Brighton in which a local councillor was attempting to make the town "Israel Free". See full story: here.

The following message has just been posted by the Sussex Friends of Israel

Less than two weeks ago we were alerted to the fact that Councillor Ben Duncan wished to bring a motion to the Brighton & Hove Council supporting the BDS and making our city Israel-Free.

We asked you to write and email the councillors expressing your concern and disgust.

You did so in huge numbers. Your letters were brilliant!

We have just been informed that the Executive Officers for Brighton & Hove City Council will not allow any such motion to proceed as it breaches a number of protocols including the risk of inflaming community tensions.

The pressure put on Council members by friends of Brighton & Hove, both residents and not, made it clear that we would not tolerate hate and discrimination in our city and that we would not stay silent about it.

We thank you all for your emails and your support.

Another ‪#‎BDS‬ Fail.

Sussex Friends of Israel

Meanwhile in Scotland:

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

The anti-anti-Semitism of fools

Cross-post by Eric Lee

I have just come back from attending a large demonstration in central London protesting the rise of anti-Semitism in the UK.

The demonstration was organised by a new group called the Campaign Against Antisemitism. It was backed by all the major Jewish organisations in Britain, including the Board of Deputies, the Jewish Leadership Council, and many others. Nearly a thousand people signed up to attend the demo on Facebook; it looked to me like there at least that number there. The crowd seemed overwhelmingly Jewish.

Now if this had been a demonstration against racism, organized by the leadership of the Black communities in Britain, I can guarantee you that a wide range of Left groups would have been there to show their solidarity. You would have found assorted Trotskyists and others selling their newspapers, handing out leaflets and showing that they stood shoulder-to-shoulder with an ethnic minority group struggling against racist assaults, while busily trying to recruit new members.

But at this demonstration, I didn’t see a single left group of any kind with an obvious presence. There may have been individual socialists – like myself – there; but there were no banners, newspapers, or flyers.

The Jewish community seemed to be very much on its own. As if it alone could sense the danger.

On the face of it, this is odd. The rise of anti-Semitism in Britain and across Europe is well documented. Even the Muslim Council of Britain seems to acknowledge this problem in the joint declaration it issued last week together with the Board of Deputies calling for a joint fight against anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.

The eloquent Owen Jones addressed the problem in a recent column for the Guardian. Entitled “Anti-Jewish hatred is rising – we must see it for what it is”, Jones wrote that “there really is plenty of antisemitism that must be confronted.” And he then went on to point to rising anti-Semitism on the far Right in Greece. And Jew-hatred among the far-Rightists in Hungary. And of course anti-Semitism on the French far Right, in the form of the National Front.

But not a word about anti-Semitism in the UK. And of course no mention of anti-Semitism in Muslim communities, or the Left.

Jones is possibly unaware of the long history of anti-Semitism on the Left, a history that goes back to very earliest days of our movement. August Bebel, the great leader of German Social Democracy, famously called anti-Semitism “the socialism of fools”. (Some scholars think that the quote is wrongly attributed to Bebel, but no matter – it was widely know more than a century ago.)

Classic anti-Semitic ideas like exaggerated notions of Jewish power and wealth grew in the fertile soil of the Left long before the Palestinian issue ever arose. Left anti-Semitism pre-dates the recent Gaza war by at least a century. It may flare up when the guns are firing in Gaza, but it is always there, a low flame that doesn’t extinguish.

People like Owen Jones, and many of those on the British Left who were so notably absent from today’s demonstration, seem prepared to see anti-Semitism everywhere but in front of their noses.

Their opposition to Jew-hatred may be called the “anti-anti-Semitism of fools” as it has nothing in common with a real fight against anti-Semitism.

As a result, they leave the Jewish community alone – or drive it into the arms of right-wing demagogues who are happy for any excuse to bash the Muslim community or the Left.

And it doesn’t have to be that way.

The Left should be in the forefront of the fight against anti-Semitism, should embrace that fight and claim it as our own. We should be helping to build widespread public support for that fight, and providing it with analysis and programme.

Instead, the Left sits by the sidelines, its head in the sand, muttering about “Golden Dawn” in Greece rather than actually fighting the poison of anti-Semitism here in the UK, and here on the Left.

Monday, 1 September 2014

A very British fatwa?

A number of British imams have issued a "fatwa" against ISIS which has attracted some attention in the media on the Internet and of course the inevitable twitter. How much effect this will have is unknown at this stage, especially as it occurs to me that with all the different stands of Islam, Muslims will inevitably pick and choose those that suit their own outlooks and/or needs.

However lets at least give it a chance and see if this appeal has some effect on the growing number of young British Muslims attracted to the appalling depravity of the death cult known as ISIS and others of their ilk.

Of course from a non-Muslim perspective this "fatwa" does seem somewhat lacking, but everything has to start somewhere.