Thursday, 30 July 2015

Unaffiliated PCS extremists infiltrate Labour Party for Corbyn

The continuing concerns being raised about hard left groups and activists joining the Labour Party through the ill-advised £3 "supporter" scheme continues to backfire. Whilst the tiny Communist Party of Great Britain with it's 35 or so deranged cadres may be of little consequence there are efforts being made by likes of the Marxist McCluskey to influence the outcome in Corbyns favour.

Now the man who wrecked the PCS Union, General Secretary of PCS has entered the fray. Austin Harney, a hard left activist writes on the PCS Activate Face Book page:

If we are serious about fighting for our pay, terms, conditions, and most of all, our jobs in the Civil Service, I encourage as many PCS members to sign up for £3 as registered supporters for Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party. Mark Serwotka, the General Secretary of PCS, made the same encouragement in his speech to everybody at the anti - austerity rally.

Already, the two largest Trade Unions, UNITE and UNISON have nominated Jeremy Corbyn as leadership candidate

I am, currently, a member of the national committee for the LRC (Labour Representation Committee and the most Left Wing faction of the Labour Party) and a campaigner for PCS against the cuts in the Public Sector within the Labour Party.

Let us build this campaign in PCS for Jeremy Corbyn's contest as leader of the Labour Party who has promised to end austerity, once and for all!

Whilst Harney might be a long term Labour Party member regardless of his political views, Serwotka isn't. More to the point Serwotka has joined in every hair brained scheme to replace and destroy the Labour Party, ranging from his involvement with the SWP and George Galloway in Respect to his latest allies the Socialist Party (Militant Tendency) in the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition.

Thing is PCS is not affiliated to the Labour Party and much of conference is dominated by anti-Labour speeches from the assortment of trotskyist types that fill the ranks of the hall.

PCS is also a fine example of being run by people who oppose austerity but are unable to run their own union efficiently and are implementing cuts to staff and membership services, selling off their one major asset (the headquarters building in Clapham Junction) and are still going cap in hand to Len McCluskey for Unite to simply absorb their sinking ship.

Hardly an example to set when opposing austerity.

Serwotka's leadership has been a disaster for the PCS union which has faced splits and the loss of thousands of members. There are lessons for the Labour Party to learn from all this.

Corbyn, like Serwotka is a gift to the Tories.

With men like this leading the Labour and Trade Union movement we might as well just hand the keys to Downing Street and the demise of our rights to the Tories now.

A vote for Corbyn is a vote for Cameron. 

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Comedy Interlude: Dudley Moore plays Colonel Bogey Beethoven style!

It's been a depressing day news wise so here's a little something to cheer us all up from the late, great Dudley Moore!


Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Is Hope not Hate losing the plot? (Updated)

Over the years Hope not Hate has done a lot of good work in fighting the extreme (Nazi) far right and has rightly earned the respect of many activists. However sometimes and seemingly more often these days they seem to be getting things wrong. Only now can I see why they split from Searchlight who remain focused on the Nazi threat both here and abroad.

Hope not Hate has been expanding it's remit into other areas such as taking on Hate preachers like Anjem Choudary (though it has to be said not much else in that particular field), UKIP and the "Counter Jihadists.

One of the campaigns they ran was to prevent Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer  coming to the UK. At the time I posted the HnH material on this blog, but later came to realise that this was a mistake and have subsequently removed the old post. I may sometimes find their views a little unpalatable but the right of free speech has to be upheld and the campaign to ban them was in stark contrast to the continued arrival of many clerical fascists from the Middle East upon which the usual suspects of the anti-imperialist left of course remained silent.

The decision of HnH supporters to widen their campaign to include UKIP was something I felt very uncomfortable about  at the time as whilst they are right wing and nationalistic, they are not in the same league as the BNP. Having concerns about immigration and Europe does not automatically make someone beyond the pale. Yes there were a number of rogues found in UKIP, but these kinds of people can be found in lots of other places

And not just on the right...

It is their latest "report" that concerns me. It's a bit on a non event as far as I can see. Very little evidence to suggest anything that would justify such an effort on the part of Nick Lowles & Co.

They have published a pamphlet attacking amongst others Anne Marie Waters a well known secularist activist for "having a discussion" about the possible dangers inherent in holding an exhibition exhibiting cartoons of the so-called "Prophet". The left in this country was very cowardly when the journalists of Charlie Hebdoe were massacred.

The need for a robust defence of freedom of speech and expression has never been greater.

The possibility or inevitability of violence as a result of the clash of freedom with  Islamic extremists is hardly new. The danger of these fanatics launching attacks on our free society is an ever present danger. We all know this.

But some think we have to curb our rights to try and prevent this.

Unless you follow Islam(ism) of any description. Then any limitation of their rights is just so-called "Islamophobia.

Trouble is the far left discuss "revolutionary violence" and its' "inevitability (in Marxist terms) year in year out. Anyone who has ever been in any kind of Marxist/Leninist organisation knows the comrades have discussed this on ever since the publication of the Communist Manifesto by Marx and Engles.

Somehow for them it is respectable and not a matter for concern.

Except it isn't.

There are double standards at work here and certainly Hope not Hate is now losing the plot going in a direction that will only confuse and divide it's potential supporters. They were ill advised to write this report which frankly is much ado about nothing.

It'll appeal to the usual suspects of the anti-imperialist brigade who's chilling chants of death to Israel and worse has been coming from their lips for years.

There is a conflict with Islamism and the basic theology of Islam is whether the comrades like it or not a problem. The medieval mindset that is imposed through fear of communal pressure, isolation and the threats aimed at apostates is very real. This has to be confronted and a reformation of Islam implemented. There will be those who resist and I suspect as experience shows it is unlikely to be peaceful.

However I remain convinced that in time with a vigorous defence of a secular and democratic society that respects human rights before religious rights that a process of integration can begin.

In the meantime we must remain vigilant to the threat that exists within our midst from those who would use violence for their "prophet".

Update: Anne Marie Waters has published  a response:

Monday, 27 July 2015

A message to Turkey: Leave the Kurds alone!

The campaign launched by the Turkish forces against ISIS is long overdue. However there has been much speculation and suspicion that Erdogan is more concerned with the establishment of an independent Kurdish state on his borders than fighting the criminal fascists of the so-called Caliphate.

The decision to include attacks on the Kurdish PKK at a time when the Kurds have been the most effective force on the ground fighting the Islamist threat is a disgrace.

John McCain has issued the following statement which the coalition against ISIS should put pressure on the Turkish President to cease all attacks on the Kurdish people immediately.

"Turkey’s decision to assist the fight against ISIL is a positive step in the right direction. The use of Turkish bases for U.S. fighter aircraft will improve response times and increase the opportunity to collect intelligence in Syria. The establishment of a humanitarian zone to protect the moderate Syrian opposition as well as ethnic and religious minorities such as the Kurds against Assad, ISIL, al Nusrah, and other violent extremists is consistent with what we have been advocating for over three years.

“However, I am concerned about reports of Turkish forces shelling Kurdish villages inside Syria. As the United States and Turkey enhance our cooperation against ISIL, I believe these mutual efforts will be most effective in collaboration with local forces on the ground, including the Kurds.

“With Turkey’s help, I urge the President to finally come up with a coordinated regional strategy to put an end to the war on the Syrian people being waged by ISIL and the Assad regime. Our ineffective approach to Syria and Iraq continues to allow mayhem and violence to spread across the region, putting our allies in greater danger and fostering the conditions for an attack on the United States.”

Original statement published here:

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Labour opens Pandora's box

The Sunday Times published an article today in which they noticed the Communist Party of Great Britain was encouraging activists to join the Labour Party through the supporters scheme and help get Jeremy Corbyn elected. Trouble is of all the targets The Sunday Times could have chosen, the self-proclaimed CPGB is the least of Labour's worries.

The CPGB has less than 50 members (believed to be around 35) and despite it's highly sectarian paper being quite widely read (on-line), it's not a "political lead" that readers seek. It's the internal gossip of the far-left that the paper usually covers quite well.

Nevertheless there is a serious point to the concerns that were raised both in the front page article and their editorial. There are large numbers of people being signed up who are anti-Labour. Take Liz Davies of the new and still born Left Unity "party". She's "come back" to the fold as Labour is making a left turn. One Newcastle party meeting had 13 new members turn up to vote in the nomination process, none of whom had been seen in the general election.

Unite the union is signing up it's members, thousands of whom will now get votes. Of course McCluskey can't guarantee they'll all vote for Corbyn, but the Unite propaganda machine will be in full swing to ensure their "boy" gets favourable publicity.

We are told "the young" are turning to the pensioner Corbyn on the basis of the experience of Syrzia and Podemos, despite their obvious failures. In any we live in an age of political apathy where the vast majority of people have no confidence in politics at all. The young included.

The rise of the dinosaurs of the Labour left is already damaging the party's prospects at the next election. The kind of full bloodied "socialism" as these people claim they stand for is not wanted by the vast majority of voters in this country.

When examined the far-lefts policies do not stand up to scrutiny. There can be less harsh cuts and reductions made over a longer period to try and alleviate some of the social problems that arise from them, but a policy of "no cuts" is fiscally impossible. The deficit and financial crisis remain very real.

And the antics of Syrzia could have made it worse and still can. The comrades should also remember that Syrzia is only in power as a result of being in a coalition with a right wing party that makes UKIP look positvely "liberal".

Then there's international affairs these unilateral disarmament enthusiasts would leave us defenceless in a world where the rise of Islamism, Russian Nationalism and China as a superpower puts the democratic West at severe risk.

The decision of Labour to open the election to all comers was a disaster in the making. The "morons" who helped Corbyn get on the ballot paper are now openly regretting their decision. They didn't open up a debate, they opened Pandora's box and helped bring about the demise of the Labour Party just like the left did in the seventies and eighties.

If Corbyn wins and the left rises in the Labour Party there will be an internal civil war. The rise of a new "militant tendency" will only lead to decades of Tory rule.

The consequences are too dire to imagine, but the left do not care. Just like all fundamentalists only ideology or theology matters.

Socialism has always failed.

The need for a modern Labour movement has never been greater. The left must be pushed back now or only ordinary people will suffer.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Now PCS falls out with the FDA

It seems that the largest of the civil service unions, PCS is in the process of falling out with yet another union as it shrinks into further irrelevance. The time it's the First Division Association that has attracted the ire of Mark Serwotka and his minions.

According to a report on Civil Service World

The FDA union is looking to extend its reach further into the civil service by launching a new organisation for officials at SEO and HEO level.

The union currently represents around 18,000 senior officials in the top tiers of the service – those at Senior Civil Service (SCS) level, and those working in Grades 6 & 7.

But the new union – dubbed "Keystone" – will allow higher executive officers and senior executive officers to become full members of the FDA. The organisation says it is not aiming to "compete with other unions for members".

The FDA is quite clear in stating the reasons for this move, which is to "increase union density" in the civil service. There are large numbers of civil servants who remain outside the unions, and any attempt to unionise them should be welcomed. Except as the report continues:

However, the move could prove controversial with other civil service unions, as it will open up the possibility of FDA membership to officials currently represented by the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union.

PCS has lost thousands of members in recent months due to the end of "check-off" in several departments, a process set to increase over the coming year. 

Faced with decline prospects PCS has become paranoid about other unions, especially since the unions finances were so badly run they were unable to even afford internal elections. The sale of the Falcon Road headquarters building caused some controversy when finally publicly exposed as the process had begun in secret.

The decision of the government to allow Unison negotiation rights in the civil service led to Serwotka complaining to the TUC. At the same time relations with Prospect one of the other main civil service unions has become more than frayed.

Additionally PCS has had two breakaways leading to the formation of the NCOA and the RCTU. 

Civil Service World reminds us that:

In May, PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka used an article in the Morning Star newspaper to warn of "division and competition" among unions representing civil servants.

"Our movement’s longstanding inter-union agreements over how to organise across the economy are essential because we need united collective organisation in workplaces to advance our members’ interests," he wrote.
While some ex-PCS members have moved to other existing unions, there remain a large number who are no longer unionised. These people are unlikely to rejoin PCS which is used by it's activists as a platform for their own interests and ceased being "member focused some years back. 
The domination of the far left makes PCS an organisation unfit for purpose.
If other, proper trade unions like Unison, Prospect or the FDA can bring back lapsed members to the fold than so much the better.
If people choose other alternatives that is their right and PCS only has it's leaders and activists to blame.
FDA - link to home
Details of the new FDA initiative can be found here:

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Left wing fascists hound Holocaust survivor

The growth of anti-Semitism both here in countries like France and here in the UK continues to be a matter for concern. In France for example half the attacks recorded as being racial in nature are against Jews. The percentages of the backgrounds of the perpetrators are not known to me at the time of writing, but a large proportion originate from the followers of a so-called religion of "peace".

In France the left has an excellent record in fighting racism and anti-Semitism as well as being able to stand up for free speech and expression something the British left is now incapable of doing.

Quite often on this blog I have characterised the far left or the anti-imperialists as being part of a new far right. Their obsession with trying to use the Muslim community for their own ends quite often manifests itself in making the issue of the Israel/Palestine conflict as being central to that strategy.

Despite being the only democracy in the Middle East, the only nation where Christians and Gays can live openly in peace, Israel is the object of their desire for destruction.

The anti-imperialist thesis is predicted on the belief that if Israel is destroyed the imperialist nations will tumble like a house of cards.

The fate of another six million Jews is of no apparent concern to them.

Israel came into existence as a result of a holocaust. A European Holocaust. One of the former leaders of the so-called Palestine Solidarity Campaign Francis Clarke-Lowes was actually expelled for being a Holocaust denier. Even the far left and their fellow travellers couldn't allow that view usually confined to neo-Nazi's to exist (at least openly) in their organisation.

I say "openly" as so many delegates voted against his expulsion. Disgraceful.

So it comes as no surprise to me that these far left anti-imperialist types hounded a Holocaust survivor. The Daily Express  reports:

Henry Schachter set up the Bournemouth Action for Israel stand at the Tolpuddle Martyrs Festival in Dorset to provide an alternative view to the Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s stall which regularly appears at the event.

But the 76-year-old said he and his colleagues were forced to retreat amid “intimidating and virulent” abuse by Left-wing Palestine supporters who were all white English people.

Mr Schachter, whose Jewish parents were killed by the Nazis, said his group was compared to the BNP during last week’s incident in which a “flashmob” threw pamphlets to the ground and tried to deface the stand.

Mr Schachter said: “As a survivor of the Holocaust it makes me feel disgusted and sad to be called things like a Nazi. The Tolpuddle Martyrs Festival is exactly the place for people from different organisations to exercise freedom of speech.

“But it was anything but free speech. It was intimidating and virulent abuse by a flashmob of far-Left bullies.”

The PSC apparently claim they "raised the matter of the presence of the stall peacefully". Still wanted him banned though. They only want a one sided view, their view to dominate.

It's not clear who these people were from the report but those responsible for these actions are the new fascists.

The far left IS the new far right.

I have a message for these evil thugs. 

We will never go quietly into the night again. We will fight you for our right to exist. 

Never again!

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Tories to sell off the state?

With everyone in the Labour and trade union movement seemingly focused on the rise of Jeremy Corbyn in the Labour Party leadership elections a more important story seems to have passed by virtually without comment.

Buried on page six of today's Times newspaper Francis Elliot reports:

George Osborne wants ministers to let private companies deliver public services as he cuts as he cuts a further £20 Billion from the state's spending bill.

At the same time we are reminded that Michael Gove has "heralded" sweeping reforms in the prison service. Including sell-offs.

Even the Ministry of Defence is being forced to pay the "market rate" for it's use of the radio spectrum for defence.

Nothing is sacred, Not even the defence of the realm.

What next private armed forces?

With the exception of telephony and communication where technology and the industry actually does allow for competition the rest of the already privatised industries are a joke. Electricity and gas prices are kept artificially high by the companies that run them. As for water? Next time there's a drought remember some of these firms have sold off reservoirs so the land can be used for other purposes that giving the country water.

Don't even mention the railways.

Did you know the private rail companies receive more money from the state than British Rail ever did? 

Money that goes straight into the hands of shareholder s whilst the rest of us continue to pay exorbitant fares to travel to work.


The threat to have government departments run by private companies (on which no doubt many Tory notables are on the boards of directors) will actually mean the public subsidising a poorer service run for profit rather than public need.

It also explains the rush to "reform" the trade union as as the public sector is also the last bastion of the unions in this country.

It will take longer than one parliament for the damage to occur and preparations must be made to reverse these policies when Labour next gains power. However with the likes of Jeremy Corbyn running the show there will be no chance of that.

Democracy works best when the focus is on the middle ground. The rise of the Labour left is a godsend for the Tories.

Labour and the trade union movement must be working hard for victory at the next election and that means having a broader base for it's policies than the left will allow for.

If we are to survive the coming Tory onslaught then the drive must be towards the political centre with realistic policies that are economically sound and not just ideologically motivated.

We cannot afford another Tory Government.

Jeremy Corbyn will be their best asset.  

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Far Left stir up Islamophobia for their own ends!

The news that yet another two British Muslims have been arrested not only terrorist charges but making plans to join the criminal ISIS organisation in the Middle east comes just one day after David Cameron made his frankly excellent speech in which he said:

What we are fighting, in Islamist extremism, is an ideology. It is an extreme doctrine.

And like any extreme doctrine, it is subversive. At its furthest end it seeks to destroy nation-states to invent its own barbaric realm. And it often backs violence to achieve this aim – mostly violence against fellow Muslims – who don’t subscribe to its sick worldview.

But you don’t have to support violence to subscribe to certain intolerant ideas which create a climate in which extremists can flourish.

ideas which are hostile to basic liberal values such as democracy, freedom and sexual equality.

Ideas which actively promote discrimination, sectarianism and segregation.

Ideas – like those of the despicable far right – which privilege one identity to the detriment of the rights and freedoms of others.

And ideas also based on conspiracy: that Jews exercise malevolent power; or that Western powers, in concert with Israel, are deliberately humiliating Muslims, because they aim to destroy Islam. In this warped worldview, such conclusions are reached – that 9/11 was actually inspired by Mossad to provoke the invasion of Afghanistan; that British security services knew about 7/7, but didn’t do anything about it because they wanted to provoke an anti-Muslim backlash.

And like so many ideologies that have existed before – whether fascist or communist – many people, especially young people, are being drawn to it. We need to understand why it is proving so attractive.

In doing so he made one vital point:

...the focus of my remarks today is on tackling Islamist extremism – not Islam the religion

Quite clear and to the point.

But the comrades of the anti imperialist brigade are already trying to stir trouble. Chris Nineham rants on the Stop the War Coalition website:
IN HIS Birmingham speech about how to get Muslim people to identify with Britain, David Cameron announced nothing but further attacks on Muslims at home and abroad.

Given the Tories' track record it is no surprise that his five year plan to deal with Islamic extremism at home pins all the blame on the Muslim community. Muslims, apparently, have not integrated sufficiently and they have allowed 'extremist voices' to dominate 'within Muslim debate'.

The conclusion? A further clampdown on Muslim's civil livberties (sic)is necessary in order to get them to identify more fully with British values of tolerance, democracy and free speech. The argument that 'non-violent extremism' can lead to 'violent extremism' opens the door to Orwellian levels of surviellance and harrasment. Watch out. The world of thought crime is now with us.
Stirring up inter-communal conflict is all these people seem interested in. The shrill call of so-called "Islamophobia" ignoring the real problem that these extremists not only kill, they rape  and pillage across the Middle east. Has the StWC ever organised a protest against the genocide of the Yazadi's and other Muslims by ISIS? Of course not, no more than they protest about Russian aggression in the Ukraine.
The Muslim community should beware of people from organisations such as Stop the war, Counterfire or the Socialist Workers Party. These groups simply want to create conflict and use it to build their causes, one which is also counter-posed to democracy.
These groups are no better than the British National Party or the Islamists of ISIS.
People need to take a stand against political and religious extremism.
Islamism along with Communism and fascism all have one thing in common. They will kill you if you do not obey and conform.
Oppose ISIS, Counterfire and the BNP or whatever name these people hide behind.
Liberal democracy is worth standing up and fighting for.

Monday, 20 July 2015

Musical Interlude with Gilbert O'Sullivan

I left it rather a little too late to write a piece tonight though will be looking out for the far left's reaction to David Cameron's rather good speech about Islamic extremism today. I suppose he's going to get something right once in a while......

Meanwhile I've been writing stuff about old comics on my other blog and listening to music from the same periods. This song from Gilbert O'Sullivan is a tune I hadn't heard for years and thought I'd share it with you as we recover from the first working day of the week.

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Kurdish secularists appeal for international support

Cross-post from the National Secular Society

Kurdish secularists appeal for international support

The Kurdistan Secular Centre (KSC) is appealing for international help and support to promote secularism and the separation of religion and state.

The KSC was established earlier this year in April 2015, and was initiated by Iraqi intellectuals, trade unionists, academics, activists and human rights campaigners.

In a statement sent out by the KSC asking for support and solidarity, the Centre notes that Islam is cited in the draft constitution as the "main source of legislation" and that the religion has very "great influence" in the penal code.

The KSC write that the law discriminates against women and forms a barrier "to the creation of a culture of equality and human rights."

A spokesperson for the NSS said: "We see secularism as a core human rights issue. It is hard to think of a region in more desperate need of secularism and the Kurdistan Secular Centre are doing vital work."

"This system of law tolerates, openly or in effect, practices such as female genital mutilation, [forced] marriage, inequality in divorce, child custody and inheritance, punishment of women for 'adultery', denial of abortion rights and allowing a rapist to escape punishment if he agrees to marry the victim. This discrimination facilitates a massive amount of violence against women and girls," the Centre warns.

There also serious concerns from the KSC about the education system and the "huge role" played by religion in schools. The Centre has warned that children are "taught an ideology that warps their development socially and psychologically" and that "dozens of religious schools have been established."

"Because of the power religion is gaining over individuals and over the life of society, freedom in general is limited. Intellectuals, critical thinkers, apostates, writers, poets, journalists, women's rights activists and other political dissidents are constantly under threat and sometimes physically attacked. We have even seen assassinations by Islamist activists. Meanwhile the state in effect justifies this situation by threatening those who criticise religion with imprisonment."

Chillingly, the KSC notes that "the entrenched and growing strength of religious reaction in society meant that there were actually those in Iraqi Kurdistan who [support] ISIS." Hundreds of Kurdish youth have joined the Islamic State, the KSC reports.

The KSC has some cause for optimism however, while faced with great difficulties, their statement notes the broad support they draw from "millions of people who are deeply secularist" including secular Muslims who are "forward-thinking" and the millions who "long for greater personal freedom, for freedom of speech and expression, for equality and human rights."

"Despite the drive of Islamic reaction, women study, work and take part in politics as never before." The KSC adds that "demonstrations have been held against religious figures and organisations encouraging or justifying violence against women."

The organisation has drawn up a "Charter for Secularism in Kurdistan" which argues for the complete removal of religion from the constitution, one law for all, gender equality and the protection of freedom of "speech, expression, criticism, research and thought, creativity and invention."

The Charter calls for a secular education system and for the state to cease funding religious institutions.

To help build support for their struggle, the KSC are asking that "all likeminded organisations and individuals in Kurdistan … join the Centre and add their names to the Charter."
Please also see:

Yousef Muhammad Ali Trial set for 14th September.

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Islam and women's rights

A number of news stories came to my attention today that I found profoundly disturbing, all of which involved Islam and women.

The first from Australia was reported by the BBC:

An Australian man has been jailed for eight years for arranging an Islamic marriage between his 12-year-old daughter and a man twice her age.

He said he allowed the girl to marry a 26-year-old Lebanese man, in a ceremony in New South Wales, because he did not want her to have sex outside marriage.

The 63 year old was found guilty in April of procuring a child under the age of 14 for unlawful sexual activity.

What makes this story even more worrying was this:

The father, who cannot be named to protect his daughter's identity, told Downing Centre District Court that he considered sex outside marriage a sin, so when his daughter reached puberty he decided she should marry.

When the Lebanese man, who was in Australia on a student visa, showed an interest, he arranged for a local sheikh to carry out the ceremony.

A predatory paedophile is assisted by the father in the name of religion. The local "Sheik" participates in the bogus marriage but doesn't seem to have been prosecuted. The BBC continues:

The judge told the court that religious beliefs did not justify the father's actions. "They were linked in the purpose that (the man) would have sex with his daughter," she added. 

Meanwhile in Canada:

An Iranian immigrant who regularly raped his wife and beat his children during their 16-year marriage is going back to jail after Ontario's top court on Wednesday increased his sentence.

In doing so, the Court of Appeal said the lower court judge who handed the man an 18-month term was wrong to assume cultural differences were a mitigating factor — even though the defence never raised the issue.

The report from CBC reports that the wife's views:

Her statement suggested a "significant cultural gap" between what is acceptable in Canada versus in Iran, Gorewich said.

"In Iran if she complained about any abuse she would be ignored — it is a different culture, it is a different society," Gorewich said. "Those cultural differences moved with them from Iran to Canada."

Where do these attitudes come from?

Lets hear from a couple of Iranian Clerics:

Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi: "Scientific "State Shiite Muslim" research reveals that female body cells decays faster if it is not fully covered in hijab.

Ayatullah Seyed Abolhassan Mahdavi, Iranian MP for Isfahan City who is behind the Acid throwing on women in Isfahan: " Immodesty is an important reason behind girls aggression and anger at home which is also popular in schools among them. Therefore I propose mandatory full body cover "Chador" to elementary school girls so the female students will grow up with modesty and timidness which can also demonstrate its effect in society."

Anne Marie Waters sums up the problem in her latest post on Sharia Watch:

Some apologists will tell you ‘it’s the culture, it’s not the religion’. In this, we’re supposed to believe that the religion which forms the law and dominates the society in such a way that you can be judicially killed for blasphemy, has no impact on the culture? The truth is that the culture and religion are the same, they are inseparable.

If we were to believe that the religion has no bearing on the culture in these countries, why are they so similar? Why do countries as different as Saudi Arabia and Iran (one Sunni and one Shia), impose such similar misogynistic punishments? Why did Al-Shabaab, a militant group in Somalia – a country vastly different from Saudi Arabia – apply the same punishment of death by stoning for adultery? What is the common denominator? What makes clerics in Pakistan agree with clerics in Sudan? The common denominator of course is Islam.

Let’s not deny the reality of life for many women in Islamic states. We need to think it through. Just imagine what it is like to be married to someone you despise, and of course under sharia law, a woman cannot decide to get divorced because divorce is the privilege of the man (she can’t divorce of her own volition, she needs either the permission of her husband or of a sharia court). Just imagine what it is like to have to cook and clean and bear children over and over again, to be perpetually pregnant by a man you can’t stand to touch you. And there’s no way out. If you leave, you may very well be killed for being dishonourable. Just imagine it.

Imagine what it is like to be told, over and over, that you are inferior, that you are confined to having no say over your own destiny. You are, in fact, a slave. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, if a man were treated the way women are treated in Islamic states, the world would recognise it as slavery. If a man were treated the way women are treated under sharia law, the world would recognise it as slavery. But the fact is that what is slavery for a man, is culture for a woman. It’s accepted. Almost as if there is something natural about the enslavement of women, it is a slavery that can’t be criticised or prevented because to do so would insult the enslaver.

You’ll be told that the misogyny of Islam has nothing to do with Islam itself? Is that really true? Here are some quotes from the Koran:

“Women are your fields: go, then, into your fields whence you please.” Quran 2:223, “The Cow,” Dawood, p. 34

“Men have authority over women because God has made the one superior to the other, and because they spend their wealth to maintain them. Good women are obedient. They guard their unseen parts because God has guarded them. As for those from whom you fear disobedience, admonish them and forsake them in beds apart, and beat them.” Quran 4:34, “Women,” Dawood, p. 83

“A male shall inherit twice as much as a female.” Quran 4:11, “Women,” Dawood, p. 77

“Call in two male witnesses from among you, but if two men cannot be found, then one man and two women whom you judge fit to act as witnesses…” Quran 2:282, “The Cow,” Dawood, p. 47

“Women shall with justice have rights similar to those exercised against them, although men have a status above women.” Quran 2:228, Dawood, p. 35

“If you fear that you cannot treat [orphan girls] with fairness, then you may marry other women who seem good to you: two, three, or four of them. But if you fear that you cannot maintain equality among them, marry one only or any slave-girl you may own.” Quran 4:3, “Women,” Dawood, p. 76 (this is the one used to justify polygamy)

“If you are in doubt concerning those of your wives who have ceased menstruating, know that their waiting period shall be three months. The same shall apply to those [of your wives] who have not yet menstruated.” Quran 65:4, “Divorce,” Dawood, p. 557 [Dawood notes: “On account of their young age. Child marriages were common.”]

“Enjoin believing women to turn their eyes away from temptation and to preserve their chastity; not to display their adornments (except such as are normally revealed); to draw their veils over their bosoms and not to display their finery except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands’ fathers, their sons, their step-sons, their brothers, their brothers’ sons, their sisters’ sons, their women-servants, and their slave-girls; male attendants lacking in natural vigour, and children who have no carnal knowledge of women. And let them not stamp their feet when walking so as to reveal their hidden trinkets.” Quran 24:31, “Light,” Dawood, p. 352

“Wives of the Prophet, you are not like other women. If you fear God, do not be too complaisant in your speech, lest the lecherous-hearted should lust after you. Show discretion in what you say. Stay in your homes and do not display your finery as women used to in the days of ignorance.” Quran 33:32-3, Dawood, p. 421 [The “days of ignorance” refer to pre-Islamic times.]

You’ll be told that you must take these verses and hadith in context! Please tell in what context ‘beat her’ is ok. This is manipulation of language to hide the truth, as was described by George Orwell. It is also the case that regardless of the fact that these verses can be interpreted (or redefined) to mean something other than what they say, this does not change the fact that they are, and can be, used quite legitimately to impose second class status, as well as extreme cruelty, on to women.

You’ll be told that Islam, as a whole, is understood only by scholars who’ve studied the texts and its nuances and its complexities. Isn’t it odd then that the very countries that are being run by scholars who have studied Islam and its nuances and complexities are the very countries that stone women to death for adultery? That execute homosexuals and blasphemers? The fact is that the scholars come to the same conclusions as I do, the only difference is the morality. I think these punishments are deeply immoral, the scholars think they are moral.

How many of you believe that the problems associated with Islam stem only from a tiny minority of extremists?

The Pew Research Center has carried out the largest survey of opinion in the Muslim world. 55% of people in Pakistan believe honour killing is justified. In Bangladesh, it is 66%. In Afghanistan, 99% supported sharia as law of the land – of those, 85% favoured stoning to death for adultery. Of those, 79% support the death penalty for apostasy. In Pakistan, 84% said sharia should be the law of the land, of those 89% supported death by stoning for adultery, and 76% support the death penalty for leaving Islam.

In Britain, 78% support criminal sanction for insulting Islam. 78% of Muslims thought that the publishers of the Danish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammed should be prosecuted, 68% thought those who insulted Islam should be prosecuted, and 62% of people disagree that freedom of speech should be allowed even if it insults and offends religious groups.

Now that we know this, let’s get on to the second word we’re not allowed to mention – it is of course immigration. To express concern about immigration is nigh-on forbidden. You can talk about Islam provided you call it Islamism and are willing to say “all religions are equally bad”. But here’s the thing: they’re not. All religions are not equally bad, that is absurd. To argue that all religions are equally bad, you have to ignore the religion itself. You have to ignore what its founders preached and stories in its holy texts.

The need for a vigorous secular movement has never been greater and the left, including many feminists have become part of the problem. They are appeasers hiding behind bogus accusations of so-called "Islamophobia". They say it's racist.

Meanwhile women in Islamic societies are enslaved, abused and treated as second class citizens. Most of these women are not white comrades. Who is being the racist? Is it rights for white women only comrades?

Answers on a post card to Counterfire, SWP, Stop the War.....

The "anti-imperialist" left cannot be trusted. 

Friday, 17 July 2015

Are Labour and the trade unions heading for disaster?

The news that Jeremy Corbyn "on course" to win the Labour Party leadership election does not bode well for the future. The left have put Labour in this position once before, back in 1983 with Michael foot and a manifesto that was once described as "the longest political suicide note in history".

The result was the consolidation of Thatcherism until Tony Blair came along and made the Labour Party electable again.

Meanwhile the miners were defeated, the unions were pushed back, privatisation became the disaster that we all knew it would be.

The left never learn.

And never grow up.

In order to change things Labour actually has to be in power. If they want to keep their ideological purity intact and never compromise then they are welcome to join the likes of the SWP standing on street corners failing to sell newspapers to passers by for an eternity.

The attacks on trade union rights are a threat to the very survival of the unions as an effective voice for their members.

Trouble is this is going to be a tough sell.

The arguments about regulated levels of support for strikes are supported by a large, if not a majority of the public. Small turnouts in votes are something the unions have failed to address and as was pointed out to me in a discussion on Face Book, comparing the turnouts to MP's election results will not was.

The reasons given? There are multiple candidates (or choices) in parliamentary elections, not just a straight choice between yes and no. And it won't be long before attention will turn to the voting figures in internal union elections. Lets face it they are abysmal.

In PCS barely one in ten vote and the elections were cancelled this year, something the government couldn't get away with.

Participation in the unions is very low. Activists dominate and whether they like it or do put members off. I never forget a comment from a few years back by a woman who I persuaded to try and become a rep went to her local Branch Executive committee and came back saying that they'd have her selling Socialist Worker if they could. She quit.

The far-left use many unions and their structures as a private playground for their failure to get anywhere on their own two feet. PCS is a prime example of this.

Someone asked me how I was finding my new union Prospect this afternoon. I said it was fine. I didn't have to look out for what the latest atrocity committed by the leadership was. Prospect is run by normal, mainstream union people. I'm happy with that.

Prospect sends out messages that tackle the issues that effect it's members and is not used for exhortations to the barricades at every opportunity.

Only when the unions are reclaimed by the real members that belong to them will they move forward. The barrier is and always be the comrades who just want to "fight this, fight that" and affiliate to every barmy cause that garners their opportunist attention every so often.

If you want to support things like the totally misnamed Stop the War Coalition then join it. Don't commit the union to it.

Union members have political opinions that go right across the political spectrum. Most members treat their union as an insurance policy.

No desire for "general strikes" or revolution.

Just fair play.

The "comrades" don't see it that way. They just use the unions for their own benefit.

Meanwhile the Labour Party lurches to political irrelevance under Jeremy Corbyn who has more than quite dodgy views on some issues.

I ceased being a "socialist" years ago. It doesn't work and the proof of that is not just in the clear historical failure of every attempt to introduce it, but is clear to anyone who watches the comrades at play. Given any kind of power they would become authoritarian dictators.

The lessons of the purges and the gulags have never been learnt.

They just pretend things would have been different under Trotsky, ignoring his role in the demise of democracy in the Soviet Union. Trotsky opened the gulags not uncle Joe. Trotsky developed the methodology that suppressed opposition. He just lost out to a smarter operator. Stalin.

The left fails because they are themselves incapable of rationality and reason which is why they have always never been able to co-exist in one organisation. They will never change.

In order to gain power Labour must be a broad democratic coalition.

Corbyn along with McCluskey are a barrier to progress.

It really is time for change or only the right will benefit.

I fear the ideological cul-de-sac of the socialist left will always hold both Labour and the unions back.

Is anyone up to the challenge to change this?

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Liz Kendall launches a petition to defend trade union rights!

The Tories have announced draconian new anti-trade union laws that will undermine the rights of working people to defend themselves. Given that MPs and the government themselves do not reach the "threshold" that they demand of unions this is a blatant attempt to wreck the unions and undermine the Labour Party.

The Independent  points out:

Sajid Javid, the business secretary, has unveiled plans to ban strikes by key public sector workers unless they are supported by at least 40 per cent of all of those eligible to vote.

But taking a look at the results of his own Bromsgrove constituency in May's general election reveals that he himself was supported by just 38.3 per cent of the 74,000 people eligible to vote in his seat.

Mean while Liz Kendall, a contender for the leadership of the Labour Party writes:

This is a blatant political attack on the labour movement - and I will fight to oppose it.

I promised right at the start of this leadership content that I would oppose any attacks on trade unions or rights at work as Labour leader and reverse them as Prime Minister.

I stand by that - and call on the other Labour leadership candidates to do the same. This is a blatant political attack on the labour movement. The option of withdrawing your labour if you are unhappy with your terms of employment is a basic part of the centuries-old deal for workers in Britain.

Introducing conditions on democratic votes that politicians would not accept for their own elections is just not on.

Nor is making it easier to ship in agency workers to break strikes, or a fresh attempt to gag organisations who have a legitimate voice.

Rather than giving people less power over their working lives, I want to give people a stake and a say in the business they work for, the services they rely on and the communities they're part of.

If any of your colleagues tell you there is no difference between a Labour and a Conservative government, point to the bill published today. Remind them of the way David Cameron is, piece by piece, dismantling all the achievements of the last Labour government.

But above all, please say that this Margaret Thatcher-style assault on rights at work by David Cameron shows why we must not allow ourselves to be an impassioned but impotent 1980s style opposition in response.

We could have stopped the suffering that Thatcher imposed on communities across Britain had we been a credible alternative rather than simply a party of protest.

Labour's fundamental mistake back then meant we were powerless to stop the Conservatives decimating families and tearing our communities apart.

For the families who need us now, we must not let history repeat itself.

As leader I will ensure Labour is a credible force to change people's lives not just an angry voice on the sidelines.

Liz has launched a petition which you are urged to sign and share:

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Munich 1938, Tehran 2015

"every pathway to a nuclear weapon is cut off"

President Barack Obama (2015)

(Iran has to be given 24 days notice of inspections on it's nuclear facilities)

This morning I had another talk with the German Chancellor, Herr Hitler, and here is the paper which bears his name upon it as well as mine.

Neville Chamberlain (1938)

(Germany claims it has no territorial demands after the Sudetenland)

"England has been offered a choice between war and shame. She has chosen shame, and will get war."

Winston Churchill

Say No to Appeasement!

Monday, 13 July 2015

Has Unite thrown the gauntlet down too soon?


The recent rules conference held by Unite made a major change to it's rule book, one that caught attention of the press. They have removed just six words from their rule book:

"so far as may be lawful"

A direct challenge to the proposed crackdown on union strike ballots by the Tory Government due to be introduced to Parliament on Wednesday. The proposed legislation will require a higher threshold for strike action to be "legitimate".

Len McCluskey warned:

"Unite is not going to see itself rendered toothless by passively submitting to unjust laws"

Fighting talk that may well eventually lead to a major confrontation with the government. The question is going not only to be when but how will this effect the Labour Party as it tries to rise from the ashes of defeat at the last election.

We have been in a similar situation before. The great miners strike of the 1980's which led to not just defeat of the NUM abut also saw the beginning of the decline of trade unions in the UK, particularly those in the private sector. The trade union is nearly half the size of what is was then and it's reach is highly limited to the public sector.

This comes at a time when the Labour left is reasserting itself through Jeremy Corbyn's campaign for leadership of the Labour Party. Unite has not only thrown it's not inconsiderable weight behind Corbyn, but has signed up around 50,000 of it's members to vote in the leadership election. Of course there is no guarantee of how (or if) these trade unionists will vote but there will be considerable effort put into pushing Corbyn.

How other unions will react is difficult to tell given the conference season is now over and the summer holidays begin as public sector workers consider their future under another four years of pay restricted to 1% pay rises, cuts in tax credits and hikes in rent for those in council housing.

The question of law breaking will prove difficult for other public sector unions, particularly those in the civil service where the largest (PCS) is led by a rumbustious far left leadership.

There is also the question of sequestration something that doesn't appear to have been discussed so far.
Union funds could be seized under existing legislation, causing a raising of the stakes that the government has already appeared to have prepared for.

A number of small scale strikes are already in the offing. PCS has secured a vote to take action in Universal Credit benefit centres over "oppressive regimes" and is seeking further confrontation in the DVLA over Saturday pay.

These localised strikes take place as the government renews it's offensive against the unions initiated by Francis Maude in reaction to PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka attempting to launch a strike on the basis of an 11% turnout in the Border Agency a few years back. The other unions reacted angrily then and the trade union movement is now facing reaping the consequences of such ill considered ultra-leftism.

PCS may well join Unite as discussions for a merger/takeover of their failing. An indication of this was made in a statement issued by the National Shop Stewards Network which is led by amongst others PCS AGS Chris Baugh and PCS Vice President John McInally:

If the Bill is passed, the TUC and the unions must prepare for mass coordinated strike action, including a 24-hour general strike, especially if any union is threatened with legal action because of the new laws.

Whilst immediate confrontation is not on the cards the extreme left will no doubt want to push for action sooner rather than later which will damage not just the unions, but the Labour Party as well. 

If we are about to head back to the eighties as Corbyn and the other extremists would have us do the consequences could be dire. Remember the miners lost. The last British coal mine is now closing.

The new proposed new laws are undemocratic but the groundwork must be laid for the rebuilding of the trade union movement in conjunction with the Labour Party, renewing the essential links so that there is a more of a balance between labour and capital for the future.

Most of all the ordinary membership must be taken with them and unions rebuilt in the public sector to end the imbalance that currently exists.

Revolutionary adventurism circumventing the real world is not the answer.

The unions and the Labour Party need renewed political ideas. Currently the trend is backwards.

The Corbyns, the Serwotkas and possibly the McCluskey's are part of the problem not the solution.

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Malala Yousafzai - One girl, Among many

Malala Yousafzai the schoolgirl that was targeted by Islamist terrorists just because she wanted an education for girls is 18 today.

Her bravery stands in complete contrast to the appeasers on the left in Britain today. They should hang their heads in shame.

Malala we salute you. Happy Birthday!

Meanwhile others continue to be victims of Islamist intolerance. 

Please support this latest appeal which appears on Maryam Namazie's blog:

Saturday, 11 July 2015

The rise of Jeremy Corbyn is a backwards step for Labour

The leadership contest for the Labour Party has attracted more than a little attention with the rise of Jeremy Corby into "second place" in the contest, if polls are to be believed. On Radio 5 John McDonnell, Corbyn's campaign manager stated people were "surprised that he got on the ballot. Utter rot. A number of MP's nominated Corbyn to allow an "anti-austerity candidate" to get a voice.

To stand up and state opposition to cuts of all kinds is easy to say if you are not going to get into power and the left know this. The Labour left, although much smaller than it used to be has re-emerged from it's ideological cul-de-sac to back Corbyn including some that should know a lot better.

Problem is this "man of the people is a typical left-wing demagogue who revels in making "principled appeals" in full knowledge that he will never have the problem of actually having to implement any of his proposals. The experience of Syrzia in Greece has shown the complete futility of that.

Liz Kendall rightly pointed out the "fantasy politics" involved as the blog Politics Home reports:

“Trying to turn Labour into some kind of Syriza or Podemos party or simply saying what we’ve said over the past five years – albeit with a leader with a different gender or a different accent – will not cut the mustard,” she told a CNBC event.

“We have faced a catastrophic defeat. We need huge change to win in 2020 and change the country.”

The centre left across Europe needed to produce an alternative narrative to the “extremist” populism offered by the likes of Syriza and Podemos, she said.

“We progressive social democratic parties have to find a credible alternative to the ever-continuing austerity, which sees people suffer and doesn’t promote jobs and growth on the one hand, and the fantasy politics of Syriza and Podemos on the other.

“And that is just as much, I believe, a challenge for the UK Labour party as it is for our sister parties right across Europe. This is a moment for social democrats and the progressive centre left across Europe: we have to find a different alternative, otherwise we will allow the extremists – whether from the left or the right – to come in.”

Then there are international issues. James Bloodworth also speaking on Radio 5 pointed Corbyn's associations with fascist and anti-Semitic organisations like Hamas. 

 The Daily Beast writes:

The tribune of the left, the indomitable defender of equality and decency, is also the greatest apologist for clerical fascism in the British parliament.

Corbyn indulges radical Islam, and by extension all that comes with it: the subjugation of women; the judicial murder of homosexuals in compliance with sharia law; the racism, most evident in its anti-Semitic conspiracy theories; the denial of democratic rights, the demand to create a global caliphate must bring; and the denial of religious freedom the sharia-prescribed death penalties for blasphemy and apostasy do bring with miserable regularity.

Islamism is against everything the left pretends to believe in. But in Britain and elsewhere, leftists rather than conservatives are the first to defend it.

Jeremy Corbyn led the campaign to support Raed Salah, the know-nothing, fatwa-jabbering leader of Israel’s Islamic Movement. Salah has bigotries that go back centuries, as he proved when an Israeli court found him guilty of propagating the medieval European myth that Jews baked bread with the blood of children. Without waiting for the dust to settle in the autumn on 2001, he implied that 9/11 was an inside job—carried out by Jews, naturally, who had warned their co-religionists to get out of the World Trade Center before the planes hit. He was last seen predicting that “Inshallah, Jerusalem will soon become the capital of the global caliphate,” which will end the injustice of “America, the Zionist enterprise, the Batiniyya, reactionism, Paganism and the Crusaders”—which means, if I may translate, a caliphate that will turn on the West, Jews, Christians, Sufi and Shi’a Muslims, and anyone else who does not comply with his version of Sunni Islam.

Yet when the British government tried to deport Salah, Corbyn did not join it in opposing a theocratic thug. He invited him for tea instead, and went along with Salah’s lawyer, who blamed yet another Jewish conspiracy for his client’s misfortunes.

Jeremy Corbyn is also Chair of the totally misnamed Stop the War Campaign which refuses to condemn Russian aggression in the Ukraine, won't support action against the genocidal criminals ISIS and would leave us defenceless in an ever unstable world.

Corbyn is not fit for government. His campaign is taking the Labour Party backwards to the seventies and eighties which gave rise to Thatcherism and the far-right.

We need a leader for the modern age, not a relic from the past.

Friday, 10 July 2015

Time for change in the trade unions?

Yesterday's tube strike in London did not go down well with commuters even though most people have learned to cope with such events. The decision of the RMT to strike over a number of issues left many including ordinary trade union members perplexed as to what the strike was about. The RMT clearly failed to persuade the general public of their case.

This is of course the case with most strikes, especially in the current economic downturn and a time in which so many people are feeling the pinch of austerity and are having a hard time making ends meet. The tube drivers have a starting salary of £49,000 which makes them highly paid compared to other workers.

Meanwhile hundreds of thousands of other workers are on much lower incomes and many in the private sector do not have a union to protect them. Union membership has declined considerably since the seventies, particularly in the private sector. The current government has for some time now been targeting the remaining union strongholds in the public sector.

In local government facility time has been withdrawn in some cases despite the legal requirements to provide it. Certainly trade union reps have little official time to conduct their (very necessary) duties. A similar situation has arisen in the civil service, where Francis Maude launched a wide ranging series of attacks not just on facility time but even began the process of withdrawing "check off" the means by which union subscriptions were deducted from pay.

This was particularly aimed at the PCS union led by the far left around General Secretary Mark Serwotka and his main allies in the Socialist Party and SWP. Loss of membership has been high despite all their bravado.  Other unions like Prospect already collected their subs by direct debit and were not affected by this change.

Trouble is PCS was already in dire financial straights which only came to light after the National Executive announced swinging cuts in services and personnel and even tried to sell their headquarters building to developers which caused outrage amongst a large swathe of reps and members, Add to that the cancellation of internal elections and the scale of their crisis was plain for all to see.

PCS has also faced two splits over the last two or three years. Almost the entire membership of SOCA went and set up and independent union which was the result of Serwotka's authoritarian handling of the situation that arose when the groups executive reached a deal with management which he would not accept. This cost PCS a considerable amount of income. Last year others broke away in the HMRC and established a small but growing alternative in the form of the RCTU.

Many members have just given up on PCS membership and others like myself* have changed unions. This is all a direct result of the unions continuing break with political reality.

One of the main policies pushed through by the Serwotka/SP axis was the desire to set up a new political party to eventually replace Labour. This ranged from the now almost defunct Respect to the tiny and totally irrelevant Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition.

Add to this the continual calling of strikes most of which were to keep the activist class happy and using the union to back various pet projects such as the pro-Putin Stop the war campaign and the National Shop Stewards Alliance (NSSN) a front for the Socialist Party like the TUSC, only more so and the union ran in an ideological direction not shared by the vast majority of members who remain in the union as a kind of "personal insurance policy".

Don't just take my word for it. One of the far left websites Socialist Unity ran an article on the state of the unions from it's guru Andy Newman. PCS became a matter for discussion in the comments below. One former member "Andy H" wrote:

My experience is that the new rules would stuff the PCS as a large chunk of their members join for the insurance and because of the collective bargaining in my experience . They don’t share any of the leaderships political views or ambitions for strikes and ignore the strike ballots and strikes as they are not interested. I think PCS are going to have a tough time simply engaging enough of their membership to pass the threshold. from my time as a civil servant is not that a lot of them members just need a bit of organisation or chivying, they are not, don’t ever want to be ( and may never be) the kind of trade unionists that the leadership think they should be.

That last sentence sums the situation up quite well.

Meanwhile what are the leadership up to? The Socialist Party newspaper reports that the NSSN (of which PCS is an affiliate and Serwotka appeared on the meetings platform) their demand:

If your anti-union laws are passed and if you don't back down from your brutal cuts, there will be a 24-hour general strike.

No there won't.

There is no desire for this level of confrontation amongst most trade union members and in the civil service it's certainly a non-starter. Members are facing a 1% pay freeze for the next four years and most are struggling. It's just hot air from the comrades as always.

People like PCS President Jancice Godrich and her totally useless sidekick Chris Baugh have been calling for a 24 hour general strike for as long as anyone can remember. Not going to happen.

The Tory government is just starting out and it will take time and most of patience to begin to try and change the situation on the ground. Running headlong into a dispute that is doomed to failure at this early stage will weaken what is left of the public sector unions.

There is a need to modernise the trade unions and rebuild links, both formal and informal with the Labour Party. The civil service unions remain unaffiliated and probably rightly so. The old left has failed, the trotskyist leadership of PCS in particular.

If the Tories are to be defeated this must be seen as a long term project. In the mean time the like of Mark Serwotka, Jeremy Corbyn and their ilk must be placed in the dustbin of history where they belong.

The real fight for a fairer society can then begin.


To join Prospect please go to:

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Prospect & FDA unions attack civil service pay freeze

Prospect: Union for professionals

The budget announcement that civil service pay is to be capped at 1% for the next four years came as a shock to hard working staff following the Chancellors announcement. Many low paid staff will also be hit by drops in Family Tax Credits and many will be further hit by the hiking of council rents to so-called market prices.

In a call for a less dogmatic approach to pay, Deputy General Secretary Leslie Manasseh added:

“There is no light at the end of the tunnel for our civil service members when it comes to pay. Today’s announcement by George Osborne will further undermine the morale of members who have seen a steady erosion of pay in real terms over the last few years.

“The Chancellor has rightly acknowledged the enormous efficiency savings that our members have achieved but has failed to reward them for it. It is hard to see how he can rely on the civil service to achieve similar savings over the next four years without offering any incentive.”

FDA - link to home

Dave Penman, the General Secretary of the FDA added:

By restricting public sector pay rises to 1% for a further four years, the Chancellor is excluding public servants from the benefits of the economic recovery he spent so much time lauding this afternoon.

"Public servants are being asked to deliver a further £13bn of spending cuts, yet many of them will be taking home less pay than they did in 2010. A further four years of pay restraint will do nothing to help recruit, reward and motivate the greatest asset the Government has: the people who deliver public services.

"The Chancellor said today that 'Britain deserves a pay rise and Britain is getting a pay rise.' Unless, of course, you're a public servant."


Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Your protests needed right now - Iran arrests leader of teachers' union

A LabourStart Appeal by Eric Lee

Esmail Abdi, a leader of the Iranian Teachers' Trade Association, was arrested on 27 June following his attempt to obtain a visa to attend the 7th Education International World Congress in Ottawa, Canada in late July.

After his passport was confiscated at the border, he was ordered to return to Tehran to meet with prosecutors. However, upon reporting to the prosecutors' office he was arrested while more than 70 teachers waited outside in support.

Protest now:

Abdi's arrest comes after nationwide rallies were held earlier this year to protest wages that leave the majority of teachers below the poverty line.

The Education International is deeply concerned about the repression facing representatives of the Coordinating Council of Iranian Teachers Trade Associations and has asked us to launch this very urgent campaign.

It will only take you a minute -- please send your message off now:

Please share this with your friends, family and fellow union members -- and with any teachers you know.

Monday, 6 July 2015

What future for Europe after Greece?

Flag of Europe.svg  Flag of Greece.svg

One of the earliest political campaigns I got involved with was Radical Youth For Europe back in 1974, a pro-Common Market campaign run the then quite radical Young Liberals. Just 16 and having left school the idea of starting to bring countries together appealed. Of course then it was a very different "beast to the EU today and we'd been kept out of it by the French for many years.

Old enmities die hard it seems.

The modern European Union is much bigger of course. perhaps too big for where we as a a collection of different peoples should be.

Don't get me wrong I still think uniting Europe is basically a sound idea and without wandering into the realms of science fiction would be a first step to eventual world government. Mankind just isn't ready yet.

All the evidence suggests that even a wider and greater European Union will not be achieved in this or even the next couple of generations. This is the result of the growth of both nationalism and an economic divide that was not fully addressed as the EU moved to expand and centralise.

In Britain we have seen the rise of UKIP in a backlash against immigration and the rules imposed on us Brits by Brussels. This has been aggravated by separatist parties gaining momentum in Scotland and Catalonia. Other more ugly nationalisms have grown in France and Hungary in the forms of the National Front and Jobbick.

This situation has been further complicated by the growth of Islamism which presents an ever present threat in most European countries as the Muslim community grows and a large section within that is clearly being pulled towards fundamentalism.

Combined with the rise of anti-Semitism , a factor ignored by most observers crooning about the No vote in Greece where a recent survey showed that 85% of Greeks  believed that "Jews" had too much economic influence.

The fact is that the No vote in Greece will put Europe into a period of turmoil which will be accentuated by the UK when it holds a referendum on whether to remain in the EU. Current polls (if you can trust these things following the general election) show two-thirds  will vote to keep Britain in.

But that could change so easily if the Germans in particular mishandle the Greek crisis.

The drama will unfold in due course.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

A disunited Unison United Left

The far-left never fail to amaze or amuse me.

The World Socialist Web Site published an article Rumbles of a military coup as Greek workers demand an end to austerity which argues:

A group of 65 retired high-ranking officers issued a statement citing their “oath to the Fatherland and the Flag” and warning, “By choosing isolation, we place the Fatherland and its future in danger.”

The statement continued: “The strength of our country is the most important thing we have, and this is being put in jeopardy. Our exit from Europe will make our country weaker. We will lose allies that have stood by our side. We will lose the strength we gain from associations and groupings to which we belong historically and culturally.”

These declarations constitute an enormous act of political intimidation

The WSWS are of course unreconstructed Healyites, former members of the now defunct and thoroughly discredited Workers Revolutionary Party who made a living out of claiming there was a military coup in the making back in the seventies and eighties. They fell apart after a scandal revealed the sexual activities of their leader Gerry Healy, which were far more extensive than the allegations raised in the "comrade delta" affair that rocked the Socialist Workers Party a couple of years ago.

The "delta" affair has come up yet again. This time in the inevitable infighting that is taking place inside the not so united Unison Unite Left.

The comrades met a couple of weeks ago to thrash out who would be "their" candidate for the position of General Secretary of Unison, the local government union. The SWP wanted Karen Reismann whilst the Socialist Party said they wanted Roger Bannister and would probably stand him anyway regardless of whatever the outcome of the meeting. Nobody else seemed to get a look in.

What it shows is how incapable the people who organise in socialist groupscules or sects are of engaging in that basic premise of their ideology co-operation. Forget democracy. None of them believe in that, except for public consumption. It's all about control.

However this aside it was the background of the discredited SWP's choice that caused some consternation. The new blog Trouble in Unison: reports:

There is a more fundamental problem with the nomination of Karen Reissmann as General Secretary candidate, which was expressed by someone from the floor during the debate last night. The Socialist Workers Party a couple of years ago was embroiled in a damaging internal battle which lost it at least 50 percent of its members, when it attempted to cover up sexual assaults perpetrated by one of its then leaders Martin Smith. A transcript of a session of its annual conference where the issue was discussed (this session was a key part of the cover-up) was leaked online. Reissmann presided over that session, and throughout the faction fight was a vocal and loyal supporter of Martin Smith and the SWP Central Committee. The SWP are so keen to secure the United Left endorsement as part of an attempt to rehabilitate themselves in the movement, and also to prove to their own members that they haven’t been damaged by the incident. That many good activists, disgusted by the SWP’s behaviour, would simply walk away from any United Left campaign headed by Reissmann and dominated by the SWP should be an important consideration. That the SWP’s primary motivation is its own sectarian interest, rather than those of the movement and the left of the union as a whole, should not be forgotten. That is why they have behaved in this manner.

Quelle surprise! The SWP acted in their own interests, who would have guessed?

The far left never learn.


British Comics week at Howie's World of Comics!


As regular readers will know I run a second blog devoted to my hobby of collecting comics. For the most part I have usually covered DC, Marvel, Archie and other US companies, but once in a while I did do a piece on British comics including a three part history of my all time favourites from when I was a lad. These were of course Wham!, Smash! and Pow! from Odhams Power Comics line.

However with a bit of time on my hands I decided to take a tripe down memory lane and devoted a week of posts to British comics.

Please go to: Howie's World of Comics.

Hope there's something of interest for you there!




Saturday, 4 July 2015

Now Assange tries to flee to France

After not having been in the news lately Julian Assange the Wikileaks founder wanted in Sweden for alleged sexual offences has tried another tactic to try and extricate himself from facing his accusers. He wants to got to France.

According to The Times Assange wrote to the Elysee Palace:

"My life is in danger. France is the only country that can offer me the necessary protection against... the political persecutions I face.!

Now given he's been hiding in the Ecuadorian Embassy and accepting their misguided hospitality for three years I would have though his current hosts might take offence at that. Still Assange doesn';t seem to care about anyone but himself.

He betrayed the trust of all those people who posted bail for him before he bolted in attempt to get asylum in Ecuador.

The French however are having none of it and responded promptly. They concluded:

"The situation of Mr Assange does not present any immediate danger. He is also the target of a European arrest warrant."

An arrest warrant for alleged sex crimes remember NOT leaking secrets that put peoples lives in danger and helped those undermining democracy.

Yet he still has backers. Eric Cantona who I'm told is some kind of football player and Thomas Piketty an Economist of sorts. They also support France giving asylum to that other traitor who put Western democracy's security at risk a certain Edward Snowden who may or may not still be hiding in that most democratic and open of societies, Russia.

Both men are traitors and I have no sympathy for their self inflicted plight at all. 

We live in a dangerous world and sometimes things have to be done that cannot be in the public domain. It's our security, our lives and our democratic way of life that these men have undermined.

But first Assange needs to answer to the courts in Sweden where I am absolutely certain he will get a fair trial.

It's time Ecuador showed him to the door of their Embassy.

And soon.

Friday, 3 July 2015

Free speech under attack

The website of the Manchester University Free Speech and Secular Society has been attacked and deleted following the receipt of a threatening message which read;

"Please Stop mocking Muslims otherwise you will feel remorse does not work on remorse"

Surprise, surprise the message originated from that most unenlightened of countries Saudi Arabia home of some of the most vile Islam(ist) preachers on the planet.

There are far to many attacks on our right to free speech and expression. Fear prevents many from speaking out those that do, especially in countries dominated by the religion by that cannot face criticism.

Bloggers are murdered in Bangladesh, flogged in Saudi Arabia, executed in Pakistan.

The Medievalists fear what they refer to as blasphemy because it it undermines their authority over their flocks, a bit like when only priests were the only ones who could read the Bible and only they could "interpret the "word of God".

Islam is afraid.

That's what is producing fundamentalism. Their hold on the masses is beginning to weaken. Only fear and brainwashing can sustain their twisted outlook of the world.

Now is the time to fight back.

There can be no surrender to the Islamist fascists.

That means fighting for women's rights. gay rights, in fact all basic human rights, the fundamental one being freedom of speech and expression.

The simple reason that this is what they are most afraid of.

The fight for a democratic and secular future begins now.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

No room for trade union rights at upscale Myanmar hotel

Tourism is booming in Myanmar, but workers are still denied their basic rights after decades of dictatorship. In 2013 workers at the upscale Bagan Hotel River View formed a union in response to longstanding grievances and legally registered the union in June that year. Workers had gone years without a pay raise and distribution of the important service charges was not enforced. On March 7 this year, management summoned the union executive to a closed meeting in a private hotel room guarded by hotel security and instructed them to disband the union and to sign resignation letters. Five union leaders who refused were immediately terminated.

With the support of the IUF, the union is fighting for their immediate reinstatement. You can support this important struggle for trade union rights - CLICK HERE TO SEND A MESSAGE to the owners and management of the Bagan Hotel River View, telling them to immediately reinstate the 5 dismissed trade union leaders to their jobs, respect union rights and negotiate with the union in good faith.

More info on IUF here:

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Cartoons causing offence?

No one can forget the shock of the murder of the Charlie Hebdo journalists and cartoonists by extremists claiming to be "offended" by the satirical magazine. Their supporters just happened to target a Jewish supermarket. All part of the "grand plan" to scare the West and in particular it's ordinary citizens, that is to say people like you and me who take freedom of speech and expression for granted.

Some people will hold views that are unpalatable to others, have different and/or no religious beliefs, even hold radically opposing viewpoints on evolution and creation. The list is endless.

Trouble is someone, somewhere will always be offended by someone else point of view. The trick is tolerance and frankly to use a wee bit of a Christian phrase its sometimes better to turn the other cheek and ignore.

The age of the Internet and in particular Twitter has shown that many people sitting in front of their PC's or on their mobiles can become more than opinionated. They can be downright rude, nasty and not even think about the consequences of posting the first thought that comes into their heads. Quite often this can turn into a pack mentality.


Most regular and particularly political users of the web will be subject to that from time to time. Even amongst the academics, students and activists there are those who seem to think the Internet allows for a standard of behaviour they would not get away with elsewhere.

Nevertheless there is a line which is crossed where criticism becomes hate speech.

Sometimes it is subtle. The repetition of something believed can become a mindset of prejudice that is simply embedded into those who already have the spark of intolerance within. Or frankly are simply maladjusted individuals seeking either a place where they feel at home and can weasel their twisted fantasies into a common agenda.

Sometimes there are just those who feel alienated who are simply groomed by others, hence the Internet can be a dark place where the simply evil can manipulate and recruit.

It's not just "Jihadism", there's all sorts of weird and not so wonderful ways of looking a life the universe and everything.

Then there are those who want to speak out against injustice or simply be heard. Satire and humour has long had a place in the political and social process.

And so to cartoons.

Political cartoons can be quite hurtful, whether they are in the Broadsheets or some small publication or leaflet issued by someone trying to make a point.

Even back in Roman times the cartoon or crudely drawn fresco on a wall was a way to have a go.

Life does not change.

Sometimes one has to take this on the chin and move on or walk away.

And then there are those who will not tolerate their precious ideas being challenged. These are usually the people whose ideas are out of the ordinary, superstitious or ideologically driven.

They will not tolerate anything that upsets their view of the world or undermines their perceived audience, sometimes more captive than others.

It is these men and women who are a danger to us all.

Cartoons don't kill. Men and women do.

If your ideas are threatened by a cartoon or a simple lampooning then perhaps it is the world view they hold that is at fault. No one, not even the Abrahamic religions of the world have the right to impose their mindsets on those that do not wish to believe.

Democracy is and always will be an imperfect compromise but the fight to retain our right to speak freely even if it offends the pious is and can never be up for negotiation.

Draw a cartoon of Muhammad. How is that a threat. If your belief is so weak it is threatened by a few lines on a piece of paper then perhaps the fault lies within the offended.

But whatever you feel you do not have the right to suppress that thought and absolutely no right to kill others just because they don't think like you.

Islamism, Communism and Fascism all hold this murderous fault in common.

It is for that reason that these ideas have to be combated preferably by reason. But where they take up arms to destroy our rights then our defence must be robust.

If not then we enter a new dark age. 

An age of terror and murder.