Saturday, 31 January 2015

Boris is right, Jihadis are wankers

The idea that a suicide bomber would get a reward of "72 virgins" in paradise has been the subject of much derision ever since the idea became public knowledge. People quite rightly it would now seem assumed that these men were losers that were incapable of getting a woman in the real world.

Given the barbarous behaviour of those men that have gone to fight for the so called "Jihad" in the Middle East would seem to confirm there is something seriously wrong with them.

The jihadists who proudly proclaim that their "love of death is stronger than our love of life" certainly act in that manner as we see barbaric beheading, mass killings and other barbaric acts against all those who are considered infidels, kufir or satanic. In other words anyone that does not bend to their death cult.

Boris Johnson was reported in The Times (no link £) as revealing :

..the findings of of intelligence from Britain's security services that shows jihadists watch pornography despite their claims of spiritual purity.

If you look at the at all the psychological profiling about bombers, they typically will look at porn. They are literally wankers. Severe onanists.

Given that the ISIS criminals indulge in the trading of non-Muslim women as sex slaves there is certainly some truth in the premise that these jihadis are in fact losers, further repressed by a medieval theocratic outlook on life and extremely sexually frustrated.

Of course the usual suspects from easily offended brigade came out and condemned his comments. Why "leading members" of the Muslim community would feel the need to do this when anything that undermines the "street cred" of these vile men in their "community" should be welcomed, is frankly beyond me.

Boris added:

They are tortured. They will be badly adjusted in their relations with women and that is a symptom of their feeling of being failures and the world is against them.

They are not making it with girls, and so they turn to other forms of spiritual comfort..which of course is no comfort.

Of course Islam is itself quite backward on modern relationships and is inherently used to controlling its adherents. In the Wesern world they would percieve themselves as being "left out".

The solution?

Abandon religion and...

Simply get laid.

Make love not war!

Friday, 30 January 2015

Locked-out Australian food workers occupy their workplace - call for solidarity messages

LabourStart Appeal
by Eric Lee

National Union of Workers members at the International Flavours and Fragrances facility in Dandenong (Victoria) have responded to a management lockout by occupying the lunchroom.

After months of fruitless bargaining for a new wage agreement which saw management demanding big concessions, union members voted to ban overtime and paperwork.

Workers arriving for the early morning shift on January 27 were informed of the lockout and several dozen union members rushed inside as the gates were closing.

They've installed themselves in the lunchroom while members and supporters demonstrate outside.

Please support their demand that the company immediately start bargaining in good faith. Click here to support the IUF campaign:

Thanks -- and please spread the word in your union.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

A new beginning in Prospect

Prospect: Union for professionals
As the cycles of change become ever shorter and the demands placed on organisations increase trade unions cannot be expected to be isolated from these developments.

Our challenge lies in preserving our core values, while responding to what members and potential members want from a union in the now rather than the past.

Unions remain a key pillar of civic society, embodying enduring values of collective voice, mutual support and a commitment to fairness and diversity.

Mike Clancy, Prospect General Secretary  

Refreshing words from a forward looking trade unionist, rather than than the outdated nonsense I used to hear from my previous union.

I feel at home already.

My membership pack for Prospect arrived today with all the information I need to start out as a new member. It'll take me a while to plough through it all but all the services a worker needs are there from support over personal cases to a 24 hour legal help line.

Prospect has over 117,000 members with some 34,000 in the civil service which I am sure will grow as people look for change.

It is indeed our needs in the here and now to establish a fair future that I seek as a trade union member.

So much that goes on inside the trade unions is indeed old fashioned and a turn to modernity an essential requirement if the unions are to adapt and survive in the twenty-first century.

The ideologies of old are past their sell by date.

I f you are looking for a rational, well organised and led trade union in the civil service I recommend you join up.

Please go to the Prospect website today.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

The longest general election.....

No matter where I look in the press or on television the general election (still about a hundred days away) is already under way. One of the major areas being argued about is the televised general debates. Will Cameron take part. Should the Greens be included.

How much do people really care?

According to The Times (no link £) the "majority" of people think the debate should go ahead whether David Cameron takes part or not. Frankly it's more than likely the vast "majority" won't even watch the debates at all and will probably be watching a repeat of Downton Abbey or a film somewhere else on the vast number of channels that are available.

The fact is people are fed up.

The reason UKIP runs high in the polls is simply due to disaffected Tories wanting to give Cameron a kicking over Europe. The Greens are running high because disaffected lefty's want to give Milliband a kick up the backside.

Then there's the Nationalists.

The SNP will pick up seats, at Labours expense no doubt, Plaid Cymru not so much.

Then there's the Democratic Unionist Party.

They "want in" on the televised debate as well.

Next it'll be Sinn Fein the SDLP and god knows who else....

And what do the electorate want?

To get out of Europe? Immigration controls? An end to austerity?

People are "fed up" of cuts according to a You Gov poll in The Times today. Money should be spent on public services. Joining in "US led wars" is unpopular apparently, and there's a wish to to stand up against business.

All good and well.

With so many differing "wants" and "needs" being fought over by a myriad of competing parties over such a prolonged period of time makes this election unpredictable.

But how quickly will people be bored of all this?

Politicians do not impress much any more.

And yet there is a need for change.

Ed Milliband must step to the challenge.

This country cannot afford another Conservative government.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

My Darling Party Line

No time for a blog tonight so I thought I'd share this little period ditty from the good old US of A which just takes the piss out of the Communist Party in 1939 after the Hitler/Stalin Pact.

Performed by Bill Friedland and Joe Glazer.

Hat Tip/Nick Cohen

Monday, 26 January 2015

Syrzia enters coalition with anti-Semites


Most of the left has been experiencing euphoria about the election of the "anti-capitalist" Syrzia to power in Greece. However there is one disturbing post script to this election that seems to be being ignored.

Syrzia has entered into a coalition with a small party called the Independent Greeks in order to get a majority in parliament. So exactly who are these people. The blogger An Irate Greek explains:

I am incensed – INCENSED – that SYRIZA chose to go for a coalition with Independent Greeks instead of repeat elections. I believe that people like Panos Kammenos – the raving, racist lunatic who said last week that that “Buddhists, Jews and Muslims don’t pay taxes” – should never, ever be given positions of power. Furthermore, accepting people such as Kammenos in a left-led government is playing with fire because it gives public and political legitimacy to his xenophobic, racist, antisemitic, homophobic views and Greece doesn’t need more of that when it already has a neo-Nazi party as its third largest political force.

Nor is this odd alliance new. Andrew Flood writes:

I saw this morning that they have gone into coalition with what has been described as an anti-migrant right (or even far right) party called the Independent Greeks ( or ANEL). ANEL have a strong anti-ECB stance but on the level of seeing Greeks as a victim of an 'International Conspiracy'. Tie that into their leader claiming falsely that Jews pay no Taxes and it should sound warning bells. They do have 15 elected members so it gives the coalition a strong majority and Syriza have worked with them in the past. Presumably this and their strong anti ECB stance is why Syriza has decided that their anti-migration policies are not important.

Lets examine part of that statement again:

Syrzia have worked with them before.


Here's a little bit more about the nasty little allies of the comrades in Syrzia courtesy of Open Democracy:

"The Independent Greeks differ from Syriza on many traditionally conservative issues, pledging to crack down on illegal immigration and defend the close links between the Orthodox Church and the state."

"The party programme introduced the notion of a 2.5% quota for non-Greek population residing in the country. It advocated for maximum-security detention facilities in distant and isolated places, the mass expulsion of illegal immigrants, and a hierarchy of 'preferred' immigration by country of origin, heavily biased towards western and Latin American countries."

How do the "anti-racists" of Syrzia explain this I wonder?

The far left and the far right finding common ground.

Who would have ever thought....

Sunday, 25 January 2015

After the Paris attacks against Jews, some questions for the rest of the Left

The following article was posted on the Shiraz Socialist blog, one of the few left socialist websites that tackles anti-Semitism seriously. I don't agree with every point made, but then I'm not a socialist nor do I think the Campaign Against anti-Semitism is a "right wing group" as the author alleges. 

However I think there is value in re-posting this article for wider discussion as the author does make some interesting observations worth discussing. Levi Tahir points out that "the left has seperated itself from the Jews". Quite.

Cross-post from Jewdas
By Levi Tazir

Two weeks ago, four Jews were killed in a kosher supermarket for being Jews. Anti-Semitism was in the news once again. The headlines confirmed what everyone in a minority has known for some time: racism, in all forms, is on the rise.

Right-wing Jewish groups like Campaign Against Anti-Semitism seized on it as an opportunity to feed paranoid dogma. Zionist groups used it as an excuse to promote immigration to Israel. Conservatives pulled together awful policies, saying it meant we needed more police.

We, on the Jewish Left, struggled to articulate ourselves, to say that Jews did of course have a future in Europe, to reject right-wing opportunism, to say that we would be stronger if we united with all other groups facing bigotry, to express our concerns about Islamophobic and anti-immigrant backlashes, to offer our best arguments for socialist, anarchist and democratic solutions to anti-Semitism.

And we did it alone. We did it alone.

If you read any of the left-wing news sources or subscribe to any of the UK’s leftist parties, you wouldn’t even know an attack on Jews had happened. You’d know about Charlie Hebdo. You’d know about the attacks on mosques in the aftermath. You could read deep and insightful histories of French colonialism in North Africa and interesting accounts of the problems in the Parisian banlieus. But nothing about Jews.

On Counterfire: nothing. On Left Unity: nothing. From the Greens: nothing. Red Labour: nothing. On the Revolutionary Socialists Network: nothing.

My Facebook and Twitter feeds filled up with Jews offering their thoughts. But from other, non-Jewish leftists, I just heard nothing. Absolutely nothing.

I want to know why. I want to ask some questions to the rest of the Left.

Do you think it doesn’t matter?

Maybe you thought it wasn’t newsworthy. But it’s not every day that Jews get killed in a supermarket for being Jews. That felt pretty important, to us at least.

Didn’t you care?

You must have cared. You’re leftists because you care about other human beings. You worry about people’s lives and want to see them do well. Surely a public execution of Jews warrants something. Just your condolences. Just your acknowledgement. That’s all.

Do you think anti-Semitism isn’t an issue?

In that case, how many Jews need to die before it is?

Did you think that Islamophobia mattered more?

The gunman was a Muslim. We were all worried that the attack would result in a backlash against Muslims. It has. It’s been terrifying. We’re adamant that we must stand together with Muslims and support our comrades and neighbours through all that’s happening. But surely – surely – the attack on Jews warranted enough to worry a little bit about anti-Semitism too. Just enough to say it was happening.

Do you believe the lies they tell about us? Do you believe we’re all rich and doing fine?

It’s an old distraction tactic from the right-wing elites to scapegoat Jews as wealthy. They think that if they point the finger at us, nobody will notice that the ruling class is overwhelmingly white, Christian and from the same schools. The truth is Jews are evenly spread across all classes, mirroring almost exactly the rest of society. As a religious group, we are no more wealthy or poor than any other religious group.

Do you think we’re all white?

Most of France’s Jews come from North Africa. The murdered came from Tunisia and Algeria. The Jews of Paris come from the same cities as the Muslims of Paris. Most Jews in Europe come from the Middle-East and North Africa. Not centuries and centuries ago. They and their parents were born in Morocco, Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Yemen and Afghanistan. We’re overwhelmingly not white.

If we were all rich and white, would it mean it mattered less?

Perhaps it would. But surely it wouldn’t mean it mattered so little that anti-Semitism didn’t deserve a mention.

Do you think Israel’s occupation of Palestine justifies anti-Semitic attacks in Europe?

One BBC reporter, Tim Wilcow, said exactly that.

Israel is occupying Palestine. It’s inexcusable and unjust. It gives anti-Semites an excuse. It makes people everywhere angry. But the Jews who live in London, Paris and the rest of the world don’t have any control over that. We are not Israel’s military occupation any more than Christians are the Pope. Of course we’re not. A people can be oppressed in one space and oppressors in another. That shouldn’t mitigate against mentioning their oppression where you see it.

Do you think support from Tories is enough?

Theresa May and Eric Pickles were snapped holding up signs saying “Je suis Juif” [French: I am a Jew], in solidarity with those killed. Conservatives and right-wing Labour leaders made statements. The Spectator and The Telegraph wrote articles about the worrying growth in anti-Semitism. But we didn’t want, need or ask for their support. It’s the support of our comrades – the people who stand with us on anti-cuts and anti-war demonstrations – that matters. We needed to hear something from you.

Do you know that your silence is driving Jews to the right?

When you ignore Jewish suffering, you hand undecided Jews over to fundamentalist religious movements and Zionist political groups on a plate. They see no place for themselves on the Left, so go in any other direction. One of the main reasons that groups like the reactionary street movement Jewish Defence League are growing is that the organised Left hasn’t stepped in to offer an alternative. It’s not enough for Jewdas to write articles and organise vigils. We need you on our side.

I hate it, I really do, when anyone starts a conversation with “the problem with the Left is…” It’s an act of separating yourself from the rest of the Left, giving up and saying that it’s somebody else’s responsibility to change.

Only in this case, we didn’t separate ourselves from the Left. The Left separated itself from the Jews. You did that when you didn’t acknowledge that four Jews were murdered in a supermarket for being Jews.

And I want to know why.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Musical Tribute to Edgar Froese

One of the bands I grew up listening to back in the seventies was Tangerine Dream, a pioneering electronic ensemble from Germany.

I was saddened to hear of the death of it's founder Edgar Froese today and thought an excerpt from a live concert in Coventry Cathedral and would be an appropriate tribute.

The music is from the album Ricochet.

Friday, 23 January 2015

The Green Party: From Bacon Sarnies to 'elf n'safety

The Green Party has been in the news recently as the arguments erupted about whether they should be included in televised debates during the general election. According to the latest polls they are seemingly "surging" ahead in the polls with 11%, overtaking the Liberal Democrats who are down to just 9%.

Of course this unlikely to translate into many seats, if any due to the "first past the post" electoral system. They do have one sitting Member of Parliament though, Caroline Lucas in the Brighton Pavilion constituency.  However indications are that her seat is at serious risk.

Brighton and Hove also happens to be the only Green Party controlled Council in the country and things have not been going well all!

Brighton Greens have not been doing well in their running of the local authority having attracted the ire of trade unions not just with their cuts policies but also ridiculous ideologically motivated proposals such as attempting to ban rubbish collectors from eating bacon sarnies at the end of their shift on a Friday as part of "meat free day". That particular absurdity was abandoned.

You may also recall the council banned the annual Christmas day swim on the beach due to "health & safety" concerns despite there being no recorded injuries in all the years it had taken place. Locals rightfully ignored such nonsense.

The local party has been engaged in so much infighting that the Greens actually hired a counsellor to try and end it. Like that worked! 

They are divided into two factions with nonsensical names, Mangos and Watermelons.

Yeah I know you couldn't make it up. 

They are led locally by a Mr Kitcat (no relation to the chocolate bar beloved by millions) who has been deep in recycled matter over a deal with unions to avoid £700 million legal bill .

Kitcat even had to face an irate Ms Lucas on the picket line.

Deary me.

Even worse is their record on recycling, surely a central plank of environmentalism! Yet Brighton Council has managed to reduce recycling from 40% to just 26% plummeting to 305 in the league table.

Embarrassing or not?

The problem with the Greens is frankly the attempt to push ideological dogma before considering basic reality. 

Of course there is disillusionment about the mainstream political parties, the Lib Dems in particular suffering as a result of their behaviour in the current coalition government. UKIP has been one beneficiary of this trend, but they remain buffoons when examined whilst the Greens might be seen as more coherent.

The truth about the Greens needs exposing. They behave no differently to the many Trotskyist type sects that have plagued the unions for years.

They have proved no alternative at all.

Best avoided methinks...

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Socialist Party attack Unison

The latest issue of the rather vapid newspaper of the Socialist Party finally tackles the current crisis that they have caused inside the largest of the civil service unions. Oddly the article is not written by one of the many Socialist Party Grandees, but Rob Williams the Socialist Party's Industrial Organiser.

Utilising the usual spin Williams writes:

Faced with a temporary but very sharp drop in income as a result of check-off ending, the PCS NEC has had to make difficult decisions to cut expenditure, including suspending for one year the union's annual elections. Some on the left have condemned this decision, clearly not understanding the urgent need for the PCS to take the necessary measures to safeguard its future in the face of this vicious attack, in order to retain its fighting strength for the next round of the struggle.

The financial crisis in the PCS union clearly pre-dates the end of check off as members discovered when the failed takeover by Unite takes place. The loss of the unions largest asset, the building in Falcon Road and the suspension of internal elections are the result of years of control by this organisation. Williams even boasts of 13 years of control by the comrades. So no 0one else can be blamed other themselves.

Hardly a surprising outlook given the Socialist Party (Militant Tendency) also damaged to bankrupt Liverpool council and deny their responsibility for that, so this latest spin doctoring is no surprise.

However it is the Socialist Party's attack on Unison being given negotiating rights that is really disturbing and probably explains why the likes of Chris Baugh (AGS) and Janice Goodrich (President) backed off from writing this piece.

Can't have leading trade unionists condemning rights being given to other unions can we?

So they leave it to SP full timer Williams to rant:

Worryingly, Unison has been granted negotiating rights in the civil service in a move that raises the spectre of another new front against PCS, something that the left in Unison should question and oppose. In a very welcome development, some Unison branches have sent messages of support and solidarity to PCS.

The reason the Socialist Party led PCS doesn't like Unison is that it is worried that a more mainstream union would attract large numbers of disaffected PCS members. After all that would interfere with the comrades political plans which is to "Marshall it's troops" as if PCS members were (or are) just canon fodder for their lost causes.

After all fighting the good socialist fight has really advanced members interest with mass support from the rank and file. Not.

There are other choices for PCS members anyway. Prospect, the R&C Trade Union for most and the FDA for higher grades. 

No matter how much Williams proclaims the comrades have turned PCS into a fighting union, a reality check says different.

A grip on reality never has been the comrades strong point.


Tuesday, 20 January 2015

The political fringe prepares for power

I thought it was quite ironic that after finally penning my resignation from the PCS union at the weekend that I arrived at work to discover an e-mail from the Trade Unionist & Socialist Coalition waiting for me. The TUSC (a front for the Socialist Party) was one of the many reasons that had led me to losing confidence in the union.

The comrade ( I forget his name) requested that our branch consider inviting him or someone else from the TUSC Socialist Party to our next Branch Executive Committee to discuss supporting their electoral campaign and even submitted a letter outlining how everything they stood for just happened to coincide with PCS policy.

Laughable nonsense, but I suppose there are reps out there who do not follow the political antics of the Grandees and might get taken in by this nonsense. The TUSC is a dead end project that won't get anywhere, shouldn't get anywhere and would only help the Tories if it did.

Like the Socialist Party this kind of ultra-leftism is a distraction from getting the current shower out of power. Besides do I really need to remind people that these people have had power (of sorts) in Liverpool Council which led to bankruptcy and redundancy notices going out by taxi and have now finally brought the largest civil service union to the brink.... having to sell off the unions assets to keep their declining union afloat!

Meanwhile there was one announcement that did make raise a smile was the announcement by the rather disingenuous Islamophobia Watch has finally called it a day. The former Workers Revolutionary Party hack Bob Pitt writes:

Islamophobia Watch was launched in early 2005. On the tenth anniversary of its foundation I have decided that the time has come to wind it up. (The site will remain online but will no longer be updated.)...

That function of IW was destroyed two years ago when I was excluded from the original website and had to set up the present site, minus the archives. (In the absence of anyone prepared to put the necessary effort into maintaining and updating it, the original site soon became moribund and was then abandoned.)

Yes that's right. There were two of these sites with the same name. They split. There's a surprise. A far left attempt to conflate genuine problems faced by Muslims (but only in the West!) with attacks on secularists, atheists and even reformist Muslims.

I reported an example of the sites absurdity back in December 2013.
Pitt then goes on to tell us about a "clash" at a meeting held in  University College London. Quoting Channel 4 News he writes: 
“This was the moment one academic snapped. Professor Lawrence Krauss had come to debate ‘Islam versus atheism’, but not before a segregated audience. The clash dramatised a problem that has been quietly building on campuses – Islamist students insisting on meetings that separate men and women.”.. 
The reality is that gender separation was not imposed at the meeting.  
Pitt then contradicts himself completely: 
The audience was divided into three sections – one for women who wanted to sit separately, another for men, and a third mixed-gender section at the front .People attending the debate were free to sit where they chose. 
Not sure how that doesn't count as "gender separation". And people were not "free to sit where they want" as two men were ejected for trying to do that.  
A spokesperson for iERA later explained that the two men were being ejected because they had forcibly tried to sit in the women’s section of the audience. 
The men were both atheists, by the way, but what part of "women's section" was not gender separation?
Not a website that will be missed.

Oddly things are not looking good for Pitt's mates at the Socialist Unity website. Hardly an update except to post the Sheik of Bradford's rantings about Charlie Hebdoe and a couple of related posts that are best avoided. The few remaining comrades that are allowed to post comments have been left to argue amongst themselves about who is the better socialist and has the right attitude to the religion of peace.

The General Election might have something to do with it. If the TUSC are busy sending out unsolicited e-mails to unsuspecting trade union branches then Andy Newman is also probably busying himself in his constituency. One of a couple of Labour candidates I will not be supporting come the election.

And no I'm not a member of the Labour Party so I don't have to.

The other Labour Candidate I won't support is Hugh Lanning, Chairman of the so-called Palestine Solidarity Campaign and former Deputy General Secretary of PCS who's has been selected to fight the Tunbridge Wells seat.

The latest edition of the rabid Socialist Worker appeared ton-line today (not sure anyone actually buys a paper copy any more) is also kicking off it's limited electoral election (via the TUSC) and publicises their candidate in Croydon North (presumably an SWP member as they don't normally promote anyone else). He claims:

“I want to be someone who represents the working class. Without TUSC there wouldn’t be anyone to vote for.”

Erm, actually there's the Labour Party "comrade". Still don't let reality get in the way of your spin....

Still fringe candidates like these will probably get less votes than the Pub Landlord.

Old Al might actually give Nigel Farage a shock!

One can hope!

Monday, 19 January 2015

Islamic censorship is a threat to us all

The recent murder of the journalists and cartoonists at the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdoe has made us all aware of both the need for and rigorous defence of free speech both at home and abroad. The world is full of fanatics both political and religious that seek to take that right away, both in their own countries and in those they do not rule.

Take the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) based in that bastion of democracy Saudi Arabia, you know the one country in the world where women are not allowed to drive. Where bloggers seeking a more open and democratic society are sentenced to a thousand lashes and their lawyers sentenced to 15 years prison just for trying to defend the in a court of law.

Their head, one Iyad Madani (nominated by Saudi Arabia) is threatening legal action (if he can) over the commemorative issue of Charlie Hebdoe. He thinks:

These cartoons have hurt the sentiments of Muslims across the world. Freedom of speech must not become a hate speech and must not offend others. No sane person, irrespective of doctrine, religion or faith, accepts his beliefs being ridiculed.


Freedom of speech means what it says. Ridicule or satire is part of that process. Sometimes one may not actually like it, but no rational person goes around shooting, killing and imprisoning people for thought crimes.

But then the OIC has an agenda.

They want blasphemy to be illegal across the whole world.

That means taking away our rights. The right to criticise, the right to not believe, the right to take the mickey out of superstitious nonsense.

And by blasphemy they mean protection of Islam because the governments in the OIC have never given a toss about their religious minorities ever.

You can't even practice another religion in Saudi Arabia. Own a Christian Bible and you can be in big trouble. Freedom of worship in the Wahhabi caliphate? Pull the other one.

Meanwhile in that haven of democracy Gaza, the Hamas terrorists have allowed a pro-ISIS demonstration. The words of one of the participants was chilling as the Indian Subcontinent reports:

Today, we are telling France and world countries that while Islam orders us to respect all religions, it also orders us to punish and kill those who assault and offend Islam's Prophet Mohammad," said one of the protesters, Abu Abdallah al-Makdissi.

Respect for other religions? 

These would be the supporters of the vile Islamic State who persecute, execute, rape and enslave Christians, Yazadi's and even other Muslims that don't follow their definition of the "religion of peace"?

Apparently the demonstrators chanted:

"You have to await more heroes of Islam, you worshippers of the Cross,"

This is the message of respect that Islam has for other religions?

Sounds like a direct threat to all Christians to me.

This is religions dark side. Intolerance breeding murderers in the name of "God".

And these people demand respect?

Not from rational, free thinking people I'm afraid.

Worship who you please but don't try ramming your beliefs down those who choose not to.

And stop the killing, enslaving and raping ...

Then you might, just might earn some respect.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Why I'm resigning from PCS and joining Prospect

After over thirty years of membership of PCS and it's predecessor unions I have decided the time has come to call it a day and leave the union. This is not a decision I have either taken lightly or indeed rushed into but one that cannot be put off any longer.

The PCS union is currently in the middle of what I can only describe as a terminal crisis, one which is to a large extent is of it's own making. That is to say the result of years of bad leadership, poor political and financial practice.

Since the current leadership under General Secretary Mark Serwotka along with the Socialist Party, SWP and other assorted malcontents of the far-left have come to dominate the unions affairs, PCS has been deliberately turned away from representing the members to using the union as a platform for the interests of political activists.

As a result the union has become less influential both with the employer (resulting in an inability to negotiate realistically), the other unions in the TUC and disengaged from the actual interests of the members themselves.

Both Serwotka and the Socialist Party have prioritised seeking to establish an "alternative political party" of the left. Serwotka threw his weight behind the appalling George Galloway's misnamed Respect Party until the fallout out with the Socialist Workers Party ended that alliance and now the leadership have a policy to "stand & support candidates" in the General Election which will lead to support for the Socialist Party's tiny and irrelevant Trade Unionist & Socialist Coalition.

Even as the current financial crisis broke the comrades discussed using the unions limited finances to intervene in the coming election at their "Left Unity" conference late last year.

But it's not just the political nonsense that has brought me to this decision. It's the way the union has been run that is my other major concern.

In 2012 the union faced a major split (hidden from the wider membership) when the reps and members of almost a whole department, the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) left en mass following Serwotka's refusal to allow them to negotiate compensation over the loss of strike rights when they were subsumed into the Police Force.

They have now formed their own successful trade union the National Crime Officers Association.

This caused a serious loss in both membership and income to PCS.

That has come back to haunt them as we have seen with the attempt to get Unite to literally take us over last year. Not a merger a takeover. During that debate we suddenly discovered there was a financial crisis as PCS has a pensions deficit of £7.5 million. And that was not all it would seem.

Without consultation and quite sneakily planning permission was sought and obtained for the sale of PCS headquarters in Clapham Junction. By the time anyone found out it was too late. The NEC have now authorised the sale.

The unions leadership blame the "end of check off" but whilst this attack on trade union rights is quite real, the crisis quite obviously pre-dates this. 

The National Executive Committee (NEC) has even cancelled this years internal union elections as PCS apparently needs to save money. Therefore all these measures will go through without any accountability to the membership until it's far too late.

In fact it's far too late now.

PCS ceased being a representative union years ago. Members have been kept in the dark and attempts to tell members what has been going on have faced continual censorship. 

Discussion on the setting up of the new Revenue & Customs Trade Union (a breakaway in the HMRC) was suppressed on the unions Face Book page and Serwotka even attempted to get this blog to take down an article published on the subject.

The reason? PCS is having difficulties in getting it's members to sign up.

In my view signing up to PCS by Direct Debit is akin to buying tickets for the Titanic after it's hit the ice burg.

PCS is beyond reform, beyond saving.

The time has come for change.

I have therefore cancelled my subscription to PCS and am applying for membership of Prospect, the other main civil service trade union.

Prospect: Union for professionals

Not an easy decision to make, but the right one and I cordially invite you to join me.

Please see here: Prospect website

I realise that this will be a major decision for many people, but one that needs serious consideration. 

There is time for you to think about this as "check off" doesn't end until March in the DWP and April in the HMRC. If you are in the HMRC you may wish to consider the RCTU.

In case you are wondering what finally made up my mind about leaving PCS it was another act of censorship. The unions propaganda unit removed my post on the PCS Face Book page about Charlie Hebdoe. Too "emotive" they wrote to me.

Yeah right. 

Free speech is a trade union issue.  

There has been too much secrecy and spin in PCS since the comrades took over. 

Time to go.......

Friday, 16 January 2015

Comedy interlude dedicated to the Pope

The front page of The Times today proclaimed "Mock Islam and expect a punch says Pope" which annoyed me more than a little. I'm not particularly familiar with the sequel to the Bible but I'm sure that chap Jesus told his followers to turn the other cheek.

Correct me if I'm wrong.

So here's Dave Allen with a few of his takes on religion!

Thursday, 15 January 2015

It's not cartoons that should offend it's murder, rape and injustice

The so-called pious members of the "religion of peace" (a misnomer by any stretch of the imagination) continue their faux outrage over a cartoon depicting some bloke who claimed to be the messenger of some imaginary friend.

Some Western publications containing the image have been banned in places like Egypt and a Kenyan newspaper The Daily Star has apologised for reprinting a small image as it "offended" it's Muslim readers.

Poor souls. So distressing.

So I thought to myself what offends me?

And guess what. This story comes along courtesy of The Freethinker. It appalled me.

The Nigerian father of a 13-year-old who was gang-raped in December last year has forgiven the attackers and agreed to allow one of them to marry her.

According this report, four men men were arrested in Kano province for the crime. Three confessed to raping their victim, who had been lured into a partially-completed building.

One of the rapists, Usiani Ja’afar then pleaded to be allow marry the girl.

The father, Malam Ya’u, a mechanic, said that he was at his garage working when officials came with the news that his daughter had been raped.

Ya’u said he wanted all of them to be tried and sent to jail for their crimes but changed his mind:

When all of them showed remorse, especially the one pleading to marry her, Ja’afar, I decided to temper justice with mercy.

Ya’u said that Ja’afar indicated his seriousness of marrying his daughter by carrying out the customary tradition of coming with his family to formally ask the hand of the girl in marriage.

He came with his uncle, who it turned out I already knew and had a cordial relationship with. So I accepted the request and will marry her off to him. In fact, the date for the wedding has been fixed since. I decided to allow him marry the girl because our consultations with our Malams (Islamic clerics) showed that there is nothing wrong about that.

He also revealed that his daughter had undergone medical tests and result showed that she is okay.

A Kano-based Islamic scholar, Sheikh Fadlu Dan Almajiri Fagge, said that the Islam religion allows for a rape victim to marry the man who raped her provided certain conditions are met.

One is that:

The girl has to observe Istibira’i, a month period to ensure absence of pregnancy.

Certain conditions? 

Women are treated with disdain by this so-called faith

The rapists (ALL of them) should be punished with incarceration, for a very long time.

This offends me.

And I cannot imagine the pain and misery that poor girl is going through.

Add to that the atrocities committed by Boko Harem (has the world forgotten the kidnapped girls so easily?), the mass rape and murder and enslavement committed by ISIS across Syria and Iraq, the treatment of Christians in Pakistan under their dreadfully oppressive balsphemy laws...

Frankly the list is endless, the Muslims of this world should find the injustice committed in their name offensive.

And bloody do something about it.

Cartoons shouldn't even register as a problem.

But that would involve Islam growing up.

Like that's ever going to happen.

"God" is not great from where I'm sitting. 

Not great or real at all.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Petition: W H Smiths No to Censorship, Sell Charlie Hebdoe!

W H Smith: No to censorship - Sell Charlie Hebdo

The Evening Standard reports tonight that a lone Frenchman (and Muslim) running a coffee shop has received death threats for simply putting "Je Suis Charlie" on his sign outside. He won't back down.

Everyone in that part of London should pop in and purchase a cappuccino or two to show solidarity! 

Meanwhile W H Smiths, one of the biggest newsagents in the UK shows total cowardice by refusing to stock Charlie Hebdoe.

A petition has just been launched:

W H Smith, Britain's leading seller of newspapers and magazines, will not sell Charlie Hebdo in the wake of last week's murders. We believe that appeasement is not the answer to Kalashnikov-toting killers. W H Smith must allow its readers to decide what they want to read and not cave in to terrorist threats.

Je Suis Charlie!

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Free speech will not be silenced!

Mahomet en une du «Charlie Hebdo» de mercredi

The new issue of Charlie Hebdo. Over a million copies published.

Je Suis Charlie!

Update: This post was banned from the PCS Union Face Book page as being too "emotive" an issue for the group. They even banned my comment under their banning notice questioning whether they thought Free Speech was a trade union issue. That's what happens when the anti-imperialist brigade takes control of things. Free speech goes down the pan.

Monday, 12 January 2015

PCS frets over "leaked documents"

The crisis in the PCS union took another turn today as General Secretary, Mark Serwotka and President Janice Godrich published their latest self-justifying rant in which they complained:

Following the notification to branches of the NEC decisions, a private and confidential report which had been provided to the NEC was obtained by an anonymous PCS rep or reps and published on the internet alongside criticism of the decisions. The report contained highly sensitive information about the sign up to DD campaign.

(Read the full document here)

The comrades continue:

It is any rep’s absolute right within our union to criticise NEC decisions publicly and to seek to challenge them through our democratic processes. The recent decisions of the NEC will be held to account at ADC in May. However, it is an act of gross irresponsibility to publish information that will aid the government in its attack on the union. To present the Cabinet Office with internal data on our sign up campaign is severely damaging. It is an unjustifiable act and we condemn it in the strongest possible terms.

Actually the information about sign up is sent out to reps every week so is hardly top secret. The difficulties faced by PCS in some departments in signing up members by direct debit is pretty obvious. Management are actually more likely to be aware of the situation than ordinary union members to be honest.

Writing on the unions Face Book page, Fran Heathcote says:

I don't expect to convince you but at ADC 2014, no employer in the big depts had served notice, or even entered into formal consultation, we even got it in writing from HMRC that they weren't even considering removing check off. Life moves on, circumstances change and we reacted accordingly, we'd be criticised for not doing so.

Now here's the problem I have with the leaderships explanation of the financial crisis. It was during the heated debate over the attempt by Serwotka & the Socialist Party to get Unite to simply "take PCS over" that we as reps discovered the enormity of the unions pensions deficit. 

Some £ 7.5 Million.

There were assurances about the unions finances being made by Chris Baugh, who holds the unions purse strings and we were told that the union could survive as an independent body.

Next thing whilst most reps were on their hols the unions one major asset, the headquarters building in Clapham Junction had planning permission approved in preparation for a sale.

When the news broke there was quite a furore and it became apparent there was far more going on than we were being told by the leadership.

Next, just before Christmas the National Executive Committee announced that they were suspending elections (as they cost too much) and oh by the way they had sold HQ. The leaked document tells us that "in order to maintain the long term stability of the union":

The NEC authorised the Senior Officers Committee to agree the sale of the Clapham Junction building if a suitable deal can be reached. A bid from Brockton Capital was received which was the highest at £25 million and also allows a year of rent free occupation of the building.

Such an arrangement would obviate the need to swiftly move the London staff as previously planned and would mean that we would not need to pay rental and relocation costs.

Desperate measures indeed.

Now this document has been on line for quite a while now, but Socialist Party honcho Fran Heathcote is incensed: contained info, not previously published, about the picture across the whole of the union and to share that on the Internet for all of our enemies outside PCS to share and disseminate was foolhardy to say the least. It had been issued electronically to only a very small number marked 'in strict confidence', so the idea that someone would choose to leak that for who knows what purpose, is concerning in itself.

I don't suppose the purpose could be to inform reps and members who have been kept in the dark about all these shenanigans could it comrade?

No wonder PCS is having difficulties in re-signing it's members. 

The cat is out of the bag as they say, and as members slowly find out how bad things are questions will be raised.

And with no elections there's no accountability. 

Will the last person out of Falcon Road please turn the lights out......

Sunday, 11 January 2015

The far left betrays Charlie Hebdo and Free Speech

Whilst the majority of the free world unequivocally condemns the murderous rampage in Paris this week, the British left shames itself with mealy mouthed statements and platitudes.

The Socialist Workers Party tells us:

Racists and right wingers are trying to use Wednesday's horrific killings in Paris to divide working people, justify imperialist intervention and whip up Islamophobia....

The media present Charlie Hebdo as simply a "satirical magazine". But it is not the French equivalent of Private Eye as some commentators have suggested. It may have been once, but it has become a specialist in presenting provocative and racist attacks on Islam. That does not justify the killings, but it is essential background.

Nor should we forget that year after year imperialism has launched wars, assassinations, drone attacks and torture across the Middle East and elsewhere. Such outrages create deep hatred.

Really comrades?

This attack has nothing to do with "imperialism". It is an attack on free speech. Private Eye may be a slightly different type of (public schoolboy) publication, but the so called "internationalists" of the SWP forget that Cahrlie Hebdo has been equally scathing of Christianity and Judaism. Not to mention their cruel depictions of politicians. 

It's called satire. In other words "taking the piss" not that a bunch of self righteous Trots would have a sense of humour. 

Most of the left come up with the same old nonsense. "Imperialisms to blame".

No it isn't. 

These Islamists need no excuse. They just hate.

Just look at how Islamists behave in Muslim countries and how minorities have been treated. 

Slavery, rape and mass murder in the name of their twisted faith.

Even worse than the SWP is the debate currently taking place on the Socialist Unity website. Some of the comments are frankly unbelievable. Still it's free speech init "comrades". For you, but not for those of us who would beg to differ.

If what some of these people consider is a "socialist" outlook then "socialism" is both politically and morally bankrupt.

John Smith summarises the stand of the "left" thus:

But the reason why many on the left are now concerned with attacking Charlie Hebdo is, in the vast majority of cases, not because they have been consistently concerned with the plight of French Muslims, but because several members of Charlie Hedbo’s editorial team have been murdered in cold blood, their bodies barely cold. The fact that this situation is a trigger for an emphasis on attacking the victims of the atrocity would, in a healthier political culture, be regarded as utterly perverse, even chilling. Instead, we are witnessing a desperately confused attempt to ward off a racist backlash not by opposing state violence or fascists, but by attacking the dead cartoonists as racists.

Let us not forget by the way Islam is not a race. Never has been.

Like communism it is made up authoritarian nonsense.

And woe betide anyone who dares to stand up to them.

No wonder the left and the Islamists manage to find common ground.

Friday, 9 January 2015

Springtime for Islam?

Photo: Femen

Another day, another atrocity as Islamist terrorists attack a Kosher Supermarket in Paris. More innocents are murdered.

The death cultists continue their attacks on freedom.

But they are not alone.

In Saudi Arabia Raif Badawi was given the first 50 of his 1,000 lashes for "insulting Islam". Saudi Arabia is a member of the United Nations "Human Rights Council".

In Egypt, President Sisi calls for a "religious revolution" to combat Muslim Extremism. The Times (no link £) reports him as saying:

I say and I repeat, again that we are in need of a religious revolution. You imams are responsible before God. The entire world is waiting on you.. the Islamic world is being torn, it is being destroyed, it is being lost. And it is being lost by our own hands.

It is inconceivable that the thinking we hold most sacred should cause the entire Islamic world to be a source of anxiety, danger, killing and destruction for the rest of the world.

Apparently this requires a

"truly enlightened" review of how religious texts were read.

No shit.

Of course you could set an example given recent events by setting free the Al-Jazeera journalists rotting in your jails.

And then perhaps afford some proper protection to the Coptic Christian minority living in your own country.

That'd be a start.

In the mean time there must be no appeasement with the Islamists and the so-called free press must grow a pair and stop self censoring.

We cannot surrender freedom of speech to the threat of violence.


Thursday, 8 January 2015

Margie Rathbone expelled from PCS

The PCS has issued a confidential circular (see below) informing the HMRC Group Executive that Margie Rathbone has had her membership of the union "ended".

To: GEC (only)


Please note that following a recent decision of the NEC, Margi Rathbone is no longer a member of PCS. Central records will be amended accordingly and I shall be writing to the relevant branch to advise to do the same.


Peter Middleman
Group Secretary
HM Revenue & Customs Group
Public & Commercial Services Union

Expelled is the word you are looking for comrades. Lets use plain English eh!

Hardly a surprising decision, but why "In Confidence"? Seems bizarre to me, but then the last circular on "Margie Gate" was also not supposed to circulated further.

Only the members are being kept in the dark.

Someone tried to ask about this on the PCS Face Book Page. Oh dear not allowed either. Thread deleted by Cyber control.

Meanwhile the whole issue of the collapse of PCS has started filtering across the Internet as activists return from their hols. Everybody has had something to say. Even Socialist Resistance and there's only one of them in the whole bleeding union.

The exception?

Yeah you guessed it. The Socialist Party!

The Socialist 838

The very people who control and run PCS have nay a word to say in their first edition of the new year.

Bit of an ironic headline considering what they are having to do in PCS due to their collective political and organisational incompetence.

Never mind.

Just don't mention Liverpool.


Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Je Suis Charlie

The murder of the journalists and cartoonists of the French Satirical Magazine Charlie Hebdo must be condemned by every single person who believes in free speech.

The evil perpetrators of this crime must be brought to justice.

In the mean time this attack must not be allowed to undermine free speech in any shape or form.

We are Charlie!

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Remember the victim of Ched Evans

Not being interested in football I had never heard of Ched Evans until the current furore over his attempts to return to the game following his "release" from prison.

I say "release" with inverted commons because it is often forgotten that Evans has only served the custodial part of his sentence and is on licence for the remainder of his punishment. Evans can be sent back to prison at any time should he breach any of the conditions of his licence.

Petitions have been signed by thousands to stop him signing up to at least two football clubs to my knowledge and the arguments continue .

Ched Evans was convicted in a court of law for rape, one of the most serious crimes that can be committed against another human being.

He has shown no contrition and there is even a website (which I point blank refuse to link to) which not only backs Evans but harasses and vilifies the woman who was attacked.

It is his victim that seems to have been forgotten in all this.

According to the Guardian:

While the debate rages, including another petition against him being re-employed rapidly gaining thousands of signatories, the young woman has been unable to proceed with her life. The most recent reports are that she has had to change her identity five times to avoid the internet haters.

Her father told the Daily Mirror that she did not go to her family home for Christmas and she is “living her life on the run”. He said he has complained to the attorney general about aspects of the Evans website which he argues further victimise her.
Lets examine that again.

The victim (who was 19 at the time) has had to change her identity five times to escape persecution by Evan's supporters.

Has he ever spoken out against that?


Evans may be on parole but the woman he abused and raped is facing a life sentence unable to even go home for christmas.


Would we allow Rolf Harris back on TV for a show about painting when he is released or Stuart Hall to return to commentating?

The answer would be a very firm no.

Neither should Evans return to football.

Having read the details of what he did I am of the opinion he can never "clear his name" as he claims he is trying to do. Disgusting treatment of a woman with his mates outside laughing and trying to film.

If Evans wants a job, there's plenty he can do without any public profile and if he is to be rehabilitated he must learn humility and take responsibility for his actions.

He can start by making sure that website set up by his supporters is shut down.

And his victim must be left in peace.

Until then justice will not be fully served.

Monday, 5 January 2015

PCS: A failed union

PCS Reps returning to work today will have received the latest missive from Mark Serwotka and Janice Godrich outlining their "bold decisions" to ensure the "financial security" and future of the union. This is a reference to the December National Executive Committee meeting which cancelled the internal elections, authorised the sale of Falcon Road and announced staff cuts.

The circular also says there will be further cuts authorised by the January NEC.

The NEC didn't cut the size of conference so that their decisions could be debated amongst the activists which the leadership think they can win over, since a lot of "ordinary" reps are no longer able to attend in their own time and only the hardcore will turn up.

Meanwhile PCS HQ has been purchased though due to "commercial confidence" we cannot be told which developer has bought the "family silver" until the papers are formally signed. 

Then we will be told. The leadership are going to be "open" about this according to one NEC member.

Makes a change.

When Serwotka talks about "bold" measures the word "panic" should be substituted. They are having trouble getting members to sign up by Direct Debit. A lot of groups showed low levels of sign up according to the figures I saw at the end of November. They haven't improved that much despite the "revelation" of a "conspiracy" by management against the union in the HMRC. Still only one in five or so signed up and a new union to compete with in three or four weeks time.

Not looking good.

From talking to people around the country there is a clear level of resistance to re-signing up to PCS. A lot of members seem content to allow the subs to simply end without causing any fuss. I am still confused by the bizarre feedback from "some reps" that switching to DD is an "equality issue affecting ethnic minority members. Given our pay goes into bank accounts I really cannot see the problem and neither could any BME members in my own office.

Methinks that levels of confidence in PCS are rock bottom. I have also been surprised by people asking me if they should cancel their subscriptions now and have found more than one have already taken the plunge and joined the other main civil service union Prospect. We're talking members here not activists or reps and they tell me that they even save a couple of quid!

Which reminds me. PCS subs are increasing in March not that there's been any particular announcement about this from our "open" NEC.

The attempt of the leadership to solely blame the unions woes on the end of check off doesn't add up.

Serwotkas mishandling of the crisis in SOCA lost PCS a whole department full of members who went and founded their own union. which is why they are panicking about the setting up of a rival body in the HMRC.

The pensions deficit which came to light during the botched merger/takeover talks with Unite cannot be blamed on anything except perhaps bad management. The Independent Left make an interesting point about the growth and chnages to the Full Time Officers in PCS. They muse:

As we understand matters, the sale of the Clapham building will aid PCS in paying salaries and meeting its pension obligations. Yet the PCS leadership has spent a small fortune over its 11 years of union control in paying off full time officers whilst recruiting replacement staff more amenable to itself (and in large part those it is politically close to). It is a spendthrift policy that sees the Union paying out pensions to those it has early retired and lump sums to others whilst adding to the pay bill by recruiting comrades from the Socialist Party......

PCS is supposedly the most left wing union in the country yet it pays its officers salaries of up to £92,000 a year and with commensurate pensions! If the NEC had not year after year resisted IL arguments for a rational PCS pay structure that linked full time officer pay more closely to that of the members then the Union would be on a much sounder financial footing. Becoming a PCS Full Time Officer should be a labour movement vocation not a smart move to get far away from civil service salaries and move to a lifestyle way beyond that of our members.

Now quite rightly we are not allowed to talk about union employees but I thought it prudent to look at the odd case of the former Deputy General Secretary Hugh Lanning.

The leadership allowed Lanning to retire a couple of years early on full pension with lump sum and off he went. Trouble is he didn't retire and ended almost immediately standing for the post of General Secretary of another, smaller union (see here). Lanning lost but did receive the backing of Serwotka during his ill-fated campaign.

That never sat right with me. Lanning still hasn't retired, though his time would have been up last year and is currently the Labour Parliamentary candidate for Tunbridge Wells.

I can't help but think of the famous phrase "Jobs for the boys" when examining all these shenanigans.

Still it doesn't matter what us members think of all this. There will be no opportunity to bring the current Serwotka/Socialist Party leadership to account without an election. Even if there was, well its far too late and anyone trying to takeover PCS would face a nightmare trying to sort out the mess the "comrades" have made.

Seems to me that the die is cast.

A rump PCS will survive but since Serwotka and his motley crew have no credibility, they are all "hot air and no substance I'm not sure whats left will be of any use to members.

An insurance policy without any insurance.

The reason for the failure of PCS is the responsibility of far-left who turned the organisation into an "activists union" rather than a "representative" one.

That strategy was deliberate and outlined at many a PCS Organisers seminar.

Politics first, members second.

No wonder the union has plummeted to these depths of despair.

Not sure many of us would wish to be a part of it any more.

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Katie Hopkins: I'm not listening

Cross-post from Eclectic Blue

I have been reading an awful lot of things about Katie Hopkins. I do not pretend to know a great deal about her, if I am being honest. I understand she was a candidate on ‘The Apprentice’, a ‘reality’ TV show I have never seen. She is a columnist for ‘The Sun’, a newspaper I only ever look at when I am at the barber’s. And she says lots of horrible things like, ‘All Scots have Ebola so I hope they don’t bring it to England’. (I cannot vouch for the accuracy of her last remark since I haven’t seen the full text but to find it I would have to search and I am not going to do that.)

Hopkins seems to make a living not through any discernible talent, but by being controversial, by which I mean offensive. Class-ridden, bigoted, unpleasant, spiteful are just some of the words that apply to Ms Hopkins, but then you can apply that to lots of media commentators. Richard Littlejohn, Jeremy Clarkson are other examples of people who pour out right wing polemic, some of which I find very offensive, but that’s my problem, isn’t it?

The likes of Hopkins do often cross the line but that’s what her paymasters at The Sun want her to do, but perhaps their readers are masochistic and enjoy having the piss ripped out of them by a classic Tory snob. Anyway, it’s their choice to buy the paper.

And in a free country, which this remains, just about, we have to accept that people have the right to offend us, that Katie Hopkins may be an unpleasant person with unpleasant views but she is entitled be as obnoxious as she wants, within the law. Whilst I would certainly question that we have a free press, since all of it, except The Guardian, is owned by a rich company or rich individual but that’s neither here nor there. And Hopkins’ odious comments are surely not the province of the police who surely have more important things to deal with?

It doesn’t matter who we are, the right to take the piss and be obnoxious is essential. Whether you are Scot who is offended by Hopkins, or a muslim who is offended by a cartoon, you just have to accept that the right to offend exists in this country.

With Hopkins, the answer is simple: if you don’t like the stuff she writes, as I don’t, then don’t read it. If she irritates you on the TV, then switch if off until she’s gone again. But don’t let her upset you because that is what she wants.

She is the modern day equivalent of the ‘Shock Jock’, the disc jockey who set out to be controversial and so attract listeners. If no one is shocked and offended, Hopkins can disappear to the obscurity she once inhabited. You know what to do to send her there.

Friday, 2 January 2015

Donna Douglas (Elly May Clampett) Remembered

Donna Douglas 1967.JPG

I was saddened to hear of the passing of the actress Donna Douglas at the age of 81.

Donna of course achieved fame as the lovable (and highly eligible) Elly May, daughter of Ed Clampett in the wonderful sixties TV series The Beverley Hillbillies.

I'm sure there will be tributes to her on television in due course. Let's hope they broadcast one of the episodes of the Beverley Hillbillies, a show I grew up watching and was broadcast for nine seasons from 1962 to 1970 plus a special one off The Return of the Beverley Hillbillies in 1981.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

2015: The challenges ahead

As the calender turns to a New Year there are questions and decisions to be made. Some sooner, others a little later, but important on both a personal and a political level.

The first and most pressing (for me at least) is the question of what to do about the current and ever escalating crisis in the PCS union of which I have been both a member and Branch representative since it was established following a merger of two other unions.

The news that the National Executive Committee had astonishingly, if not sneakily decided to cancel internal elections at an extra-ordinary meeting the day before everyone went off for the seasons holidays has brought the question of how bad the situation really is inside PCS to the fore.

Over the last year the far-left leadership under Mark Serwotka and the Socialist Party has tried to allow Unite to literally takeover PCS. It was never any kind of merger on the table, just handing the keys over to Len McCluskey.

Rumours about the true state of the unions finances were denied, though the pensions deficit could not be hidden. Then during the summer without any kind of consultation planning permission was sought and obtained for the unions headquarters building in preparation for it's sale. Members only found out by chance and the leadership certainly were not going to tell us.

Secretiveness to the extreme. Why?

The claims that the "political attacks" on the union were the cause of all this just doesn't entirely ring true. The end of "check off" has been on the horizon for about two years now.

Hardly surprising after Serwotka gave the bosses an excuse on a plate with his ridiculous threat of a strike the day before the Olympics started on a ballot in which less than 11% of the members  in the Border Agency had voted.

So no more HQ building. Falcon Road has now been sold. No elections. They cost too much.

And they wonder why the members are not in a hurry to sign up for direct debit.

Under Serwotka PCS has lurched so far to the left that it not only has ended up being more or less a "fringe" organisation in the image of those who control the union, it has also managed to alienate other unions and more importantly a large section of it's own membership.

Political causes before members has been the central call of PCS's leaders. Serwotka seeking to build a new political party hopping around with failed alliances with George Galloway's misnamed Respect Party, the Socialist Workers Party and now the minute Trade Union and Socialist Coalition.

Even as the financial crisis grew or rather came to light the comrades still debated standing candidates at the next General Election.

That says it all for me.

This brings us to the second matter of concern for the New Year. The General Election.

If the opinion polls are to be believed the only thing we are guaranteed is an interesting nights viewing on the television to see how the pundits claims actually turn out.

Neither Labour nor the Conservatives seem set to win the election outright. The reason?

Petty nationalism.

Two competing groups of nationalists, the little Englanders of UKIP and their Scottish equivalents in the SNP may hold the balance of of power between them.

The backward thinking of both groups of nationalists fly in the face of the reality of the modern world. Smaller countries are weaker nations. 

Isolation from the European Community a desire for both the far-left and the far right isn't going to help anybody.

We as a nation need to move forward, not backwards.

Nationalism and Marxism represent an age of dictators that I had hoped the world could now put behind itself.

But no. Their fanatical adherents continue to divide and damage.

The need for a modernised social democracy has never been greater. Labour does not have all the answers and will be far from perfect. But then what party does have a magic wand.

Certainly not UKIP, the SNP or the TUSC.

I want the coalition removed from power. This year.

If we don't, it's not just PCS that will fall. Outside the EU the unions will all find themselves emasculated.

The fall of PCS is a warning of the folly of cultish politics. They have committed collective suicide under the comrades yolk.

So one decision is made. Vote Labour. That was easy.

The other, which is whether to remain in PCS or join another union remains. Not an easy decision to make, but one that does to be made.

There are other unions.

Those of us who remain in the former union known as PCS will have to make a decision sooner rather than later.