Sunday, 31 May 2015

Allow John Calvin to stay: Petition to Canadian Government

"Imagine if, because of your religion, political beliefs and sexuality, your own family would have you killed. Imagine if the only way you could survive was to escape the society you were raised in. And now imagine you’d made a new life for yourself in a different country – only to be told you were about to be deported back to those who want you dead.

John Calvin doesn’t have to imagine any of this. Raised by a Hamas-supporting family in the West Bank – his grandfather was one of the founding fathers of the group - this young Palestinian man was indoctrinated to believe in violence, anti-Semitism, and an extreme interpretation of Islam. However, by the age of 15 he began to question these beliefs, beginning a journey that culminated in him converting to Christianity. For his parents, this was unacceptable. His life in grave danger, John had no choice but to escape.

Moving to Canada, John changed his name, joined a Christian university, and came out as gay. For several years, he had the security and freedom that would have been impossible back home. But dark clouds were forming on the horizon. His former "affiliation" with Hamas – a proscribed terrorist group – meant that he was threatened with deportation.

Despite having long ago renounced the ideals of his family, John’s final appeal was not only denied, it wasn't even heard. In a tragic twist of fate, Canada’s strict anti-extremism laws have sealed the fate of one man who has bravely stood up against the bigoted ideology he was born into.

There is no doubt as to what will happen if John is sent back to the West Bank. As he told us:

"In my particular case, deportation would mean a certain death. A fate that is sealed. Furthermore, it wouldn't be a merciful death either. For someone like myself, the punishment must be as severe as the "crime" itself. And my "crimes are unimaginable" – this is how they describe my religious conversion, coming out, and talking publicly to the media about it"

That’s why we’re asking you to help us put pressure on the Canadian government to allow John to stay. His life is in desperate danger – so please help us to help him."

Sign the petition here:

Sponsored by: 


The ZF is the UK’s leading Israel advocacy organisation countering false and unfair criticisms of Israel and educating and empowering people to promote a better understanding of the country by highlighting Israel’s positives.

Saturday, 30 May 2015

The UCU’s recent Congress in Glasgow

Guest Post by Sarah Annes Brown

[image depicting] UCU - University and College Union logo

Although there are some divisions over strategy within the University and College Union, there was consensus over many of the most pressing problems facing members in HE and FE today.

Workers in our sector have seen the real-term value of their pay eroded, as well as further attacks on our pensions. Meanwhile workload problems have intensified in the face of increasing demands from employers.

Casualised contracts are a huge problem in HE, and whereas many members are stressed through overwork, others are on zero hours contracts with no certainty from one year to the next whether they will be offered any work at all. They also sometimes face less favourable treatment – for example being denied an institutional email or access to resources.

Inequality is a problem for our sector, and motions were passed in support of anti-racism, disability rights and LGBT equality. Other motions condemned violence against women and deplored bigotry aimed at Muslims and immigrants.

Colleagues in many branches are facing redundancy, unfair dismissal and aggressive performance management. At the University of Salford, for example, two colleagues were sacked, with no recourse to appeal, after they raised concerns about a restructure. It is thought that their union activism may have played a part in their treatment.

In the light of the increasing problems faced by workers in education, it’s not surprising that there was strong support for a motion calling for more cooperation with other TUs to explore the best ways of ensuring success and repositioning UCU as a fighting union protecting members’ pay, pensions and conditions. It also urged the NEC to act more quickly to authorise emergency strike action.

Thursday, 28 May 2015

FIFA: It's all the Jews, I mean Zionists fault....

 Stop the War Coalition

The arrest of a number of FIFA executives has been at the forefront of the news over the last couple of days or so. I don't follow football but lots of people do and it seems that these revelations come as no surprise. Playing football in the middle of one of the hottest parts of the world in Qatar? Seems odd even to an outsider like me. Backhanders? Seems unsurprising, though the figures involved are mind boggling to us ordinary folk on a "normal" wage and struggling.

Yet here we are. Corruption, fraud and backhanders passing between the rich.

The Swiss one of the most ardently neutral countries in the world have nicked these men and we all await a trial. It'll make the MP's expenses scandal look like peanuts in comparison.

Meanwhile readers might remember this charming chap back in 2011. The Times of Israel reminds us that:

Ex vice president of world soccer body Jack Warner, arrested as part of massive raid Wednesday, previously pointed finger at Israel after bribery scandal with Qatari official.

Former FIFA vice president Jack Warner, arrested in Trinidad and Tobago on Wednesday on bribery charges as part of a massive bust of top soccer officials, previously blamed “Zionism” for a bribery scandal which saw him forced from the world soccer body in 2011.

Warner surrendered to authorities late Wednesday in his native Trinidad and Tobago after his name appeared on a list of nine current or former FIFA officials and five business executives who “abused their positions of trust to acquire millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks,” according to US Attorney General Loretta Lynch.

Nothing to do with anything he might have done. Just blame the Jews Zionists.

He's not alone in this as unsurprisingly the anti-imperialist brigade through the laughingly named Stop the War Coalition have seemingly been reading the Protocols of the Elders of Zion (a Tsarist secret police forgery lets not forget) and have declared on their website:

The FIFA corruption crisis came just as its annual congress was due to debate a motion calling for Israel to be suspended from world football.

The corruption is "convenient" for Israel apparently as the well known collection of despots, dictators and other nasty regimes gang up to try and suspend Israel from FIFA. 

Only Israel of course. Never mind trying to reach a peaceful solution. Only the Palestinians suffer no one else. There's not even racism amongst these high and mighty coalition of countries that of course do not discriminate against women or gays, certainly don't oppress human rights, fix elections (when they bother) or commit genocide against their own minorities..

Lets not mention Tibet or the Kurds or the Baha'i or the Copts or....

No it's just Israel.

Just the Jews Zionists.

No matter what the problem just blame it on the Jews Zionists

What do another 6 Million matter to the anti-imperialists and their reactionary friends. Capitalism is of course just a  International Jewish Zionist conspiracy.

After all Adolf did warn us.., mein kamerads....

The far left IS the new far right.
Update: The StWC website has edited it's article since my post was written. It seems the comrades can be shamed but their true faces have been exposed.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Defending Trade Unions and the future

Worth noting amid fresh crackdown on unions that days lost to strike action fell from 2011 peak of 1.4m to 443,000 in 2013 ‪#‎QueensSpeech‬ (Prospect Union Tweet)

Trade unions are a long established force in British politics and have through struggle won and retained rights for their members over the years which has been for the benefit of millions of low paid and badly treated working people.

Unions have declined since the zenith in the 1970's and today the TUC is very much dominated by the public sector largely due to decline of both the manufacturing industry and mining since the Thatcher years. Yet for many they remain the first line of self defence against the excess of bad employers, of which there are many.

The Queens speech will contain the long threatened proposals to reduce the ability of unions to strike through measures reported in today's London Evening Standard:

A Trade Unions Bill will require a minimum 50 per cent turnout for union ballots on industrial action. But in key public services such as transport, health, education and the fire brigade, a strike will only be legal if at least 40 per cent of all those entitled to cast a ballot vote in favour of one.

Although not specifically mentioned in any reports I have read it is likely the Civil Service will be hit by the severe end of these measures.

Opponents will rightly point out that most MP's voting in favour of such legislation will not have reached a similar level of "threshold" and there is a high level of hypocrisy on the part of the Tory Government in pushing these quite unnecessary measure through.

Yes there are some badly run unions where strikes take place on very small turnouts (both PCS and the RMT are obvious examples) but the vast majority of strikes that take place tend to be smaller, more localised ones involving much smaller numbers of members.

These are those that are at the least political end of the trade union movement and tend to be over very specific issues and quite often in defence of a sacked or unfairly treated workmate. With Industrial Tribunals being made too expensive for workers, even in trade unions to undertake it seems the Tories want to have their cake and eat it, not that this will come as any surprise to the vast majority of the population some 63% who did not vote for this government.

More hypocrisy from David Cameron exposing his "one nation conservatism" for the charade it is. 

The legislation is not designed to benefit workers who "do not strike" as Boris Johnson tried to claim. Far from it. No one is forced to go on strike, the days of closed shops are long gone. The so-called militant union PCS has never managed to persuade the majority of it's members to go on strike at any one time. 

The nature of why people join unions changed a long time ago, but a lot of their leaders stuck in the 1970's mindset failed to notice due to their ideological preoccupations. Members see unions as "insurance", in particular personal insurance for when they get into trouble with management. A lot of union reps have become good advocates for their members and quite rightly so. 

Whilst not every case can be won (and sometimes there are a minority of members who cannot be saved due to the nature of their "offences") unions do a very good job.

Nevertheless there remains a huge gap in many unions between what members actually want and what their leaders and activists seek to use their organisations for.

Too much political nonsense that is not directly linked to trade union work and in the case of some civil service unions goes against the interests of large sections of it's membership. This is due to conferences and even internal elections being dominated by left wing activists who want to affiliate to and work for a whole range of activity that is of no concern to the average member in the sense that this is not what their subscriptions should be paying for.

If people want to get active in reactionary campaigns such as the totally misnamed Stop the War Coalition or the Trade  Unionist & Socialist Coalition then they should do so on an individual basis.

Unions exist to protect it's members within the industry or sector to which they belong. They do not exist to overthrow either parliamentary democracy or capitalism. The vast majority of members vote for the main political parties and more than a few will have voted either Tory or UKIP. Certainly far more than even considered the tiny and irrelevant TUSC.

Trade unions need reform and change but that needs to come from the inside. The old Marxist orientated left needs to be challenged and pushed aside. Not an easy task and one that may well take a generation to complete.

The sight of activists including some from the unions getting involved in rucks with the police outside Downing Street or Trafalgar Square does not impress the vast majority of union members.

However the oppressive legislation proposed by the Tories will backfire and give the far-left a boost they don't deserve.

The Bills proposed by the Tories in the Queens Speech are not democratic and pander to managements needs not peoples needs and should be dropped now.

Meanwhile the unions must modernise, democratise and prepare for a new less ideologically motivated future for the twenty first century.

Failure to do so will weaken the trade union movement further.

Time for change.

Monday, 25 May 2015

A Bank Holiday Interlude with Stanley Baxter

Well that was a weekend to remember. The British entry to Eurovision bombed despite being a great song but it was the Teutonic states of Germany and Austria that got Nil points. The Irish gave two fingers to the Catholic Church (about time) and voted for gay marriage.

And Stanley Baxter was 89 yesterday!

One of my favourite comedians from the seventies, not very politically correct but very funny. Here's a short reminder:

Sunday, 24 May 2015

The Hypocrisy World Cup? FIFA sponsors must tell Qatar to play fair on workers' human rights.

Cross-post from Labourstart by Eric Lee

62 workers may lose their lives for each game played during Qatar’s 2022 World Cup, a tournament likely to be sponsored by FIFA partner companies Coke, VISA, McDonald’s, Adidas, Kia and Hyundai. Without sponsorship, this multi-billion dollar tournament couldn’t take place.

Most sponsors commit themselves to respecting the UN Declaration of Human Rights – which guarantees the right to join a union - and have specific policies banning forced labour and slavery in their supply chains. However, none of them seem to have considered that paying FIFA to host a tournament built on slave labour goes against everything they claim to believe in.

As a customer or potential customer of these multinational companies, can you help us pressure them to live up to their own ethical standards in how they spend their sponsorship funding?

We know money talks in FIFA. If one of these sponsors were to speak up it would be hugely influential in guiding FIFA and Qatar into ensuring that labour standards for people preparing the country to host the World Cup meet international standards of safety, decency and human rights.

Click here to send a message.

To learn more about this issue, click here.

To watch the video, click here.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

PCS: Not a union for it's members

The aftermath of PCS Conference continues to astonish observers as the union digs it's own grave deeper after years of political and financial mismanagement leaving the union both isolated and broke. The end of check off has seen thousands of members just give up on PCS and either start looking for alternatives or worse leave trade unions behind.

Even putting aside the sectarian stance taken by the Serwotka/Socialist Party leadership towards the Labour Party and failing badly to gain attention with some misnamed Trade Unionist & Socialist Coalition, it seems the comrades are more concerned about their being seen as defenders of the faith rather than act as trade unionists.

One of the more controversial government policies has been the "sanctions" placed on job seekers by the DWP. Now the union has every right to lobby and argue a case about such matters with the employer but in the case of PCS the political activist caste has placed its extra-curricula interests above defending ordinary members.

The Morning Star reports

Jobcentre workers in Sheffield put a motion to PCS conference suggesting that protests in Halifax, west Yorkshire, had been “hijacked by a minority of individuals keen to cause unrest and accuse jobcentre staff of deliberately using the sanctions system to persecute benefit claimants.”

The motion asked for PCS to withdraw an anti-sanctions leaflet jointly produced with the Community division of general union Unite, which organises unemployed workers. It demanded that the PCS logo not be used on any future materials to be distributed at such demonstrations.

Sheffield delegate Ian Davis told delegates: “We cannot be seen to condone protests outside our offices where members face intimidation.

“We’ve had resignations among long standing members, an impact on direct debit campaign which we cannot afford.”

He said PCS members were online and subjected to “extreme verbal abuse.”

At one protest, PCS members offering support felt “so intimidated they had to leave,” he said.

Sheffield wasn't the only place where members were incensed about being lobbied by protesters using PCS sponsored literature. Copies of a leaflet with the logo were circulated around the office I work in and members were not happy. This coming just before check off ended helps explain the high level of disillusionment that people felt about the union.

Given all the antics undertaken by the far-left leadership over the years spending huge amounts of time and members subscriptions on overtly political campaigning from promoting the TUSC/Respect (through the so-called Make Your Vote Count Campaign) to the Stop the War Coalition that proved nothing of the sort, along with defending Cuban dictatorship, sending delegations to meet Hamas terrorists the interests of the members became very secondary.

No wonder many of us took the plunge and went elsewhere. In my case Prospect, a whole department broke away to form the NCOA and more recently the RCTU was established by disgruntled HMRC members.

Prospect: Union for professionals

Of course in some departments or parts of the country such as Northern Ireland there is no readily available alternative so PCS has retained a certain level of membership but even that has been placed under threat by the recognition of Unison.


The "comrades" are not happy and Mark Serwotka is to make an official complaint to the TUC. But the days where members did not have a choice and were virtually held hostage by some unions are long gone.

In the past many members asked about an alternative to PCS. Now many of these people are leaving.

PCS has failed as a trade union and although there remain many decent reps and activists in it's ranks the union is now well beyond reform.

You have choices:





Join a proper trade union today!

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Howie's picks for Eurovision 2015

I've been distracted from politics a wee bit this week with the Eurovision Semi-Finals. I have previously blogged this years British entry which I think is the best in years (see here) and hope we do well if not win!

However since we cannot vote for our own entry here are my three favourite entries for this years contest. In no particular order:

Aminita from Latvia. Beautiful voice this woman!

There there's the slightly "kooky" song from Slovenia...

and finally Belgium.

Roll on Saturday night!

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Fighting talk from a failing union

Image result for pcs logo

Despite facing a severe financial and membership crisis the PCS union still continues to "talk the talk" despite it's obvious decline. In his usual bombastic fashion General Secretary Mark Serwotka has been trying to urge other unions to "fight like never before". The BBC reports:

The leader of the biggest civil service union has urged trade unions to join forces to head off attacks from the new Conservative government.

"We don't have to accept defeat as an inevitable state of affairs for the next five years," Mark Serwotka told the PCS union annual conference.

Mr Serwotka said members should oppose spending cuts and the expected attacks on pensions and public sector pay.

"We need to be prepared to fight like never before," he added.

Trouble is this "fighting talk has very little to back it up and the union is losing "thousands upon thousands of members" even according to it's own "Dear leader".

Referring to the failed Pensions strikes back in 2011 Serwotka fails to mention how under his and the Socialist party's leadership PCS became increasingly isolated, even to the point of antagonising the other unions.

Unable to deliver a promised takeover to Len McCluskey last year, the Unite delegation stormed out of the observers gallery. Although talk of mergers has fallen by the wayside, it's clear an increasingly desperate PCS leadership has tried to keep the option open.

Unable even to finance the usual annual election, the leadership remains in charge for another year presiding over a continuing decline in fortunes. 

With around a quarter of members leaving through not signing up or joining other unions, the ability of PCS to take action will involve the usual round of one day token strikes, with each one receiving less and less support as has been the pattern under Serwotka's failed leadership.

And he has only himself and his Socialist Party allies to blame.

Despite the other unions working for a Labour victory to precisely prevent the further attacks we are now facing, Serwotka and his cronies were having their second (failed) attempt to "build the alternative. The Trade Unionist & Socialist Coalition managed to get a grand 35,000 votes and was rightly ignored by the working class they pretend to represent.

A huge wasted effort that would have been better put elsewhere.

Exactly what PCS did last time round and failed to learn from their folly.

Members deserve better.

A better union.

In the workplace where unions are needed, PCS's influence is negligible. Only hard working local reps keep the remaining members mainly through personal case work.

And the leaderships misinformation and bluster.

The time has come for members and decent reps to make the necessary break with past, leave the Trots behind and move to where there are better prospects for the future.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Equality includes white people and even Jews....

The Eurovision semi-finals opened tonight with a song by the bearded woman Conchita which won the contest last year. Despite all the bad things people say about Eurovision it's platform for the diverse has proved lasting over the years. Remember the trans gender Dana International from Israel who also won way back in 1998. Gosh was it that long ago.

Yet equality still remains to be fought for. In the news today The Times (no link £) reported:

The pub chain Whetherspoon faces a bill of nearly £1 million after being found guilty to have racially discriminated against a group of gypsies and travellers by barring them entry to one of it's pubs.

In a landmark ruling, a judge has held that a group in the Irish traveller community were directly discriminated against when turned away from the premises and awarded them damages.

Meanwhile the BBC reports:

A judge has ruled that a Christian-run bakery discriminated against a gay customer by refusing to make a cake with a pro-gay marriage slogan.

Ashers Baking Company, based in County Antrim, was taken to court by gay rights activist Gareth Lee.

A Belfast judge said, as a business, Ashers was not exempt from discrimination law.

Both stories are a blow against bigots.

However there remain some disturbing instances of problems growing elsewhere. The growth of anti-Semitism both here and across Europe has been fuelled by the growth of radical Islam, which seems to have managed to exempt itself from such civilised niceties as "equality" and are defended by the "anti-imperialist" brigade and their ilk such as the moron who is the "Equality" Officer in Goldsmiths Student Union.

The News Shopper enlightens  us:

A welfare and diversity officer caught up in a racism row could potentially lose her job for tweeting the words “kill all white men” and calling people “white trash”.

Goldsmiths University's officer, Bahar Mustafa has been at the centre of a media storm after banning white men from an event on diversifying the curriculum and stating on camera ethnic minority women cannot be racist.
Apparently she's trying to write it off as a joke. Yeah right tweeting #killpeople (of any kind) is not a joke.

Imagine the furore if some one tweeted that about black/brown/gay/women.... don't think anyone would be laughing. It's not funny and the woman is a disgrace as are her twisted supporters.

Non-white people can be racist!

The far-left and the far-right seem to meeting up in so many ways.

People are people. Everyone has rights. Everyone has responsibilities.

The future depends on full equality of the individual free from political and religious oppression.

Meanwhile here is Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät a group of (white men) from Finland with learning difficulties singing in Eurovision song contest.

Good for them. And good luck!

Monday, 18 May 2015

FDA union warn of 100,000 job losses in the civil service

FDA New Deal poster

The First Division Association, the union which represents the higher castes of the civil service has issued a stark warning about the potential for job losses in the civil service. The Guardian reports:

Whitehall is facing the prospect of having to shed as many as 100,000 jobs over the next five years, the union representing senior civil servants has said.

The head of the FDA, Dave Penman, said he expected the Conservative government to continue primarily targeting staffing levels as it makes yet more swingeing cuts to public spending, leading to an even greater round of public sector job cuts than those under the coalition.

He said that, according to the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR)’s analysis of the chancellor’s autumn statement, only 40% of the total cuts expected between the election of the coalition government in 2010 and the next general election in 2020 had been made.

Those cuts had come at the cost of around 80,000 jobs, Penman said, leading him to believe that the remaining 60% would cost a further 100,000.

With welfare cuts being at the centre of government plans, it  should surprise no one that up to 30,000 of these jobs could be in the DWP. Oddly the HMRC, the department that collects money also faces severe cuts of maybe up to 15,000.

The FDA is holding it's annual conference and have issued the following press release

In his speech at the FDA's annual conference on Thursday morning, the first civil service union conference to be held since the election, General Secretary Dave Penman will call on the new Government to ensure that the civil service is more than simply another mechanism to reduce the deficit, by offering a New Deal for civil servants.

This marks the launch of the FDA's 'New Government: New Deal' campaign.

Penman will tell delegates: "If the civil service is being tasked with delivering 21st century public services with pre-war resources, then the Government needs to demonstrate that valuing civil servants, ensuring that they have the rights skills, paying them fairly, matching commitments to resources and genuinely engaging with them are the critical elements of the new deal that needs to be struck with civil servants."

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Labour needs a leader. The left needs a new direction.

A week ago like many others I was musing about the country having it's "Obama" moment with the election of Chuka Umunna as leader of the Labour Labour Party and (eventually) becoming Prime Minister. In tandem with a female deputy, the Labour Party's fortunes could be turned around with a new direction.

A week later and Labour's leadership contest has changed dramatically. Who will lead? Nobody knows.

Already the General Secretary of the largest trade union affiliate is making noises about the "election of the correct leader" or he'll "split. To where Nobody knows.

Truth is that the Labour leadership is now wide open and various candidates have thrown their hat in the ring, none of whom seem to have inspired enough supporters to take a clear lead. None seem quite impressive enough though by all accounts Andy Burnham is the front runner.

As yet I remain unimpressed by the choices presented.

And yet this is a very important contest.

Over the next five years this country is going to face a quite aggressive Tory government that is hell bent on breaking the remaining unions, dismantling the welfare state and privatising the NHS and will probably take us out of the EEC which will allow them to further attacks on our rights without European legislation preventing their excesses.

More than ever we will actually need our unions. to protect us in the workplace and that means a change in the mindset of the left. 

The old politics has failed us and has done so for a long time. Leading from the "left" has only taken us backward. The experience of Michael Foot and now Ed Milliband illustrates this. It was the shedding of the old politics under Tony Blair that allowed electoral victory, but the left are unable to cope with the reality of modern politics and economics and are stuck in a mindset that should have dies with the end of the cold war when the Berlin Wall finally came tumbling down.

The "working class" and "class politics" are despite the spurious efforts of the remaining Marxist ideologues a thing of the past. Yes there remains social injustice and this needs to be tackled but the nonsensical notion of "rights" must be tied to the notion of responsibilities. This means those who should pay taxes must not be allowed to avoid them any more than those capable of remunerative employment who do not do so.

The economic future will not allow this to continue. The world is changing.

We need a modern social democratic party that combines fairness and responsibility. A programme needs to be developed that allows for both economic growth with fair wages. Decent housing and health provision free for all.

The old, Marxist inspired left has no answers for the modern world, least of all on the notion of democracy where it has always been lacking. Communism may have fallen everywhere except North Korea but the spectre of Islamism and extreme religiosity has replaced the comrades as the main threat to our democratic way of life.

In a desperate attempt to survive the old left has through the blinkered lens of "anti-imperialism" lined up with the enemy in an attempt to remain relevant. Movements such as the misnamed Stop the war Coalition finger the West as  the problem ignoring the reactionary politics of the regimes they defend in the name of peace.

Appeasement is it's real name.

And it's a threat.

Turning to the "middle ground" should not be seen as some kind of "sell out" as the masked protesters and keyboard activists tell us. It should be seen as a return to or even as the beginning of a new rational and balanced politics.

Will there rise a leader capable of taking both Labour to a new outlook. That is and will remain the real challenge.

Our futures depend on this or the old left and the selfish right will continue in their current vein much to the detriment of all.

I have hope. There is always hope for the future, the challenge is to grab the opportunity.

Saturday, 16 May 2015

PCS: Crisis, bias and decline

PCS ADC LandingPageGraphic1

Delegates from all over the country are preparing for their trek to the sunny climes of Brighton for the annual Trot Fest otherwise known as "PCS Conference". This years gathering comes at a time of continuing political and financial crisis which still could see the union need to look elsewhere for survival.

The union has lost around a quarter of it's members in it's two largest departments, the DWP and the HMRC as a result of the end of check off with more losses expected as other departments end the practice. There's plenty of "fighting talk" from the comrades of the Socialist Party who have overseen the marginalisation and financial ruin of PCS. Fran Heathcote DWP Group President writes in The Socialist

With the election of a Tory majority, any idea of the decision to remove check-off being reversed is well and truly out of the window.

But reps are working hard to maximise the numbers signed up to Direct Debit and also recruit new members to PCS.

It is easy to feel downcast after the general election result but the left leadership of PCS has shown that we will not be beaten by this hostile Tory government.

Fran and the (mis)leadership of the union of course prepared for the general election by trying to establish a so-called alternative to the Labour Party., The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition. They ran 131 candidates and polled a grand 35,000 voted, 0.6% of the vote.

Truly well and beaten from where I'm sitting.

To most trade unionists the need to back Labour was obvious, but not to the self indulgent "socialists" who now bleat about the coming consequences of the Tory victory.

It's one of the reasons that after so many years I finally gave up on PCS as a trade union because it had been hijacked by those who used an "abused" it for their own private political agenda.

Meanwhile there's there's trouble inside the union as the treatment of contrasting cases by the unions leadership causes disquiet. The PCS website reports:

The gallery has confirmed this afternoon Candy has been dismissed after senior managers suspended her on the eve of the first strike in February.

We believe this is a clear case of victimisation and a direct attempt to undermine our union and we will fight it every step of the way......

The 'case' against her was that she shared information about the use of a private security firm with her full-time union official and asked him to take up the matter with the gallery. Something she had every right to do on a matter of such strong public interest.

Nothing there that one could disagree with and trade unions should support a campaign of reinstatement.

A pity the union didn't take the same attitude towards John Pearson, a rep who was sacked for the same reasons. The difference being Candy Udwin is a member of the Socialist Workers Party and part of the grouping that rules PCS with an "iron fist" whilst John Pearson is a member of the small opposition group, the Independent Left.

His supporters write:

PCS members may be aware that the National Executive Committee recently issued a bulletin, headed ‘Support for Victimised Reps,’ allegedly aiming to set the record straight on John Pearson’s case.

The same bulletin also referred to the case of Candy Udwin. This campaign has previously offered its complete support for Candy as we believe that all victimised reps should receive unequivocal support from their union. Follow this link for actions you can take to support her.

It is disgraceful, however, that rightful support for Candy is used to frame a bulletin aimed primarily at justifying throwing John under a bus.

John has responded to the NEC regarding the falsehood, misleading statements and half-truths in the bulletin, and provided us the correspondence which we reproduce below in full. He has also asked the NEC to circulate it as widely as the bulletin it refutes in the interests of balance. The response to this request remains to be seen.

The rest of the article can be read on the PCS Support Your Members website.

John's supporters will be lobbying the opening of National Conference on Tuesday.

Debates to watch out for this week include arguments over the cancellation of the unions elections, financial woes and whether a merger with Unite will still be sought.

Whilst the comrades rant at each other both in the conference hall and the bars of Brighton members will notice how in the large departments like the DWP how little influence PCS on the drastic changes taking place and will rightly ask where there union has been all this time.

No wonder many have sat on their hands and either not signed up for direct debit or joined an alternative union.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

NSS joins calls for Government to recognise global discrimination against atheists- as third Bangladeshi blogger is hacked to death

Cross-post from the National Secular Society

NSS joins calls for Government to recognise global discrimination against atheists- as third Bangladeshi blogger is hacked to death

The National Secular Society is calling on the Government to do more to tackle global discrimination against non-believers, secularists and humanists- after a third Bangladeshi secular blogger was murdered.

The writer and blogger Ananta Bijoy Das was hacked to death by a gang in broad daylight as he walked to work. His death is the latest in a spate of similar killings targeting non-religious writers.

After other bloggers were killed, Das had previously told the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU): "It seems to me I am one of the targets. I am not sure how long I will hide myself. But I am sure if they will find me they will do what they did with Mr. Avijit Roy. My life is seriously unsecured. I am not sure how can I protect myself & my family."

IHEU, with which the NSS is affiliated, said: "Ananta Bijoy Das had reached out to us at IHEU following the murders of Avijit and Washiqur. Accepting the very serious threat to this life, we advised Ananta in trying to make the difficult move out of danger. However, we have been informed that his application for a visa to travel to Sweden, under invitation from Swedish PEN, was rejected last week by the Swedish embassy in Dhaka, on the basis that he might seek to remain in Sweden."

BBC journalist John McManus tweeted that the Swedish Migration Agency denied Ananta's application on 22 April.

Swedish PEN have now called for a "credible explanation" of why the Swedish Embassy did not grant Ananta Bijoy Das a visa.

Meanwhile, the National Secular Society has raised the case of an Ex-Muslim asylum seeker of Pakistani origin with the Home Office after he contacted the NSS to express fear that his apostasy would place him at significant risk of persecution should he be returned to his country of origin. His application has so far been refused by the Home Office.

A spokesperson for the National Secular Society commented: "We rightly hear a lot of discussion about protecting religious freedom abroad, particularly about Christians persecuted in the Middle East- but the Government must do more to guarantee freedom from religion as well. Non-believers and secularists are being targeted and killed.

"We join the call from the International Humanist and Ethical Union urging the Government to 'recognise the legitimacy and sometimes the urgency and moral necessity of asylum claims made by humanists, atheists and secularists who are being persecuted for daring to express those views.'"

The Conservative Party manifesto said that a Conservative Government would defend "the freedom of people of all religions – and non-religious people – to practise their beliefs in peace and safety, for example by supporting persecuted Christians in the Middle East."

IHEU added that the killers were "assassinating writers in an attempt to terrify a nation against voicing humanist and secularist values and ideas, and to deter any criticism of religious beliefs or religious authorities. Their vile campaign of intimidation and terror must be met — not with hollow words and appeasement — but with strenuous, rigorous justice."

The killers of Md Washiqur Rahman Baby, murdered on 30 March 2015, said they were doing their "Islamic duty."

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Comedy Interlude: Four Candles

Time for a quick break from politics tonight and instead of a Musical Interlude I thought it was time for a bit of comedy.

So needing no introduction (oops I just did): The Two Ronnies in a classic sketch with Four candles...

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Right said Fred

If there's one thing for certain following the disastrous general election result. those of us who are serious about building an alternative to the Tory party have a lot of thinking to do.

The other certainty is there is no unanimity about the way forward either.

On the one hand a few masked Anarchists think that confronting the police in Whitehall and defacing monuments will spark a rebellion, whilst the Trade Union & Socialist Coalition deludes itself with overstating  their election results, conveniently ignoring the fact they garnered just 0.6% of the vote and one of their local council candidates entered the record books with no votes whatsoever.

Some are calling for "General Strikes", the vainglorious PCS General Secretary rabbits on about the need for unity (despite the union leadership not so surreptitious backing of the TUSC) and lectures on democracy despite cancelling his own unions election.

If unity was needed it was during the election itself behind the only viable alternative to the Tories that of the Labour Party.

More than that there is a failure to recognise that the old fashioned platitudes from the left do not really appeal to most people outside their own ideological ghetto.

The Labour Party leadership election will expose the same old fault lines that have plagued the left for years as left-wingers still talk about posh boys, even in their own ranks. A reference to Chuka Umunna the favourite to win the race at the moment.

Jeremy Corbyn and the Ken Livingstone seem to think pulling to "the left" is the solution as do the far-left who remain on the fringes not just of politics but of reality itself.

The masses remain unimpressed.

The old left politics have failed.

Even now Andy Murray the old fashioned communist is talking about "Popular Fronts" along withe likes of the tiny and irrelevant Counterfire organisation, friends of Jihadi Johns mates in Cage.

Not impressed.

Not one bit.

The old left has had it's time.

The time really has come for some radical thinking. A recognition of the world and the real aspirations of the people who live in it.

The arrogant methods of "vanguardism" and talk of "false consciousness" (in plain English means the workers don't listen to their self appointed Marxist leaders) has had it's day.

Put those weighty tomes from the false prophets back on their shelves.

Time to come up with new ideas for the future. New ways of organising. Leaning how to talk to people and not shout or lecture the masses on what's good for them.

Unlike the "comrades" I do not claim to have the answers and anyone that does is fooling no one.

Times have changed and the left has not caught up.

The future lies in combining the need for human rights, free speech with a programme of social fairness that matches up rights with responsibilities and avoids the politics of hate and envy.

The future begins now.

And it's success depends on you.

Monday, 11 May 2015

George Galloway and other conspiracy theories

When George Galloway said at the count on election night that he was "going to plan his next campaign", most observers thought he referred to a bid for Mayor of London.

However it turns out he's gone to his lawyers... again.

Now he wants the election result in Bradford West overturned.

As if it was close.

Galloway has finally lost it. So ego-centric was he that Respect actually held a "victory parade" through the streets before the result was declared. No wonder he looked so po-faced at the count.

Galloway ran one of the most vicious campaigns seen since Peter Tatchell stood in Bermondsey back in the eighties against his Liberal opponent. His tweets about "Zionists" being pleased about the possible election of Naz Shah were absurd and a down right falsehood. In fact Ms Shah is a well known supporter of the Palestinian cause.

And a women's activist.

The sight of Galloway's agents rummaging around Pakistan to "dig for dirt" and then to declare that Ms Shah was 16 not 15 when forced into an abusive marriage beggars belief. As if a year makes any bloody difference.

The words "forced" and "abusive" are the clue George.

Still I expect this nonsense from the preening one but what disturbs me is the rest of the garbage I'm seeing on the Internet. The anarchists in V for Vendetta masks are claiming the graffiti that appeared on the Women's Monument was the work of an undercover policemen.

Do get a life.

And there's idiots out there lapping this up like asylum inmates.

Plenty of them.

Even on the Labour Party Forum I belong to. Conspiracy videos are appearing with some of the more deranged "comrades" claiming it's all a fix. The election was stolen. 200,000 votes were faked.

No evidence just re-posting some nonsense posted elsewhere on the World Wide Web as if everything you want to hear (except the obvious truth) is real.

The Internet can be a useful tool for both education and debate, but it can also fuel ignorance. Fiction so easily becomes "fact" because someone said it somewhere on the web.

(Insert ancient Anglo-Saxon word eight letters)

The only way forward is to sit down think for a period, consider realistic options, debate and go out and build a rational alternative for the 21st Century.

To pander to irrationality and ignorance will only discredit the forces of reason and the Tories will prevail again and again.

Your choice people.

Be part of the solution not part of the problem.


And for no other reason than this song came to mind when I heard about Galloway's latest atrocity here's an old Scottish number (of sorts):

Sunday, 10 May 2015

The forgotten local elections

With everyone focusing their attention on the outcome of the general election, it seems the local elections have been somewhat if not totally overlooked.

There were a couple of results that caught my interest.

The first was for Brighton & Hove Council which until Thursday had been controlled by the Green Party. The Argus reports:

The Labour party have secured the most seats in Brighton and Hove, taking control of the city council from the Greens.

Labour took 23 of the city council's 54 seats with the Conservatives finishing in second place with 20 seats and the Green Party with a disappointing 11 councillors elected.

Given how badly the faction-ridden Green Party ran the council, even alienating the local unions the outcome is far from surprising.  The local Green MP Caroline Lucas managed to buck the trend and hang on to her seat.

A good result for Labour in Brighton but bad news for them in Thanet.

Although Nick Farage failed to win the seat, his party managed to gain control of Thanet Council. The first in the country that UKIP has won. The Daily Mirror reports:

UKIP is running its first ever council after a massive landslide in Nigel Farage's target seat.

The party has wiped out Labour on Thanet District Council, turning the authority purple in another heavy blow for Ed Miliband's party.

UKIP now has a massive 33 seats after winning 36% of the votes in the area, compared to 31% for the Tories and 24% for Labour.

Labour was knocked back to just 4 seats.

The local elections held in around one third of the seats resulted in a similar pattern to the general election. 

The Tories gained 497 seats whilst Labour lost 179. The Liberal Democrats lost a third of the seats they contested, some 365 in all.

UKIP managed to pick up 171 Council seats whilst the BNP lost it's only sitting Councillor.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Far left fail to make a mark in elections

Just before the election I drew readers attention to the promise of a the wonderfully named young man Imotep in Ealing who predicted a "big vote" for the Workers Revolutionary Party. In the event their candidate polled a mere 73.

The WRP, or what remains of it failed to make any headway in the seven seats in which they stood. No surprise really. The only thing that amazes me is that they manage to publish their "penny dreadful" the News Line daily. No money from Libya these days!

Still they were just one of a number of groups proclaiming the banner of Marxism who dipped their toes into the world of electoral politics.

The Socialist Party backed Trade Unionists & Socialist Coalition tried to claim they were the sixth largest party on the basis of the number of candidates they stood, some 135 in all. The TUSC even managed to get a albeit dire, party political broadcast. So how did they do?

Despite a promise that they would publish a partial bulletin on their website on Friday that has now been put back to sometime this weekend as the comrades attempt to spin their poor performance. TUSC candidates polled low figures as expected and failed to stir revolutionary fervour amongst the downtrodden masses they falsely claim to represent.

Other than former MP and local councillor Dave Nellist in Coventry and Jenny Sutton in Tottenham, none of their othercandidates reached four figures. The average vote appears to hover around 200 or so, which would seem average for most fringe candidates.

The TUSC polled just over 36,000 votes, a mere 0.1% of the vote.

How much longer the RMT will continue to waste their money on this pointless project (which their own members are seemingly oblivious of) remains to be seen. 

Some people include Respect as part of the far-left. I do not subscribe to that position and place this ego-centric outfit led by George Galloway on the far right of British politics due to it's pandering to both communalism and religiosity.

Galloway went as far to organise a "victory" parade around his constituency only to find he lost to the Labour candidate by over 2 to 1 in votes. He looked visibly shocked at the count, a video of which I have taken great pleasure in watching several times.

Meanwhile the TUSC and the Republican Socialists fought over the workers vote in the Inner city constituency of Bermondsey which was held by Simon Hughes of the hated Liberal Democrats. Surely they would gain a foothold here.

Nah! More to the point Steve Freeman appears to garnered the lowest vote obtained by any candidate in the general election. A mere 20. The TUSC who were backed by Left Unity to which Comrade Freeman also belongs managed a magnificent 142 votes (O.3%).

Arthur Scargill's Socialist Labour Party managed to reappear out of the ether and ran seven candidates, all in Wales. They didn't figure highly either and will probably disappear back into the woodwork until the next general election if their leader is still around then.

Talking of old Stalinists, the Communist Party of Britain (the Morning Star lot) also intervened with nine candidates polling between them just 1,229 votes. So much for the British Road to Socialism eh comrades.

While all this effort was wasted the Tories and backward nationalists won the day.

A full table of results for the far-left can be found on Phil BC's website: here.

Meanwhile my attention was drawn to this short and interesting comparison of two of the three extremes in politics. 

Food for thought.

Friday, 8 May 2015

Reflections on the General Election

Given the overcast sky somewhat reflects my mood today it is with some trepidation that I begin to try making sense of the quite unexpected general election.

A Conservative majority government.

As soon as the exit poll was published after the polls closed last night my excitement began to change to worry as the election results gradually and decisively confirmed this early prediction from the pollsters.

All the previous polling had suggested a "hung parliament" with no party having any overall majority. The Liberals were earmarked for a severe decline (though the actual result was far worse for them than anyone would have predicted) and the Scottish Nationalists on course to virtually take over in Scotland, which they did with a vengeance leaving the other three major parties with just one seat each. UKIP, despite polling a high number of votes ended up with just the one seat, that of Tory defector, Douglas Carswell.

So far today three party leaders have fallen on their swords. Ed Milliband, Nigel Farage and Nick Clegg. The latter having only kept his seat through tactical voting by Tory voters.

An obvious winner of the night was Nicola  Sturgeon who not only captured the imagination of the majority of the Scottish electorate but gained credibility amongst many voters south of the border. Her "anti-austerity" message was certainly well received, but whether we like it or not the real winner of the night was in fact David Cameron.

He did the unthinkable and won a majority in Parliament with 36% of the vote.

This was not the result I had expected or wanted but it is the one that will determine how this country is run for the next five years.

There were a couple of bits of good news on what was a terrible night.

First the odious George Galloway was overwhelmingly defeated in Bradford and his speech attacking his "venal, vile" and "racist and Zionists" opponents exposed him for the man he really is. His claim to be part of the Labour Movement" is false. His bastard creation "Respect" is a mixture of religious communalism and a career vehicle for the man himself.

Equally welcome was the defeat of the "vile" Liberal Democrat MP, David Ward in the neighbouring Bradford east constituency whose tweets and comments about Israel and Zionism took him over the line of respectability.

Labour will need to have a serious period of reflection as indeed will the unions. Without Scotland the prospect of a Labour government is now more remote than it ever has been and a solution for the future must be found.

Both Labour and the unions should ignore the shrill calls of the comrades of the far-left.

The time for the socialism of old is long gone.

We need a new direction.

That debate needs to begin now.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

The election countdown begins

Polls close in less than 48 hours!

The next few hours will determine the fate of the country for the next five years so it's make your mind up time. This will be one of the closest elections ever.

The first results will start arriving just after 11pm tonight and there will be some results worth staying up to see. There has been much speculation about the fate of Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg in Sheffield Hallam. Many observers thought he was on course to lose his seat as disgruntled voters and students in particular turned towards Labour in a bid to unseat him. However there is now an apparent move by Tory voters to tactically vote for Clegg as he would be key to maintaining the current coalition in power.

And worried they should be. Large numbers of Liberal Democrats with their backs clearly against the wall are openly rebelling against the prospect of a further coalition with David Cameron.

The "broke back coalition" as one dissident Tory MP described it is close to being broken.

A large number of Liberal Democrat MP's are expected to lose their seats tonight and amongst other things needs at least 30 seats for any future participation in Government to be viable.

Meanwhile he's not the only major politician in trouble. Jeremy Hunt, the man widely seen as responsible for making a mess of the NHS could lose his "safe" seat in Surrey to a GP. The Daily Mirror reported:

Dr Louise Irvine, of the National Health Action Party, is now 12/1 to take the Health Secretary's set in his South West Surrey constituency

A doctor is the bookies’ favourite to unseat Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt with a Lib Dem chief urging party supporters to back her.

The odds of Dr Louise Irvine, who is standing against Mr Hunt in his South West Surrey constituency, winning have now been offered at just 12/1.

Dr Irvine, a GP in Lewisham, South East London, led the successful Save Lewisham Hospital campaign which won a landmark legal battle to stop Mr Hunt shutting services.

A council member of the British Medical Association, which represents 150,000 doctors, she is running against Mr Hunt for the National Health Action party.

She says she is standing in opposition to his “cuts and privatisation of the NHS”.

Mr Hunt is still the overwhelming favourite to retain his seat, with odds of 1/50 offered by bookies Paddy Power.

But the revelation that one of the country’s most senior medics is the favourite to beat Mr Hunt at the ballot box will be embarrassing for the Tories - and Mr Hunt.

With the Liberal Democrat candidate suspended from standing in this constituency (over allegations surrounding the falsification of his nomination papers), Dr Irvine has been given a substantial boost.

Meanwhile George Galloway is under pressure in his Bradford fiefdom where the campaign has got just plain nasty with the gorgeous ones supporters even travelling to Pakistan to obtain "dirt" on the Labour candidate, a survivor of an abusive forced marriage.

Already Galloway is looking elsewhere to continue his political career.

On the fringes of politics we are told by the tiny remnants of the Workers Revolutionary Party that they are on target to obtain a big vote in of all places Ealing Central and Acton. The News Line, which they somehow manage to publish daily reports:

A LARGE Vote WRP, Vote Scott Dore campaign was out in Ealing Central and Acton yesterday. Many local people joined the WRP and promised to vote for Scott.

Eighteen-year-old Imhotep Bell-Sandy, who was on the team, said: ‘Scott’s doing a very good campaign, defending the NHS.....

Scott said: ‘The campaign is growing and we’re getting tremendous support, but we still have to continue to step it up. After the election we are determined to defend all jobs and services and lead the working class to take the power.’

Forward to the Ealing & Acton Soviet? I think not, but I'll look out for their result and report back to readers.

The big "winners" of the night are likely to be the Scottish Nationalists, though some of the more rural seats won't declare until late tomorrow tonight should see them making substantial gains.

All of this aside there remains only one viable alternative to the current incumbents, the Labour Party.

However democracy relies on you the voter, so with so much at stake please do vote and cast your vote wisely.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

A parliamentary enquiry into George Galloway's underpants?

Photo: Gardenparty

As regular readers will know I am no fan of George Galloway who I find somewhat "unsavoury" for want of a better expression and one that won't see him reaching for his lawyers as he is one of those people who loves to dish it out but doesn't like it when people bite back.

But today's news just had me in fits of laughter.

The "litigious" one is in trouble (again) and of all things it involves his underpants.

According to a report in The Times (no link£):

A former aide to George Galloway has claimed she spent just a quarter of her time on his parliamentary duties.

Aisha Ali-Khan said she was kept busy running errands, buying his underpants, helping with his wedding arrangements and working for his political and charitable interests.

She has lodged an official complaint alleging that he paid her public money to pursue his private agenda during her working day. She said she spent most of her time working for the Respect party, for the Viva Palestina charity and doing chores for him.

Her solicitors have now lodged a complaint to the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority .

Since public funds should not be spent on staff carrying out party tasks a decision now has to be made on whether to hold a formal enquiry.

How large Galloway's underpants will feature in this depends on the amusement value it carries in the media.

Personally I think the faithful have a right to know.

Not sure why, but there you have it.

Are underpants a matter for Respect?

Where's Ian Hislop when you need him.......

Monday, 4 May 2015

Islamists attack cartoonists, threaten teachers while students capitulate

In America there has been another attack by Islamists on the right of free speech and expression as the BBC reported earlier today:

Two gunmen were shot dead after opening fire outside Sunday's event.

They drove to the Muhammad Art Exhibit in the Dallas suburb of Garland as the event was ending, firing with assault rifles on two officers in a parking lot.

One of the officers, a traffic policeman, returned fire and killed both the gunmen, Garland police official Joe Harn said. The security officer who with him was shot in the lower leg. He was treated in hospital and then released.

"Obviously they were there to shoot people," Mr Harn said.

All this over a cartoon competition organised by blogger Pamela Geller.

Fortunately only the perpetrators were killed on this occasion.  serves as a warning that not only should we not drop our guard over the threat from these religious fascists but that we must stand up for the right of free speech not just in our own country but world wide.

Meanwhile in the UK The Times reported that;

Teachers are receiving death threats and dead animals are being thrown into playgrounds after the Trojan Horse scandal.

Muslim radicals behind the original plot are urging communities to attack schools that tackle homophobia and education conference was told......

Teachers had been warned on Facebook that they would be shot if they taught children being gay was normal.

Disgusting, but at least one union, the National Association of Headteachers has taken up the fight. Hopefully the NUT and others will take up the cudgel, but since the NUT is dominated by those banal anti-imperialist lefty types you can bet there will be an attempt to label this as "Islamophobic".

Bugger gay rights eh!

Just as disturbing was a report of the National Union of Students deciding to work with Cage. That's the outfit which described the mass murderer "Jihadi John" as a "nice man".

The decision of NUS seems to fly in the face of this growing "safe spaces" movement in our universities which increasingly is only targeted as those who actually want to discuss issues and expect the right of free speech.

Hate Preachers?

The student radicals seem to have no problem with misogynistic, homophobic anti-Semites ranting on their premises.

Meanwhile atheists and secularists are censored and witch hunted by the reactionary student leaderships that have sprung up on campus in recent years.

All this serves as a warning that not only should we not drop our guard over the threat from these religious fascists but that we must stand up for the right of free speech not just in our own country but world wide.

Time to fight back against the new religious Nazi's and their appeasers.

Sunday, 3 May 2015

An electoral close shave

Despite the fact that this is certain to be a very close run election it has to be said that the campaigning by the various contenders has been shall we say a little..boring? Frankly the decision to have set Parliaments with elections planned well in advance means that this Cayman started well before it needed to and has left the electorate somewhat unmoved.

Even the clear radical change on the ground in Scotland is not a result of the election campaign but the outcome of the referendum, which despite the apparent ascendancy of the SNP was actually lost by the nationalists and as yet they may hold the balance of power.

The rise of the SNP has clearly been at the expense of Labour and their leader Nicola Sturgeon has been the most inspiring of the leaders, even to those south of the border it would seem. At the other end of the spectrum the Greens who began the election on a high have lost support largely due to the incompetency of their "leader" Natalie Bennett who didn't seem to know what her party stood for and made some ludicrous comments about membership of terrorist organisations should not be illegal.

On top of this the Greens have talked about disbanding our armed forces despite the world becoming an ever more dangerous place. A subject which brings us back to the Scottish Nationalists who are demanding the scrapping of Britain's nuclear deterrent in return for their support.

Support this nation could do without.

In England the rise of UKIP has been at the expense of the Liberal Democrats who have ceased being the "party of protest" that disgruntled voters could turn to after Nick Cleggs sellouts over tut ion fees and electoral reform. Old Cleggy himself is also seemingly set to lose his seat in Sheffield Hallam.

Certainly there will be a lot of people watching the results on Thursday night/Friday morning who will hope he does.

As for controversy there's not been that much except the gregarious Galloway has been running a frantic campaign to hang on to his latest fiefdom in Bradford. And what an unsavoury  sight that has been as he appeals to the basest roots of conservative Islam in an attempt to undermine Miss Shah his Labour rival.

Frankly disgusting, but then the gorgeous one has his eyes set on London or perhaps Tower Hamlets as the downfall of his ally Lutfur Rahman has provided a possible opening for his brand of communalist politics.

The far left are running their "largest ever" intervention claiming that the self appointed Trade Unionist & Socialist Coalition is the sixth largest party in the elections. The TUSC even got a party political broadcast which the comrades have patted themselves on the back for but has long been forgotten except by the inveterate "Trot spotters". They don't and won't even figure in the polls.

Then there's the main parties.Labour and the Conservatives have been running "neck to neck" in the polls and even though the Sunday Times seems to think Cameron will have the biggest party come Friday morning, that isn't for certain and a 1% lead is subject to error.

It's in the marginals where the election will be decided. How many seats will Labour take from the Tories and their allies the Lib Dems? Some polling has indicated a Labour lead in some of these key constituencies but the outcome for all is far from certain.

In the days to come short of an electoral earthquake (don't hold your breath) the election may end up being decided by a few thousand waverers and even some people actually voting that don't normally.

Trouble is there has been no inspiration.

My own vote is already allocated but will make no direct difference where I live as it's a very safe Tory seat, but vote I shall.

Those who don't vote cannot complain about the outcome.

And there will be one.

I just hope it's not five years of the same.

Saturday, 2 May 2015

A question of the monarchy and constitutional change

File:Queen Elizabeth II March 2015.jpg

The main and seemingly only news item on the television box for most of today (so far) has been the birth of a Royal baby. The amount of interest shown by the media does reflect a large public interest in the monarchy and explains why such a seemingly archaic form of rule continues in a modern democracy like the the UK.

As usual such events have been discussed on social media both pro and against with all the usual platitudes or aggressive criticism about "royal scroungers"

I am not an ardent royalist but nor am I enthused about the alternative of an elected President. In my youth I recall reading the late Willie Hamilton's book My Queen and I published way back in 1975. As a budding radical such republicanism appealed to me at such a tender age (I had in fact just left school).

Later I recall wearing a Stuff the Jubilee badge that was issued by the International Socialists/SWP that upset quite a number of locals as I remember! However these were different times and like a lot of fellow radicals and revolutionaries thought change was only just around the corner.

How wrong we were.

Marching through the streets in 1979 we called for a downfall of Callaghan's Labour government and for the introduction of full bloodied socialism.

What we got was Margaret Thatcher, the defeat of the miners and the decline of the left as by the end of the eighties communism had fallen everywhere except Cuba, China and North Korea.

The Monarchy was as strong as ever.

Fast forwarding to today as I like many others from that era are now heading towards retirement, such radicalism has inevitably become muted. The "left" is no longer recognisable in a form I recognise. The modern lefts dalliance with Islam(ism) has blinded it to human rights and led to new forms of racism and authoritarianism.

Free speech has been undermined by " safe spaces" policies and secularism once a central platform of the left pushed aside in an unsavoury alliance with radical Islam.

Then there's the question of the monarchy which prompted me to write this post reflecting on past times and thoughts.

If we replace the monarchy with a President there is one real problem.

Do we have any politicians up for the role?

Mr Miliband comes over as a decent sort and will be getting my vote. But President. Sorry but no.

Of the other notable politicians Boris may be entertaining but is far from Presidential material (and wouldn't get my support because he's a Tory. On the fringes the possible candidates become progressively worse (no pun intended).

Natalie Bennett? Useless. George Galloway? I'd emigrate!!

Even thinking to past politicians within my lifetime only one slightly possible candidate comes to mind. The late Jo Grimond, one time leader of the Liberal Party.

 Jo Grimond.jpg

But of today's politicians not a single one of them seems up for the job. Like most people I have a healthy disdain for politicians. I have to vote, but like many the choice does come down to who I don't want rather than anything else.

For now there seems to be no real desire to change the country from a constitutional monarchy to a republic.

First we'd need better political leaders.