Thursday, December 31, 2009
Alasdair was being interviewed on Radio 4 PM programme about his experiences during a recent tour in Afghanistan as an Army warrant officer. Alasdair gave a thoughtful and confident interview.
It started about 17 minutes into the programme and lasted for 8 (you can hear it in full here for next 5 days). He had served in the Army for 24 years when he retired, became a teacher and was elected as a Labour Councillor for Ipswich. He then voluntarily rejoined 2 Rifles as a reservist for his final tour which was spent in Helmand province in Afghanistan. 2 Rifles lost 13 soldiers during the tour including 5 killed in one day. The Battle group he was attached to lost 24 out of 1100 soldiers.
Alastair phrased the bravery of the local Afghans who despite the threats from the Taliban turned out to vote during the recent election there. He pointed out as a Labour Politician he knows that if it rains in the UK the vote will go down while in Helmand voters had to face rocket attacks! He also finished by stating that it is important that people like him who have been there now take part in the PR battle ahead about the war. What the Army wants is not sympathy - it wants backing.
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
It can make politics in the UK appear to be quite petty.
While the failure of those who pretend to oppose all tyranny and dictatorships to meaningfully protest at the killing is pretty telling. Obviously some of them don't want to put in danger any payments for official Iranian media appearances.
The consensus seems to be that the regime's days are numbered but no one can give an exact date.
I think most ordinary Iranians will be saying sooner than later please.
NB Stroppyblog is one of the Left exceptions and has linked to Youtube on this. Note the comment made by some moron on her post that the protestors are "Imperialism's useful idiots".
Monday, December 28, 2009
Call me cynical (mo?) but my first 18 years as an adult was under the Tories.
Been there, done that, had the UB40, got the tee shirt so... No Nice Guy Dave to me!
Hat-tip John Frost at Labourhome.
Sunday, December 27, 2009
...in my dreams!
In reality with lots of help from Tesco's.
I have a cousin whose husband will go off and hunt deer, shoot them, butcher them and then make sausages out of them!
One of my many New Year resolutions this time will be to track, capture, slaughter and make my own haggis for Burns night.
Watch this space!
Saturday, December 26, 2009
Topically I found Jack of Kent “fisking” of the Christmas Story to be pretty convincing. In “An Atheist looks at Christmas” he sets out to demolish there being any historical basis whatsoever to the biblical Christmas Story. Despite having a similar approach to organised religion as Jack I found myself surprisingly disappointed at what he had found.
Harry’s Place had two very good posts IMO (I would say that wouldn’t I) here and here.
While former Labour and Tory Newham Councillor “Big Bad Mikey” who I have just barred from posting comments on this blog is bemoaning his lot and trying to tell the world how ‘orrible I have been to him! Check out "I Love Newham Labour".
Tom Harris MP co-incidentally “says it as it is” about Mr Very Angry bloggers and newspaper letter writers.
Stronger Unions have been posting a Union advent each day this month on all the advantages of trade unionism.
Check out the picture of a Ghost of Christmas Past at trade union history site Country Standard.
Will Straw in Left Foot Forward argues persuasively that Labour needs a new electoral policy. While I agree we need a new policy I am not sure that writing off the aspirational working class is necessarily it?
Finally the Higher Rate Tax Payers Avoidance Alliance are asked to repay the estimated £150k plus of tax they have fiddled.
Friday, December 25, 2009
Hat-tip from Aussie Cousins - the Morgan Family - from the from the other side of the World.
(this post was scheduled in advance for 00.01 on Crimbo morning)
Thursday, December 24, 2009
The SWP Central Committee's dumbvirate Lord Alex Callinicos and commoner Martin Smith launch their withering attack on the Left Platform in the SWP's Pre-Conference Video-Bulletin.
Hat-tip thingy to Icepicker100!
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Good news about importance of pensions!
CIPD press release
Top 5 CIPD Poll Results, 2009
Every week the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) conduct a poll on its website asking members a topical question, attracting an average of 1,000 responses. Today the CIPD publishes the top 5 poll results of 2009:
21st September 2009
The ECJ has ruled workers taken ill on holiday can claim back sick leave. Will you:
Welcome ruling - 14%
Trust staff not to take advantage - 30%
Consider tightening sick pay policies - 56%
5th October 2009
Does your organisation hire applicants who have disclosed a mental health condition?
Yes - 79%
No - 21%
19th October 2009
Is there still a business case for offering a pension to your employees?
Yes - 88%
No - 6%
Sometimes - 6%
16th November 2009
What do you think of the Government's proposal to phase out tax relief on childcare vouchers from 2011?
Agree - 15%
Disagree - 85%
14th December 2009
How much 'absenteeism' happened/do you expect the day after workplace Christmas parties?
None, they are held on Fridays - 49%
A little - 31%
A lot - 5%
We don't have parties - 15%
Notes to Editors
• The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) is Europe's largest HR and development professional body with over 135,000 members, supporting and developing those responsible for the management and development of people within organisations
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
A survey has found that “An average 78 per cent of UK Muslims identified themselves as British, compared with 49 per cent of Muslims who consider themselves French and just 23 per cent who feel German”.
The article credits the Anglo-Saxon sense of “fair play” and that Muslims in the UK appreciate the role of British institutions such as the Commission for Equality and Human Rights. The article also rightly pointed out that things for British Muslims are “not perfect”.
But I am enormously encouraged by such reports which coincides strongly with my own experiences of British Muslims.
This earlier report here found that British Muslims are far more British than average! “Perhaps the survey's most surprising finding was that more than three-quarters of British Muslims (77 per cent) said they identified "very strongly" with the UK, compared to just half (50 per cent) of the general public”.
Picture is of solicitor and Newham Labour Party member Tareq Chowdbury (third right) at his British Citizenship ceremony in July this year.
Monday, December 21, 2009
From now onwards the days will start a little bit earlier and become dark a little later.
At the time I was stuck in traffic near Bow flyover trying to get home while London had as usual came to near grid-lock due to a little bit of snow. The 15 minute commute home took over 2 hours.
I like all the seasons and would not want to miss winter but the prospect of spring and the feeling that we have turned a corner is pleasing. Especially so in the midst of winter snow, frost and darkness. Roll on spring!
Personally I would have thought that the book could have been called "Chiropractic Treatment for Dummies" since it is now clear that this is the BCA target audience?
I have had friends with back problems who swear by their Chiropractic. But the wild claims by some "practitioners" that they can cure practically anythings discredits all of them. The behaviour of the British Chiropractic Association is particularly disgraceful.
Check out this post that Britain is being turned into a global laughing stock because of our draconian libel laws.
I will declare an interest.
Sunday, December 20, 2009
I met Graham for the first time here. I was well impressed with his enthusiasm, energy and commitment.
(Which reminds me that I must post more on that excellent course).
Check out his post here on the scourge of Youth Unemployment.
I had been meaning to link to the posts on Harry’s Place about the recent purge in the SWP of a student activist and the apparent pending expulsions of Mr & Mrs Diss-Respect John Rees and Lindsey German (3rd link).
When Comrade Mercader kindly sent me this YouTube vid above posted by Icepicker100. Who explains "Lindsay German and John Rees of the SWP's Left Platform issue their message to the SWP's Dr.Evil, Martin Smith".
I note also that the Weekly Worker has comradely set up a “Defend Rees-German” campaign.
Check out more on Left Platform
UPDATE: SWP Baron "Loads of Money" the Honourable Alex Callinicos and his vassel Dr Evil Smith fights back against the dastardly Rees-German gang - check out his response.
Saturday, December 19, 2009
"Alex Hilton, star of the Labour blogosphere and Labour candidate for Kensington & Chelsea, won a minor victory in the High Court this week, in a case which illustrates how easy it is to get sued for libel in the UK. He owns the website Labourhome, on which another Labour blogger, John Gray, wrote about a political activist named Johanna Kaschke, who left the Labour Party in 2007, to join George Galloway's Respect Party, then joined a communist party of some description, and since autumn 2007 has been an active Conservative.
In 1975, Kaschke was falsely suspected by the German police of links to the Baader Meinhof terrorist gang. She was arrested, but eventually released and awarded compensation.
She objected to having this old story dug up on LabourHome. Hilton removed the post and offered right of reply, but she decided to go to court. She lodged five complaints, but this week, the court struck out four. One point m'learned friends may yet have to deliberate, seriously, is whether it is actionable to describe someone as "one cherry short of a Schwarzwalderkirschtorte".
Not quite the full story but...No comment!
Check out “Rule or Ruin” one, two and three. It is getting even more murky!
Sorry you have more scrowling than reading to do.
You receive e-mails from me because you are a friend, colleague, and comrade of *****, the Labour Party or wider the Labour movement.
Hopefully what I normally forward is interesting and informative in its own right.
In the case of the NESSN it is informative, but lately is equivalent to a left wing kinder garden, scrap.
I would understand if you wished not to receive NESSN material further, just let me know and I will remove you.
I see no sign of these e-mails ending...
“NESSN has managed to do is a huge victory for working class left unity”, when I read this I thought I’d missed something, then realised he was being satirical.
We are diverse and disciplined by our many various conference decisions, but we owe it to those we claim to represent to avoid Infantile Disorder.
…Please remove me from this list. I will check the position in a few months time.
…I think what the NESSN has managed to do is a huge victory for working class
left unity. Out of the wreckage of the workers movement of the 20/21st
century Dave Harker has managed to unify the separate traditions of the SPEW
and SWP against him and meanwhile everybody else is doing a runner. It's a
huge achievement. Which one is the NESSN and which one is the real NESSN
though? It's almost like watching the unfolding of the October Revolution at
…Please remove me from this list.
Friday, December 18, 2009
I think it is a pretty safe bet that the Tories will hammer the hard pressed working families who depend upon tax credits to keep the wolf away from the door. In favour of inheritance tax breaks for the millionaire mates of Dave and George (D&G).
I note that my fellow trade union activist and Chair of East Ham Tories - GMB Clause 4 "Brother Neil" also had a letter printed this week in the Recorder.
Like Brother Neil I am a "Housing professional" I suppose? but what on earth was he going on about? The Recorder titled his letter as "Time to co-ordinate more (sic) Intiatives". Which I think sums up the letter pretty well.
Which no doubt will cause Big Bad Mikey Law to rush in and claim this is all part of some weird and wonderful conspiracy by the poor old Recorder against his true blue but apparently currently estranged bro!
Thursday, December 17, 2009
The right to withhold your Labour in an industrial dispute is a basic human Right. There has to be reasonable checks and balances but the law is making it practically impossible to exercise this Right. We rightly criticise dictatorships that ban workers from striking. I’m not comparing Britain in any way to such countries but frankly using this law in this way just demeans us all.
Just slagging off the Labour Government for not reforming the trade unions laws enough isn’t going to change things. Trade unions need to think and work out why we haven’t so far won this argument?
There is a food shop, male hairdresser and in the back was/is a Latin American restaurant. I think it is being used as some sort of club. I’m not sure what happened but will speak to local councillors.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
The figures I think speak for themselves.
Thank God for the NHS (or rather Nye Bevan)
BTW - Who really doesn't think that the Tories will dismantle the NHS and bring in medical insurance if they could? It is their key bit of unfinished business.
Check out Washington Post
Hat-tip thingy Col. Roi.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
“The priority for Friday will be the “Scrooge” protest outside Fujitsu’s HQ ...which is 22 Baker Street, London, W1U 3BW at 12:00 on Friday 18th December. Fujitsu will be visited by the ghosts of pensions past, jobs present and pay that is yet to come. The protest should attract considerable media interest, helping our campaign. The intention is then to pop round the corner onto Oxford Street to leaflet outside one or two of Fujitsu’s High Street customers”.
We were all singing "The Internationale" at the time even though it appears as if I was just posing. As if...
We were celebrating what was on the whole - a good day for freedom of expression and justice for bloggers.
Thanks to Alex's top brief MH and best wishes to Master R on his retirement. There are still troubles ahead (Dave is still facing the full monty) but today was good news and a victory for common sense.
So lets face the music and dance
Monday, December 14, 2009
It was one of those bright but cold canvassing days that you wished that you had remembered to bring your fingerless gloves with you. Especially if you were filling out the voter ID sheets on a clipboard! It was chilly enough for one pensioner we called at to say she didn't fancy going out and would I post a letter for her!
Most of the people we called at knew at least one of the local councillors personally and were pleased with their representation. People were quite happy to talk to us and raise issues which we will feed back to their Councillors. There were reassuring signs that our traditional core vote were waking up to the threat of a Tory government and indicating not only that they identify with Labour (to whatever degree) but they will go out and vote against the prospect of a Tory government.
I think that this is because working people are beginning to remember and accept that now is the time to stop just moaning about Labour and remember what the Tories actually do to working class families and communities in a recession when they are in government.
In the afternoon other teams went out to different parts of Newham.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Top comedians and wits, including Alexei Sayle, Ricky Gervais and Stephen Fry, say Britain is being turned into a “global laughing stock” because of its draconian libel laws. They are the latest critics to call for reform of the legislation which is stifling free speech.
Sayle says he endured a “horrible experience” after he was sued for libel. He eventually won the case, but said he risked financial ruin because of the high costs of defending himself in the London courts.
The comedian said yesterday the case racked up thousands of pounds in costs, which he never recovered even after successfully defending the action. “It would have been cheaper if I’d just stabbed the f*****,” he said. “The most I would have got was an Asbo barring me from certain parts of Croydon.”
Sayle said the libel writ was issued after he wrote a graphic novel called Geoffrey the Tube Train. Someone who worked with Sayle in the comedy business claimed one of the characters resembled him and his reputation had been sullied.
Scientists urge reform of ‘lethal’ libel law
Doctor to argue freedom of speech defence
“I was determined to fight the case,” said Sayle. “But everything you own hangs on a philosophical discussion about the meaning of words. I risked losing everything.
“The penalties of a libel case — both in terms of awards and legal costs — are completely distorted and out of proportion to any offence.”
Sayle and other comedians are supporting a campaign for an overhaul of the libel laws. They say the threat of a ruinous writ means comedians, as well as scientists and other individuals and bodies, are having to sanitise their output.
Robin Ince, a stand-up comedian and television panellist, said lawyers hired by TV channels were routinely censoring comic material because of libel fears. He said: “England is the envy of the world for anyone who wants to crush dissent.
“It means you now have this hideous mire of lawyers and there is a constant fear [of a possible action]. They err on the side of over-caution.”
The Sunday Times has highlighted how British libel laws are being used to threaten scientists publishing critical research and to prevent scrutiny of rich and powerful figures based overseas.
Last week Dara O’Briain, the presenter of BBC2’s satirical show Mock the Week, launched a Libel Reform Campaign petition. He said the libel laws were a “dangerous joke” being used to silence or censor writers. O’Briain said he was most concerned by the threat to scientific research and comment but had also feared for his own performances.
“I think in a couple of cases the people in question thought, ‘We will just look stupid if we take action’,” he said. “But this is essentially a poker game because even if you are right you will lose a six-figure sum. It’s ludicrous.”
Dave Gorman, the comedian and author, said: “The costs of a libel action silence people because you cannot afford to fight. We should have a legal system that gives redress to people whose reputations have been damaged, but this isn’t it.”
Other comedians supporting the campaign include Ricky Gervais and Stephen Fry, the presenter and wit, who said Britons should “cringe with embarrassment” at existing legislation that made the UK a “global laughing stock”. “Our laws can be manipulated to protect the corrupt and to hide the truth,” he said.
A public backlash against the libel laws began after the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) sued the science writer Simon Singh for describing chiropractic remedies for some childhood ailments, including asthma, as “bogus” since there was insufficient clinical evidence. He has appealed against a preliminary judgment against him but has already racked up legal costs of £100,000.
Mr Justice Eady, who presides over many libel cases, is a popular judge with many claimants. In a preliminary hearing in Singh’s case, he ruled the word “bogus” in an article meant the science writer was accusing the BCA of dishonesty, which Singh disputes and certainly never intended.
Eady has also allowed foreign claimants to pursue cases against overseas publications, bolstering London’s reputation as a centre for libel tourism. Lawmakers in several American states have passed laws to protect their citizens from UK courts.
Eady defended the libel courts at a legal conference earlier this month, saying there were very few cases involving foreign claimants. Campaigners point out that the mere threat of a London libel action by a rich individual or powerful corporation is often enough to quash criticism, so most cases are unlikely even to reach Eady’s court.
It has also emerged that respected American newspapers are considering pulling their London editions because of the risk of a costly libel action. An Oxford University report published last year found libel court costs were 140 times higher in Britain than in the rest of Europe.
The Libel Reform Campaign — backed by English PEN, the Index on Censorship, Sense about Science and Reporters without Borders — wants capped damages, strict controls on costs and a stronger defence of public interest.
The petition, launched last week, states: “Journalists, authors, academics, performers and blog-writers cannot risk extortionate costs, which means they are forced to back down.”
Jonathan Heawood, director of English PEN, which promotes literature and human rights, said: “There is growing public anger. It’s wrong that writers are being intimidated into silence.”
Laugh — if you dare
• What do you get when you cross a libel lawyer with a demon from hell?
Another libel lawyer.
• A man walked into a bar with an alligator and said: “Do you serve libel lawyers here?”
“Yes, indeed,” said the barman.
“Good,” said the man. “I’ll have a beer for myself and a libel lawyer for the alligator.”
• Two libel lawyers go hunting and one suddenly falls ill and drops to the ground.
The other pulls out his mobile and dials 999. He tells the operator: “My friend is dead. What shall I do?”
“First, let’s make sure he’s dead.”
There is a short pause and a shot is heard. The libel lawyer’s voice comes back on the line: “OK, what now?”
• My libel lawyer says he didn’t want to marry his wife for her money. But there was no other way to get it.
This huge mailing (34,000) to every household in West Ham CLP had suffered from some technical “gremlins” and since due to Parliamentary rules the reports had to be sent out before Christmas a SOS message was sent out to all activists in West Ham to see if they could help out.
It was actually "quite a laugh" and there was some pretty interesting political debates while we waded through the boxes and boxes of paper. Lyn had to step in on occasions since when we were arguing and ranting too much the work rate dropped!
The response was pretty magnificent and Party members had been helping out Lyn’s office all week while this weekend various shifts of helpers took turns to get the report out in time.
And we went out canvassing in Canning Town today! Great effort by everyone!
Chair of the CND Dr. Kate Hudson will be debating against a professional from the Nuclear Industry Association on the pros and cons for nuclear power.
Joining Kate Hudson will be Chris Baugh, assistant general secretary for the PCS union and active in the Campaign Against Climate Change Trade Union Group.
Alongside the Nuclear Industry Association expert will be the GMB union convenor from Selafield - the worlds first commercial nuclear power station.
How do trade unionists and green campaigners work together to agree on policy for nuclear power? Where is there common ground? When issues become contentious how do we move forward?
The Vestas dispute solidified the issue of climate change as a trade union issue, but how do we now move forward when faced with issues surrounding clean coal or nuclear power.
This debate hopes to raise these issues and work out strategy for moving forward.
Check out Battersea and Wandsworth TUC site.
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Now Mike is of course famous for being prone to start a fight in an empty room. I must admit that we have been squabbling on this blog about things for quite a while. However, he has been waging his war against anyone who happens to differ with him for a number of years and of courses dismisses those who dare to disagree as dishonest, corrupt, arseholes, fuckwits etc. This is a shame he resorts to such daftness but dare you go this is our Mike. Mind you I do feel sorry for the poor old Newham Recorder which is a particular cause celebre for Mike. They are apparently part of some conspiracy against him since, believe it or not - they dared not to publish all of his letters in full!!!
I understand from Mike that he is no longer a supporter of the Tories and doesn’t believe anymore in Party politics. So I suppose that maybe Mike himself is the true Groucho Marx?after all the maestro did famously declare that “I won't belong to any organization that would have me as a member”!
The “Eleanor” is a well run traditional East End pub and since I have worked close by for most of the last 14 years it has not been unknown for me to stop there and have a quick sherbet or three. There have also been a number of Tower Hamlet council staff leaving “Do’s” held there in the past.
I first got to know many of the local activists when I was part of Tower Hamlets TULO and I worked with them in the 2005 General Election and 2006 Council Elections. They were “interesting times” to say the least.
Being a Labour Party function there was of course plenty of gossiping - dominated by the National and local elections next year. For some reason many of those present were engrossed in the ongoing Labour Party selection processes for candidates in the local Council elections next year (Labour holds all 6 seats in Bow and holds the Council overall)?
It was a very good mix of people and it was a shame that I had to leave early and missed seeing some of those who came later.
Despite being in a hard place politically such well attended functions full of enthusiastic activists, young and old, show the Labour Party is still live and kicking.
Many thanks for the black and white photos taken by ace photographer and blogger Dan McCurry (top left)! Double click on photo to bring up detail.
Friday, December 11, 2009
please find attached the NESSN Finance Report from March 2009 until present. The NESSN Committee meeting held at Darlington on 2 Dec decided networkers should be made aware of the mismanagement of NESSN finances over last nine months.
The attached report makes very (repeat very) serious allegations of impropriety against a certain named individual which would be wrong for me to publish. This is not the usual ding dong of union politics.
Hat-tip thingy Tynesider
Mind you it’s a shame that the Ultra Left feels free to attack and make personally vile allegations against anyone about anything.
Hypocrites methinks. Especially the very dishonourable member for Sussex East. Who is a blatant evergreen student union entryist who revels in unfounded attacks and porkies about his own Union and Party that he is supposed to support. In doing so of course he acts in the true interests of his class and its natural home - 30 Millbank SW1P. IMO.
"the difference between those of us who want to campaign and win with our members, and those that want to posture and grandstand"
(My views of his predicament - not necessarily his)
Thursday, December 10, 2009
This is just plain wrong on a number of levels. Not least did Fidelity disclose being a (or the?) major corporate funding of the Conservative Party when they won the investment mandate for Tory controlled North York’s LGPS fund last year? Fidelity are employed as fund managers by a number of Council pension funds. The profits from Unison members pensions are being used to pour money into the Party pockets of Cameron and Osborne?
Tom also exposes the public PLC Investment Trust Cameron (sorry Caledonia) that is a long standing Tory funder which is now part owned by the state (via our nationalised banks) who last year funded individual Tory CLP’s with our money. Local Tory parties in Ealing Central and Acton got £3,000 while Milton Keynes, Sutton and Cheam got £5,000.
Great picture from Truth, Reason and Liberty
This money is a donation to the London CWU official “hardship fund” from London UNISON. Even though industrial action has been suspended (for now!) London CWU members have taken over 20 days strike action and many claims for hardship from CWU members are being made.
12,500 workers lost £25 million in wages. Banks and finance companies are now threatening legal action against CWU members who have run into financial difficulty due to the strikes. To send money to the fund check detail here CWU London Divisional Committee – Hardship Fund and send to John Denton, Regional Secretary at CWU London Region, 2nd Floor, 33-41 Dallington Street, London EC1V OBB.
Look at past posts on CWU/Newham Compass meeting here and the picket line here.
Wednesday, December 09, 2009
The William Morris Hall
Somers Road E17
Tuppence a brick (old money)
On 13 December 1909 artist and socialist Walter Crane opened the William Morris Hall: bringing to joyous conclusion six years of fundraising, preparation and hard voluntary labour.
In 1903 the brothers Ben and Charles Buck started the idea of a home for the socialist, radical and trade union people of Walthamstow. Funded by workers buying a brick for 2d (old money), sponsored bike rides and social events, the collective organisations of the Social Democratic Federation, Walthamstow Socialist League, the William Morris Club, the Clarion Cyclists, the trades council, anarchists, suffragettes and many more, the hall was built by volunteer craftsmen on Sunday mornings on squatted land.
The William Morris Hall for the 30 years was the centre of political and cultural life in the town. Amongst the many speakers who came over the years were: dock worker’s leader, Ben Tillet, the Countess of Warwick, H M Hyndman, Will Thorne, new Labour MP for West Ham South (1906), Sylvia Pankhurst, George Bernard Shaw, Victor Grayson, lion tamer, adventurer, folk hero, firebrand independent socialist MP and Walthamstow’s own Val McEntee. From day one it housed the Socialist Sunday School, where over a hundred children each week come together in secular fellowship to learn the socialist 10 commandments.
In the early 1920s the William Morris Brass Band and the William Morris Orchestra were formed. One for street marching and open air meetings, the other for concerts and dancing. The Hall had its own choir. In 1923 Charles Buck started a theatre group; performing plays by Ibsen and Shaw.
The building is a now home to the Limes Community and Children’s Centre. The inside has changed but most of the bricks are the same. I want to celebrate it’s 100 years with words and music. The pioneers who campaigned for a fairer, different world did it with verse and song, as well as marches and struggle. Let’s celebrate the building, the Buck brothers and countless others, but most of all let’s celebrate our past into the future.
Please bring banners
Sunday 13 December
William Morris Hall, Somers Road Walthamstow E17
Assemble at 2 pm
Music and words, then walk to Ye Olde Rose and Crown for more celebration
Please contact me if you want to be involved: rogerdothuddleatntlworlddotcom
Sent to me via SERTUC. The Morris painting featured is "La belle Iseult", also inaccurately called "Queen Guenevere", it is his only surviving easel painting, now in the Tate Gallery.
Tuesday, December 08, 2009
Knowing a little bit about Welsh politics I suspect the actual truth of this matter is probably more than appears.
This is though even better than the Tower Hamlets Respect Councillor (and SWP member) who defected to the Tories.
Picture is of the investiture of the Prince of Wales by Queen Elizabeth II in Caernarfon Castle 1969. Which I vaguely remember since we had a day off school, a great traditional street party and a free Prince of Wales mug (now alas lost).
Dave Prentis introduced the campaign, talking about how UNISON members are “helping individuals, families and communities get through this recession. They’re laying the foundations for a better future – a fairer, stronger society.”
Ordinary UNISON members - A school cook, a teacher assistant, a child social worker, a psychiatric nurse and a ward housekeeper explained to the audience about the key public services they provide. Our London Convener Gloria Hanson also spoke.
Ed Balls, Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, thanked members for driving the campaign: “your words speak more powerfully than we ever could.”
Picture is of Susan an UNISON nursing rep.
Monday, December 07, 2009
It seems that NESSN is seeing off this threat. Even though it now appears that there are two NESSN Facebook groups and that there has been the usual ultra left problem with their financial accountability!
Elected NESSN regional secretary Dave Harker reports “Some hopeless sectarians are seeking to rule or ruin NESSN, but they will fail, and there is no cause for alarm. However, comrades should note the following: …Hannah Walter (SPEW - grayee comment and emphasise) has removed Tony Dowling as an Administrator of the NESSN's original Facebook site. (I was removed a week or so ago.) The real NESSN Facebook site is now (here). This underlines the urgent need for an umbrella organisation like the real NESSN. In solidarity with those in solidarity with the Corus workers and all workers in struggle. Dave Harker, Regional Secretary, North East Shop Stewards' Network.
Minutes: NORTH EAST SHOP STEWARDS’ NETWORK
Committee: Geoff Abbott, Sue Abbott, Dave Ayre, Paul Baker, Ross Carbutt, Derek Cattell, Alan Docherty, Tony Dowling, Dave Harker, Peter Murray, Hannah Walter, Shirley Winter
Regional Secretary: email@example.com or NESSN, c/o Newcastle TUC Building, 4 Cloth Market, Newcastle, NE1 1EE http://www.nessn.org.uk/
Minutes of the NESSN Committee meeting held in Darlington Town Hall on 2 December 2009
1. Present Alan Docherty, Dave Ayre, Dave Harker, Paul Baker, Ross Carbutt, Shirley Winter
2. Apologies Geoff Abbott, Sue Abbott, Peter Murray, Tony Dowling
Absent without an apology: Hannah Walter (grayee emphasise)
3. The Way Ahead
Dave Ayre was elected to the chair. He remarked that ‘there had been a crude attempt to undermine NESSN’ and that ‘the rest of the Committee deserve a handslap for leaving so much to the Secretaries’.
a) The Regional Secretary reported that several documents had been circulated to the Committee, but he had received no evidence to support any allegations made against him at the 19 November ordinary meeting.
It was AGREED that
(i) the NESSN Constitution includes the NSSN ‘Founding Basis’;
(i) only comrades with an elected lay union office can propose, second and vote on motions at any meeting, including the AGM;
(iii) only comrades with an elected lay union office can propose, second and stand for the Committee at the AGM;
(iv) the attempt to turn the 19 November meeting into an AGM and the ‘motion’ were unconstitutional;
(v) any meeting not called by the elected Regional Secretary is unconstitutional.
b) Alan Docherty tabled a document by Fran Heathcote (as a Socialist Party member) and Elaine Brunskill (as Socialist Party North Regional Secretary), and another from Alan Docherty and Tony Dowling in their personal capacities.
It was AGREED that since both documents were not sent to the Regional Secretary, as stipulated in the invitation to all Networkers, they were out of order.
c) Derek Cattell had thanked Alan Docherty for speaking to GMB stewards about NESSN.
It was AGREED that we invite Derek to join the Committee. (He subsequently accepted the invitation.)
d) Ross Carbutt had circulated a statement as Secretary of Tyne and Wear branch of the IWW. The IWW would seek to change NESSN policy at the AGM in spring 2010 and the event organised by Dave Douglass was a solo initiative.
It was AGREED that the event organised by Dave Douglass in spring 2010 could be advertised on the NESSN website.
e) The former (SPEW - grayee comment and emphasise) Treasurer, Hannah Walter, had been elected at the AGM in spring 2009 and resigned on 12 October 2009. She had not given the Acting Treasurer any documents until 19 November, and did not hand over the chequebook or paying in book. The Acting Treasurer had asked the Regional Secretary to stop the cheque book and spent hours trying to make sense of the incomplete data. The Committee was extremely concerned about his ‘Provisional Financial Record’.
It was AGREED to ask the Acting Treasurer to
(i) circulate a ‘Provisional Financial Report’ to all Networkers;
(ii) send Hannah Walter (SPEW grayee comment and emphasise) a list of queries about the missing documents, receipts, and so on; and (iii) report to the next Committee meeting.
f) Various proposals for future NESSN events were discussed.
g) The next meeting of the elected and co-opted members of the NESSN Committee will take place at 6.00-8.00pm on 13
January 2010, and the Tees Valley District Secretary was asked to book a room in Darlington Town Hall.
Hat-tip thingy Tynesider
Although there has been many thousands of job losses already announced in the last year or so and I am currently trying to argue against possible redundancies at my own employer, the prospect of a whole steel factory closing down immediately brings back very dark memories from my childhood.
In March 1980 I was 17 and I remember the devastation of my local community when the local steel works at Shotton was closed down with 6,500 jobs lost. The North-East Wales local economy was sent reeling. The misery was not helped by the closure of textile mills and the early 1980’s recession. At one point there was 33% local male unemployment. My parents were not employed at Shotton but most of my friends had one or more of their parents or older siblings working there. It was a desperate time for individual families and for the region. It took a long time to recover. These are the things that I remember the most from that really horrible time:-
While it would be somewhat unfair to say that that nothing was done by the Tories at the time to tackle mass unemployment but it was very little and totally inadequate. There was also no confidence or belief that the state could make a difference. Good people were simply left to rot on the dole. The Tories then (and now) fundamentally do not believe in interfering in the market. They thought (by and large) that mass unemployment was just a price worth paying and its real solution was pay cuts and job insecurity.
I joined the Labour Party in 1978 and I can remember clearly members arguing that it would not matter if the Labour government lost the next General Election – if fact it would do the Party "good" to have 4 or 5 years of opposition to revitalise itself. Even at the time I thought this attitude was rather weird?
It was self evidently not worth me leaving school to try find an apprenticeship (the only realistic expectation for male working class kids at the time) so I took the easier option to stay at school and take my A levels and then apply to university. The first member ever of my family to do so.
I hope and pray (agnostically of course) that the Steel unions and the local Teesside community can defeat this plan to mothball the plant. But if this does happen then let us hope that a Labour government is re-elected next year and not “do nothing” Tories who will ideologically condemn those unemployed steel workers to become a future lost generation. Not that this lets the current Labour government off the hook since many people will compare rightly or wrongly how it deals with this crisis with the massive intervention to save the banks.
Finally I looked at the "comments" on this local North East Wales BBC website about the Shotton closure and two things strike me. Firstly how many of the commentators have emigrated aboard since the plant closed and secondly the often heart breaking requests for further information from family members about how their fathers or husbands had been killed while at work.
(Picture of work at Shotton, mass meetings and going to lobby Parliament over closure. Many thanks to Col. Roi )
Sunday, December 06, 2009
“Somewhere or other Byron makes use of the French word longeur, and remarks in passing that though in England we happen not to have the word, we have the thing in considerable profusion. In the same way, there is a habit of mind which is now so widespread that it affects our thinking on nearly every subject, but which has not yet been given a name. As the nearest existing equivalent I have chosen the word ‘nationalism’, but it will be seen in a moment that I am not using it in quite the ordinary sense, if only because the emotion I am speaking about does not always attach itself to what is called a nation — that is, a single race or a geographical area. It can attach itself to a church or a class, or it may work in a merely negative sense, against something or other and without the need for any positive object of loyalty.
By ‘nationalism’ I mean first of all the habit of assuming that human beings can be classified like insects and that whole blocks of millions or tens of millions of people can be confidently labelled ‘good’ or ‘bad’(1). But secondly — and this is much more important — I mean the habit of identifying oneself with a single nation or other unit, placing it beyond good and evil and recognising no other duty than that of advancing its interests. Nationalism is not to be confused with patriotism. Both words are normally used in so vague a way that any definition is liable to be challenged, but one must draw a distinction between them, since two different and even opposing ideas are involved. By ‘patriotism’ I mean devotion to a particular place and a particular way of life, which one believes to be the best in the world but has no wish to force on other people. Patriotism is of its nature defensive, both militarily and culturally. Nationalism, on the other hand, is inseparable from the desire for power. The abiding purpose of every nationalist is to secure more power and more prestige, not for himself but for the nation or other unit in which he has chosen to sink his own individuality.
So long as it is applied merely to the more notorious and identifiable nationalist movements in Germany, Japan, and other countries, all this is obvious enough. Confronted with a phenomenon like Nazism, which we can observe from the outside, nearly all of us would say much the same things about it. But here I must repeat what I said above, that I am only using the word ‘nationalism’ for lack of a better. Nationalism, in the extended sense in which I am using the word, includes such movements and tendencies as Communism, political Catholicism, Zionism, Antisemitism, Trotskyism and Pacifism. It does not necessarily mean loyalty to a government or a country, still less to one's own country, and it is not even strictly necessary that the units in which it deals should actually exist. To name a few obvious examples, Jewry, Islam, Christendom, the Proletariat and the White Race are all of them objects of passionate nationalistic feeling: but their existence can be seriously questioned, and there is no definition of any one of them that would be universally accepted.”
Anita also use to work for Barbara Castle and was Chair of Manor Park ward when I gave them a talk here on the “Labour Movement and New Capitalism” in 2007. Here is a review of the book by David the Methodist Preacher blogger who was also a MEP colleague at the time. The ISBN number 978-0-9556202-9-4, and it is available for £20 from Turpin Distribution Services. (Free delivery in the EU) contact 01767 604 951 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
I have read a number of books recently that I haven’t quite got around to posting upon so I thought it was best to post this plug now.
Saturday, December 05, 2009
While I accept the recommendation of the directors that this merger is in the best interests of the Yorkshire BS I am less impressed with the “information sheet” supplied that failed to make clear that the driver for the merger is due to a series of recent major financial “difficulties” experienced by Chelsea BS. Check out this BBC report "In August, Chelsea reported that it had set aside £41m to cover to mortgage frauds, which helped push the society into a half-year loss of £26m... In 2008, it reported a loss of £39m, the largest recorded by a building society. It had to write off £44m, which was the bulk of its investments in two failed Icelandic banks. Chelsea also wrote off a further £15m after buying a mortgage broker in 2007 whose business subsequently collapsed in the credit crunch”.
I think it is really important that the mutual sector is open and honest with their savers and does not treat them as children who cannot be trusted with grown up information. Neither was there any mention of any possible impact of the merger on staff jobs. As savers and policy holders we are the “collective owners” of Yorkshire BS and we should be concerned about what will happen to them.
The mutual sector must be at all times and in all ways ethically better than the private sector. I hope that the “more detailed” information to be sent out later this month before the Special General Meeting will be up to speed on these points.
Friday, December 04, 2009
In our London UNISON world the first big election test of 2010 is of course, next year’s UNISON London Regional Council AGM.
The 130,000 UNISON members in our region can send delegates via their branches to elect by secret ballot the Regional lay leadership - Regional Council Officers for the coming year.
There is also a number of other important regional committee members elected as well. Nominations close on 15 December 2009.
Rank and file delegates were able to wrestle control of the regional lay leadership away from the SWP/SPEW dominated Ultra Left 4 years ago and we have regained control at each AGM with increased majorities. The dream ticket for next February (IMO) is:-
Regional Convenor – Gloria Hanson (bottom right)
Deputy Convenor – Conroy Lawrence (bottom left)
Finance Convenor – John Gray (middle top)
Equalities Convenor – Monica Hirst (not showing)
Publicity Convenor – Lynn Bentley (top left)
Young Persons Convenor – Emma Rolland (top right)
Monica takes over from Gill Brown (top 3rd from left - who is a new NEC member) as our Equalities Convenor Candidate.
So why re-elect a Centre Left “sensible slate”?
Since the Region was brought back into members control Gloria and her team has helped increase membership; developed and trained more activists; organised effective regional campaigns on pay, equal pay, pensions and against privatisation; campaigned for equalities and against discrimination; and intensified work with members working for private companies and in the voluntary sector. The region is now built on solid foundations.
The coming year could present UNISON with many challenges. However, the Greater London Region is more than capable of organising to defend our members from future attacks but we need a solid leadership to do this. We need a team who:
- continue to return control of the union to its members
- strengthen support for branches and activists in undertaking the difficult task of supporting members at work
- put members first, keeping ultra left politics out of the union
- celebrate diversity, promote unity
- on real issues for real members, keep the union relevant
Please support Gloria and her team in carrying on with the work they started
The Ultra Left slate has been publicised widely by the usual suspects. However it seems some of their slate are now protesting that they are “independents” and they want nothing to do with those extremists. While at the same time I understand some of the true believers are horrified at the prospect of some of their “slate” and their “politics” (or lack of). Especially one of them who boasts of their very close relationship with full time officers? (personally I think that all activists should have good relationships with their full time officers?).
Murky waters indeed!
A close UL mole has even suggested to me that some of their slate are only standing for some sort of “a laugh”. Whatever that means?
I do look forward to next year’s Regional Council AGM which I always enjoy but I hope for the sake of the union that we will not again have the ultra left minority indulging in their usual aggressive, bullying and threatening behaviour while trying to shout down anyone who opposes them.
Of course such conduct wins us loads of votes but we would always rather have a dignified and reasoned debate. But I doubt very much this will happen. Never mind - roll on next Feb!
The event was in the Vicarage Lane Community centre, Stratford and members from West Ham, Stratford & Newtown and Plaistow North ward met up to share company, conversation, food, wine and raffles. Our MP Lyn Brown was there (third from right photo). I won a bottle of Port which was great timing for Christmas. We raised £144 for the West Ham CLP campaign fund.
The mood was politically pretty good as well. People feel that at long last things are moving nationally our way - slowly but surely. One or two swallows don’t make a summer but the opinion polls are turning. The Tories are also being seen to panic as they realise that their expected shoo in ain’t going to happen. Cameron got well hammered by Gordon Brown at PM Question Time this week.
This will happen we think since the Emperor does not have any clothes; the Tories have been barking up the wrong economic tree and the Great, British public are finally beginning to “get it”. A Road-Runner moment as people begin to consider what a Tory government would really mean. As Lyn said “Game On” for the general election.
Thursday, December 03, 2009
Those (w)bankers on the Board of the bankrupt bank RBS which we as tax payers own say they will resign en mass if the Govt stops them paying out £1.5BN to their greedy banker chums.
We say as shareholders what are you waiting for?
Which I thought all sounded a little "sell out reformist" so I'm thinking of forming a group called "Sack the RBS Board". Which will no doubt make all the bastions of capitalism tremble.
Seriously I think that the government should hold firm and not submit to crude blackmail by the RBS Board and if necessary accept their resignation and replace them with people who realise that times have changed and things have moved on.
After all, we are the 84% masters now...
Wednesday, December 02, 2009
Who said “I would estimate that at least 5,000 people working in the banking industry in the UK will receive, if nothing is done, remuneration in excess of GBP1 million this year.
I think the real responsibility here must lie with the shareholders. Accordingly I have written to the National Association of Pension Funds, the CBI and the TUC urging them to use their influence to persuade trustees to ask their fund mangers: ‘What are you doing to stop these quite unreasonable and unjustified levels of remuneration?’
The decisions about bonuses are going to be made over the next six to eight weeks and it is important our major institutions engage now with the companies and say that ‘we will not support grotesque payments and if you persist in paying them we will exercise our votes to remove from the board the people who authorised them’.
Rock on Lord Myners! By co-incidence I am currently writing up my report on my latest Local Government Pension Scheme Panel and Pension committee meeting. I wish Lord Myners had said this beforehand. It would have been interesting to raise the question with our fund managers. I suppose we need to write to our Panel and Committee chairs? Will ask UNISON Capital Stewardship unit for advice methinks? Colin?
The TSA think that this will be of interests to tenants, Councillors and Housing Association boards and will help drive up housing management standards. I think that staff and trade unionists will also find it useful as well since I firmly believe that the best performing housing associations that get the highest satisfaction from their residents will also tend to be the most decent to their staff. There are the usual cavorts about how accurate some of the data used is and how up to-date. Importantly it appears that large Housing Associations don’t have to (but can choose to) take part and local Council housing stock is not included - which seems a bit odd?
The Tories appear to want to get rid of the TSA and even the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) - which is one of their most barmy ideas since the sector’s past £160 billion of loans was dependant on an effective national government regulator. Lenders will be very nervous of any abolition and this will make future development more expensive and much riskier. Still, we are talking here about free market rules extremist Tories so...
Tuesday, December 01, 2009
See the TUC response and Luke exposing further Tory hypocrisy. Finally check out the Daily Mirror video of Cameron breaking basic road safety rules. Obviously he thinks that our pragmatic, common sense laws and regulations should not apply to Old Etonions - only all of us who are not millionaires.
After it was revealed he had registered abroad as a "non-dom" for tax purposes.
Siobhan McCullough, UNISON nursing representative for Richmond stated:
"It is outrageous that David Cameron's Conservative Party told nurses that “we are all in this together” and as a result nurses must accept a pay freeze, yet their multi millionaire candidate in Richmond is registered in the Cayman Islands for tax purposes".
"We need an MP who represents the nurses and residents of Richmond not a Caribbean tax haven".
Michael Walker UNISON Regional Officer stated
“This highlights the duplicity of the Conservatives “Were all in this together” statement, obviously were not all in this together, things are still very good for bankers and millionaires”. Hat-tip thingy UNISON press release.
World Aids Day is an important time to stop and think, and an important moment to be open and honest, raise awareness and dispel the stigma of HIV/AIDS.
I will always remember the first time I wore a red ribbon on the 1st December. I was at secondary school, and I didn't think twice about proudly wearing it in support of people with HIV/AIDS. However it became a struggle to keep it on through the day as kids taunted me for wearing it, saying it meant I had AIDS.
I'd love to think this wouldn't happen today (this was well over a decade ago), but the fact is stigma and prejudice against people with HIV is still rife. That is why World Aids Day and the wearing of red ribbons are still so important, and why HIV/AIDS is still an important Trade Union issue. Like all discrimination, Trade Unions take a hard line. Unions and campaigners were successful in getting protection of people with HIV as part of disability discrimination legislation, but as with all such issues the law is only as good as how it is implemented on the ground. All Trade Unionists need to be continually vigilant against discrimination.