Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Voting recommendations for the last (?) PCS elections

The ballot papers for what might be the very last elections for the main civil service union PCS arrived this morning and will be landing on members desks or or doormats over the next few days.

The accompanying booklet is the thinnest we have seen for years as so many activists have seemingly given up on the internal electoral process. The outcome of the elections is seemingly decided already as the ruling group in PCS, the laughably named "Democracy Alliance" are the only ones contesting every available seat.

The second largest group are the rather "shouty" types of Trotskyists in the Independent Left. The main opposition group 4themembers doesn't really exist any more, though a couple of candidates are using that name.

So who should PCS members vote for?

Firstly it needs to be remembered that getting on 90% of members don't normally vote so advocating any kind of "boycott" would be pointless.

Next members should remember who are the people who got us into this mess. 

That would be Mark Serwotka and his mates in the Democracy Alliance. Led by the Socialist Party (proprietors Janice Godrich, President and "fixer" John McInally).

After years of using the union for their own barmy political purposes along with their friends in the SWP the union is no longer viable as an independent entity it would seem.

Hence the unsavoury rush to get Unite to take us over and bail out the mess the Democracy Alliance have made.

The time has come to save the union and then work for real change.

I recommend the following candidates whom I either know or have judged on the basis of their election addresses that they offer members some independent thinking:

Vice President: 

Simon COLLIS (HMRC)

NEC Members:

Simon COLLIS (HMRC)
Owen DODD (Home Office)
Stephen GAINSFORD (Met Police)
Hubert GIESCHEN (MMO)
Gurmit KANG (DWP)
Ravi KURUP (HMRC)
Andy MAGEE (HMRC)
Dave MCNEELY (HMRC)
Rudy PANAYI (DWP)
James REYNOLDS (DBIS)
Willie SAMUEL (Commercial Sector)

Please vote for these candidates ONLY.

After the elections PCS members and activists will have to consider the future not just of the union, but also returning an Independent union back to the political mainstream and ditch the far left wreckers of the Democracy Alliance for good.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Islamists "operate like Trotskyists"

A few weeks ago I warned of the dangers of Islamists infiltrating the Labour Party (see here) and now others are waking up to the dangers of similar tactics in education and charity work. Khalid Mahmood, Labour MP for Perry Barr warned in The Sunday Times that:

"It's like the Trotskyists coming into the Labour Party in the 1980's and trying to take over from within".

Even leaving aside the fact a rather large group of them, the Militant Tendency (now re branded the Socialist Party) had been present for over a decade before then, their rise did attract most (but not all) of the various Trotskyist groupscules into the Labour Party for an extended period. Some of them (The secretive Socialist Action group) ended up as "lieutenants for Ken Livingstone during his reign as Mayor of London.

Now we see schools (and Universities) undermined by an intolerant Islamist inspired agenda. 

Girls being forced to sit at the back of classrooms, female teachers "sidelined" allegations of hate preachers being heard in school Assemblies and Christian pupils being excluded from "religious" classes because the whole curriculum was Islamic.

Such practises are unacceptable in a modern democratic society.

Another Labour MP, Tristram Hunt has also joined the call for for religious extremists to be driven from our schools. Addressing the NASUWT conference he said:

We cannot have narrow, religious motives which seek to divide and isolate dictating state schooling. We cannot have head teachers forced out, teachers undermined, curricular re-written and cultural or gender based segregation.

Those on the so-called "left" who attack secularists and others who attempt to expose this dangerous phenomena are themselves part of the problem.

Socialist Resistance doesn't want Luftur Rahman investigated despite there being ample evidence to justify Tower Hamlets be opened up to public scrutiny. Bob Pitt, who thinks Islam is above any criticism whatsoever and those that do seek to engage backward ideas are all "Islamophobes" and publishes distorted rants against secularism is currently providing cover for the Islamists and their left allies in his latest diatribe.

There are numerous others, Socialist Unity, the SWP and the rest of the anti- imperialist armchair brigade who seek (literally) unholy alliances with the Islamists to undermine our society.

The time has come to stand up against all this nonsense.

It is not Islamophobic to stand up for women's rights including the right of girls to a full and proper scientific eduction away from the religious nonsense that the Islamists promote. 

It is not Islamophobic to stand up for gay rights or democracy, free speech and human rights.

It's actually called secularism and secularists believe in the rights of all to practise their religion, but not at the expense of human rights which always come first.

Time to stand up for reason!

Time to stand up to extremists undermining our society whether Islamist or Trotskyist!

PCS President panics over growing opposition to merger

The growing opposition to the PCS/Unite merger seems to have caused some consternation amongst the PCS Grandees, in particular the Socialist Party who are the main force pushing this through. Evidence of their concerns were highlighted by PCS President Janice Godrich who writes (italics);

There has been a lot of traffic on FB sites and elsewhere on the subject of a merger between PCS and Unite and the I am making this posting to ensure that the there is an informed and serious debate. There are activists of course who are genuinely engaging in the debate and are seeking information in order to come to some kind of understanding of the issues involved and that is good, heathly and positive. I wouldn’t expect any less in PCS. However it is equally clear there are others who have decided already, without any debate whatsoever, they will oppose even formal talks on the issue.

There are a lot of reasons why both PCS Reps and members will not want a merger with Unite. Its an issue that seems to cross "party lines" both "left and right", but one thing that seems to be central to opposition is the need for a specifically civil service trade union.

The back ground is this. A few years ago when Unite general secretary spoke at our conference he raised the issue of closer working and even the possibility of a merger. PCS ADC 2013 gave the PCS NEC authority to discuss this is issue if approached by Unite. The period since has been one of intense activity for both unions and it is only in the period prior to Christmas that any talks at all have taken place. These have been reported to the PCS NEC and material has appeared in union publications and a briefing has been sent to branches. 

Just because we "agreed" to closer working with Unite doesn't mean that there is an overwhelming need for PCS to be simply subsumed within another union.

It was only on Thursday 17th April that the Unite NEC agreed continue these talks. An PCS NEC motion sets out a process in order to engage with Unite. It is PCS Conference which will decide whether or not to continue these discussions. More than that the motion sets out the most rigorous democratic process including, full reports to the PCS NEC and branches on the talks, a widespread consultation on any proposals, a special delegate conference to debate any such proposals and lastly, a ballot of members on any such proposals.

Aah, democratic debate. Does this mean that those who oppose the dissolution of PCS will be afforded space in the unions publications and website to present a case against? 

Doubtful. In fact highly improbable since the desire to force through the merger is obviously a political decision taken by the Socialist Party (by their central committee ) and we will probably see the same antics that marred the AGS election to ensure the cowardly Chris Baugh got re-elected.

In PCS the accusation that a merger is either being rushed through or the property of the NEC or “bureaucrats” is not true. Not only is a full democratic debate already taking place any potential merger could only ever take place on the basis of the most thorough democratic discussion throughout the union and on the basis on a democratic “Triple Lock” as outlined above i.e., consultation, special conference and ballot. 

There's that "democracy" word again. The Socialist Party have a habit of trying to censor political opponents through bureaucratic means. The leadership have just introduced new "complaint" rules which cover amongst other things e-mails. 

I wonder who they will target.

It has been suggested that any PCS NEC member who has not mentioned the merger and stated their “position” in their election address should not be supported. How could anyone have a position at the stage when the terms of the proposals have not been discussed or set out to express an opinion on?

For the record I would advocate not voting for Madame Godrich and her useless cronies that form the so-called "Democracy Alliance". They are responsible for the collapse of PCS and an independent voice for civil servants.

They do not deserve to be re-elected.

SAVE OUR UNION, SAY NO TO A MERGER!

Further reading: 

Sunday, 20 April 2014

They kill atheists and we are deemed terrorists!

Cross-post by Maryam Namazie

Punishing apostates is a long-standing and fundamental feature of all major religions.

Islam is no different except that Islamism – an extreme Right movement with Islam as its banner – is this era’s inquisition and totalitarianism.

To the degree it has power, that is the degree it controls every single aspect of people lives and society via its Sharia laws – from what people wear, who they have sex with, to what they are allowed to think.

Islamists will kill, threaten or intimidate anyone who interprets things differently, dissents, thinks freely or transgresses their norms by living 21st century lives.

One of the characteristics of an Islamic inquisition is the policing of thought. Even for Muslims, a ‘personal’ religion is impossible under an inquisition. You can’t pick and choose as you’d like. You don’t want to wear the veil; acid in your face should teach you a lesson. You want to go to school; maybe they can gun you down on your way there. You want to be an atheist? Being a murtad is the most heinous of crimes. Saudi Arabia just issued a law equating atheism with terrorism.

The bitter irony! They kill us and we are the terrorists.

Apostasy is a prosecutable offence in 30 countries under the influence of Sharia and punishable by death in 11.

Of course there are religious justifications for the execution of apostates in the Koran and Hadith – sayings and actions of Mohammad, Islam’s prophet.

From a religious standpoint, preventing apostasy is crucial to the preservation of Islam as Islamic “scholar” Qaradawi says. I use the term scholar lightly. As Dawkins says, you do need to read more than one book to be considered a scholar. But apostasy laws and the execution of apostates are the ultimate means of political rather than religious control.

It’s used to silence anyone who questions Islamic rule. Most recently, Roya Nobakht in Iran has been charged with apostasy for saying the regime is “too Islamic” and in Bangladesh, two high school students have been arrested for apostasy for questioning the Jamaat Islami.

Challenging apostasy laws therefore is first and foremost a political challenge. Hence the establishment of the Council of Ex-Muslims, an atheist organisation, found now in the UK, Germany, Scandinavian countries, Austria, France, North America and also in Morocco – the first public atheist organisation in a country with Islam as the state religion.

Don’t forget Christianity also used to execute its apostates. It’s not that the tenets, dogma, and principles of Christianity have changed since the days of the inquisition but rather its social and political influence and its relation to the state. A religion that has been reined in by an enlightenment is very different from one that is spearheading an inquisition.

Challenging it means having the courage to think for oneself, as philosopher AC Grayling says of the Council of Ex-Muslims, breaking the taboo that comes with renouncing Islam, and paving the way for others to do so.

It’s mainly though an important aspect of the fightback against Islamism.

Some will ask why we cannot just call ourselves atheists and not ex-Muslims but atheist alone cannot describe the risks and challenges we face.

Others will say our Council is an unnecessary provocation.

It’s a provocation, yes, but unnecessary, no.

Islamists tell us all the time: don’t provoke. Don’t offend. Don’t criticise … and no one need get hurt.

If anyone believes that – and trust me there are still people who do – then they still don’t know this movement.

Islamists need no excuses. Murder and mayhem is part and parcel of their movement.

Throughout history barbarity has always been pushed back – not by tiptoeing around it, accommodating it, appeasing it, tolerating it but by facing it head on.

They say we are not allowed to leave Islam.To them I say: We are not waiting for your permission.

Friday, 18 April 2014

PCS & Unite not a merger but a takeover!

The Unite union held a special Executive Committee meeting on April 17th where Len McCluskey presented a report that indicates the PCS are seeking to "join" rather than "merge" with Unite which may come as somewhat of a surprise to PCS members.

The blog Ian's Unite site publishes the following report by Unite General Secretary, Len McCluskey:

Following a decision of the Executive Council, informal talks have been taking place with PCS on exploring a transfer of that union’s engagements into Unite.

Unite’s team has included the Chair of the Executive Council, executive officers and senior lay colleagues. PCS’s team has been led by its General Secretary and has included lay EC members. The talks have covered the constitutional, industrial, political and administrative questions which would arise from joining Unite.

Separately, the Executive Director for Finance has met his opposite number at PCS to consider financial, pension and property issues.

On this basis, there seems to be no impediment to opening formal talks on a transfer of engagements which would bring PCS into Unite. Specifically:
  • No significant revision of Unite’s rules would be required and the transfer of engagements will be on the basis of our existing rule book.
  • Subject to the resolution of pensions issues between PCS and the Pensions Regulator, there are no obvious financial issues that would obstruct a transfer (due diligence will nevertheless have to be completed before any final agreement is brought before the Council).
  • No change to Unite’s political affiliations will be sought or considered in the context of the formal discussions
  • Short-term transitional arrangements will suffice to ensure the full and complete integration of the PCS membership into Unite’s existing structures
In this context, and bearing in mind the significant industrial, organisational and political advantages that would accrue to Unite as a result of such a transfer, in terms above all of the consolidation of fighting trade unionism across the public sector, it is recommended that authority be given to open formal talks with PCS to that end.
Formal "negotiations" will now open with PCS. Some members of Unite's EC were quite rightly worried about a further "period of turmoil" that they have experienced with previous mergers. Given the political makeup of the controlling Left Unity group in PCS they should be concerned. Since they gained power well over a decade ago the far-left have managed to wreck the largest civil service union to the point where it isn't viable as an independent body it would seem.

Despite the PCS leadership telling us that there will be a small "operating surplus" in the unions finances, its' clear that from the huge pension deficit for the unions own employees (running at some £65 Million according to leaked reports in the press), something is seriously wrong.

Part of the negotiations will be about this issue and it remains possible that the talks with the Pensions Regulator could still remain a barrier as McCluskey seems to indicate in his report.

In the mean time there seems to be a quite unhealthy rush to bring about the dissolution of PCS. 

Despite the Annual Conference of the union taking place in May, McCluskey is reported as saying a special conference for PCS will take place as early as June/July and the takeover (subject to a members ballot) would be complete by January 2015.

With conference only a few short weeks away there is an urgent need for PCS members to discuss the implications of the proposals being pushed through with such undue haste by Mark Serwotka and the Socialist Party leadership.

The decision to end our unions existence cannot be taken lightly.

What it does show is that Serwotka's legacy will be remembered as one of abject failure.

Shame on you "comrades".

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Stop the slaughter - Tell Canada to end the seal hunt

IFAW logo

Seal


Right now seals are being killed in the commercial hunt in Canada.

It's cruel and it has to stop.

People around the world continue to say "no" to seal products, but the Canadian government stubbornly continues trying to sell these cruel products. They are fighting the European Union ban at the World Trade Organisation and trying to overturn the ban in Russia.

Last year, 88,573 innocent baby seals were reported clubbed or shot - many as young as 21 days old. They were killed for products no one wants or needs. Last year, the sealers admitted dumping 6,000 pelts into the ocean because there were no markets for them.

You can help end the seal hunt once and for all.

Seal pups lie defenceless on the ice as hunters approach. But even the fastest pups are no match for men with clubs or rifles. The pups die in agony.

The seal hunt has a long history, but it's a relic of the past. Rather than determine a plan to help sealers transition out of this failing industry, the Canadian government has thrown away over $50 million in tax dollars since 1996 trying to prop up the industry.

There's no reason for this merciless slaughter to continue.

The fight to protect seals is more urgent than ever. Ask the Canadian government to end commercial sealing.

Thank you for caring about the animals.



Sheryl Fink
Wildlife Campaigns Director, IFAW Canada

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Women in Saudi Arabia: a lesson for Rashida Manjoo of the so called "United Nations"

Like many other people I was really taken aback by a report that appeared in this mornings papers of remarks made by some non-entity from the United Nations who is reported as saying in The Times that:

Sexism is more pervasive and "in your face" according to the United Nations investigator into violence against women.

What planet does she live on?

Britain's far from perfect, as is her own quite dangerous country South Africa. But from reports into the position of women around the world the UK is no way the worst. In fact as Sarah AB points out at Harry's Place:

According to one recent survey the UK was the 18th best place to be a woman, and Manjoo’s report, her observations about the areas for improvement, would have been more credible if she hadn’t magnified the country’s failings in such a perverse way. She has apparently visited India – which is one of the very worst countries to be a woman – and Jordan, where a woman’s testimony was recently deemed invalid because she wasn’t veiled.

So here are a couple of videos about women in Saudi Arabia the home of Wahhabism, an extreme and violent form of Islam which enforces APARTHEID against women.

Surely someone from South Africa should be a little concerned about the position of women in the oppressive Saudi state.

Here are two videos that illustrate the very real oppression of women in Saudi Arabia.



And Ms Manjoo, talking of violence against women.

Here's a misogynist cleric justifying the beating of women in Islam:



Unacceptable.

Full stop.