Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Mark Serwotka correctly excluded from Labour leadership election

The farcical election organised by the Labour Party took another twist last night as news emerged that the far-left General Secretary of the civil service union PCS had been excluded from the vote.

The Independent reported:

The leader of one of Britain’s major trade unions has been banned from voting in the Labour Party’s leadership election.

Mark Serwotka, the general secretary of the PCS union, which represents civil servants, had his ballot retroactively revoked after having voted online earlier this month.

The trade unionist was a member of the Labour party until the 1980s; his union says he has not been a member of another political party since.

Serwotka's response was somewhat disengenuous to say the elast. At the time he was in the Labour Party he was (cough) "associated" with Socialist Organiser, a Trotskyist entrist group inside Labour now known as the Alliance for Workers Liberty. The AWL you will recall was calling for a purge of non-Corbyn supporting MP's only days ago, but I digress.

When the 12 Respect councillors were elected in Tower Hamlets, Serwotka welcomed this development and appeared on Respect platforms mainly at the behest of the Socialist Workers Party with whom he had very good ties with. His main contact was former CPSA activist Martin Smith.

When the SWP fell out with Galloway, Serwotka sided with them and denounced the "witchunting" of socialists. The SWP's attempt to replace Respect floundered and disappeared.

Enter the Socialist Party (Militant) with their latest attempt to supplant the Labour Party and the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition was born (via the clumslily named Campaign for a new workers Party). In 2007 Serwotka wrote in The Socialist newspaper:

…we need the trade unions to be involved to give us bedrock on which to build. Already we see the FBU and the RMT, no longer affiliated to Labour, looking around to see how they can take forward issues politically, possibly even standing and supporting candidates.

The TUSC publicised it's two biggest backers, the late Bob Crow and Mark Serwotka at every opportunity.  For Serwotka this included the last general election when every habd was needed to stop the return of the Tories, he was opposing the Labour Party.

Further back in 2009 Serwotka along with the Socialist Party pushed the PCS union itself to a position of actually standing candidates (against Labour).  

In an article for 4Discussion, Bulletin of the 4themembers group in PCS #39 (June 2009)  I reported:

The decision of PCS Conference to pass a resolution that includes a policy for PCS, as a Trade Union to run candidates in Parliamentary Elections is a radical departure from the norms of this and other Civil Service Unions. It is the continuation of a long term project by the General Secretary Mark Serwotka and his left-wing allies on the national executive Committee that begun with the so called Make Your Vote Campaign, an expensive white elephant trumpeted by our leaders for the last few years.

It actually comes as no surprise that the PCS leadership has taken this route since most of them have been involved in one project or another to create a new Left-Wing Party “predicated on the Trade Unions” as John McInally put it in his article in The Socialist newspaper last year.

Labour are well aware of Serwotka's high profile antics aimed at undermining and replacing their party. He is no friend of Labour has no right to expect a vote after all the damage he has done over the years.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Unions face decline in support whilst Labour implodes

A rather disturbing report appeared on the front page of the London Evening Standard stating that a poll backs the Tory plans to introduce thresholds on trade unions right to strike. Joe Murphy & Dick Murray write

With unions threatening four more days of crippling Tube strikes in two weeks, the YouGov survey for the Evening Standard found a clear majority in the capital backing tougher laws.

The new Trade Union Bill would set a 50 per cent minimum turnout for any strike ballots — and in the public sector would require 40 per cent support from all members eligible to vote, not just those who do. The clause was approved of by 53 per cent of Londoners.

Only 26 per cent opposed the crackdown, while 22 per cent were undecided — a two-to-one majority in favour.

Moreover, the crackdown was backed on balance by young and old, men and women and among both the better-off ABC1 social classes and the poorer C2DEs.

Business Secretary Sajid Javid hailed the result as a “clear majority” for the biggest union reforms for 30 years.

The problem for the unions involved is that their members are not seen as low paid, far from it tube drivers receive very high wages, more than most tube users make. The reaction reported by the Standard certainly seems to tie in with casual observations in the street.  This all comes at a time when we face nearly five more years of Tory government and the only opposition party is heading for disaster as the leadership election farce continues.

Let's be clear. Working people need trade unions, well organised and able to take action to defend their members.

Frankly working people also need a political party that is electable.

Both these vital institutions are under threat from the right and the left.

Over the past few years the Tories have been gradually whittling away at union rights, particularly in the Civil Service, where the far-left led union PCS has handed the excuse after excuse on a plate much to the chagrin of the other, smaller unions.

The whole question of turnouts was pushed to the forefront of Tory thinking by Mark Serwotka's ridiculous threat to bring out Border Staff on the eve of the Olympics when it had the support of just 11% of those eligible. 

From there facility time cuts, an end to the "check off" arrangements have led to this pivitol moment. 

The restriction of the right to strike.

Of course the left argue that politicians don't achieve such thresholds and there is a point here, but the analogy does not quite hit the mark. MP's fight multiple opponents and the vote is divided far more than a simple yes/no vote could ever be.

This where being realistic and rational before ideological should be at the forefront od union leaders thinking. Why is it that so many members don't vote and in the case of PCS when there has been a national dispute the union has never achieved a majority turnout despite the claims of their leadership?

Certainly when the turnout and majority is low there needs to be more self reflection by the union leaders. So many, Serwotka in particualr, put ideological considerations before realism they fail to achieve even their basic aims before they start. Hence that union is in severe and probably permanent decline despite a staffing crisis in the large departments like the DWP and HMRC.

The threatened trade union legislation is getting closer and with the rise of Corbyn in the leadership stakes the party that could reverse this trend is becoming more unelectable by the day.

According to one union member I spoke to today none of the candidates is inspiring and all are flawed. Despite the fraught atmosphere on social media Labour is not winning over the necessary support it needs to win in 2020. In fact I fear it has already lost.

The Corbyn campaign has merely united most, but not all of the rent a mob crowds that can be used to fill the streets for those big, but ineffectual demonstrations we see from time to time.

If there is to be change for the better than it is the left that needs to change. Celebrating the death of long gone Russians (Trotsky was murdered in Mexico 75 years ago today as the AWL remind us), it needs to adjust it's outlook. Dusty old tomes by outdated and thoroughly discredited revolutionaries have led to nowhere.

In fact much of the left has developed a soft and sometimes supportive attitude to political movements that are thoroughly reactionary as we see with not just Corbyn's so-called friends but the in the antics of the misnamed Stop the War Campaign and the racists around the BDS movement.

I despair for the future. The writing has been on the wall for some time but the words "heads" and "buried in the sand" come to mind.

I am not so arrogant to claim I have the answer, though the left will claim socialism (whatever that is) is the answer their response is so religious in it's intensity and irrationality that the ease with which they adapt to reactionary Islamism is clear to all.

What I do know is the future is bleak and will remain so until today's radicals take their blinkers off.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Far left group calls for purges after Corbyn wins


The battle for control of the Labour Party took yet another sinister turn as one of the Trotskyist groups, the Alliance for Workers Liberty (AWL) involved in backing Jeremy Corbyn called or a purge of "irreconcilable" MP's after Corbyn wins. 

Their long term guru Sean Matgamna writes:

If Jeremy Corbyn wins, it won't be the end but the beginning of the fight.

A leader of the French Revolution once observed that “those who make half a revolution, only dig their own graves”. A Corbyn victory will at best be only half a revolution. It will energise the PLP and its backers in the press for a serious fight back. If we don't respond blow for blow, with determination to win, then the right-wing counterrevolution will win. There will be a severe repression of the left. The chance of a new beginning for working-class politics will be squandered.

If Corbyn wins, then the left should immediately go on the offensive. Irreconcilable MPs should be de-selected.

By "irreconcilable" they mean those that do not agree with the far-lefts line. Labour will cease to be a broad coalition of various traditions and will be purged Stalinist style.

The Corbinista's are a threat to the survival of the only remaining opposition party in British politics. 

The only winners in this debacle are the Tories.

Corbyn and his rent a mob supporters must be stopped.

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Sparts, terrorists, Amnesty and Corbyn

Workers Hammer No. 231

There are times when reading the websites or press of the far-left nothing surprises me these days. There have been members of the newly founded Left Unity organisation backing ISIS as anti-imperialist, but the laughably names Spartacist League takes a different view that is even more bewildering:

The US, supported by Britain, is now at war with the Islamic State (ISIS), which was initially funded by extremist Wahhabis in Saudi Arabia. [An IS motion of 23 October 2014 said:] “We have a military side with the reactionary ISIL when it engages in military conflict with the imperialists and their local forces on the ground, including the Iraqi Kurdish pesh merga, the Baghdad government, Shi’ite militias and the Syrian Kurds. We give no political support to any of these retrograde forces.”...

It would be interesting to see how long these godless trots would survive alongside ISIS.

Mad anti-imperialism at it's worse.

Meanwhile Corbyns "friends" in Hamas have taken umbrage over a report from Amnesty. Yahoo News reports:

Amnesty International said Thursday Palestinian rocket fire during the 2014 summer war in Gaza had killed more civilians in the Gaza Strip than in Israel.

Such deadly attacks on civilians on both sides constituted "a war crime," it said.

The damning report urged armed Palestinian groups to end attacks on civilians in Israel and to protect those in the Gaza Strip from the effects of such attacks.

That didn't go down well with the Islamist terrorist group:

Hamas rejected the findings, saying Amnesty "distorts the truth deliberately, with a clear bias in favour of the Zionist enemy," or Israel.

The Islamist movement further called Amnesty a "Zionist organisation".

The silence from the anti-imperialists is deafening.....

Of course Jeremy Corbyn isn't much better as his interview on the state controlled Russian propaganda channel RT shows. Buzzfeed reports

During the interview, Corbyn said there needed to be “an acceptance and understanding of why so many people in some of the cities in the north have apparently been prepared to accept the ISIS forces.”

He said he was concerned that western forces might intervene and that a “political compromise” was preferable.

These would be the cities conquered at gunpoint and all opposition is put to the sword whilst women are enslaved & raped.

Not my definition of "accepted".

There can be no compromise with the fascists of ISIS.

Corbyn is so obviously unfit for government. Full stop.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Love it or lose it: Save the BBC!

Bectu-best-logo    Love it or lose it: Save the BBC!


The shoddy backroom deal the Government have agreed with BBC management, saddling the BBC with delivering the government’s over-75s welfare policies to the tune of over £650m, will bring the greatest independent global broadcaster to its knees. Entire services will have to be cut, programmes dumped, free speech undermined and thousands of jobs lost. This is not a done deal - if you love the BBC, don’t let it be killed off!

Why is this important?

Whatever you may think of Eastenders, W1A or even Top Gear, set all that aside and act now to defend ‘our cultural NHS’. As members of BECTU – the media and entertainment union – we are asking you to join us and our fellow unions Equity, Musicians Union, NUJ, Unite and The Writers Guild in saving the BBC.

Can you imagine a world without the BBC?

The BBC makes a rich range of programmes with something for everyone, from award winning dramas & documentaries to sit–coms & soaps. The BBC is watched and listened to by 96% of the UK population. Two thirds of all UK adults listen to BBC Radio and half of all UK adults use BBC Online each week.

It’s good value as the BBC licence fee costs under 40p per day (£145.50 a year) for 9 TV channels, 10 national radio stations, a network of local radio stations and an internationally acclaimed website as well as the internationally loved World Service.

The top packages from Sky, Virgin Media and TalkTalk cost more than £1,000 a year. The BBC produces thousands of hours of original programming while Sky, on an income nearly double that of the BBC, makes only a tiny amount.

Only on the BBC can children watch their favourite programmes uninterrupted by advertising. The BBC is free from shareholder pressure and advertiser influence with a mandate to make programmes for all interest groups.

The licence fee is the single biggest investment in UK arts and creative industries with over half spent in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the English Regions. Every £1 of licence fee spent by the BBC, generates £2 of economic activity.

BBC News is the largest broadcast news gathering operation in the world. The BBC is the public face of Britain abroad and has a weekly global audience of 308m.

The BBC is definitely not intended to be an arm of government – if this deal goes ahead starting in 2018, the BBC will be crippled by the costs of government policies and policed in the interests of more Tory-friendly broadcasters.

Senior BBC managers and the Government would like everyone to believe that this is a done deal and nothing can be reversed. This is not true. The most damaging part of this settlement is the need to meet the cost of free TV licences for the over-75s, which will cost the BBC over £650m. This decision, if unchallenged, will leave the BBC unrecognisable in less than 10 years time. Join the campaign now!

The whole world wishes they had the BBC – you have it, don’t let them kill it off!

This campaign was set up by BECTU - the media and entertainment union - with the support of Equity and other affected unions.

Sign: here

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Militant plots return to Labour under Corbyn

Socialist Party logo Militant.gif

The fight for the future of the Labour Party took a sinister tun tonight as Dave Nellist the leader of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition announced his "party" (a front for the Socialist Party) could "join forces" with Labour to back Jeremy Corbyn.

The Coventry Telegraph reports:

Labour exile and former Coventry MP Dave Nellist has hinted he could seek to merge his new party with Labour should left-wing candidate Jeremy Corbyn become leader.

Mr Nellist, who served as Coventry South East MP from 1983 to 1992, was expelled from Labour in 1991 for his links to the hard-left Militant Tendency group.

The 63-year-old is now the national chairman of the left-wing Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) political party, which stood 135 parliamentary candidates and 619 local council candidates in the general and local elections this year.....

Mr Nellist said he would also insist that ‘Clause Four’, viewed as a symbol of the party’s commitment to socialism, was reinstated after it was controversially changed by Mr Blair in 1995.

He said: “Labour needs to rebuild established links with the trade unions, policy needs to be devised from the bottom up.

“If those things were to happen, I would be prepared to go to the TUSC conference in May and say TUSC should be part of that.

“A lot of ex-members would like to be involved in the formation of that sort of party.”

Mr Nellist also underlined why he thought TUSC could be valuable allies.

He said: “Over 90 per cent of Labour MPs didn’t want Jeremy for the job. He’d be in a battle with Labour MPs from day one and he’s going to need some mates.”

Older readers will recall that the Militant Tendency was a entryist organisation which sort to take over the Labour Party in the seventies and eighties seizing control of the Labour Party Young Socialists, getting several of it's members selected as Labour candidates and actually employed more full timers than Labour itself did.

Militant became famous for bankrupting Liverpool Council, sending taxi's out to deliver redundancy notices to it's workers.

Neil Kinnock finally acted and threw this parasitical Trotskyist group out of the Labour Party. Since then after a series of splits their remnants are organised in the tiny Socialist Party.

The Socialist Party along with the Socialist Workers Party and the even smaller Independent Socialist network joined with the RMT union to form the TUSC which polled sod all in the recent general election.

The Socialist Party are also in control of the main civil service union PCS in alliance with a number of other far left groups and individual members including General Secretary Mark Serwotka. This union has been run into the ground by the militants and having lost thousands of members through splits and then the recent ending of the "check-off" agreement has been in such financial trouble it has vacillated between allowing Unite to simply take it over and/or selling off the unions main asset, the HQ building in Falcon Road.

More bankruptcy from the lunatics of the far-left which should warn both Labour Party members and voters that the alternative policies so-called anti-austerity activists are unworkable.

The Militant Tendency and the so-called "left" did untold damage to the Labour Party in the eighties which ultimately allowed Thatcherism to survive longer than it should have done.

Corbyn will allow the Tories to extend their rule further than it need be.

The experience of Militant should serve as a warning.

We cannot afford the far-lefts simplistic and useless rhetoric to destroy Labour again.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Musical Interlude Double: Alice Cooper & Golden Earring!

It's the height of the summer holiday season unusually the political tempo has been quite high mainly due to the Labour Party leadership election. The voting papers are out and in due course we will learn the fate of the sole remaining opposition party in this country.

So rather than blather on about how useless Corbyn and his useless mates are I felt like taking a break from politics for the evening and why not!

For those of you who read my comics blog you will have noticed most of my coverage of late has been of British comics published in the seventies.


I'm also a big fan of the music from this period. One of my favourite artists was (and still is) Alice Cooper. One of the songs I remember from the seventies is Schools Out which seems appropriate for this time of year.

The seventies. Long hair, flares, progressive music and pop songs you could sing along to. Those were the days!

One of the other tracks that rather caught my attention was Radar Love by the Dutch Band Golden Earring. I rushed out and bought their album. You remember those big vinyl things in large fold out covers that had pictures and text that was large enough to read!

And finally a word from our sponsors, well TV ads from the seventies. Remember these?