Just a few of the
rallies & marches on the strike day:
Aberystwyth Rally 12 Morian Centre, Queens Road
Bangor 2 Meifod Hotel
Barnsley 9.45 March to Parkway Cinema.
Birmingham at 12 Victoria Square
Bedford 10 Civic Centre
Bradford 10 Valley Parad Ground
Brighton 10.30 The level (oppositeopen market)
Bristol 11 College Green
Calderdale 10 Arden Rd, Social Club
Canterbury 10-2 Abbots Barton Hotel
Camberley 1pm Camberley station, march. 2pm Rally@Theatre
Cambridge 12 Parkers pierce
Carlisle 12.30 Old Town Hall
Cardiff 11 Cathays Park & 12.15 Canton Bridge
Ceredigion 12 Morian Centre
Chatham 12.30 Command House, ME4
Chelmsford 11 High St
Chester 12.30 town hall
Chippenham 11 Town Hall
Colchester 12.30 Town Hall
Derbyshire 10.30 Market Hall Chesterfield
Doncaster 9.30 Council House, College Road
Dorchester 9.30 County hall
Dover 12 St Mary’s Church
Exeter 11 Corn Exchange
Glasgow 12 George Sq
Gloucester 10.30 Gloucester Park
Gravesham 9.30 Three Daws Pub DA11
Gwynedd Mefild 2 Hotel, Bontnewydd
Halifax 10 Arden Social Club
Hastings 10.30 White Rock Hotel
Hertfordshire 10.30 Campus West, Uni
Huddersfield 10 St Pats Irish Centre 12-12.30 rally Market X, HD1
Hull 10am Royal Hotel
Isle of Wight 10 St Georges Football PO30
Ipswich 10.45 Giles Circus, Princes Circus
Kirklees 10 St Patricks Centre
Lancaster 11 Market Sq
Llandrindod Wells 11am Pavilion, Spa Rd
Lincoln 1 Stags Head
Liverpool 11.30 William Brown St
Leicester 12 Victoria Park
Leeds 12 City Square
London 11 Lincoln Fields
Luton 12 Market Hill
Manchester 11 All Saints
Maidenhead 11-2 Walnut Tree & 4pm Outside County Hall
Maidstone 11 Village Hotel, ME14
Merthyr Tydfil 12.30 Civic Centre
Middleborough 4.30 Bottle sculpture
Milton Keynes 12 Campbell Park
Newcastle 12 Life Centre
Newbury 10 St Nicholas Church Hall
Newport 12 John Forest Sq
Norfolk 12 Outside Forum NR2
Norwich 12 Forum Amphitheatre
Northampton 12.30 Guildhall
Nottingham 11 Forest Recreation March to Albert Hall for rally
Oxford Noon Bonn Square 1.30
Plymouth 10.30 Albion Rugby Club
Portsmouth 12 Guildhall, PO1
Preston 12 Flag Market
Powys 10.30 The Pavilion
Reading 11am RISC, London St, RG1
Rotherham 11am All Saints Sq
Sheffield 12 Barker’s Pool to City Hall
Sheffield 11 Peace Gardens to City Hall
Sittingbourne 11 Phoenix house, Central Av
Slough Queensmere Centre
Somerset 10 Taunton Rugby Club
Southampton 11 Guildhall
Southend 12.30 Victoria Circus
Staffordshire 11.30 Reardons, Adventure Place ST1
Swansea 11.30 Castle Sq
Swindon 10 Outside Swindon Library
Taunton 11 Rugby club
Telford 12 Southgate
Truro 1-1pm Lemon Quay
Wakefield 10 Outside Cathedral
Welwyn 10.30 Campus West, Roller City
Wembley 10 Torch Pub
Wigan 11-1 Market Place
Wolverhampton 10.45 Metro One
Worcester 11 St Peters Baptist Centre
Worthing 11 Steyne Gdns, BN11
Wrexham 11.30 Queens Sq
York 11.30 Parliament St & 4pm lobby Council
The above details are from the National Shop Stewards Network; with all due respect to the comrades, I’d advise anyone intending to turn up to try to check details in advance. I notice, for instance that the Somerset/Taunton event appears to be scheduled for both 10am and 11am…
Over the last year or so, I’ve developed an acute awareness of how important it is to have somewhere decent to live.
Seems an obvious thing I know, but part of growing up is learning to appreciate the obvious. I walk home every day reflecting on how lucky I am that I don’t have to share a room with three brothers, that I don’t share a bed with an elderly relative, that I can heat my home and cook and wash, that I have a place to go if I do ever lose the home I rent now.
Many, many people are not in that fortunate position, thanks to the property bubble and a chronic underbuild of affordable housing. There are millions in overcrowded properties, another million homeless or sofa surfing. Waiting lists are now so long that even the Tory-led National Government has had to pledge a token number of new social homes. Unfortunately, its plans have been condemned not just by housing charities but also the construction and landlord industries as being both inadequate and unrealistic.
More and more political debate comes back to housing allocation. Labour leader Ed Miliband, under the evil thrall of Lord ‘Blue Labour’ Glasman, appeared to reject the need-based model of allocation when he praised a project in Manchester that prioritised ‘those who are giving something back to their communities – for example, people who volunteer or who work.’ The subtext here is: ‘Let’s provide homes for Those Who Are Deserving, and not large workless families on housing benefit.’
Here is Ed’s problem. True, people do have children that they can’t support. But that won’t guarantee state help. There was a recent case in Manchester where a woman with six children in a three-bed house had been on the transfer list for eleven years. She won’t get a move because only twelve four-bed homes became available last year and there are nine thousand people on Manchester’s list. There are four and a half million on lists nationwide and there will be another million or so as spending cuts hit.
We need around 240,000 new homes per year to meet demand and are building about half that. Whether we allocate by need or virtue, millions of people are losing out. It is a futile game of musical chairs. And it has become a G-spot issue for people who argue over the few remaining seats without stopping to think who’s playing the music.
If David Cameron cared about this issue, he would go to the IMF and say something like: ‘Look, chaps, here’s the thing. We are a country that cannot afford to house its citizens. I know, I know. It’s simply mortifying. Could we have a development grant or something?’
Maybe there’s another choice. The squatters’ movement had a resurgence in the 2000s when the boom drove up city rents. Perversely, there is a chronic housing shortage plus almost a million void properties. They are empty because owners can’t be bothered to do them up, or are waiting until they can sell them on in a recovered market. Recent reports say that squatters now include families who couldn’t make mortgage payments in the recession.
People invested unhealthy amounts of money and emotion in home ownership only to see dreams crash with the crash. This will become mainstream. Many squatters work on and improve properties they inhabit. It’s not just middle-class hipsterism. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. The squat in Guy Ritchie’s Fitzrovia place, the HSBC rave, these were great protests and should be celebrated. While the LSE’s religious/totalitarian sympathisers bowed to Gaddafi, the real radical left invaded his mansion and opened it to Libyan refugees. An occupier told Laurie Penny that ‘We are not here to cause any damage… Why would we? It’s our house! It belongs to the Libyan people. We’re here to make sure it isn’t sold to finance more killing.’
Naturally, the government is trying to criminalise it. Cameron has thrown an anti-squatting law into the compromised mess of Ken Clarke’s criminal justice bill. As squat campaigner Paul Reynolds points out, this is essentially the criminalisation of homelessness at a time of housing crisis. I have no idea how this law would be enforced or even if it would be enforced. I think that like so many of this government’s policies, it will be counterproductive, and it will hit them hard.
Housing is where politics becomes real. The British public will put up with just about anything. But I can’t help think that there will be bad consequences for this government if it closes off more housing options for people who have very few options anyway.
By Mairav Zonszein, Saturday 25 June 2011
On Friday evening, Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek gave a lecture in a bookstore in Central Tel Aviv teeming with familiar faces of leftwing activists. It was hosted by Udi Aloni, an Israeli-American artist and BDS activist, who just completed a book entitled What Does a Jew Want, which is edited by Zizek.
The bookstore called Tola’at Sfarim (Bookworm), which is also a small publisher of books mostly on psychology, was packed with people, young and old, very eager to hear Zizek speak, just as I was.
Many seem to have come with the expectation to hear Zizek rip into Israel and use his wry wit and charisma in such a bourgeoises Tel Aviv setting to endorse the BDS Movement. Indeed when Udi Aloni introduced Zizek, he identified himself as an activist on behalf of BDS and said he chose the bookstore as a venue in order to not cooperate with any formal Israeli institution.
However, Zizek did not officially endorse or even talk much about BDS – and when he did it was because he was prompted to during Q&A. His two clear statements about BDS were that a) he is not 100% behind it and b) he supports a movement that is initiated jointly by Palestinians and Israeli here in the region.
Rather, Zizek spent almost two hours with the crowd’s undivided attention talking about antisemitism, capitalism and the place of the Jew in the world. He warned that antisemitism is “alive and kicking” in Europe and America and asserted that the State of Israel should worry more about Christian right antisemitism rather than wasting its energy on self-proclaimed Jewish anti-Zionists. He said that the Christian Zionists in America are inherently antisemitic and that Israel’s willingness to embrace their support is baffling.
He started his talk by saying that when he was invited to speak in Tel Aviv (most of his trip was spent in Ramallah with Udi Aloni), people reassured him there are still some “good Israelis” left that would love to hear him, as if trying to convince him of why he should bother to step foot inside Israel. Zizek said he doesn’t like this approach.
Being “Anti” Anything is Trendy
This statement set the tone for his entire talk, which was firmly framed in the notion that most people are too easily caught up in trends and sound bytes that do not actually identify the root of the problem. He talked about how easy and fashionable it is to be, for example, “anti-Capitalist” today, because you can just direct blame at a specific bank or a specific person as the evil culprit and think that you have done your part in condemning it. He mentioned Bernie Madoff in this respect, as a scapegoat who was easy to blame, when in fact the real problem is the system that allowed and even pushed Madoff to commit his crimes.
He traced antisemitism through history, from when Jews were expected to convert, to the era of Enlightenment and French Revolution, when it became clear that no conversion or amount of assimilation could do anything to change their eternal Jewishness. Jews went from being too distinct and particular to being too universal and cosmopolitan, which paved the way for the Holocaust.
After establishing the deep-rooted vitality of antisemitism, he mentioned that he has no patience for those who excuse Arab antisemitism; that even the most oppressed and poor Palestinian should not be tolerated for being antisemitic. He also spoke about his well-known argument regarding Zionist antisemitism, whereby Zionists use antisemitic language towards fellows Jews in accusing them of not being Zionist enough. This was his main critique of Israel – its witch hunt against those Jews it finds not “Zionist enough.”
Sitting in a room full of Israeli activists, some of whom consider themselves on the forefront of the fight against Israeli occupation and apartheid; who devote much of their time going out to the West Bank in solidarity with Palestinians, in confrontation with Israeli military and who favor a total boycott of the country, I could feel the disappointment in the room from certain people that Zizek was not speaking more critically and disapprovingly of Israel. He barely said the word occupation, did not mention the word apartheid even once. He did not directly speak that much about Israel itself or what should be done.
This was a bold move with such an audience – and I’m not sure if people got it or not, but in many ways, I think that Zizek was actually levying criticism against the very activists sitting in that room. They are so caught up with the “evils” of Israel that they have lost perspective on what is going on in the rest of the world, and may have lost sight of the very real dangers of continued antisemism, which has all sorts of consequences.
As someone familiar with Zizek’s ideas and who is well acquainted with his poignant criticism of Israel, I was quite pleased, because I didn’t need to hear over again from him how Israel is occupying the Palestinians. And really, as a philosopher who spends his time in Europe, what could he renew for us on that? But of course, an activist in the audience was not happy that he did not devote enough time to criticizing Zionism, so she asked him why that is.
He proceeded to say that Zionism is not the worst evil in the world. He mentioned the strangling of the West Bank by Israel as a colonization project and said that there should be maps everywhere hanging of what belongs to whom in the West Bank so people who can really see Israel’s domination.
I believe Zizek’s point is that antisemitism not only continues to exist, but is reincarnating itself in different forms that Israelis need to pay more attention to – and that this is highly detrimental, not just to Israel — but in the larger scope of racism and violence, and how we deal with global problems — is something that is detrimental to everyone.
Here’s something to demand from your local Labour councillors:
I had a chase round the local Labour
Party councillors and got them to sign the following. Not the most radical
document but at least it puts them on the right side:
Dear Editor (Local Newspapers)
We the undersigned local Labour
Party councillors are writing in support of the strike action being taken (30
June) by tens of thousands of public sector workers in defence of their
pensions. It has been said that public sector pensions are gold plated. The
truth is very different; the average public sector pension paid is between
£3000pa and £4000pa.
The strike has been called because
the government proposals mean; employee pension contributions will increase by
at least 50% and that the normal retirement age for occupational pensions will
increase from 65 to 68.
Already £4.8 billion has been taken
out of public sector pension schemes to bail out the Banks during the banking
crisis. In addition since April the basis on how pensions are paid and uprated
for inflation has been changed, from using the “Retail Price Index” to “Consumer
Price Index”, after maybe 20 years of retirement, this will add up to at least
These changes mean that public
sector workers will pay more, get less, and work longer.
In solidarity Councillors:
(All in a personal capacity)
Jayne Booth (Todmorden Ward
Calderdale Council and Todmorden Town Council)
Dave Young (Calder Ward Calderdale
Council and Hebden Royd Town Council)
Mo Brown (Todmorden Town
Mark Catterall (Todmorden Town
Frank McManus (Todmorden Town
James Fearon (Hebden Royd Town
Susan Press (Hebden Royd Town
Richard Scorer (Hebden Royd Town
Steve Sweeney (Hebden Royd Town
Emma Tsoneva (Hebden Royd Town
“There is no trade-off in our relationship. It is not about either discussing trade or human rights. Britain and China have such a strong and developed relationship We have a dialogue that covers all these issues and nothing is off limits in the discussion we have…we are different countries, we have different histories, different stages of development. We should show each other respect. But we’re very clear that political and economic development should go hand in hand, one supports the other.”
75 records banned by the BBC 1931-57
Acrobat Records: ACTRCD9015 (3xCD)
This latest CD set from Acrobat introduces us to the BBC’s policy 1931-57 to ban any record which trespassed their headings of:
Sexual and drug innuendo: George Formby With My Little Ukelele In My Hand; Cab Calloway Minnie The Moocher; Johnny Messner She Had To Go And Lose It At The Astor; Andrews Sisters Rum And Coca Cola; Kitty Wells It Wasn’t God Who Made Honkey Tonk Angels; Johnny Ray Such A Night; Billy May Main Title; Stan Freberg John And Marsha
Anti-religion: Arthur Askey The Christening
Bogus religiosity: Tommy Dorsey and Frank Sinatra Light A Candle In The Chaple; Frankie Laine Answer Me
Religion in popular songs: Billie Holiday God Bless The Child
Promoting suicide: Billie Holiday Gloomy Sunday
Advertising: Henry Hall Radio Times
Anti-BBC censorship: Norman Long We Can’t Let You Broadcast That
Classical music rehashed as jazz or pop: Tommy Dorsey Song Of India (Rimsky-Korsakov); Spike Jones Blue Danube (Strauss); Glenn Miller The Story Of A Starry Night(Tchaikovsky)
Nostalgia and Infidelity for troops: Mills Brothers Paper Doll; Bing Crosby I’ll Be Home For Christmas
Other: Bing Crosby Deep In The Heart Of Texas (so factory workers did not bang their tools in time!); Benjamin Brittain The Foggy, Foggy Dew (too tragic); George Melly Send Me To The ‘Lectric Chair (tasteless); Spike Jones I Went To Your Wedding (vulgar, ugly)
Poor Dennis Lotis, with the Ted Heath Orchestra, had 3 tracks banned by the BBC committees. Who were these people? There are far more tracks on the CDs than mentioned above. In fact, there are 75 tracks. All of them are fascinating in their own way. Great memories for me – and for you! Oh, I must not forget two more which were banned, that may surprise you: Jo Stafford It Is No Secret; Beverley Sisters Greensleeves.
Just buy it – to take you back to when you were – ‘Young and easy under the apple boughs’ (Dylan Thomas).
[This review is by Edward Black in the July edition of Just Jazz magazine].
Someone recently told me that in the circles he moves in, ‘Shiraz Socialist’ is not well thought of. I asked him to elucidate and he’s what he said:
“I think the point that people generally make is why is there this knockabout
blog/chat site where the politics of the AWL or similar get batted around quite
robustly and somewhat crudely. I think also someone said that some of the more
extreme points of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tse- Gamna thought get aired in a
blatantly and deliberately provocative way that possibly not all adherents of
the AWL and MLM-Gamna thought would be comfortable with. I’ve only looked at it
a couple of times and found it boring. Nothing at all about why real socialists
are in favour of the death penalty or the right to carry firearms, why women’s
periods are an implicitly revolutionary act. That sort of thing.”
Well, I’m so upset by this scathing put-down that I have lost all confidence and have developed writer’s block. Fortunately, there are three really good pieces of blogging I can recommend to you while I rebuild my morale:
* Dave on why the IMF likes Ahmadinejad
* Coatesy on how secularists got lost
* Simon on why Ed Miliband’s “reforms” are wrong
Hopefully, by tomorrow I’ll have recovered sufficiently to continue boring you all.
…aka Peter Falk (RIP)
Thanks, Lieutenant, for showing us that little scruffy guys can outsmart rich, arrogant smoothies. Thanks, Peter Falk, for making UK daytime TV tolerable for many years – a signal service to the unemployed.
Oh, just one more thing: how come if you and Lieutenant Kojak were on the same grade, he managed to dress so well, while you dressed so badly?
Telegraph obit here…
…The Graun’s here
As everyone knows, The Times is a vicious anti-union rag which has in the past been used by the right wing of Unite to attack the soft-left leadership of the union. Nevertheless, today’s front page lead on Unite is factually accurate (if rather strangely written in parts) and based upon a genuine internal presentation leaked to the paper.
The authors of the article (Sam Coates and Jill Sherman) could, however, do with a crash-course in British labour movement history: June 30th to be “the biggest co-ordinated strike for 100 years“? Would it were so! Have Coates and Sherman never heard of the events of 1926?
As Times articles cannot be read online without a subsciption, we are republishing it here as a service to Unite activists and others who take an interest in the British labour movement.
Above: Tony Woodley, who prepared the presentation
Union power hit by fall in income and members
Leadership urged to tackle ‘unsustainable losses’
Britain’s biggest union has lost its way and is making unsustainable financial and membership losses, according to a private internal presentation passed to The Times.
The outgoing head of Unite warned his successors to “stop the rot”, in a frank assessment, days before the biggest co-ordinated strike for 100 years.
The document acknowledges that some members have lost confidence in the union while falling membership is depriving it of income and relevance.
Other unions, including the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) and the Communications Workers Union, are also suffering membership losses, although Unite has shown the biggest drop.
The six-page presentation made last month suggests that the membership situation is much worse than previously admitted, with Unite ending 2010 with 76,000 fewer members. Between 2007 and 2010, the union lost 262,740 of its 1.44 million members. “This is unsustainable,” it concludes.
Unite is one of several unions preparing to take strike action in the autumn over pensions if talks with the Government break down. It signed an agreement this year with PCS, which represents civil servants, making clear that the two unions would jointly co-ordinate any action wherever possible. Both unions have lost income this year, which will eat into their strike funds.
Unite is not taking part in next Thursday’s strike over pensions, when PCS and two teaching unions will walk out for 24 hours, but has agreed to show its support by encouraging members to visit picket lines. Jobcentres, customs offices, driving centres and coastguard stations are set to close alongside hundreds of schools over the Government’s plan for public service workers to pay more into their pensions.
The Unite presentation was prepared by Tony Woodley, who left his position as joint general secretary in January. Mr Woodley told The Times yesterday: “We’re not a business so we’re not out to make a profit but it’s no good kidding yourself either. The upshot is that union membership is declining.”
The plan to revive the union’s fortunes includes an attempt to “restore workplace power and influence” and “rebuild workplace organisation”. Mr Woodley added: “I’ve made it very clear that we’re not going to war with employers.
“Its about convincing current members and non-members that being inside the union will be beneficial. If a workplace only has 12 per cent recognition, why would an employer listen?”
He said that Tony Blair pressed union leaders repeatedly to build support, but infighting at Unite, which was formed from the merger of his T&G union and Amicus, held them back.
The presentation says: “In recent years, our paying membership has declined by over 260,000, equivalent to the loss of 65 Regional Officers and 130 staff…a loss of revenue of £26 million, 15 per cent of our annual income.” This suggests that the union’s public accounts overestimate the true number of Unite members. According to official documents, there were 1,572,995 members in 2009, and its website boasts 1.5 million members, while the leaked document suggests there were 1.18 million members.
The Labour Party has received £5.3 million [from Unite – JL] since the election, although more than half of this came soon after the poll in order to pay campaigning bills. Ed Milliband accepted £100, 000 in August for his leadership campaign.
In its accounts for 2009, the last year publicly available. Unite received £132 million from members in contributions and subscriptions. Of this, £111 million was spent on administration. The union’s reserves of £162 million at the start of the year, were more than halved as £90 million was put into the pension scheme.
The PCS has also seen its membership decline, partly blaming it on job losses as a result of spending cuts.
NB: a lazy, disloyal bureaucrat’s reaction to Woodley’s presentation, here.