Don’t forget Ama Sumani!

February 16, 2008 at 6:56 pm (good people, Human rights, Jim D)

You may remember Ama Sumani, the terminally ill woman, dragged from her bed in a Cardiff hospital, and deported to Ghana (where treatment is not available except at great expense, which she cannot afford).

This disgraceful example of the inhumanity of Britain’s immigration laws attracted little publicity at the time. Friends, well-wishers and other decent people have now set up this website to draw attention to her plight, and to raise money. We at ‘Shiraz Socialist’ are proud to be able to associate ourselves with this cause, and urge all our readers to support Ama.

Hat tip: Liz (in the comments box)

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A wasted opportunity

February 15, 2008 at 12:03 pm (Galloway, Guardian, iraq, iraq war, Jim D, left, Respect, SWP)

I was there five years ago, one of the two million or so. I’ve never regretted attending and I still think the cause was fundamentally good.

But even at the time I and many other comrades had our worries. The self-congratulatory carnival atmosphere was all very well, but where were the Iraqi socialists, democrats and trade unionists amongst the assorted Quakers, sloanes, hippies and Islamists? Why was that disgusting pro-Saddam apologist Galloway on the platform but no representative of the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions? Why had left-wing Iraqis been excluded from the national committee of the Stop The War Coalition? Why was no-one willing to say that the only principled basis on which to oppose the war against a genocidal tyrant was to simultaneously support socialists and democrats in Iraq? And if the organisers were so determined to keep the demo to the narrow issue of “Don’t Attack Iraq”, then why tack on the tenously connected (and ambiguous) slogan “Freedom for Palestine”?

A mass movement could have been built on an internationalist basis. The SWP, Galloway and the Muslim Association of Britain (British wing of the clerical fascist Muslim Brotherhood) chose not to do that.

That’s why the campaign ended up indistinguishable from a right-wing isolationist movement, and why a generation of young activists and potential activists (young Muslims especially) were miseducted by those (most shamefully, the SWP) who should have known better.

Today’s Graun praises the march as having “brought together all sorts of people of all sorts of views in the biggest single political protest in British history, a glorious exercise of democratic rights. It included Kate Moss as well as George Galloway, and though the Stop the War Coalition that organised it had leftwing roots, many of those who turned out that day did not.”

What the Graun praises is exactly what worried me at the time.

I don’t insist that any anti-war movement be explicitly socialist. But unless it is internationalist, and makes active solidarity with democrats, socialists and trade unionists, then it will almost inevitably become (at best) a “realist” movement whose politics are indistinguishable from those of a Carrington or a Kissinger, or (at worst) an outright isolationist movement .

Yes it was big and it was exciting. But it turned out to be a tragic wasted opportunity. Today’s anniversary is not a day to celebrate, but to mourn what might have been.

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The Beautiful Game

February 14, 2008 at 10:47 pm (capitalism, Old Footballer, sport)

You may have noticed that Jim and I know nothing about sport, and that TWP (who does know about it) writes about other things. Hence, please welcome this post from our new guest correspondent, the Old Footballer. May it be the first of many! – VP

 

The recent announcement that football’s Premier League plans to expand its operations to include a round of overseas matches merely seems to confirm the fact that the English game is becoming more and more divorced from the real world. Astonishing salaries are demanded by players who are often little more than of an ordinary standard, the clubs charge exorbitant prices for replica shirts sold at huge mark-up prices, admission prices for games are set so high as to ensure many are excluded from watching the top clubs live and kick offs are set at unreasonable times to meet the demands of television. These are some of the gripes of the modern football fan, and now to add to this the prospect of this bizarre plan that in many ways threatens to alter the structure of the English game forever. Significantly there have been few backers for the proposals save for the 20 Premier League clubs who are supporting it and will benefit from it, should it go ahead.

The proposals have been designed with the aim of keeping all clubs on board: thus all 20 clubs will be involved in a round of matches to take place in one of five venues throughout the world. Australia, China, Hong Kong, Japan and the USA have all been mentioned as possible locations, although with the local associations in Australia, Japan and the USA already having expressed a lack of enthusiasm for the proposals, there must be some doubt over these. The incentive of course is money, apparently an additional £5 million or so for each club for playing just a single match, with, of course, the apparent threat that if all do not agree the leading half dozen clubs will go off and do their own thing anyway. To ensure no club loses out these matches will form an extra round, a factor which has attracted criticism as it removes a degree of fairness from the competition. Which unlucky club will have to face Manchester United or Chelsea on three occasions rather than two? On such factors will relegation from the Premier League be decided in the future, or so it seems.

Why do the Premier League clubs feel the need to expand operations to countries like China, Japan and the USA? The simple answer is that the domestic market has become saturated. While Premier League attendances increased by around 33% between 1992-93 and 2001-02, they have remained static ever since. This is nothing to do with the state of the football economy: many grounds are full to near capacity every week. There is only so much money you can extract from domestic fans, many of whom are now only able to show their commitment by wearing the club’s replica shirt and watching their club live on Sky. If you expand your market into China, the Middle East and USA the scope for selling overpriced replica shirts and other souvenirs expands by many millions. Except, of course the ‘brand’ we are talking about is not a mobile phone or a motor car, it is a game, a game which until relatively recent times had its roots firmly planted in the local community.

A driving force is the desire to globalise the English Premier League as a brand. To some extent this draws from developments in US sports to globalise their particular brands. The NFL (American Football) has begun to expand operations with a limited number of overseas games, the first of which took place at Wembley Stadium in October 2007. The NBA (basketball) has developed its global presence with events such as the China Games, Europe Live and Basketball without Boundaries. However, while the NFL and NBA are indeed ‘brands’ as well as a form of sport, and globalisation may well be a sensible path to adopt, football is rather different. For a start football already has a global presence, unfortunately for the Premier League clubs that global presence is controlled by FIFA and so attempts to globalise a national domestic competition, such as the Premier League, are likely to meet with serious opposition.

Should we be surprised by the proposals? In a word, no. Football became a business in the 1880s with the introduction of professionalism. The formation of the Football League in 1888 was not particularly designed to find the best team in the land but was a device to ensure that a group of leading clubs had a guarantee of fixtures against each other, thus maximising their revenues from gate money. Football at its highest level in England has not been ‘the People’s Game’ for over a century. We should not even be surprised by the attempts to imitate developments in US professional sport. Way back in the nineteenth century the concept of the Football League was borrowed from US baseball, while throughout the 1890s the two sports drew ideas from each other, these being the only examples of professionalised team sports at the time (cricket, although using professionals, was still mostly amateur). One long forgotten example involved plans for Football League clubs to form professional baseball clubs to play in the summer months and so maximise the use of their grounds throughout the year. The US baseball clubs, seeing the potential, followed suit and established a soccer league in the off season. The two ventures failed miserably, disputes regarding imported players playing a major role in both cases.

However, the key issue with the Premier League’s globalisation campaign is the extent to which football has become a vehicle for commercialisation as opposed to a vehicle for physical activity and entertainment. Although English football may have been a business for 120 years or so, it is only since the 1980s that it has begun to travel along a seemingly out of control route towards the anarchism of a ‘free market’. Prior to the 1980s the clubs, even at their worst, seemed to have at least some regard for the fans and the local community. Club directors may not necessarily have been the most popular of men, but in most cases they were local men and fans could see they had some connection with the club. Developments over the last 25 years or so have seen English football acquire certain characteristics that set it apart from the game in other countries; significantly some of these are a direct result of Government policy. Indeed, the situation in the Premier League in many ways mirrors that in the wider economy: top businesses (clubs) bought and sold by wealthy overseas businessmen; large numbers of imported players drawn from all areas of the globe; a complete obsession with moving towards an uncontrolled market free of all restraints; commercialisation and profit taking precedence over all other considerations.

This growing commercialisation is why fans are becoming more and more disillusioned with the game. The roots of all the English Premier League clubs lie within their own communities: one reason why football rather than, for example, cricket, could claim to be the People’s Game. That link between club and community has gradually become more distant over time, but during  the last 25 years it has all but ceased to exist as commercial factors have come to override all others. It is significant that the Premier League clubs have failed to acknowledge the depth of hostility that has greeted their plans. Clearly the views of the fans no longer matter to them. Sadly it is also the case that the fans will be a minor consideration when a final decision is made. If the globalisation plans are to be halted it is likely that FIFA will be the body to prevent them, for rather ironically, given its own corporate status, at least the mandarins of FIFA acknowledge the fact that both fans and community have a role to play in the modern game.

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One Perfect Rose

February 14, 2008 at 7:59 am (Jim D, literature)

A single flow’r he sent me, since we met.

All tenderly his messenger he chose;

Deep-hearted, pure, with scented dew still wet –

One perfect rose

****************************************************

I knew the language of the floweret;

‘My fagile leaves,’ it said, ‘his heart enclose.’

Love long has taken for his amulet

One perfect rose.

************************************************** 

Why is it no one ever sent me yet

One perfect limousine, do you suppose?

Ah no, it’s always just my luck to get

One perfect rose.

-Dorothy Parker

(Hat tip: Lois)

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A not entirely empty gesture

February 13, 2008 at 3:09 pm (Anti-Racism, Human rights, Jim D, Racism)

As Hak Mao points out,  contemporary apologies for the misdeeds of previous generations are usually meaningless – especially when no financial cost is involved.

I went further a couple of years ago and argued that  “To apologise for something that you are not personally responsible for, is to insult the intelligence of the person or persons you are ‘apologising’ to.”

But Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s formal apology to the country’s Aboriginal people makes rather more sense than most of these empty gestures. For a start, the particular policies that prompted Rudd’s apology (the “assimilation” policies that created the “stolen generations”) were in force until 1970: so Rudd is apologising to thousands of still-living people who were the direct victims of these appalling policies. A 1997 report called Bringing Them Home recommended not only an apology, but also financial reperations.

Rudd’s apology was also accompanied by an apparently firm commitment and targets for improving Aboriginal living standards and cutting their levels of illiteracy, infant mortality and early death within a decade.

The response from Aboriginal/Indiginous people seems to have been overwhelmingly positive and only good can come of it in terms of race relations and reconciliation.

But as the Queensland Aboriginal leader Noel Pearson says about the lack of compensation:

“Blackfellas will get the words, the whitefellas keep the money”.

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A reactionary diversion

February 12, 2008 at 5:00 pm (Europe, Jim D, left, stalinism, wankers)

I have just been sent an e-mailed circular from a group of left-wing trade unionists, urging me to support something called “Let the People Decide”. Now, in general I’m all in favour of people deciding things, though I’d usually want to know which people, deciding what, before committing myself.

In this instance, it turns out that the “people” in question are the British People as a whole, and the issue is a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty.  A mass lobby of Parliament had been called for Wednesday 27 February, organised by the formidable alliance of the Democracy Movement, Open Europe and Trade Unionists Against the EU Constiution (what is that gives me the idea that these impressive-sounding campaigns are, in fact, the same people wearing different hats?). The immediate objective of the Lobby (as opposed to its unstated long-term objective of pulling the UK out of Europe altogether) appears to be to persuade Labour and other MP’s to vote with the Tories:

“Although Labour rebels will join the Tories and the SNP to back an ammendment, there is no clear majority in favour of one.

“Crucial to winning a Commons vote is to put sufficient pressure on other Labour MPs AND Lib Dem and Plaid Cymru MPs who have yet to commit themselves…” say the organisers.

And just in case you’re worried that some elementary knowledge of the subject may be a requirement, they can put your mind at rest: “Anyone can lobby their MP – you do not have to be an expert”.

What is signally missing from any of the propaganda that I’ve seen for this event, is any coherant argument as to why socialists and trade unions should oppose the Treaty, and why -even if it’s true that it’s a “further step…towards a United States of Europe“, we would want to oppose that, either?

The only argument for a referendum that I can think of is the purely democratic one:  that Labour promised a referendum on the EU Constitution in its last manifesto, and the Lisbon Treaty is generally recognised to be much the same thing.

Beyond that, I can see little case for a referedum and none whatsoever for advocating a “no” vote. Especially as to do so inevitably means associating yourself with nutters, border-line racists and kitsch-left semi- Stalinists.

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Turkish parliament liberalises headscarf laws

February 10, 2008 at 9:06 am (AK Party, chp, dtp, Islam, politics, students, turkey, voltairespriest)

PhotobucketIn a stunning victory for secularism and pluralism over the colonial-model state direction that has characterised social policy in the past, the AK Partisi majority in the Turkish parliament has voted to liberalise the law regarding the wearing of the headscarf in universities. The law, which amends the Turkish constitution in altering the state’s stance on the headscarf, will be signed by President Abdullah Gul and students will then have the right if they so choose to wear the headscarf whilst they study and move around campus.

One can imagine the responses to this, and apparently today we are now facing the spectacle of the nominally left-of-centre opposition Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi and Demokratik Sol Partisi, lining up to organise protests. The CHP also intends to take the law to the Supreme Court of Appeals, whose new head has revealed attitudes which may indicate that he would look kindly on such an action.

It is also of note that the leftish, pro-Kurdish nationalist Demokratik Toplum Partisi actually gave some support to the AK government in the vote, thus scotching the notion that this was a case of an Islamic government simply steamrolling a secular opposition. The ultranationalist, far-right Milliyet Hareket Partisi (presumably for reasons of its own) also supported the AK government in the vote.

Personally, I think that the new law is a good thing. It is a common misconception on the left, one perpetuated by both sides in many of our debates about religion and law, that secularism equates with state-enforced bans on religious expression. In fact that is not what the term means and it never has done so. Secularism merely refers to equality of treatment under the law for those of all religions and none, and to non-religious control of the state. There is, therefore, no threat at all posed to secularism by a 21 year old woman wearing a headscarf whilst she attends lectures at the University of Istanbul. Rather, it is a welcome expression of those very freedoms that those of us who do call ourselves secularists on the basis of a proper understanding of the concept, hold so dear. For that reason I for one am pleased to see that a law has been passed which facilitates those freedoms, and I hope that others on the left will see the change in the same light.

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HOPI Comrades Protest Apologists

February 9, 2008 at 11:12 am (Human rights, Iran, left, liberation, TWP)

I am re-posting an excellent report by Chris Strafford from HOPI in Manchester on a meeting of the Iran Society which was sponsored by Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran (Casmii) and Manchester Students Union Iranian Society. People were not allowed to give out leaflets so HOPI and comrades from the Workers Communist Party of Iran did it the old fashioned way – by disrupting the apologists and leafletting the audience anyway. Here’s Chris’s report:

Manchester Students Union Iranian Society and the Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran (Casmii) hosted a meeting titled ‘Nuclear Iran, uncut and uncensored’. The whole thing was filmed by Press TV, the English-language state channel from Iran, and was constantly interrupted by scuffles, as comrades from the Worker-communist Party of Iran-Hekmatist (WCPI-H) and Hopi asked pointed questions and heckled the pro-regime speakers.

Hopi North West, which has been building up links with the Iranian community to help push forward our principled anti-war politics, had enquired about holding a stall, but the chair of the Iranian Society, Hadi Ziaei, told us that “unauthorised postering, flyering or distribution of materials is prohibited and the select number of groups allowed to do so have arranged with us well in advance”. The two institutions allowed to push their propaganda were Campaign Iran and the Iranian state. However, amid the chaos Hopi and the WCPI-H were able to hand out plenty of anti-war, pro-solidarity leaflets.

The event was opened by the reading of a passage from the Koran, then by introductions from each of the panel, which was chaired by Yvonne Ridley, a most vulgar apologist for both the Iranian state and the Taliban. Speaking were Chris Rae, who is vice-chair of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and a member of the Labour Party; Paul Ingram, former executive director of the British American Security Information Council; Chris Rundle, former British diplomat; and Abbas Edalat, a founder of Casmii.

Edalat believes that people are too easily confused, so the anti-war movement should keep quiet about the atrocities of the Iranian regime. Before the cameras started rolling we were treated to lectures on the legal right of Iran to acquire nuclear power and a very pro-regime history lesson on the Iranian revolution, which curiously missed out the mass slaughter of revolutionaries, trade unionists, students and democrats.

Hopi comrades suspected we could be in for a rough time and we were right. After the first question from the floor, which centred on Iran’s right to have nuclear power, I was called up next. I asked the panel whether they thought Iran is anti-imperialist despite its support for the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan and its neoliberal economic policy. I also asked the panel to join me in calling for the immediate release of Mansoor Osanloo and his comrades and all students still in prison.

As I finished, the room erupted with shouts and cheers – the WCPI-H had brought about 35 comrades to the meeting. Leaflets were thrown into the air and banners unfolded, as staff and some pro-regime members of the audience began attacking the WCPI-H comrades. There were scuffles in the aisles and all around us. It was a good 20 minutes before everyone sat back down and filming resumed. The question was never answered.

The WCPI-H had people all over the room and the next contribution came from one of their members. The comrade said that she was strongly against war and against the regime getting nuclear weapons. She warned that a regime which had killed an entire generation would use these weapons against its own people. After shouts and further pushing Edalat responded that any such crimes are “dwarfed by the violations of human rights by the USA and Israel”. That is true enough, but what Edalat and so many of the anti-war left in Britain forget is that it is our duty as internationalists to support workers’, women’s, LGBT, students’ and all progressive struggles against repressive regimes, at the same time as opposing imperialism.

The next contribution from the floor came from Saeed Arman of the WCPI-H, who asked why the panel were supporting the “fascist regime of Iran who kill the Iranian people” and also questioned why this meeting was being held in the University of Manchester, when 81 Iranian students are still rotting and being tortured in prison, with many of them now resorting to hunger strike. Again university security was called in to bring order, as comrade Arman held up pictures of some of the Iranian students now in prison. This was another question never answered.

Ex-diplomat Rundle claimed that Iran is “the most democratic country in the Middle East”. Now, I am not one to be too sceptical, but a country that imprisons, tortures and executes those who oppose the regime or love someone of the same sex might reasonably have its democratic credentials called into question. Edalat stated that we should not see the Iranian regime as “black or white” – there are, after all, shades of grey. There are no shades of grey when it comes to trade unionism, socialism, women’s and LGBT liberation. There exists a clear side which communists and all anti-imperialists must take – and that is with the oppressed, dispossessed and impoverished.

Later on Edalat declared: “Anyone who is Iranian and patriotic should stand against an attack on Iran” – to which comrade Arman replied: “and the fascist regime!” This was a signal for further eruptions, with WCPI-H comrades unfolding banners and security again intervening. It was at this point that Vicky Thompson of the Hopi steering committee was attacked and it was only when security got involved that her assailant stopped trying to take her leaflets. The arguments and pushing carried on into the lobby and out into the driveway until the police arrived.

This article was printed in the CPGB’s paper the ‘Weekly Worker’ and at http://hammer-and-sickle.blogspot.com/

The event was covered by the Hekmatists TV channel Partow TV. You can see their coverage at http://www.partowtv.com/

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Sharia law in Britain

February 9, 2008 at 12:39 am (Anti-Racism, Civil liberties, Human rights, Islam, Jim D, politics, religion, Respect, secularism, thuggery, Uncategorized)

Rowan Williams’ friends have argued that he didn’t mean to suggest that Sharia law should have equal status, or be an alternative to, British law, or be in any way legally enforceable in Britain: simply that it be recognised as a form of “dispute resolution”, in the way that ACAS and other bodies settle disputes without recourse to the courts. And that Sharia would be limited to financial and marital matters: the favourite comparitor now being used by Dr Williams’ friends, is the ‘Beth Din’ courts used by some orthodox Jews to settle disputes.

This is a false comparison: The Beth Din courts operate within the framework of existing British law; they do not exercise any form of alternative jurisdiction; participation is entirely voluntary and participants retain the right to revert to ‘normal’ British law at any time. it is the distinction between allowing for cultural differentiation within civil society, and allowing different state legal systems to co-exist and be applied to different members of the population. These are quite distinct matters, as Rowan Williams (who, everyone seems to agree, is highly intelligent) surely ought to realise.

Anyway, let’s take Williams’s case at its least objectionable, and accept that he’s proposing a ‘voluntary’ means of ‘dispute resolution’, for financial and marital matters…

I’ll tell you a true story that helped shape my own attitude to these matters…

A couple of years ago, a woman from a Muslim background started doing some unpaid voluntary work in my workplace. She proved herself to be a capable, reliable and resourceful person. I once asked her why she was, apparently, happy to be working for nothing: she replied that it was the only way she could gain some experience and have something to put on her CV. She never discussed her personal circumstances with me, and I never asked.

Then one day, out of the blue, a man burst into our office, uttering very nasty threats, and demanding to see this woman (who -fortunately- wasn’t there at the time): it turned out that this guy was her estranged husband. He threatened colleagues of mine and the police were called. The police said they couldn’t do anything at that stage, but (from what I understand), they were called in again, shortly afterwards, after an incident outside the school where the woman’s kids attended, and the husband was arrested and charged with Threatening Behaviour.

I then recieved a phone call: it was from a local Muslim activist, who is also a relative of this woman. He said -very friendly- “I’m sure we can sort this matter out:  just tell us where she is, and we’ll deal with her; the charges will be dropped, and you lot will have no more trouble.”

This guy had been, for many years feted by the left (predominently “Socialist Action”) in the local Labour Party, and is a well-known activist in the cause of Kashmir. By the time of the events I’m describing, he had switched over to Respect, and was accompanying Salma Yaqoob round the ward, in the run-up to her council election success.

I’m proud to say that we told this character where he could get off; the woman is still in hiding; ‘Socialist Action’ and ‘Respect’ still happily associate with this character; the husband was prosecuted (but only because this remarkable woman had the courage to stand her ground and defy her family and ‘community’); I and my colleagues no longer regard ‘Socialist Action’ or either wing of ‘Respect’ as having anything whatsoever to do with socialism (or, indeed, simple human decency), in any conceivable shape or form…

…and that’s why I oppose Sharia law being recognised in Britain under any circumstances.

Rowan Williams is a stupid, dangerous, reactionary idiot. 

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This is how serious workers debate…

February 8, 2008 at 9:00 pm (class, Jim D, labour party, left, socialism, unions, workers)

A million miles away from the petty bourgeois milieu of Respect  (whether “Renewal” or “SWP”), serious working class militants are debating the present state of the Labour movement and Party,  and to what extent the trade union movement (including the Left) must accept responsibilty:

As a Labour member and still a socialist, a stone’s throw away from Don Valley, I was shocked and offended at the comments regarding the unemployed by the local Labour MP, Ms Caroline Flint.

For the minister to attack and stigmatise the homeless and council house  tenants is insulting. It’s like a return to Victorian values and the workhouse.

No wonder charities are up in arms at her comments.

It’s an absolute disgrace to attack the vulnerable in this way.

The Government also ensures the DSS are used to encourage people to snoop/spy on their neighbours whilst MPs do what they like and don’t resign for anything. No wonder politicians are regarded in such low esteem by the public – whilst they bleed the public purse dry.

There’s not many families, housing estates and former industrial heartlands like South Yorkshire, who are untouched by unemployment and low pay.

The comments are not what should be said by a “Labour” minister, regarless of “New Labour” or not.

Anyway, what is “affordable housing”, and “affordable” for whom? To the developer, to Mps, fatcats; or those on low pay having to struggle and facing massive hikes in fuel bills, mortgage rates, food and other necessities of life?

A few facts Ms Flint may like to consider:

The Government has the worst record (of any UK Government – JD) when it comes to building council homes and also ignoring its own conference decisions regarding council housing.

The impact of decimating manufacturing industry and well-paid jobs.

The exporting of quality and well-paid jobs to low-wage economies in China and Eastern Europe.

The exploitation and two-tier system of agency and temporary workers, despite the manifesto commitment.

The retention of Thatcher’s anti-trade union laws after three terms in office.

The attacks on the employment and dignity of the disabled by the closure of Remploy factories.

Unlike some honourable MPs who who can employ family members at the taxpayers’ expense, the electorate do not have the same privilage.

John McDonnell MP got it spot on when he said, “The Government should attack poverty and not the poor. As the fuel poverty report reveals that one in six households is now living in fuel poverty, the Government seems focused only on demonising and punishing the most vulnerable.

“Instead of attacking poverty, the Government’s Housing Minister has launched another attack on the poor. A succession of statements by Purnell, Freud and now Flint, demonstrate that the government is cut off from the reality of the poverty and insecurity people face in our community.

“Sanctions and threats already exist within the benefits system, so to threaten to make people homeless is more brutal than anything we’ve seen since the end of the Poor Law.”

Ms Flint: perhaps you should read the ‘Ragged Trousered Philanthopists’ and ‘Animal Farm’.

Ged Demsey

Unite Amicus NEC (Personal Capacity)

REPLY:

Well put Ged: but let us not forget that we, the trade union movement, have allowed this attitude from Labour MPs to gain momentum in OUR Party and as each year goes by they will believe they they are right and we are wrong because we are not doing anything to make them accountable to the people who vote for them.

The current belief in the Parliamentary Labour Party is that we the voters will still turn out for them because we fear the Tories more than we do Labour policies. We need to get the message across to them that too many traditional Labour voters will vote Tory, sadly, because they feel betrayed by this Government – and betrayed they have been.

The trade union movement must also accept responsibility for the part we have played. We have allowed New Labour to move our Party too far to the right in our political world (and) we have allowed them the luxury of non-accountability. We let the bully-boys of the Right of the Party elect a leader unopposed and what has he done? he has eroded more of the influence we (once) had over Party policy. When are we going to learn? No doubt when it is too late and we have a Prime Minister called Cameron and we, the working people of this country, really learn how life was in Victorian times: by living it now.

In the fight,

Gordon Lean

(From Workers’ News)

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