A good old fashioned victory

June 20, 2008 at 10:37 pm (Champagne Charlie, class, unions, workers)

Nine per cent this year followed by five per cent in 2009… and the government’s below-inflation unofficial pay policy shaken to its foundations

And all achieved by good old fashioned solidarity with just 640 Shell tanker drivers out for four days, picketing the 14 refinaries round the country and turning away non-Shell drivers. The anti-union laws didn’t seem to come into it. With Shell filling stations running dry, T&G-Unite announced a further four-day strike in 72 hours time. The Shell contractors Hoyer UK and Suckling (without doubt under instuctions from Shell itself), gave way and offered the drivers virtually everything they’d been asking for. No wonder the T&G’s Len McClusky was punching the air as he came out of the negotiations.

Clear cut victories like this have been thin on the ground in recent years, so why isn’t T&G-Unite crowing about this from the rooftops? You’d have thought that Tony Woodley (and Derek Simpson) would want to make the most of this, if only as a PR boost for the new union. But the T&G’s website doesn’t even mention it.

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I quite agree…

June 20, 2008 at 6:28 am (blogging, blogosphere, Human rights, voltairespriest)

… albeit with the (rather funny) post, and not with Will’s dumb-ass comments.

Looks like there’s been trouble at t’mill. At this rate they’ll soon be renaming that blog “Just William”.

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When a formally correct statement is an affront…

June 18, 2008 at 7:00 pm (Afghanistan, Galloway, Human rights, Jim D, left, literature, stalinism, strange situations, war, women)

Maybe it’s just me and my well-known paranoia, but I found something that Jeremy Corbyn wrote in today’s Morning Star quite disturbing and -indeed- angering:

“While no-one of the left would support the oppressive nature of the previous Taliban regime in relation to women or education, everyone would understand the feeling of national anger against the occupation of their country, which is increasing with the length of time that coalition troops are there” (Afghanistan: the next Iraq? – Morning Star June 18 2008).

But even I had to stop and ask myself why that superficially unobjectionable little paragraph had such an effect.

I think it’s in part because of that opening “While no-one of the left…”: it makes it sound as though it goes without saying that “no-one on the left” has any sympathy with the Taliban, whereas it’s well-known that quite a few so-called “left-wingers” (including the Workers Power sect and leading figures in Respect Renewal, including Galloway), do.

But there’s more to it than that: Corbyn’s choice of word to describe the Taliban (“oppressive”) just seems so inadequate and suggests that he really needs to be reminded of just what the Taliban did when they were in power.

Corbyn’s casual use of the word “oppressive” somehow brings to mind Lillian Hellman’s early 70’s admission that Stalin was responsible for “many sins”: the terminology is so nonchalant and off-hand that the criticism itself, though formally correct, is almost an affront (and as one biographer noted “to a free spirit like Hellman, a sin is something forbidden by wrong-headed authority, something harmless and pleasurable like overeating or sleeping with your neighbour; to have it also encompass the murder of several million Russians would seem to be over-taxing three letters“).

Corbyn, imho, is actually one of the better and more honest of the present crop of left Labour MP’s: but some of the stuff he comes out with (especially in the Star) comes dangerously close to the worst kind of kitsch Pablo-Stalinism.

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Who’s laughing now?

June 15, 2008 at 11:00 pm (Civil liberties, democracy, elections, Human rights, labour party, perversity, political groups, politics, strange situations, voltairespriest)

PhotobucketDavid Davis’ decision to resign his seat in Haltemprice and Howden in order to force a by-election over the 42 day detention issue has predictably caused an absolute furore in the media. Initially it was felt that Davis had overstepped the mark, that David Cameron was furious as a consequence, that the Tories were in disarray and that therefore Gordon Brown was off the hook. Government advisors were swarming around journalists crowing that the Conservative Party had once again shown that it was unfit for office, and that therefore There Is No Alternative to Gordon. None of the other parties planned to stand against Davis.

Except that three days later it doesn’t all look quite so rosy, does it? Davis has effectively kept the 42 day issue in the public press, has constantly come back to the issue on which he is wanting to fight the election, and now appears to have a growing base of support, including cross-party backing from Medway MP Bob Marshall-Andrews. His staff claim to have been flooded with endorsements from ordinary members of the public across the political spectrum. And finally it looks like he will have some kind of pro-42 days, high profile opponent, possibly in the form of gurning circus side-show Kelvin MacKenzie, who is being backed by the Australian-American Rupert Murdoch. Further, if rumours of Downing Street involvement in MacKenzie’s candidacy are true, then No 10 staffers will effectively have been complicit in putting up a candidate in Haltemprice and Howden who is to Davis’ right, thus enabling him to come at a government backed candidate from the left. Lest we forget, trying to attack the Tories from the right did Tamsin Dunwoody no good in Crewe and Nantwich, and Davis’ constituency sure ain’t as Labour-friendly as Crewe. Either way I think it’s possible to be sure that Davis has at least a reasonable chance of beating the creator of News Bunny.

What are the implications of all this? Davis has certainly set the cat among the pigeons, both stealing the limelight spectacularly from Cameron and (although they didn’t realise it at first) really putting the scews on the Government. But does the situation also not raise the issue of a wider realignment in politics between on the one hand those who believe in freedom within the law and in the law as a guarantor of freedom, and on the other hand those who believe that the law should be a kind of giant behaviour regulator which directs our life choices towards those which a (presumably benevolent, at least in intent) powerful state knows to be right for us? I know which one ofthose beliefs brought me on to the left in the first place: I have always been a social libertarian who believes that state non-interference in private beliefs and practices is the best way of ensuring that people of all lifestyles and beliefs may live in equality under the law. I could never understand why anyone would want to use the law as a tool of oppression, and for me that belief has never wavered.

We are faced with a situation whereby a Tory candidate is standing for election on a platform as fundamental as “save Magna Carta”, and whereby also it is entirely probable that a Labour candidate (or a surrogate candidate taking the government’s view) will stand to abolish it. Not an easy call for a left that means what it says by freedom under the law.

I have never voted Tory in my life. But I can’t simply put my hand on my heart and say I hope Davis loses.

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They’re all welcome here (or should be)

June 15, 2008 at 10:29 pm (Anti-Racism, asylum, Civil liberties, Human rights, immigration, Jim D)

Like Neil at the Drink Soaked Trots, I want you to read Mark Haddon’s powerful account of a visit to a Migrants’ Resource Centre. I defy anyone to read this and continue to defend Britain’s present immigration policy.

Shamefully, Britain has even betrayed those who laid their lives on the line in the (unsuccessful so far, as it has turned out) hope of freedom and democracy in Iraq.

Hope, as Orwell said, lies with the proles.

To make Britain a slightly better and more civilised place, join or support this lot

…and/or this lot.

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On this day 793 years ago…

June 15, 2008 at 9:53 am (Civil liberties, comedy, history, Human rights, Jim D)

The Lad ‘Imself remembers Ms Carta:

…he’s good, but he’s no David Davis…

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Watching a Uriah Heep collapse into confusion

June 14, 2008 at 11:40 pm (deviants, grovelling, left, voltairespriest)

It comes to something when (I believe to slightly misquote a West Wing character) a lifelong left winger turns, not into Satan, but perhaps into the man who runs to Costcutter to buy Satan a pack of cigarettes. However it would seem that Andy Nooman has achieved just such a lofty goal. Observe if you will one of his latest posts:

Waltham Forest Forest Ward By-Election 12 June 2008

Lib Dem, 977, 36.9%
Lab, 927, 35.0%
Con, 507, 19.1%
Green, 184, 6.9%
*** Left List 56, 2.1% ***

Result 6 weeks ago in Constituency Member section of GLA Election:

Forest Ward GLA Constituency Member 1 May 2008
NB does not include any postal votes

The Labour Party, 1143, 42.5%
Conservative Party, 477, 17.7%
Liberal Democrats, 382, 14.2%
Green Party, 288, 10.7%
*** Left List, 144, 5.4% ***
Christian Party, 124, 4.6%
UK Independence Party, 79, 2.9%
English Democrats, 51, 1.9%

How much longer ridiculous charade can this go on?

Well bugger me backwards, the SWP got a crap vote in Waltham Forest. Next thing he’ll be telling us that the leader of of Respect (coff) Renewal is an anti-abortionist clown who pretended to be a cat in a weird creepy semi-erotic way (with Rula Lenska) on Celebrity BB, who leads a “party” which is actually a thin crust of ex-SWP careerists hanging off communalist votes in the forlorn hope of being invited to follow their leader back into a desperate Gordon’s open arms.

Keep trucking Nooman. And for the love of God, please buy some new shades.

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Irish referendum: a victory for reaction

June 14, 2008 at 5:42 pm (anonymous, capitalism, democracy, Europe, immigration, Jim D, left, politics, religion, socialism, unions)

First of all, let’s be clear: the Irish people have voted by a clear majority (53.6 to 46.4 per cent) to reject the Lisbon treaty. And as the treaty has to be ratified by all 27 EU member states, then the Irish vote should, under the EU’s own rules, kill off Lisbon once and for all. 

Unfortunately, the European Commission president Jose Manuael Barroso continues to insist that the treaty is “alive” and calls upon member states to continue the ratification process. Here in Britain, Gordon Brown has made it clear that the bill implementing the treaty will continue its journey through the House of Lords next week. This breathtaking stupidity plays into the hands of the so-called Eurosceptics, portraying European integration as an undemocratic, elitist project, driven forward against the will of the people, by arrogant, corrupt and self-serving politicians and bureaucrats.

The democratic argument is as plain as a pikestaff: the Lisbon treaty is now dead and should be publicly laid to rest once and for all.

That’s the democratic position and it’s simply embarrassing to hear British government representatives like Ed Balls and the hapless, semi-coherent Jim Murphy trying to wriggle out of it, as both could be heard doing on Radio 4 today.

But the Irish vote was not a vote for anything even remotely progressive, and no-one on the left should delude themselves that it was. Here’s what the virulently anti-European Daily Mail  has to say in welcoming the result:

“The people rejected the treaty for many of the same reasons 82 per cent of the British public have said no themselves in a poll for the Daily Mail last year.

“The Irish feared the Treaty would dilute their country’s power in fundamental areas. The vote was also swung by concerns over large scale immigration from Eastern Europe.”

The Mail then goes on to list “What Swayed Them”:

* New Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowan undermined the Yes Campaign when he admitted he had not read whole Lisbon Treaty

* Voters were baffled by the Treaty’s 346 pages of legalese. Ireland’s EU commissioner said no ‘sane’ person could read it from cover to cover

* Resentment against 230,000 Polish immigrants blamed by many for job shortages. In less than a decade, non-indeginous population of Ireland has shot up from 1 per cent to 12 per cent

* Women voters were put off by a fear that men could be conscripted to fight in a future European Army

* Sinn Fein said that after struggling for centuries to escape British domination, Ireland should not accept a Brussels takeover

* Pro-life campaigners warned the treaty could put Ireland’s abortion ban under threat

* Irish farmers, fattened by  decades of generous EU subsidies, warned their handouts would be drastically cut – with devastating effects for rural areas

* Business said the treaty said the Treaty would force Ireland to raise its 12.5 corporation tax

OK, that’s just what the Daily Mail says. But it’s backed up by overwhelming anecdotal evidence from reliable observers of all political sympathies. Here, for instance is Fintan O’ Toole, assistant editor of the Irish Times in today’s Graun:

“The other decisive factor (apart from a generalised distrust of the ‘political class’ – JD) was, paradoxically, the very incoherence of the no side. It was made up of people who actually can’t stand each other. There were rightwing Catholics who warned (against the advice of Catholic bishops) that Lisbon would open the way to legalised abortion and prostitution, and leftwing liberals who have fought bitterly against those same people in previous referendums on abortion and divorce.

“There were leftwing anti-militarists who warned that the treaty compromised Irish neutrality: we got ‘No’ stickers with nuclear mushroom clouds, as if Lisbon is a suburbof Armageddon. And, in the form of Libertas – a mysterious group that emerged from nowhere with a great deal of money to spend – there were people  with strong ties to US military contractors.” 

So there you have it: all the available evidence suggests that the Irish vote was motivated by incoherent resentment against ‘the political class’, fear of immigration, opposition to abortion, business’s fears about increased corporation tax, farmers’ fears of losing subsidies, and vague (unfounded) concerns about neutrality and conscription to a European army. None of them (apart, perhaps, from the first) particularly left-wing causes. And yet the majority of the “left” insists on seeing this as a “progessive” result. The Morning Star, for instance keeps trying to suggest that the vote was really about the Ruffert judgement and the Irish Ferries dispute – as though the majority of voters were motivated by concerns about Polish builders’ pay rates in Lower Saxony, or (only slightly more realistically) the sacking of Irish ferry workers and their replacement by Latvians…

In fact, both these anti-union decisions by the EU court were the result of the inadequacy of European integration to date,  and the failure of the left and the unions to campaign for and achieve a levelling-up of standards throughout Europe. In any case, both those decisions are entirely irrelevant to the Lisbon treaty, and were most certainly not the issues at stake in the Irish referendum! Meanwhile, improved rights for agency workers and increased protection under the Working Time Directive have been forced upon the British “Labour” government by the EU’s Social Affairs Council, according to the TUC.

The history of the EU and its predecessors is full of examples of the so-called “left” making de facto common cause with the hard-right against European integration, and occassionally achieving ‘success’ in various referenda as a result. Without exception these ‘successes’ have proved to be ‘successful’ only for the right, for racists, for the worst type of shyster businessmen and for reaction and islolationism in general. The anti-European left is a stupid, self-harming left: it needs to get a grip, jettison its irrational anti-Europeanism and start developing a positive programme for European integration.

P.S: These Irish leftists conclude that support for (or refusal to oppose) the EU is a “cargo cult“; in view of their own noticeable failure to put forward one single reason why workers should oppose the Lisbon treaty or, indeed, the EU itself,  I’ll leave it up to readers to judge whether a rational, positive view of Europe, or the traditional Stalinist/”left”-reformist knee-jerk anti-Europeanism, represents a form of ‘cargo cultism’…

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The world turn’d upside down…

June 12, 2008 at 6:50 pm (Civil liberties, Human rights, Jim D, perversity, Tory scum, truth)

I admit it: I nearly choked on my lunchtime bitter shandy and just for a moment I was impressed:

OK: for more than a a moment, if you want the truth.

And there was this in today’s Graun

“The differences between socialism, conservatism and liberalism were (the late W H Greenleaf) argued, like differences between people, and what mattered was not some one-dimensional essence, but the particular mix, or mixes, just as a person was characterised not by one doctrine or belief, but by all the traits that made them an individual.”

I was close to cracking up, I can tell you.

So thank gawd for good ol’ Dave (Osler, not Davis!), sanity and some eternal truths.

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‘Lefties’ vote for 42 days

June 11, 2008 at 7:45 pm (Civil liberties, Cuba, democracy, Europe, Gordon Brown, Human rights, Jim D, labour party, left, Uncategorized)

So, Gordon Brown and the New Labour machine have managed to win the vote on detention without charge for 42 days, by just 315 votes to 306. In effect, that means that this fundamental attack on habeas corpus went through on the back of the nine Democratic Unionist votes, following an alleged £200 million sweetener for Stormont, to offset the effects of water charges in Northern Ireland.

The support of the DUP (plus Anne Widdecombe and some UKIP nonentity) is not that surprising, though even New Labour might be expected to feel just a little embarrassed about relying on their support. But what about the capitulation of those heroic tribunes of the ‘left’,  the Jons Cruddas and Trickett – and what will their Compass fan club have to say about it?

Even more extraordinary (if true) are the rumours that at least a few Cuba-supporting Labout MP’s were bought off with promises that Brown will push for a relaxation of the EU’s trade restrictions on Cuba. Talk about “for export-only” leftism! I know that the Cuba Solidarity Campaign is a single-issue movement and I have no reason to believe that it in any way approved of what these (so far unnamed) MPs are alleged to have done: but even so, if the rumours prove to be true, Cuba Solidarity really ought to make it clear that it didn’t ask for and doesn’t want that sort of support.

N.B: Here are all the Labour rebels.

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