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.
Looks like there’s been trouble at t’mill. At this rate they’ll soon be renaming that blog “Just William”.
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.
David 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.
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.
The Lad ‘Imself remembers Ms Carta:
…he’s good, but he’s no David Davis…
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.
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, 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.