McCluskey wins Unite election “by a country mile”

November 21, 2010 at 12:02 pm (elections, Johnny Lewis, unions, workers)

Breaking news:

Len McCluskey has won the Unite general secretary election – and (according to Shiraz’s sources) “won by a country mile.” McCluskey was supported by the union’s broad left (‘United Left’) and by ex-T&G general secretary Tony Woodley. His victory is so clear-cut that legal challenges from other candidates seem unlikely.

Les Bayliss, the candidate backed by ex-Amicus general secretary Derek Simpson and the so-called ‘Workers Uniting’ group may not even manage to come second, despite his powerful backing and having run a very dirty campaign. “Bayliss should now be writing his letter of resignation from all positions within the union” says one leading Unite activist. Maverick leftist candidate Jerry Hicks may well have come second.

The crushing defeat of Bayliss marks the end of the line for the nasty right wing/semi-Stalinist clique around him, Simpson and Davison. It also, hopefully, marks the end of  the fifty year reign of political thuggery, self-seving bureaucracy and craft unionism instigated by Frank Chapple and continued by the right-wing of the old AEU: a regime that Simpson, at the time of his own (first) election, vowed to fight, but soon became a part of.

McCluskey won on a platform that emphasised grass roots organising: activists in Unite must ensure that the organising agenda is now put at the heart of all Unite’s activity.

PS: Steve has the results:

McCluskey 101,000
Hicks 52,000
Bayliss 46,000
Cartmail 39,000

“A convincing win for McCluskey with a good showing for Hicks the only candidate who isn’t an official of the union.
Gail Cartmail has also got a good return but the Bayliss camp must be despondent with this result.
They ran a virtual campaign with constant emails to members and at least one general posting to members’ addresses. They relied upon name recognition backed up by press ads but the members must have looked at policies and the majority saw that Bayliss had none.”

Not sure that I’d agree that “Bayliss had none ” (ie: policies): he stood for “partnership” with the bosses and the present government, craft unionism and hostility to the organising agenda. Good riddence to him and his cronies – JL

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Ireland’s economy eaten by the banks

November 18, 2010 at 10:44 pm (AWL, capitalist crisis, Europe, Ireland, Jim D, John Rees, Socialist Party)

The AWL analysis:

“If Ireland collapses financially, it will be a catastrophe for its creditors, mostly banks based in the bigger countries of the European Union. It will also impact badly on the other weak EU economies – Greece, Portugal, perhaps Spain, perhaps Italy. If one or more of them collapses, that will, like falling dominoes, hit the bigger economies.

To change the image – like mountain climbers roped together, one could drag another down, and they they would drag another, and so on. The abyss yawns.

That is why the EU is twisting Dublin’s arm to let it come to the rescue – in the interests of all the countries of Europe and beyond, and in the first place of their bankers.

Dublin will probably give in. The government’s resistance may only be “for show”, to an electorate that is already hostile to the politicians and would probably resent very much the affront to a national sovereignty won with so much difficulty.

The whole international crisis of the last three years is portrayed vividly in the Irish story. Crazily irresponsible, greed-maddened, self-serving private citizens in control of the commanding heights of the economy, and running things for their own benefit. A system that lets them go scot free from the catastrophe they made for millions of people.

Politicians who are in the pockets of the very rich. Who put in billions of taxpayers’ money to rescue the bankers.

In Ireland politicians have long scarcely bothered to hide corruption. Charles J Haughey, Taoiseach [prime minister] in the 1980s and early 90s, took a million pounds from the man who owns the Dunne’s chain-store network, and didn’t spend a day’s time in jail for it. Now the politicians are hand in glove with the looting bankocrats to the tune of billions.

An angry electorate, more or less powerless until the government decides to call a general election, and then faced with little choice: the main opposition party, Fine Gael, agrees with the basics of what the government has done.

Capitalism is rampant in Ireland – contrary to what James Connolly thought. Rampant capitalism is what Connolly knew it would be. There may be a lot of Irish workers who will draw the obvious conclusions from that in the years ahead.”

Read it all here.

Meanwhile John Rees of Counterfire argues that Ireland should accept a bail-out from Britain…

…and the Socialist Party seem to be arguing for a return to De Valera’s reactionary dream of autarky.

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Stuff the wedding! Forward to the republic!

November 18, 2010 at 9:09 pm (Jim D, Monarchy, parasites, republicanism)

Picture: dannyt-twitter
Let’s hope that the Brit ‘left”s republicanism is a bit more robust than its erstwhile secularism proved to be, eh?
See also Calder Valley Sue.

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Guantanamo payout: a deal that suits both sides

November 17, 2010 at 12:31 am (Afghanistan, blogging, fascism, Human rights, islamism, Jim D, Middle East, terror, war)

“IF ANYTHING, a million pounds is not compensation enough for seven years’ detention without trial in Morocco and Cuba, including subjection to starvation, sleep deprivation, regular beatings and having your penis mutilated with a scalpel. For that reason, Binyam Mohamed deserves the money.

Sure, the pay-off means that legitimate questions over whether he received paramilitary training in Afghanistan in 2001, and what he was doing when he tried to fly to the UK on a false passport before he was lifted in Karachi the following year, will now never be answered. It may be that Mr Mohamed is not a morally meritorious person.”

Dave (above)  writes a whole lot of sense about the Government’s payout to the  former (and one present) detainees, and his conclusion is (to me, anyway) extremely persuasive:

“This is, in short, a deal that suits everybody. The government clearly has things that it wants to hide. It may be that some of those on the other side of these proceedings also prefer ready cash to cross-examination under oath.”

This deal smacks of a sordid cost-benefit calculation on the part of the Government, with nothing to do with truth, justice or morality of any kind. Nevertheless it remains true that a civilised society cannot tolerate the abuse of the rule of law, or the use of torture, even when the victims are enemies of civilisation itself: Britian did not use torture  on prisoners during WW2, even if they were known Nazis.

These men have a right to compensation, but no right to be considered innocent holidaymakers, and sensible people (including Amnesty International) should not accept that picture of them.

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Charlie Brooker must be stopped!

November 15, 2010 at 8:52 pm (censorship, Civil liberties, cyberspace, Free Speech, funny, Guardian, Jim D, relativism, terror)

The dangerous homicidal maniac Brooker has issued a terrifying threat, menacing in its content and obviously so. It could not be more clear. Any ordinary person reading this would see it that way and be alarmed:

“The moment I’ve finished typing this, I’m going to walk out the door and set about strangling every single person on the planet. Starting with you, dear reader. I’m sorry, but it has to be done, for reasons that will become clear in a moment.

“And for the sake of transparency, in case the powers-that-be are reading: this is categorically not a joke. I am 100% serious. Even though I don’t know who you are or where you live, I am going to strangle you, your family, your pets, your friends, your imaginary friends, and any lifelike human dummies with haunted stares and wipe-clean vinyl orifices you’ve got knocking around, perhaps in a secret compartment under the stairs. The only people who might escape my wrath are the staff and passengers at Sheffield’s Robin Hood airport, because they’ve been granted immunity by the state.”

Read the entire blood-curdling communication here.

I’m sure you will agree with me, Judge Jacqeline Davies, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown and , indeed, all right-thinking folk, that such bloodthirsty maniacs as Brooker, Paul Chambers and Councillor Gareth Compton must be arrested and banged up immediately. The usual “civil liberties” lobbyist will bleat on about “draconian measures”, etc, but the safety of the nation depends upon it.

Catherine Bennett, predicitably, is with the bleating civil libertarians on this.  And Dave seems to think there’s a difference between a bad joke and a death threat.

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What Cancer’s Up Against

November 14, 2010 at 6:02 pm (hitchens, Max Dunbar, religion)

Hitchens dislikes the ‘New Atheist’ title. ‘It isn’t really new,’ he says, ‘except it coincides with huge advances made in the natural sciences. And there’s been an unusually violent challenge to pluralist values by the supporters of at least one monotheism apologised for quite often by the sympathisers of others. Then they say we’re fundamentalists. A stupid idea like that is hard to kill because any moron can learn it in 10 seconds and repeat it as if for the first time. But since there isn’t a single position that any of us holds on anything that depends upon an assertion that can’t be challenged, I guess that will die out or they’ll get bored of it.’

Later, Anthony writes: ‘Not for the first time, I feel a twinge of pity for that tumour. Does it realise what it’s up against?

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Aung San Suu Kyi is free; her country is not

November 14, 2010 at 5:51 pm (democracy, Free Speech, good people, Jim D, thuggery)

Some good news about a heroic person:

Not, perhaps a ‘Mandela moment’, but still a great day for a person of courage and her nation.

The Youtube film (above) also raises some issues about India’s relationship with the Burmese dictatorship.

Let’s give the last word (for now) to a taxi driver:

“Tomorrow, I won’t drive. I’ll go to hear her speak. She is good for Burma. She is our true leader, not the government.”

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AWL visit to Israel / Palestine

November 14, 2010 at 4:48 pm (Anti-Racism, AWL, israel, Jim D, Middle East, palestine, political groups)


The time is almost upon us and a week tomorrow at an ungodly hour Sacha, Louise, Rosie, Jade, Wanda and myself shall be awaiting a flight to Tel Aviv.
Firstly, to anyone and everyone who has helped us finance our delegation – THANK YOU. The impact of even the smallest amount of money is huge to us.
Last night at our fund raiser gig in Sheffield (organised by the wonderful Louise and Rosie) we made £200 with donations, raffle tickets, live art, bake sale and entry. The pub then donated a further £100 at the end of the night! So thank you to anyone that came to that.
There is still time to donate…and the money is always helpful!
Via paypal to or by arrangement to Sacha or any member of the delegation!
Thank you again,
please follow us on
Should be fascinating: we’ll keep readers informed.

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Resnick and Pres

November 14, 2010 at 12:18 am (jazz, Jim D, literature)

Thanks to Mike Fletcher for introducing me to the ‘Resnick’ police procedural novels of John Harvey. They’re bloody good in a sort of bleak, East Midlands, latter-day Chandleresque way.  I don’t know whether Harvey’s choice of name for his anti-hero is a reference to the eccentric (but excellent) trombonist Ephie Resnick, but  Inspector Charlie Resnick is a jazz fan, and Harvey’s writing contains some very good descriptions of the records Resnick listens to, like this (from ‘Rough Treatment’, 1990):

“Lester was bouncing through ‘Just You, Just Me’,

the first chorus almost straight, a trio of those trade-mark honks marking his place near the end of the middle eight, perfectly placed, perfectly spaced, rivets driven in a perfect line. Intake of breath, smooth and quick, over a flick of brushes against Sid Catlett’s snares, and then, with relaxed confidence and the ease of a man with perfect trust both of fingers and mind, he made from that same sequence another song, another tune, tied to the first and utterly his own:

What are these arms for?

What are these charms for?

Use your imagination.

The reason Resnick didn’t get an answerphone: how else to keep bad news at bay? The messages that you didn’t want to hear.

He had seen a photograph of Lester Young taken in 1959. He is in a recording studio, holding his horn, not playing.

The suit he is wearing, even for those days’ fashions, seems overlarge, as though, perhaps, he has shrunk within it. His head is down, his cheeks have sunk in on his jaw;  whatever he is looking at in those eyes, soft brown, is not there in the room. His left hand holds the shield with which he will cover the mouthpiece, as if, maybe, he is thinking he will slip it into place, not play again. It is possible that the veins in his oesophagus have already ruptured and he is bleeding inside.

The coffee would be ready. In the kitchen Resnick picked up the envelope that was not brown, the address on which had not been printed via computer. He was trying to work out how long it had been since he had seen that writing. How many years. He wanted to tear it, two and four and six and eight, all the multiples until it was like confetti.


He lifted Bud with one hand and set him back in his lap. The cup of coffeee was balanced on the arm of the chair. The first take of ‘I Never Knew’ ended abruptly;

some saxophone, a piano phrase never finished. Lester is standing there, tenor close to his mouth, but now he is looking away. As if something has slipped through the door in 1943, unbidden, out of time. A premonition. A ghost.”


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Book display in Aleppo

November 13, 2010 at 5:56 pm (fascism, Rosie B)

I’ve been on holiday, starting off in Istanbul, then taking the train to the south of Turkey and then buses and a train through Syria, ending up in Jordan.  Damascus is a fascinating city and almost everyone I met in Syria was friendly, but this book display in a shop window in Aleppo gave me a start.  The shop was round the corner from my hotel in the commercial district.


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