Victory for the anti-EU campaign: UK to relax working time directive

November 20, 2011 at 10:51 pm (Europe, Jim D, Tory scum, unions, workers)

A victory for the anti-EU campaign; the Guardian reports:

“Britain looks set to be able to relax the EU’s controversial working time directive after David Cameron agreed a framework for negotiations with the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, in response to the eurozone crisis.

“The UK will sign up to a revision of the Lisbon treaty – aimed at underpinning tough new fiscal rules for the eurozone – in exchange for an undertaking from Berlin that it will allow for an examination of the impact of the directive, which imposes a 48-hour (maximum – JD) week on workers across the EU.

“The tentative deal, agreed over lunch in Berlin on Friday, may allow the prime minister to sell the idea of an EU treaty change to his Conservative backbenchers on the grounds that he will be repatriating social powers to Britain.”

Keep up the good work, chaps! Forward to the abolition of all foreign-imposed employment legislation!

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Saif Gaddafi’s ties to Britain

November 20, 2011 at 9:37 am (BBC, grovelling, Human rights, Jim D, Libya, Middle East, terror, Tony Blair)

Lest we forget:

By Matt Prodger , BBC Newsnight, 25 February 2011

On Sunday Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, son of Libya’s leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, appeared on Libyan state television telling protesters to clear the streets or face rivers of blood.                 

The contrast to his appearance as a guest speaker at the London School of Economics (LSE) two years ago could not have been more stark.

Having just donated £1.5m to the university to fund its Global Governance Unit, he was introduced in glowing terms by the university’s Professor David Held, who said:

“I’ve come to know Saif as someone who looks to democracy, civil society and deep liberal values for the core of his inspiration.”

                  Donation rejected                 

But even Saif Gaddafi could not keep a straight face as he began giving a speech about democracy in Libya.

“In theory Libya is the most democratic state in the world,” he said to laughter from the audience, before chuckling and adding, “In theory, in theory.”

Fast forward to the present day and Prof Held is appalled by Saif Gaddafi’s speech on Libyan TV, LSE students occupied offices at the university in protest at its relationship with him, and the university has been shamed into rejecting the bulk of the donation.

As a final embarrassment, the university has been forced to investigate allegations that parts of Saif Gaddafi’s LSE PhD were plagiarised.

The irony of its title – The Role of Civil Society in the Democratisation of Global Governance Institutions – is lost on no-one.

                  ‘Failure to learn’                 

But Saif Gaddafi’s examiner, the renowned economist Lord Desai, says that he had earned the PhD, and that the LSE had been right to accept his donation.

His only regret, Lord Desai said on Thursday, was that Saif Gaddafi had failed to learn enough about democracy:

 “I read the thesis, I examined him along with an examiner, he defended his thesis very, very thoroughly, he had nobody else present there, and I don’t think there’s any reason to think he didn’t do it himself.”

“This is over-egging the pudding. The man is evil enough – you don’t have to add that he’s a plagiarist as well.”

The LSE is not the only British institution Saif Gaddafi’s name has been mentioned alongside, he has cropped up in all manner of meetings and mutual connections.

He described Tony Blair as a family friend, although the former UK prime minister says he has only met him once since leaving office and has no commercial relationship with him.

                  Playboy lifestyle                 

Britain’s trade envoy, the Duke of York, has hosted Saif Gaddafi at Buckingham Palace, though a palace spokesman said he is no friend.

Then there is former business secretary Lord Mandelson, who met Saif Gaddafi a number of times – once at the Corfu villa of British financier Nat Rothschild.

Both Mr Rothschild and his business associate Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska were invited to Saif Gaddafi’s 37th birthday party in Montenegro.

In London, Saif Gaddafi has lived a playboy lifestyle. Two years ago he moved into a £10m house complete with suede-lined indoor cinema not far from an area of north London known as Billionaire’s Row.

The Libyan Investment Authority also owns properties in the city, on Oxford Street and at Trafalgar Square.

                  ‘Economic stranglehold’                 

There has always been a thin line between Gaddafi money and Libyan money – one of the reasons that have made Saif Gaddafi so influential.

“The Gaddafi family controls everything in Libya and no deals are signed either for inward or outward investment without their approval,” Conservative MP Daniel Kawczynski, who has written a book about the Gaddafi family and heads the All Party Parliamentary Group for Libya, told Newsnight.

“They have had up until now a total stranglehold on the economy. I haven’t seen anything like it around the world.”

The fact is there was always a good reason for cosying up to the man who until recently was considered the heir to the throne of an oil rich wealthy country.

Sooner or later the old man, Col Gaddafi, was going to go and his avowedly pro-Western, and apparently reformist, son would take the reins.

Only it does not appear to be working out that way, and those associated with him are now counting the cost.

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Sean Matgamna’s political grounding

November 20, 2011 at 1:04 am (AWL, Catholicism, history, Ireland, Jim D, truth, workers)

In the evolution of civilisation, the progress of the fight for national liberty of any subject nation must, perforce, keep pace with the struggle for liberty of the most subject class in that nation.

James Connolly

The children with whom I have played, the men and women with whom I have eaten Have had masters over them, have been under the lash of masters, and though gentle, have served churls.

Patrick Pearse

Some village-Hampden, that with dauntless breast The little tyrant of his fields withstood.

Thomas Gray

(Below: Sean Matgamna, founder and leader of the AWL, has started recounting his family background and his earliest political influences  – it will be continued):


Introduction

The economic earthquakes that for three years now, from 2008, have shaken our capitalist world have led many people to look again, but with a more receptive mind, at the analysis of capitalism made long ago by Karl Marx.

They have disposed some of them to adopt a new view of the nature of capitalism. The ultra-Tory British newspaper, the Daily Telegraph, carried a cartoon in 2008 of Karl Marx laughing in his grave at the woes on Wall Street.

Capitalism itself has once more forced to the attention of serious people the objective case for a socialist reorganisation of our world. This comes after two decades of breakneck globalisation in an enormous capitalist expansion and the collapse of the murderous and reactionary Stalinist counterfeit socialism.

In 2008, when this writer debated socialism with the Observer columnist Nick Cohen, Cohen thought he was dealing a commonsensical knockout blow when he asked: how could Karl Marx have understood the world we live in a century and a quarter after his death?

The fact, however, is that Marx uncovered the basic laws under which capitalism exists and moves. Capitalism has changed and developed enormously since then, of course, and shows a great power of adaptation. But what has adapted and modified is still recognisably the capitalism which Karl Marx anatomised.

Capitalism itself creates the basic economic elements of socialism. It creates gigantic, world-straddling enterprises, some of which have budgets bigger than governments. It “socialises” the forces of production, communication, and, in part, of exchange. This is the tendency which Frederick Engels long ago described as “the invading socialist society”.

We have seen governments that had made a God of free-market economics – for instance, the Bush regime in the USA and the pre-2010 New Labour government in Britain – forced to assume responsibility for the banks, and for orchestrating the economic affairs of society. The problem is that this capitalist “socialism”, spectacularly surprising though it was and is, was social regulation in the interests directly of the capitalist class

The “socialising” character of capitalism is is a fact, a gigantic fact, no matter how defeated, the depleted and marginal the advocates of socialism may be at a given time.

But if even an honest Tory journalist can sometimes see and admit that Karl Marx’s basic analysis of capitalism still tells a lot of truth, and the fundamental truth, about the nature of capitalism, many of those who are inclined to adopt a general socialist critique of capitalism balk at the idea that the proletariat can re-make the world, that we can overthrow capitalism and replace it with international socialism. They doubt the core idea of socialism, that, as Karl Marx put it back in 1864: “That the emancipation of the working classes must be conquered by the working classes themselves”.

The proletariat, the wage-working class, is what James Connolly like his socialist contemporaries described as “the slave class of our age”; what Jim Larkin indignantly called the “undermen”; what an elitist snob, the liberal John Maynard Keynes, dismissed as the social “mud”. The visible working-class in our world, and for a long time now, seems too far from what the working class will have to be to play the role of the gravedigger of capitalism and builder of a new world in which first working-class solidarity and then human solidarity will replace the dog-eat-dog ethos, “the war of all against all”, which defines the bourgeois society in which we live.

The short answer to the doubt, though in itself not necessarily the conclusive one, is to point to the working class in history – what it has done and what it has tried to do. And not only to the great, big-scale, world-shaking deeds and attempted deeds and projects of the working class. There are many smaller actions and attempts by the working class which are buried, unmarked and unknown, in the subsoil of modern history.

For it is the victors who write history. The history of wars between countries and empires, and especially of the war of classes, where the defeated working class can so easily be misrepresented in the aftermath. Those who resisted are “Luddites”, senseless malcontents, justly defeated and conquered Calibans, dark forces from the subsoil of society, the yahoos, the morlocks, the weasels. The history of much of the working class, much of the time, is lost, sifted out by historians.

Just as the many local acts of resistance to the movement of food out of the country that must have occurred in the 1840s Irish famine are lost, buried in the obscurity of old newspaper files, so that the overall picture is one of passive acceptance of their own starvation, so too with many other aspects of the history of the working class.

And so too with the Irish working class during and after the Irish bourgeois revolutions, the economic revolution on the land and the political revolution after 1916.

The first modern labour movement, Chartism in the late 1830s and the 1840s, emerged out of the bitter disappointment of those who had helped the British bourgeoisie win its bloodless political victory in the Reform Act of 1832 and were then ill-treated by the bourgeoisie in power, and faced with being locked up in the workhouse prisons created by the New Poor Law of 1834. It would be strange if the working class which had participated in the revolutions that put the Irish bourgeoisie in power had shown no signs of fight for its own interests.

In at least two areas in County Clare, the working class showed a great deal of resistance to the conditions in which they found themselves under Irish bourgeois rule. It is probable that there were similar working-class movements in many areas. The working class of the towns, those disinherited when some of the people got the land from the old landlords, and many of whom would be doubly disinherited by being forced out of the country altogether, were anything but passive spectators of their own disinheritance, degradation and continuous victimisation.

My viewpoint, by inheritance and conviction, is that of the town labourers, a little of whose history I attempt to explore and chronicle here, in what can be no more than a rough sketch of the resistance of the working class of Ennis.

“Shrewsbury Twenty-Four”

In the events in Ennis which I describe here there is a strong parallel to events that took place in England in 1973 and 74. 31 building workers — oddly, the group is known as the “Shrewsbury 24” — were charged and tried in connection with trade-union activity.

After Britain’s first national building strike – June to September 1972 – 31 building workers were brought to trial for the mass picketing with which they had attempted to stop all sites in North Wales. In court the prosecutor described the mass picketing as “like Red Indians”. The strikers had demanded a 35 hour week, a minimum wage and an end to employment of casual workers organised by what we would now call gang masters – it was called “the lump” in the building trade. They won a big wage rise but not the end of “the lump”.

There were three “Shrewsbury” trials in all. In the first the 31 men were acquitted of all but minor charges. However five of them then had had the charge of “conspiracy to intimidate” added to the indictment against them.

During 1972 mass picketing had inflicted major defeats on the Tory government. The decisive turning point in the miners’ strike at the beginning of that year was when a mass picket of engineers, miners and other workers in Birmingham had forced the closure of the Saltley Coke Depot.

Five dock workers had been jailed in July for picketing that had recently been made illegal, only to be released under duress by the government when upwards of a quarter of a million workers all over the country immediately went on strike, and the TUC decided to call a one-day general strike. Many thousands of workers laid siege to Pentonville jail in North London for the whole time the five dockers were incarcerated. The one-day general strike proved unnecessary.

Someone in authority then decided to make an example of the mass-picketing builders. It was a political trial. Typical of the reckless misrepresentation of the workers in court had been a witness testifying that a mass of pickets had descended on a building site shouting “Kill! Kill! Kill!” Indeed, building workers all over the country had chanted “Kill!”… But they specified what they wanted to kill. “Kill… the lump”.

Three of the prisoners, John McKinsie Jones, Des Warren, and Ricky Tomlinson, were charged with unlawful assembly and conspiracy to intimidate. They got sentences of nine months, three years and two years respectively.

They had been on the strike committee which had met in Chester on 31 August 1972 and among other things discussed the mass pickets that were to be mounted during the strike. On 24 February 1974, three more men were jailed for six months on the charges of “unlawful assembly” and “affray”. In response building workers struck in London, in Glasgow, and on 25 building sites in Manchester. Warren and Tomlinson went on hunger strike.

A Labour government had been elected on 28 February 1974, in an election called by the Tories against industrial militancy, under the demagogic slogan: “Who rules, government or unions?” Would Labour now act on behalf of the victimised building workers? No, of course they wouldn’t! They too wanted to demobilise working-class militancy.

It was as a result of that experience that I first became properly aware of what had happened in Ennis 40 years earlier. Watching a TV report early in 1974, both my father and my mother were visibly upset by a report that some appeal or other had failed. This was unusual, such a personal response to a big public event. Visiting them in Manchester from London, I talked to them about this and learned about the trial of the 24 labourers in Ennis in 1934.

My father had been one of 24 labourers in Ennis tried for a mass picket in 1934, as had his brother, Paddy, who was badly disabled in the Civil War at the beginning of the 1920s. The story I then heard for the first time as an adult and properly (I’d been politically at odds with my parents since I was 15) was, after 40 years, vague on detail. Both my father and my mother died within the year, and, living in London, I never got the chance to talk to them about it again.

Many years later I looked up what had happened in the files of the Clare Champion newspaper at the British library newspaper depot in Colindale. The events had taken place during the general upsurge that accompanied the establishment in 1932 and afterwards of the De Valera government, a government of those defeated in the Civil War nine years earlier.

Read the full story here

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Support Tehran bus driver trade unionist

November 20, 2011 at 1:03 am (good people, Iran, Jim D, unions, workers)

Follow us on Twitter.
CAMPAIGN NEWSLETTER 18.11.2011
18 November 2011The Tehran bus drivers’ union the Vahed Syndicate, of  which imprisoned Iranian trade unionist Reza Shahabi is a board member,  has raised concerns about his state of health.

According to the union he has been returned to prison  after being taken to hospital for an MRI scan and X rays for a neck  injury. He had previously been transferred to hospital due to  deteriorating health following his hunger strike last year.

ITF general secretary David Cockroft said: “Reza has now  been unjustly held since his arrest in June of last year. This is  clearly taking a toll on his health. It is past time for the authorities  to withdraw the false charges of endangering national security used  against him and let Reza – along with other unjustly detained trade  unionists such as Ebrahim Madadi – go free.”

Source: http://www.itfglobal.org/press-area/index.cfm/pressdetail/6708

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Should the left help save the Morning Star?

November 19, 2011 at 5:37 pm (anti-semitism, Europe, israel, Jim D, Libya, socialism, stalinism, unions)

The Morning Star bills itself as “Britains only socialist daily” and likes to portray itself as some sort of broad left publication. In reality, it’s the mouthpiece of the Communist Party of Britain, the old-tankie-Stalinist party that prior to 1989 was pro-Moscow. Also prior to 1989, the Star was massively subsidised by bulk orders from Moscow and the Eastern bloc – a burden that since then has been partially taken up by sections of the British trade union bureaucracy, using their members’ money of course.

Now, however, the Star is in serious financial difficulty and has announced that without an emergency boost in donations it may not survive much longer. Star staffers and prominent labour movement supporters are presently out and about  doing the round of labour movement events, drumming up support. An appeal was made at the United Left (Unite the Union’s broad left) national meeting today. I didn’t say anything, as I’d just intervened on another matter and because (to be frank about it), it’s difficult for a leftie to oppose support for “Britain’s only socialist daily” without seeming to be a right-winger. The Star does give supportive coverage to some worthwhile causes that get little or no support or even coverage anywhere else – an electrician involved in the present construction dispute spoke warmly in support of it at the UL meeting today, for instance.

Yet the fact remains that the Star is not a ‘broad left’ publication: it represents a very particular faction within the workers’ movement. Never mind its historic role in supporting Stalinist ruling classes internationally and its craven attitude towards pro-Stalinist British union bureaucrats over the years: just recently it’s been busy denouncing the Libyan rebels and supporting Gaddafi, promoting the most reactionary wing forms of anti-European little Englandism, and  regularly carries articles and letters that denounce Israel and “zionism” in terms  that stray across the border of legitimate criticism and into anti-semitism. Nothing new there for the Stalinist movement, of course.

Should the non-Stalinist (indeed, anti-Stalinist) left give any support to the Morning Star? My inclination is to say “no”: the British left and workers’ movement would be healthier without it (just as we are without the Soviet Union). But I’m willing to listen to comrades who disagree.

On the subject of anti-semitism, I was (despite my familiarity with the Star’s track record) astonished to learn via a tweet from Dave Osler, that on the Star‘s bookstall at today’s Labour Representation Committe Conference, this was on sale, without any kind of health warning:

4nhwo.jpg

PS: Dave has now written about the Protocols over at his blog

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An idea for building 30th Nov

November 18, 2011 at 6:25 pm (Cuts, labour party, unions, workers)

Comrade Pete writes:

At our Labour Party branch meeting last Monday, with over 20 in attendance, there was a unanimous vote to support Nov 30th – a compilation of the GMB  UNISON motions.

We also are organising stalls on the 26th Nov to mobilise and agitate for support for the 30th.
In the light of the message below, that Labour members received today from Miliband, it might be an idea to challenge local Labour organisations along with affiliated unions, to join with public sector workers on the 26th with Support for 30th Nov as the theme of the stalls:

Dear Peter, I’ve been out of the office again, speaking at Arup’s London HQ about the radical change we need in our economy.
So  it’s been another busy day, but Tom Watson made me promise that I would  send you this email tonight. It’s important and I hope you get the  chance to read it.
I grew up in the 80s and I never thought we  would see another generation of young people out of a job with nothing  to do. But now, in 2011 there are more than one million British young  people out of work.
It’s a disgrace that this Government is  leaving another generation on the scrapheap, and we need to do something  about it together. If Labour doesn’t force the Government to change  course, then who will?
That’s why we are organising a campaign  day across the UK next week to make it clear – there is an alternative. I  am asking 10,000 activists to campaign on 26 November, on doorsteps and on  High Streets, speaking to people in our own communities.
I will be campaigning with my local party members in Carcroft, in Doncaster.
Will you join me? Sign up here to be part of the 10,000. Force the government to think again
Let  me tell you more about our plans. On 26 November we’ll be sending an  urgent message to this government: the fact that 1million young people  are out of work is a disgrace and it doesn’t have to be this way. Labour  has a 5 point plan for growth that would put people back to work.
I  am asking you to join me and 10,000 Labour activists in spreading this  message. We need to make the government change course. Sign up here
Thanks,
Ed

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Condon a la Carte

November 16, 2011 at 9:25 pm (good people, jazz, Jim D, music)

Michael Steinman’s consistently excellent ‘Jazz Lives’ blog reminds us that today is Eddie Condon’s birthday – or would be if (as always seemed rather unlikely, given his drinking habits and general lifestyle) he’d lived to be 106. I’ve always been a great admirer of Mr Condon, a grossly underrated jazz champion, promoter, bandleader, jam session supremo, wit, pioneer of racially-integrated jazz, pioneer of jazz concerts and jazz on TV…etc, etc. Oh, yes: he was also (despite his own self-depreciation) a very good rhythm guitarist

The first LP I ever bought with my own hard-earned pocket-money was the Decca/Ace Of Hearts ‘Condon a la Carte,’ with this great sleeve art (by John DeVries?):

Eddie Condon,Condon A La Carte,UK,Deleted,LP RECORD,445441

The music was a revelation to me: three great Commodore Music Store recording sessions, featuring most of Eddie’s favourite musicians, directed by Milt Gabler, including this from November 30 1939: I Ain’t Gonna Give Nobody None Of My Jelly Roll (or as Eddie once announced it “‘Jelly Roll’, ’cause we’re pushed for time”):

…Kaminsky, Gowans, Wettling and (especially) Pee Wee, in stupendous form that day in the splendid acoustic ambience of Leidenkranz Hall, New York.

“Gentleman” George Frazier wrote in the sleeve notes to the album (and, remember this was written in the 1950’s or possibly ’60’s: he mentions those who were then “in the ground”; they all are now):

(Milt) Gabler felt so strongly about propagating the gospel according Eddie Condon that he somehow managed to raise enough money to get it onto such records as the ones anthologised here. Before this, there had been very little of this kind of music in the catalogues, but afterwards, as we know so well – well, like they say, apres lui le deluge. Milt and Eddie would herd a group of instrumentalists who shared their dream into a recording studio, fortify them with a little hair of the mastiff, and then Eddie would pick a tune, count it off, and, al;most before you realized it, history of sorts was in the making. If the music of It’s Right Here For You retains its pristine excitement, it is, very simply, because it was produced by men of talent and integrity. Furthermore, they enjoyed making these records, a circumstance that happens to be extremely important.

“Deplorably, several of these men can no longer hear us speak about them. Fats Waller, who was nothing less than a phenomenon, and Brad Gowans, who had such a winning way with a valve trombone, and Sidney Catlett, a la botterie, tries, tries formidable, are in the ground. As it happened, this particular brand of music, so muscular and driving, was Brad’s special dish and he played it to a fare-thee-well. For Fats, however, it represented a sabbatical of sorts from the commercials to which he was compelled to career more often than not. Obviously, he loved every minute of the date that produced four memorable sides. To my ears, he never sounded more sumptious than he does here. Nor for that matter did ‘Big Sid,’ who had few equals and no superiors.

“There should be a special word or two about Pee Wee, not merely because he happens to be on every selection, but because he has only recently received the recognition that should have been his many, many years ago – like, for example when these records were made. He is an overwhelmingly gifted man. There is also something of a newsy note about this LP, to wit, Eddie Condon can actually be heard playing guitar, which is more than can be said for the Sign of the Porkchop (Condon’s club -JD) most nights.

“So here then, is what happened many years ago when some utterly ingratiating talents got together to record their kind of music. When Milt Gabler produced these faces he had but one aim – to present, on records, the profound pleasure communicated by a jam session. ‘A jam session,’ I once wrote, ‘is an informal gathering of temperamentally congenial jazz musicians who play unrehearsed and unscored music for their own enjoyment.’ Now, after listening to this record, I think I should append to it ‘and for the enjoyment of present and future generations of record listeners.’ It’s a fact!”

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The ‘borders’ row: the wrong issue for Labour and the left

November 15, 2011 at 3:56 pm (Daily Mail, Europe, immigration, internationalism, Jim D, labour party, Racism, Tory scum)

Brodie Clark’s performance today at the select committee seems to have been pretty impressive, though he didn’t quite deliver the knock-out punch on Theresa May that some of us had been hoping for. May has been helped (and possibly saved) by the support she’s received for her version of events, from Rob Whiteman, the chief executive of the UK Border Agency, a man who clearly knows on which side his bread is buttered.

Even if May survives Clark’s evidence to the select committee, she still faces almost certain defeat and humiliation when Clark wins his constructive dismissal claim at an employment tribunal. There can be no doubt that Clark, a conscientious career civil servant and (by all accounts) a ‘by-the-book’ bureaucrat, has been hung out to dry by May – a most unedifying spectacle by any standard.

And I suppose it’s inevitable that the Labour front bench will make hay over the government’s and May’s embarrassment. Yvette Cooper has already effectively accused May of being soft on illegal immigrants and terrorists  and we can expect more of this sort of opportunism in days to come. The truth, of course, is that border controls are an anachronism that do little or nothing to prevent the entry of suspected terrorists and other undesirables (who can, and should, be stopped by use of  intelligence). What border/immigration controls do is to restrict the entry of genuine migrants seeking work and a better life for themselves and their families. Border/immigration controls are inevitably racist and the left should not shy away from the short-term unpopularity involved in opposing them.

Far from jumping on the Daily Mail‘s hysterical bandwagon (well described here), we should be arguing for the abolition of border/immigration controls. A good start (as Dave points out) would be for Britain to sign up to the Schengen agreement.

Below: the Daily Mail‘s view:

Mac cartoon on UK Border Control

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30 Nov: unions call for Labour support

November 15, 2011 at 11:43 am (Cuts, Johnny Lewis, labour party, unions, workers)

Both Unison and the GMB have called upon local labour parties to support the 30th November public sector pensions strike, and produced model motions (see below). The GMB has also produced a booklet.

Both only talk about ‘encouraging’ party members and councillors to support strike and noticeably leave out any call on MPs and Milliband. Readers may wish to amend accordingly.

UNISON motion

Public Services – Pensions
This CLP notes the TUC resolution on 14 September to defend public sector pensions and campaign for decent pensions for all recognising everyone deserves dignity in retirement.

Government Ministers have launched an unprecedented attack on public service pensions. This is not only unjust but could undermine the viability of some schemes if members start to leave because of massive increases in contributions by up to 50% and could lead to more people on means tested benefits, at a higher cost to the tax payer in the longer term. Pensions are not ‘gold plated’. The local government scheme has many low paid women staff and on average women’s pensions are around £2500 per year while in the NHS the average pension a woman gets is £3500.

Wild claims are being peddled by the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and large sections of the media that the schemes are unfair and unaffordable. These claims are wrong.

This CLP notes that following detailed negotiations with the last Labour government, public service pension schemes were systematically revised to ensure they were sustainable, open to ongoing negotiation and revision and that future costs to the taxpayer would be limited.

Current proposals are not a genuine attempt to make the schemes more sustainable, they are a cash grab by the Treasury, imposing an additional tax on workers already facing a pay freeze. The increased contributions are not being used to strengthen the schemes but are going to the Treasury to pay debts caused by the banking crisis. Public service workers are being asked to pay more and work longer for a pension that will be much less than originally promised. This is exactly the race to the bottom the government claims it wants to avoid. All working people, in both the public and private sectors should have decent and fair pensions.

Despite lengthy negotiations the Ministers have refused to listen or alter their proposals leading to union members being balloted on taking strike action as a last resort to show their opposition.

This CLP notes that the trade unions and community groups have agreed to organise local and national protests in support of public services, jobs and pensions. This CLP encourages Labour party members and councillors to support these protests against the attack on public services and public service workers that will damage communities and social cohesion.

This CLP calls on the Labour Party at all levels, councillors, labour groups and MPs to press the government to have meaningful negotiations on pensions to reach an agreement and avoid more strikes

Andy Freeman
Regional Organiser
UNISON East Midlands

GMB

CLP believes:

Everyone deserves a fair pension, and is entitled to security and dignity in retirement.

If the government get their way, public sector workers, struggling to alance the books after a pay freeze and with the cost of living rising, will have to pay more and work longer for pensions that are worth less. That is not a fair deal.

Everyone should be able to pay into a fair pension for their retirement.

There should be a fair deal on pensions for public sector workers, and the Labour Party should develop policies to make pensions better and fairer in the private sector too.

CLP resolves:

To back public sector workers in their campaign against the government’s unfair triple attack on public sector pensions, and to support the day of action on November 30th.

To add our CLP’s name to the statement of support on the unions together website, and to encourage the CLP’s members and elected representatives to do the same.

To write to local union branches to notify them of our support, and to ask them to get involved with the CLP.

To attend a campaign rally on 30th November, and take the CLP banner to show our support.

H/t: Pete

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Seymour embraces Althusser

November 13, 2011 at 10:54 pm (Jim D, mental health, post modernism, stalinism, SWP, wankers)

Anyone foolish enouigh to waste their time reading the SWP anti-semite and Libya expert  Lenny “Seymour” Tombstone’s blog, will have noticed how pretentious his language, and obscurantist his ‘logic’ has become of late. Now the explanation is revealed: he’s become an Althusserian!

Louis Althusser and socialist strategy posted by lenin (aka Seymour – JD)

Above: Althusser considers the epistemological break, before murdering his wife
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Lenny “Seymour” Tombstone writes:
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“I was going to proceed with the series on Poulantzas, but to do so properly, I need to address the influence of Louis Althusser.  There is, as Ellen Meiksins Wood has pointed out, a trajectory that can broadly be sketched with Althusser, Poulantzas and Laclau/Mouffe as its three compass points: from Maoism to Eurocommunism to ‘radical democracy’ and the abandonment of class politics as a ‘fundamentalist’, ‘essentialist’ error.
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“Yet to simply read the failings of his followers back into Althusser’s project would be a travesty as unfair as E P Thompson’s execration of the ‘Stalinist’ Althusser.  It is, in fact, a bitter irony that many of Althusser’s followers ended up in the social-democratic camp…” read the rest of Seymour’s apologia here, if you can be bothered.
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There was a time when the SWP took a rather less enthusiastic view of this anti-working class, anti-humanist Maoid Stalinist:
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Chris Harman:
“Althusser’s approach was not merely slightly different to that developed by those of us inspired by the revolutionary insurgency of 1956 (in Hungary -JD). It was in many respects the complete opposite, since Marxism (according to Althusser – JD) was no longer seen as a theory connected to the struggle for human emancipation from the alienated structures of capitalism, in which self-conscious self-activity of workers plays a role”
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Read the rest of Harman’s scathing attack on Althusser  here.

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