Labour Against the Witchhunt admits anti-Semites -“but let that not detract from the useful role that LAW intends to play”

December 8, 2017 at 9:02 am (anti-semitism, Beyond parody, conspiracy theories, CPGB, labour party, posted by JD, reactionay "anti-imperialism", wankers)

Above: Gerry Downing of the anti-Semitic ‘Socialist Fight’ on the BBC’s Daily Politics last year, following his expulsion from Labour

Extracted from the current issue of the Weekly Worker:

The meeting included a discussion on the participation within LAW of Socialist Fight. The steering committee had taken the decision to exclude SF from the campaign because of the group’s position on Jews, which can only be described as anti-Semitic (my emphasis – JD).

SF declares that Jewish “overrepresentation” amongst the bourgeoisie is a major factor explaining imperialist backing for Israel. At the meeting itself SF’s Ian Donovan stated that, while this “overrepresentation” “doesn’t determine everything”, it “determines quite a lot”. He also talked about the undue influence of “Jewish communalist politics”, while the SF leaflet handed out at the meeting stated that “Jews” today have become “an oppressor people”.

The SC sought approval from the meeting for its decision to exclude SF from LAW – on the basis that a campaign which places a large emphasis on its opposition to the disgraceful, knowingly false accusations of ‘anti-Semitism’ wielded by the right against principled anti-racists should not itself tolerate individuals whose public pronouncements are clearly anti-Semitic. To do otherwise opens us up to claims that we cannot be taken seriously when we say the right’s accusations are nothing but smears – after all, it would then appear that we ourselves cannot tell the difference between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism.

Labour Party Marxists put forward a motion, directed against not only Socialist Fight, but also the social-imperialist Alliance for Workers’ Liberty:

LAW does not wish to be associated with those who excuse the ongoing witch-hunt in the Labour Party: ie, support the expulsion of Ken Livingstone. Nor do we wish to associate with those who advocate anti-Semitism: ie, those who explain US and other imperialist countries’ foreign policy on the basis of the number of Jews in the ruling class.

Unfortunately neither this motion nor one from the steering committee, which called for its decision to exclude SF to be endorsed, was successful. Only nine comrades were in favour of endorsing the SC position, with 12 against, plus a number of abstentions; as for the LPM motion, there were 12 votes in favour and 12 against, and so it was not carried either.

One of the arguments that carried a good deal of weight amongst those who voted against was the claim that an organisation set up to oppose exclusions should not itself exclude people. SF’s own motion quoted the official (but largely ignored) Labour Party position that “the mere holding or expression of beliefs and opinions” should not be grounds for exclusion.

This is at best a highly naive position. Should we welcome into LAW out-and-out reactionaries and open racists? (I am not, obviously, including SF in this category, whose comrades seem to sincerely believe that their line is not anti-Semitic!). There is also a difference between a specific campaign like LAW and a party like Labour, which today contains all manner of viewpoints, not least warmongers such as Tony Blair.

At least the SF motion – which not only favoured ‘free expression’ (including for anti-Semites) within LAW, but also called on the campaign to invite George Galloway to “play the role of our honorary president” – was also defeated. It received five votes, while eight comrades opposed it – the clear winners on this occasion were the abstainers.

While, of course, we in LPM accept LAW’s right to make democratic decisions, the participation of Socialist Fight remains in our view a problem that might well have to be revisited.

But let that not detract from the useful role that LAW intends to play – now is the time to really step up the campaign.

  • Coatsey’s view, here

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Gush Shalom: the end of American mediation in the Middle East

December 7, 2017 at 8:29 am (israel, Middle East, palestine, posted by JD, Trump)

A historic day – the end of American mediation in the Middle East

Gush Shalom statement, December 6, 2017

The Trump speech will not change the reality of Jerusalem. West Jerusalem will remain an Israeli city, where Israel’s government is located since 1949. East Jerusalem will remain an occupied Palestinian city, which is not and cannot be a part of Israel. Believers of Judaism, Christianity and Islam will continue clinging to their holy sites in Jerusalem.

Nevertheless, this is a historic day. In the person of President Donald Trump, the United States today officially, ceremoniously and with a bang abdicated its role as the mediator between Israel and the Arabs.

This mediating role had endured for more than forty years. Henry Kissinger created it with his “shuttle diplomacy” of the 1970’s. All later Presidents and Secretaries of State strove to maintain it. All later Presidents and Secretaries of State were jealous of the American monopoly over Middle East mediation, even to forcibly grabbing hold of negotiations processes started without them – between Israel and Egypt in 1978, between Israel and the Palestinians in 1993. Until Donald Trump came along and in typical Trumpian style decided to spectacularly smash up this mediation role.

In fact, the US mediation role had always been a curious anomaly. In no commercial dispute would it be conceivable to have as arbiter the business partner of one of the contending parties. But in the world of Middle East diplomacy, it was accepted almost without question that the role of impartial honest broker be given to Israel’s closest ally, the provider of billions in financial aid and state of the art weapons systems and an almost automatic veto in the UN Security Council.

Obama and Kerry did make some belated and half-hearted efforts to appear impartial. But Trump decided to tear off America’s face any mask of impartiality and trample it underfoot.

What now? Well, for some time there will be no mediator in the Middle East, and hence no kind of Peace Process. But sooner or later, the vacuum is going to be filled. Who might fill it? One name which comes to mind is of Russia’s Vladimir Putin, who had just shown himself able to play a highly effective and energetic – though quite brutal – role in Syria. Russia has long-standing cordial relations with the Palestinians, in the past decade Putin has built up intensive relations with Netanyahu as well. Taking up the abandoned mediation role between Israel and the Palestinians would fit nicely within Putin’s project of restoring Russia’s global power.

Then, the European Union – even though beset by many crises – might take up a more assertive role in the Middle East. Especially France, which has traditionally tended to take its own independent initiatives. Or even China, which not so long ago appointed its own Middle East representative.

Altogether, there might eventually emerge a mediator or mediators who would be a bit more impartial than we had so far. And if so, there might be an ironical reason to feel grateful to Donald Trump…

Contact: Adam Keller 1453ak@gmail.com +972-54-2340749

H/t: petrel41

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Trump’s criminal irresponsibility on Jerusalem

December 6, 2017 at 8:15 pm (israel, Middle East, palestine, posted by JD, Trump, United States)

By Juan Cole at Informed Comment

Another way Trump will get us Killed: to move US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem

The White House says that the US is preparing to move its embassy to Jerusalem and recognize that city as Israel’s capital instead of Tel Aviv. It is calling this move a “recognition of reality.” It is not, it is the creation of a deadly and dreary reality that will get Americans blown up. Trump is doing this for his evangelical base and for billionaire campaign backers like Sheldon Adelson. The latter have tunnel blindness and can’t see the world as it is– dangerous for the rest of us because of their hobbies.

In international law, Israel does not have a right to all of Jerusalem. Jerusalem was not even awarded to Israel by the UN General Assembly partition plan of 1947 (a plan that itself has little legal grounding since the UN executive is instead the Security Council).

Israel conquered most of Jerusalem and its hinterlands in 1967. It then annexed these regions in a quite illegal move. Occupying powers are not allowed to annex occupied territory, by the UN Charter and the Geneva Conventions (which were enacted to discourage people from acting like Nazis). The disposition of Jerusalem in the law should depend on final status negotiations between Israel and the state of Palestine.

The reason that the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian West Bank has gone on for decades and become so distorted as to be illegal is that the United States wants it this way. Washington power elites treat Israel like a big aircraft carrier in the Middle East, a way to continue to dominate the region after decolonization.

This is what I wrote the last time this issue was broached, a year ago. It is all still relevant:

Jerusalem is extremely important and holy (just after Mecca and Medina) to the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims.

One of the three major motivations for Usama Bin Laden and al-Qaeda to attack the United States in 2001 was the Israeli occupation of the Muslim parts of Jerusalem. (The other two were the US sanctions on Iraq in the 1990s that were thought to have killed 500,000 children, and the presence of US troops at Prince Sultan Air Base in Saudi Arabia).

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s provocative demarche on the Aqsa Mosque complex in Jerusalem in 2000 caused Bin Laden to try to move up the date of the planned attacks on New York and Washington, D.C., as ‘punishment’ for Sharon’s implicit threat.

Bin Laden composed a poem for his son’s wedding in Afghanistan in fall of 2001, “The wound of Jerusalem is making me boil. Its suffering is making me burn from within.” Bin Laden was a mass murderer and not a good Muslim, but his rage over Jerusalem is shared by many in the Muslim world.

Muslims ruled Jerusalem nearly 1200 years, much longer than did the monotheistic Jews of the Ezra tradition.

It is foreseeable that a unilateral US recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, and moving the US embassy there (US embassies are big buildings increasingly built like fortresses, and it will be quite visible) will provoke attacks on the United States by angry Muslims. While the US should not shy away from taking risks on matters of principle, in this case Israel and the US are in the wrong, legally and morally, so that we’re doing something unethical and also risking attacks because of it.

Israelis consider an undivided Jerusalem as their capital, and Trump wants to acquiesce in that view. Unfortunately for the Israelis, their position contradicts international law, and if brought to the International Criminal Court it would certainly result in the conviction of high Israeli officials on charges of genocide.

In the Sykes Picot agreement during WW I, Jerusalem was given to Russia. The Communists under Lenin later pulled out of this deal, and the British got Jerusalem and the Mandate of Palestine. Palestine was a Class A Mandate and the British expected it to become the independent state of Palestine around 1949. When instead massive immigration took place by European Jews fleeing Fascism, civil war broke out in 1947-48. The 500,000 Jewish immigrants expelled 60% percent of the over one million Palestinians from their homes and made these families homeless, stateless refugees ever after. The newly minted Israelis just moved into the Palestinians’ homes and farms, forever confiscating them.

In fall of 1947, the UN General Assembly proposed an extremely unfair division of Palestine, giving massive amounts of territory to the Jews, who owned only 6% of the land. This UNGA plan was only proposal and was never endorsed by the UN Security Council, the only body with authority. The Palestinians and other Arabs rejected the partition as grossly unfair. Although Zionist propagandists say that the Jewish immigrants accepted it, their leadership did no such thing. David Ben Gurion clearly wanted much more land than the UNGA had suggested, and his forces went on to grab extra land. In later years the Israelis would try to annex parts of Egypt and Lebanon, and in 1967 they militarily occupied part of Syria and all of the Palestinian West Bank.

The UN General Assembly did not suggest giving Israel all of Jerusalem, including the Palestinian East of the city, and it didn’t have the authority to make such grants of territory in any case.. Nor did that part of the city become part of Israel in 1948. But the Israelis conquered it along with the rest of the West Bank in 1967. They then annexed all of Jerusalem and part of the West Bank, adding that territory to Israel. Although military occupation of territory during war time is not illegal, annexing territory by military conquest is definitely illegal. It is strictly forbidden in the UN Charter and subsequent treaties and instruments, including the Rome Statute that created the International Criminal Court. Moreover, military occupiers may not radically alter the lifeways of the people they occupy (1907 Hague Agreement, 1949 Geneva Accords). Israel’s occupation of the Palestinians has become illegal because of extensive Apartheid policies.

So, Palestinian East Jerusalem belongs to Israel only in the way that the French city of Nice belonged to Mussolini during WW II (he annexed French territory to Italy by military fiat).

What is curious is that most Americans do not know that Jerusalem was one of three planks in al-Qaeda’s anti-American platform. Even more curious is that the US responded to 9/11 by invading and occupying Iraq, making Muslims even more upset. (Incoming Secretary of Defense Gen. Mike Mattis invaded and destroyed Falluja in 2004; one of the insurgent groups there had modeled itself on Hamas in Palestinian Gaza, and fought US occupation as an analogy to the fight against Israeli occupation). Mattis later frankly admitted that the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian West Bank is a severe security problem for the United States.

Now Trump is planning to ratchet up tensions even further.

The national security elites in Washington and Tel Aviv have dealt with Muslim anger over the impoverishment of the Palestinians and the Israeli threat to the Muslim holy places of Jerusalem by covering up these actions, denying them, obfuscating them, and then crushing any Muslims who dare complain about them.

They call this counter-terrorism policy. And they’ve made it work for them in grabbing power, both in the world and at home, where they argue to us that the terrorism that they are helping provoke means we have to give up the Bill of Rights.

(Reprinted)

——–

Related video:

Al Jazeera English: “Trump to call Jerusalem Israel’s capital, move embassy”

 

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Arrogant Brexiteers better get used to the Irish standing up to them

December 6, 2017 at 10:38 am (Brexit, Europe, Ireland, nationalism, posted by JD, Tory scum)

Superb commentary by the Irish Independent‘s Colette Browne (5 Dec 2017)

 Theresa May and Leo Varadkar

The UK government’s arrogant colonial mindset, and its patronising belief that it knows best when it comes to Ireland, is the reason the Brexit negotiations are such an unmitigated omnishambles.

When the UK voted to leave the European Union, there was lots of frenzied waving of Union Jacks, lots of teary-eyed reminiscing about the glory days of empire and lots of fanciful bravado about the economic heights the UK would soar to – now that it wouldn’t have to carry the dead weight of the world’s biggest free market round its neck.

Some of its more zealously frothing-at-the-mouth pro-Brexit newspapers spent months fantasising about being able to change the colour of UK passports and commissioning a new Royal Yacht Britannia to cross the seas and provide a “showcase for everything that is best in Britain”. They’re going to call it Brexit-annia, by the way.

So much time was spent on fripperies and jingoistic fantasies that precisely zero thought was given to the messy mechanics of Brexit. How on earth could 45 years of ever-closer union be unwound in just two years?

Even less consideration was given to the Irish question. There was lots of talk about German cars and French wine – but the fact that an entire country was inconveniently affixed to one of its borders didn’t warrant any consideration from any of the geniuses who promoted Brexit.

In recent weeks it has become apparent why so little thought was given to Ireland by the current Tory government – most of its members couldn’t find it on a map and are embarrassingly ignorant about our people, our politics and our culture.

The Little Englanders who comprise the UK government didn’t think about Ireland because they don’t care about Ireland. They didn’t think that we’d dare to give them any trouble. They thought we’d doff the cap, raise them in salute and let our betters dictate the terms of any deal.

They articulated their vision for Brexit – a brave new world in which all of their fervent nationalistic delusions would become reality – and expect the Paddies to simply roll over and let them get on with it.

The wails of despair you now hear from senior Tories and their supporters, as the reality of securing Brexit proves much more difficult than merely holding a referendum, is the sound of those dreams dying.

For the first time in our long history with the UK, the supplicant has become the master – and the former master doesn’t like it.

Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith, having barely had time to wipe the egg off his face after he suggested last week that the reason the Irish were being so intransigent was because of an upcoming presidential election that no one else knew about, boldly went on the record again yesterday to lambast our government’s obstinacy.

“I don’t see what we have got to sign up to. We have given them all the reassurances they have asked for. If Ireland wants to block us from going on to discussing trade, we will just get on and leave on World Trade organisation terms,” he told the ‘London Evening Standard’.

If you look closely at that statement, the visceral contempt for the Irish daring to protect the interests of its citizens actually drips from the page.

The DUP’s Sammy Wilson was so enraged by the Irish Government’s rigidity that he threatened to veto any Brexit deal involving any reference to ‘regulatory alignment’ in Stormont – appearing to forget that there is no Stormont Assembly at the moment so the DUP can’t veto anything there.

Historians will look back on these botched Brexit negotiations as a case study of what happens when one side abandons all reason, logic and rationality as part of its negotiating strategy.

If anything, after the bedlam on display yesterday a deal enabling the British to move on to phase two of Brexit negotiations is further away than ever.

As soon as details of the proposed agreement with the Irish Government leaked out, that there would be regulatory alignment between Northern Ireland and the Republic, the Scots, the mayor of London and the Welsh were all clamouring for similar deals.

In order to gauge the true extent of the dystopian nightmare that this creates for long-suffering British Prime Minister Theresa May, it is necessary to consider that the Welsh, unlike Scotland and the City of London, actually voted to leave the EU – but now apparently want a Brexit deal that entails them remaining, for all intents and purposes, in the single market and the customs union.

Faced with revolt from all corners of the UK, Mrs May did what she has become adept at in recent months – ran for cover, prevaricated and finally reneged on the agreement, with the result that nobody is happy.

Now, the true horror for Mrs May really begins, as she attempts to cobble together a deal that simply doesn’t exist – simultaneously keeping an open Border on this island while Northern Ireland moves, with the rest of the UK, outside the single market and customs union. Even European President Jean-Claude Juncker felt some sympathy for her predicament as he tried to cover her blushes, in a press conference yesterday, praising her as a “tough negotiator”.

There was no such sympathy on show in Dublin, where a blunt Leo Varadkar stated he was “surprised and disappointed” that a deal, which he was led to believe had been signed off, suddenly evaporated.

Embarrassingly for Mrs May, the man who turned up to Government Buildings yesterday morning wearing a crimson singlet and shorts ended the day looking more stately than she could manage.

Over the coming days, as the deadline to the December 14 date when a final decision will be made by the EU on the ability of the UK to proceed to the next phase of the Brexit talks approaches, expect lots of vitriol and venom to be spewed at the Irish from incensed Tory grandees and their Brexiteer chums.

They may not like this new assertive Ireland, but have only their own ignorance, pomposity and pretention to blame for the position they now find themselves in.

Ireland is a sovereign country intent on defending her interests. They better get used to it.

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Brexit and Ireland: DUP sabotages May’s deal

December 5, 2017 at 6:32 pm (Brexit, Europe, Ireland, Jim D, nationalism, sectarianism, Tory scum)

 
“I have in my hand a piece of paper”; cartoon: Martin Rowson (the Guardian)

Until the DUP vetoed it all, May appeared to be on the verge of putting the interests of the British people and the majority of Irish people, North and South, ahead of placating a minority of bigots in Northern Ireland and in the Commons (on both the DUP and the Tory benches).

In her response to the briefings coming from Brussels yesterday afternoon, DUP leader Arlene Foster restated that Northern Ireland “must leave the EU on the same terms as the rest of the United Kingdom.”

The problem, as the DUP well knows, is that Northern Ireland is already an anomaly in all sorts of regards. (The DUP has, for example, been at the forefront of pushing to lower Northern Ireland’s corporation tax rate from the UK’s 18 per cent rate to match the 12.5 per cent found in the Irish Republic).

But the Brexiteers weren’t having it: if Northern Ireland is heading for a soft Brexit, they reasoned, what’s to stop the rest of the UK?  Paradoxically, but entirely logically, on this point, anti-Brexit people immediately agreed.

So May, in thrall to the DUP and her own hard-Brexit fanatics, has chosen ignominious capitulation to the DUP and the likes of Rees Mogg, risking the disaster that would be a hard border in Ireland. So much for taking back control.

All of which makes this article, first published back in in January by Workers Liberty, all the more prescient:

Brexit and Irish borders

By Micheál MacEoin

As the House of Lords EU Committee put it, with considerable understatement recently: UK-Irish relations “are often overlooked on the British side of the Irish sea”. Both before and after the EU referendum, the consequences of Brexit on Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic have been an afterthought in the public debate. Often there has been no thought at all.

After the referendum result, Theresa May was quick to reassure Stormont that “nobody wants to return to the borders of the past”. Yet, under the pressure from the Tory right, and despite quietly believing in a Remain position during the campaign, the drift of May’s policy, however muddled, seems to be heading towards a so-called “hard Brexit”. Britain could, at the very least, leave the single market. From the Tory right in the cabinet, there have even been suggestions about leaving the customs union — a call which, when it came from Liam Fox in July, caused tension with Dublin government, which proclaimed itself “very surprised”.

The effect of leaving the single market and the customs union would be to entrench the border between the Republic of Ireland and the North. As a recent House of Lords EU committee report stated, “the only way to maintain an open border would be either for the UK to remain in the customs union or for EU partners to agree to a bilateral UK-Irish agreement on trade and customs.” The latter will not be forthcoming without some special dispensation for the Republic of Ireland during the negotiations between Britain and the 27 EU countries and, without it, some system of customs checks would seem inevitable at the border. Moreover, the Common Travel Area (CTA) between the UK and the Republic of Ireland would be cast into doubt. One legal expert has suggested that: “In the event of a UK withdrawal, much would depend on the terms of its subsequent relationship to the EU. To the extent that customs checks applied to goods moving across the border on the island of Ireland, or to traffic between the Republic of Ireland and Great Britain, there would be pressure for controls on the movement of persons as well.”

Even if the CTA provisions, which have existed in some form or other since the foundation of the Irish Free State in 1922, are preserved, there will at least be some change to the ability of EU and Swiss/EEA citizens to move between the Republic of Ireland and Britain. Ironically given that the largest Unionist party, the DUP, supported British withdrawal from the EU, one option could mean border checks to enter Great Britain — not at the Irish Border but at ports and airports both North and South. It is this sort of Brexit which Irish capitalism fears most, as the UK is Ireland’s second largest EU trading partner after Belgium, and its key market for exports in the crucial agri-food and drinks sector. This is not to mention the potential complications for the close family and cultural ties between millions of workers in Ireland and the UK, and the position of Irish workers and students living in Britain.

The position of Northern Ireland is, typically, a complicated one. Economically, in the agri-food sector, £700 million of its annual £1.15 billion exports go to the Republic, and customs duties would reverse the moves towards greater economic integration since 1998. Perhaps the only growth industry from a return of a customs border would be organised criminal diesel smuggling. In an atmosphere of fiscal retrenchment, with no appetite for further funding for Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK, the effect would be to accelerate the Stormont Executive’s attacks on public sector workers, benefits and services, in a region that is already suffering from high levels of deprivation. Of importance, too, would be the effect a tangible border would have on politics in the North. In the short-term at least, it would puncture the optimistic nationalist assumption that economic growth plus demography would deliver a united Ireland. The almost invisible border, diminished in relative importance by its contextualisation within Britain and Ireland’s shared EU membership, would suddenly become a presence in everyday life once more.

This should worry Sinn Fein, which is already losing some working-class support in republican areas to People Before Profit on account of the Executive’s austerity measures. Part of the party’s appeal and prestige lies in its all-Ireland organisation, and the ostensible momentum towards Irish unity generated by its expanding vote share. Brexit could arrest this forward movement. At the same time, a majority of Northern Ireland voted to Remain, creating the potential for discontent with Brexit and with England as there has been in Scotland.

Those unionists who absurdly contend that Northern Ireland is straightforwardly a part of the UK will confront the fact that the six counties is near the bottom of the British government’s list of priorities. Many commentators have expressed alarm about the impact on the “peace process”.

Socialists should of course welcome the cessation of sectarian violence, and the opportunities it opens for the elaboration of working-class and socialist politics. The Good Friday Agreement itself, however, cannot be politically endorsed, as it fails to tackle the roots of the national question and has institutionalised sectarian politics at Stormont. Nevertheless, we should not be complacent about its incidental undoing in the maelstrom of a turbulent and unpredictable Brexit. Down that road lies potential sectarian polarisation and further attacks on workers, as the capitalist class off-loads of the cost of economic disruption. Rather, the overthrow of Stormont should be the positive work of conscious political forces: a working-class movement which, in advocating its replacement with a federal united Ireland with a measure of regional autonomy for Protestant-majority areas, would have the potential to unite workers across the sectarian divide.

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Why Damian Green should be sacked (but probably won’t be)

December 3, 2017 at 4:02 pm (Conseravative Party, cops, Jim D, law, misogyny, sexism, Tory scum, wankers)

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Brum bins dispute: on balance, a victory

December 2, 2017 at 9:44 am (Brum, Jim D, labour party, Unite the union, workers)

Strikers and supporters on the picket line
Strikers and supporters at the Lifford Lane picket line

After 12 weeks of action Unite members have agreed a deal to settle a long-running dispute over changes to waste management services in Birmingham.

On balance, this has to be considered a victory for the workers.

The Labour City Council have agreed to withdraw proposed redundancies in exchange for giving the affected workers new job titles and duties. Grade 3 workers will now be promoting recycling among residents but still be working on bin lorries and maintaining their current grade, pay and conditions.

In addition a victimised shop steward will be reinstated, unions will be included in a forum on future changes to the waste management service, and there will be no changes for at least 15 months. The concession the union has made is to agree to a five-day working week but there will be no increase in working hours.

The council has also agreed to pay Unite the Union’s legal costs. They have spent over £6 million of public money in an attempt to defeat the action and break the union.

The local authority’s leader, Cllr Ian Ward, said the deal had been struck after the council had reached “a legally-sound position, going through the governance processes which we must follow”.

Unite meanwhile described the agreement as “a victory for common sense”.

The dispute dated back to June this year, when the union warned that proposals for changes to the service could lead to the loss of more than 100 jobs and pay cuts of up to £5,000.

The tactics that Unite and the workers opted for – one-hour stoppages each day involving a return back to depots on each stoppage – proved to be effective in creating maximum disruption. This approach also minimised the loss in strikers’ pay and retained a limited service under the effective control of the workers.

On August 16th  it seemed that a settlement had been reached at ACAS and the action (then into its seventh week) was suspended: then the Council tore up the deal (incredibly, even claiming that there never had been any deal!) and Unite re-balloted and resumed the action.

The then-leader of the council, John Clancy, was forced to resign over this fiasco. The (unelected) council chief executive Stella Manzie (who earns £180,000 a year), a well-known ‘gun for hire’ who has worked for various local authorities, cutting jobs and services, joined forces with Tory and LibDem councillors to destroy the negotiated settlement. Labour councillors then demanded Clancy’s resignation.

South Birmingham Momentum gave active support to the workers on picket lines, and also organised a campaign of support within the Labour Party, demanding that the council honoured the ACAS deal and/or negotiated a similar settlement with Unite.

In September a High Court judge ordered Birmingham to withdraw redundancy notices it had served on 113 refuse workers ahead of a full hearing.

High Court Judge Mr Fraser, describing former council leader John Clancy’s management of the dispute and its ensuing chaos, said: “I could use the words remarkable, extraordinary and more.”

He said there had been an “astonishing” state of affairs at Birmingham City Council as rubbish accumulated in the city’s streets.

Mr Fraser also criticised a “schism” between councillors and council officers, saying there had been “chaos” between senior managers and that at times councillors and officers were “positively working against one another.”

A council statement earlier that month said it had issued redundancy notices to ‘grade 3 leading hands’ in the refuse service to protect its legal and financial position.

Under the new proposal, the grade three bin loader role, which was to be deleted, will now be retained. However, this will be with a change of job title and added responsibilities such as data collection for refuse compliance. Refuse workers will transition to the new roles in February 2018. They will also move from a 4-day week to a five-day week.

The deal meant that a High Court hearing scheduled for 27 November did not go ahead. The council has agreed to pay Unite’s legal costs and a court order is expected to cement the agreement.

More information on the agreed proposal can be found here.

Cllr Ward said: “I made it clear that my top priority on becoming leader was to resolve this dispute – the disruption caused for the citizens of Birmingham has been completely unacceptable, and everyone recognises that.

“This has always been about providing an efficient and effective refuse collection service for Birmingham, as that is what citizens rightly expect and deserve from us. Neither the council or Unite wanted things to escalate in the way they did, so I am pleased that through quiet, open and honest dialogue we have been able to reach a legally-sound position, going through the correct governance processes that we must always follow.”

Unite assistant general secretary Howard Beckett said: “This deal secures the grade three role and protects the pay of workers who faced losing thousands of pounds.

“It is a victory for common sense and a victory for the people of Birmingham who no longer need worry about the disruption of industrial action.”

Beckett added: “This deal, which protects the livelihoods of hard working refuse workers, would not have been possible without the determination and solidarity of Unite members.

“Rather than rolling over, they stood firm through thick and thin to defend their jobs and the service they provide to the city of Birmingham.

“The stand that Birmingham’s refuse workers took and the victory they have secured should be an inspiration to others right across the trade union movement.”

But serious socialists need to be clear: this deal will mean added responsibilities such as data collection for refuse compliance. Grade 3 refuse workers will transition to the new roles in February 2018. All refuse workers will also move from a 4-day week to a five-day week. In the present industrial climate, we can properly call this a victory – but we shouldn’t exaggerate the extent of the victory, as some are doing. Nor should we allow the ambitious Howard Beckett to use this as a springboard for his campaign to succeed Len McCluskey as general secretary of Unite.

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The Torygraph spells it out: Brexit means appeasing Trump

December 1, 2017 at 11:02 am (apologists and collaborators, Brexit, enemy intelligence, fascism, Jim D, nationalism, populism, Racism, Torygraph, Trump, United States)

We’ve spelled it out before, but recent events are making it ever more obvious: Brexit necessitates appeasing the likes of Trump, Xi Jinping and Erdogan .

If the UK leaves the EU on a ‘hard Brexit’ (which it will, if the Tories have their way) then grovelling for some crumbs at their tables is all Britain will be good for.

And that is the question Corbyn, Watson and McDonnell have to answer. If Brexit goes through, who should the UK deal with in trying to get good trade deals? How would a Labour government be able to do it whilst simultaneously making clear its distaste for Trump and other racist and authoritarian leaders and regimes ?

If you oppose Trump, you have to oppose Brexit.

Today’s editorial in the Brexit propaganda sheet known as the Daily Telegraph, spells out the inexorable logic from the perspective of the most reactionary (ie: pro-Brexit) section of the UK ruling class, who think May’s mild criticism of Trump has already gone too far:

Trump-bashing will get May nowhwere

It goes almost without saying that Donald Trump was wrong to share anti-Muslim tweets by an extremist British group. But what should the government have said and done about it? Theresa May was right to call Britain First a “hateful organisation” and to correct the false premises behind the tweets. But to personalise her response by adding that Mr Trump “was wrong” was a mistake. A good relationship with America is the very definition of the national interest. To reply to a president’s undiplomatic act with direct criticism may win easy political points. But such virtue signalling is itself hardly the act of a winning diplomatic strategy.

Worse, Mrs May yesterday seemed intent on deepening, not healing, the rift with our greatest ally. “The fact that we work together does not mean that we are afraid to say when we think the United States have got it wrong and be very clear with them,” she said, casually dismissing the special relationship.

There are numerous ways for Downing Street to signal displeasure to our friends in Washington. Almost any of them would be more effective than engaging in a public slanging match. What, really, is there to gain by meeting an emotional and ill-thought-through presidential outburst with its prime ministerial equivalent.

Nuance and subtlety in such matters are not beyond our international partners. French President Emmanuel Macron famously snubbed Mr Trump at an international summit by swerving out of his way, a video clip of which delighted anti-American voters back in France. But that did not stop the savvy Mr Macron from welcoming the American leader to Paris as soon as practically possible, and treating him to the greatest Gallic hospitality. This does not represent hypocrisy so much as political sophistication.

Such things matter. How is it possible that the American president has visited France and Japan, but has yet to make an official trip to Britain? Instead, we were treated yesterday to the spectacle of a House of Commons in which MP’s of all stripes queued to outdo each other in their condemnation of the leader of the free world. This passes dangerously close to the instinctive anti-Americanism that is such a dark element of the revolutionary left. That already has too firm a grip on one side of our politics. It must not infect Conservative benches too.

  • PS: never forget this, either.

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