Chakrabarti slaps down McCluskey’s stupid remarks on antisemitism

September 27, 2017 at 11:18 am (anti-semitism, conspiracy theories, crap, Jim D, labour party, plonker, Racism, Unite the union)

Len McCluskey (on BBC Newsnight): “I’ve never recognized [that Labour has a problem with anti-Semitism]. I believe it was mood music that was created by people trying to undermine Jeremy Corbyn. In 47 years of membership of the Labour Party, I’ve never been at a meeting where there was any anti-Semitic language or any attacks on the Jews. They would have had short shrift in any meeting I was at.”

“Unfortunately, at the time there were lots of people playing games. Everybody wanted to create this image that Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour had become misogynistic and anti-Semitic because they wanted to bring Jeremy Corbyn down.”

Shami Chakrabarti: “With the greatest of respect to Len, I was the person charged with investigating this. It wasn’t Len,” she said. “I have seen things which Len hasn’t seen. I would ask Len to read my report.

“There are real reasons why someone like Len may not have experienced racism and anti-Semitism. There is an obvious reason why he may not have experienced it. I was charged with investigating by Jeremy and the National Executive and I set out my findings, warts and all.”

  • See also, Coatesy on Labour’s new rules to fight anti-Semitism, here

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Bombardier ruling exposes stupidity of anti-EU claims of left and right

September 27, 2017 at 10:37 am (Brexit, Canada, capitalism, economics, Europe, internationalism, Jim D, nationalism, populism, United States, workers)

People work on a C Series aeroplane wing in the Bombardier factory in Belfast, Northern Ireland September 26, 2017
Above: Bombardier workers at the Belfast plant

America’s Department of Commerce has made a preliminary finding that the Canadian company Bombardier had received unfair state subsidies and sold below cost.

It has now imposed a 219.63% countervailing duty on Bombardier’s new commercial jets, putting thousands of jobs at risk. Bombardier, the largest employer in Northern Ireland with a workforce of 4,100, describes the contract as “critical” to its operations.

The US International Trade Commission will now consider the case ahead of a final ruling in February.

The dispute centres on the sale of 125 C-Series airliners, the wings for which are made in Northern Ireland.

Boeing alleges that the subsidies Bombardier receives from the UK and Canadian governments mean it is launching its new C series jets below cost in the US, and so the US trade authorities should impose tariffs.

Boeing had accused its much smaller rival of “price dumping” to win a lucrative contract from the American carrier Delta. The US aerospace giant claimed each jet cost $33m (£25m) to produce, but that Bombardier had sold them for $20m (£15m) each.

Bombardier also disputes claims that support it had received from governments – £75m from the UK and $1bn (£745m) from Quebec was illegal.

Bombardier says Boeing’s position is hypocritical and absurd – hypocritical because Boeing prices its new planes very cheaply at launch, and because Boeing has received huge subsidies from the US government over the years; and absurd because Boeing is claiming to be damaged by Bombardier’s sales even though Boeing does not sell any competing planes of a similar size and has not done so for a decade.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has now said the Canadian air force will not buy Boeing’s Super Hornet jets from “a company that’s busy trying to sue us and put our aerospace workers out of business.” Theresa May, in turn, has said she will raise the issue with the famously protectionist Donald Trump when she grovels to him later this week at the UN.

This case provides a classic demonstration of the stupidity of those (on both left and right), who try to make out that the EU is the major obstacle that a British government faces (or would face) if it tried to give state aid to particular industries. Both supporters of Theresa May’s “industrial strategy” and of Jeremy Corbyn’s interventionist industrial policy have suggested that, when the UK leaves the EU, it will have greater freedom to apply state aid. But in a capitalist world, state aid may still come into conflict with new trade deals if one side or the other decides that such government intervention provides a legitimate reason to impose tariffs.

Some sectors of the economy (of which aerospace is just one) have very significant government involvement almost by their nature. In such cases it may be very difficult to treat trade disputes as “purely commercial” matters. As things stand, it will be the US trade authorities that decide on the Boeing-Bombardier dispute.

In any future US-UK trade deal, would we want US and UK courts deciding these matters, or would some joint arbitration body be a better way to adjudicate? This issue places May and the Tory anti-EU fanatics in a very difficult position, given their hostility to the ECJ and (presumably) any other supranational court with national jurisdiction.

Maybe post-Brexit the little-Britainers of left and right will stop complaining about “Brussels” interfering with national governments and start complaining about “Washington”, “Geneva” … and, indeed “the rest of the world”?

  • JD acknowledges the use of information from a piece by Andrew Lilico at City A.M. in the preparation of this post.

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Early Autumn, with Woody Herman and Stan Getz

September 24, 2017 at 4:22 pm (jazz, Jim D, Sheer joy)

According to BBC Radio 4, today is officially the first day of autumn – which surprised me, as I thought it had arrived weeks ago.

Anyway, that being so, it provides me with an excellent excuse to post a video of Woody Herman’s 1948 recording of Early Autumn, composed and arranged by Ralph Burns and featuring the young tenor sax genius Stan Getz:

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Does the Telegraph think Europe’s security should be a “bargaining chip”?

September 23, 2017 at 4:43 pm (Europe, Jim D, media, nationalism, publications, terror, Tory scum, Torygraph, wankers)

Daily Telegraph front page 23/09/2017 The Telegraph is generally keen on May’s speech, but suggests she may have given away her “strongest bargaining chip” … 

One of the more outrageous, irresponsible and disgraceful elements of May’s “Article 50” letter to the EU in March was the none-too thinly-veiled threat to withdraw security co-operation with Europe in the event of no trade deal being reached:

“In security terms a failure to reach agreement would mean our cooperation in the fight against crime and terrorism would be weakened,” she wrote in the letter to European Council President Donald Tusk.

Wisely, May did not repeat this outrageous threat in her Florence speech yesterday.

But, according to the increasingly shrill and fanatical pro-Bexit Torygraph, there are people who thing she should have.

Torygraph content is now shielded behind a paywall, but we can read the full article (by chief reporter Gordon Rayner), thanks to the Brisbane Times, here. They key passage is this:

There were accusations that Mrs May gave away her strongest bargaining chip – access to Britain’s security and intelligence might – by saying the UK was “unconditionally committed to maintaining Europe’s security.”

Now, just re-read that passage. Yes! It says what you thought it said.

My only question is, do the people making these “accusations” include the likes of Torygraph ex-editor and veteran anti-EU fanatic Charles Moore, current editor Chris Evans (no, not the DJ) and the rest of the Torygraph top brass?

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Brum bin workers win first round against redundancy plans – council humiliated

September 21, 2017 at 9:04 pm (Brum, campaigning, Cuts, Jim D, labour party, Liverpool, Socialist Party, solidarity, unions, Unite the union, workers)

 Len McCluskey addresses solidarity rally last Sunday (Image: Birmingham Mail)

Refuse workers in Birmingham are celebrating a major victory and Unite has suspended strike action after a high court judge issued an interim injunction to block redundancy notices sent out by the Labour council.

A full court case in November will rule on the underlying legal dispute over the council’s bid to shed staff and change working patterns.

Workers who attended the two-day hearing hailing the ruling as “fantastic” and a “massive victory”.

Unite’s assistant general secretary Howard Beckett said the ruling left the council’s “unfair and unjust plans in tatters”.

Beckett said: “This judgment will be a huge relief to Birmingham’s bin workers, who in just a matter of weeks were facing losing their job or pay cuts of up to £5,000 a year.

“As part of the ruling, Unite will suspend its industrial action until the matter is put before a full court hearing at a later date.”

The union also repeated calls for Stella Manzie, the council’s chief executive, to resign. This follows an deal reached on August 16 at ACAS between the council’s then-leader, John Clancy, and Unite. As a result, the union then suspended strike action and issued a statement saying plans to abolish 120 grade 3 (supervision) jobs had been dropped, and no redundancies would take place.

Then, out of the blue, the agreement broke down with council leader Clancy even trying to make out that there never had been a deal – a bare-faced lie that ACAS publicly disputed. As a result, Clancy was forced to resign as leader of the council

To be clear, the pressure on Clancy from fellow Labour councillors was not for having reneged on the deal, but for having reached it in the first place. It has also became apparent that the driving force behind aborting the deal was interim chief executive Manzie, a bureaucrat with a long record of driving through cuts at various local authorities: at the high court, Mr Justice Fraser read out an email sent on 15 August from Manzie to Clancy saying the council could not look weak and “as if it’s being walked over”.

Referring to the dispute between Clancy and Manzie, Fraser said: “Neither party comes out of this sorry saga with any credit at all – I could use the words remarkable, extraordinary and more.”

It seems that one of Manzie’s arguments against Clancy was that the deal would open up the council to a wave of equal pay claims – something that Unite’s legal team strongly disputes. Howard Becket says that the equal pay issue was not put to Unite by Manzie’s legal team during discussions and it was not raised by the council during the high court hearing.

Immediately following the council’s repudiation of the ACAS deal, redundancy notices were issued to 113 grade 3 workers – a provocative move that resulted in Unite’s successful high court action.

Unite is confident of winning at the full court hearing in November, but there can be no doubt that the refuse workers (who voted 94% in favour of resuming their strike after the ACAS deal broke down) are prepared to return to the picket lines if it proves necessary.

A relatively minor, but politically interesting, aspect of the dispute has been the stance of the Socialist Party (SP). They have been commendably active in their support for the workers, but noticeably embarrassed over the council’s issuing of redundancy notices. After all, this was exactly what the SP’s forerunner, Militant, did when they ran Liverpool council in 1985.

The SP has always proclaimed Liverpool council’s record to have been exemplary and refused to countenance any criticism of the decision to issue redundancy notices – until now. In an attempt to explain the difference between Liverpool council issuing redundancy notices in 1985, and Birmingham doing exactly the same in 2017, the SP now describes the Liverpool decision as “a mistaken tactic to buy time”. However, it was OK really because:

“[T]he council made clear to the workforce that not one single worker was to be made redundant – and none were”.

The trouble with this excuse is that Birmingham council are saying pretty much the same thing:

None of the Grade 3 leading hands who are being made redundant need to lose their jobs with the council. Alternative Grade 3 posts, at the same salary in other parts of the council, are available for all those affected leading hands. No one needs to suffer a cut in their basic pay”.

So perhaps a minor, but valuable, by-product of the dispute will be to force the comrades of the SP to make an honest re-assessment of their own tendency’s record when it ran Liverpool council.

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The shameless liar Johnson just keeps on lying

September 17, 2017 at 7:57 pm (Asshole, economics, Europe, fantasy, Jim D, nationalism, populism, Tory scum, truth)

Boris Johnson today sets out a grand vision of Britain’s “glorious” post-Brexit future as a low-tax, low regulation economy paying nothing to the EU for access to the single market.

In a 4,000-word article for the Telegraph, the Foreign Secretary restates the key demand of the Leave campaign – that £350m a week currently sent to Brussels should be redirected to fund the NHS.

He says that Britain should not continue to make payments to the EU after Brexit and that ongoing membership of the European single market and customs union would make a “complete mockery” of the referendum.

Johnson’s lies are well answered here by Sam Ashworth-Hayes:

The crown jewel of Johnson’s fantasies is the lie that we will take back £350 million a week from the EU, a lot of which can be spent on the NHS. This is untrue not just because we never send the EU so much money, although this is what makes the statement a bare-faced lie. It’s not even because around half of what we actually send to the EU comes back to be spent in Britain or is counted towards our international aid target. It’s such a big lie because Brexit will knock the economy so badly that we’ll have less money to spend on our priorities not more.

What about the rest of Johnson’s vision? He wants to tackle the housing crisis, improve our infrastructure, fix our schools, become a tech powerhouse, boost scientific research and build on the strength of our universities.

Some of these ambitions, such as paying for homes, schools, infrastructure and research, will cost money, which we’ll have less of if we quit the EU. Others will be directly undermined by Brexit. Our universities are already suffering a brain drain as EU citizens no longer feel welcome. And does the foreign secretary seriously think that cutting ourselves off from the EU’s digital single market is the way to spawn tech giants?

What’s more, to pretend that EU membership prevents us from investing in homes, schools or infrastructure is outrageous scapegoating. The blame belongs with successive British governments, especially Johnson’s Conservatives.

The foreign secretary tells us airily that there are “obvious ways” in which Brexit will help tackle the housing crisis. It’s a shame that none made its way into his article. He merely notes that “there may be” ways to simplify planning and floats the idea of taxing foreign buyers before dismissing it as a bad policy. Is this really all he’s got?

Johnson says leaving the EU will mean we won’t be able to pin the blame for our own failings on Brussels. But this is not an argument for Brexit. It’s an argument to stop scapegoating the EU, a practice on which the foreign secretary has built his career.

Johnson has also identified a new scapegoat: “Young people with the 12 stars lipsticked on their faces”, who are “beginning to have genuinely split allegiances”. This phrase has a nasty history. The slur that Catholics’ true allegiance lay with Rome was used to exclude them from British politics.

The foreign secretary knows perfectly well that a person can have more than one allegiance without being any the less patriotic. He himself did not give up his American passport until 2016. The young people marching against Brexit are doing so because they do not want to see Britain weakened by this disastrous mistake. This is the most patriotic motive of all.

…and his overall “analysis” (if you can dignify his self-serving lies and bombast with that description) is taken apart in a superb editorial in today’s Observer:

Boris Johnson’s analysis of Britain’s ills is wretched nonsense. The Tories, not the EU, are to blame

Yesterday, the foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, published an extraordinary 4,000-word article setting out his vision of a glorious British future outside the “trusses” and regulations of Brussels. It was wrong on every count, yet was a fascinating window into the contemporary conservative mind living in a parallel universe only fleetingly in touch with reality, but which is leading the country to perdition and division. It cannot be allowed to pass uncontested and unchallenged.

Mr Johnson succeeds in blaming almost every British ill – from uninspiring training to our dilapidated infrastructure – all or in part on the failing efforts of a Brussels elite to create a federal superstate. Incredibly, he writes that once free of the EU, Britain will be able to organise, plan, build the homes and infrastructure we need, give our children skills and – bingo! – we will become glorious and rich. None of this is allegedly possible as an EU member. The new alchemy will be simplifying regulations and cutting taxes, doing trade deals as “Global Britain”, alongside boosting wages and productivity.

This, in the language of those gilded Etonians Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg, is bilge and balderdash. It is true, as Johnson observes, that Britain is failing on many fronts, but to lay the blame, extending even to low wages, on unnamed EU regulations is fantastical. The blame needs to be firmly pinned on the policy framework – weak regulation, low taxation, minimal public intervention and unwillingness to invest in public infrastructure and services – which he champions.

The EU, with its readiness to offer protections for temporary workers and parents, insistence on high-quality environmental legislation, its ambitious cross-country research and development programmes and expenditure on regional development, has instead partially alleviated the great British disaster that Johnson and his Thatcherite cabal have provoked. The EU is a far more reliable deliverer of the aims to which Johnson now lays claim, but which his policy framework and philosophy cannot produce.

Thus, it is not Brussels regulations that have caused low wages, the growth of insecure freelance and gig work and the accompanying plunge in productivity growth. British labour law was enacted in Britain by politicians Johnson lionises and seeks to emulate. The increase in desperate poverty, with widespread growth of food banks, is because Conservative politicians, with Johnson as cheerleader-in-chief, have so attacked Britain’s social contract that it is mean and full of gaps. It is not Brussels regulations that have caused England to have eight of the 10 poorest regions in northern Europe. Britain’s incapacity to develop policies that spread income, work and opportunity around the country is once again minted at home.

The thought processes that lead Johnson and his ilk to blame Britain’s house-building record, dismal track record on skills and low expenditure on science on Brussels can only be wondered at. Equally, the notion that Britain is going to embrace free trade by leaving the single largest free trading bloc in the world is bewildering. There are no easy free trade deals to be done with the US, China and India that can compensate for what will be lost with Europe, which is, in any case, looking to protect its interests and salivating at the prospect of negotiating with Brexiters who have as little grasp of economic reality as Johnson. Nor is the Commonwealth going to be a soft touch. All hope to scalp a country that has chosen to isolate itself from its neighbours and friends.

In one respect, Johnson has done the country a service by his effusions, timed as much to put a marker down on his leadership ambitions while undermining his lame duck leader as making a contribution to public debate. He has at least recognised the scale of the economic and social reconstruction that has to be done, while simultaneously demonstrating that the philosophy, policy framework and upside-down vision of the “global Britain” he champions is the wrong means of achieving it.

Britain does need a wholesale refashioning of its economic and social model. Our capitalism needs to be repurposed. Rather than the shibboleth of ever lower taxation, we must think in terms of what skills, infrastructure and public services we need and then levy the taxes required. We have to declare firmly that the country is open and internationalist by remaining a member of the largest free trade area in the world. Above all, we need to restate our values. Britain is a tolerant, rule-of-law society that vigilantly ensures its economy and social structures work for all. Those are the values of the European Union, with whom we should be making common cause, not heading off for an imagined Thatcherite utopia, the cause of so much of what has gone wrong in contemporary Britain. British Thatcherites, not the EU, are the cause of our current ills.

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Open letter to the deluded pro-Brexit “left”

September 7, 2017 at 12:48 pm (Anti-Racism, Civil liberties, CPB, Europe, ex-SWP, Human rights, immigration, Jim D, left, Migrants, populism, Racism, rights, Socialist Party, stalinism, SWP, Tory scum)

p46 - Potential measures
Above: the leaked Tory plans

Open letter to the deluded pro-Brexit “left”

Yes, I mean you lot at the Morning Star/CPB, SWP, Counterfire and Socialist Party:

I take it for granted that as self-proclaimed leftists, you are knee-jerk anti-racists and internationalists opposed to anything that tends to divide, rather than unite, our class.

And yet you called for a Leave vote in the referendum, and continue to back Brexit! In the case of the Morning Star/CPB, you oppose continued membership of the single market and customs union – in other words you want a “hard” Brexit!

To its shame, the Morning Star continues with this folly, publishing Daily Mail-style editorials that more or less explicitly back David Davis against the “intransigent” Michel Barnier and the “EU bosses in Brussels, Bonn and Frankfurt.”

Some of us tried to warn you about the Pandora’s box of xenophobia and racism that you were opening. Yet even when the Leave vote was immediately followed by a sharp increase in racist attacks and incidents (in fact, hate crime in general, such as attacks on gays), you wilfully closed your eyes and stuffed your ears, mouthing shameful banalities and evasions like “there was racism on both sides” and “racism didn’t begin on June 23rd.”

Well, yesterday we caught a glimpse of what the Tories have planned for EU citizens in Britain, or coming to Britain.

The plans are not yet official government policy, but all the signs are that they soon will be. The leaked document is explicit about ending a rights based approach. EU citizens arriving after Brexit would have to show passports, not ID cards; they would have to apply for short term two year visas for low skilled jobs; they would be prevented from bringing over extended family members and be subject to an income threshold (£18,600 per year) even to bring a spouse.

Employers, landlords, banks and others would have to carry out checks on paper-work. The hostility towards immigrants Theresa May deliberately stirred up as Home Secretary would intensify, and rub off on all “foreigners” and ethnic minorities, whether from the EU or not. British-born people of colour would inevitably find it more difficult to obtain work and accommodation.

As immigration lawyer  Colin Yeo  has commented: ‘The first and most obvious [result] is that the plans would make the UK a far less attractive destination for migrants. This is of course the whole point. The Home Office is protectionist by nature and worries only about security. The economy, consequent tax take, international relations and “soft power” international standing are considered worth the sacrifice. But what would happen to the sectors of the economy dependent on migrant labour, such as agriculture, food processing and hospitality? Are the public ready for a huge recession, massive job losses and reduced funding for public services and infrastructure?’

Andrew Coates, who knows a thing or two about France, has noted that ‘the scheme is a policy of National Preference, close to the demand of the far-right Front National, for jobs to go to first of all to UK Nationals.’

Deluded comrades: how are you now going to explain yourselves and your craven role as foot soldiers for the carnival of reaction that is Brexit? Your original  arguments and justifications for your pro-Leave stance during the referendum varied from the bizarre (after Farage and Johnson – us!) through the deluded (vote Leave to oppose racism!) to the frankly egregious (immigration controls are a form of closed shop!).

There was only ever one argument in favour of Brexit that made any sense from a socialist perspective: that EU membership would prevent a left wing government from implementing nationalisations and other forms of state intervention into the economy.

This urban myth has been perpetuated by left-reformist anti-Europeans and by Tory anti-interventionists for the last forty years.

But it’s wrong, at least according Article 345 of the Treaty of the Functioning of the EU of 1958, which states: ‘The Treaties shall in no way prejudice the rules in Member States governing the system of property ownership.’ This Article remains in force and makes a nonsense of the claim that existing EU legislation prohibits the kind of nationalisation, or other economic intervention, being advocated by Jeremy Corbyn.

But even if it did, is anyone seriously suggesting that if Corbyn gets elected on a manifesto that includes public ownership, he would not be able to implement it if we remained in the EU? Nonsense. As the pro-Brexit right continually reminded us during the referendum campaign, Britain is the fifth largest economy in the world, and (unlike Greece) would have little difficulty in forcing the EU to accept a Corbyn government’s right to introduce such relatively minor reforms as taking key industries and services into public ownership. Anyone who’s ever taken a train in France or Germany knows this.

But, for the sake of argument, let’s say you’re right and I’m wrong: what is the benefit for a social democratic Corbyn-style government, of voluntarily leaving the EU, rather than pushing ahead with its programme regardless, and (in effect) daring the EU to kick the UK out? That’s a question I’ve asked many times in debates with you lot, and to which I have never received a coherent reply.

As the reactionary, anti-working class and essentially racist nature of Brexit becomes more and more obvious, I cannot believe that anyone who calls themselves a socialist, is not appalled. It’s probably too much to ask the self-absorbed, self-deluded, ultra-sectarian groups that comprise the pro-Brexit “left” to simply admit that you’ve got it wrong, and reverse your disastrous policy on EU membership. That kind of intellectual honesty is not part of your culture. But I think internationalists and anti-racists do have the right to demand that you make it clear that you support free movement, oppose a “hard” Brexit and support the maximum possible degree of co-operation and integration between British and European people (and, in particular, workers via their organisations) in or out of the EU.

Is that too much to ask, comrades?

JD

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Brum bin strike back on as council reneges on deal

September 2, 2017 at 5:47 pm (Brum, Jim D, labour party, posted by JD, solidarity, Unite the union, workers)

Strikers and supporters on the picket line

Strikers and supporters at the Lifford Lane picket line

Birmingham refuse workers have returned to the picket lines after the Labour city council reneged on a deal and sent out redundancy notices.

Mountains of rubbish bags piled up on street corners before the last seven-week strike was suspended on August 16 after Unite and the council struck a deal at ACAS.

Now the council leadership has inexplicably torn up the deal (incredibly, even claiming that there never had been any deal!) and cancelled a meeting on Friday that had been called to ratify the settlement.

More bin collections are now likely to be missed with many of the city’s streets still strewn with overflowing wheelie bins.

the union said it would re-ballot members, meaning industrial action could extend until the New Year. The union is also considering extending the action to other council workers and services.

Unite assistant general secretary Howard Beckett said: “This is a deeply provocative act that drives a coach and horses through the agreement Unite reached with the council in good faith at the conciliation service Acas.

“It does a great disservice to the people of Birmingham and the city’s refuse workers who now face being made redundant and losing their livelihoods or pay cuts of thousands of pounds.”

He added: “The last thing refuse workers want to do is resume industrial action and see piles of rubbish accumulating on Birmingham’s streets. This is their city too.

“Our members want to focus on delivering a safe efficient service to people of Birmingham.

“Sadly, it seems the council does not want to see that happen. Instead of embracing an agreement that would have seen compromise on all sides, the council seems content to put people on the dole and cut their wages by up to £5,000.

“Unite calls on the council to come to its senses and withdraw these redundancy notices to avoid the disruption of industrial action.

“John Clancy [council leader] has said there was no deal in place, which is just outrageous. It is completely contrary to the ACAS statement that says there’s agreement in principle for the Grade 3 to remain, and consequently no redundancy steps are in place.

“The council is in a shambles. They have rowed back from a good agreement and have returned us to industrial chaos.

“We will be balloting across the council because I am now convinced that this is an ideological message the council is sending out – that they intend cuts, and cuts widely to the workforce.”

South Birmingham Momentum, which prior to the August 16 suspension of action, was actively supporting the workers, will now resume its solidarity activities, and demand that the council honours the ACAS deal. Consideration is also being given to a possible call for John Clancy’s resignation.

STOP PRESS:

In an unprecedented statement this afternoon (2 Sept) ACAS contradicted council leader John Clancy:

Acas can confirm that an agreement was reached between Birmingham City Council and Unite the Union on the 15th August 2017, following discussions at Acas.

The terms of the agreement were made public by Acas at the request of both parties, in a press release agreed with both parties.

– Acas statement

You can see the press release Acas is referring to here.

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Morning Star or Daily Mail? Spot the difference

August 31, 2017 at 1:11 pm (apologists and collaborators, Beyond parody, class collaboration, conspiracy theories, CPB, Daily Mail, Europe, Jim D, language, nationalism, populism, publications, Racism, stalinism)

Image result for picture Morning Star EU

OK, the picture above is a bit of a giveaway, but pretend you haven’t seen it and play the game. Guess which national newspaper has recently used the following wording in editorials about Brexit:

  • “‘Soft Brexit’  would represent contempt for democracy”
  • “Irrespective of what governments in Dublin and London or the people of Ireland and Britain may want, others in the EU will disregard these views and impose their own”
  • “Such unsubtle pressure is surely intended to encourage British MPs unreconciled to the referendum result”
  • “…misrepresenting the 17 million-plus people who voted to leave the EU as racists or xenophobes”
  • “…an elite institution that does not represent them – undermining popular sovereignty in Britain”
  • “Starmer’s deluded hope … running up the white flag”
  • “…agreeing to remain in the customs union … will weaken Britain’s negotiating position”
  • “… further evidence that there is a ‘fifth column’ in British political, business and media circles”
  • “…continuing subjugation to EU diktat”
  • “The alternative is to stand up to EU bureaucrats”
  • “Britain given the runaround” (headline)
  • “[Barnier] has briefed, leaked, grandstanded and stonewalled in his efforts to maximise the pressure on … David Davis to capitulate”
  • “[Barnier] has … rejected all proposals put forward by the British government so far on post-Brexit residency rights”
  • “Those [EU] proposals would make even the greediest gold-digger in a divorce court blush with embarrassment”
  • “Yet it is the EU which insists that there must be customs controls between the EU and the United Kingdom”
  • ” … the ECJ or its puppet European Free Trade Association”
  • “in Britain, we can unelect our negotiators. The Irish people have no such option”

Yes, all this borderline-racist anti-Europe conspiratorial rhetoric and de facto support for the British government against Johnny Foreigner appeared in various editorials in the same newspaper … and it wasn’t the Daily Mail.

  • See also: Coatesy on other recent pronouncements from the pro-Bexit “left”, here

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Labour’s new EU stance a step in the right (ie left) direction

August 28, 2017 at 8:11 pm (Europe, Jim D, labour party)

 Ben Jennings 28.8.17
Cartoon: Ben Jennings, the Guardian

My local Labour MP – far from a Corbynite – recently told me he agreed with Corbyn’s stance of “constructive ambiguity” on Brexit, which had served the party well during the election.

His reasoning is not without merit: Labour does have a genuine problem with its supporters and potential voters coming from both sides of the Brexit argument. But evasion and (to be blunt) duplicity will only get Labour so far: there comes a point (ie now) when we have to be straight with people. And show some leadership.

In any case, the vast majority of Labour’s new, young supporters are militantly anti-Brexit; two thirds of Labour’s 2015 voters were for remain, and even in “Leave” constituencies, 60% of Labour voters voted to remain.

So this weekend’s news that the Labour leadership is now committed to staying in the single market (and abiding by its rules, including free movement), and staying in the customs union beyond March 2019 (when Britain is set to leave the EU) for “as long as necessary” is both principled and makes sense pragmatically.

As today’s Financial Times notes,

… [B]ut senior Labour figures say Mr Corbyn has also been swayed by pressure from within the party, especially from those on the left and trade unions, who have argued that jobs depend on the single market.

The Labour leader, cheered by adoring fans at this year’s Glastonbery festival, has also been reminded by party membership survays that youinger voters especially would not take kindly to him acting as an accessory to a Tory “hard Brexit”.

Of course, there is a fundamental nonsense contained in both Labour’s new stance, and – indeed – what appears to be the government’s evolving position (well described by Anatole Kaletsky here), which is that the UK will abide by all the EU’s rules for the foreseeable future, but have no say in shaping them. As Will Hutton comments, “The Brexiteers will be able to say we have left the EU, when in fact we will be shadow EU members with even less of a voice than Norway, Liechenstein or Switzerland. It is one of the great cock-ups in British political history.”

The obvious answer is for Labour to take one further step: be straight with the electorate and acknowledge that the  referendum result was a disastrous mistake that needs to be reversed either by voting Labour at the next general election or by holding a second referendum.

Nevertheless, the leadership’s shift is is a major victory for internationalists and anti-racists in the Labour Party.

There remain forces within the party and on the “left” who will resist this development.

Lexiters, sovereigntists, advocates of a “closed shop” for migration, who count themselves as Jeremy Corbyn’s new best friends, will fight this turn, and are already ranting about “a fifth column” … “running up the white flag” (I kid you not!)

It is now above all up to supporters of free movement to advance our case.

As Michael Chessum explained a few days ago, in the Clarion,

The cause of free movement belongs to the left, not the right

By Michael Chessum

There is a section of the British left – some of it indigenous to the old Labour left tradition, some of it linked to the old Communist Party – that actively supports border controls, and has always viewed free movement as a means of undermining the power of organised labour. In the Labour establishment, support for border controls has been a regular fixture – whether as a means of appeasing “legitimate concerns” (and racism) about immigration since the 19th century, or as a electorally opportunist response to the Brexit vote.

These sections of the left do not want to have an argument about their position, and for good reason. The idea that we should take away people’s rights on the basis of their nationality (which is what ending free movement means) only makes sense if you are, on some level, internalising or pandering to prejudice and nationalism. Otherwise, we ought to “build a big beautiful wall” separating deprived northern towns from the south east of England, to stop all the inhabitants of Blackpool from coming down here, taking our jobs, flooding our labour market and eating up the housing stock.

The vast majority of progressives and leftwingers would not want to make such a case. That is why, in Labour’s manifesto, the end of free movement was presented as an immovable fait accompli. One week Labour will say that free movement must end because we are leaving the single market; the next it will say that we must leave the single market in order to end free movement.  It’s also why the main argument against free movement in Momentum branches and on the left will be “ssshh, you’ll damage the leadership”, or even “this is a plot by the right to damage Jeremy.”

Yet the fight inside Labour for free movement and migrants’ rights has always been led by the left, not the right. Under Blair, Labour was responsible for introducing some of the harshest asylum laws in Europe, many of them aimed at driving refugees into destitution. It worked with the tabloid press to feed a narrative of immigrant benefit scroungers and government clampdowns.  Historically speaking, the leadership of the trade union movement has often been the most anti-migrant part of it. The immigration controls mug was not designed by CLPD.

And the logic of the arguments for free movement are overwhelmingly radical relative to Labour’s historical centre. We call for all workers to have the same rights, regardless of where they were born – because it is through collective struggle that we improve our lives. We call for massive public investment, common ownership, greatly increased minimum wages and the abolition of anti-union laws. Free movement is part of “our” globalisation – not a step backwards from the social democracy of the Twentieth Century, but a radicalisation of it.

This is not to say that there will not be many on the right of the party who come round to the idea of free movement in the coming period, and not all of them for honest reasons. Some on the right genuinely believe in a similar principled case to that which I would articulate. Some view free movement as an important argument to win for the purposes of remaining in the Single Market and protecting Britain’s business interests. And yes, some will see an opportunity to divide the left and expose the awkward fudges made by the leadership in recent months.

The fact that the argument will be difficult cannot deter us from having it. The question of whether or not Labour should have whipped for Article 50 in March was controversial on the left, as it was across the party, but it was fundamentally a tactical question. Even the bigger debate over EU membership was not a matter of raw principle, in so far as it was possible to offer respectable (if deluded) left wing arguments on both sides.  But ending free movement – dividing workers by nationality, taking away people’s rights, implicitly endorsing of the idea that immigrants undermine living standards – is a matter of deep principle on which the left cannot afford compromise.

Despite appearances, there is plenty of reason to be optimistic about the prospect of Labour taking a pro-free movement line. Over the past two weeks, about 2,500 Labour members and supporters have joined the Labour Campaign for Free Movement. A number of unions – including some big ones – have come out in favour. And we should not forget that Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell are friendly to the principle, and have the radical social and economic programme that can make free movement palatable and electable.

You can sign up to it here.

H/t Coatesy

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