Tuesday, 31 August 2010

The coalition of dead men walking

The last few weeks have been dreary to say the least.The only political action has been the birth of another Cameron sprog and the death of the Liberal -Democrats as a force in British politics.
The simple fact is that the Tories are lying so low that they are invuisible and they are allowing their junior partners to take all the flack-and the real punishment hasn't even started yet.
The Lib-Dems have proved nationally what we have known locally for three years, that they are hopeless in power and have only one ambition-to get into power.
This Tory government is going to be the worst since the Duke of Wellington, it will be brutal,ignorant and self serving.It will also be the cleverest Tory government and will achieve the narrow ideological purpose that it has set itself.
It will destroy the welfare state and it will ensure the hegemony of the rich and powerful for decades.
And all this will be done with the willing complicity of the Lib-Dem dupes-if they think partial electoral reform is the big issue-then they are more stupid than they look and sound.
Of course the problem is compounded by the collapse of the Labour Party.After all when they rail against dismantling the health service,creating a target driven public service,see the creation of more academies and the return of selective education.When the Tories roll out more PFI initiatives and weaken public housing what can the Labour leadership say?
Oh Gosh-you've pinched our ideas!
Just reading Chris Mullin's second volume of diaries that argument is self evident in the first few pages, when in 2005 a Tory MP gleefully tells Mullin the sad and obvious truth- a Tory government will continue Labour policies but more efficiently.
If people think that the Tories will be more generous on civil liberties,especially with their little Liberal helpmates-wait till you see the sort of immigration controls this lot will bring in.I expect they have envoys over in Paris as we speak taking notes on how Sarkosy is dealing with Roma's !
There was a time of course when we might have turned to the Unions to provide some resistance,but then we had a strong manufacturing sector and powerful union organisation throughout the private sector as well as within the public sector.
But years of attrition after Thatcher and the wholesale failure of Blair and Brown to restore any meaningful rights to trade unionists has left them weak and powerless.
There are fewer unionised workers today than at any time since the 1920's.
very soon the Tories and Liberals will pick a fight with a public sector union,probably a small one and they will be relentless in the pursuit of that union-and the hapless TUC and Labour Party-will they offer anything more than those cowards did when the miners took on the state-firstly in 1926 and then...?
With a ruthless government,its tame toadies and its weakened opposition what hope is there?Should we all put our collective head in a privatised expensive gas stove and hope for the worst?
Or do we need to see new forms of organisation emerge,perhaps syndicalist trade unions based on location rather than trade?
Should we hope for a resurgence of localised campaigning like the sort Lansbury led in Poplar?
Or should we hope that people will turn to Miliband-Ralph that is!

Monday, 5 July 2010

A tale of two cities

A week or so ago we were sitting eating in a small restaurant in St Germain on a narrow cobbled street where almost 150 years ago the Parisian workers had raised barricades as part of the Paris Commune.
Those heroic Communards were commemorated by a small plaque on the wall opposite,and although they failed their memory lived on in international working class history.
So it was a strange serendipity that I found myself in Jubilee Gardens the following Saturday with three or four hundred people singing lustily 'The Internationale' .
we were taking part in the annual commemoration of the International Brigade volunteers who like the Communards before them rose up against oppression and fascism .
One of the French Brigades in Spain was called 'The Commune de Paris' Company in honour of their illustrious predecessors.
The British battalion had company names that were a little more prosaic-the 'Tom Mann Centuria' and the 'Major Attlee Company'
It was the first event on the South Bank where none of the five or six surviving Brigaders were able to attend,because of age and infirmity-but the spirit of those 3,200 men and women who went to fight as volunteers against the fascist forces was all around us.
I wonder what those tourists to London thought was happening when walking through the gardens heard the unmistakable melody and words of 'The Internationale' It might have given many a pause for thought!
What was inspiring was the presence,not only of representatives of the Spanish Embassy but also from the Regional Government of Catalonia,the only region in modern Spain that has an active department pledged to find the remains of all those victims of Franco,from Spain and abroad-and honour their memory.
Whilst it is important to always fight the multi headed hydra that is modern fascism and drive them from the political arena by whatever means possible it is also worth remembering that the real anti-fascist struggle is not simply an emotional spasm.
The real anti-fascist struggle can only be linked to the struggle for socialism.The two are inextricably linked.

There were many trade unionists there,notably the members from ASLEF, as well as folk from all the anti -fascist groups-including a beautiful banner from a group from Cable Street.
What was missing was any presence from the Labour Party-although at lunch afterwards with many old friends we talked animatedly about 'the Party'-but of course it wasn't the'Labour Party'.
When the call went out for volunteers there were many Labour Party members from all over Britain who went to fight in Spain, men and women who gave their lives atJarama,Brunete,the Ebro.They went to fight fascism but for Socialism too.
I wonder how many of the contenders for the Labour leadership care any more about Socialism?
I wonder if they could even spell the word?

Monday, 31 May 2010

Carve my name with pride

The local BNP were upset by my column in the Chron & Echo last week.In case you missed it I was rejoicing in the fact that they got smashed in the General Election and was was especially encouraging was the good people of Barking wiped them off their Council there.
Fascism has had roots in the deprived areas of East London over the years,but time and time again the sensible East Londoners quicky see through the fascists and give them the bums rush.

it would appear that my celebration of the rout of tghe latter day Mosleyites upset the tender flowers that are the local BNP and on their blog they described me as a 'thoroughly nasty piece of work'
All I can say is that it takes one to know one!

Bollards to NBC!

I've seen the fountain and its OK.Well it's hardly the sort of thing that takes the breath away,it is not exactly the Trevi Fountain, and indeed by gushing upwards instead of gently bubbling downwards its less a fountain-more a burst pipe.
But it's true to say that the children loved it, and it gave them pleasure,so in that sense it has a purpose.
But as an entrance to the medieval Market Square-frankly it sucks.
What is perhaps worse is the featureless clock on an aluminium pole-wonder how many passers by even noticed it? and worse still the bloody aluminium bollards that have appeared-in gay profusion near the fountain.
Why does this town have an obsession with ugly aluminium coloured bollards?They are everywhere-Gold Street and Marefair look much better these days-apart from the useless addition of what seem like dozens of the little silver coloured bo****ds.
Has someone on NBC got shares in the bollard factory or a relative with a big garden shed?
The other thing about the town scape is the absolute masses of street signs everywhere.
Sit on the portico with a coffee and count the street signs around-look at the top of Bridge street, there is one pointing down the street and two feet away another pointing up the street!

What has happened to planning?There is no sign of common sense in the signage in the town centre.
Lastly the plums.Other places have different sorts of revolutions, in Prague there was the velvet revolution, in the Ukraine there was the orange revolution and in Northampton-we manage to have the plum revolution!
The town has a long history of merry pranksters-the black painted footsteps from Bradlaugh's statue to the public toilet was a memorable jape(and should have been kept as a tourist attraction)
Today the standard has gone down if the best someone can come up with is a plum in the fountain!
Not even an aubergine.
The Lib-Dems have even stifled creative mischief-how boring can they get?

Sunday, 16 May 2010

How many Milibands does it take to lead a Labour Party?

So instead of kicking the Con/Lib love in into oblivion the next few months of Labour Party activity is going to be a beauty contest between a range of former ministers as to who should lead the rump of the Parliamentary Labour Party!
According to the Independent on Sunday Ed Balls is 'consulting his election team',no doubt lining up his supporters and creating a war chest.

I am reminded of Nolan who galloped up to Lord Cardigan before the Charge of the Light Brigade and waving his hand wildly told Cardigan to charge.
"There are your enemies M'Lord!"
Frankly right now who cares who leads the Labour Party.In the next few days the most serious and vicious assault on the standards of working people in this country is going to be initiated by the most unprincipled bunch of chancers since MacDonald's 'government of national unity'in 1929
The PLP are going to engage in hostilities,that is certain,but not with the enemy.
They will be doing their best to destroy factions within their own party,and the government will be given a free run to cut jobs and services at a rate unknown in our lifetimes.

But then a party that has no ideology to rely on,and frankly has no purpose other than to ensure its parliamentarians can draw salaries and expenses has lost the plot.
The only Miliband we need at this time is sadly dead.Ralph Miliband understood clearly the class nature of this society and what should be done.
Pity his sons,for all their alleged brightness never really bothered to read their own father's analysis.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Crock of Shit politics

I am totally obliged to my Californian friends,Susan and Don,for their sound definition of modern British politics.
What we are living through is an absolute crock and I really don't know what is the worst aspect of the debacle.
Everyone is talking about 'change' and the 'new politics' and all that old guff,but it seems to me there is nothing new about changing 'long held principles' in the quest for naked power.
In order to get his arse in the ministerial limo Clegg it would seem all those cherished liberal policies were just so much tosh.

A few short days ago he and his colleagues were convinced that the Tory policy of beginning deep cuts in public spending immediately were damaging to recovery.
Yet Deputy Dawg Clegg will nod the cuts through without a thought to the damage they will do to the fabric of the country.
But then of course DDC will insist that it is all in the 'national interest'-I wonder how his poorer constituents in Sheffield will view the inevitable pain that his actions will cause?
But then again will he care? Will he care that the Tory policy of allowing any Tom,Dick or multi-millionaire can open a school at will?
Will he be at bothered that the Trident programme,that he argued rightly and passionately against will continue untroubled?
Will the privately educated Tory clone even stop to ponder his Party's traditional social democratic tradition as he cuddles up to that other public schoolboy.Truly the Jedward of British politics.
My Dad used to say 'what do you expect from a pig but a grunt!'and that about sums up the 'coalition'.
But I think on balance I'm more upset by the abdication of the New Labour Party.
In my youth there were numerous Trotskyite groups who peddled the line that if workers suffered enough they would turn to revolution out of desperation.
So New Labour have adopted the same philosophy,let the workers have a bit of the Tory/Lib-Dem lash and next time they will return in their droves to the New labour Party.
I never much liked Kinnock but at least his 'battered shield' view of the world was better than the cowardly line taken by this bunch.
it all smacks of the political class looking after themselves, and a sort of gentlemanly world view that its now someone else's turn!
The labour Party had a responsibility to try and look after their supporters,by whatever means possible.If that meant a minority government with the support of left leaning Lib-Dems, the SNP,Plaid,the Green and Sylvia Hermon-then so be it.
A rainbow coalition might have run into trouble, but it would have certainly been working in the interests of the nation that I believe needs to be looked after!
But it seems that to many in the PLP the most important issue is who will the next leader be!
What a crock we have before us.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Almost back up to speed

At last I've been reunited with my blog.I had to go through several cyber hoops to restore this blog,mind you it hasn't been too distressful.I have been able to get on with my book and have made excellent progress.
The fearful symmetry of what I have been doing is that the behaviour of the Communist Party apparachniks in the 1850's seems so little different from their modern counterparts in the East Midlands Labour Party!
Marx was right,history does repeat itself,first time as tragedy the second time as farce!

So the Labour candidate for Northampton South,who is standing for re-election to Waltham Forest Council is once again facing both ways, he tells the people of Waltham Forest that he's only a paper candidate in Northampton and yet tells the Chronicle & Echo here that he's going to fight to win in Northampton.
Not so much a paper candidate-more a paper tiger!

Northampton deserves better,much better and so as each day passes the candidature of Tony Clarke looks stronger and far more credible.
Binners is a busted flush-even though his stage managed debate with Mr. L & G Church might proke more smoke than fire.
Varno is lurking at around 100 to 1 and is once again demonstrating his breathtaking shallowness-I watched him perform at a Scrutiny Committee call in earlier in the week and his mediocrity was only outclipsed by the rambings of Cllr.Brian Hoare.A leader of Council who has yet to understand the inner workings of a NBC microphone-it helps when you switch it on!
And Clyde Loakes is the MaCavity of local politics.Astonishingly with all that's happening in Northampton he finds it impossible to get here.
It's true a Labour Party loyalist in Duston,or maybe THE Labour Party loyalist imn Duston claimed that the mighty Clyde,(what 'ere may betide) has leafletted over in Duston.
Well if its the crap piece of printing I saw not going out in Castle Ward, then Duston's gain is nobody else's loss!
Loakes is clearly not a serious candidate, and with no active members to support him it is scandalous that the local Labour party is still taking money from unions who could be making more use of scarce resources helping striking workers.

But then of course,the Rehional labour party won't really care very much, they'll all be out helping Ms.Oldknow fight her seat in Nottinghamshire that she conveniently fell into!
A lesson Clyde, if you want a seat in the East Midlands-get a job as the office junior in the Regional Office.
This pesky General Election has meant that the 'political' columnists on the Chronicle & Echo are now in purdah until May 7th.That means Pandora,John Grosvenor and myself will have to write anodyne a-political material for a few
So if its anodyne and a-political I guess I'll be weiting a lot about the Lib-Dems for the next few weeks.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

When will they ever learn?

So at last someone in authority(I use that word loosely) has spotted the fact that Marefair and Gold Street,recently 'regenerated' and around six million pounds is not all it was cracked up to be!

As a matter of fact parts of the surface, the aesthetically beautiful granite bits,are cracking up.
We are told that it will cost aover a quarter million pounds to put the surface right, and the replacement will be aesthetically beautiful ashphalt.

And all after six months.

Yet whilst the work was going on the guys who were working on the job were telling local shopkeepers that the material being used was not suitable for the task(once again something not fit for purpose) and that the contractors had told the clients this right from the start.

The clients of course being NCC, NBC and WNDC.Remember ooh all those six months ago the proud notices proclaiming the scheme.In fact I think there is still one up on Black Lion Hill, and remember the fun and frolics in the rain when the project was opened.
How proud our Councillors were that day.How they wallowed in the public adulation.Well they had the little matter of cleaning and sealing the new pavements-but the mighty portfolio holder for Regeneration-Richard Church ensured that everything was neat and clean.
Nothing to rain on his parade that day!
But six months on, the pavements now have an interesting patina of used chewing gum once again, and where there once was uneaven clumps of nasty ashphalt there now are'uneaven clumps of nasty ashphalt'.
One thing you can be sure of in Northampton, whether its the Borough or the County, when everything changes sadly nothing changes!

Now we will see endless buck passing and the contractors and their workforce will take the bulk of the blame.But there is ample evidence that they made it clear that the materials would not do the job, but aesthetics prevailed over common sense.
In the end the contractors did what they were told, in the end the customer is always right.
Now the cusromer was the local authorities and the WNDC.I suspect they had endless meetings and consultations, site visits with Councillors in their pretty hard hats, and lots of press calls and photo opportunities.
It is likely that some junior planning officer relayed the contractors concerns-but of couurse image is everything these days-and regeneration needs a bright shiny image of modernity.
So who will take responsibility? Will it be the contractors? The Council officials? Or the elected members who oversaw the project and took the praise six months ago?

What's the betting that the final blame will lie with some poor sod in a quarry somewhere in Aberdeenshire whose never heard of bloody Northampton!