Friday, 22 February 2013

Forty Years On

                          Forty Years On!-Lest we forget.

This September we will be commemorating the military coup that destroyed the legally elected Socialist government of President Allende in Chile.

Somewhat like the military coup that brought Franco to power in Spain in 1938 the bodies of those murdered by the junta are still being found.
Significantly there is a suggestion that the great Chilean poet Pablo Neruda's body may be exhumed to see if the fascists poisoned him shortly after the coup.
Echoes of the murder of the great Spanish poet Garcia Lorca ,also a victim of the fascists.

But of course it is not simply poets and musicians and artists and intellectuals that the brutes  massacre.Workers and peasants and their children were all victims of the destructive power of such regimes.

Spain was 75 years ago, Chile was 40 years ago, and still throughout the world workers and peasants are being quietly massacred as if nothing out of the ordinary was happening.
Business as usual.
Of course it was just that in Chile, it was 'business as usual ' for the Anaconda Copper Company and the other US based multi-nationals who were terrified that the workers of Chile, alongside their elected government might just look across the Caribbean and see what the Cuban people had done to the American multi-nationals.
There would be no more 'business as usual' if the workers expropriated the corporations.

That was why Pinochet had the full support of the CIA,who spent billions destabilising Dr Allende's government.remember who was running the CIA at the time?
That evil bastard George.H.Bush, father of that other evil murdering bastard George W. Bush.

And remember who was George H Bush's biggest buddy- why Margaret Thatcher of course!
And who was George M Bush's biggest buddy when he launched the Iraq war-why Tony Blair of course!  

Northampton played a significant part in the solidarity movement for Chile.Our unions were magnificent, the TGWU 5/221 branch, the drivers branch producwed stickers 'No Truck with the Chilean Junta' and the TGWU branch over at Fords in Daventry raised funds like it was going out of fashion.

Solidarity was real and practical, as well as the endless fundraising Northampton Chile Solidarity produced, in Spanish  a handbook for young trade unionists who were replacing the murdered and exiled activists,and we were able to smuggle in the duplicator skins.

We also helped with the resettlement of many political refugees driven from their homes.
Amongst the most amazing were an elderly couple, Don Cisternas and his wife Mina.

His crime?
He had been a member of thye Communist Party and chair of the tractor committee in his village.
Don Cisternas provided us with one of those wonderful moments.At a party he was having a conversation of sorts with my father, who had been a farm worker many years ago.
One spoke Spanish, the other wild foul Scots and they were trying to communicate.
My Dad asked Don Cisternas what he did as a hobby.
"Parrot shooting", was the reply.
My old man was astounded:
"At your age-parachuting?"
A strange conversation, but in essence it always reminds me that workers have much more in common and don't need language all the time.
Two old men separated by thousands of miles but could share a joke and share a common humanity.
A people united will never be defeated!

It's time the Labour Party remembered it's roots, and remembered what solidarity is really all about.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Adam the First-Tsar of all the Northamptonshire's

After twelve weeks as the supreme commander of all that he surveys,Adam Simmonds,Northamptonshire's elected (by 10%of the population) Police and Crime Commissioner has been rumbled.
By no less a figure than Brian Binley, the MP for Northampton South and fellow Tory.
In his first 12 weeks Simmonds has issued more decrees than any Roman Emperor in his prime.
Any-time now Caligula Simmonds will appoint his pet rabbit a Deputy Police Commissioner and we will all know the fearful truth-he has passed from merely being a hapless booby to a rustic megalomaniac.
Consider his record of decrees since the first time he settled his 10% bottom in the Commissioners chair, and I have to admit that this is probably a partial list.
He has:
1.Promised to recruit 200 'territorial-style' part time officers.
2.Create more police cadets
3.Ensure there are more specials
4.Reintroduce blue police boxes all over the place.
5.Combat drug abuse with a special task force 
6.Combat every other social ill with a range of other task forces.
7. Move the police headquarters to the town centre
8.Disperse  a number of HQ functions throughout the County.
9.Sell Wootton Hall (or rather NOT sell Wootton Hall) as he's keeping bits of it.
10.Freeze Police pay.
11.'Merge' the police and fire service under a new supreme commander....guess who he has in mind?
12 Em sure that his election agent and an old mate from his NCC days are appointed (on a temporary basis you understand) as Deputy Crime Commissioners on £65k a year.Plus another two for good measure also on £65k a year.
13.And amazingly he will do all this without increasing the police precept by a single groat.

The man is an absolute marvel, because while he and his closely knit team are thinking up all these wheezes, it would appear for instance that the merger idea has been around for ooh...twelve whole weeks,he has also been signing executive orders by the shed load.

You see as well as being a master communicator he is also an expert on IT provision,sanitary supplies, office refurbishment,you name it,Adam's got it covered.
His particular experience as 'the youngest PCC in the land' as he proudly boasts is not quite extensive.He started his working life in Northants. as the political assistant to the Tory group on NCC.From whence he rapidly moved up the greasy pole to an important job at NCC.
Interestingly when he resigned from the County,by his own choice,to fight the PCC election, he managed to get three months severance pay for resigning!
All I can say is that Adam appears to have a very good union-perhaps other NCC employees should take note.
Other than his NCC career not a lot is really known about our dynamic crime buster other than he supported Jeffery Archer for London Mayor and belongs to an obscure evangelical cult.

But it would appear after twelve months he is being sussed out.Over the weeks the Chron's blog has had pages of criticism of his performance.The usual named suspects have been on there,Tony Clarke,Steve Ritches,me(he accused me of being 'political'and not a writer!) joined by Jim MacArthur (UKIP PCC candidate and someone with experience of policing) and Richard Church.

However the intervention of Brian Binley may well open the floodgates.Now it would appear that Brendan Glynnane has joined the fray.One might of course say about time for the leader of the opposition on NCC.
But then there is a bigger gap, a larger silence that is inexplicable.What has happened to the Labour Party?
Simmonds is a disaster no longer waiting to happen.
Where is the Council and possibly government in waiting?
Cat got their tongue?
The fire-fighters in this county are under attack,along with the police service and every citizen of the county.
Why so silent brothers and sisters,why so silent?
I bet you'll soon be knocking on the FBU's door asking for cash to fight the County Council elections. 


Saturday, 9 February 2013

Standing on the shoulders of giants

From the moment I could read I was sure that capitalism would collapse.I was what Americans call a 'red diaper baby'.My family and all their friends were members or supporters of the Communist Party.
Our family were the 'reds in the village', our daily paper was 'The Daily Worker' and on Sunday we got 'Reynolds News'(the Co-op paper)I was the only kid in the village who didn't get The Sunday Post'.
Any Scot will tell you that the Dundee published Sunday Post is the heartbeat of mawkish sentimental Scotland.It combines a Presbyterian prudishness with a shortbread tin vision of Scotland.
it's ill named fun section had creatures who never existed in the real Scotland. Eejits  who used words like'jings' and'crivvens' and 'help ma boab'.
many of my relatives up there thought I had a deprived childhood, others thought I had a depraved childhood!

The Communist Party in the 1950's was a secure sort of place,we were cocooned in our belief system that we were the winning side, that Uncle Joe had it right and the innate superiority of the Soviet Union would justify everything.
Trouble was being in the party was a bit like being an exclusive brotherhood, a bit like a cult.

With the Khrushchev speech in 1956 the certainties started to fade,maybe we had got it wrong.
There was always the Trotskyite alternatives, if Stalin-ism was the problem, then maybe its polar opposite was the answer, and as we all knew capitalism was certainly doomed .
I found many of the Trotskyite sects alarming, they seemed dour and grim faced, and in truth their papers had all the attraction of a damp day in Skegness.The worst was the SLL that later became the WRP the grouplet led by Gerry Healy and paid for by the Redgrave's and a bunch of dodgy middle east states.

Whilst in Hackney YCL we came across Tony Cliff and his wife Chaimie Rosenberg, the founders of International Socialism that morphed into the SWP.
They were the most charismatic and generous ideologues I ever met, Cliff was a fiercely intelligent Marxist who welcomed discussion and debate and was always stimulating.
I might easily have fallen into the arms of IS, but the siren call of Maoism and the Red Guards convinced me that the revolution was only days,if not hours away and there really wasn't time for slow enterism of the Labour Party.
Why waste time in a petty bourgeois excuse of a party when we were already collecting hammers and nails for the street barricades!
Well the day has gone, communism collapsed in Eastern Europe and the USSR, China has reverted to a state capitalist economy(Cliff was right about that) and the old battle between Stalin-ism and Trotskyism is as dead as a dodo,or at least Uncle Joe.
But capitalism is now in it's death throws, and Marx was absolutely right.Yet the left has disintegrated!
The SWP is falling apart like every other cult, and is following the route of the WRP.
The Labour Party is now a hollowed out shell for careerists and as the crisis develops can only urge its supporters to 'go out and listen' It is not much better than the cults on the far left and has replaced any vision it once had with a lust for power at all costs.'Never mind the quality feel the width'.

Yet I believe that there is something stirring once again, and it's not the Neanderthal UKIP bunch.There is a political force starting to build again, from the bottom up, centred in issues not personalities  and looking at the bigger picture.
Right now it is inchoate, a directonless movement,sometimes ranting on the pavements,occupying buildings and wearing silly masks.
But there is something stirring, people are starting to look once again at the trade union movement.Not in the old craft way,or as organisations based in factories and workshops, but rather as organisations rooted in communities,representing not a trade or a profession,but rather a class.
The most exciting development has been the emergence of the Community membership of Unite.It is bringing the organisation and strength of trade unions to people in desperate need as capitalism bites into their living standards in the most brutal way.It defends the unemployed,the tenant,the patient,the pensioner,the homeless and the disaffected youth of our land.
I see a red sun rising,and as parties become increasingly irrelevant I( see a new giant emerging, to stand on the shoulders of those who went before.
And who knows, out of community trade unionism a new political movement might emerge, perhaps it's time to look for my hammer and nails!