Thursday, 24 October 2013

All coppers are.....!

The Police Federation has over the years not exactly covered themselves with glory.They have indeed frequently been the most reactionary of organisations imbued with a culture of bullying and servility!
A few years ago, when they had a woman officer,Jan Berry as their leader they became a far more tolerant and intelligent organisation.
Indeed a very model of a modern trade union.

They may have regressed a little but what is astonishing is to see the Tories and their willing accomplices (aka Keith Vaz) line up to damage the Fed in the traditional way Tories used to do to the Miners,Firefighters,teachers.Much in the same way the Labour Party has recently been doing to Unite.
However the last few weeks have seen a whole new ugly face of union-bashing.A systematic blend of character assassination and political thuggery that has been as bad as the bad old days of Thatcher-and the target has been the once loyalist Police service.

The affair started with what is commonly known as 'Plebgate'.
A vulgar and arrogant Tory Minister Andrew Mitchell tried to wheel his bike through the gates at Downing Street, an odd little event in itself as he had a perfectly good alternative route out of the back of Downing Street that would have avoided the traffic.
But no matter, the Police of duty asked him not to use the gate and Mitchell responded using the time honoured language of those who belive they have a divine right to rule:
"Fucking pleb!"
Herein lies the strange part of the story.Mitchell has never denied he used the'f' word, he claims he used it sotte-voce but he has never denied swearing.
He has denied however that he used the word 'pleb' yet has refused to say what he did say,it seems odd that he should simply say 
"fucking,,," and leave it at that.
He could have said pleb, or prole or pineapple or maybe most likely plod!
No matter, the real offensive word was 'fucking' and for such a lack of control he should have been dealt with.
Cabinet ministers are supposed to set an example and abusing a public employee in a public place needed to be treated seriously.
Yet for the last week we have had every Tory nodding dog bleating on about how unfair the twat has been treated.
I think the culmination was on radio yesterday when the Tory high prince of third rate loucheness Jacob Rees-Mogg opined that what would happen the the Police treated some poor kid from a deprived neighbourhood in such a shocking way.

Remember when Rees-Mogg last spoke up on behalf of a black kid from Brixton when he was picked up for being black?

If that kid had used the 'f' word would Moggy have given him support and understanding?

I hope that Mitchell has now set a new bench mark and a defence that every youngster can use if arrested on a Saturday night for unruly behaviour.

I hope when he appears before the magistrate on Saturday morning he simply says;
" Sir I plead the Andrew Mitchell defence"

And I have never understood whats wrong with being called a pleb?
Happy in my plebian innocence!       

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Time to move on.

In 1975 the then Prime Minister Harold Wilson called for a referendum to determine Britain's membership of the EEC.
The country voted by a two to one majority to remain in the European Economic Community, with only the Western Isles voting against(by an astonishing 70% as it happens)
The left were generally against membership and we dubbed it the European Employers Confederation,we won the right to a referendum and lost the result.

The reality is now that the European Union is simply a part of the Transnational Employers Confederation, that as marx correctly predicted capital would become more and more international, and less and less competitive.
There is a silly notion that the 'free market' so beloved by conservatives the world over would introduce more competition and thus stimulate growth.
Of course that world view was not merely that of American Neo-cons, and Thatcherite Tories and Blairite New Labour.For decades it has been the driving ideology of our times.
Socialism we are being continually told has failed, and free market economics will create a utopian world where 'hard working families' will thrive and prosper.
In fact what has happened is that economic power has concentrated in fewer and fewer hands and capitalist dog has eaten capitalist dog and the gap between the tiny group of extremely wealthy oligarchs and the rest of us has widened dramatically.
And don't take just my word for that,maurice Saatchi, former Chair of the Conservative Party and mastermind of Thatcher's election campaign said it in today's 'Mail on Sunday'.
You couldn't find a more impeccable source of free market orthodoxy.
While it is true also that conventional socialist has also failed,Saatchi points to China as a state capitalist system(come back Tony Cliff-you were right!) and the other control economies were just as hopeless too we need to think outside the box a little.

There have been isolated successes, despite the ferocious embargo that the US has imposed on Cuba for half a century that little island has still managed to produce a first class health and education system as well as imbuing its people with a sense of socialist identity (Think of the Olympic boxer Teofilo Stevenson who refused the outrageous bribery of American promoters to turn professional!) Yet sadly Cuba is a very small example and it too has blemishes.

It would appear that we need a new model,a new strategy that can challenge the international power of the elite and represent the interests of the working people worldwide.
It seems to me that the one feature of the international workers movement that is lacking is-well internationalism!
Capitalism has long understood that it needs to operate globally, if workers get a bit uppity i9n say Northampton, then close down the factory and move elsewhere,indeed anywhere where wages are lower,conditions are worse and nobody ever talks about health and safety

Surely we learnt our lesson during the tremendous struggle of the ship builders on the Upper Clyde.In a principled and disciplined way the workers continued a work in (remember Jimmy Reid's admonishion "nae bevvying" ) and we all heralded it as a great victory for working people.
But UCS closed quite soon afterwards and the shipowners had their new ships built in places like Gdansk in Poland.
Quite ironic that really, because the shipyards of Gdansk should remind is that workers power is possible to change the world.
It was at Gdansk that the union Solidarity was born, and that was the organisation that toppled the 'communist' government of general Jaruzelski-a basket case government long past its sell by date.

Now I was and am not a fan of that miserable little creep Lech Walesa, but the organisation he fronted was a lesson in organisation.One big union that challenged a state machine.

it's a great pity that at the time there wasn't real international solidarity that allowed shipyard workers the world over that their interests were the same, that it wasn't about nationality or nation state was about working peoples solidarity-one with another.

Over the years we have seen attempts at international solidarity action, notably amongst dock workers, but always too little too late.
There were also brave efforts by TGWU members at Fords to work together with workers in other Ford plants throughout the world.But the old adage of 'divide and rule' has always served the ruling class well when confronted with workers combining together.

However if we are ever to move forward we have to start thinking globally too, and that requires two things, first the recognition amongst working people that we, and only we,are 'in this together' and secondly we need to build once again organisations that recognise that a hurt to one is a hurt to all.
I've lost faith in conventional bourgeois political parties and more than ever believe we need to create a sense that as capitalism has the power to destroy not just individual lives ata whim but entire industries,towns,communities.Every time the board of Tesco decides to buy supplies from a cheaper source then a community is destroyed, but not just the growers and producers.The transport workers, the warehouse workers,the shop workers,it's the old butterfly in the Amazon scenario.

But not only do we need strong unions that involve everyone, that's why the idea of the Unite Community branches is such a good idea,to involve people not simply as workers,but as tenants,dependants, patients,students,pensioners-everybody! 
It also requires unions to change too, to break away from the culture of patriarchy and hierarchical methods of working.Trade unions need to embrace as many as possible and stop behaving as if they are the exclusive brethren,the guardians of the sacred flame of exclusiveness.

I began this piece about reminding myself that I voted No in 1975.I belive that was the right vote then but it is no longer important.If we are really to challenge the powerful transnational employers cartel then we need to build a new movement from the bottom up.
Instead of bleating about 'foreigners taking our jobs' perhaps we should be meeting the migrants as they arrive with membership forms for the one big union.
I've got a great name too-I've always liked the notion of the International Workers of the World- the IWW -hasn't that got a nice ring to it!          


Monday, 7 October 2013

Northampton North-a nation holds its breath!

Speaking on Today on Friday James Naughtie interviewed a panel of Northampton North voters about their voting intentions.Amongst the panel was our own dear Bianca Todd who somewhat dangerously introduced the idea of politics to the discussion with the assertion that she would support a candidate from Left Unity-if one was standing.

Northampton North,since the old single Northampton seat was split into two has always been an important bell weather seat.Since 1974 it has been held by Maureen Colqhoun (labour) Tony Marlow(Tory) Sally Keeble(Labour) and Michael Ellis (Tory).

Significantly back in 1974 the sitting Labour member of 25 years,Reg Paget had intended to fight the Northampton South seat,but he pulled out late in the day and the seat went Tory. It remained Tory till Tony Clarke snatched it against the odds for Labour in 1997,but in 2005 it reverted to the Tories when Brian Binley recaptured it.
Northampton North will be one of those seats that will determine the government in 2015 Naughtie described it as a three way marginal, and five years ago that might have been true-indeed the Lib-Dem candidate then,Andrew Simpson described it as a 'two horse race' and then memorably came third in that two horse race.
I think its safe to say that in 2015 his party's candidate will be pushed even to come third.Simpson has decided bravely not to stand again leaving the field open for a new Lib-Dem lamb to the slaughter.

Two things can be certain about the election, it will certainly be a dirty campaign,but that is taken these days as a given,just pick up any copy of the 'Daily Mail' to get a flavour of the sort of campaign it will be,but more significantly it will be the most expensive election ever fought in Northampton.
The Tories need to win the seat and so we can be sure that they will spend lavishly, and indeed its almost certain that the spending has been going on for months.
Michael Ellis is a colourless party hack, a loyal Cameroon who will never step out of line,his brown tonguing of the royals is evidence of his beige politics.
At least in Northampton South the retiring Tory Brian Binley has some colour about him, one more parliamentarian in the line of great Northampton eccentrics, from Bradlaugh through L'Estrance Malone ,Margaret Bonfield,Reggie Paget,Tony 'Von' Marlow, Maureen Colqhoun to our own Tony Clarke-a ferocious Northampton termagant!

They brought life to an otherwise dull political scene,for good or ill,Ellis is simply dull, a living example of Northamptonshire author 'BB's  'Little Grey Men'.

The Labour candidate,Sally Keeble was famed as a 'Blair Babe' and little else She is the mirror image of Ellis,a personality lite cypher,and given her rather dubious history during the expenses debacle it seems odd that the Labour Party should pick a re-tread when before selection they were boasting that they had a host of fine new young talent.

Perhaps the young talent were all off at kindergarten  on the day of selection.

Labour like the Tories will be spending hard,whilst the Tories will be using wealthy backers will deep pockets,Labour will be relying on the Unions, or more specifically the CWU.

It is delightful to see my young former friend Lee Barron has been reinstated into the party as Chairman, despite his suspension some months ago for 'bringing the party into disrepute' over the rather casual affair of the PCC candidature.But then the Party always was forgiving of errant members,especially when they were regional union secretaries and brought a dowry with them.
Note for Lee-if you read this lad, its not your body or your brain the Party are after-it's your Union chequebook!
So what's likely to happen?
Almost certainly the machines are cranked up and working hard,both parties have few bodies on the street,just look at Labour's Facebook page and you'll see canvassing photos months old, so old in fact that prominent in the pack are such stalwarts as Ify Choudary(Conservative) and 'Red' Bev Mennell(UKIP)
Labour will be busy hitting the phone banks, or at least will Union money the party machine in the North East will be hitting the phones!
Voters in Northampton North can expect endless calls from smooth voiced sirens with Newcastle accents trying to seduce and retain them in the Sally camp.

There is only one surprise factor in this fandango, and that is UKIP. They have said that they will fight the seat.Now all the received wisdom is that it will damage the Tories but I think it depends on who is their candidate and which wards they focus on.
During the PCC election(well hardly!) I talked the the UKIP candidate, the late Jim MacArthur, a thoroughly decent man despite his fruitcake politics(had he stood as an independent instead of UKIP he might have won-his experience was extensive) and he took the view that there was considerable support for UKIP in the Eastern District,Kings Heath and Spencer.

Now if UKIP pick a local candidate with a common touch, say 'Red' Bev for example,she might take enough Labour votes who would prefer a rough hewed a-political candidate than the smooth re-tread!

It would be good to see smaller parties like the Greens take on the behemoths ,even Left Unity, but I fear that this is going to be an election not about ideology,values or even local identity, it's going to be one about money.
It will be the election decided by the bank accounts of thetwo parties that need to win,and the interests of the people will come a poor third, or fourth or fifth in this two horse race to the bottom.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

A Small Hurrah!

Yesterday I went into collect my newspaper from Harry and he cheered me up no end.
He told me that the sales of 'The Daily Mail' have slumped quite dramatically over the past few days.
He did say that all the papers appear to be declining in sales,but 'The Mail;' appears to have been hit the hardest.
Just as an aside he did say that the sales of the 'Chronicle & Echo' were not very good either, and for a local paper that is sad news,but the decline in 'Daily Mail' sales is really excellent news.

'The Mail' has a long history of being the mouthpiece of reactionary ideas,its frantic anti-socialism regardless of facts is a shameful commentary on a newspaper in modern Britain.It does not give news,merely opinion.
It was a fierce critic of the General Strike back in 1926, and has a 100% record in hating Trade Unions.
But then it is also notorious in its support for fascism-'Hurrah for the Blackshirts' was Rothermere's enthusiastic support for Sir Oswald Mosley and the British Union of Fascists

The Mail was even giving away free tickets to Mosley's rally in Olympia, when his black-shirted thugs ran riot and beat up people who heckled the supreme leader.Just read Clin Cross's book on the Fascists in Britain  to understand the vile behaviour of 'The Mails' favourite political movement.
Stopping his speech, turning the spotlight on anyone interrupting and sending his bully boys into the audience to grab the offending member of the audience and sling him(or her) down the concrete steps.
Very British, very patriotic,just the sort of values that made the empire great!
But then Rotheremere was a great British patriot in the fine tradition of his paper, it was a consistent admirer of one small German called A.Hitler-whom it regarded as a patriotic German.
But then 'The Mail' has always had a flexible view of patriotism.

On Facebook this week there has been a flurry of tests asking how 'The Mail' would categorise people on a scale of like to hate. I'm delighted that like millions of other citizens it would hate me as much as it hates Ralph Miliband.
However one thing does depress me, and its a dreadful reality, 'The Mail' and perhaps more specifically 'The Mail on Sunday' does employ some first rate journalists.I suppose that for jobbing writers the lure of big bucks and steady employment,even for an unprincipled vicious bully is reason enough.

My experience of the few 'Mail' journalists I have known they do seem to hold quite right wing,unreconstructed views,but I'm not sure what came first.Were they attracted to work for such a rag because they shared the same political outlook or was it 'just a job'?

I like to think that lurking in the newsroom there might be some closet lefties,but sadly I doubt it.

However if what harry tells me is right, then perhaps, and its a very big perhaps, that if even in such lower middle class areas as Northampton people are turning away from Dacre's paper,then there is indeed hope.
A falling circulation might in turn lead to a falling advertising revenue and who knows?

But if big advertisers like Sainsburys (prop.Lord Sainsbury Labour Peer) and Gordon Brown, who we understand is a chum of Dacre,if they remain schtuum  then the poison will continue unabated.
Rotheremere's old hero Hitler was fond of burning books he didn't approve of-perhaps we need to erect a few funeral pyres of Paul Dacre's squalid organ.