Saturday, May 30, 2009

John McDonnell at PCS conference


Thursday, May 28, 2009

Expenses - Same old Tories

The whole expenses malarkey has shone a light on the fact that scratch the surface and the Tories are as they always have been, arrogant and distanced from the reality of most people's lives.And yep New labour is also bloody disgusting, but Im bashing Tories today and others have covered this as I said earlier.

Moats, Duck Islands and now :

A Tory MP has agreed to repay £20,000 in tax and mortgage payments, much of which was claimed from public funds towards servants' quarters in his home.
Sir John Butterfill said he was given incorrect advice about what he could claim for a section of his house, later sold for £1.2m, occupied by a gardener.


"The one mistake I made was that in claiming interest on the home, I didn't separate from that the value of the servants, or the staff, wing.
"And I claimed the whole of that and the whole of the council tax relating to that," he told Newsnight.
"I cleared that with the fees office at the time. I wasn't told I needed to separate out the part of the house that was being occupied by my gardener and his wife from the whole house.

Well shouldn't every home have servants quarters ??


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Expenses Scandal: Why Are Union Leaders So Quiet?

I may have missed a lot of proclamations of outrage by trade union leaders about the MPs' expenses scandal. If so, this post will be a little off the mark.

But if, as I suspect, they have actually been quite quiet on the subject, it begs the question as to why.

Possibly, they have been too busy shouting from the rooftops about job losses, pay cuts and attacks on workers' rights? Sadly, no: union leaders' response to these issues has ranged from co-operating with the bosses to flawed attempts to resist, and their efforts certainly leave hours in the day to proclaim on other issues too.

Possibly, the Labour-loyal union leaders do not want to avoid chiming in with attacks on the party that they still delude themselves is 'theirs'. This is probably partly true, but they could get round that by sticking the boot into the Tories - there is plenty of material, from moats to floating duck islands, to throw in their direction.

Which leaves another explanation - namely, that union leaders may not want to invite scrutiny of their expenses. I have had the dubious pleasure of attending TUC Congress a few times, which comes across as a week-long binge where union big cheeses already on salaries way above their members' hardly dip their hands in their own pockets all week, instead living on sponsored nosh-ups and flashing the union credit card at the bar. And during the other 51 weeks of the year, union activists continually find that unions are far more reluctant to part with cash for rank-and-file initiatives, representation, organising, campaigning or - dare I mention it? - strike pay than for hospitality.

I have no doubt that some union leaders are very much more guilty of this kind of thing than others, but I am equally convinced that the feathering of leaders' nests is not only wrong in itself, but contributes significantly to rank-and-file members' alienation from trade unions. It also puts a weapon in the employers' hands: while we busily publicise the fat-cat salaries, bonuses and expense accounts of the bosses who attack our jobs, pay and rights, they can retort that at least some union leaders are in a similar league.


Sunday, May 24, 2009

Abuse by Catholic Church in Ireland

In light of the at-long-last publication of the damning report into institutional child abuse by the Catholic Church in Ireland, my best comment is to point you to two articles and a poem by Sean Matgamna, who has first-hand experience of the brutality of the Christian Brothers.


Savage Violence in Irish Schools: Why Did They Stand For It?
9 February, 2005

The little boy, Tommy, perhaps eight years old, watched the schoolmaster, Sean Gormley, prepare to flog his brother, Mickey. Mickey was a year or two older than Tommy, but smaller.

The procedure was that the boy due to be flogged would climb up, or be lifted up, on the back of a bigger boy, who would reach over his shoulders and hold on to the smaller boy’s hands. The master would then slash again and again, as his mood dictated, at the victim’s backside.

The boy’s short trousers may have been pulled down first. I don’t know. “Flogging” was what they called it, and flogging is what it was. Tommy had seen it before, as had the whole class - had maybe himself been the victim.

As the master slashed at Mickey, Tommy picked up his slate — they used real slates, and chalk — and, moving towards Gormley, flung it at his head. He missed, and the slate clattered against the wall behind the teacher.

Mickey kicked himself free, and the two boys ran out of the schoolroom, across the narrow concreted yard, down the steps, and off towards home.

I have had to “fill in” some of the details, but in its essentials, it is a true story. I heard both Mickey and Tommy, decades later, tell the story more than once. Tommy was not above a bit of embellishment, but he was a truthful man, with a strong contempt for “liars”.

Continues here.


A horror story to learn from
7 February 2008

An 81 year old retired Irish cardinal, Desmond Connell, has gone to the High Court in Dublin for a writ to stop his successor as Archbishop of Dublin from handing over church files on paedophile priests to a state-organised inquiry into clerical abuse of children.

He has called on the court to prevent the head of the Catholic Church in the Dublin diocese from handing over information about criminal priests to the government-appointed investigation. He has got an interim writ, freezing proceedings until there can be a full court hearing. He claims that some of the files contain solicitors’ advice to him, and therefore that they are privileged, exempt from scrutiny without his say-so.

This strange affair deserves the attention of socialists and secularists in Britain.

Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor, Primate of the Catholic Church here, who plausibly claims that his is now the most numerous Christian denomination in the country, has a lot to say on social and political questions these days.

A lot of it is reactionary — its attitude to lesbians and gays, for instance.

His overriding concern is to have as large a part as he can of the affairs of society — its mores, its morality, what it allows and what it forbids to the citizen — regulated by the “laws of God”, as his church understands them. In Britain now it is an effort to have society ruled according to the teachings of a church which the big majority does not accept.

The attempt by Murphy O’Connor and his bishops to impose the prejudices of their church so that lesbians and gays could not adopt or foster children is only one recent example.

The Catholic people of Ireland are now once again, in the grotesque Cardinal Connell affair, being unpleasantly reminded of what rule by priests, bishops, and cardinals sometimes has meant for them. For many decades, Catholic priests, members of the Christian Brothers (a monk-like teaching order), and nuns, running Irish schools, orphanages, and reformatories, savagely abused children, beating and raping them.

That they subjected them to relentless and merciless violence was known to everyone. What was not widely known — scarcely known at all, except to its small victims and to maimed and troubled adults who had been small victims — and certainly never discussed in public, was that sexual abuse of children in schools, orphanages, and reformatories, was also an everyday thing.

The abuse of children is now understood to be a feature of all institutions where children are helpless at the mercy of adults. In Ireland, within a loose and light framework of state regulation to check such things as the qualifications of teachers, schools (etc.) were an archipelago of hell-holes run or supervised by priests, Christian Brothers, and nuns.

Officially, Catholic Ireland was a desert of lacerating, arid sexual puritanism — a place where for many decades the average age of marriage was 35, and many lay men and women, never marrying, lived entirely celibate lives.

The poet Patrick Kavanagh — he is also the author of the well-known song, “On Raglan Road” — borrowed the common name for the Famine of the 1840s, in which a million starved to death, the Great Hunger, for the title of a long poem about that, Ireland’s other great hunger.

In that Ireland, the priests and nuns were honoured as paragons and models, demigods more closely connected to the Big God than anyone else could be. They were the moral police for a strict and very puritanical morality.

Continues here.


And finally, I'd never usually recommend Sean's poetry, but I'll make an exception in this case ...


Now, Mary places papers all along the kitchen,
On table, dresser, chairs: small girls at school;
Herself, the nun, alone with children in her den.

Mary is re-enacting school, convent school,
Where little girls are shaped, chastened, cut
By holy women strung alive to God's tight rule.

So she begins to teach: she stiffens, starts to strut
Facing the girls, like nemesis engaged,
A long thin stick in hand. Slowly she starts to “tut”.

“Tut-tut! Tut-tut! Tut-tut!” Soon anger sparks to rage,
Deep-rooted rage: a wounded eye-less Id
Seething with rancid, poisoned life inside a cage.

Now she begins to shout: she scolds her paper kids,
Upbraiding each as little fool, dunce, dim-wit:
Ne'er-do-well, bad little sinful Patsies, Neaves and Brids.

From shouting soon to action: she starts to hit
The table, the dresser, the unfeeling chairs
With the thin stick, face clenched, caught up, reliving it.

She “slaps” the table, the dresser, slashes at every chair:
Wood rings on nerveless wood, with rapid blows,
In frenzied mimic violence, 'till papers tear.

Mary slashes and beats, her eyes fierce that they glow,
Lost in fevered playing at nuns' school,
At home, in deValera's Ireland long ago;
Lost in that wounded re-enactment long ago.


A scene I witnessed. Mary, who would have been about 9,
was a pupil at the girls National school, run by
the Sisters of Mercy, the only girls primary school in Ennis.
These nuns had a reputation amongst the poor of
the town for being very severe and violent with the
children, but selectively so. They were relentlessly
punitive, physically brutal and persecuting with the “Industrial girls”,
who were in their full-time custody, less severe, though still
very severe , with the children of the poor, and noticably less severe,
or not severe at all, with the children of the well-off.

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Saturday, May 23, 2009

Friday Fuckwit a day late - two for one, Steen and Dorries

When it comes to the expenses issue currently raging around the media, there are soooo many Fuckwits I could write about. I mean a duck island, cleaning of moats and toilet seats, let alone the profiting from second homes, where to start.
I could write about my disgust at Labour MPs who still really haven't managed to get it , but I think Dave and Susan have covered that well. if I was to compile a list of top ten Labour Fuckwits Ms Blears and Purnell would be vying for top slot for sheer hypocrisy and inability to grasp both the irony and why its wrong *even* if its within the rules.

Given the overwhelming choice of Fuckwits to choose I have picked Two Tories.

At the moment MPs are being pushed by their leaders , and the media, to apologies. Day after day we see them stand there and say they are so sorry . Call me cynical but I don't believe them, unless they are really meaning sorry I got caught out. How genuine is it when forced out of them? How come they suddenly really really feel regret and sorry? Nope they are apologising to limit damage, being forced into it by party leaders scurrying to regain some moral high ground. Given this its unusual to get some defiance , but I suspect its more honest and what many MPs really think and so to Anthony Steen and Nadine Dorries, showing their true colours. How dare you attack us !!

Anthony Steen was very disgruntled and angry on the radio.

He blustered :

...that public outrage over MPs' expenses was unfair and misplaced. "I think I have behaved impeccably. I have done nothing criminal. And you know what it's about? Jealousy. I have got a very, very large house. Some people say it looks like Balmoral, but it's a merchant's house from the 19th century," he said. "We have a wretched Government here that has completely mucked up the system and caused the resignation of me and many others, because it was this Government that introduced the Freedom of Information Act and it is this Government that insisted on the things which caught me on the wrong foot."

Comparing the daily stream of revelations in The Daily Telegraph to a soap opera, he said: "What right does the public have to interfere in my private life? None. Do you know what this reminds me of? An episode of Coronation Street. This is a kangaroo court."

Very embarrassing and off message for Cameron, desperate to present New Tories as caring, sharing and one of us, not the arrogant wealthy types like Steen in all his unreconstructed glory. Sadly he has now been neutered and back on message offering apologies .

Just as one outspoken Tory is slapped back in line , up pops another . Nadine Dorries is not happy :

The Mid Bedfordshire MP wrote that the mood at Westminster, as MPs prepared to return to their constituencies for a recess week, was so grim that people were constantly checking to see if others were OK.
"Everyone fears a suicide," she said.
"If someone isn't seen, offices are called and checked."
In an interview with the BBC, Ms Dorries, who was a nurse before she came into politics, said MPs were walking around "with terror in their eyes" and likened the atmosphere to that surrounding Senator Joseph McCarthy's "witch-hunts" of Communists during the 1950s.

Dave takes apart the nonsense of talk of witch-hunts nicely .
Like Steen , Dorries doesn't really like that MPs are accountable but uses a different approach, guilt tripping. Stop attacking us poor defenceless MPs, we're upset. Yeah upset the gravy train has ground to a halt. Look, MPs are a tough bunch, you don't get that far in politics if not. They are also adults responsible and accountable for their behaviour . If they claim expenses they should be willing to defend and account for them . Saying stop else I'll jump is the action of a politician with no argument or defence for their behaviour who has been caught out and wants to sweep it all back under the carpet.

Both though have shown what many MPs think. Go away, don't upset us, you have no right to poke your noses into how we spend your money and you are all jealous anyway. Yes they are Fuckwits, but at least they are , or were, saying what they really thought.


Thursday, May 21, 2009

"Scotland - Land of the Sodomite Damned " - the Westboro Baptist Church have turned their attention to Scotland ...yay !

Oooh the Westboro Baptist Church are heading to Scotland with their own highly creative and disturbed style of protests . I wish I could go along to counter protest and wind them up.Thats my idea of a fun day out !
Anyone going please send me pics . Eddie? Cat? A report would be brilliant.

Details via Facebook :

Louis Theroux' best pals the Westboro Baptist Church are coming to Scotland to tell the Church of Scotland not to appoint any gays as ministers.
This is their poster advertising the picket:

"Yes, Westboro Baptist Church pastor and members will
fly to Scotland and conduct these religious education,
protest, and warning pickets; to wit: "Be not deceived;
God is not mocked" Gal. 6:7. Scotland once blazed with
Gospel light, in the days of the likes of John Brown and
other able and sanctified Puritans and men of God. It is a
moral and spiritual tragedy that such a matter as the
pervert Scott Rennie should even be entertained. The
curse of God is on Scotland. She is beyond redemption.

God Hates Scotland – Land of the Sodomite Damned."

Come along, counter-protest, or just watch the freak show with a morbid curiosity. There will be a prize for the best sign.

Protest details :

23 May 2009

17:30 - 19:30

The Mound


And when you have done Scotland do head south to Brighton, there are lots of us perverts here. WBC versus the the queers of kemptown !! Those drag queens would make short shift of them im sure .Come for Pride , even better.

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

I Wouldn't Deliver Fascist Crap Either - Would You?

From the Manchester Evening News - hat tip: Bruce

Posties refuse BNP leaflets
May 19, 2009

ROYAL Mail workers have refused to deliver British National Party election leaflets as their union accuses Royal Mail of breaking a 'conscience clause' allowing staff to refuse to deliver literature they find offensive.

A number of the 160 delivery staff at a postal depot in Macclesfield told bosses they would not distribute the material. Some postal staff in Prestwich, Bury, Glossop, Wilmslow, and Alderley Edge have also objected to delivering the leaflets.

Sian Jones, spokeswoman for the Communication Workers Union said: "At Macclesfield staff were apparently told by delivery depot manager that if they did not deliver the BNP leaflets they would not be allowed to deliver any political leaflets, and so would lose money, as they get extra for delivering them. That is a clear breach of the clause we agreed.

The pamphlets promote the BNP ahead of the European Parliamentary elections on June 4.

The Royal Mail has a legal obligation under the Representation of the People Act to deliver election material but delivery of the leaflets has caused anger.

Vicky Charles, who lives in Hazel Grove, Stockport, said: "The postman gave one of the leaflets to me as we were outside packing the car. I was outraged and said I didn't want it.

"But he said 'I have got to deliver it'. It was full of inflammatory statements relating to Muslims and asylum seekers. It annoyed me greatly, but how will people from black and ethnic minority groups feel about having this stuff pushed through their letter box?"

A spokesman for the Royal Mail said in a statement said: "Where possible we will try to be flexible and sensitive to individual personal circumstances or beliefs. However, we need to balance this with Royal Mail's legal obligations, under the Representation of People Act, to deliver election material."

BNP spokesman Simon Darby, said: "It is called an election - it is one of the privileges of living in a democracy.

"Most of the leaflets have gone out. If some post workers don't want to deliver the leaflets they will find some with a more professional attitude, who want the overtime and will. It is up to the public what they read not post workers."

He said the Royal mail had delivered 29 million leaflets nationwide for the BNP.

Bob Gibson, CWU national official, said: "We have a national agreement with Royal Mail with a conscience clause which allows individuals to exercise their right to not deliver material which they find offensive or believe their customers may find offensive.

"It is not specific to any political party. We are protecting the rights of our members to be safe at work. Royal Mail has a responsibility to ensure the safety of their employees.

"We have had instances of delivery workers being threatened, chased and spat at for delivering some election leaflets. We will support individuals who feel strongly about delivering these items. Postal workers are well within their rights to refuse to deliver offensive material."

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Writers' Headache

I didn't know this until this week, but could I assure any of you out there who are interested that by far the most torturous, time-consuming and frankly very difficult tasks in writing a book is ... compiling the index. Jeez.

If any Stroppyblog readers have any experience in this area and want to offer some tips, please feel free.

Explains the blogging famine, though.


Saturday, May 16, 2009

Mirror in the Bathroom

Last weekend was the other 'arf's birthday, and among several obscure items I hunted down as prezzies was a video of The Beat's finest moments. So for those of you who loved them, have long forgotten them or are too young or uncultured to have heard of them, here is a Beat classic, 'Mirror in the Bathroom' ...

By the way, the reason this snippet calls them The English Beat is that the USA insisted, given the existence of a band over there also called The Beat ...


Friday, May 15, 2009

News Flash: Everyone is Free in Iran!

Breaking news, comrades. It's time to drop all that stuff about oppression in Iran. An article in the Guardian told me so. So forget the imprisonment and torture of trade unionists, revolutionaries and Marxist student leaders; forget the persecution of secularists and the liberals behind the One Million Signatures Campaign for Women's Rights; forget the murder of Kurds and other minority groups; forget the execution of LGBT Iranians; forget the compulsory state-funded sex changes; and, above all, forget the 1979 Islamist counterrevolution that was drenched in Communist blood.

This is the real deal:

The leaders, a range of very different political figures with very different political views, have won the support of the majority of the population through the electoral process... both state and society in Iran are modern and legitimised, based on dialogue between those who wish to preserve traditional conservative Islam and those who wish to embrace democratic modern Islam... Today the majority of the population supports the prevalence of modern ­ideological thinking in the context of Iran and Islam. Today the democracy movement seeks a balance of power between state institutions and civil society, to guarantee the rule of law, good governance, accountability, and collective and individual freedoms – as well as the role of religion in politics.

Well ain't that just lovely.

If, however, you feel that the author of the article in question, Elaheh Rostami-Povey, mi
ght be overlooking a few not-so-savoury aspects of the Iranian regime, you can come along to this event in London and ask her and Mohajerani (a minister under the Islamic Republic) a few questions...

British Museum / Guardian Public Forum
Empire of the mind and soul: what does modern Iran owe to Shah 'Abbas?

Tuesday 19 May, 19.00
Reading Room and BP Lecture Theatre
£15, concessions £12

19.00: Exhibition
Private view of the exhibition Shah 'Abbas: The Remaking of Iran
20.00: Debate
A high-profile panel will use the exhibition as the starting point for a broader discussion of contemporary issues relating to Iran.
Chaired by Jon Snow, writer and broadcaster, with an introductory talk by Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum.
Speakers include Azadeh Moaveni, journalist and writer, Dr Ata’ollah Mohajerani, historian, writer and former Iranian Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance and Dr Elaheh Rostami-Povey, Lecturer in Development Studies at University of London


Friday Fuckwit: Profiting from Poverty

This week's Friday Fuckwit is Richard Laing, the geezer who is paid nearly a million quid to ease poverty.

Making a fortune out of other people's desperation? Nice work if you can get it, no conscience required ...

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Andy Burnham does 'Teenage Kicks' -What would John Peel have said ?

Noooo, make it stop !

Oh and make this stop as well:

For the real thing:


Mariah Carey plays a 'dowdy' social worker ...arghhh

There are very few films or TV programmes showing social workers in the way there are for nurses, doctors or the police . So news of a mainstream film focusing on a social worker should be good news? Well lets just say the words "Mariah Carey playing a social worker" made my hear sink. But it gets worse as she has to look dowdy for this role . Well of course she does, all social workers are dowdy just like all feminists are ugly!

The singer cum actress is transformed in her new film role Previous where she plays a make-up free, dowdy social worker.

Carey, 39, who had to put weight on for the role, looks almost unrecognisable, sporting an unflattering blouse and jacket with scruffy brown hair.

In the film, which is due out in the U.S. later this year, she plays the downtrodden character Mrs Weiss, a Harlem social worker assigned to an obese, HIV-positive woman who was impregnated twice by her father.

The Grammy winner is hoping to earn respect for the gritty role after previous movie flops, including her quasi-biography role in Glitter (2001) which was panned by critics.

Yeah all social workers are dowdy and couldn't possibly be attractive . Not that there is anything wrong with someone looking like the description given, but its all so stereotyped.

For the record when I was a social worker I never wore flowery peasant skirts, dangly earrings , long brown hair and Birkenstock sandals(often seen as the uniform of social workers) or wore other dowdy clothes. Those I worked alongside were as varied as the rest of the population. 

Oh for Meryl Streep in the role.


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Protesting Somewhere Near-ish the Israeli Embassy

Here we are, protesting against Israel Railways' threat to sack Arab workers.

I had been told in advance that we would be stuck in a pen on the other side of the road. But I had assumed that this meant the other side of the road that the Israeli embassy was on. Oh no: it was the other side of a completely different road! We couldn't even see the embassy!

When Bob Crow tried to knock on the embassy's door to follow up his letter asking for a meeting, he was stopped by a couple of serious-looking chaps carrying what looked very much like sub-machine guns.

Nonetheless, we made some noise and alerted passers-by to the issues. More importantly, Israeli and Palestinian trade unions and campaigners know that we organised this action, which will boost their fightback against this racist policy.

The pressure of the workers' campaign and the international support it is attracting may be starting to gain results. The Labour Court has ordered Israel Railways to review its policy giving consideration to equalities legislation. Israel Railways has submitted a new policy, which backs down a little, but still discriminates against Arabs, and will still lead to some Arab railworkers losing their jobs. So it is round one to the workers, but with some more rounds to go before we win outright.

I am particularly pleased with this protest because it comprised trade unionists taking action directly in support of trade unionists in another country. That might not sound a big deal, but it is actually quite different from what most unions do. How so? Most trade unions 'contract out' international campaigning by simply funding campaign groups and circulating their stuff. It gets them out of having to do something more practical and effective.

Moreover, on the issue of Israel, many unions are content to support boycotts instead of taking action, as though encouraging a few members to have an ethically-pure shopping list is enough to not have to bother with any real solidarity.

As in most unions, no doubt, many RMT members can be cynical about international campaigns, especially if the union is not doing enough to win better pay and conditions for its own members, seeming pre-occupied with 'irrelevant' matters abroad. But a campaign such as this one can overcome that cynicism, as it is in direct solidarity with people like them - with rail workers facing discrimination and threats to their jobs.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

"Just Be Grateful You Have A Job"

In an attempt to convince workers to put up with the sh*t that's thrown at us and to accept paying the price of a recession we didn't create, the employers' class, their tame political mouthpieces, and their little lieutenant managers keep reciting the mantra that you should “Just be grateful you have a job.”

Surfing the net, I found this rather tasty take on that. Hat tip to CyberCJH, who ever she or he may be.


Based on a meeting we had a work today, I’ve decided to split myself into two separate and distinctly different people. From now on, when I step through my employer’s doors, the new work-me pledges …

… to remain grateful that I have a job. I will keep this in mind as my sole motivator. Nothing else is as important is this. That’s why it’s Number 1. I don’t go to work for any sort of personal satisfaction or fulfillment. And, I certainly don’t go to work because I enjoy what I do. I go to work because I’m grateful to have a job.

… to not speak unless I’m spoken to. Nobody is interested in what I have to say and chances are whatever I had to say would be wrong anyway.

… to pretend to have no other interests, friends or even a life outside of work. Thoughts of my life outside of work serve no other purpose except to distract me from remembering that the only reason I’m here is because I’m grateful my employer gave me a job.

… to have no expectations to a learning environment. While I fully understand that I’ll probably be more eager to go to work if I feel that I will learn something new and improve myself, I’m just grateful that I have a job.

… to expect no communication from management unless I’ve done something wrong. Good employees expect to be told when they do good work. Me? I’m just grateful that I have a job.

… to have no expectations to good working conditions. Good employees expect their employer to be making constant improvements so the workplace is not only safe, but pleasant. But, I’m just grateful that I have a job.

… to not have fun. I’m not here to have fun. I’m here to work. I understand smiling is also highly discouraged as it may seem to be an indication of happiness and happy employees aren’t thinking about how grateful they should be for their jobs and if they’re not thinking about that, they’re not thinking about work and if they’re not thinking about work, why are they getting paid? I’m just grateful that I have a job.

… to remember I’m a cost to the company, not a human. I will strive to be as dedicated to the business as possible, doing more than what is expected and putting forth 110% without giving any consideration to my personal needs, thoughts or desires. My schedule is rigid and ever expanding. My clock will tell me when I’m hungry. I’m just grateful that I have a job.

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Monday, May 11, 2009

Cruddas and Purnell , a dream ticket??????

Just noticed there are rumours of a 'dream' ticket of Cruddas and Purnell. I though it was bad enough that Cruddas  backed 42 days detention and praised Blair , but to be on a ticket with Purnell, a man who really really should jump ship to the Tories and be done with is almost as bad as defending Gordon Brown ! If that's the case  I nominate Cruddas as an early Friday Fuckwit.

Oh though a choice snippet from the Guardian Politics blog :

Purnell made a few comments to mark the birthday and reprised his ambition for an "egalitarian capitalism"; Cruddas was standing in the audience, next to a table full of gazpacho and garlic bread, nodding sagely at Purnell's points. 

"Egalitarian capitalism " oxymoron surely.

I'm re posting up something I wrote last September, which goes into more detail  about my view of Cruddas:

I did try to like Compass , honest. I went to their conference even though Cruddas had just backed Brown on 42 days detention. I listened to his speech . It was a checklist of all the right things, but as Dave reported at the time, his actions don't quite match:

Compass leaders like Jon Cruddas combine the ability to deliver speeches demanding that Trident be scrapped, council houses be built and the Post Office not be privatised, with the supine cowardice to vote for 42-day detention without trial, a measure he surely must know to be wrong.
On the one hand, Compass wants to present itself as pragmatic radicalism for the twenty-first century; on the other, it wants to keep New Labour sweet. Ultimately, it cannot do both.
It's politics offer too little, too late.

But hey, he has changed from his Blairite past and the left should work with him and Compass , right ? We need to be realistic and he is pushing a soft left agenda isn't he?
Trouble is he seems to change his views to fit what he thinks people want to hear as demonstrated in his interview in The Times. Is he calling for a debate on policy , pushing left wing ideas, even of the softest variety? Nope, he is nostalgic for Blair and offering to support Brown and take a post in hisGovernment:

Voters were watching aghast as Labour tore itself apart, Jon Cruddas said last night in rebuke to the Blairites who are driving efforts to topple Gordon Brown.

In an interview with The Times, Mr Cruddas said that none of those who claim to be Tony Blair’s allies come close to matching the former leader.

The Dagenham MP, who is one of David Miliband’s rivals to succeed Mr Brown, turned down a ministerial job last summer despite being most members’ first choice as deputy leader. He suggested to The Times that he was now willing to take a job under Mr Brown.

Mr Cruddas said that MPs had been reckless, irresponsible and divisive in calling for change without a candidate, timetable or alternative policy programme.

Mr Cruddas, who worked in No 10 under Mr Blair, sought to wrong-foot those who would dismiss him as a leftwinger, praising Mr Blair’s “genius” and making a barely coded attack on those such as Mr Miliband who were “acting under his banner”.

“Blair was a much more charismatic, sophisticated, inclusive and radical politician than any of those who claim adherence to Blairism now,” he said.

Mr Cruddas signalled that he was willing to shore up Mr Brown’s battered administration. “It’s all hands to the pump now,” he said. “A year ago I said my [deputy leadership] campaign wasn’t about a job in government and I felt you had to carry that through. My instinct is not oppositional. Whoever is leader, we’ve got to think how we put the band back together.”

He seems to be hedging his bets . He points out that the Blairites are not talking about policy but does not mention McDonnell who clearly has been. He offers to support Brown whilst hinting he would support whoever was leader.

Even those who see him as a pragmatic soft left MP to do business with should wonder why he did not take the chance to call for a policy shift rather than praise Blair.

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Saturday, May 09, 2009

Protest: Stop Israel Railways Sacking Arab Railworkers

I blogged a little while ago about Israel Railways' new policy that level crossing guards require a firearms licence, which threatens the jobs of Israeli Arab railworkers.

On my suggestion, RMT is holding a protest at the Israeli embassy in London on Monday lunchtime (11th May, 1pm - nearest station High Street Kensington).

Bob Crow has asked for a meeting with the Israeli ambassador, so an RMT delegation can discuss our objections to this attack on our fellow railworkers. The embassy has not yet replied to the request.

If you can, please come down to the embassy to show your support for RMT's protest and your solidarity with Israeli Arab railworkers.

More details here.


Friday, May 08, 2009

Friday Fuckwit - thw whole Labour Cabinet

Douglas Alexander: spent more than £30,000 doing up his constituency home – which then suffered damage in a house fire.

Hazel Blears: claims for three different properties in a year

Gordon Brown: house swap let PM claim thousands

Andy Burnham: had an eight-month battle with the fees office after making a single expenses claim for more than £16,500

Alistair Darling: stamp duty paid by public

Caroline Flint: claimed £14,000 for fees for new flat

Geoff Hoon: established a property empire worth £1.7 million after claiming taxpayer-funded expenses for at least two properties.

Lord Mandelson: questions over timing of his house claim

David Miliband: spending challenged by his gardener

Paul Murphy: had a new plumbing system installed at taxpayers’ expense because the water in the old one was “too hot”.

John Prescott: two lavatory seats in two years

Jack Straw: only paid half the amount of council tax that he claimed back on his parliamentary allowances over four years.

Shaun Woodward: millionaire minister received £100,000 to help pay mortgage

The last days of Labour - looks like Major Government in the mid 90s and well the consequences will probably be a Tory landslide at the next General Election! What do Labour Party members say about this? It looks like the whole of the cabinet are fuckwits and not just on Friday!! Cheating, frauding greedy bastard fuckwits at that.

They obviously think they should be paid more but know the public would not tolerate them voting to give themselves higher wages so they have "gentlemen's agreements" to fleece the Parliament for every penny they can get! I've represented people in disciplinaries for putting forward the wrong mileage! Who do MPs think they are? Expenses should be there to pay to support a politician to do the work they need to do not to trouser every penny they can retrieve!


Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Is It Time For 1931 Again?

In 1931, in a deep recession, the leadership of Labour in government did not act to defend working-class living standards, but did the opposite. It proposed to cut unemployment benefit. The unions wouldn't have it, the majority of the Cabinet wouldn't have it, the Party Executive wouldn't have it, and the benefit-cut supporters, led by Ramsay MacDonald and Philip Snowden, debunked from the Labour Party and shackled up with the Tories and Liberals in a 'national government'. The Labour Party had split.

In 2009, in a deep recession, the leadership of Labour in government is not acting to defend working-class living standards, but doing the opposite. It proposes, with its Welfare Reform Bill, to cut entitlement to state benefits.

We need the labour movement to reject its leaders' actions in 2009 as it did in 1931.

Sadly, the Labour Party of 2009 is not the Labour Party of 1931. The Party has spent the intervening 78 years travelling the road from its origins as a party to represent the working class in politics towards becoming a straightforward party of the ruling class, and is very near the end of that journey. But even if it is politically weaker and stripped of confidence, the labour movement still exists, and it should rise up and force a split as in 1931.

Many unions have policy against the Welfare Reform Bill and other New Labour anti-working-class policies. There is no hope from the Cabinet or the majority of the National Executive, but at least some Labour Party members must be appalled at their government's actions, and there are socialists and campaigners outside the Labour Party who would welcome an attempt to refound a party of labour. This time, it may not be possible to drive the right wing out of the party but we must split the bulk of the political labour movement away from the class enemies of the Labour leadership.

Would a split damage Labour? On one level, you might say 'who cares?', as New Labour has damaged working-class interests and the labour movement itself so badly. But we should also remember that 1931 led to 1945. After MacDonald split, Labour took a kicking in the election, but began to rebuild. 14 years and a World War later, Labour won a landslide election victory and brought in the most extensive pro-working-class reforms that a Labour government has ever managed.

I'd sooner not have to wait 14 years - let alone go through another war - but right now in 2009, we could do with a bit of 1931.

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Monday, May 04, 2009

Women in Sport: two notable events today

We don't do sport very often here on Stroppyblog, but since I mentioned blokes' footy last weekend, I could not let today go past without mentioning a couple of notable events involving women in sport. We are a socialist feminist blog after all.

First up, Michaela Tabb is today (and yesterday) the first woman to referee snooker's World Championship final. And yes, the Daily Mail is on hand to tell us how much she spends on tops and accessories.

And Arsenal have just beaten Sunderland 2-1 to win the FA Women's Cup. One of BBC Radio Five Live's pundits was speculating as to why the Wearside team had changed its name to Sunderland Women from Sunderland Ladies, and was reliably informed that it was the result of a merger with another club. I wonder when any radio rent-a-quote will speculate as to why the other Sunderland team are not called Sunderland Gentlemen?!

Anyway, both these events seemed to merit a mention more than the thirtieth anniversary of the election of Britain's first woman Prime Minister, which is also today. Sod that.

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Sunday, May 03, 2009

Lewisham Bridge and the Non-Union Fightback

Parents continue to occupy the roof of Lewisham Bridge school, under threat of closure and demolition. Well, you would, wouldn't you? Parents defend their kids from all sorts of things - illness, playground bullies, traffic ... why not council wreckers too?!

Here is the Early Day Motion that John McDonnell and others have put together. Why not drop your MP a note asking him/her to add his/her name? Better still, if you live in London, take yourself down to Lewisham and spend a spell on the roof yourself!


McDonnell, John; Cryer, Ann; Wareing, Robert N

That this House applauds the action taken by parents of children at the Lewisham Bridge Primary School who are occupying the school rooftop to express their anger at plans to close their school and build a new academy; notes that pupils' lives are being disrupted by being bussed to a temporary school in New Cross as a result of the project whilst Lewisham Bridge Primary School currently stands empty; and therefore urges Lewisham Council to halt plans to demolish the school and allow the pupils to return.

It is interesting that it is parents, rather than teachers or other school staff, who are leading this action. Just as it is interesting that it was non-unionised workers who occupied Prisme in Dundee, and seemed to have achieved a victory in winning funding for a workers' co-operative. Even where unionised workers have taken radical action, such as at Ford Visteon, they did not have a particular tradition of militancy or active union involvement. And this is not a new phenomenon. The Grunwick dispute, one of the major struggles on the 1970s, was a fight by workers who at the outset were not union members.

So what is happening here? Are established trade unions proving to be a brake, rather than a vehicle, for working-class resistance? Do unions give out a vibe to members that the union will do everything for them, or worse, that there is nothing that can be done? If you are not in a union, does that mean you will be more inclined to rely on yourself and your workmates than on some distant bureaucracy?

In other words, are we wasting our time trying to build and strengthen trade union organisation? Would we better off forgetting all that and looking out for spontaneous, radical action to support?!

Or does this make the case not for giving up on trade unions, but for a radically different view of what an effective trade union would be?

The comments box is all yours ...

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Friday, May 01, 2009

Friday Fuckwits - Stop the War Coalition (well its executive and those voting against Hopi)

I posted up a letter last week from John McDonnell MP and Professor Moshé Machover calling for an end to Hopi's exclusion from the StWC. I  won't regurgitate the argument as you can click and read for yourselves.

I was disheartened but not surprised to read Jim's report on the conference. Check it out, but here are the main points re Hopi:

Sadly the affiliation of Hands off the People of Iran, an organisation that opposes war and sanctions as well as providing solidarity with Iranian trade unionists, feminists and other progressives, was again blocked.

The speeches against came from the chair, in his capacity as chair (where else does this happen?), and a particularly vacuous individual who 
actually said that if Hopi wanted to support the progressive movements against the Iranian regime they should hop on a plane and do it in Iran. But where do they campaign against sanctions or invasion from?

I've been told to go back to Russia a number of times in my life but this is the first time I've heard go back to Iran. I look forward to this person denouncing those who provide support to anti-occupation movements in Afghanistan and Iraq and demanding these people go to these countries if they want to fight the regimes there. No? Thought not.

Jim is asked in the comments what the argument against Hopi is, and he explains :

They were astoundingly weak.

The speaker against said that you couldn't oppose the Iranian regime without making the case for war and sanctions (which isn't true), that it was up to Iranians to make these decisions (which has an element of truth to it but if taken to its logical conclusion means that solidarity work is impossible, including the work of the stwc), that argument also makes the assumption that solidarity work is the same thing as overthrowing the regime from the outside - which seems facile to me.

Most of his speech was taken up with saying why the stwc shouldn't take up the policies of hopi - which is a complete irrelavance to the debate.

Andrew Murray's arguments were equally weak. They centered around the fact that in 2006 Mark Fisher of the CPGB said nasty things about the stwc. It was jaw droppingly thin - but delegates were pre-disposed to vote against hopi affiliating i think - and having heard some of the bizarre things people come out with about it sometimes I think there's a whispering camapign against it, which is probably where that vote was really won.

So this week's 'honour' goes to the executive , those who argued against Hopi and the sectarian fodder that voted against. No wonder the left is fucked.

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May Day Galore

Women Workers on the Karaqchi May Day march today in Pakistan organised by the Labour Party of Pakistan

Well Happy May Day to everyone - kicked off last night in Edinburgh with Beltane, the festival of the end of winter and the beggining of the summer. On my way to work there were red and blue men walking about bleary eyed smelling of smoke, looking a bit worse for wear. I can see the Beltane fire from my kitchen window. So if you are that way inclined Happy Beltane and May Day.

But for socialists and trade unionists it's International Workers Day. All over the world May Day greetings are being passed about with may day marches, activity, even strikes to celebrate International Workers Day.

So from Stroppyblog - HAPPY MAY DAY

Check out Edinburgh's Beltane here and about Edinburgh's May Day march here

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Messy bankers

When using the term making a mess, or even an astonishing mess, I think of the floor in Dave's flat after his girls have been deciding what to wear for school , alongside their toys from the night before. Come to think of that my bedroom can sometimes resemble that, minus the toys( well children's ones anyway:-) ).

It seems though that mass unemployment, negative equity, shops closing, banks needing bailouts is also just messy according to the Treasury Committee:

"Bankers have made an astonishing mess of the financial system," said committee chairman John McFall.

Bit of an understatement!