Saturday, July 31, 2010

Best of the Coalition so far

OK, another you tube . My excuse is I'm trying to make my flat child friendly before Dave brings his girls to stay. Let's just say that in Stroppy Towers 'toys' and 'dressing up box' has a very different meaning to the ones they are used to. So while I go around hiding stuff, check out this you tube :


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Jane Austen's Fight Club

While I'm pondering posts to write, here is a you tube . I'm not one for costume dramas , Mr Darcy does nothing for me, feisty women though are another matter ...

"We were no longer good society ."


Bloggers block

Apologies for the very light blogging. I have more time on my hands, now being unemployed, but find it hard to get motivated and also to adjust to my new circumstances. i will try to post on this, as though I do tend to steer clear of too much personal stuff, it is relevant given the fact that many more people will be joining me in being unemployed . It does have a major effect on how I see myself as much as the fact I'm broke.

More later.


Sunday, July 25, 2010

More golden handshakes

David Cameron tells us that "we are all in this together". Bullshit.

If proof were needed, here is yet another story of how some people are still doing very nicely thank you very much while the rest of us face benefit cuts, wage freezes and decimation of public services.

And once again - hot on the heels of Iain Coucher's departure from Network Rail - it's a former publicly-owned industry that is handing out the handshakes.

If this doesn't get your blood boiling, then you are probably lost to any kind of progressive politics.

NATS directors depart with £million pay packages

Two directors of the air traffic control group NATS flew off into the sunset with £million pay and benefits packages, the companys latest accounts reveal.

Paul Barron stood down as chief executive at the end of the financial year — 31 March 2010. His final pay and benefits package came to just over £2 million. His basic salary was £672,000 on top of which he received a £931,000 bonus and £50,000 worth of benefits. In May 2010, Barrons final year bonus of £274,000 was paid making a total of £1,927,000 — a 158% increase on the £747,000 he received in 2009.

Lawrence Hoskins retired at the end of the financial year with a total pay and benefits package of £1.29 million — a 143% increase.


Saturday, July 24, 2010

Nick Griffin upset by two old queens in one day

First snubbed by Betty Windsor and then confronted by Peter Tatchell, bit of a bad day for Nick wasn't it.

Peter bravely confronted Griffin and showed him up as a coward who runs away rather than debate or answer critics. His thugs dragged Peter away, showing the bully boys stamping on free speech, the real ugly underbelly of the besuited respectable face that the BNP prefers to show these days .

This was an example of direct action at it's finest, much better than just throwing eggs . Then again Peter is an old hand at it|

Well done Peter, you showed him up for the nasty slimy racist anti-gay bigoted bullying coward that he is.

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Friday, July 23, 2010

Funeral Songs?

For some strange reason, I got into a conversation last week about what songs I would like to be played at my funeral. Here are my five:

Bittersweet Symphony - The Verve
("It's a bittersweet symphony, this life. Try to make ends meet, you're a slave to the money then you die" - perfect for the occasion.

Just who is the 5 o'clock hero? - The Jam
("I've seen enough tears to wash away this street, I've heard wedding bells chime and a funeral march, When as one life finishes another one starts ... Alright then love, so I'll be off now, It's back to the lunchbox and worker-management rows ...")
This one made the playlist, just pipping Funeral Pyre, also by The Jam)

Waterloo Sunset - the Kinks
("Whenever I gaze on Waterloo sunset, I am in paradise")

The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Any More - The Walker Brothers
(won't be a dry eye in the house during this one)

My World - Secret Affair
(cheer up the funeral-goers with a life-affirming send-off)

I'm faintly embarrassed by the fact that all these are sung by blokes.

So, comments box is open for your funeral song plans. Choose what you like, but don't just list your favourite songs - broadly speaking, they should be themed on life, death or general epicness.


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Five years on from the death of Jean-Charles de Menezes

and no justice for Ian Tomlinson :

LRC Press release:

No justice as police exonerated again

Ian Tomlinson died at the G20 protests on 1st April 2009. Today is also the 5th anniversary of the shooting by armed officers of Jean-Charles de Menezes. It has taken the CPS nearly a year to publish this report; their reasons are that it’s a “difficult and complex case”... Understandably the family of Ian Tomlinson was greatly concerned by the lengthy investigation fearing a cover-up and the impact this whole process has had on their lives. In April 2010, John McDonnell and leading civil liberties campaigners, MEPs and trade unionists wrote a letter to the Guardian to express their “growing concerns” about the investigation.

Today’s announcement illustrates that the police are a law unto themselves. Ian Tomlinson died in an unprovoked savage attack exposed on video yet that is not enough for the CPS to seek prosecution. Where is the justice for Ian Tomlinson’s family - who have described the decision as a “disgrace”?

John McDonnell MP, LRC Chair, said:

“Given the stark nature of the video evidence it is hard to understand the CPS’s findings. An independent public inquiry is warranted.”

Andrew Fisher, LRC joint secretary, said:

“Today’s incomprehensible decision is a stark reminder - on the fifth anniversary of the murder of Jean Charles de Menezes - that too often the police are placed above the law. The campaign for justice for Ian Tomlinson will continue, just as it has for Jean Charles de Menezes and for Blair Peach - and the LRC will continue to support these campaigns.”

More info at the Inquest website.

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Vote For Me! (if you're in the RMT)

I'm standing for the RMT Executive, and here is my manifesto ...


I joined London Underground in 1997, and signed up to the RMT straightaway. I now work as a Station Supervisor, and represent station staff in all locations on LU's Stations & Revenue Council, as well as getting involved with and supporting other grades wherever I can. I am the union's Regional Council Secretary, and have been a branch secretary and branch chair in the past.

I am 100% committed to our union, and work tirelessly to build the union and fight for the interests of London Transport workers. Many reps have asked me to stand as they feel that I will stand up for rank-and-file members and improve the union we all believe in.


London Transport workers - and the whole working class - face an unprecedented onslaught from the new Con-Dem coalition government. The government and our employers are already attacking our jobs and trying to keep our pay down. Attacks on our pensions are not far behind, and workers are suffering a discipline clampdown and daily indignities from employers with no respect for our rights. The GLA Tories want to introduce driverless Tube trains, and our employers will see the Olympics as an opportunity to try out new forms of casualised working that they can use in the future.

In the face of this, we need a more effective trade union: one that is relevant and good to get involved with, and through which workers can defend our jobs and conditions and win a better life at work. We can not carry on ticking over or doing things in a particular way just because we have always done them that way. The RMT needs to be progressive and I believe I can help with this.

It would be better if we had one union for all workers in our industry, but until we get that, we need to build unity in action and to make RMT as big and effective as possible.


Our union needs to become more democratic, with rank-and-file members having more say. I know that many members and activists find it very frustrating when we work hard for union campaigns and disputes only for decisions to be taken above our heads.

I would aim to be an Executive member who represents rank-and-file views to the leadership, rather than representing the leadership's views to the rank-and-file! I will be told what to do by you, not by national leaders.

I will only propose to the Executive that a strike is put on, or called off, or a new policy agreed with an employer, following discussion and agreement by reps, branches and members. And if we don't agree amongst each other, we'll have a vote.

The union should make decisions about disputes that the members involved in that dispute want it to. The Executive member is crucial to making this happen. I have always stood up for this principle; last year even pursuing to the union's AGM an appeal to say that the Executive should consider listening to a members' meeting before setting strike dates!

Democracy also means accountability. I have always tried to make myself as accountable as possible in my union roles, for example by giving regular reports and visiting branch meetings when I can.

Throughout my involvement in the union, I have always sought to make it less bureaucratic, by circulating information, providing more transparency, reducing jargon, pushing for policy decisions to be implemented rather than ignored, and promoting changes to rules that extend democracy. I would now like to pursue this at the level of the union's national executive.


RMT represents workers in many grades and companies under the TfL 'umbrella'.

As Regional Council Secretary, I have worked closely with reps, branches and members in all these grades and companies, and have continually championed those grades which feel sidelined or ignored. No grade of workers should feel like second-class citizens in the RMT.

Our different grades need action:
- LU station staff fighting job cuts
- cleaners who have won the London Living Wage and now want to go on to win decent holidays, sick pay, travel facilities and freedom from harrassment, bullying and denial of immigration rights
- engineering and fleet workers, coming back into the public sector after the PPP fiasco, and determined to ensure that they are not made to pay the price of the private sector's profiteering
- LU drivers opposing dangerous changes to their working procedures and promoting all-grades trade unionism in a grade divided into two unions
- staff in TfL, who are divided into even more unions, and who need RMT to become bigger, stronger and more effective
- LU service control, battling the effects of a restructuring process that has divided workers
- admin grades, where RMT is not as strong as it could be
- other groups of members, from DLR to Taxi drivers, Alstom to CBS Outdoor, security guards to catering staff, who need to be brought in from the periphery into the centre of our union.

Most of all, we need all these grades organising together, taking up each grade's particular concern but always promoting common demands, seeking to 'level-up' to the best pay and conditions, and acting in a united way. I have actively supported all the grades mentioned above, for example by publicising their campaigns and issues around the rest of the Region, providing training and support to reps, getting grades committees set up, and taking part in protests and picket lines.

(RMT has now decided not to organise or seek recognition for London bus drivers. But having accepted them into membership for several years before making this decision, it needs to work out a way of implementing its policy that addresses their concerns.)


Knowledge is power! The more workers know about our rights, the better equipped we are to assert them. The more we know about our own and others' pay and conditions, the more we can see inequalities and demand improvements. And the more we know about how our union works and what it is doing, the more ordinary members can put forward our own views about what the union should do.

Both as a station staff rep and Regional Council Secretary, I believe that I have significantly improved information and communications for members. I set up the 'RMT Platform' and 'RMT London Calling' websites, and produced newsletters of the same names. I have also encouraged and trained reps to use the websites and produce newsletters, so we probably have more rank-and-file communication than ever before.

We need to pursue this agenda nationally too. There have been big steps forward, but national communications are still too top-down. In particular, I would like to see RMT News report on rank-and-file views of campaigns and disputes, not just the General Secretary's!


It doesn't matter what the union does in committee meetings if it is not relevant or organised in the workplace. I have pushed an 'organising agenda' within the union: supporting reps, organising training, recruiting more members, unionising in new areas, trying to get more reps recognised (whether industrial relations reps, health & safety reps, learner reps or harrassment reps), helping the reps we already have to be more effective, encouraging members to get active in many different ways.

I aim to take this approach to the union nationally, always trying to ensure that its organising approach is led by, and relevant to, rank-and-file workers, and that it understands and addresses the reasons why some workers don't join our union - in order to persuade them that they should!

Effective organising also means providing the best possible representation for members who need it. This includes legal support when you need it - an area where the union is currently falling short.


I have represented union members at every level, from the local workplace to the Company Council, speaking up for individuals, grades and the workforce as a whole.

I always put our case as strongly as possible, and am not overawed by management. A particular highlight was giving a presentation to LU management explaining that all the top managers should take a hefty pay cut rather than cutting frontline staff's jobs! But I know that our real strength in negotiations comes from how strong and well-organised we are in the workplace.

We need an Executive member who will always argue our case as effectively as possible, but who understands that talks only succeed when the union is putting pressure on the company through action.


RMT is a union for rail and transport workers of all races, both men and women, young and old. It must challenge discrimination and champion the rights of all its members, always seeking to promote unity and overcome division.

I have always been an active anti-racist, am a former chair of the union's national women's advisory committee, and actively oppose homophobia, age discrimination and all forms of prejudice.

RMT's committees for women, young members, lebsian/gay/bi/trans and black & ethnic minority members must go beyond being talking shops. At the moment, they are just 'advisory', and nothing comes of their discussions unless Executive members ensure that they are enacted. I will do this.


RMT's campaigns, for example against staffing cuts and privatisation, are also campaigns which benefit our passengers, and can attract support from trade unions in other industries. But RMT has to put more effort into asking for that support!

We need to link up with other unions in the transport industry and beyond, so that we can support each others' efforts. I have been involved with my local trades council in Hackney, where we campaigned against East London Line privatisation and are now supporting RMT's campaign against job cuts.

I have consistently advocated and taken part in public campaigns alongside our workplace struggles. I organised the public leafleting and petitioning which helped stop LU's last attempt to close ticket offices. I am currently working hard on the 'SOS: Staff Our Stations' campaign, which fights against job cuts both in workplaces and among passengers. Although public opinion on its own does not win our battles, it does help, and it boosts the morale of our own members.


RMT needs to run its disputes more effectively. We can not continue to allow pay disputes to run for eight months or even longer, sapping members' morale. Disputes need to be better organised, action more decisive. The union should consider paying hardship money to strikers as other unions do. It should use 'action short of strikes' more often and with some imagination!

The union should give members support in standing up for themselves and taking action at work, for example refusing to do unsafe work, and insisting that managers respect our rights and agreements.

The union must also step up its campaigning to win the repeal of the anti-union laws which shackle us and other unions and which aim to prevent us using our democratic rights.

I have promoted ideas such as this as a rank-and-file activist, and now, with your support, want to promote them on the union's natioanl executive.


RMT needs to be political, because political issues affect our members - whether it is child benefit cuts or anti-union laws, climate change or education policies. The union can most effectively involve members in supporting these issues if it is doing an effective job on workplace issues. RMT's international solidarity should be based on links with workers not regimes, and on practical solidarity rather than jet-setting!

RMT should continue to work with those Labour MPs who stand up for our interests, such as John McDonnell, and support candidates against the mainstream parties where this is credible and represents genuine working-class interests.

I am a socialist, and have been active in community and other campaigns as well as trade unionism.

- 100% committed
- more democracy, less bureaucracy
- a relevant, effective union
- all grades count
- keeping you informed
- effective organisation at work
- standing up for rank-and-file members
- supporting equality, opposing discrimination
- a campaigning, outward-looking, political union
- solidarity amongst ourselves and with other working-class people
- a proven record of fighting for - and carrying out - these principles


Monday, July 19, 2010

Can there be non exploitative feminist porn, that isn't dull dull dull?

I'm planning to write a blog post on whether porn is always a very bad thing in terms of a feminist perspective . I want to do some research first (serious, so no smutty giggles).

Of course when people hear the word porn they assume the heterosexual variety, and that tends to be where feminism directs it's criticism. But what of Gay and Lesbian and generally more queer friendly porn? Can heterosexual porn learn from that ?

I'm curious if there is any feminist analysis, preferably online, of gay and lesbian porn? Is it stilled viewed as oppressive, stereotyped and exploitative ?

As a feminist I don't think porn as such is in itself always exploitative and I believe it is possible to create it where is appeals to women , those of us who are not into costume drama and Mr Darcy fantasies . Porn that isn't so PC that it is just plain dull .

Is porn the same as erotica , or is that just a nice posh word for it , as long as its 'foreign ?'

Anyway, these are some thoughts. I would really welcome links to useful writings on this subject .

Pic from the film Bound, not porn, but some hot scenes in it.


Saturday, July 17, 2010

The 2010 Paxman award for evading the issue goes to ...Zac Goldsmith


Friday, July 16, 2010

Cross post from Peter Tatchell - After 40 years of gains on homophobic law repeal, is there any more need for a separate identity?

A bit late cross posting this, but I was waiting to hear back from Peter as to whether he was OK with it going on this blog.

Beyond gay and straight

After 40 years of gains on homophobic law repeal, is there any more need for a separate identity?

By Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner

The Guardian - London - 3 July 2010

Today's gay pride parade in London celebrates 40 years since the formation of the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) in Britain. This was a watershed moment in British queer history. For the first time, thousands of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people stopped hiding in the closet and suffering in silence. I was one of them. We came out and marched in the streets, proclaiming gay pride and demanding our freedom.

This had never happened before. In 1970, many LGBT people were ashamed of their homosexuality and kept it secret. Some wished they were straight and went to doctors to get 'cured'.

This internalised homophobia was not surprising. Forty years ago, the state branded homosexuality as unnatural, indecent and criminal; the church condemned LGBT people as immoral, wicked and sinful; and the medical profession classified us as sick, abnormal and disordered.

LGBT people were sacked from their jobs, evicted from flats, refused service in pubs, arrested for kissing in the street and had their children taken from them by the courts. There was no legal protection against such discrimination. It was lawful.

The Gay Liberation Front was the first major challenge to this heterosexism. Inspired by the Black Power slogan "Black is Beautiful", it proclaimed "Gay Is Good." Back then, it was very radical to suggest there was anything good about being gay. Most people thought queers were mad, sad and very, very bad.

Even liberal-minded heterosexuals often supported us out of sympathy and pity. Many reacted with horror when GLF declared: "2-4-6-8! Gay is just as good as straight!" Those assertive, affirmative words - which were so empowering to queers everywhere - frightened the life out of smug, arrogant straight people, who had always assumed they were superior.

GLF's rebellion against heterosexual supremacism kick-started a still on-going revolution in public opinion, laws and cultural values. It overturned the conventional wisdom on matters of sex and human rights. Our joyous celebration of gayness contradicted the uptight straight morality that had ruled the world for centuries and which had oppressed heterosexuals as well as homosexuals.

While most politicians, doctors, priests and journalists saw homosexuality as a social problem, GLF said the real problem was society's homophobia. Instead of seeking to justifying our existence, we demanded that the gay-haters justify their bigotry.

GLF's unique style of 'protest as performance' was not only incredibly effective, but also a lot of fun. Christian morality campaigner Mary Whitehouse had her Festival of Light rally in Central Hall Westminster invaded by a posse of gay nuns. They staged a kiss-in when one of the speakers, Malcolm Muggeridge, disparaged homosexuals, saying "I just don't like them." The feeling was mutual.

There were also more serious acts of civil disobedience to confront the perpetrators of discrimination. We organised freedom rides and sit-ins at pubs that refused to serve 'poofs' and 'dykes'. I disrupted a lecture by the eminent psychologist, Professor Hans Eysenck, when he advocated the use of electric-shock aversion therapy to 'cure' homosexuality.

In the 40 years since GLF, queer people have become more visible than ever before and most of the public are relaxed about same-sex relationships. All major homophobic laws have been repealed, apart from the ban on same-sex civil marriage. Positive images of LGBT life abound on television. Politicians and entertainers are openly gay. The police are serious, at last, about tackling homophobic and transphobic hate crimes. Gayness is no longer classified as an illness.

At this pace of progress, in the long term, homophobic prejudice and discrimination are doomed. It is then that the LGBT community will face an unexpected challenge.

LGBT identity is largely a defence against homophobia. Faced with victimisation, we had to defend our right to be LGBT and create our own community institutions to fill the void created by an uncaring, bigoted society. But when legal equality and social acceptance have been won, will there be any need for a separate LGBT identity and community? If one sexuality is not deemed more valid than the other, much of the raison d'être for distinguishing between gay and straight disappears.

This is the ultimate paradox. GLF spawned a movement that created the conditions for its own dissolution. The more we secure the acceptance and human rights of LGBT people, the less we need a separate gay identity, community and movement. In a queer-friendly society, the differences between homo and hetero lose their significance. When no one cares who is gay and who is straight, there will be no point in maintaining a distinction between the two sexualities. Labelling people and behaviour becomes irrelevant. The movement becomes redundant.

Forty years after GLF pioneered a trailblazing freedom agenda, I am still celebrating LGBT Pride. But my eye is firmly fixed on the real prize: a world beyond gay and straight.


Thursday, July 15, 2010

BBC Response to 'Perks' Complaint

Stroppyreaders may remember that I complained to the BBC about their use of the word 'perks' to describe BA cabin crew's travel allowances. Here is Auntie Beeb's response ...

Dear Ms Booth

Reference 10172

Thank you for your e-mail regarding BBC News.

I understand that you’re unhappy with the content of recent reports as you feel the term ‘perks’ is inappropriate and offensive when referring to British Airways staff travel concessions.

I can assure you that no harm or offence is intended and we’re well aware of our commitment to impartiality. Certainly, we don’t aim to denigrate the work done by BA staff in any way.

I appreciate you may continue to disagree with this, however, so I've registered your strong comments on our audience log. This is a daily internal report of audience feedback which we circulate to all BBC News staff, including their senior management. It ensures that your concerns are circulated and considered across the BBC.

Thanks again for taking the time to contact us.

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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Working-class struggle against the Tory-Liberal coalition government 1918-1922

I gave a talk at Workers' Liberty's 'Ideas for Freedom' event last weekend entitled 'Working-class struggle against the Tory-Liberal coalition government 1918-1922'. Here are my notes - I don't have time at the moment to convert them from notes into an article or 'proper' blog post, so make of them what you will ...

- End of ‘Great War’
- Representation of the People Act
- General Election
- ‘khaki’ election / ‘coupon’ election
- Coalition Conservative - 3,472,738 votes (33.3%); 271 seats
- Coalition Liberal - 1,396,590 (13.4%); 127 seats
- Labour - 2,245,777 (21.5%); 57 seats

The Coalition Government
- Prime Minister: David Lloyd George (Coalition Liberal)
- Chancellor: Andrew Bonar Law (Coalition Conservative)
- Minister of Health: Christopher Addison (Coalition Liberal)
- Foreign Secretary: Arthur Balfour (Coalition Conservative)
- 179 MPs were company directors
- ‘hard-faced men who looked like they’d done well out of the war’ (Baldwin)

The Labour Party 1918
- introduced individual membership
- adopted ‘Clause 4’
- leader = William Adamson
- Daily Herald

The 'Great Unrest' resumes
- 1910-14: strikes; trade union membership rose 2.5m to 4m
- 1918: Unrest resumes
- soldiers’ protests
- summer 1918: strikes in London by dockers; gas workers; council workers; bus, tram and Tube workers; clothing workers; police
- 1919: average 100,000 workers on strike each day
- ‘repression and concession’: troops to coalfields; commissions into coal and port industries
- March 1919: Transport Workers’ Federation wins 44-hr week

Red Clydeside
- 1910-1932
- John MacLean, Helen Crawfurd, Emanuel Shinwell, James Maxton, John Wheatley, Mary Barbour 
- 1919: strike for 40-hour week
- 30 January: 40,000 engineering & shipbuilding workers, 36,000 miners, thousands of other workers on strike
- 31 January: battle of George Square (Bloody Friday): 60,000+ demonstrators attacked by police -> arrests
- 10 February: strike called off: engineering and shipbuilding workers win 47-hour, cut of 10 hours

1919 railway strike
- 9 days: September-October
- new pay scales – cut pay of lowest-paid rail workers 
- NUR strike
- ASLEF supported
- Lloyd George: ‘anarchist conspiracy’
- win for unions

Solidarity with Russia
- 10 May 1920: Jolly George
- Hands Off Russia Committee
- 31 July 1920: Communist Party founded
- August 1920: TUC and Labour Party threaten general strike

Late 1920: slump
- collapse in export trade
- ‘a fit country for heroes to live in’
- government abandoned/reversed social reform
- job losses: eg. 60,000 rail jobs March 1920-21
- unemployment
- 1920: LDCU; 1921: NUWM
- ‘work or full maintenance’
- Go to the Guardians / factory raids
- ‘wait for better times’

Miners' lockout and 'Black Friday'
- Triple Alliance: miners, railworkers, transport workers
- 31 March 1921: coal industry de-controlled
- pay cuts for miners: those who refused were locked out
- 15 April 1921, ‘Black Friday’:
- rail and transport unions failed to support miners
- broke up ‘Triple Alliance’
- ‘the heaviest defeat that has befallen the Labour movement within the memory of man’

- East London dockland area
- population = 160,000
- 24% poverty
- infant mortality: 83 per 1,000
- 33,000+ people lived in ‘overcrowded’ housing
- 1919: elects Labour Council

- ‘Labour Councillors must be different from those we have displaced, or why displace them?’
- housing inspectors; new housing
- expanded services
- de-casualisation of work
- public works – refused funding
- unfair funding system
- 1921: withheld precepts to cross-London bodies
- “The master class has made the laws”

Prison and Victory
- 25 men / 5 women in prison, from 1 September
- mass mobilisation; organising behind bars
- Herbert Morrison pursues Lloyd George
- will other councils follow the call?
- Local Authorities (Financial Provisions) Act 1921
- Poplar gained £250,000+ per year
- “This is a great discouragement to those who believe in constitutional action and a great encouragement to those who believe in revolutionary methods.”

The Geddes Axe
- Lord Rothermere: Anti-Waste League
- August 1921: Lloyd George sets up committee
- Sir Eric Geddes
- 1922: recommended £87m cuts
- Cabinet decided on £52m cuts
- total social spending (education, health, housing, pensions, unemployment) fell from £205.8m in 1920-21 to £182.1m in 1922-23

The end of the Coalition
- October 1922: Tories leave Coalition
- November 1922: general election
- Conservative: 5,294,465 votes (38.5%); 344 seats
- Labour: 4,076,665 votes (29.7%); 142 seats (+85)
- Liberal (Asquith): 2,601,486 votes (18.9%); 62 seats
- National Liberal (Lloyd George): 1,355,366 votes (9.9%); 53 seats
- Lansbury, Wheatley into parliament; Macdonald new Labour leader
- ‘Labour men everywhere viewed the Lloyd George era as a time of class war and class rhetoric’

Then and now

‘The next government is going to have many challenges, but tackling a public sector that has become obese and poor value for money is going to have to be a priority’, The Times, 2010

‘There are signs of an astonished realisation of the alarming bill for civil pensions that in a few years will be a millstone on the taxpayer's neck.’ The Times, 1922

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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Kylie, cocktails and gay men

Well the good news is :

Gay and lesbian asylum-seekers have won the right to live in Britain after the Supreme Court ruled yesterday that the Government was wrong to return refugees to countries where people had to choose between homophobic persecution or hiding their true sexual identity.

The ruling by Britain's highest court ends the Home Office's controversial policy of refusing asylum to gay refugees on the grounds that they could avoid persecution abroad by pretending to be heterosexual.

This is to be welcomed. It was pretty disgusting that the Labour Government deemed it acceptable to ask lesbian and gay people to pretend they were heterosexual. Why should the rights of a lesbian or gay person from another country be worth less than someone born here? The previous Government did much good work in this area, yet somehow thought persecution abroad acceptable, just pretend ? Live a lie .

Would it be acceptable to ask a Jewish or Muslim person, or any religion, to pretend not to be? What about racism? Should a Black person white up? Of course not, ludicrous ? So why would the human right of a person not to be persecuted, and be given protection here, be denied ?

But in amongst this good decision was some stereotyping of gay male (and straight male) culture :

Lord Hope, deputy president of the court, who headed a panel of five justices who heard the case of a man from Cameroon and a man from Iran, said that to compel a homosexual to pretend that their sexuality does not exist or can be suppressed was to deny him his fundamental right to be who he is.

Lord Rodger said the normal behaviour of Gay people must be protected as it was for heterosexual people.

"What is protected is the applicant's right to live freely and openly as a gay man. To illustrate the point with trivial stereotypical examples from British society: just as male heterosexuals are free to enjoy themselves playing rugby, drinking beer and talking about girls with their mates, so male homosexuals are to be free to enjoy themselves going to Kylie concerts, drinking exotically coloured cocktails and talking about boys with their straight female mates."

Hmm, Kylie is so last year, Lady Gaga is the latest gay icon.

Seriously though, this brings the issue of a lesbian or gay person's human rights to a very shallow level . Yep, there is the campness, but not for all. I believe there is even an out Gay rugby player ! I know some pretty macho gay men and some sensitive straight ones . It is about someone being able to be themselves , to live and love with who they choose, regardless of gender. Not to hide , pretend and lead a secret life waiting to be found out.

Of course much hysteria ensued from certain sections of the media yep , we are gonna be flooded by camp queens downing cocktails and singing Kylie songs , like one long Priscilla Queen of the Desert. Or worse still, people pretending to be gay.

The Daily Star is campaigning to overturn the judgement, so that 'outcasts' are refused asylum.

People like this :

In one case, John Smith, not his real name, said he was a victim of violent homophobia in Uganda before he sought asylum in Britain this year after becoming "tired of running and hiding".

Mr Smith was attacked and "left for dead" by a gang of nine men who "were holding sticks and shouting and yelling abuse at me". He said: "I couldn't run, they just attacked me. They hit me on the head and I fell down. They were saying, 'it's the one'. I was bleeding and they hit me on the eye and I became unconscious. They continued attacking me; they stabbed me on the right-hand side of the stomach and tried to cut my big toe off. I have lost sight in my left eye because of the attack." Smith sought asylum in the UK after feeling it was unsafe to stay in Uganda where homosexuals have to be reported to the authorities.

His life was about running, hiding and fear of being found out . Not cocktails and Kylie, not an 'outcast.' A human being . Shame on the Star.


Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Clegg speaks out against slash and burn cuts ...before the election

Hat tip Nick Cohen on facebook.

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Sunday, July 04, 2010

John McDonnell launches Bill to restore the right to strike

LRC press release :

John McDonnell, supported by the Trade Union Co-ordinating Group, presented his Private Members’ Bill to parliament today. If adopted, the Bill would significantly improve unions’ ability to defend their members and would be the first step towards the full restoration of trade union rights.

After coming first in the Private Members’ Ballot and in consultation with the trade union movement and leading trade union lawyers, John McDonnell MP is sponsoring the “Lawful Industrial Action (Minor Errors) Bill” to tackle the increasing practice by employers of using minor technical errors in the balloting process - which have no material effect on the outcome - to take unions to court in order to prevent them from taking industrial action.

Commenting on the Bill, John McDonnell MP said:

“We have seen in the current BA Cabin Crew dispute and many other recent disputes, employers have been able to exploit loopholes in the existing law by using minor technical errors in a trade union ballot to thwart trade unionists from taking strike action.

“This resort to the courts by some ruthless employers is bringing current employment law into disrepute and undermining industrial relations in this country. This cannot be right and in the interests of good industrial relations needs to be addressed.”

Bob Crow, General Secretary of the RMT, said:

“There is no doubt that this government of millionaire public schoolboys will encourage the use of the courts to try and stop workers from fighting back against the attacks that are being lined up by the ConDem administration.

“RMT has been hauled through the courts on the most spurious of grounds by employers trying to sabotage democratic votes by our members whose only crime has been to fight for their jobs and safe working conditions. We have seen the arsenal of legal measures ranged up against us by the employers increase in recent months as the bosses’ lawyers have homed in on the most ludicrous of technicalities to try and outlaw the right to strike by the back door.

“John McDonnell is proving himself once again to be the champion of the working classes in dragging this assault on democracy and human rights out of the Courts and into the daylight through his Private Members Bill.”

Steve Gillan, General Secretary of the POA, said:

“The POA supports the Private Members Bill entitled Lawful Industrial Action as employers are using the anti trade union legislation to stop legitimate industrial action from taking place, by getting the Courts to rule on minor technical errors. You only have to look at the disgraceful cases taken against Unite and RMT Unions. This is a small step in the right direction but the anti trade union legislation needs to go to protect all workers.”

Mark Serwotka, General Secretary of the PCS, said:

“PCS backs John McDonnell’s Bill which would repeal the law that outrageously allows employers to use the courts to block the democratic will of trade unionists to take action. If Parliamentary elections had to satisfy such stringent regulations, we would have no MPs and 650 court cases pending.

“This piece of legislation would improve industrial relations by encouraging employers to seek dialogue, rather than legal wrangling over minutiae, to settle disputes.”

Matt Wrack, General Secretary of the FBU, said:

“The Fire Brigades Union strongly welcomes this Bill and urges everyone to get behind it. The amount of hurdles that unions have to jump in order to take lawful industrial action is nothing short of a scandal, and is an infringement of workers’ basic democratic right to withdraw their labour.”

Joe Marino, General Secretary of the BFAWU, said:

“Recent legal action has shown that the law in relation to industrial action ballots is an ass. Britain already has the harshest industrial relations legislation in the civilized world and recent comments from the CBI show that even this is not enough for some employers. The Private Members Bill from John McDonnell MP will simply eradicate some of the most objectionable elements of this legislation and stop frivolous legal cases by employers who would be better served seeking negotiation rather than costly legal remedies.”

Jeremy Dear, General Secretary of the NUJ, said:

“The NUJ supports the Lawful Industrial Action Private Members’ Bill because we suffer from some of the worst trade union laws in Europe. Employers should not be allowed to use the courts as a way to clamp down on democratic votes in the workplace. The heavily one-sided nature of the law does not respect basic civic rights and freedoms and therefore needs to change.”


* John McDonnell MP is sponsoring the Lawful Industrial Action (Minor Errors) Bill to amend section 232B of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 (c. 52) to extend the circumstances in which, by virtue of that section, industrial action is not to be treated as excluded from the protection of section 219 of that Act.

The Bill has been co-signed by Kate Hoey MP, Tony Lloyd MP, Dave Anderson MP, Michael Connarty MP, Austin Mitchell MP, Frank Doran MP, Kelvin Hopkins MP, Jim Sheridan MP, David Crausby MP, Ian Lavery MP and John Cryer MP.

Second Reading of the Bill will be 22nd October 2010. There will be a mass rally and lobby of parliament on the 13th October 2010.

* The Trade Union Co-ordinating Group (TUCG) brings together eight national unions (BFAWU, FBU, NAPO, NUJ, PCS, POA, RMT and URTU), representing over half a million workers, with the objective of co-ordinating campaigning activities on key issues facing their members and giving the unions a new and stronger representative voice in Parliament and beyond.

* The TUCG’s Annual Tolpuddle Commemorative Event ‘Restoring the Right to Strike’ 7pm, Monday 19th July 2010, Grimond Room, will focus on John McDonnell’s Private Members Bill.


Saturday, July 03, 2010

Ten tips

Tips for conducting yourself in trade union (and other workers' movement) meetings.

1. Wait your turn to speak.

2. Don't forget you are there to listen as well as talk.

3. Remember that a 'point of order' and 'point of view' are two different things.

4. If you have contributed to a discussion, it is courteous to remain in the room to hear others' contributions to the same discussion.

5. Remember that swearing may be OK, but it is not a measure of how militant you are.

6. Similarly, confidence is good, but it does not follow that the more confident you are, the more correct you are.

7. Remember that other people in the meeting may not be as confident as you are, and think about the impact that your contribution might have on their willingness to contribute.

8. If you put your hand up to make a point, then someone else makes the same point, you do not have to go ahead with your contribution and repeat the point.

9. When you slag off some campaign or strategy or decision, it is handy to mention what your alternative would be.

10. If other people stray from these guidelines, you may wish to object.

PS. I freely admit that these are tips to myself as well as to others!


Thursday, July 01, 2010

I Read Some Marx (And I Liked It)

Hat Tip Tami on Facebook.