Archive for the ‘Trade Unions’ Category

Kwasi Kwarteng – Diversity Hire, or Just Another Member of Truss’ Government of Mediocrity?

October 2, 2022

It’s been a few days since I commented on a video by Simon Webb of History Debunked, so here’s one now. A few days ago, he put one up questioning Kwarteng’s qualifications for office as Chancellor of the Exchequer and wondering if he was only chosen because he was Black. Was his appointment simply a case of Truss giving him a job in order to show how diverse her government was? Given how disastrous the minibudget is, Kwarteng does not strike me as a brilliant economist. But then, neither does Truss herself, who strikes me as another absolute mediocrity. The same with Therese Coffey, who I wouldn’t trust to run a corner shop or local whist club. As for Jacob Rees-Mogg, I think he’s cleverer than the rest in that he has clever people working for him and is sufficiently slick with his patrician diction and general demeanour to conceal his absolute incompetence from much of the public. But none of them, absolutely none of them, strike me as intellectual powerhouses. Quite the opposite.

Readers of this blog of a certain age and taste in comedy will remember Glasgae toon’s guerrilla philosopher, Rab C. Nesbitt, and his biting view of Scots politics and the treatment of the poor and the underclass from the bottom of a pint glass. In one episode, Nesbitt crossed paths with the local Tory politician, a political nonentity looking forward to great things because Tory prime minister John Major was in office, and ‘this is the age of the mediocrity’. Ah, how that was the joke at the time! John Major was the grey man, a boring, uninspiring individual following the all-too vivid figure of Margaret Thatcher. Major himself wasn’t economically deft or competent, as his privatisation of the railways and the collapse of the pound during Black Wednesday showed. But compared to Truss and her crew, he was statesman of positively Churchillian proportions.

A week or so ago I went to an online meeting where members of the Labour left, like Richard Burgon and members of the TUC responded to Truss’ minibudget. They pointed out what a right-wing nightmare it was, along with her highly authoritarian attempts to strangle the unions with fresh legislation. Truss was promising nothing to the British working class except more poverty while massively cutting taxes for the rich. But the panel was also encouraged by the fact that people were determined to resist, and mobilising strikes and protests up and down this Sceptred Isle. And as for Truss and the rest of the minions, they saw them as the last of the Thatcherite True Believers. Thatcherism has run its course. It’s now looking threadbare. People are abandoning it. And Truss and co are the last of the market fundamentalists, more right-wing than Thatcher herself. And that’s saying something, given how she was a fan of real Fascists like General Pinochet!

If I read what the Labour people were saying rightly, this means that, as the last of the true-blue Thatcherites, Liz, Kwarteng and co are the scrapings from the bottom of the Tory barrel. In which case, Kwarteng didn’t get his post because he’s a diversity hire. He got his job because he shared the views and the same lack of ability as Truss and the rest of her followers.

And unfortunately, that means we’ve got to suffer his and Truss’ doctrinaire incompetence.

Their colour is immaterial. All that matters is their grotesque hatred and victimisation of the poor to benefit the extremely, obscenely rich.

Get them out now!

Wednesday’s Online Meeting about Statutory Sick Pay

September 23, 2022

Wednesday evening, I went to a Zoom meeting organised by the Centre for Progressive Change about campaigning for much needed reforms to Statutory Sick Pay. The Centre for Progressive Change is a new organisation, and this is their first campaign, so they want to make a mark. As far as I could make out, the campaign is being led by the cleaners and their union, although other unions are also involved. At the moment there are a large number of workers, who aren’t getting statutory sick pay. I’ve forgotten the precise figures, but it’s something like a third or above. If they do qualify for it, they have to wait three days to receive it from the day they sign off sick, and the amount paid, £99 a week, isn’t sufficient to cover people’s needs. They are therefore campaigning for the amount to be raised, and for it to be paid from the first day of ill health.

They also mentioned cases where workers were denied time off work and SSP by their employers, even though they were perfectly entitled to it. This included one young man who came down with cancer a year or so ago. An operation was scheduled, but he was told he would have to isolate for a week or so before the operation to make sure he didn’t catch Covid and would need two weeks off work to recover. When he told this to his HR manager, who had previously been kind and supportive, he was told that the manager couldn’t run a place like this and so couldn’t take the time off work for isolation. Nor was he going to receive sick pay when he took time off work to recuperate. The boss told him instead that he’d have to take unpaid holiday.

This clearly isn’t acceptable.

The meeting itself was bilingual in English and Spanish. There was a button for simultaneous translation, so if you didn’t speak whatever language was being spoken at that moment, you could press a button and get the translation. It felt rather like being at the UN when the various ambassadors and officials there get the translations of speeches through their headphones. I was puzzled why it was in English and Spanish when we’re no longer in the EU, but it may just be that so many of the cleaning staff and other low wage workers involved in this campaign are Spanish.

They’ve got a petition to persuade the government to pay increased SSP and are also trying to get people to organise to see their local MPs about it. I’ve signed it because of the cost of living crisis and Truss’ renewed assault on working class wellbeing.

For more information, go to their website athttps://www.centreforprogressivechange.org/

Explaining History Debunked’s Nostalgia for the NF

September 17, 2022

Simon Webb’s turn towards outright Fascism has puzzled me a little. Agreed, almost all the material on Video Debunked is deeply critical of Black and Asian immigration and the problems that have come with multiculturalism. So much so that his readers and commenters have implored him to join Patriotic Alternative. To his credit, he refused, and is deeply critical of its leader, His commenters contain people, who can only be described as real Nazis and anti-Semites. There are any number of them pushing the Great Replacement theory, which hold that the Jews are responsible for mass non-White immigration to the West. This is supposedly being done to destroy the White race. It’s American in origin but made its way into British Fascism where it mixed with certain native British strains of anti-Semitism from The Britons and Arnold Leese. Some of his commenters boast names like ‘Talmud ZOGberg’, after the Talmud, the second Jewish holy book, and ZOG, the ‘Zionist Occupation Government’ of Nazis like Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma bomber. Webb isn’t an anti-Semite and is a staunch defender of Israel, which frustrates the Nazis on his channel no end, especially when he puts up videos debunking the anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and the arguments marshalled by the Holocaust deniers.

But these past few days he seems to have become overtly far right. Or at least, nostalgic for it. Yesterday he put up a video asking what was wrong with Fascism, citing Portugal’s former dictator Salazar as a benign Fascist regime in all but name. Salazar, he states, gave his country prosperity and didn’t bring it into the Second World War. In another video, celebrating the victory of Sweden Democrats as part of a right-wing coalition in Sweden and the increasingly right-ward turn of Italian politics, he looked back to the 1975 or so when the NF won 5 per cent in the British elections. He could have cited UKIP’s victory in the elections a few years ago, such as it was. That provoked various pundits in the media to speculate about Farage’s party becoming a major force in British politics. Channel 4 even made a mockumentary about what it would be like if the Drunken Financier took power, with immigrants confined in cages in the street. But Webb ignored the Kippers, and looked back to the boot-boys and hooligans of the NF instead. Why so?

I think the answer is that Webb is an authoritarian, who wants a specific political party for Whites. He’s a racial nationalist. He made a video a week or so ago discussing the rioting that has been going on in Leicester between Pakistani and Indian youths. This started after Pakistan won a cricket match against India. The rioting, which then had been going on for ten days, was obviously covered in the local papers but has received no national coverage. It has been covered in the Indian papers, as Harris Sultan and Nuriyah Khan have discussed on one of their videos. Webb suggested in his video that it wasn’t being covered nationally in Britain because it contradicted the narrative that people of Pakistani and Indian descent were as British as White, indigenous Brits. He also claimed that the cops trying to quell the violence weren’t British, citing one officer, who had an Asian surname. Actually, it seems to me to be eminently sensible to have Asian police officers trying to stop the unrest, if only to avoid the accusations of racism that would be directed at the White officers. From Webb’s description, you’d think that these Asian officers were men and women on loan from the Pakistani or Indian forces. But they’re not. They’re just British Asians. The fact that he calls them foreign, despite the fact that in many cases they may well have been here for generations shows his view of Britishness is based firmly on race, like the BNP. But unlike UKIP, who were national populist rather than racial nationalist. They were against immigration, but claimed they weren’t racist and had it written into their constitution that former members of Fascist parties were ineligible to join them. Of course, it turned out there were any number of former extreme rightists in it, but the image they wanted to project was of non-racism. Webb has also called for extremely authoritarian methods to be used against the Channel migrants. He’s pointed to the legislation defining entering the country illegally as an act of war, and asked why we couldn’t be like Poland and have armed soldiers guarding the frontier to makes sure no-one gets in illegally.

I believe that ethnically based parties are extremely dangerous. If nothing else, they fragment countries into competing ethnic groups, resulting in ethnic conflict and violence. This has been the case in many African countries. Robert Mugabe started his wretched reign of terror in Zimbabwe by terrorising and massacring the Ndebele, the traditional enemies of his tribe, the Shona, before moving on to other tribes and finally the White farmers. In Nigeria there was the Biafran War, when the Hausa and other Muslim tribes turned on the Igbo. In Uganda in the 1980s the dictator started massacring the largest tribe, the Buganda. And I’m afraid there’s a danger of ethnic specific parties arising in Britain. There’s the Aspire party in London, which resulted from a split in the Labour party after they deselected Lutfur Rahman. This party’s membership seems to be exclusively Bengladeshi Muslims, who were strongly favoured by Rahman in his administrations on the council. Sasha Johnson was setting up an ethnically specific party for Blacks, Taking the Initiative. This was supposedly because the major parties had done nothing about continuing Black poverty, and she denounced mainstream Black politicians like David Lammy in very strong terms. Whites could support Taking the Initiative, but its leadership could only be Black. From what I’ve heard, it had 40,000 members before Johnson met with a bullet in her back garden.

This is dangerous, because the BNP did well in the parts of London like Tower Hamlets where a section of the working-class White population felt marginalised and ignored by the major parties in favour of ethnic minorities. If Taking the Initiative had got off the ground and started winning elections, then there would have been a real danger of a backlash from some Whites seeking a party to represent them racially. And almost certainly if Johnson had had her way and founded a paramilitary Black militia.

As regards Salazar, he strikes me as having been a reactionary Roman Catholic, the Portuguese equivalent of a Spanish caudillo, or military dictator, rather than an outright fascist. There’s a chapter on his works in a book on dictator literature, and from this it seems that most of the books he wrote were Roman Catholic social doctrines, rather than the secular ideology of Italian Fascism. Webb has struck me as a right-wing Conservative, in favour of small government and private enterprise. I very much doubt he and his supporters would like Mussolini’s brand of fascism, which included state direction with private enterprise, and in which the trade unions were expected to sit in parliament with management to direct the economy. And this is quite apart from the overt militarism and warmongering of Italian Fascism.

What he seems to want, therefore, is a form of authoritarian, racial nationalist Conservatism, centred around the White British, rather than the overt, aggressive Fascism of Mussolini. This has to be opposed, along with other, ethnic parties that threaten to divide ordinary Brits and create more ethnic conflict while promising their people uplift and respect.

Simon Webb Asks ‘What’s Wrong with Fascism?’

September 16, 2022

Well, it looks like Simon Webb of History Debunked has finally gone full Mosley. And you never go full Mosley. He’s put up a piece today asking, ‘what’s wrong with fascism?’ He argues that fascism is viewed negatively because it’s confusion with Nazism. But socialism has also committed horrible atrocities and run death camps. In contrast to this, he points to the Portugal of the dictator Salazar in the 1960s, which was prosperous and had kept out of the Second World War. And fascism, he explains, is neither communist nor capitalist.

No, I’m not going to put the video up here. Because he’s arguing for fascism after all. Now he’s got a point in that some political scientists and historians do make a distinction between Nazism and Fascism. Nazism is at its heart a form of biological racism and has its own origins unique to Germany, while Italian Fascism was a form of militaristic nationalism which included elements of both socialism and capitalism. However, Italian Fascism was also imperialistic, calling Italy a ‘proletarian nation’ that had been unjustly deprived of colonies by the great powers of Britain and France. It invaded Greece, Albania and Yugoslavia, as well as Tripolitania in north Africa and Ethiopia. In nearly all these countries the Fascists committed horrendous atrocities. They also developed racial policies similar, but not as harsh as the Nazis, defining Italians as Aryans as contrasted with the Jews, who were expelled from various professions. Both Nazism and Fascism supported and protected private industry, but the economy was centrally planned by the state. Germany was a complete dictatorship under Hitler, in which the Reichstag was only called once a year to sign the act stating that Germany was still in a state of emergency and so Hitler’s dictatorship could legally continue, In Italy Mussolini let the Italian parliament continue for a few years until he replaced it with a chamber of Fasces and corporations. A corporation in this case was an industrial organisation, one for each industry, that contained both management and the unions. By the 1930s there were 27 of these. They were supposed to run the various industries, but in practice they served just to rubber stamp the decisions Mussolini had already taken.

I’ve read some of the comments that have been left on the video. Some of them are rants against Tony Blair’s period in office and complaints that it was supported by a biased media. Well, one paper stood against him – the Daily Heil. And you can wonder who had the real power in Blair’s relationship with the media, as he was always worrying whether his policies would meet the approval of one Rupert Murdoch. And Blair was a Tory in all but name. Thatcher, remember, regarded him as her greatest achievement. I’ve also notice that several of the commenters can’t spell Nazism. They’ve spelled it ‘Natzim’.

Of course, it hasn’t just been the association with the Nazis that has tarnished Italian Fascism. It’s also the various brutal dictatorships that have appeared across the world that committed horrendous atrocities, like the various military dictatorships in Latin America, the most famous of which is General Pinochet’s in Chile, as well as Greece under the Colonels. You can also attack his argument by pointing out he deliberately confuses socialism with communism. Communism is a form of socialism, but it is not the definitive form. For most British Labour supporters and politicians before Blair and his stupid, Thatcherite ‘Third Way’, socialism meant democratic socialism, which supported and included parliamentary democracy, and a mixed economy. This was the type of socialism practised by the reformist socialist parties of western Europe, like the German Social Democrats. And this form of socialism was keen to support human rights and democracy to a greater or lesser extent, as shown in the various people who joined anti-apartheid and anti-racism movement and gave Khrushchev a hard time when he visited the country about the imprisonment of socialist dissidents in the USSR.

I’ve left this comment on Webb’s video. I wonder if anyone will reply.

‘Salazar is probably best viewed as a reactionary Catholic like General Franco, rather than a pure Fascist. His books apparently are pretty much about Roman Catholic dogma, rather the secular ideas which informed Italian Fascism. And Fascism wasn’t just nationalism or dictatorship. Would your readers want definitive features of fascism like a state-directed economy, even if it is done through private industry and the corporate state, in which parliament is replaced by a chamber representing industries, each corporation including management and unions, which is charged with running the economy?’

Message from John McDonnell about Left Labour Online Event ‘Tackling Truss’

September 5, 2022

I got this notification just this evening from Corbyn’s right-hand man about an online event Wednesday evening about resisting the newly anointed Tory leader, Liz Truss.

Tackling Truss – A message from John McDonnell

GET INVOLVED: Register here // Share me on FB here // Retweet me here

Hello David

The scale of the cost-of-living crisis deepened over the summer whilst Boris Johnson went missing. And now we have a new PM in Liz Truss who is proposing a massive offensive on our rights rather than the action people urgently need to protect jobs and livelihoods. At the same time, she will continue an economic policy aimed only at guarding corporate super-profits and further push a reactionary divide-and-rule social agenda.

But Truss though will also face growing resistance – from the wave of militancy and action sweeping through our trade union movement, to groups like Don’t Pay and Enough is Enough, to the ever-growing climate justice direct actions, to BLM, #KillTheBill and all those taking to the streets to defend our rights.

This situation could quickly become not just an economic crisis, but an unprecedented social and political crisis, meaning that it’s vital we discuss now what challenges Truss’ agenda poses for our movement and what it represents, but also what opportunities for resistance and winning the alternative may open up in the weeks ahead.

Please therefore join us on Wednesday September 7 at 7pm for a vital online discussion on ‘What Next?’ and let’s go forward together with our trade union and social movements, building the resistance, and ultimately changing the system too.

Yours in solidarity,
John McDonnell MP (via Arise.)

PS: Register now here and spread the word here.’

I’ve registered because Labour, and the broad left in general, need to unite and formulate proper tactics for resisting this latest inmate of free market ideology and the threat she poses for ordinary working people.

Sent Off the Suggested Motions from the Labour Left to My Local Labour Party

September 5, 2022

Okay, folks, I’ve sent off the model motions that the Arise Festival of Left Labour Ideas suggested to their followers and supporters that they should propose them to their local Labour parties ready for the upcoming Labour conference to my local party in south Bristol. I put up a piece yesterday showing what they were: renationalising the public utilities, including education and the NHS; ending the deportations to Rwanda; raising the minimum wage to £15; and stopping the further Israeli ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. All excellent policies. I don’t know if they’ll be proposed at the meeting, as the email I got from them about the meeting said they had six already. But you have to try.

As for whether or not they’ll be accepted and passed by conference even if they are passed by the local party, well, unfortunately the ‘100 per cent Zionist’ Starmer is in charge, a true-Blue Labour Tory infiltrator. And there’s Jess Philips, who said that Labour would be even harder on the unemployed than the Tories. Neither of them would welcome these policies, and neither would the rest of the Blairites now packed in the parliamentary Labour party. But there’s always hope.

Update

After sending them off I got a kind reply from the local party secretary stating that they’re only accepting one proposed motion per person. So which one would like I like to choose? It’s a hard one, as they’re all good and necessary. However, I chose the £15 minimum pay rise because people are starving and they need the money now. I really hope it goes through.

Other motions being proposed for the local meeting this Thursday include:

Green New Deal – Proportional Representation – Support for Striking Workers

Reproductive Rights – International Development – Industrial Strategy (End UK Childcare Crisis).

Reproductive rights obviously refers to abortion, which people are afraid is threatened after the repeal of Roe vs Wade in America.

Labour Left Proposed Motions for the Labour Party Conference

September 4, 2022

The Labour party conference is looming and Arise, the Labour festival of left-wing ideas, has sent these suggested motions out to their supporters so they can propose them to their local constituency parties, in the hope that they’ll accept them and propose them at conference. The email I had and the proposed motions run:

Model Motions Recommended for Labour Party Conference 2022

Hello David

Please find below and online here suggested model motions for Labour Party Conference. The deadline for submissions is Thursday 15 September 2022 at 5pm and the word limit is 250 words. They are on supporting public ownership, defending asylum seekers, supporting a pay rise for workers plus those unions taking industrial action to this end. and speaking up for Palestine.

Best wishes,
The Arise – a Festival of Left Ideas Volunteer Team.

1) Public ownership Motion from the Labour Assembly Against Austerity

Public Ownership is Necessary and Popular
 
Conference notes:
That public ownership is popular with voters, with polling indicating these levels of support:

  • Energy – 66% (Survation, 2022)
  • Water – 69% (Survation, 2022)
  • Royal Mail – 68% (Survation, 2022)
  • Railways – 67% (Survation, 2022)
  • Buses – 65% (Survation, 2022)
  • Social Care – 64% (Survation, 2020)
  • NHS – 84% (YouGov, 2017)

Additionally, 61% of the public think local and central government should try to run services in-house first, before outsourcing (Survation, 2015,) 82% want schools to mostly be run in the public sector (Survation, 2020;) and 63% want utilities to mostly be run in the public sector (Survation, 2020.)

Conference believes:

  • The crisis caused by soaring energy bills and the scandal of raw sewage being dumped into rivers this Summer have highlighted the failures of privatisation in Britain.
  • Private companies are making mega-profits from public services – these vast sums should instead be invested to improve services, to give their workers a pay increase and to lower costs for consumers.
  • That the Tory corruption and outsourcing crises during the pandemic have further illustrated the need for public ownership and democratic control.
  • A clear commitment to extending public ownership of key utilities and public services can be a big vote winner for Labour.

Conference resolves:

  • To oppose further Tory privatisation and outsourcing, including of the NHS, education and council services.
  • To support public ownership of key services and utilities including energy, water, railways, buses, social care, the royal mail and the NHS.

2) Motion on asylum seekers & Rwanda from the Arise Volunteer Team:

Labour should oppose the sending of asylum seekers to Rwanda

Conference notes:

  • the commitment of both candidates in the recent Tory leadership to the unethical, inhumane and racist Tory policy of forcibly sending asylum seekers to Rwanda, and the widely-condemned Nationality and Borders Act (NABA,) with its two tier system of ‘legal’ and ‘illegal’ refugees that would prevent some 99 percent of refugees from seeking asylum and its threat to the citizenship of 6 million people in Britain. UNHCR said the Nationality and Borders Bill would “penalise most refugees seeking asylum”.
  • the scale of opposition to the Government’s inhumane treatment of refugees who just want to rebuild their lives here in safety.
  • the decision of the European Court of Human Rights which forced the cancellation of the first scheduled flight on 14 June 2022.
  • Public polling shows increasing support for asylum seekers’ rights, including their right to work.
  • Other disastrous aspects of the ‘hostile environment’ policy over recent years including the Windrush Scandal and the notorious ‘Go Home’ vans.

Conference resolves:

  • For the Labour party to clearly oppose this obscene Tory policy in its entirety as part of campaigning for an end to the ‘hostile environment’ and against racist anti-immigrant narratives, including through a commitment that the next Labour Government will immediately cancel the Rwanda Asylum Scheme.
  • To oppose “no recourse to public funds”, NHS access restrictions and other ‘Hostile Environment’ policies.

3) Pay and backing trade union action motion from the Labour Assembly Against Austerity:

Britain Needs A Pay rise

Conference notes:

Twelve years of the Conservative Government’s low-pay agenda has significantly diminished the real value of people’s incomes with average real wages still below 2008 levels;

The situation is getting worse. Real pay dropped by 4.1% in June compared to the same period last year, with record falls of 3.4% in the private sector and 6.7% in the public sector;

The imposition of significantly below-inflation pay awards which amount to real terms pay cuts;

An increase in trade union campaigning for improved pay awards, from protests to strike ballots and industrial action;

That 76% of people support the view that pay should rise in line with the cost of living (Survation August 2022)

Conference believes:

Below-inflation pay offers will increase poverty and hardship;

That the Government should not impose real terms pay cuts on public sector workers;

It is wrong that many private firms are imposing real terms pay cuts while making big profits, awarding bonuses and large dividend payments;

Recent trade union campaigns, including strike action, have led to numerous enhanced pay awards.

Conference resolves:

To oppose the Conservative Government’s imposition of real terms pay cuts;

To support inflation-proofed increases in pay in both public and private sectors and urgent measures to restore the real value of pay lost under successive Conservative Governments since 2010;

To support a National Minimum Wage of at least £15 an hour.

To support trade union campaigning, including through backing workers taking industrial action, to achieve these aims.

4) Palestine motion from Labour & Palestine / Palestine Solidarity Campaign

Justice for Palestine

Conference strongly condemns:

  • Israel’s renewed bombing of Gaza in August 2022 killing 44 Palestinians, including 15 children, and notes the UN Special rapporteur description of it as an  act contrary to International law. 
  • the Israeli army’s killing of the Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh and beating of her coffin bearers by Israeli police.
  • the outlawing of 7 NGOs including Addameer; the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees and Defence for Children International – Palestine.

Conference recognises that these events are illustrative of the conclusions of leading human rights organisations including B’tselem, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International that Israel is committing the crime of apartheid against the Palestinian people, and further erode any possibility of a just solution.

Conference notes policy passed at Labour Party Annual Conferences 2018 ,2019 and 2021 in solidarity with the Palestinian people and against Israel’s ongoing violations of their rights and of international law.

Conference Resolves:

  • To support the application made in April to the International Criminal Court (ICC), calling for an investigation into the Israeli government’s systematic targeting of journalists.
  • To stand in solidarity with all human rights defenders and fully oppose the Israeli government’s attempts to silence them
  • To adhere to an ethical policy on all UK trade with Israel in line with policy passed at previous Conferences, including banning trade with illegal settlements and ending the ongoing arms trade.
  • To oppose fully any UK legislation aimed at preventing legitimate and democratic solidarity actions in support of the Palestinian people.’

These policies are popular and necessary. Among the polls showing public support for renationalising the utilities, I’m massively impressed that 82 per cent want schools to be in public hands. As for the motion on Palestine, it really amazes me how anyone in a genuinely left-wing party could support the closure of quangos devoted to protecting women and children. If ‘100 per cent Zionist’ Starmer supports this, then he’s a depraved monster, utterly unfit to govern any country devoted to humanity and the rule of law. This shows that hardly anybody wants academies or a return to grammar schools, despite the Tories constantly pushing them. I’m going to check with my local constituency party to see if these or similar are among the motions they are going to discuss this Thursday prior to conference. If they aren’t, I will propose them.

This will undoubtedly annoy the Blairites, especially the motion on Palestine. I’ll let you know if they start throwing around any fake accusations of anti-Semitism again.

Left-Labour Conference in London in December

September 1, 2022

I also got this email from the Arise Festival of left Labour ideas notifying me that they’re organising a physical conference in London this December. Unfortunately I won’t be able to go to it, but I’m putting details of it up here for any Labour members who’d like to go. The email runs

CONFERENCE: Solidarity 🌹 Struggle 🌹 Socialism

In person. Sat, 10 December, 10:00 – 16:30. Conway Hall, Central London.
Get tickets here // share & invite here // Retweet here & spread the word.

A national conference bringing together the Left & anti-Tory resistance movements in unity to discuss next steps in the fightback.

With: John McDonnell MP // Sarah Woolley, BFAWU General Secretary // Richard Burgon MP // Mick Whelan, ASLEF GS // Nadia Whittome MP // Zita Holbourne, Black Activists Rising Against Cuts (BARAC) // Lord John Hendy QC // Hilary Schan, Momentum // Ben Chacko, Morning Star // Sabby Dhalu, Stand up to Racism // Heidi Chow, Debt Justice // Mick Burke, Socialist Economic Bulletin // Rachel Garnham, CLPD // Ruth Hayes, Labour Women Leading // Matt Willgress, Labour Outlook // Sakina Sheikh AM // Steve Howell, author, Game Changer // Holly Turner, NHS Workers Say No // Jon Trickett MP // Laura Smith // Barry Gardiner MP & many more.

Themes, sessions & international guests tba – put the date in your diary today!

Hosted by Arise – A Festival of Left Ideas.

Megaphone Petition for Raising the Minimum Wage to £15 per Hour

September 1, 2022

I got this petition from the Megaphone on yesterday urging me to sign a petition calling for the minimum wage to be raised to £15 per hour. I’ve had absolutely no problem signing it, given the cost of living crisis, and if you feel as strongly about this as I do, I hope you will too. Here’s the email:

‘Hi David,

Did you see my email from last week? Almost 20,000 people have now added their name in support of a £15 an hour minimum wage, but we need more to join the campaign. 

Sign the petition and join the campaign: Raise the minimum wage to £15 an hour

Thanks,

Anthony

Here’s my email from last week, in case you missed it.

David —

No matter where you work or what you do, everyone deserves a wage they can live on. But as the cost of living crisis deepens, millions of workers are struggling to get by – and it is only going to get worse. 

Last week, the TUC, with the backing of 48 trade unions, made an ambitious demand: We need a £15 an hour minimum wage.

Can you add your name in support of this call? We need thousands to sign to show how important this would be for working people.

Last week, we asked some Megaphone supporters why they need a pay rise. Here are some of the things we heard:

“A pay rise would mean I wouldn’t choose between dental treatment or a new school uniform for my kids”

“It would mean the difference between being able to heat our home or going cold over the winter.”

“A pay rise would drastically reduce the constant stress and worry I have, and would allow me to have a social life again”

Britain needs a pay rise and we need it urgently. Raising the minimum wage will make a huge difference for millions of workers. And the only way we will win is by standing together in our unions, campaigning for a better deal.  

Sign the petition: tell the government you support raising the minimum wage to £15 an hour as soon as possible.

The change we need will not come from a petition, but if tens of thousands sign today it will show how many of us are ready to take on the work we need to do to win. This is just the beginning. 

Regards,

Anthony

Farmer Jim Callaghan: A Missed Opportunity to Get the Rural Vote?

August 23, 2022

One of the pieces of news that came up on the internet news feed last week was that bug-eyed Liz Truss had been empty-chaired by farmers at a political meeting. Truss had either been due to speak or had been invited to speak at a rural hustings and had not appeared. So the farmers had their revenge by having her represented by an empty chair. Well, it could have been worse. When Roy Hattersley didn’t show as promised for an edition of Have I Got News For You in the ’90s, they simply replaced him with a tub of lard. Now what could have replaced Truss, I wonder? Possibly a lump of all that cheese she’s told us we’re going to sell to the Japanese, the majority of whom are lactose intolerant.

Most of England’s rural constituencies seem to be dominated either by the Tories or the Lib Dems, but I think Labour has missed an opportunity there. Firstly, one of the books I was reading about the origins of the welfare state said that the system of subsidies Attlee’s government introduced to support the farmers after the War actually saved them from bankruptcy, thus allowing them to pay their subscriptions to the Conservatives. Which sounds unkind, but is probably true. But it also shows that the Labour party isn’t just an urban party hostile to the countryside, as some have claimed.

Former MP Jim Callaghan is an example. Although he represented an urban constituency, he liked the countryside. He became a partner in a farm, finally taking full ownership. When he wasn’t in parliament or active in his constituency he was down working on his farm. This is in the book I got through the post the other day on the former Prime Minister. The writer of that particular chapter lamented that this enthusiasm for the countryside didn’t allow Labour to challenge the Conservatives on the image of the countryside as a rural idyll. Perhaps it didn’t. But I also feel that there was a lost opportunity to challenge the Tories in the countryside. Having a prime minister who actually worked as a farmer could have shown rural voters that far from removed, indifferent or hostile to rural Britain, Labour was actively involved out there and understand the concerns of farmers and the countryside. Of course, Callaghan had other issues on his plate, not least industrial unrest and the Winter of Discontent that finally brought him down. The Swedish socialist party were able to get the support of their country’s peasant farmers by taking their side during an agricultural crisis in the ’30s. They would turn up en masse to protest against farm repossessions. Perhaps this is a tactic Labour over here should consider when our farmers start going bankrupt thanks to the Brexit deal Johnson and his cronies have pushed through, which will damage our agriculture.

Oh no, that’s it! We’ve no need to worry, ’cause Truss has negotiated the cheese deal with Japan, and a pork deal with China.