Posts Tagged ‘Maternity Leave’

Book on Industrial Democracy in Great Britain

January 12, 2019

Ken Coates and Anthony Topham, Industrial Democracy In Great Britain: A Book of Readings and Witnesses for Workers Control (MacGibbon & Kee, 1968).

This is another book I got through the post the other day. It’s a secondhand copy, but there may also be newer editions of the book out there. As its subtitle says, it’s a sourcebook of extracts from books, pamphlets, and magazine and newspaper articles on workers’ control, from the Syndicalists and Guild Socialists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, through the First World War, the General Strike and the interwar period, the demands for worker participation in management during the Second World War and in the industries nationalized by Clement Attlee’s 1945 Labour government. It also covers the industrial disputes of the 1950s and ’60s, including the mass mobilization of local trade unions in support of four victimized workers evicted from the homes by management and the Tories. These later extracts also include documents from the workers’ control movements amongst the bus workers and dockers, establishing works councils and laying out their structure, duties and operating procedure.

The book’s blurb reads

The issue of workers’ control in British industry is once more n the air. As a concept, as something still to be achieved, industrial democracy has a long and rich history in fields outside the usual political arenas. The newly-awakened movement that revives the wish to see workers given a voice in business affairs is, in this book, given its essential historical perspective. From the days of ‘wage-slavery’ we might at last be moving into a period of fully-responsible control of industry by those who make the wealth in this country. While this notion has generally been scoffed at – by working class Tories as much as members of the capitalist groups – there is now a formidable body of evidence and thought to give it substance and weight.

The editors’ theme is treated in four main sections: the first covers the years from 1900 to 1920, when people like Tom Mann, James Connolly, G.D.H. Cole were re-discovering ideas of syndicalism, industrial unionism, guild socialism and so on. The second traces the development of the shop stewards’ movement on the shop floors. Much of this material is especially interesting so far as the period 1941 – 45 is concerned. Section three deals with the nationalized industries’ relations to unions, and here the centre of interest lies in the relations between the unions and Herbert Morrison in the thirties and beyond. The last section deals with the re-invigorated growth of the post-war efforts to establish some form of workers’ control. It is the conviction of their editors that the movement they document so thoroughly has only just begun to develop seriously and it is therefore something that both business and political parties will have to take increasing account of. The book is both anthology and guide to one of the important issues of our time.

After the introduction, it has the following contents.

Section 1: Schools for Democrats
Chapter 1: Forerunners of the Ferment

1 Working Class Socialism: E.J.B. Allen
2. Industrial Unionism and Constructive Socialism: James Connolly
3. The Miners’ Next Step: Reform Committee of the South Wales Miners, 1912
4. Limits of Collective Bargaining: Fred Knee
5. Forging the Weapon: Tom Mann
6. The Servile State: Hilaire Belloc
7. Pluralist Doctrine: J.N. Figgis
8. The Spiritual Change: A.J. Penty
9. The Streams Merge?: M.B. Reckitt and C.E. Bechofer
10. Little Groups Spring Up: Thomas Bell

Chapter 2. Doctrines and Practice of the Guild Socialists

1.The Bondage of Wagery: S.G. Hobson and A.R. Orage
2. State and Municipal Wagery: S.G. Hobson and A.R. Orage
3. Collectivism, Syndicalism and Guilds: G.D.H. Cole
4 Industrial Sabotage: William Mellor
5 The Building Guilds: M.B. Reckitt and C.E. Bechhofer
6 Builders’ Guilds: A Second view: Raymond Postgate

Chapter 3 How Official Labour met the Guild Threat

1 Democracies of Producers: Sydney and Beatrice Webb
2 ‘… In no Utopian Spirit’: J. Ramsay MacDonald

Chapter 4 Eclipse of the Guilds and the Rise of Communism

1 In Retrospect: G.D.H. Cole
2 Revolution and Trade Union Action: J.T. Murphy
3 Action for Red Trade Unions: Third Comintern Congress, 1921

Section II: Shop Stewards and Workers’ Control; 1910-64

Chapter 1 1910-26

1 Shop Stewards in Engineering: the Forerunners: H.A. Clegg, Alan Fox, and E.F. Thompson
2 The Singer Factory: The Wobblies’ First Base: Thomas Bell
3 A Nucleus of Discontent: Henry Pelling
4 The Sheffield Shop Stewards: J.T. Murphy
5 The Workers’ Committee: J.T. Murphy
6 The Collective Contract: W. Gallacher and J. Paton
7 Politics in the Workshop Movement: G.D.H. Cole
8 The Shop Stewards’ Rules: N.S.S. & W.C.M.
9 The Dangers of Revolution: Parliamentary Debates H. of C.
10 What Happened at Leeds: the Leeds Convention 1917
11 A Shop Stewards’ Conference: Thomas Bell
12 After the War: Dr B. Pribicevic
13 An Assessment: Dr B. Pribicevic
14 Prelude to Unemployed Struggles: Wal Hannington
15 Defeat; The 1922 Lock-out: James B. Jefferys
16 Shop Stewards on the Streets: J.T. Murphy
17 T.U.C. Aims: T.U.C. Annual Report 1925
18 ‘The Death Gasp of that Pernicious Doctrine’: Beatrice Webb

Chapter 2 1935-47

1 ‘… The Shop Stewards’ Movement will Re-Appear’: G.D.H. Cole
2 Revival; The English Aircraft Strike: Tom Roberts
3 London Metal Workers and the Communists: John Mahon
4 The Communists’ Industrial Policy: CPGB 14th Congress, 1937
5 ‘… A Strong Left Current’; John Mahon
6 Shop Stewards against Government and War: National Shop-Stewards’ Conference, 1940
7 The A.E.U. and the Shop Stewards’ Movement: Wal Hannington
8 For Maximum Production: Walter Swanson and Douglas Hyde
9 Joint Production Committees: Len Powell
10 The Employers Respond: Engineering Employers’ Federation
11 How to get the Best Results: E & A.T.S.S.N.C.
12 The Purpose of the Joint Production Committees: G.S. Walpole
13 A Dissident Complaint: Anarchist Federation of Glasgow, 1945
14 The Transformation of Birmingham: Bert Williams
15 Factory Committees; Post-War Aims: J.R. Campbell
16 After the Election: Reg Birch
17 Official View of Production Committees: Industrial Relations Handbook
18 Helping the Production Drive: Communist Party of Great Britain

Chapter 3 1951-63

1 Post-war Growth of Shop Stewards in Engineering: A.T. Marsh and E.E. Coker
2 Shop-Steward Survey: H.A. Clegg, A.J. Killick and Rex Adams
3 The Causes of Strikes: Trades Union Congress
4 The Trend of Strikes: H.A. Turner
5 Shop-Stewards and Joint Consultation: B.C. Roberts
6 Joint Consultation and the Unions: Transport and General Workers’ Union
7 Strengths of Shop-Steward Organisation: H.M.S.O.
8 Activities of Shop-Stewards: H.M.S.O.
9 Local Bargaining and Wages Drift: Shirley Lerner and Judith Marquand
10 The Motor Vehicle Industrial Group and Shop-Stewards’ Combine Committees: Shirley Lerner and Judith Marquand
11. Ford Management’s view of Management: H.M.S.O.
12. The Bata Story: Malcolm MacEwen
13 Fight against Redundancy: Harry Finch
14 How They Work the Trick: Ford Shop Stewards
15 I work at Fords: Brian Jefferys
16 The Origins of Fawley: Allan Flanders
17 Controlling the Urge to Control: Tony Topham

Section III: Industrial Democracy and Nationalization

Chapter 1 1910-22

1 State Ownership and Control: G.D.H. Cole
2 Towards a Miner’s Guild: National Guilds League
3 Nationalization of the Mines: Frank Hodges
4 Towards a National Railway Guild: National Guilds League
5 Workers’ Control on the Railways: Dr B. Pribicevic
6 The Railways Act, 1921: Philip Bagwell

Chapter 2 1930-35

1 A Re-Appraisal: G.D.H. Cole
2 A works Council Law: G.D.H. Cole
3 A Fabian Model for Workers’ Representation: G.D.H. Cole and W. Mellor
4 Herbert Morrison’s Case: Herbert Morrison
5 The Soviet Example: Herbert Morrison
6 The T.U.C. Congress, 1932: Trades Union Congress
7 The Labour Party Conference, 19332: The Labour Party
8 The T.U.C. Congress, 1933: Trades Union Congress
9 The Labour Party Conference, 1933: The Labour Party
10 The Agreed Formula: The Labour Party

Chapter 3 1935-55

1 The Labour Party in Power: Robert Dahl
2 The Coal Nationalization Act: W.W. Haynes
3 George Brown’s Anxieties: Parliamentary Debates H. of C.
4 Cripps and the Workers: The Times
5 Trade Union Officials and the Coal Board: Abe Moffatt
6 Acceptance of the Public Corporation: R. Page Arnot
7 No Demands from the Communists: Emmanuel Shinwell
8 We Demand Workers’ Representation: Harry Pollitt
9 The N.U.R. and Workers’ Control: Philip Bagwell
10 The Trade Unions take Sides: Eirene Hite
11 Demands for the Steel Industry: The Labour Party
12 The A.E.U. Briefs its Members: Amalgamated Engineering Union
13 Making Joint Consultation Effective: The New Statesman
14 ‘Out-of-Date Ideas’: Trades Union Congress
15 A Further Demand for Participation: The Labour Party

Chapter 4 1955-64

1 Storm Signals: Clive Jenkins
2 The Democratization of Power: New Left Review
3 To Whom are Managers Responsible?: New Left Review
4 Accountability and Participation: John Hughes
5 A 1964 Review: Michael Barratt-Brown

Section IV: The New Movement: Contemporary Writings on Industrial Democracy

Chapter 1 The New Movement: 1964-67

1 A Retreat: H.A. Clegg
2 ‘We Must Align with the Technological Necessities…’ C.A.R. Crosland
3 A Response: Royden Harrison
4 Definitions: Workers’ Control and Self-Management: Ken Coates
5 The New Movement: Ken Coates
6 The Process of Decision: Trades Union Congress
7 Economic Planning and Wages: Trades Union Congress
8 Seeking a Bigger Say at Work: Sydney Hill
9 A Plan for a Break-through in Production: Jack Jones
10 A Comment on Jack Jones’ Plan: Tony Topham
11 Open the Books: Ken Coates
12 Incomes Policy and Control: Dave Lambert
13 Watch-dogs for Nationalized Industries: Hull LEFT
14 Revival in the Coal Industry: National Union of Mineworkers
15 Workers’ Control in Nationalized Steel Industry: The Week
16 Workers’ Control in the Docks: The Dockers’ Next Step: The Week
17 The Daily Mail Takes Notes: The Daily Mail
18 Labour’s Plan for the Docks: The Labour Party
19 Municipal Services: Jack Ashwell
20 The Party Programme: The Labour Party
21 Open the Shipowners’ Books!: John Prescott and Charlie Hodgins
22 A Socialist Policy for the Unions. May Day Manifesto

The book appropriately ends with a conclusion.

The book is clearly a comprehensive, encyclopedic treatment of the issue of workers’ control primarily, but not exclusively, from the thinkers and workers who demanded and agitated for it, and who occasionally succeeded in achieving it or at least a significant degree of worker participation in management. As the book was published in 1968, it omits the great experiments in worker’s control and management of the 1970s, like the Bullock Report, the 1971 work-in at the shipbuilders in the Upper Clyde, and the worker’s co-ops at the Scottish Daily News, Triumph of Meriden, Fisher Bendix in Kirkby, and at the British Aircraft Company in Bristol.

This was, of course, largely a period where the trade unions were growing and had the strength, if not to achieve their demands, then at least to make them be taken seriously, although there were also serious setbacks. Like the collapse of the 1922 General Strike, which effectively ended syndicalism in Great Britain as a mass movement. Since Thatcher’s victory in 1979 union power has been gravely diminished and the power of management massively increased. The result of this has been the erosion of workers’ rights, so that millions of British workers are now stuck in poorly paid, insecure jobs with no holiday, sickness or maternity leave. We desperately need this situation to be reversed, to go back to the situation where working people can enjoy secure, properly-paid jobs, with full employments rights, protected by strong unions.

The Tories are keen to blame the unions for Britain’s industrial decline, pointing to the disruption caused by strikes, particularly in the industrial chaos of the 1970s. Tory propaganda claims that these strikes were caused by irresponsible militants against the wishes of the majority of working people. You can see this view in British films of the period like Ealing’s I’m All Right Jack, in which Peter Sellars played a Communist union leader, and one of the Carry On films set in a toilet factory, as well as the ’70s TV comedy, The Rag Trade. This also featured a female shop-steward, who was all too ready to cry ‘Everybody out!’ at every perceived insult or infraction of agreed conditions by management. But many of the pieces included here show that these strikes were anything but irresponsible. They were a response to real exploitation, bullying and appalling conditions. The extracts dealing with the Ford works particularly show this. Among the incidents that provoked the strike were cases where workers were threatened by management and foremen for taking time off for perfectly good reasons. One worker taken to task by his foreman for this had done so in order to take his sick son to hospital.

The book shows that workers’ control has been an issue for parts of the labour movement since the late nineteenth century, before such radicalism because associated with the Communists. They also show that, in very many cases, workers have shown themselves capable of managing their firms.

There are problems with it, nevertheless. There are technical issues about the relative representation of unions in multi-union factories. Tony Benn was great champion of industrial democracy, but in his book Arguments for Socialism he argues that it can only be set up when the workers’ in a particular firm actually want, and that it should be properly linked to a strong union movement. He also attacks token concessions to the principle, like schemes in which only one workers’ representative is elected to the board, or works’ councils which have no real power and are outside trade union control or influence.

People are becoming increasingly sick and angry of the Tories’ and New Labour impoverishment and disenfranchisement of the working class. Jeremy Corbyn has promised working people full employment and trade union rights from the first day of their employment, and to put workers in the boardroom of the major industries. We desperately need these policies to reverse the past forty years of Thatcherism, and to bring real dignity and prosperity to working people. After decades of neglect, industrial democracy is back on the table by a party leadership that really believes in it. Unlike May and the Tories when they made it part of their elections promises back in 2017.

We need the Tories out and Corbyn in government. Now. And for at least some of the industrial democracy workers have demanded since the Victorian age.

The Success of Workers’ Industrial Management in the Spanish Civil War

December 27, 2018

I found this passage about how the anarchist workers in Catalonia were able to manage their firms and industries successfully during the Spanish Civil War in David Miller’s Anarchism (London: J.M. Dent & Sons Ltd, 1984).

The problems of collectivization in the cities were in many respects greater than those encountered in the countryside. Collectivization followed one of two paths, depending on whether the previous owner of the factory or workshop in question stayed put or fled. If he stayed, the C.N.T. encouraged him to continue with his management functions, while installing a ‘control committee’ of its own members to supervise the general running of the enterprise. If he left, the union quickly developed its own management structure, promoting technicians and skilled workers in positions of responsibility. These measures appear to have struck a sensible balance between industrial democracy and the requirements of efficient production, and eye-witness accounts (such as Borkenau’s) testify to their success. After visiting the workshops of the Barcelona b8us company, he wrote that, ‘It is an extraordinary achievement for a group of workers to take over a factory, under however favourable conditions, and within a few days to make it run with complete regularity. It bears brilliant witness to the general standard of efficiency of the Catalan worker and to the organizing capacities of the Barcelona trade unions. For one must not forget that this firm has lost its whole managing staff. In addition, whole branches of industry were reorganized. Contrary to what one might have expected, this took the form of combining small workshops and businesses into larger establishments. For instance in Barcelona the number of plants in the tanning industry was reduced from seventy-one to forty, and in glass-making from one hundred to thirty; over nine hundred barber’s shops and beauty parlours were consolidated into some two hundred large shops.

Barcelona was the main scene of urban collectivization, though a number of other cities (such as Alcoy) also witnessed developments of a similar kind. In the Catalonian capital it embraced all forms of transport, the major utilities, the telephone service, the textile and metal industries, much of the food industry, and many thousands of smaller enterprises. Orwell has left us a memorable picture of life in a city ;where the working class was in the saddle’. As a demonstration of the creative capacities of that class, it is surely impressive. (pp. 164-5).

However, Miller goes on to say that it was less successful as a vindication of anarcho-communist theory, because of the problems of coordinating the various stages of the process of production and the collapse of the banking industry, with the result many firms were unable to obtain the raw materials they needed and had to work part time. The other problem was the difference in wealth between the workers taking over the factories and workshops. Some were comparatively well off, while others were in serious debt, and this disparity continued after collectivization.

The Russian experiment in workers’ control after the October Revolution collapsed because the workers’ didn’t have the skills and education to manage industry. It was also crushed by the rapidly increasing grip and monolithic control of the Bolshevik party and bureaucracy, so that the Left Communists, who still advocated it, were crushed for supporting ‘anarcho-syndicalist deviation’. However, the Yugoslavian communist made workers’ control part of their ‘self-management’ system. In Argentina after the last recession earlier in this century, many of the failing firms were handed over to the workers to run by their management, and they were largely successful in turning the fortunes of these companies around as Naomi Wolf observed in one of her videos. They’ve since been handed back to their former management after the economy recovered. However, the Mondragon cooperatives founded in the Basque region of Spain are a continuing success.

As the defenders of capital and the rights of owners and management, the Tories will do everything to discredit organized labour. One of their favourite weapons against the trade unions has been making sure that the public remembers the 1970s as a period of strikes and industrial disruption, and constantly playing up the ‘Winter of Discontent’ in 1979. The results of this has been that worker’s rights have been continually eroded as the power of the unions has been curtailed. Millions of people are now trapped in insecure jobs in the gig economy, with no set hours of work or rights to sick pay, holidays, maternity leave and so on. This should be ended now.

I’m not advocating anything as radical as the overthrow of capitalism and the establishment of an anarchist utopia. But the example of the Catalan experiment in workers’ control shows that worker managers can conduct industry responsibly, efficiently and with proper care for their workers. There should thus be absolutely no objection to putting employees on the boards of the companies they work for.

Archbishop of Canterbury Condemns ‘Gig Economy’, Tories Go Berserk

September 15, 2018

More hypocrisy from the Tory party. This week, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, gave a long speech attacking Universal Credit and zero hours contracts. He described the ‘gig’ economy the Blairites and the Tories have created, in which workers in insecure jobs are only called in if their bosses decide there’s work for them to do, and go without pay if there isn’t, the ‘return of an ancient evil’.

He made the speech after Labour had outlined its commitment to empowering workers, which included a comprehensive attack on the gig economy. Zero hours contracts will be banned, and employment benefits like sick pay and maternity leave will be extended to cover part-time workers. The party also pledged to end the ruse in which many firms seek to dodge their obligation to provide their workers with proper rights and benefits by making them officially self-employed.

The Archbishop mentioned Labour’s John McDonnell in his speech, who in turn praised the Archbishop. McDonnell said

“The Archbishop of Canterbury has set out a bold vision for a different society, one without the evils of the gig economy, the exploitation of workers and tax dodging of the multinationals.

“I welcome his speech, and the growing movement against the failures of austerity and neoliberalism. Labour will end zero hours contracts, clamp down on the tax avoiders, and ensure everyone has access to sick pay, parental leave and protections at work.”

The Tories, however, immediately went berserk, and showed their own hypocrisy when it comes to supporting the political intervention of religious leaders. They were more than happy when the former Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks claimed that Corbyn and the Labour party were anti-Semitic. However, they were outraged that the Archbishop had dared to criticize the wonderful Thatcherite capitalism they’d created.

The Tory MP, Ben Bradley, tweeted

‘Not clear to me when or how it can possibly be appropriate for the Archbishop of Canterbury to be appearing at TUC conference or parroting Labour policy.’

He added: ‘There are a diversity of views as to what is best for the economy, but [he] only seems interested in presenting John McDonnell’s point of view.’

Simon Maginn tweeted his response

Rabbi Sacks: “Jeremy Corbyn is an antisemite.”
Tories: “Listen to the holy gentleman.”
Archbishop of Canterbury: “Tories have increased poverty.”
Tories: ‘Must keep religion out of politics.”

Mike in his article notes that Archbishop Welby was unapologetic, and observed that ‘The Bible is political from one end to the other’.

Mike concludes

His intervention is to be welcomed.

The Church of England is often seen as a haven for Conservatives and it will be interesting to see what happens to those Tories’ attitudes, considering this new direction from the pulpit.

See: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2018/09/13/tory-hypocrisy-over-archbishops-intervention-in-employment-politics/

This has been going on for decades. The Anglican Church has been described as ‘the Tory party at prayer’, and the Tory party itself was set up back in the 17th century by supporters of the aristocracy and established church against the more liberal Whigs.

However, the Church has also contained passionate reformers working against social evils. Archbishop Temple in his book, Christianity and the Social Order, published in 1942, pointed to reformers like William Wilberforce and the others in the ‘Clapham Sect’, who campaigned against slavery; John Howard and Elizabeth Fry and prison reform; and F.D. Maurice and the Christian Socialists in the 19th century. These latter wished to see businesses transformed into co-operatives, which would share their profits with their workers. This strand of Anglican social activism continued into the 20th century, and in 1924 the Anglican church held a conference to examine the question of how the Church should tackle the poverty and injustices of the age. Temple also pointed to the example of the pre-Reformation Church in attacking some of the economic and social abuses of the times, and particular Protestant Christian leaders and ministers, like John Wesley, after the Reformation.

He also quotes the Hebrew prophets of the Old Testament to show how property rights, while certainly existing and respected in ancient Israel, were also limited and intended to ensure that each family had their own portion of land and that great estates held by single individuals, did not develop. He writes

In the days of the Kings we find prophets denouncing such accumulations; so for example Isaiah exclaims: “Woe unto them that join house to house, that lay field to field, till there be no room, and yet be made to dwell alone in the midst of the land.” (Isaiah v.*8); and Michah: “Woe to them that devise iniquity and work evil upon their beds! When the morning is light, they practice it, because it is in the power of their hand. And they covet fields and seize them; and houses, and take them away; and they oppress a man and his house, even a man and his heritage” (Micah ii, 1, 2). And the evil here was not primarily economic, though that may have been involved. The evil was the denial of what Tertullian (c.160-230) would call ‘fellowship in property’ – which seemed to him the natural result of unity in mind and spirit. (p. 38).

The first chapter of the book, ‘What Right has the Church to Interfere?’, gives the reasons Temple believes that the Church indeed possesses such a right. It’s too long to list all of them, but one of them is that the economic structure of society is immensely influential on the formation of its citizens’ morals. Temple writes

It is recognized on all hands that the economic system is an educative influence, for good or ill, of immense potency. Marshall, the prince of orthodox economists of the last generation, ranks it with the religion of a country as the most formative influence in the moulding of a people’s character. If so, then assuredly the Church must be concerned with it. For a primary concern of the Church is to develop in men a Christian character. When it finds by its side an educative influence so powerful it is bound to ask whether than influence is one tending to develop Christian character, and if the answer is partly or wholly negative the Chu5rch must do its utmost to secure a change in the economic system to that it may find in that system an ally and not an enemy. How far this is the situation in our country to-day we shall consider later. At present it is enough to say that the Church cannot, without betraying its own trust, omit criticism of the economic order, or fail to urge such action as may be prompted by that criticism. (P. 22)

Temple was also very much aware how some politicians resented the Church speaking out on political issues. For example, Queen Victoria’s first Prime Minister, Lord Melbourne, is supposed to have said after hearing an Evangelical preacher that ‘if religion was going to interfere with the affairs of private life, things were come to a pretty pass’. Temple added

(L)ater prime ministers have felt and said the same about the interference of religion with the affairs of public life; but the interference steadily increases and will increase. (P. 15).

And the friction between the Tory party and the Anglican and other churches has been going on ever since Thatcher set foot in 10 Downing Street. She got very annoyed when the-then Archbishop, Robert Runcie, issued a report detailing the immense poverty that had been produced by her policies. Norman Tebbitt, her attack dog, made comments casting aspersions on the good clergyman’s sexuality, on the grounds that he had a sing-song voice and the slightly camp manner of many churchmen. He was soon showed to be very wrong, as Runcie had been an army chaplain, whose ferocity in battle had earned him the nickname ‘Killer Runcie’. A friend of mine remarked about him that the really hard men don’t show it.

The Church has gone on issuing reports and holding inquiries into poverty in Britain, and other social issues. And the Tory response has always been the same: to attack and criticize the Church’s interference. There have been comments of the kind that the clergy should stick to preaching the Gospel, and then they might have larger congregations.

But if Thatcher and the Tories didn’t feel that the Church had any right to interfere in politics, they definitely believed that they had the right to interfere in the church’s ministry and pastoral theology. And that this right was absolutely God-given. When Thatcher was on the steps of Number 10, she started quoted St. Francis of Assisi’s famous prayer, ‘Where there is darkness, let us bring light’ etc. She also took it upon herself to lecture the ministers of the church on the correct interpretation of scripture. I can remember her speaking to a conference of the Church of Scotland, in which she explained to the assembled ministers and faithful her own view of charity and the welfare state, based on St. Paul’s words, ‘If a man does not work, he shall not eat’. Needless to say, the guid ministers were not impressed, and showed it in the massed ranks of stony faces.

Temple was absolutely right in stating that Christians had a duty to examine and criticize the economic structure of society as the major force affecting people’s morals and character. But Thatcherism goes far beyond this. I’ve read pieces that have stated that Thatcher’s whole outlook was based on her peculiar right-wing religious ideas. Thatcherism isn’t simply an economic system. It’s a political theology. Thatcher was strongly influence by Keith Joseph, who was Jewish. It’s why she prattled about ‘Judeo-Christian values’ rather than just Christian values. I have no doubt that the Jewish readers of this blog will have their own views about proper Jewish morality, and that these may be very different from Joseph and Thatcher’s interpretation.

Thus in Thatcherism the free market is absolutely virtuous, and any interference in its operation is an attack on a divinely sanctioned system. But from the standpoint of a left-wing interpretation of Christianity, Thatcherite theology is like its economics, profoundly wrong, bogus and harmful. And her celebration of the free market turns it into an idol, an object of false religious worship.

More and more Christians both here and in America are turning against this idol, just as left-wing Jews are turning against right-wing politics as incompatible with the liberal politics of traditional Judaism. The Church has every right and, indeed, a duty as a moral body concerned with people’s spiritual welfare, to attack Thatcherism and its destructive legacy.

I’m very much aware that we now live in a post-Christian society, where only a minority attend Church and most people profess to have no religious beliefs. Just as there are also sizable non-Christian communities, such as Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and the various neo-Pagan groups, who also have every right to make their voices heard politically. Temple also advances other reasons why the Church should speak out on more rational, non-religious grounds, such as morality and common human sympathy for the victims of suffering. I hope, however, that regardless their religious views, people will support Welby on the issues of employment rights as an entirely justified attack on an iniquitous situation, which desperately needs to be corrected.

Vox Political: Anti-Feminist Tory Philip Davies Elected to Women and Equalities Committee

December 13, 2016

Mike today put up a piece reporting that the Conservative MP Philip Davies had been elected unopposed to the Women and Equalities Committee. There was, apparently, a vacancy for a Tory MP on it after one of its members joined the cabinet. So naturally, the Conservative party showed just how much it regards the Committee and its work, promoting equality and improving opportunities for women and other minorities. They elected Philip Davies, a rabid anti-feminist. Davies has spoken at a men’s rights conference organised by the Justice for Men and Boys Party, and has condemned ‘feminist zealots’ for ‘wanting equality, but only when it suits them’, and wanting to have their cake and eat.

As well as being fiercely anti-feminist, he’s another hardliner, who wants to send more people to prison. He was also the MP, who did not want prisoners being given books, in case they contained coded messages. He is also bitterly opposed to sex education in schools, ranting that it undermines parents’ own right to inculcate their children with their values, doesn’t stop teenage pregnancy and STDs, regardless of what the statistical evidence actually says. And as a Tory opposed to the welfare state, he feels this country should be more like the Netherlands and Italy, where teenage single mothers are not given the same priority for benefits they enjoy in Britain.

Mike makes the point that May’s failure to discipline him for speaking at a meeting held by a rival party shows she is too weak to hold her back benchers in order. And Davies’ election to the Committee has to be regarded as a sick joke, though one in which it will be women, who suffer the grim consequences.

http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/12/13/sick-joke-anti-feminist-tory-philip-davies-is-now-on-parliaments-women-and-equalities-committee/

Mike’s right. Davies’ unopposed election to the Committee does show how it, and by extension, the whole notion of equality, is regarded by the Tory party. And it’s not really surprising. Despite the attempts to portray the Tory transfer of power to Theresa May as some kind of feminist victory for women in general, as a party the Conservatives tend to be extremely hostile to feminism. You only have to look at the Daily Mail to see how that Tory paper blames feminism for the decline of the family, working mothers for juvenile delinquency, and sees maternity leave and other working arrangements to allow women to juggle careers and family as a dire financial burden on firms, which will be so great and onerous that it will deter them from hiring female employees. The feminism they stand for is the same as that of the Blairites in the Labour party. It’s the right of entitled, middle class women to ascend to the highest offices in industry and government, while cutting services to ordinary, working and lower middle class women so as to make sure they don’t succeed.

On the subject of the men’s rights movement generally, including the conference Mike mentions above, Kevin Logan’s vlog on YouTube is a funny and very informative critique of the movement and its individual denizens. Mr Logan is part of the atheist internet movement. While I certainly don’t share his anti-religious views, I do agree with what he says about the men’s rights guys. In his ‘The Descent of the Manosphere’ series of vlog posts, he uses footage from their videos to show how they are generally extremely misogynist and deeply racist. They generally tend to despise modern women for their sexual freedom, which they see as simply promiscuity, and they almost always blame the victim herself in rape cases. They’re vile, and it is revolting that someone like Davies, who has spoken at their conference and so must share at least some of their views, has been elected to this committee. To my mind, this isn’t a sick joke. It’s a calculated insult.

Here’s Kevin Logan’s video on the 2016 Men’s Rights Conference, if you want to see a very critical view of what it was like. And yes, at least one of the speakers shown is a Tory.

The Majority Report on Welsh Tory’s Confusion of Brexit and Breakfast

October 16, 2016

It seems that now the American left, or at least parts of it, are finding the Tories something of a joke when they start spouting about Brexit. In this clip, Sam Seder, the host of the left-wing The Majority Report news show and his crew have a wry chuckle over a verbal slip by a Welsh Conservative speaking at a Tory conference in Birmingham. The speaker is trying to tell everyone that they’re going to make Brexit a success. But he gets a bit confused and says ‘Breakfast’ instead before correcting himself. Here’s the clip:

The image that comes up representing the clip shows the grim reality of Brexit for most Brits, however. As you can see, it shows a ‘Brexit Breakfast’, consisting of tap water and a piece of stale bread, all for the low price of £10. Despite the optimistic view of some other parts of the American left, like Counterpunch, this is probably going to be the real result of the UK for most lower-income Brits: poverty, higher prices and poorer quality food.

But it’s what elements of the Tory party want, all so they can kick out a few foreigners, and get rid of nasty, restrictive EU human rights legislation. You know, all those pesky laws, which were drafted with help from British lawyers after the Second World War, which are there to guarantee you a free trial, stop the government automatically spying on everyone, and protect workers rights, so they can have things like a paid holiday, maternity leave, sick pay, and can’t be arbitrarily sacked on a whim.

This is what the Tories really object to in the EU, not the loss of British sovereignty, which they’re quite prepared to sign away to multinationals and the Americans as part of the TTP and other free trade deals.

An Iraqi Woman Describes the State of her Country before Bush and Blair’s Invasion

August 14, 2016

I found this very telling quotation from the May 7, 2007 edition of the Washington Post over at William Blum’s Anti-Empire Report, issue 93.

“I am not a political person, but I know that under Saddam Hussein, we had electricity, clean drinking water, a healthcare system that was the envy of the Arab world and free education through college,” Iraqi pharmacist Dr. Entisar Al-Arabi told American peace activist Medea Benjamin in 2010. “I have five children and every time I had a baby, I was entitled to a year of paid maternity leave. I owned a pharmacy and I could close up shop as late as I chose because the streets were safe. Today there is no security and Iraqis have terrible shortages of everything — electricity, food, water, medicines, even gasoline. Most of the educated people have fled the country, and those who remain look back longingly to the days of Saddam Hussein.”

This, and much other fascinating material on the corrupt state of the American Empire and capitalism, can be found at https://williamblum.org/aer/read/93

Saddam Hussein was a horrendous monster. There is absolutely no question about that. But this is what he also did for his country, which we were not told about. Apart from seizing the country’s oil supply, the neocons were also extremely keen to privatise the country’s state-owned enterprises and sell them to American companies. They also removed all the import tariffs, in order to create the kind of absolute free trade utopia they believe in and which everyone else considers sheer lunacy. And guess what? Everyone else was right. Every other nation dumped their cheap goods in Iraq, their businesses couldn’t compete, and the result was bankruptcies and an unemployment rate running at 60 per cent. And this was quite apart from the massive increase in sectarian violence and the occupation of large parts of the country by ISIS.

This is what you’re voting for if you support the Blairites.

Vox Political on IDS Attack on Workers’ Rights on the Sunday Politics

May 16, 2016

One of the pieces Mike put up yesterday was about IDS’ appearance on Andrew Neil’s The Sunday Politics. The man dubbed ‘Brillo Pad’ by Private Eye put the former Minister in Charge of Murdering the Disabled on the spot by asking him if the government would protect workers’ rights if Britain left the EU. At the moment, European workers, including those in Britain, are guaranteed a minimum set of rights under the European Social Charter. Neil asked IDS if the government would retain the Working Time Directive, paid annual leave, maternity pay and protections for equal pay. IDS’ answer was a piece of deliberate obfuscation. He declared that “All of these were accepted by my existing government, the Conservative government, and I believe strongly that there need to be protections for workers. All of these things in a democracy are debatable and debated.” When Neil asked him further if he would support them, he answered that he would, as they stood right now.

Neil then reminded him that he had voted against the Social Charter in 1992, the Working Time Directive in 1996 and the minimum wage in 1997. He then started to bluster about the need to make workers’ rights more flexible.

Mike in his comment on the article notes that

When Iain Duncan Smith says workers’ rights should be “flexible”, he means employers and businesspeople should have the ability to restrict or eliminate those rights.

He does not mean workers should be able to expand their rights.

That’s why he said: “The Working Time Directive of itself gave little or no flexibility to business and to employers at the time [it was introduced].”

That’s why he said: “UK law would protect what we think is best for the workforce” [bolding mine].

Indeed. When Conservatives and Neo-Liberals, like Tony Blair and Gordon Brown talk about labour ‘flexibility’, they mean removing legal protection on the workforce, and making it easier for businesses to lay workers off, pay them as little as possible, or not pay them at all, if they need to retain their services, but don’t have them working all the time, such as the poor souls on zero hours contracts. IDS said that he supported these protections as they stood, but he certainly gave no guarantee for the future. He said that they, like everything else in a democracy, were up for debate. And his lukewarm statement that the Tories would support them as they are now doesn’t count for anything. The Tories have lied and lied again, and Smith himself has been one of the most mendacious of the lot. He has lied so often, and so badly, that I’ve called him ‘Matilda’ after the unlucky heroine of the poem by Hillaire Belloc ‘Matilda told such dreadful lies, it made one gasp and stretch one’s eyes’. IDS previous opposition to the Social Charter in 1992 shows you why the Leave Campaign really wants to Britain out of the EU. They object to the Social Charter and the Union’s guarantee of some basic rights for workers. IDS wasn’t the only Tory, who voted against the Social Charter. Many others also did. One even appeared in Wogan to state that he had, but that he liked the EU when it had simply been ‘the Common Market’. They have no real objection to trading with the Continent on its rules. What they really object to is European authorities stopping them from turning this country into the Third World sweatshop IDS and the authors of Britannia Unchained so desperately want it to be.

For more information, see the article at: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/05/15/duncan-smith-reveals-hope-to-bin-workers-rights-in-on-air-rant/

Vox Political: Tories Want to Leave EU to Scrap Workers’ Rights to Paid Holidays

March 1, 2016

Mike over at Vox Political on Sunday posted up a piece reporting that Angela Eagle, Labour’s shadow business secretary, had warned on the Andrew Marr show that many Tories wanted Britain to leave the EU, so they could scrap the various workers’ rights that were written into EU law. These include equal pay for men and women, rights for part-time workers, and the right to paid holidays. Mike concurs, stating that she’s ‘absolutely right on this’.

Tories want to quit EU to “scrap workers’ right to paid holiday”

She is. Very much. UKIP’s leadership is drawn very much from the ranks of the Conservative extreme right, and the hate workers’ rights with a passion. It’s a passion they also share with those organs of the embittered chattering classes, the Daily Heil and the Express. The Mail, for example, has ranted on against the maternity and paternity leave, because of the financial burden this places on businesses. It’s argued that it should be scrapped because maternity leave makes it expensive to employ women, who are then likely to get time when they get pregnant. In addition to paying to support them, the company also has to pay another, temporary worker, to do her job.

As well as UKIP, the Tories and Lib Dems a few years ago were also discussing the possibility of removing the right to paid holidays. Mike put up several pieces about this on his blog. This should tell you how reactionary the Tories are, as the legislation giving employees the right to a paid holiday dates back to the late Nineteenth century. As well as harming workers, the scrapping of this right will, needless to say, damage the tourism industry, including Britain’s own. Resorts like Blackpool came to the fore in the 19th century due to the legislation giving workers the right to paid holiday. Blackpool, for example, thrived because it became the holiday centre for industrial workers from the Lancashire textile industry. Before then, resorts such as the various spas, like Bath and Tunbridge Wells, were places where the wealthy and aristocratic came to take the waters. I don’t think the poorer sections of society could afford to visit them, although they certainly did attract their fair share of customers and patrons from all over Europe.

Presumably, this is what the Tories want to return to. An early Nineteenth-century Britain, where the workers just slave away all day long for the factory masters, without sickness or holiday pay, where only the rich are able to take holidays, safe from the danger of mixing with the great unwashed.

The Young Turks: Female Staffer on Sexism and Misogyny in Trump Campaign

February 2, 2016

This is another piece about Trump’s terrible attitude to women. A former member of Trump’s campaign team in Iowa, Elizabeth Mae Davidson, has left it and is seeking advice from a civil rights organisation, citing The Donald’s sexism and refusal give women working for him equal pay to that of their male co-workers. She states that she was paid $2,000 a month, while the men, who were also working part-time for the campaign, were paid $3,500-$4,000. She also points out that sexism and negative attitudes towards women were rife in his company.

Cenk Uygur, the Turks’ anchor, points out that her statement about pay has yet to be ascertained legally. It is possible that she could ‘just be saying it’. But he points out that Trump and the Republicans do not want women to be paid equally. They reject it on the grounds that it’s just an excuse for women to sue corporations. Uygur makes the point that as a staffer for Trump, Davidson should have known this, and it should have come as no surprise when he did it to her.

Uygur also reports that when Davidson and another female activist met Trump, he said, ‘You guys could do a lot of damage.’ They thought at the time that he was referring to their looks. Trump, again, has laughed off this accusation, saying that ‘a lot worse could be said’, but denies he actually did so, stating that ‘it’s not in my vocabulary’. He has then gone on to make other comments and accusations against Davidson. One of them is that she behaved strangely when she was on campaign team, to the point where she started dressing as his wife.

Uygur has some sympathy for her position as a woman working for such a terrible man, who does see women simply as sex objects and doesn’t want them to have equality with the men in his organisations. But he criticises her for having the same selfish attitude to these issues that permeates all Republicans. The Republicans don’t care when the policies they advocate harm other people. Not when people are unable to feed themselves on their pay, find themselves discriminated against at work, or are shot down, assaulted and imprisoned by the cops for no reason whatsoever. This last is a reference to the racist shootings by police of unarmed Black men, which sparked the ‘Black Lives Matter’ protests. In one of the most horrific incidents, a young boy was shot and killed, simply because he was playing with a toy gun. When incidents like these happen to other people, the Republicans simply shrug and say it doesn’t matter, because it didn’t happen to them. but when it does happen to them, there’s outrage.

Uygur’s entirely right about Trump’s horrendous attitude to women, and the way it’s firmly based in Republican attitudes to gender. The Republicans are very much in favour of traditional gender roles. Jerry Fallwell, the right-wing TV evangelist, first made his breakthrough into national US politics in the 1970s, when he led a campaign against the equal pay act. This was the piece of equalities legislation which gave American women the right to be paid the same as men for the same work. And the attitudes to women get more crazed and reactionary the further right you go. Ann Coulter, possibly the Republican’s most splenetic and venomous polemicists, has stated that she doesn’t think women should have the vote. Really. You can check it for yourself. Along with all the other insane and bigoted things she said. There’s whole lists of them on the Net and Youtube.

And these attitudes aren’t confined to America. They permeate UKIP over here, and you can find the same rants against equal pay and maternity leave for women, and flexible working hours to they could fit in their duties looking after their children, in the pages of the supposedly ‘female-friendly’ Daily Mail. They’ve also attacked equal pay legislation and campaigns as harmful to industry, alleging that such provision for maternity leave will make women employees less productive and more expensive to hire. They’ve then go on to argue that this will result in either less women being employed, or firms suffering economic damage from having to employ them and cater for their needs.

I found this meme about the Republicans’ appalling attitudes to women’s rights on the Tumblr site, 1,000 Natural Shocks. (Over 18s only). It probably refers principally to the most vociferously debated and obvious campaign against a recently won right for women, abortion. But it also describes pretty much their entire attitude to women’s rights as a whole, from working outside the home, equal pay, to the right to vote. And this is all despite the fact that the Republicans also have very powerful women on their side, like Coulter and Sarah Palin. And they are powerful, no matter what can be said about their own intelligence, sanity or the stupidity of their policies. But the danger is, for some reason people still continue voting for them.

Republicans Women's Rights

Kipper Insurance Firm Moves Jobs to South Africa

June 4, 2015

Okay, I really I’ve been away from blogging for over a week or so now. I got sidetracked doing other things after the Tories won the election. As I said in my previous blog about the Tory victory, I was just so angry and upset that I simply couldn’t face blogging.

Well, I’m back. And I couldn’t let this story up, because it affects my home town, Bristol. According to Hope Not Hate and the local paper, the Bristol Post, Aaron Banks, the founder of the insurance company, Go Skippy, has decided to outsource its 150 jobs to South Africa. The staff at their headquarters in Cribbs Causeway were greeted on Monday by company representive, who read from a script and told them to pack their bags and clear the office.

Banks himself, who comes from Thornbury, a small town just north of Bristol, made the news last year, when he gave £1 million to Farage’s stormtroopers. He was originally only going to give £100, 000, but increased the amount after William Hague sneered at him as ‘someone we haven’t heard of’. Before that, like so many of the Kippers’ backers, he had been a Tory donor.

The Post stated that they had seen a letter from the company, which says

“The most robust and prudent way for the company to test this new way of working is to divert all live functions in its entirety to South Africa for the period of this trial.

“This will ultimately establish if this proposal can succeed against rigorous and demanding service level agreements that will be scrutinised over the coming weeks.”

The Post’s article states that the letter goes on to say it will “significantly reduce” the workforce in the UK if the trial is successful, and that it was taking this measure after the poor results of the insurance business in 2014. It also states that during the trial period, departments in Bristol affected by the trial will be closed down.

The article reports the shocked reactions of some of the workers, one of whom nicely summed up the situation. One woman said ” I think it’s quite ironic that he (Mr Banks) is a UKIP supporter and yet is taking his business to South Africa”.

It is, but it’s part of the party’s deep hypocrisy and highly misleading and mendacious attitude towards British nationalism and the European Union. While Farage and the others tried to get working class votes by playing on fears about immigrants taking British jobs, and British industry supposedly being stifled by Brussels bureaucracy, in actual facts they are deeply hostile to workers’ rights and all in favour of globalisation. As so many blogs have pointed out, ad nauseam, the Kippers want to get rid of basic rights like paid holidays, sick pay and maternity leave. This last is part of their highly reactionary and grossly sexist attitude towards women. Like the Daily Fail, they seem to have the attitude that employing women is a particular burden to companies, as they have to be supported and their jobs kept open when they become pregnant and take the necessary time off to bring junior into the world.

Much of their hostility to the EU comes partly from nostalgia for the time when Britain could command the resources of an entire Empire, and the standard Tory resentment to the European Union because of the provisions protecting workers in the Social Charter. Way back in the 1990s and the first decade of this century, there were noises from the transatlantic Right – American Republicans and some sections of the Tory party, that Britain should leave the EU and join NAFTA – the North American Free Trade Area. Years ago there was an article in Lobster that covered the history of calls from the Conservative party for Britain to join America as the 51st state. It’s a bizarre, and unrealistic dream, but it resurfaces every so often because the Tories in this country like and admire the country’s cut-throat capitalism and corporate power. Hence the way some of the Tories on the extreme Right over here, like the Tory MEP for Dorset, Daniel Hannan, go on about the ‘Anglosphere’ – the English-speaking world in preference to links with the continent.

As far as jobs go, they have absolutely no objection to outsourcing them if they think they can make a quick buck out of it. And they have definitely not raised any objections to the TTIP, the transatlantic trade agreement that would allow corporations to sue national governments for legislation that damages their profits. As so many bloggers have pointed out, this is a danger as it would cement in place the Tories’ creeping privatisation of the NHS.

UKIP have now gone into something of an eclipse, having failed to get any MPs except Douglas Carswell elected. The Fuhrage’s fake resignation, which has been compared to that of Stalin’s own threat of resignation in order to force the rest of the Politburo to endorse him, has led to the party currently being riven by a leadership contest. Nevertheless, they’re still about, and just might make a come-back. So, it’s worth making it even harder for them.

And this story is relevant far beyond UKIP. They’re actually putting into practice, and saying what the Tory Right also believes and says. Cameron and co are just more subtle about, and better at hiding it all behind spurious pretexts and outright lies.

Never mind their verbiage about the EU – this incident shows what the kippers and the Tories really think about ‘British jobs for British workers’.

And quite frankly, they don’t care two hoots.

The Bristol Post story is at http://www.bristolpost.co.uk/150-staff-Bristol-insurance-company-Skippy-told/story-26621857-detail/story.html#ixzz3c7OEcSTg.

The Hope Not Hate story is at: http://www.hopenothate.org.uk/news/home/article/3784/jobs-of-150-staff-at-bristol-insurance-company-founded-by-ukip-donor-could-go-to-south-africa