Posts Tagged ‘Taff Vale Judgement’

Vox Political: Former Miner Criticises Owen Smith for Exploiting Site of Orgreave

July 30, 2016

Mike also put up another piece reporting that Owen Smith had been verbally tackled by a former miner over his use of Orgreave, as the place to launch his policies. Smudger finally unveiled his programme of reform at the town a few days ago. Of the twenty policies he announced, Mike reports that 13 of them were either lifted from Jeremy Corbyn, or were inspired by him.

But what angered the miner, John Dunn, was that Smiffy had chosen the town as the place to make his grand statement. Orgreave was the site of one of the most notorious incidents during the 1980s miners’ strike, when the police physically attacked the striking miners. Footage of the struggle was edited by the BBC, and then broadcast to show the miners as the aggressors, rather than the victims. Dunn said on his Facebook page that he had asked Smiffy to stop what Dunn saw as ‘shameless opportunism’. Smudger then started saying something about his own background in South Wales, but this cut no ice with the irate miner. Dunn reminded him that when Smudger was working for a pharmaceutical company, he and the others were struggling for justice. He further asked Smiffy why, if he was so keen on the issue of Orgreave, he hadn’t signed Ian Lavery’s early day motions about it. He then compared Smudger to the UDM scabs, who undermined the strike. Smudger didn’t have an answer to that, and ‘scuttled’ back into his car.

See Mike’s article at: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/07/28/former-miner-tackles-owen-smith-for-exploiting-orgreave-as-the-site-for-his-policy-speech/

Mr Dunn is, of course, quite right. New Labour has done everything to cave in to the Tories’ demands to destroy the abilities of the trade unions to fight to protect people’s jobs and employment rights. Blair himself threatened to cut the party’s ties with the trade unions, if he didn’t get his way reforming the party’s constitution. Once in power, he did everything he could to minimise their importance within the party, despite the fact that the Labour party was partly founded to defend the trade unions and their right to strike after the Taff Vale judgement. As for Smudger himself, he worked for Pfizer, a pharmaceutical company, for which Smiffy issued a PR puff lauding Blair’s privatisation of the NHS as a great opportunity for the company. In parliament, Smiff abstained from voting on the Tories’ welfare cuts.

Smiffy therefore stands for everything which the Labour party was founded to oppose – the impoverishment and exploitation of the poor and working people, the denial and sale of welfare support and healthcare, and the expanded power of private industry and corporate profit, against declining wages and conditions for workers and employees. Yet, like New Labour, he continues to use the iconography and rhetoric of radical Labour history to present himself as far more radical than he actually is. He isn’t. New Labour has consistently pursued a strategy of appealing to big business and swing voters in marginal constituencies. Corbyn has challenged this tactic by articulating a genuinely left-wing programme of renationalisation, renewed trade union rights, and genuine welfare reforms. This is ardently supported by an expanded party membership. This has clearly frightened New Labour, which took the working class for granted. So they have now taken to adopting some of his policies, and invoking the memories of past battles between Labour and capital. But it’s all a sham. Smudger’s new, left-wing policies are simply a disguise for the neoliberalism that he really favours. He and the rest of the 172 anti-Corbynite MPs have shown themselves willing to lie and smear in order to discredit Corbyn and his supporters anyway they can. I have no doubts that Smudger’s lying about these policies as well. Once in power, they’re liable to be swiftly forgotten, or watered down to the extent that they’re useless. Or maybe he’ll just say that the time isn’t right just now, so wait a bit.

We’ve waited too long. We’ve waited for over thirty years of privatisation and welfare cuts. It’s long past the time this was all stopped, and Smudger, Eagle and the other Red Tories voted out in favour of the true members and supporters of the Labour party, Jeremy Corbyn and his followers.

Vox Political: The Canary on the Real Reason the Political Class Hates Jeremy Corbyn

July 4, 2016

Mike yesterday put up a very interesting piece from Kerry-Ann Mendoza of The Canary. Mendoza believes that the real reason the political class hates and fears Corbyn is partly explained as the result of the Blairite’s attempts to isolate the trade unions and consolidate the dominance of the right within the Labour party. The Blairites adopted a new leadership election process, in the hope that this would bring into the party new members, who were to the right of the trade unions. Instead, it brought in people who were well to the left. This panicked Harriet Harman and self-styled media pundits and commentators like Polly Toynbee, who despise genuine Social Democrats. As a result, they tried to purge these new members as infiltrators. The result of all this is that the grassroots party is going to have a real hand in formulating party policy, and not just the Front Bench. It will also mean that Labour will start again connecting with workers, the unions and disenfranchised groups to start campaigns that could tear the Tories apart.

She states further that

The permanent political class is facing the most real and present threat to their power since 1979. They are going to throw every weapon in their armoury at ensuring that doesn’t happen. But none of those weapons is more powerful than a tight-knit, grass roots movement with its eye on shared vision of an inspiring future. They don’t fear Corbyn because he might be unelectable, they fear him because he, and the movement he represents, might be unstoppable.

See Mike’s article at http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/07/03/the-real-reason-the-permanent-political-class-is-trying-to-topple-jeremy-corbyn/ and follow the links to the original article.

This very much sounds as if its right. Lobster in their review of one of the biographies of Bliar that came out a few years ago stated that he had the public schoolboy’s hatred of the unions. Absolutely. One of the first things the smarmy warmonger threatened to do was cut the parties ties with the unions. As the Labour party was partly founded by the trade unions to protect their right to strike after the Taff Vale judgement, and to ensure that working people were represented in parliament, this move would have been an attack on the very core and raison d’etre of the Labour party. It’s also a major part of the Blairites’ adoption of the anti-labour attitudes of the Conservatives. The Tories, as representatives of the ruling classes, despise and fear the trade unions. Owen Jones in his book, Chavs: The Demonisation of the Working Class, notes that Thatcher hated the working class, whom she saw as treacherous and untrustworthy. Much Conservative rhetoric consists of holding the trade unions to account for the ‘Winter of Discontent’ in 1979, blaming them for causing economic chaos from which only Thatcher and her union-busting could deliver Britain. It’s largely rubbish. People were alienated from the unions because of some of the strikes, but several historians have also pointed out that Britain in the 1970s wasn’t any more prone to strikes than many other nations, and that many of those, which broke out were entirely justified. Nevertheless, it’s a rhetoric drum that the Tories insist on beating.

At the same time, the Blairites and the political do not like any political activity by the masses that they cannot stage manage and control. New Labour was notorious for this, using public relations and spin to try and stage popular demonstrations of loyalty and support for Blair. They’ve now resorted to the same tricks to smear Corbyn and his left-wing supporters. See the heckling of Corbyn by Tom Mauchline, not a Labour supporter but a fully paid PR goon from Portland Communications, the PR company owned by Jack Straw’s son. And then there’s the ‘hateful’ T-shirt, urging the eradication of Blairites, which was actually dreamed up by Anna Philips, another Blairite, and another PR goon.

Blairite New Labour, and his successor, Progress, is profoundly fake, and despises conviction politics. They stand for the privileges and profits of the corporate big wigs, who give them donations. Just as their pet journos on the Left, and, it goes without saying, the cheerleaders for the Tories and big business on the Right, like Andrew Neil, Nick Robinson and Laura Kuenssberg.

And so the campaign to marginalise and belittle Corbyn and his supporters with vilification, lies and distortion similar to Goebbels and the propagandists of the USSR.

Vox Political: UN Criticises Tory Scheme to Legalise Scab Labour

February 17, 2016

Fascist Book Cover pic

Cover of Adrian Lyttleton’s book, The Seizure of Power: Fascism in Italy 1919-1929, showing triumphant Fascists returning from raid on trade union headquarters.

Mike over at Vox Political has posted this piece from The Canary, reporting that the UN’s International Labour Organisation has criticised the Tories’ Trade Union Bill. The bill would legalise the use of workers from agencies to supply labour during strikes. The ILO points out that this would effectively undermine the right to strike, by allowing employers to disregard strike action.

Now cue right-wing ranting in the Daily Heil and the Express about evil foreigners hypocritically attacking noble Britain. No doubt they’ll also rant about how the unions cripple British business, and hold British workers to ransom, forcing them to pay the levy to the Labour party, etc. ad nauseam.

The Tories have always hated organised labour and the trade unions, and have tried to get rid of them since the 19th century, when they passed laws against the as illegal ‘combinations’. Then there was the Taff Vale judgement, which ruled that trade union funds had no protection under law, and so could be pilfered with impunity.

And then there’s the use of scab and blackleg labour by the employers themselves. I can remember hearing from older man I once did voluntary work with, who told me about the way union meetings had to be guarded from infiltration by the bosses’ spies.

And now here comes Godwin’s Law again. With this piece of legislation, we’re back once again with Fascism. The Fascist parties all over Europe hated independent trade unions with a passion, and did their best to destroy them. In Nazi Germany trade unions were banned, for pretty much the same reasons the Daily Heil and the Express spews: they’re evil ‘Marxist’ organisations that exploit workers. In Italy, Mussolini’s Fascists formed their own trade unions to supply blackleg labour and break strikes. Unable to convince the mainstream, Socialist trade unions to join them after the Seizure of Power, they banned them and made it compulsory for workers to join the Fascist unions.

And in Britain the copycat British Fascist groups that sprang up in imitation of Musso’s squadristi had much the same tactics. They included the British Fascisti, who used to career about in vans trying to break up strikes and workers’ demonstrations. Such organisations were extreme Right-wing Tories, rather than independent Fascists. When Oswald Mosley asked one of them what they would do about the corporate state, in which trade unions and the employers’ organisations were amalgamated into giant industrial bodies based roughly on the medieval guilds, their leaders promptly had a fit of the vapours and declared that it was ‘Socialism’. Nevertheless, the Tories continued trying to found alternative trade union organisations to break the traditional Social Democrat organisations. These included a Conservative trade union body, which was dissolved in the 1990s. Its leader then complained that the Tories were doing the work of the bosses. Well, duh! You only just noticed? And then there was the right-wing electricians union, which did the Tories’ work in the TUC and during the miners’ strike.

And if we’re really going to go to the ultimate origins of Nazism, some historians of the Third Reich have traced it to ‘Yellow’ trade unions, set up by the employers for the benefit of their ethnic German employees, and to protect them from competition from Czech and other ‘Slav’ workers.

No doubt we’ll hear a lot of Tory noise about how they’re protecting businesses and the public from the disruption of public services by wicked trade unionists and Socialists. And how they’re freeing the workers from having to enrol in trade unions, though that went long ago when they outlawed the closed shop, or having to abide by trade union decisions.

It’s just more excused to break the unions through scab labour. It also reveals how much the Tories hate the working people of this country, and how close they are to the Black Shirts, Fascists and Nazis.

Cameron’s Francoist Attack on the Unions

October 6, 2015

A few weeks ago Cameron also launched another Tory attack on the trade unions and their right to strike peacefully. Under the new legislation passed by the Tories, a strike is now illegal if a majority of the union’s members do not vote. This is even if the vast majority of those voting are in favour of strike action.

There is also a personally vindictive and totalitarian element in the legislation. Picketers are now required to give their names to the police. It shows very much how the Tories regard strikers and trade unionists as potential, if not actual criminals. Clearly, it’s so the rozzers can keep tabs on them, ready to arrest them the moment someone in the Tory party or the CBI decides that this has gone too far.

The Tories have, no doubt. made noises about how they’re increasing democracy in the trade unions and accountability. It also shows the amazing double standards operating within the Tory party. Cameron is claiming this is democratic, despite the fact that under the same principle, his government is also invalid. The vast majority of the British people did not vote for his government. I suspect that, if past general elections are anything to go by, the majority of British voters decided that there wasn’t much between the political parties, and so didn’t vote at all. If the same principle was applied to Cameron’s government, then it would have to be dissolved, and his nibs face prosecution under the law. But as the old saying has it, ‘The Conservative party is an organised hypocrisy’, and so no such logic has been applied.

The Tories have, of course, hated trade unions since the days of the Combination Acts in the 19th century. They were illegal on the grounds that they were a threat to the operation of the free market. Then, after they were repealed, there was the Taff Vale judgement, which made trade unions liable for damages caused by picketing.

And the Tories have been particularly keen to smash the unions since the coal miners defeated Heath’s government. Their resentment fuelled their determination to destroy the unions and their power utterly with the miner’s strike in the 1980s under Margaret Thatcher. Following the highly militarised suppression of that strike, the Tories have passed increasingly restrictive legislation. This is just the latest, and nastiest, to date.

Even David Davies, one of the most right-wing of the Tories, recognised its totalitarian implications. He denounced it as ‘Francoist’. And indeed it is, if not actually Nazi.

Adolf Hitler

Adolf Hitler: Banned Trade Unions as he claimed they exploited the German worker

I know this is close to becoming another example of Godwin’s Law, which states that whenever there’s an argument on the internet, sooner or later someone will accuse the other of being a Nazi or like Adolf Hitler, but in this instance, this is exactly what it is. Under the Nazis trade unions were banned, and their members and organisers sent to concentration camps. Hitler justified his attack by claiming that he was defending the working class from being exploited by them.

And the Tories have made exactly the same arguments. In the 1980s the Sunday Express made much the same arguments in its violent attacks on trade unions. It demanded tough legislation against them on the ground that union bullying was exploiting the honest, British, Tory-voting worker. In particular, it praised the American laws that made strikes in certain vital industries illegal, and which was used to break a strike by American air traffic controllers. It hardly needs to be said that you can read the same kind of arguments, with the same Nazi attitudes, in the Daily Mail.

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David Cameron and the Tories: want to ban trade unions because they are undemocratic and exploit the British worker

As for taking the names of strikers, this is similar to the tactics used against demonstrators and social activists in that beacon of Asian democracy, Singapore. Under their laws, you can make speeches in public about nearly any topic you like at their equivalent of Speaker’s Corner in Hyde Park. In order to do so, however, you have to notify the police when you will be speaking, what you will be speaking about, and give your name and address. So far there have been very few people willing to make use of their democratic freedom. Somehow I don’t think the similarity of the Tories’ trade union legislation with this piece of anti-democratic legislation is at all coincidental. The Tories have, after all, told us in the page of Britannia Unchained, that British workers should prepared to work under pretty much the same conditions as the Developing World in order for the country to compete globally. Singapore was one of the Asian ‘Tiger’ economies, whose massive economic growth was admired in the 1990s. Clearly the Tories have decided that if they can’t make the economy grow like theirs, they can at least import their highly illiberal legislation and attitudes.

And once it’s been done to lock up strikers and trade unionists, you can bet it will be used against peaceful demonstrators. They’ve already passed legislation against them on the pretext that they are protecting neighbourhoods from the nuisance caused by masses of people marching through their areas.

It’s another nail in the coffin of British democracy and the destruction of British political freedom and free speech.

Marx: State is Instrument Class Oppression – Now Proved by Tories

March 16, 2014

Marx pic

One of the fundamental doctrines of Marxism is that the state arose as a result of the class war, and its state structure and institutions are there to reflect and preserve the power of the ruling class. In the Middle Ages under feudalism, for example, the state represented and expressed the power of the feudal lords. With the development of capitalism and an industrial middle class, the state now serves to promote and preserve their power and interests. The Austrian Marxist, Karl Kautsky, described how this occurred, and the way competing social groups could sometimes achieve a balance of power within the state, in his 1912 remarks on the Paris Commune:

“…Because the state arose from the need to hold class antagonisms in check, but because it arose, at the same time, in the midst of the conflict of these classes, it is, as a rule, the state of the most powerful, economically dominant class, which, through the medium of the state, becomes also the politically dominant class, and thus acquires new means of holding down and exploiting the oppressed class…” The ancient and feudal states were organised for the exploitation of the slaves and serfs; likewise, “the modern representative state is an instrument of wage labour by capital. By way of exception, however, periods occur in which the warring classes balance each other so nearly that the state power as ostensible mediator acquires, for the moment, a certain degree of independence of both…” Such were the absolute monarchies of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the Bonapartism of the First and Second Empires in France, and the Bismarck regime in Germany.

(Cited in V.I. Lenin, The State and Revolution, in Lenin: Selected Works (Moscow: Progress Publishers 1968) 270).

Marx took over this doctrine from a French Revolutionary lawyer, Antoine Barnave. Barnave had been president of the French Revolutionary Assembly in 1790. A political moderate, it was guillotined three years later because of his connection to the French monarchy. Barnave

had asserted that the difference between classes was the result of economic inequalities, that the class which was in power at any epoch not only made laws for the whole of society in order to guarantee its own hold it property but also “directed its habits and created its prejudices,”, that society was constantly changing under the pressure of economic necessities, and that the rising and triumphant bourgeoisie which had dispolaced the feudal nobility would in turn produce a new aristocracy.
(Edmund Wilson, To the Finland Station (London: W.H. Allen 1960) 147).

Owen Jones in Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class, in the chapter ‘Class Warriors’ quotes some of the leading Tory politicians, who have made it explicit that they are defending the interests of the upper classes, against the poor and working class. He describes how, despite the rhetoric of class reconciliation and understanding for the marginalised spoken by the Tories when David Cameron was elected leader in 2005, Tory politicians in private will reveal attitudes that are almost completely the opposite.

But as soon as they are safely behind closed doors, away from the cameras, the cuddly PR-speak can abruptly disappear. I witnessed the mask slip myself, when in my final year as an undergraduate, an extremely prominent Tory politician from the moderate wing of the party had come to deliver an off-the-record speech to students. So that he could speak candidly, aspiring student journalists were barred from reporting on the speech and we were sworn to anonymity. It soon became clear why. As the logs crackled in the fireplace on a rainy Novemeber evening, the Tory grandee made a stunning confession.

‘What you have to realize about the Conservative Party,’ he said as though it was a trivial, throwaway comment, ‘is that it is a coalition of privileged interests. Its main purpose is to defend that privilege. And the way it wins elections is by giving just enough to just enough other people.’

Here was an analysis that could have dropped out the pages of Socialist Worker. A doyen of the Conservative Party had more or less confessed that it was the political arm of the rich and powerful. It was there to fight the corner of the people at the top. It was waging class war. (pp. 39-40).

Jones then goes on to provide a series of quotes from leading Tory politicians from the 19th century onwards to support this.

For example, when confronted with the 1831 Reform Bill that would have given one out of five adult males the vote, one Tory politico denounced it as ‘a revolution that will overturn all the natural influence of rank and property’. Lord Salisbury, the future prime minister, stated of it that ‘First class men will not canvas mobs, and mobs will not elect first class men.’

The Tory government of Salisbury and Arthur Balfour supported the 1901 Taff Value judgement, which made unions liable for company profits lost during strikes. Stanley Baldwin, who in due course became prime minister during the General Strike, later said of it ‘The Conservatives can’t talk of class war. They started it.’

When the 1926 General Strike was broken, the leading Tory Arthur Balfour exulted ‘The General Strike has taught the working class more in four days than years of talking could have done. (All the above quotes are on p. 41).

Maggie Thatcher

Margaret Thatcher: Regarded the working class as ‘idle, deceitful, inferior and bloody-minded’. Sums up her entire career in government.

Jones also expertly despatches the propaganda myth that Margaret Thatcher herself was somehow working class, and image that was used to gain popularity with part of the working class:

To understand Thatcherism’s attitude to working-class Britain, it is important to start by looking at Thatcher herself. Some of her warmest admirers have been at pains to portray her-wrongly-as a person of humble origins. As the staunchly Thatcherite Tory MP David Davis told me: ‘Margaret was always a bit more middle class than she made out.’ It is almost a cliché to describe her as a grocer’s daughter, but it was this that coloured her entire political outlook. Growing up in the Lincolnshire market town of Grantham, her father had instilled in her a deep commitment to what could be called lower-middle-class values: individual self-enrichment and enterprise, and an instinctive hostility to collective action. Her biographer, Hugo Young, noted that she had little if any contact with working-class people, let alone the trade union movement.

Her attitudes were undoubtedly cemented when in 1951 she married a wealthy businessman, Denis Thatcher, who believed that trade unions should be banned altogether. She surrounded herself with men from privileged backgrounds. In her first Cabinet, 88 per cent of ministers were former public school students, 71 per cent were company directors and 14 per cent were large landowners. No wonder, then, that one of her Cabinet ministers told a journalist just before the 1979 election: ‘She is still basically a Finchley lady … She regards the working class as idle, deceitful, inferior and bloody-minded’. (46-7). This last quote basically shows that with her contempt for them, it could be argued that many of the working class had a perfect right to celebrate her death, no matter how distasteful it may have been to everyone else.

Jones does also quote a number of other Tories today, who deny that the Tory party is determined to keep the poor and working class down. He notes that members of all the political parties feel they are doing something for the national good. Many Marxists have argued that the state does not automatically represent the interests of the ruling class, but can behave semi-independently. You could cite Tony Benn as an example of the latter. A member of the peerage, he resigned his seat in the House of Lords for a career was a brilliant and passionate Labour politician committed to improving the conditions of the working class, women and ethic minorities. Nevertheless, it is clear that the Tories, or at least of significant portion of them, have always regarded themselves as representing the interests of the ruling elite against the poor and working class.

140117democracy

David Cameron: Doing his best to demonstrate that under the Tories, the state really is the instrument of class oppression.

It is also abundantly confirmed by the composition and policies of the Coalition. Cameron, Osborne, Clegg and IDS are all aristos, and their policies are designed to keep the working class poor and powerless. They should be kicked out at the next election.