Friday, December 24, 2010

Driving teachers?


A teacher at a school "somewhere in Sussex" was given a performance target of "driving" not cattle or the school minibus but other teachers!

They are clearly unaware of the traditional Sussex ballad:


Some folks as comes to Sussex,
They rackons as they knows
A darn sight better what to do
Then silly folks like me and you
Could possibly suppose.
But them as comes to Sussex,
They mustn't push and shove'
For Sussex will be Sussex,
And Sussex won't be druv.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Cable v Murdoch

Vince Cable talks a good war. He declared war on Rupert Murdoch to a couple of undercover hacks from the Telegraph. Then instead of going on the offensive he retreated with his
tail between his legs. The first war in history to be fought by unconditional surrender.

There have been calls for Cable’s resignation from newspapers owned by a certain Mr Murdoch. Now there’s a spooky coincidence.

Those who watched the debate on tuition fees will remember battling Cable’s role in that farce. Cameron and Clegg might as well have been pulling his strings as he mouthed their policies and tried to look sincere.

Interestingly the Jeremy Vine Show on Radio Two specifically asked listeners to call in with comments supporting poor Mr Murdoch. There were none.

Some recalled the lies Murdoch told about the Hillsborough disaster – lies insulting and demonising Liverpool fans. Lies which which the Sun later withdrew.

Others drew attention to Fox News which is a continual right-wing rant rather than a news channel.

Listeners also drew attention to Berlusconi in Italy who used his media empire to silence opposition to his corrupt repressive government.

Another said Dennis Potter had the right idea when he named his pancreatic cancer “Rupert”

Perhaps the best comment appeared on the Sky News own website: “I love SKY. What ever they say, i believe. Tell me what to think next Mr Murdoch?”

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Girl who kicked the Hornet's nest

The Girl who kicked the Hornet's nest
Steig Larsson
ISBN 978-1-84916-274-6

The Millenium Trilooy by Stieg Larsson is a fascinating series of books which deserves an audience beyond the devotees of crime fiction.

The girl of the title is Lisbeth Salander. She is a victim of horrifying childhood abuse at the hands of a respectable psychiatrist. She develops skills as a computer hacker which she uses to wage a campaign against men who torture women.

The 21st century slave trade – in which girls from the former USSR are duped into working as prostitutes in Sweden and subjected to rape and torture often by respected members of society – is one of the less-documented stories of the collapse of communism loudly trumpeted by the apologists of capitalism as “the end of history.” .

The books themselves develop as exciting detective dramas with a background in fact. They talk openly about the corruption at the very highest levels in Swedish society. The author was himself a campaigning journalist who exposed the dirty work of Swedish and international capitalism.

So it is hardly surprising that Salander's co-worker is the charismatic journalist Mikael Blomkvist. He is also portrayed as being irresistable to women. You might think this is a little wish fulfilment by Mr Larssen, I of course couldn't possibly comment.

The links between big business, the security services and neo-nazis are explicit in the books but all under the guise of fiction of course. Stieg Larsson himself met an untimely and unexpected death. Truth really can be stranger than
fiction!

The first two books “the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” and “the Girl who played with fire” have been turned into excellent films and I for one look forward to the film
version of this one.


Journalism (noun)
telling a story the people in power do not want told. Anything else is just advertising.

Stieg Larsson was writing a work of fiction when he wrote the Millenium trilogy. The arrest of Assange for … well for being a journalist …. Suggests there is more truth in the fiction than you might expect.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

"North Korean" Gove

“We will give teachers power over how money is spent”
was the rather surprising remark of Michael Gove on the Andrew Marr show on 21 November.

Even more surprising was his assertion that spending on education would be increased. At the same time here in West Sussex 50 teachers supporting the most vulnerable pupils with hearing and vision impairment are facing the sack.

The “increase in spending” does not in fact involve any new money, they are robbing Peter to pay Paul, But Peter will still need paying!

To celebrate the 2012 Olympics 162 million pounds of government spending on Sports Partnerships is being cut. Yet again the “teacher autonomy” and “more spending” of Mr Gove's doublespeak actually means more cuts. Emma Greenough, Brighton School Sport Co-ordinator, now facing the sack, commented in the Observer “You are going to be left with two-tier sports – it'll be sport for children whose parents can afford it.

And even Andrew Marr thought Gove's attitude to the curriculum was “North Korean.” Gove protests that teachers will be given autonomy. However Mr Gove who has no knowledge or experience of teaching will decide how little Willie in Willesden will learn to read [“Synthetic phonics for you laddie”] and How Harry in Hastings learns History.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The NUT opposes loss of 50 jobs. You can help


This press release about the loss of jobs in West Sussex should appear in your local rag this week.

* If it does not, why not send it to them?
* If it does then why not write in supporting it?

If you agree the union should fight job cuts then you can email

Chair of WSCC, Mark Dunn:
Mark.Dunn@westsussex.gov.uk

Cabinet Member for Education: Peter Griffiths:
Peter.Griffiths@westsussex.gov.uk

David Sword, Director of Learning:
david.sword@westsussex.gov.uk

***The union is as much YOU as it is ME ***

Derek McMillan
President
West Sussex Teachers Association

Press release follows:

West Sussex NUT is gravely concerned over the intention of West Sussex County Council to restructure the support services to schools from centrally employed staff as its response to central government?s cuts in funding.

These cuts will hit some of the most vulnerable children in West Sussex; they will inevitably result in the reduction of services to the most disadvantaged, including those with special needs.

This action, if unchallenged, will result in the loss of almost 50 jobs in front-line services and we believe it will inevitably reduce the quality of the service provided. The jobs lost will be those of specialist teachers, psychologists, educational advisers and other professionals who provide invaluable support to our most needy children, their families and schools
This will be contrary to the government?s declared intention to protect front-line services in vital areas such as education. It is also inconsistent with West Sussex?s declared intention to deliver good quality services to all, especially the weakest and most vulnerable in our society.

West Sussex Teachers' Association urges all concerned parties, such as the parents of vulnerable children who are most likely to be most disadvantaged by this policy, to communicate their concerns to WSCC as a matter of urgency.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The poppy – symbol of peace or war?




After the first world war a weary population greeted the end
of the war and celebrated peace. Armistice day became a day
for commemoration of those who had died in that senseless
slaughter. The Flanders poppy was a symbol of that. Millions
still commemorate the fallen in that way.

The politicians who send better people than themselves off
to die have a different view. For them remembrance is a
celebration of war and hypocrisy.

At the same time as they stand in the house of commons
patriotically wearing their poppies and grieving for the
fallen, they vote to cut the pensions of all public service
workers including of course the gallant heroes they pretend
to celebrate.

By switching from one measure of prices to another (RPI to
CPI) they intend by sleight of hand to attack those most
vulnerable and cut thousands of pounds from the widows of
war and those who have retired injured from the field of
glory.

The shadowy defence spokesman Jim Murphy was called out of a
remembrance service. Proudly wearing his poppy he didn’t
speak about ending war or putting an end to the killing. No
he protested about the cutting of the harrier jump jet.
“Serious people have raised serious concerns about the
government's decision to scrap Harriers and all ministers
have succeeded in doing is add to the confusion.”

Obviously in place of “blessed are the peacemakers” his
service included “blessed are the warmakers” and more
particular the merchants of death who produce these horrible
weapons for profit.

It is all grist to the mill for this star in the New Labour
firmament. More weapons, more deaths, more heroes for him to
shed crocodile tears over.

Socialists take no issue with those who genuinely want to
commemorate the fallen or celebrate the end of a war. Those
who use remembrance to score cheap political points while
doing nothing to put an end to war are beneath contempt.

Derek McMillan

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Teachers’ pensions are under attack. But the NUT is going to fight to defend them.


The November NUT Executive agreed unanimously that we prepare a campaigning timetable building up to a ballot for strike action in the spring term.

The Government are trying to claim that our existing pensions’ scheme is ‘unaffordable’. The most recent valuations of the Teachers’ Pensions Scheme confirm that’s just not true. They just want to rip-off our pensions to pay for their debts.

The first Hutton report made quite clear what the Government intends – to make us retire older and pay more for less pension.

October’s Comprehensive Spending Review made the threat clearer. The Government plans for all teachers to be paying another 3% of our salaries in pension contributions. That’s a big pay cut. It’s a cut that we cannot accept.

On top of that, the Government have switched the indexation of pension benefits from the Retail Price Index to the lower Consumer Price Index. That change alone could cost a teacher tens of thousands of pounds in retirement.

When the Hutton Commission issues its final report in March, it could include further attacks. Changed pension calculations – like using ‘career-averages’ – could cut pension payouts. Our retirement age could go up – to 65 for all of us – but perhaps to 67 and beyond – unless we make a stand.

We can’t wait for Hutton’s Final Report in March to reveal the full details of these attacks. To make Hutton and the Government think again, we have to take action before then – hopefully co-ordinated with other teaching and non-teaching unions too.

That’s why the NUT Executive agreed unanimously to produce a timetable for:

• Distribution of campaigning materials

• Meetings, rallies and demonstrations

• A ballot for strike action in the spring term.

We will approach other unions to seek maximum co-ordination in all of the above activities and then confirm our action timetable at the December meeting of the NUT Executive.

Get the news out to every school – the fight to defend our pensions is on!

Do it to Julia!

In the book 1984 Winston Smith is threatened with savage
cuts from the claws and teeth of a rat. The state do this to
him so he will plead with them to "Do it to Julia" and thus
betray his lover and himself.

Representatives of the New Labour canaille have similar "do
it to Julia" plans. They wish to appear reasonable by saying
"of course some cuts are necessary but vote for me and I
will oppose this particular cut."

They have the cheek of the devil. New Labour kowtowed to the
bankers and gave them billions to keep the gravy train on
the rails. They expect us to pay the fare. The bankers would
benefit from a short sharp shock - perhaps six months in
prison for profiteering and economic sabotage - far more
than the bonuses which are simply not good for them.

The anti cuts movement will welcome support from any quarter
but anyone from the Labour Party should be asked whether
they would vote against "nice Labour cuts" as well as "nasty
Tory cuts"

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Richard Venton and Rupert Murdoch

Let's imagine for a moment that Richard Venton is telling the truth. Let's imagine that Tommy Sheridan actually did visit a sex club.

Where is that "crime" in the scale that includes Blair's mass murder in Iraq, Rupert Murdoch's disgusting slanders against Liverpool supporters at Hillsborough or the common or garden corruption of 99 percent of politicians.

Yet Richard Venton chooses to side with Rupert Murdoch - apparently without even the bad excuse of being bribed!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Andy Burnham's two faces



Andy Burnham was interviewed by Andrew Marr on his new role
as shadow education secretary. He started by distancing
himself from those who got the Labour Party in the soup by
deriding "bog standard comprehensives." He strongly defended
the role of comprehensives and denounced the Tory plans for
academies. He went on to roundly excoriate the Con Dem
government for their ill-conceived plan to raise fees
through the roof and he opposed the Con Dem cuts in public
spending.

So far so good.

Then he felt he had to be statesmanlike. He condemned Tory
academies but praised Labour academies. He condemned Tory
fees but he defended Labour fees. He had the gall to admit
that he went to college on a grant but had no shame
whatsoever about kicking away the ladder now he no longer
needed it.

And as for cuts? Well no prizes for guessing. He was against
Tory cuts but strongly favoured Labour cuts because he was
tough and macho! So it looks as though the Labour opposition
will be as much use as a chocolate teapot when it comes to
fighting against the cuts.

We need a party for the common people – a new workers’
party.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Crawley against the cuts



West Sussex Teachers' Association is urging all of its members to support campaigns by trades councils and community groups against the cuts. The WSTA opposes cuts regardless of which political party is initiating them.

The Mid Sussex Socialist Party is backing the campaign. When leafleting with the Trades Council in Tilgate today the only adverse comment we got was from someone who thought we were backing the Labour Party. We soon cleared that up!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

North Sussex Trades Council oppose cuts


On Wed 15th September the North Sussex Trades Council meeting was an open meeting to discuss a campaign against the cuts. There was a wide ranging discussion.

Although there is apparent public support for "cuts" in the abstract, when people realise that the cuts are unnecessary and will affect front line services they will have a change of heart.

For example, Phil Clark from Brighton Trades Council pointed out that Connexions staff - who cope with the most difficult pupils and seek to get them into work and/or off of drugs - are facing cuts and the next target was likely to be mental health nurses. This gives the lie to the bluff of the coalition that no front line services will be hit.

This will only matter if the trade unions are seen as willing to fight. The TUC has already been more vertibrate than is commonplace. They talk a good fight but it will be up to the ranks of the unions to make sure they actually fight one. The trades councils can play a key role as is shown by the success of Brighton Trades Councils launch meeting attended by 250 people on Thursday.



Next Meeting Tuesday 2nd November
Time 7.30 pm
Place St John's Church Hall in Crawley
Be there

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Oppose cuts - whichever gang are in power!


New Labour began the policy of robbing the poor to give to the rich.
The Con Dem coalition are no better.
There are plenty of "efficiency savings" to be made by confiscating the bankers' bonuses and making millionaires pay tax but the rich want to make the poor pay for a crisis created by the greed and incompetence of the bankers.
One member of the public came up to us and said "we should be like the french - come out on strike and on the streets until the government say 'give them what they want!'"

U.S. Troops Accused of Killing Afghans For Fun, Collecting Fingers As Trophies

From Democracy Now

The Guardian newspaper reports twelve U.S. soldiers face charges over forming a secret "kill team" that allegedly blew up and shot Afghan civilians at random and collected their fingers as trophies. Five of the soldiers are charged with murdering three Afghan men who were allegedly killed for fun in separate attacks this year. Seven others are accused of covering up the killings and assaulting a recruit who exposed the murders when he reported other abuses. All of the soldiers are members of a Stryker infantry brigade based in Kandahar province in southern Afghanistan. Meanwhile the father of one of the men charged has told the Associated Press he tried nearly a half dozen times to pass an urgent message from his son to the Army that troops in his unit had murdered an Afghan civilian and planned more killings. Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell addressed the charges on Thursday.
Geoff Morrell: "I don’t believe the allegations here against these few individuals are representative of the behavior or the attitudes of the entire force. That said, it clearly—even if these allegations are proved to be untrue—is unhelpful. It does not help the—you know, the perceptions of our forces around the world. And so, the sad part about this is, even if these individuals are vindicated, even if they’re not true, the damage will have been done."

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Megalomaniac Murdoch

News Corporation - the misnamed Rupert Murdoch empire - is launching a million dollar lawsuit against Skype. The lawsuit concerns the first three letters of its name.

Murdoch's lawyers claim this word is Murdoch's personal property and want money from anyone else who uses it! To quote the Sun - another Murdoch property - "you couldn't make it up."

The inhabitants of the Isle of Skye could be in trouble here and Murdoch's lawyers will have their sights on "The Sky's the Limit", "Blue Skies thinking" and the Skye Boat Song.

So next time you sneak a peak at that thing...you know that blue thing up there...Murdoch could be after your money.

And as for you Trotskyists...watch out!

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Forget twanging bowstrings in Sherwood Forest and men in tights. The "Robin Hood Tax" is being proposed by Oxfam and others as a means of making the bankers pay for the crisis they created.

For years Oxfam and Cafod have made valiant efforts to feed the poor in the third world. At the same time unfortunately the fat cats in the city have been making valiant efforts to feed *off* the poor in the third world through criminally extortionate interest repayments. Oxfam and Cafod raised thousands. The bankers clawed back millions.

Their website claims "The 'Robin Hood Tax' is a tiny tax that would have a massive impact. It would raise enough money to help poor people, protect public services and tackle climate change at home and abroad.Oxfam, along with many partners, is working to make this tax happen. Politicians around the world are already beginning to consider it as a serious possibility,"


These are very modest beginnings. The video by Bill Nighy makes the point in a humorous way that a tiny proportion of the bankers' profits would be a massive sum and could repair some of the cuts in spending on the poor and the damage brought about by climate change.

Oxfam and Cafod are taking this up because the politicians are useless. So busy collecting their own expenses and so scared of offending the bankers they are completely inert.

However Robin Hood went a lot further. He didn't tax the rich. He expropriated them. It is a tradition we need to revisit.

The TUC is listed as supporting the Robin Hood Tax. Perhaps that is what they wanted to chat with David Cameron about? It is time the TUC got off its knees.

The following 48 organisations are supporting the Robin Hood Tax Campaign: ActionAid, Action for Global Health (UK), ACTSA (Action on Southern Africa), Africa Europe Faith Justice Network - UK, Article 12 in Scotland, ATD Fourth World, Barnardo's, Cafod, Centre for Alternative Technology, Chigwell Justice and Peace Centre, Christian Aid, Christian Medical Fellowship, Christian Socialist Movement, Church Action on Poverty, Church of Scotland Church and Society Council, Commonwealth HIV & AIDS Action Group, Forum for Stable Currencies, General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches, Health Unlimited, Housing Justice, Interact Worldwide, International HIV/AIDS Alliance, National Justice and Peace Network, National Union of Teachers, NCVO, nef (the new economics foundation), Oxfam GB, ONE, People and Planet, Plan UK, Results UK, The Salvation Army, Save the Children UK, Stamp Out Poverty, Stop AIDS Campaign, Student Partnerships Worldwide, TB Alert, Tearfund, Trades Union Congress, UNA-UK, Unicef UK, Unite, University and College Union, Urban Forum, War on Want, World Development Movement, World Wide Robin Hood Society, Zacchaeus 2000 Trust.

Click here for more information

Monday, July 19, 2010

Tolpuddle 2010



Two members of West Sussex NUT (President and Equalities officer - Derek and Angela) went with Crawley Trades Council to Tolpuddle this year.

There are a series of events celebrating the release of six trade unionists - the Tolpuddle Martyrs - arrested and transported in 1834 for joining a union.

It was a good occasion and an opportunity to see the three teachers' unions taking part in the same march and under the same slogan "Save our Schools".

It came as a surprise to see the Labour Party gracing us with their presence and talking about "this dreadful academies programme" - I expected to see a few pigs flying around but no.

The Labour Party is pro-war, pro-privatisation and viciously anti trade union.
I imagine if New Labour had been around in those days they would have locked up the Tolpuddle Martyrs without the formality of a trial and probably carted them off to Guantanamo for good measure.

The Trades Council coach only cost a tenner and we will seek to get more teachers (history teachers for example) involved next time.

Beckham on the Jonathan Ross show

To celebrate his final programme on the BBC Jonathan Ross spent the remains of the budget on luring the millionaire footballer to speak on his program.

As you can imagine he had something to say about the football. "The England team lost because the players played badly." Where would we be without his insightful expertise?

However, leaving his area of specialist knowledge, he went on to talk about two other issues.

He spoke in lyrical terms about "this earth, this realm, this England" omitting to explain why, like many millionaires, he neither lives here nor pays any tax here.

He then turned his incisive intellect to the war in Afghanistan. The war was justified because "our English soldiers are heroes." And there is nothing like a dead hero to sell a war. Unlike everyone else Beckham knew the objective of the mission. You might well scratch your heads at that one. Apparently they are there to win.

So there you have it, football, nationalism and complex international issues all summed up a la Beckham. The world is very simple for millionaires like Ross and Beckham. A bit more complex for the rest of us.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Report on the National Shop Stewards Network conference 26 06 2010




Margaret Thatcher always advised her friends only to employ a gardener who had patches on the knees of his trousers. Thatcherites like the working classes on their knees and the present coalition is no exception.

The NSSN is potentially very useful for public sector unions to co-ordinate actions and simply to exchange information. Various unions have produced data on the “gold plated” public sector pensions one reads about in the media. The median pension for PCS members is 8000 pounds a year – you couldn’t get gold-plated cufflinks on that.

There was a wide range of participants from pensioner activists who reported on the number of OAPs who are up in arms about the government’s plans…down to the Youth Fight for Jobs representatives who are seeking to secure a future for school-leavers.

The representatives of the BA cabin crews got a standing ovation – as you would expect really.

The NUT’s own Linda Taaffe moved the keynote resolution . She is using her so-called retirement to invigorate the NSSN.

The resolution aimed to get the TUC off its knees. The suggestion is that union branches and individual members should be urging them to organise a national protest against the cuts. This is in contrast to their current plan of inviting David Cameron round for tea. Matt Wrack of the FBU said this was about as useful as having a chat with the hangman about what kind of knot you want.

Contact the TUC by email, phone or via the web page:

http://www.tuc.org.uk/the_tuc/about_form.cfm

Tel 020 7636 4030
Fax 020 7636 0632
Email info@tuc.org.uk

Trades Union Congress
Congress House
Great Russell Street
London WC1B 3LS

A number of trade unions support NSSN at the highest level – the PCS, POA, RTM and FBU for example. The NSSN will work with the official Trade Union Congress when possible but without it when necessary. We have no plans to invite David Cameron to our next conference.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The big bang and mythology

“I believe in one God. The Father, the Almighty, The creator of heaven and earth and of all things seen and unseen.”

“I believe in the almighty big bang., The creator of heaven and earth and of all things seen and unseen. (dark matter)”

People believe in all sorts of things. The big bang is a theoretical construct based on a lot of painstaking research over decades. Every year volumes of research are added to the existing information about the big bang.

The Nicene Creed – quoted above - was the “best guess” of Christians in AD 325 in an attempt to explain the fundamentally unexplainable. However as an explanation it is different in kind from the Big Bang theory.

When a child asks you “why does the sun shine?” you might answer “it is like a flame giving off heat and light” If they are a bit older you can tell them a lot of fascinating stuff about hydrogen fusing to form helium. This does not answer the question. The question was “why” not “how”.

The big bang – as a theoretical construct – tells us a lot about how. It tells us nothing about why.

Bertrand Russell’s clinching argument for the non-existence of God was this: if you say God created the universe – after all the universe “must have come from somewhere” – this just pushes the question back a stage. God “must have come from somewhere” too.

And the Big Bang? Well AFAIK it came out of nowhere…

Belief in the Big Bang does not carry any moral implications. I believe in the Big Bang therefore I should forgive those who trespass against me? Not logical captain! Logic and science do not lead you to that conclusion.

Jesus believed you should treat other people as you would have them treat you. St Paul said it was the one commandment which contained all the others. That’s good enough for me. (and for Abraham, Lao Tse, Buddha, and the prophet Mohammed). But I can't prove it.

There is an Arthur C Clarke story in which an entity enters the solar system and immediately begins to communicate with Earth scientists. During the time of its stay in the solar system (it is using the slingshot effect of the sun to continue on elsewhere) it astounds scientists on Earth with knowledge which advances Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics and Biology by decades.

Just as communication is fading out, they explain the concept of God to it and ask for an opinion. The response? “I understand there is an answer to this question. Unfortunately it is far beyond my capability to understand it!”

God bless :)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Labour leadership election

I have to say the leadership election of the Labour Party shows the
depths to which the party has sunk. Noticing that they have a plethora
of white gentlemen in suits the right wing consciously used their votes
to include Diane Abbott on the slate on the assumption that a snowball
in Hell would have a better chance than she will.



Diane Abbott does not do herself any favours by cuddling up with Portillo - the most hated Tory after Margaret Thatcher - or by her championing of the "excellent academies programme" on her website.



I am not at all sure we should be "building bridges" to the Labour Party.
They have cut all the bridges just as they proposed to cut everything
else - except bankers' bonuses of course.

I joined the Labour Party in the 1960s because I believed in peace, social justice and public ownership.

People who have joined Labour in the last decade have done so because of a belief in war, privatisation and inequality. If you seek hatred and vituperation of trade unionists you need look no further. Ask the Firemen. Ask the BA cabin crews.



We need a party for the common people:
a party of the working class.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Genius with his hand in the till - David Laws

Chief Treasury Secretary David Laws, described as "a genius" by colleagues, is planning cuts in public spending which will impoverish millions. He has apologised after it emerged he had been claiming MPs' expenses to rent rooms in homes owned by his partner.

The Daily Telegraph blew the whistle on Laws. They said this scam totalled £40,000 of the public money this "genius" is so careful with.

He said his motivation was to keep the relationship with the man private and not to reveal his own sexuality.

So having his hand in the till is OK but being gay is something to be ashamed of?

Liberal values indeed.

The rottenness and corruption is not solely the preserve of the two main parties it seems. They really are all the same. "A workers' MP on a workers' wage" was the slogan of our TUSC candidates.

(TUSC = Trade Union and Socialist Coalition)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

OMG What is the matter with the SWP?

Now that it appears talks between BA and Unite have collapsed the Socialist Party has released the following statement concerning the actions of the SWP and the cabin crew dispute.

Occupation A Mistake

The defeat of Willie Walsh and the brutish BA management is the most important aspect to this dispute. It is therefore unfortunate that the reported decision of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) members at the end of the Right to Work Conference to invade talks between British Airways management and Unite has partially obscured this issue. This occupation was completely mistaken.

Whatever the nature of the deal being negotiated it is not for a group like the SWP to decide to break up talks. A decision to accept or reject a deal is solely the property of cabin crew and their democratically elected representatives.

In an industrial dispute the final decision on tactics to confront the employer must always rest with the strikers themselves. Socialists can assist by sharing experiences and ideas in past disputes and building support and solidarity for the strike among the general public. This has always been the method of the Socialist Party. We will offer our opinion on the course of a dispute to workers but we believe that any initiative taken in support of a dispute should be taken in consultation with the workers themselves.

A key task for socialists and trade union activists is to raise the confidence of workers to fight not to substitute themselves for workers in struggle. This will mistakenly create the impression that a special minority of activists will do the fighting leaving workers as bystanders. The Socialist Party stands for the maximum control of workers over their dispute.

It is the view of the Socialist Party that the actions of the SWP on Saturday was not in the best interests of striking cabin crew workers. Such tactics will prove to be counter-productive. It is the mass action of cabin crew through their union that is the key to defeating Walsh, not the actions of a self appointed minority. Despite this we are totally opposed to any victimisation of those who took part in this mistaken protest.

The priority for all workers in the trade union movement now is to support the cabin crew workers against Walsh and BA management.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

FT let the cat out of the bag

Has anybody got any lingering doubts of the government's intentions? The Financial Times – house journal of the capitalist class – let the cat out of the bag in an article on 20 May 2010


“ Before the election, the coalition parties aimed to avoid a direct confrontation with the unions. They now appear braced for a pitched battle.

“The unions were always bound to figure prominently in this parliament. The government must rein in a fiscal deficit of 11.1 per cent of output. Public jobs and pay must bear the brunt of spending cuts. In the state sector,68 per cent of employees are bound by collective pay agreements.

“The parties’ manifestos suggested plans to outflank the unions. They wanted to force through tight pay settlements while undermining the unions by contracting out an increased share of public services to private providers. The coalition agreement sets out a path to direct confrontation.”

Of course the “must” in this article is disingenuous. They take as read that the working class, starting with the public sector, “must” pay the price for a crisis not of their making. There is no “must” about it.

The government will throw down the gauntlet to the trade union movement. The nice Cameron/Clegg mask will be torn off to reveal the Thatcher within.
In particular for teachers, the national pay and conditions agreements will be torn up. The FT puts it like this

“More explosively, the new government intends to attack national pay bargaining. It wants to “reform the existing rigid national pay and conditions rules…” for schools. If anything, the coalition’s ambition should be greater. National pay bargaining is a problem well beyond education.”

They have a touching faith in the combativity of the trade union leaders. Yes this should be “explosive” but it is up to the rank and file to make sure it actually is “explosive” Trade union leaders of “left” and “right” may seek delay and compromise as they have always done in the past.

And as the FT clearly understand, a defeat for the teacher unions will be the harbinger of a defeat for workers with national pay bargaining unless they are prepared to fight back.

NUT Executive member Martin Powell Davies' call for the June executive to indicate that a strike ballot will be the response to any such attack from the government is timely.
And we are fully aware that strike action is not enough, this is political attack requiring a political response.

And New Labour has always sought to destroy national pay bargaining through precisely the tactics laid out in this FT article. Those union leaders who continue to back New Labour are acting against the interests of their members.

Anyone who voted for the LibDems to keep the Tories out will be reconsidering now. We need a party for the common people – a party of the working class.
Derek McMillan

Friday, May 07, 2010

TUSC The only way is up!


The brand new Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition has made a start on the long march to create a workers' party after the shameful betrayal of New Labour.

Election results for TUSC in the 2010 general election


England and Wales:
Region
Seat
Candidate
Result
% of vote
East Mids

Leicester West
Steve Score.
157
0.4%
East Mids
Wellingborough & Rushdon
Councillor Paul Croft
249
0.5%
Eastern
Cambridge City
Martin Booth
362
0.7%
London
Lewisham Deptford
Socialist Party Councillor Ian Page
645
1.6%
London
Walthamstow
Nancy Taaffe
279
0.68%
London
Greenwich and Woolwich
Onay Kasab

267

0.6%

London
Tottenham
Jenny Sutton
1057
2.6%
Northern
Gateshead
Elaine Brunskill
266
0.7%
Northern
Redcar
Hannah Walter
127
0.3%
North West
Wythenshawe and Sale East
Lynn Worthington
268
0.65%
North West
Bootle
Pete Glover
472
1.1%
North West
Carlisle
John Metcalfe

376

0.9%

North West
Liverpool Walton
Darren Ireland
195
0.57%
North West
Manchester Gorton
Karen Reissman
337
0.9%
North West
Salford
David Henry
730
2%
Southern
Southampton Itchin
Tim Cutter

168
0.4%
Southern
Spelthorne
Paul Couchman
176
0.4%
Southern
Portsmouth North
Mick Tosh
154

South East
Brighton Kemptown
Dave Hill
194
0.5%
South West
Bristol South
Tom Baldwin


206

0.4%

South West
Bristol East
Rachel (Rae) Lynch


198

0.4%

Wales
Cardiff Central
Ross Saunders
162
0.4%
Wales
Swansea West
Rob Williams
179
0.5%
West Mids
Coventry North East
Dave Nellist
1592
3.7%

West Mids
Coventry South
Judy Griffiths
691
1.55
West Mids
Coventry North West
Nikki Downes
370
0.8%
West Mids
Stoke Central
Matt Wright
133
0.4%
Yorkshire
Colne Valley
Councillor Jackie Grunsell.
741
1.3%
Yorkshire
Hull West + Hessle
Keith Gibson.
150
0.5%
Yorkshire
Doncaster North
Bill Rawcliffe
181
0.4%
Yorkshire
Huddersfield
Paul Cooney

319

0.8%

Yorkshire
Sheffield Brightside
Maxine Bowler

656

1.7%


Scotland:

Seat
Candidate
Result
% of vote

Glasgow South West
Tommy Sheridan
931
2.9%

Glasgow South
Brian Smith
351
0.9%

Glasgow North
Angela McCormack
287
1%

Glasgow North East
Graham Campbell
187
0.6%

Edinburgh East
Gary Clark
274
0.7%

Edinburgh North & Leith
Willie Black
233
0.5%

Midlothian
Willie Duncan
166
0.4%

Dundee West
Jim McFarlane
350
1.2%

Motherwell & Wishaw
Ray Gunnion
609
2%

Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey
George McDonald
135

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Making a complete Griffin of himself again

The BNP frequently complain that the many pro-Nazi
statements of Nick Griffin are “all in the past” and not
relevant to his current squeaky clean image.

The Jeremy Vine show on Radio 2 on 30th April 2010 had the
BNP leader making a complete Griffin of himself yet again.
He repeated his claim that “the bravery of the SS kept
Europe safe from Bolshevism.”

The bravery of the SS consisted of herding Jewish men, women
and children, gay men, trade unionists and communists into
gas chambers. This is not called bravery by most people.

It also gives you a vivid picture of what life (and death)
would be like if these people were given power.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Real life Avatars?


Apart from being a 3d film of astonishing effects, Avatar tells the story of the Na'vi people fighting back successfully against the mercenaries of the global corporations which want to exploit the natural resources of their home planet "Pandora". For some reason the American military thought it was having a dig at them :)

Director James Cameron is not content to leave the film to change public perceptions. On the american indy internet news programme "Democracy Now!" he said he had begun a campaign alongside indigenous peoples to bring to light real life "Pandoras" on this planet.

"The success of Avatar triggered an interesting chain reaction, which is a lot of groups that are involved with indigenous issues and the environment and energy and so on have come to me saying, you know, “How can we use the success of the film to continue to raise awareness, not just a generalized kind of emotional reaction, but a very specific awareness on different battles that are in progress right now around the world?” And I thought, well, OK, fine, this is an opportunity to maybe do some good, beyond just the film itself. I mean, I thought, you know, as a filmmaker, as an artist, I put my story out there, you know, and people react to it, and they draw their own conclusions, and that’s it for me. I’m over and out, you know? "

"But I don’t think that’s enough in this situation, because Avatar doesn’t teach you anything specific. It only gives you an emotional reaction, a sense of moral outrage, if you will, about the destruction of nature, about the, you know, destruction of indigenous people, culture and so on. So I think people need action items. You know, they need specific things. They need specific information about what’s going on, and they need specific action items about what to do about it. So you’ve got to talk about it. There’s got to be a dialogue. So I think there’s a whole dialogue going on now in the wake of this film that’s beneficial."

For the people of the Amazon there is nothing fictional about the Belo Monte dam project. 25,000 people will be displaced if this project goes ahead and they literally have nowhere to go. The film has aroused an emotional response (and sent Rupert Murdoch's avatars at Fox News into apoplexy which is no bad thing!). The high profile support of James Cameron for the real life victims of capitalism is important but at the end of the day the corporations will only be brought to book by the working class movement.

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Hobbit and the great debate on the election


(From Classroom Teacher)

Did anybody else remember "The Hobbit" while listening to the "Great debate" on ITV? Did you feel as if you were overhearing three trolls arguing about whether to boil you alive or mince you up?

There was nobody to say the war in Afghanistan is unwinnable and unjust and we should withdraw. Instead they talked about the quality of the troops' equipment. This is about as useful as discussing the quality of the deckchairs on the Titanic.

Nick Clegg did mention ditching Trident but otherwise failed to differentiate himself from the others.

When it came to cutting public spending - and thus our jobs and the jobs of all public sector workers - the devils were only discussing the detail. The principle of robbing the poor to give to the rich was a "given."

Thank God there is an alternative http://www.tusc.org.uk/

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Dash to Digital leaves the poor behind

Digital radio is a great advance in scientific technique. Unfortunately under capitalism even the best scientific advances can be manipulated to the advantage of big business and the detriment of the working class.

So the changeover to digital is likely to leave hundreds of thousands of the poorest in the community – especially old age pensioners – with no access to the wireless. A massive leap backwards.

In the UK most people regard the radio as their prime source of news. Over 90 percent of the population listen to the radio. Many of them listen in the car and most cars of course have analogue radios. These will all fall silent in five years time and will need replacing with massively overpriced digital sets. Many people cannot afford the changeover and will simply be left behind.

Yet the electrical shops are still cynically selling off analogue radios to old age pensioners without any warning of their limited lifespan.

At the same time Mandelson (or whichever Conservative Party clone takes over from him in May!) is also seeking to cut off the internet from anyone who cannot afford the extortionate prices charged by the CD and record manufacturers. File sharing technology is another modern miracle which capitalism is incapable of accommodating it seems.

The profiteers corrupt and hinder every advance in science and technology which gets in the way of their greed. The politicians aid and abet them. After all they can all afford digital radio... or at least charge it to their expenses :)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Opt out forms for NHS summary care record

The introduction of summary care records does not fill me with confidence. The number of recent cases of personal information being left on trains and the government's general lack of concern for personal privacy suggests it might be a good idea to opt out. Naturally they have made it fiddly and difficult to opt out.

Click here for an opt-out form

Thursday, March 04, 2010

To quote Joe Hill

From Democracy Now:

Utah lawmakers have approved a measure that would allow women to be charged with murder if they commit an “intentional, knowing or reckless act” that causes a miscarriage. Critics fear the measure could target women for all kinds of actions, including staying with an abusive partner.

Trade Union organiser Joe Hill was killed after a judicial frame-up in Utah. His last words are well-remembered "Don't mourn, organise". Less well known is his plea "take my body over the state line. I wouldn't be seen dead in Utah"

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Education not Censorship.

Big Brother and censorship

Linda Papadopoulos was the in-house psychologist on Big Brother . You cannot accuse New Labour of lacking a sense of irony. Her report for the Home Office on young people's sexuality contains an outline of a problem – and an Orwellian “solution” which would have Big Brother choosing which books and TV programs we are permitted to see..


Advertising treats the bodies of women, and increasingly of young children, as commodities to be exploited for profit. Children have easy access to pornography: Rupert Murdoch's newspapers are in the sweet shops. Linda's very own Big Brother was not entirely bereft of nudity and crude language.

Censorship is running away from the problem not tackling it. Education in the role of advertising and sexuality is more important than increasing the power of the state to censor. Money could be put into teaching resources instead of lining the pockets of media celebrities like Linda Papadopoulos!

There is also the practical problem that the British Home Office would have to constantly monitor and close down websites all over the world. If you do not want an internet as restricted as that available in China, which is Mandelson's dream, then you will oppose such a move.

Teachers are well aware of the problem but hampered by constant tests, targets and deadlines. We need an education system responsive to the needs of the children and young people rather than driven by centralised testing programmes.

Education not Censorship.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Changes at blogger

All blogs with addresses like derekmcmillan.com/weblog have to be transferred back to blogspot as ftp (file transfer protocol) will no longer be supported. A link to this effect will be put into derekmcmillan.com/weblog.

The disadvantage is that some schools block all blogspot sites indiscriminately.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A voice for those who don't want cuts, privatisation and war.



There is no party of the left in Britain at the present time. The coalition of trade unionists and socialists provide a voice for those who oppose cuts, privatisation and war.

http://cnwp.org.uk/news.80.htm

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Join the Classroom Teacher Network


Action and Change for Teachers
A group of teachers who backed Martin Powell-Davies’ recent stand in the NUT Vice-President election

For action on workload
To defend public sector schools
To defend the rights of classroom teachers in academies and trust schools
And to resist the attacks on education whichever canaille wins the general election!

Click here to join the facebook group.
Click here for the blog

Friday, January 08, 2010

Vote for Kevin for Deputy General Secretary

From the WSTA blog
It is important that members in West Sussex play a full part in the
National Union of Teachers and voting in the Deputy General Secretary
elections is part of that. By now you should have received your ballot
papers.

Kevin Courtney was overwhelmingly endorsed by the West Sussex NUT and
we are supporting his campaign to be elected as DGS.

Veronica Peppiatt writes:

Although Kevin is a leading light of one of the political groups on
the Executive, as a "non-aligned" Executive member I am convinced of
his absolute integrity and commitment to the Union as a whole and am
confident that if elected to the post of DGS he has the strength of
character to rise above old allegiances, if need be, in order to put
the best interests of the whole membership first.

Veronica Peppiatt, Executive Member for Surrey and West Sussex


'I have known Kevin for many years and in that time have been hugely
impressed with the energy, vision and commitment he has brought to
such campaigns as the defence of educational funding, opposition to
Academies, reducing workload, fair pay for teachers and many others.

I know he believes fervently in working alongside other trade
unionists and takes the same view as me that we are unlikely to win
future battles over issues such as the defence of our pensions,
without an inter-union perspective. He has already developed
invaluable links with other public sector unions.
In my view he is the candidate most likely to enable the NUT to defend
the future interests of teachers and the education profession.
Dave Thomas (Secretary, West Sussex Teachers' Association)'

You may also receive this as an email later in the week. Apologies for
the duplication but we get full marks for enthusiasm!

Derek McMillan
(Helpline Co-ordinator West Sussex Teachers' Association)

Friday, January 01, 2010

9 Questions about the BNP

1. Why has the BNP consistently (Stoke, Burnley Pendle) voted for above-inflation increases in council taxation, despite its claims against council tax increases and property-based council tax in general?

2. Why did Broxbourne BNP vote to block free bus passes for pensioners against their pledge that "pensioners should get free bus passes"?

3. Why did Halifax BNP councillors in abstain from voting to block the closure of a primary school in Mixenden despite election literature promising to defend all primary schools in the area.

4. Why did BNP in Kirklees agree to council service cuts in Sep 2009 declaring "a lot of the silly posts can disappear. I've always advocated that you get rid of 25% of council staff and no-one would notice. We won't be able to guarantee early retirement and gold-plated pensions."?

5. You, Griffin, have expelled certain BNP members for their political actions (including ex-Conservative BNP councillor Geoff Wallace in Halifax for supporting greenbelt housing) but not those who have implemented these above actions which harm the majority whose interests you claim to further. Why is there this discrepancy?

6. Why did you oppose the firefighters' strike of 2002-2003, asserting that firefighters should not have the right to withdraw their labour to renegotiate terms and conditions of work? You declared firefighters "must be placed on the same level as military personnel and police officers and ... forego their ambiguous position of using strike action". Do you still agree with it?

7. Why did Stoke BNP exonerate chief executive Wayne Nutbeen for closing (in 2005) Royal Doulton's last factories. Nutbeen's explanation was the "company isn't owned by Stoke-on-Trent. It is owned by the shareholders. The board has to ensure it does right by them".

8. Why has Stoke BNP agreed to budgets (2004, 2005, 2007) that cut social spending including Citizen's Advice Bureaus, old people's services?

9. Which aspects of the "national good" in "Oriental countries" would you emulate in Britain first - a 2000% increase in work-related suicides, mass dismissals of workers for attending anti-government meetings or homeless nomad families working in low-wage sectors? (Your manifesto (2009) claimed "Oriental countries such as Japan, South Korea and Singapore have managed their economies to combine private enterprise competition with the national good, and these are the models the BNP would emulate.")