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:

Tel 020 7636 4030
Fax 020 7636 0632

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.