Friday, December 16, 2011

Cameron woos Barber with mince pies

"Barber could end up as popular as Herod if
he sells out our pensions"

The Daily Mirror is well on top of the Christmas sell-out story.
"It is expected Mr Barber will be offered mince pies in a desperate
charm offensive by Mr Cameron aimed at heading off fresh strikes.

"He could even pose for an unprecedented handshake outside Number 10
with Mr Cameron - an image that would horrify both the Tories and union members."

The demon Barber could end up about as popular as Herod if he sells out our pensions :) Have you written to your executive member yet? Do it now before the Christmas shopping.

A sell out for Christmas ... but not in the high street.

I don't know if the TUC are more comfortable on their knees than up on
their hind legs but it would seem they need a bit of encouragement not
to sell us down the river. (excuse the mixed metaphor - I am an
ex-English Teacher!)

I got this from Martin Powell-Davies (NUT Executive and Classroom
Teacher) today:

Just when this Government is cracking at the seams, just when we have
had one of the largest strikes for generations, some in the TUC are
trying to recommend a shoddy deal that will allow the Government to get
away with their pensions robbery.

Urgent pressure needs to be applied in every union to make sure that
negotiators do not cave-in but show the same courage and determination
as their members showed in their millions on November 30.

Reports from today's TUC PSLG meeting suggest that some, such as Brendan
Barber and Dave Prentis, are arguing that 'we have gone as far as we
can' and that unions should all agree to sign-up and throw in the towel
on Monday. Reportedly, the PCS have even been told that if they don't
agree by then, all talks will be ceased - with the threat that any
concessions that have been offered (not that there are many!) will be

I understand that the PCS, NUT and others like the NASUWT have stood
firm - but others are clearly looking to settle. But what gains have
been made? Prentis can apparently point to the offer of a two-year delay
in increased contributions in Local Government - but that only postpones
the pain to come. I understand that he has nothing similar in the Health
negotiations. Certainly, nothing similar has been offered in education -
in fact the hope that the Government might offer retirement ages set
lower than the State Pension Age has been dashed - so it's still
retirement at 67 and 68 for many. The only minor concession might be
that if you retire at 66, you'll only lose 3% of your pension for every
year of 'early' retirement instead of 5%!!. Even that would have to be
paid for by losses elsewhere in the scheme.

Crucially, the Government has refused to lift the 'cost-ceiling' - in
other words they are insisting that we pay for the Government's debts,
even though they have refused any valuation to justify their attacks. So
that means we still pay more, to get less and retire older - yet Brendan
Barber wants us to settle on Monday!

If these union leaders have no stomach for a fight, then they have no
right to call themselves a leadership. They will be guilty of accepting
a pensions robbery which, just two weeks ago, we were all united in
saying was unjustified and unacceptable. They will demoralise and
undermine our united movement and invite the Government to go on the
attack on jobs, facility time, TUPE, pay bargaining, capability
procedures - and all the other attacks that they have lined up.

So put out an urgent call in every union - don't cave-in. Call the
Government's bluff and announce the next day of united strike action in

Martin Powell-Davies

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Standing up for Britain - or for the bankers?

According to the children’s song - “In the big rock candy mountain, the cops have wooden legs.
The bulldogs all have rubber teeth and the hens lay soft boiled eggs.”

Obviously in the never-never land inhabited by the Financial Services Authority those bulldogs would be examples of “due diligence.”

Charged with the apparently serious job of regulating the banks, the FSA admit in their recent report that their light touch approach allowed the Royal Bank of Scotland to get away with (metaphorical) murder in its financial shenanigans.

“"This approach reflected widely held, but mistaken assumptions about the stability of financial systems and existed against a backdrop of political pressures for a 'light touch' regulatory regime."

The FSA were scared of exercising any “supervisory function” and admit they “failed to challenge the
management of RBS.” One is tempted to ask what the FSA are they for? A cop with two wooden legs would have done a better job.

Well thank heavens that sort of thing couldn’t happen nowadays……

Except of course one David Cameron was among the advocates of the light touch with the light-fingered speculators of RBS and his most recent brave stand for Britain was actually a brave stand for the City of London. God forbid that anyone should interfere with their activities.

It is obvious to everyone that we need control over the financiers; bulldogs with real teeth. Yet the politicians of all parties stop short in pious trepidation before the big banks and attempt to drain the ocean of depravity with spoonfuls of inadequate control.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Anders Behring Clarkson

New Top Gear Presenter?

Jeremy Clarkson might sound like some sort of bad joke, but in the
wake of recent mass-murders by an EDL sympathiser, and with EDL
supporters here in the UK posing for Facebook photos with guns,
incitement to murder is a crime that needs to be taken seriously.
Anyone is entitled to make fair comment on a matter of public concern.
There is a feeling that Jeremy Clarkson may have shown less than
sufficient care in his "Anders Behring Breivik" moment. There is also
a feeling that complaining about it will just inflate the Big C's Ego.
Like Breivik, his self-importance is already beyond safe levels.

Inciting people to shoot strikers is not funny. If Clarkson needs an
ambulance (perhaps after an overdose of Top Gear) I hope he realises
shooting the driver wasn't a smart move.

He is of course a friend and neighbour of David Cameron. One wonders
if he is just repeating something he heard from the other Big C?

However if you feel that it is worthwhile to complain about this
overgrown kid the links are as follows:

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Dominic Lawson joins the dark side

Dominic Lawson's article in The Independent is a rehash of government
propaganda against the public sector.

I wrote the following to
You might like to give him your two penn'orth as well :)

I expected the Independent to go one better than the tabloid "gold
plated pensions" and "selfish striking scum". You are a disappointment.

As you very well know the government is attacking all pensions and
benefits - except of course the bonuses paid to deserving bankers, the
50 percent pay rises for top executives and Francis Maude's
astronomical pension!

You seem to think that a contract between an employer and an employee
can be torn up. Everybody in my profession agreed to accept less pay
in return for a good pension. Then forty years down the line people
like you can laugh at us and say "and you wont get the pension either

God Bless

Monday, November 28, 2011

New Blog for Horsham Ironing

This morning I set up a blog for Mandy at ARK who has an ironing business. Later on we will be setting up websites using wordpress. And tomorrow the world :)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Good King Wenceslas in reverse.

The government has quietly cut the winter fuel allowance to old age pensioners.

George Osborne secretly cut the winter fuel allowance, paid to most people who are 60 or older. However the information did not form part of the 100+-page Budget document.

This news comes just weeks after all the Big Six power firms hiked the price of gas and electricity, with more  predicted for autumn.

Most of those aged 60-79 will get £200 instead of last year's £250 when the payment is made in November or December. Those who are 80 or older will get £300 instead of £400.

The government bewail the fact that people are living longer and they cite this as a pretext for cutting pensions. Well cutting the winter fuel allowance is a good way to make sure they die soon enough.

Merry Christmas Millionaire Osborne - don't get cold now.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Scroogle? Google? Poodle?
Scroogle is a way of bypassing Google. When you use Google they
bombard you with adverts and nick all sorts of information about your
habits for the benefit of advertisers. puts a stop to all that but still
lets you use a search engine....until the dirty tricks department at
google have their wicked way with them!
Good old Scroogle. It's not humbug.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Sack the slackers!

The latest improvement to all our lives proposed to the government by the one-man think tank Adrian Beecroft is that employers have the right to 'sack the slackers' as the Daily Telegrapb impartially put it. The idea is that employers do not have to have any reason to sack you, if they think you are slacking then out you go.

As you know this is exactly what happens in firms where there is no union but Beecroft imagines a world in which this applies to everyone. A bit like ancient Egypt in fact.

And who is Beecroft? Well he has certainly purchased the right to influence government policy. He paid 530000 into Tory party finds.

But where did he come by money like that? Well it seems Beecroft is a very kind man. If you are strapped for cash your uncle Adrian will slip you 100. Of course everything has got a little price.

In thirty days the boys will be round to collect 136.72. That is an APR of 4394 percent. And no I haven't left out a decimal point there.

And if one of his employees fails to put the screws on his victims? Well they are obviously a slacker and off they go!

Our gold-plated pensions

Public sector pensions are gold-plated. You have only to read the Daily Mail or the Express to know that. A pity this image will not be appearing in your bank account any time soon. The average teacher pension is 10000.

However, there are exceptions to the rule of public sector pensions.Margaret Thatcher has received 535,000 for ex-PM duties from a little fund - well obviously a rather large fund - called the public duties cost allowance. Major and Blair have also had very nice golden handshakes (Major 490K and Blair 169K) from this fund. Remember that when some government minister tells you the nation
cannot afford your pension.

Friday, October 28, 2011

We're worth it!

The government is not at all sure it can afford the scheduled CPI-based increases to pensions - about five percent. However you can rest assured we are 'all in it together' ... except the bosses of major corporations who have received ten times that increase in remuneration. Apparently this is quite fair because they decide their own remuneration and they think they are worth an average of 2.7 million per annum.

The leadership of Unite has correctly branded this as "obscene" but Len McLusky's solution is to give greater power to shareholders to curb directors' pay. One can't help wondering why a trade union leader isn's saying "what about the workers?" It is no use for union leaders to stop short in pious trepidation before the power of big business. The workers in these corporations could give you a very accurate picture of how much use these directors are and whether they should be given house-room let alone a salary.

It does however suggest a very simple solution to the pension crisis. Let pensioners award themselves a 50 percent increase - because we're worth it!

Derek McMillan

Monday, October 24, 2011

My message to Frankie Maude

I have asked for an appointment on 26 October but have not so far
received a reply. As a matter of courtesy, the questions to which I
would like an answer are these:

1) Can you explain what has happened to the cast iron guarantee that
"We will restore the earnings link for the basic state pension from
April 2011, with a ?triple guarantee? that pensions are raised by the
higher of earnings, prices or 2.5%."

2) What does the government plan to do to pensions in 2012? Will the
link to increases in the cost of living even exist or will pensioners
be made to pay for the bankers' crisis?

3) Is it likely that the current policy towards teachers' pensions
will lead to a problem of recruitment in state schools?

4) How will it impact the public schools to which government ministers
send their children?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Youth unemployment

Conference notes the record levels of youth unemployment in the UK.
This is likely to have an effect of demotivating pupils. Many do not
see the point in working hard at school when they are more likely to
end up unemployed than otherwise.

We believe that the riots in the UK were a purely negative reaction to
the apparently hopeless situation young people find themselves in.
They show how dangerous the government policy of cutting welfare and
cutting jobs has been for the social fabric of the country.

We welcome the initiatives of Youth Fight for Jobs such as the Jarrow
crusade in 2011. We support this approach as a way of getting a
positive message to the young unemployed and to school pupils that
there is an alternative to demoralisation and an alternative to the
political system which has failed them so badly.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Ark - new weblog

The Ark has a new blog. Its address is

It can accept pictures and text. If you have something to say about
Ark just email it to derekmcmillan1951(at) or to
lisa(at) and it can be forwarded to the blog at
the speed of light.

It has contact details for the Ark for those who want to help.

I do not have control over the content but if I can keep the spam at
bay I will be happy. This is something practical I was able to do for
Ark and I am feeling altogether too pleased with myself!

Thursday, October 06, 2011

October 26 - March route confirmed

Join the Joint Union March and Lobby:
ASSEMBLE at midday, Victoria Gardens,Westminster, SW1;
MARCH to the Dept. of Education to hand in the mass petition.

All of the main teaching unions - ASCL, ATL, NAHT, NASUWT, NUT, UCAC
and UCU are backing this joint march & lobby on Wednesday October 26.
Every school is being asked to try and send at least one
representative to give Government a final warning - back off or face
the consequences.

The march gives us a chance to dust off the flags and banners from
June 30 once more. Media coverage of the event will be a timely
reminder to union members that are balloting to return their 'YES'
vote for action as well!

Even if you can't make it to London in half-term, make sure everyone
in your school signs the mass petition. More details on:

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Maude the Pension Pilferer

Maggie Thatcher was Maggie the Milk Snatcher - a byword for Tory
penny-pinching cruelty. Francis Maude will go down in history as Maude
the Pension Pilferer. If we let him get away with it.

The government has already reneged on a solemn and binding undertaking
(and such things are two a penny with politicians) to link pensions to
increases in the cost of living. By sleight of hand they have invented
a brand new measure of the cost of living and !surprise! it comes up
with a lower figure than the retail price index. Far from sympathising
with the pensioners the privileged and pampered politicians are
pinching their pennies.

The government has refused to negotiate in good faith with the public
sector unions. They behave as though attacking the unions were more
important than making a grown-up decision over public sector pensions.

All of the teacher unions are acting together to lobby parliament on
26th October. This is where Maude's union bashing has got him. Firstly
the ATL, most inoffensive and moderate of unions, has taken strike
action for the first time. Now the Secondary Head's union ACSL is on
the march. And if the Tory Party cannot depend on the ACSL they cannot
depend on anybody.

Maude should stop pretending to be a reincarnation of the blessed
Margaret and remember her ignominious defeat over the Poll Tax. It is
a pity the Labour leaders are so weak and willing because the Con
Dem's wouldn't last five minutes against a half-decent opposition.
Instead we have Ed the strike-breaker and a load of Balls about
supporting cuts from the shadowy Chancellor.

Trade Unions deserve better representation than Labour can provide -
we need a new workers' party.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Lobby MPs over pensions

At their meeting on 25 September the West Sussex Teachers Association
Executive agreed to support the lobby of Parliament on Wednesday, 26
October. The lobby is to protest against ruthless pension cuts in the
education sector. The unprecedented action is part of a joint campaign
by seven leading education unions to draw attention to the myths
surrounding the debate on pensions and to the severity of the cuts
being proposed.

Teachers are concerned that pension changes could cause a recruitment
crisis. Teachers and lecturers who are entering the profession, or who
have recently
entered, will face the greatest difficultly in increased costs for
their pensions. New teachers and lecturers may have large student
loans, which could be over £30,000. Teaching is one of the top
graduate employment destinations; this could change if the proposals
are introduced.

The lobby is being held during the half-term holiday to avoid
interrupting school children?s education and causing disruption for
parents. However the seven unions have not ruled out further
industrial action if the government continues to erode pensions.

Organisers of the campaign issued this statement:

The fact that thousands of teachers and lecturers from around the
country are giving up a day of their half-term holiday to come to
London to lobby MPs shows just how high feelings are running. The
profession is absolutely united in condemning the scandalous way
pensions are being ransacked to pay off the national debt.

The public has a right to know that cuts could ultimately affect the
quality of education for young people as high calibre graduates
re-think their career choice. We will also be challenging the myths
about how public sector pensions impact on taxpayers.

Teachers and lecturers never take strike action lightly and for this
reason the lobby has been organised during half term, to ensure there
is no disruption to pupils or parents. However if the government
continues to erode pensions, which they know are both affordable and
sustainable, teachers will be left with no option but to take further
action, including strike action.

We urge the government to listen to the message that this lobby sends.
Teachers cannot stand by and see their pensions eroded for purely
political reasons. It is entirely possible to avoid further disruption
but for that to happen the government needs to negotiate fairly.?

Details are available on the website:


Shared resources on the TES website

Weekly report on your shared resource(s):

Views: 58
All time views: 544

Downloads: 47
All time downloads: 479

These are just worksheets (mainly Maths) uploaded to the TES website.
They are free. The idea is to avoid re-inventing the wheel every time
you want a worksheet on fraction equivalents etc.

My target is 500 downloads.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


A survey conducted by TES has received massive publicity. It shows 49
percent of parents supporting corporal punishment in schools. The more
significant finding which the tabloids did not cover was that more
than eighty percent of parents opposed cutting education spending. I
can't imagine why the gutter press was not interested in that one!

I have taught successfully without the use of corporal punishment for
32 years. It is many years since corporal punishment was allowed in
British schools and in many cases the people who are condemning the
"feral youth" of today did not actually get caned themselves.

A sign of the times was when a private school wanted to utilise a
loophole in the law and carry on caning (sounds like a good film
title). They found the only place they could purchase canes was a sex
shop which could also have provided whips and bondage gear. When this
got into the papers they thought it was not quite the image they
wanted to portray to the public.

I did not go into teaching to hit children, however provocative the
little darlings may have been. I have however had (very rarely) to
physically restrain pupils from harming themselves or others. That is
not punishment. And interestingly the most difficult of the pupils I
have taught in all that time have been beaten by their parents. And a
fat lot of good it seemed to do them.

This does not surprise me. My brother was caned on his first day at
secondary school for "fidgeting". His school had substantially more
physical punishment than mine yet by any standard the behaviour at his
school was worse. Perhaps the culture of bullying was passed down from
teachers to pupils. I saw the school bully at my school outside the
head's office on numerous occasions. Did he cease being a bully? No he
became a bully with a sore backside.

There are some issues which the polls showing public support for
corporal punishment seem to avoid. An example would be ?would you be
happy for your daughter to be caned by a male teacher?? An
overwhelming "NO" shortly followed by "I'll have the law on yer!" would
be a probable response. Many people approve of beatings for other
people's children of course, but are not too happy about their own
being beaten.

The other issue involved in the question is corporal punishment for
girls which many parents find abhorrent. It means that exactly the
same offence by a boy would receive a caning and by a girl some other
punishment. How just is that?

I once had the privilege of being driven by a taxi driver who had an
opinion on education. His went a little further than most. He would
have a quiet word with any miscreants and tell them he knew where they
lived and he knew people who knew people who could set their house on
fire. What can you say in the face of such considered judgement? All I
did say was that I valued his input and of course I wouldn't dream of
telling him how to drive a cab.

If anyone chooses to suggest that my classroom must be a haven of
licensed wrongdoing, do spend five minutes there before drawing such a
rash conclusion. After all I would have sought an alternative
occupation if things were like that - you know an OFSTED inspector for
example :)

The caning issue is being used as a diversion from the real problem in
education: a problem correctly identified by parents who
overwhelmingly oppose the cuts. Gove and co really do want to turn
back the clock: unqualified teachers in dilapidated schools for the
poor and only the best for the rich. Of course many of the old
Etonians in the cabinet will have felt the cane. And it cannot be said
to have improved their behaviour one jot.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

All of a Flather

Baroness Flather has claimed Pakistani and Bangladeshi families are
having lots of children in order to claim extra benefit payments. The
first female Asian peer (and a very good argument for the abolition of
the House of Lords) was branded "deeply irresponsible" and "out of
touch" following her comments.

However it has come to our notice that a woman living on state
benefits, a Mrs Windsor of Buckingham Palace, has had no less than
four children in order to increase the amount of civil list benefits.

Despite subsisting on state handouts, Mrs Windsor is rumoured to have
massive personal wealth stashed away and is thought to be the richest
woman in Europe. I think Baroness Flather could turn her attention on
this waste of public money.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Sunday, September 04, 2011

The EDL are linked to Anders Behring Breivik.

Lily Allen wrote a song about the BNP called "F*ck you very much".
Perhaps more appropriate for the EDL is Imelda May's "I go with a

The police however have believed the assurances of the EDL that mass
murderer Breivik really meant some other EDL not them!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Arming the cops?

Several members of my family live in London and I have been concerned for their welfare. I was not reassured when millionaire and failed Prime Minister Cameron jetted back to "deal with" the London riots. One of the soundbites he thought would play well was to authorise the use of plastic bullets. There are only a
couple of problems with that.

Police target practice on a black citizen lit the blue touchpaper in Tottenham. Was that such a good idea? Did it help the police to work with the community?

Plastic bullets in Northern Ireland resulted in 13 deaths, including those of seven children, and scores of serious, permanent injuries and disabilities. Is this all part of Cameron's "Big Society"?

And finally is it not likely that the plastic bullets for rioters today will be turned on peaceful protestors tomorrow? Giving police powers is easy. Taking them away is not.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Big Issue and a Big Hypocrite

Walk down any high street in this country and you will meet a homeless
person selling the Big Issue. If you want a living indictment of the
kind of society millionaires like Cameron defend you need look no

And what is this? The current Big Issue is edited by David Cameron!
John Bird, who set out wanting to help the homeless now has them
forced to peddle the most disgusting Conservative Party propaganda. If
his name does not appear in the New Year's honours list - there just
ain't no justice!

In an editorial Bird lavishes praise on "the big society" in which
individuals can take the place of the state in helping out. Yet of
course this very magazine shows what is wrong with this approach. The
homeless are at the mercy of the whims of a philanthropist. If those
whims include grovelling to the Tory Party then the homeless have to
grovel. Refuse to sell the magazine and you don't eat tonight.

And one final question. If Cameron or Bird go into hospital will they
be happy for a volunteer to walk in off the street and operate on
them? If so I am prepared to give it a go. Where's my scalpel?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Reports of Murdoch's Death

While Murdoch was impersonating Uriah Heep on his 'umble
Commons appearance, reports of his death were appearing on
The Sun website. Apparently he was not intending to 'do a
Maxwell. In an ironic move, Hacker Murdoch had been hacked!

The 'hacktivists' responsible have now released email
addresses and mobile numbers of the 'know nothing'
executives of News International. It really would be pushing
the boundaries of hypocrisy for Hacker Murdoch to insist
that the full force of the law be used against them.

And that is exactly what he has done. Obviously the humble
pie disagreed with him


Saturday, July 16, 2011

Oh my God they killed Harry Potter!

No spoilers!

The final Harry Potter film is a fast-paced adventure with references to every adventure you can imagine.

Look for echoes of Star Wars and in particular Return of the Jedi, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Gringotts, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and even a reference to the story of how Horatius (or indeed Neville) held the bridge.

Watching Helena Bonham Carter go to pieces was entertaining. She is brilliantly unhinged in this (perhaps in RL, who knows?).

And the ending - well the epilogue is as sickening as in the book I'm afraid and I don't think of that as a spoiler. Why didn't somebody take JK Rowling aside and whisper about how dreadful it is? Perhaps her point was this is the end and there will be no more Harry Potter books....but the door is still open for a Potter Junior series!

Thursday, July 14, 2011


"‘Murdochgate’ is Britain’s Watergate. In politics, as in nature, the ‘butterfly effect’ operates. A seemingly small event – the famous metaphor of the flutter of a butterfly’s wings – can begin a chain of events resulting in massive unforeseen consequences.

In the case of the Watergate break-in, it led to the discrediting and downfall of Richard Nixon, the President of the most powerful nation on earth, the US. Cameron and his corrupt, rotten government deserve the same fate today. Watergate exposed the rottenness at the heart of the US administration and threatened the social system it was based upon, capitalism. "

Read more

Monday, July 11, 2011

A chatroom somewhere in Cyberspace

 A/S/L
 Pardon
 A/S/L Age, sex and location? Every heard of it?
 Oh LOL…. my name is Tracey I am 14 years old and I live in Canada
Hi Tracey
(snipped – long conversation about pony riding)

 Listen. You sound like a nice person Lesley and I see you are involved with adult MUDs. These miserable mothers won’t let me join because of my age and I wondered if….. Look do you mind me asking you this?
 Go on.
 That is very sweet of you, Lesley. Look I want to get onto Realms of Darkness and they wont let me on because I am underage, can you help me?
 Well why would I do that?
 Oh I will be very very grateful Lesley. You know what I mean.
 And all you want for me to do is propose you as a member of Realms of Darkness, the adult Multi User Domain?
 And you will be surprised how grateful I can be Lesley.
 Really.
* Really
* Well Okay then Tracey…

*Hi, my name actually is Tracey but I am a 40 year old man working for the FBI in Seattle and you’re nicked sunshine.
* Hi Lesley here, Scotland Yard. You will be getting a call. Wasting Police Time. Ever heard of it?

(The BBC reported that law enforcement agencies were sending operatives into chat rooms to entrap paedophiles)

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Defend the NHS

North Sussex and Surrey Trades Council launched a Coalition
to defend the NHS at a meeting on 06 July 2011.

Oliver Coxhead was elected as Chair
Derek Isaacs was elected as secretary.

Derek Isaacs was one of the first people to have his life saved by the new NHS in 1948. He had a playground accident
climbing the fence and was later taken to the hospital with an abcess which was growing inwards and would have
threatened his life.

However his mother didn't have to beg to a group of hard-nosed charity commissioners. The treatment was free for
the first time, so he was among the first of hundreds of thousands who owe their lives to the NHS.

People of sixty were old in 1948. The NHS has given us a new lease of life and that is why it is worthwhile for all of us
to defend it.

The government talks glibly about "reforms" of the NHS. In fact they propose to cut public provision and privatise
health care. The contents of your wallet will determine your treatment, not your medical need. You might as well say the German Air Force "reformed" Coventry.

The Coalition to defend the NHS will be meeting at St Johns Church Hall in central Crawley and the meetings will be
advertised on the blog.

To join the coalition contact
It could be the fight of your life.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Circus Clown in the West Sussex County Times

I would like to comment on Philip Circus's "non-political" rant about public sector pensions,

The average teachers' pension is 10,000 pounds. Excluding the very highest earners, the average public and civil service pension is £4200 a year. It would be an education for well-heeled lawyers to try living on that!

His argument is that because unscrupulous private employers have put their own profits first and robbed their employees of decent pensions, the public sector should follow suit. Presumably Robert Maxwell is his model employer here.

This is analagous to saying that three houses in my road have been broken into and robbed, so the only fair thing to do is to break into all the other houses too.

He ignores the fact that the government has failed to evaluate the Teachers Pension Fund in violation of an existing agreement, so all the figures about affordability or otherwise are just arrogant assertion. Do the sums first then give us the answers; not the other way round.

He ignores the fact that the government has already cut pensions, including police pensions incidentally, by sleight of hand. Violating another solemn undertaking to link public sector pensions to the retail price index the government has invented another measure of inflation which gives a lower figure. They only use this for pensioners;they still use the RPI for evaluating repayments on student loans.

And finally the whole tone of his article; "battling the unions" indeed. What next? Kettling pensioners? Thatcherism is so last century, Phil. Surely you remember that the blessed Margaret had completely routed and destroyed the trade unions thirty years ago. So how come they are still here and well-fed lawyers have to get apoplectic about them? Are there any grown up politicians out there who want to negotiate rather than bluffing?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The strike on June 30th

Work longer
Pay more
Get less money for your pension.

These politicians will promise you anything.

The American writer Frank Herbert defined democracy as a system in which the people distrust the government. And every day we find out a little more about why that is a fair definition as far as the solemn and binding agreement between teachers and the government over pensions is concerned.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Disabled people fighting the cuts

Disabled people are in the front line of the government's attacks on the welfare state. The government has made a critical error. One of many. They assumed that disabled people would be a pushover and they had no allies. Wrong on both counts.

Employment of disabled people is especially vulnerable to public sector job cuts. To add insult to injury the government is seeking to slash the invalidity benefit bill by using procedures to "prove" disabled people are scrounging and forcing them to work .... in non-existent jobs!

Sickened by the government's cowardly attack thousands of disabled people joined the TUC's march on 26 March and thousands took part in the "Hardest Hit" rally on 11 May.

The TUC disability conference on 25th and 26th May showed both the extent of the government's attack on disabled people and the courage and anger of the trade unionists who will stand in their path.

The Daily Mail attacks on benefit claimants echoing the Tories' lies in a cruder form have had the consequence of increasing hate crime against disabled people. The conference heard from John McArdle of Black Triangle on their work opposing defamation and victimisation of claimants.

It was guaranteed that any speaker who mentioned a public sector general strike would be applauded. John also suggested if Labour would not defend the National Health Service then unions should withdraw funding. He stopped short of saying what they should do to seek a political alternative but it was a very popular suggestion.

The NUT was there in force as you would expect and the project of a disabled history month championed by Richard Riesser received enthusiastic support.

IT was a very good conference and will inspire activists to forge the links between disabled groups and the mass of the trade union movement which can bring this government to its knees.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Their or his/her

I have just written a book review for Education Review. In it I had to face the problem of using "his or her" or "their".

It was once the case that "he" would be accepted. So that "Everyone in the nunnery was expected to do his best" was regarded as good grammar even if totally bonkers!
Now generally we have a choice:

Everyone wants to do his or her best.


Everyone wants to do their best.

Although the second sentence violates the general rule requiring agreement with the antecedents, many writers and speakers prefer to use forms of they because these forms are not gender specific. This is a common practice, but it is still criticized by grammatical purists.

And of course, Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Walt Whitman and the King James' Bible all used "their" as a gender neutral singular or plural possessive pronoun.

So "their" it was :)

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Hypocrisy over Bin Laden

Nobody is all that sad Osama Bin Laden has kicked the bucket. It was however hypocritical of Orange Tony to boast that "anyone who kills innocent civilians will be hunted down and killed." Does that include you and your chum Bush by any chance Mr Blair?

It also seems a bit premature to claim the world is a safer place. Especially as the immediate response was to declare a "heightened state of security alert" which suggests less safe really!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

From our Royal Correspondent

The Roman Emperors dealt with economic crisis with a policy of "bread and circuses". The Con Dems are determined to leave out the bread and just give us the circuses. Witness the media torrent of sickly sentimentality over the royal wedding.

Much has been made of Premier Cameron's deliberations over whether he looks better as a lounge lizard or a stuffed shirt. Serious stuff. It makes Cameron look a fool which is no bad thing but it diverts attention from the realities of
the state of the Con Dem Nation.

We should be grateful that although the country cannot afford health, welfare, education, libraries or pensions, at least we can afford for two overprivileged parasites to live like pigs in clover. It's romantic isn't it?

And of course the media Royal Correspondents stress that Middleton is "a commoner". About as common as hen's teeth in fact. The Middletons are from an elite every bit as remote from the common people as the Windsors. The significance of "blue blood" is that in the past the royals and the aristos had pale skin because they did not work outside like the peasantry so their blue veins were more likely to be visible. None of the millionaire Middletons has to turn an honest day's work and indeed they look to expand their business empire with their royal connections.

On the other hand it is important for the Windsors to bring new blue blood into the family because the perils of inbreeding are all too evident in Prince Charles and Prince Philip. Daft as a pair of Poundland brushes.

So watch the royal circus and enjoy it. After all you paid for it!

Derek McMillan
Royal Correspondent
Mid Sussex Socialist Party

Andrew Lansley Tosser - self-explanatory

Saturday, April 09, 2011

China air overbooking

We turned up at the check-in to the unexpected news that despite having booked seats months ago there was only one seat on the plane. Then we had a lot of discussion with Mr Sorry
Whose only job was to say sorry to passengers and give us the number of head office. Head office is not available of course

Saturday, March 26, 2011


Today the a new generation of trade unionists rediscovered the fundamental truth:

It would be a pity if this power were sidetracked into re-electing the Labour traitors. The working class is powerful. Its leadership is frequently weak. Marx referred to them as lions....led by donkeys. What do you think?

Libraries, education, welfare...the list goes on.
Everything is being cut except bankers' bonuses
and MP's expenses.

The cuts are entirely unnecessary. Billions are squandered in expensive military adventures. Billions are handed over to bankers in bonuses. Billions are cut from corporation tax and billions are siphoned off in tax evasion. A government of millionaires can be sympathetic to the plight of the fat cats.

As for the Political Elite – even the ones who don't have moats might as well have, they are so remote from the concerns of ordinary people. Cameron, Clegg, Miliband and their ilk have a privileged and protected lifestyle.

The capitalist class has failed. It is only the corrupt political elite that keeps them going with billions of pounds of public money.

Back in the day, the trade unions in the UK created a political party – the Labour Party. It was a party of peace, equality and public ownership. Hijacked by careerists it has become a party of:

War – not one bloody colonial war but two...and they have voted overwhelmingly for gunboat diplomacy in Libya.

Inequality – with leading Labour figures like Lord Hutton working for Cameron. Hutton is in the front line of cutting public sector pensions.

And privatisation. Usually in the guise of public private partnerships – which put public money into private pockets.

The Socialist Party does not believe trade unionists will be content to sit and wait for a Labour government. A Labour government will doubtless have good reasons to continue the cuts, just as Blair and Brown continued Margaret Thatcher's legacy of attacking the trade unions.

We believe that the unions can create a political alternative.

A new workers' party. The various socialist societies have worked together in - for example - the socialist alliance. It is only the big guns of the trade union movement - in short the people who showed their power today - who can transform the political landscape. This is desirable for socialists. It is a dire necessity for working people.

Details of the meetings of the small but perfectly formed Mid-Sussex Socialist Party are available on

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Lord Hutton's "nice Labour cuts"

If anyone pretends to believe the Labour Party would cut less than the Tories, they have only to look at the Labour Peer (and lickspittle to Cameron) Lord Hutton.

Martin Powell-Davies (NUT Executive member) writes:

Lord Hutton's second report into public sector pensions has confirmed the attacks that we have been expecting.
He has recommended:
a) An end to final salary pension schemes - to be replaced by 'career average' schemes in order to cut the value of pensions.

b) Retiring older - the 'normal pension age' would rise first to 65 for all but increase further to 68 in future to track the rising state pension age.
This comes on top of the attacks we already know about, particularly:
c) Paying more - with the government wanting to increase pension contributions by 50%. This will rob £100 a month or so from teachers just as we are about to be clobbered by a pay freeze and rising inflation.
Lord Hutton's interview on Radio 4 this morning contained a series of distortions designed to confuse and divide opposition - we must not be fooled.
First, he claims that 'there is no alternative', that we're all living longer and so we have to work longer to pay for it. The financial statistics don't back this up.
As the NUT press release has stated: "The National Audit Office has confirmed that public sector pension costs are falling as expected due to the reforms already in place.
"Teachers are already paying more, the normal pension age has been raised to 65 for new entrants and employer contributions have been capped ... Their plans are based on politics, not economics.
"Pensions have already been cut by changing their link from RPI to CPI inflation. As a result of this, next month's pension increase will be 1.5% less than it should have been".
Second, Hutton claims that public-sector workers can't expect to carry on with final-salary pensions when most private-sector workers aren't getting them.
But why should we allow ourselves to be ripped off in the same way that many private companies are ripping off their employees? The best way to defend all workers - in both the public and private sectors - is for someone to put up a fight, and we are going to!
Lastly, as well as trying to divide public sector workers from private sector colleagues, Hutton wants to divide classroom teachers from promoted colleagues by claiming that 'career-average' schemes will be 'fairer' to those lower down the scale. But what he intends will be unfair to all of us.
He hasn't made any recommendations on the technical details of the 'accrual rates' in any career-average scheme - and thereby hides the truth. In principle, a career-average scheme can be constructed in a way that maintains pension levels - but Hutton's aim is to cut pensions.
These schemes will be constructed to give us less pension even though we'll be paying in more. There's nothing 'fair' about Hutton's proposals - they are just another part of this government's agenda of cuts and privatisation.
Hutton did have to admit that there would have to be consultation and changes to legislation to bring in these changes. That means we have a window - although it might be a short one - to organise the united action needed to stop these attacks.
Hutton's report must be met with a quick response - coordinated ballots across the public sector for strike action to defeat this pensions robbery.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

City financing of the Conservative Party doubles under Cameron

Journalism is publishing a story the rich and powerful want kept under wraps. Anything else is just advertising.

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism put the sleazy fleet street canaille to shame by uncovering the depth of city financing of the Tory Party. On the same day the tabloids headlined a celebrity divorce and what was happening in Neighbours.

Last year City money made up over half of all Conservative Party donations, a leap from a quarter five years previously, when Cameron and Osborne took over the helm.

The City has donated a total of £42.76m since 2005. Last year City money accounted for £11.4m, compared with £2.75m when Cameron took over.

The revelation comes as the Chancellor’s move to increase a levy on banks was criticised for being inadequate.

A spokesman for the Conservative Party quoted on Radio 2 said that it was "ridiculous" to say that the donations affected the government's policy. It is hardly ridiculous to say that the policy elicited the donations though!

If you have ever come across a greedy banker who handed out massive wads of cash with no prospect of a return, I haven't.

The "Leader's group" are a group of rich individuals who buy the right to bend the PM's ear on any issue of their choice.

Bureau research shows that 57 individuals from the financial services sector made a donation of more than £50,000 each last year.

This level of funding would entitle them to membership of the Leader’s Group. According to Conservative Party donor literature published on the party’s website members of this group are given numerous opportunities to meet “David Cameron and other senior figures from the Conservative Party at dinners, post-PMQ lunches, drinks receptions, election result events and important campaign launches”

And he who pays the piper calls the tune.

City financing of the Conservative Party doubles under Cameron

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Law and Hugh Orde - brute force and ignorance

Hugh Orde, the head of the Association of Chief Police
Officers, criticised the "lack of willingness of new protest
groups" that have sprung up around the internet to engage
with police before protests. In fact police have
"co-operated" by "kettling" protestors.

Orde is determined to go back to the days of the miners'
strike when the boys in blue were regarded as Maggie
Thatcher's private army.

Orde admitted that kettling was a violation of human rights.
Then he gave a shrug. So what? It's "for the greater good,
and that's the really complex part of policing."

He said if protestors continued to refuse to co-operate,
then police tactics would have to become "more extreme."

The police themselves face the same problem as have arisen
in the health service and education - unqualified and
underpaid staff replacing qualified officers as a way of
cutting costs. Community Support Officers bringing in
policing on the cheap. What next? Sherlock Holmes being
replaced by Inspector Clouseau? He may be crap but he is
dead cheap.

And the sons and daughters of police officers are having
their future taken away by this government. The introduction
of sky high fees will affect them as much as anyone else.

Hugh Orde's policy of brute force and ignorance is hardly
likely to address these issues.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Crawley against the cuts

There is now a blog for Crawley Against the cuts. The first post is about a protest against the council:

Council meeting to cut jobs and services
Wednesday 23rd February
Town Hall
Tax cuts for the rich
Job cuts and service cuts for the rest of us.

Don't let them get away with it.

Give the fat cats a piece of your mind!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Tucson shootings

The shootings of six people including a US senator a federal judge and a 9 year old child in Tucson sent a shock wave around the country and created a media storm. Everything in sight was blamed including the fact that not enough American politicians carry guns!

The deadly shooting in Tucson has not deterred a nearby gun show from continuing as scheduled exactly one week later. Organizers of the Crossroads of the West gun show say their event will proceed at a site just 13 miles from where the shooting took place. The gun show was moved to Pima County after Los Angeles officials decided organizers have promoted irresponsible gun use. Crossroads’ logo depicts a crosshairs inside the letter "O" of "gun show."

Palin has called it a "blood libel" that her extreme rhetoric is a factor in the violent attempt on one of her opponents. Palin has not been a shrinking violet when it comes to explicitly inciting the killing of political opponents.
For example she wrote about Julian Assange:

"First and foremost, what steps were taken to stop Wikileaks director Julian Assange from distributing this highly sensitive classified material especially after he had already published material not once but twice in the previous months? Assange is not a "journalist," any more than the "editor" of al Qaeda’s new English-language magazine Inspire is a "journalist." He is an anti-American operative with blood on his hands. His past posting of classified documents revealed the identity of more than 100 Afghan sources to the Taliban. Why was he not pursued with the same urgency we pursue al Qaeda and Taliban leaders?"

It's worth noting that there is no evidence that Assange has "blood on his hands." In a review of a previous round of leaks on Afghanistan, the Pentagon found no evidence that anyone had been endangered.

Palin having "blood on her hands" is a more apt figure of speech.
For the gun lobby in the USA it is an understatement.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Pound of Flesh anybody.

There are lots of lovely websites around offering helpful loans to people with a dodgy credit history - usually people who are really hard up. And the rate of interest these good samaritans are offering?

Typical APR 1286.2%

and presumably a pound of flesh if you can't pay.