Friday, May 30, 2014

Battle for $15/hour in Seattle

If you don't fight you can't win. Councilmember Kshama Sawant is a fighter.
Kshama writes:
"Thank you to everyone who built the movement for a $15/hour minimum wage in Seattle. Today, workers have scored a decisive victory. But there is still much work to be done. The majority of City Councilmembers introduced and supported loopholes today, such as sub-minimum wages, a long phase-in for big business and a needless four month delay in implementation. I encourage you to watch the full video of the meeting below, and join the struggle for more representatives who unequivocally stand on the side of working people."

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Gove vs English Literature

Michael Gove has banned To Kill a Mockingbird and other American books from the English Literature syllabus. The question is not just whether he should or not. The question is whether somebody who obviously knows nothing about English Literature should be taking such decisions :)

Gove notoriously puts his fingers in his ears and goes "Yadda Yadda Yadda" (like the grown-up he is) whenever educational theory is mentioned. He has squandered billions on the Free Schools fiasco while our schools are starved of cash. And he is set fair to be the next leader of the Tory Party because every time he offends teachers and education workers his ratings with the Tory Backwoodsmen skyrockets.

The NUT "Stand up for Education" campaign is the answer to Gove's Philistinism :)

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Local elections are a disaster for the ConDems

Although the ConDems has a very bad time in the elections this has been eclipsed in the media coverage. The Labour Party is in disarray. The response to the decisive defeat of the ConDems and the rise in the number of Labour Councillors has been attacks on the leadership.  Miliband's lacklustre leadership has been used as a pretext for the Blairistas to peddle their poisonous politics. And in the wings the man himself is waiting for the call. Tony Blair, or to give him his full title Mass Murdering War Criminal Tony Blair is ready to lead Labour into more cuts, more privatisation and more imperial adventures overseas. Just what the people need? No.

The commitment of the Labour leadership to continue the Tory cuts in welfare will probably not get the people flocking to the polls next year.

And the Faragistas are revelling in their victories. Nigel (If you thought the Tory cuts were bad wait until you see ours) Farage was photographed in most papers looking smug. In his case it is actually hard to tell. "I'll just finish this pint then it's off to dismantle the NHS," he seemed to say.

In other news the BNP were trounced, left with only one councillor in the country. Perhaps the racist vote went to UKIP. Certainly the BNP TV broadcast focussed on the message "We are the real racists, UKIP are just pretending to get votes."

In better news Southampton 'rebel councillor' and TUSC national steering committee member Keith Morrell has been re-elected to his council seat in Coxford, in a vindication of the bold stand that he, and fellow rebel councillor Don Thomas, made against the Labour council's cuts.

Up and down the country Lab, Lib and Con councillors are voting through cuts. It is not surprising that people are voting for UKIP when they are seen as "none of the above". Give them time and you will find out they are no better and in some ways even worse than the "establishment parties".

Thursday, May 22, 2014

100 word stories

The Readers' Digest 100 Word story winner

Here is the link and I think Monique is a worthy winner!

Writing 100 word stories is a good discipline and there could be £1000 in it for you. The competition is closed for now but I am betting there will be one next year.


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Durrington Tories have no policies

Working on an adult education class on "persuasive writing" I was able to find statements of policy from the parties standing in Worthing.
The Greens set out their vision, they were very hot on opposing fracking for example.
The Labour Party had some political statements about the kind of Worthing they think the public deserves.
The Libdems (if you forget that they are the handmaidens of the Conservative Party for a moment) certainly had some political vision they were asking people to vote for.
UKIP had some (frankly fatuous) arguments about immigration and the EU which are tangentially relevant to Worthing at least and expressed in few words.

I had a lot of information about the Socialists (TUSC) but we have no candidates in Worthing.

Then I looked for the Conservative Party vision for the future of Worthing. Apparently they have no idea. Their website is not selling a vision to the public. They boast about the cheap parking they have brought in just before the election. The cynic in me wonders how long it will last after the votes are counted. So I was all agog to see what the leaflet from the Durrington Conservatives had to say. The answer is precisely nothing. There was a photo of someone I would not buy a used car from and "Every Vote Counts! Vote Conservative" and that was the sum total of their message to the masses. Talk about the arrogance of uncontested power!

Vote Socialist


Sunday, May 18, 2014

Worthing World of Words

Monday 16th - 
Saturday 21st June 
St Paul's Church
From 12-2pm, the chapel room will be dedicated to daily readings of the most published book in English - The Bible. We need eight volunteers over six days - that's 48 readers!
Thursday 19th June
Indigo Restaurant
Inspired in Sussex
An evening of literary gems with the Wordies of Worthing, followed by a two-course meal. 
Thursday 19th June
Worthing Pier Southern Pavilion
10am - 4pm
A beautiful opportunity from Brighton Writers Retreat

Saturday 21st June
The monthly  Emporium Farmers' market will turn all literary for one day only with a special creative tent dedicated to the spoken word and all things wordy.
Sunday 22nd June
5pm - 7pm 
ROAR! Empowerment through communication
Speakers' Corner, free event 
At the Splashpoint Rocks (outdoor)
run by 

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Vote Socialist on Thursday

The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition has candidates in a seat near you.
They are alone in fighting back against austerity.
"It is better to vote for what you want and perhaps not get it than to vote for what you don't want and get it!" (Eugene V. Debs)

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Palestinian teen detained for over 1 year, confessed after torture

From Defense for Children International Palestine

At the end of March,
 202 Palestinian children were imprisoned and prosecuted in the Israeli military court system, a decrease of 12 percent over February.

The number of young children detained between the ages of 12 and 15 was 24, a decrease of 33 percent from February.

In March, DCI-Palestine highlighted
 the case of Ali Shamlawi, a Palestinian teenager who confessed to throwing stones after he was tortured in Israeli custody. He has been in detention for over a year and neither his lawyer, nor his family know when a verdict will be reached. He faces attempted murder charges and a severe prison sentence….

And has the British government questioned the involvement of G4S in the detention and torture of Palestinian children? And are they still happy about G4S being involved in schools (and in British prisons for that matter)?

A challenge for the NUT leadership

NUT members have an important decision to make in June when they receive their ballot paper to vote for the next General Secretary of the NUT. If they choose to use their vote, as I hope they will, they have a clear choice to make between the existing GS, Christine Blower, and myself, Martin Powell-Davies, a member of the NUT National Executive.

My candidature has ensured that there is a contested election for this key post in the Union. I hope this will help to engage NUT colleagues across England and Wales in the debate about how best to defeat the ongoing attacks on teachers and education. 

Short biographies and 300 word election statements from both Christine and I will be circulated with the voting papers. Regrettably, however, unlike last year's National Officers Election, NUT members won't have a chance to compare candidates' election statements on the National NUT website. This is because the rules state that both candidates must be in agreement  - and I was the only candidate willing for this to happen.

I hope that NUT Associations will agree that members should be given a full opportunity to read about the candidates and their policies before voting. I am grateful for those who have already agreed to circulate my election poster (downloadable from ). I have also produced an additional poster - with a cartoon for your noticeboards - which can be downloaded from

I hope that your Association would agree to email their members with the 150 word statement that I had hoped would be posted on the National NUT website. Here it is:  


Effective leadership with a WINNING strategy

I am seeking your support to lead the NUT in a battle we cannot afford to lose.

Whoever forms the next Government, Ministers will continue to criticise teachers, undermine our pay and conditions, damage children’s education.

Teachers have solidly supported their Union’s campaign but know it’s far from won.

We experience:

·        demoralisation and worsening workload, 

·        colleagues driven from the profession, 

  • damaging pension and pay legislation imposed.


Continued public campaigning is essential but we will only win serious concessions when we show we are prepared to take serious action.

We need clear campaign objectives, a calendar of ongoing action rather than isolated ‘protest’ strikes, firm workload action across schools.

If elected General Secretary, I pledge to: 

·        encourage professional unity,  

·        strengthen workplace organisation, 

·        give members confidence to escalate action, 

sharpen our media messages, explaining we act to defend education.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

UKIP call the cops

UKIP have tried to close down a Green activist's twitter account because he insisted on telling the public about UKIP policies.

Michael Abberton has posted quotes from UKIP MEPs and council candidates which include such ideas as justifying date rape, the "curing" of homosexuality and the abolition of workplace rights because of their association with the EU! UKIP called the police to go and talk to him.

Disabled people, the unemployed and asylum seekers get daily abuse and misrepresentation from the mass media but the police don't turn up at the Daily Mail offices to give them a ticking off each morning.

Apparently UKIP do not want people to know what their policies are!

One thing you can be sure of will have picked up more followers as a result of this fiasco.

It has certainly gone up by one as I am now a follower - how about you?

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Short Story Competition

Alfie Dog Fiction International Short Story Competition


Can you write a short story? It is easy if you try and this has to be the most inexpensive Short Story Competition I have come across (apart from the free ones obviously!) I have submitted "The Princess Hiatus Hernia" as my story and downloaded some good stories from Alfiedog as my "fee". It is a good system :)
1st Prize:
£200 AND Publication of a short story collection of 35,000 – 40,000 words with editorial support for completion
2nd Prize:
full critique of stories to a total maximum word count of 10,000 words
Entry fee – the download of 5 paid short stories by different authors (Sales number required on entry)
For Full details and entry form click HERE

Thursday, May 08, 2014


The i newspaper this morning has a Simon Kellner article defending
Clarkson's "humour".

I fail to see why rebranding Clarkson's rants as "humour" is useful.
When he said I should be taken out and shot for going out on strike I
should have giggled? When Himmler said the extermination of the Jews was
"not racism just common sense" I should have wet myself laughing? When
Clarkson fan and mass murderer Brevik called himself a Christian I
should have bust a gut?

Perhaps you had to be there.


Monday, May 05, 2014

Towards a pensioners' manifesto

The National Pensioners' Convention is seeking to put together a Pensioners' manifesto for the election. This is my two penn'orth:
The General Election will take place on 7 May 2015, and in line with previous campaigns, the NPC will be putting together a Pensioners’ Manifesto which can be put to all the candidates. This survey has been produced in order to ask our supporters to indicate what issues they think are the most important to older people and should be put into the NPC’s manifesto. Please therefore indicate your preferences below. Thank you.
Please choose no more than 5 issues from the following:
Reintroduce the RPI (Retail Price Index) as the measure of inflation for uprating all pensions
Apply the Triple Lock (the best of 2.5%, CPI or earnings) to future increases in state pensions
Ensure pension indexation is the same for the existing state pension and the new single-tier state pension

Increase the basic state pension for all pensioners to at least the official poverty level of around £175 a week
Include existing pensioners in the new single-tier state pension where it would be financially beneficial for the individual

Maintain all existing universal pensioner benefits (bus pass, winter fuel allowance, TV licences for the over 75s and free prescriptions) without means-testing
Create a National Health and Care Service which is free at the point of use and funded through a range of taxation measures
Improve the quality of care for older people by putting the NPC Dignity Code into legislation

Introduce a minimum visit time of at least 30 minutes for social care at home

Tackle fuel poverty by expanding the programme of insulation and energy efficiency measures for those pensioners in need

End standing charges on all utility bills

Provide access to free lifelong learning opportunities for all pensioners

More action to combat the negative portrayal of older people in the media and elsewhere

Introduce a fairer system for local government finance based on the household’s ability to pay rather than property values

Other (please state)

Please return before 6 June 2014 to the
NPC Walkden House, 10 Melton Street, London NW1 2EJ. Thank you.