Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Archive for the ‘Labour Party’ Category

Suffolk Needs a Pay Rise, Ipswich Public Services Demonstration.

leave a comment »

10379866_692589164142332_679689121984450449_o

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grandma Gilles on Ipswich Demo. (Thanks Ellie).

Over 300 people  came to the demo in Ipswich called by the Trades Council and local unions, Suffolk Needs a Pay Rise,  yesterday.

In Ipswich there were well attended pickets at the Russell Road Borough and County Council offices, at Crown Pools, the Borough Council Waste depot (dust-carts – the majority of which did not go out), and HMRC offices in Lower Brook Street.

59 Suffolk schools were affected by strike action and 17 closed for the day.

At the march and rally there were members of UNISON, GMB, FBU, UNITE, PCS & NUT, NUJ, DPAC, the Peoples Assembly, other unions and campaigns, as well as members of the public.

The Suffolk People’s Assembly (Facebook)  report notes,

Many speakers at the rally expressed their anger at the wage freeze public sector workers have faced over the past 4 years. This has led to a 20% decline in real wages at the same time as increased workload. One PCS member said that he was now doing 2 peoples’ jobs and facing constant performance reviews, which was destroying his job satisfaction.

A parent talked of her support for the teachers’ strike, to defend her and other people’s education. The Ipswich NUT Secretary, Margaret  Bulaitis, spoke about how the the Education Secretary, Michael Gove, denigrated the work of her profession, and was more interested in promoting academies and privatisation than the needs of school students.

Martin, from Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), gave an impassioned speech on the effects cuts and changes to the benefit system were having on those with disabilities.

Support came from the National Union of Journalists (NUJ). Their representative suggested that Grandma Gilles (above) would not have put up with the attacks on public services by the Liberal-Conservative Coalition.

 Ipswich Tory Attacks Strikes. 

Ipswich Tory MP, Ben Gummer, disagrees.

He said (Ipswich Star) that, “public sector workers had fared better than the private sector during the recession.”

He said striking teachers were damaging the education of the children in their classes.

And he said the government was taking action to clamp down on tax avoidance by the rich and to help the low paid.

“This government has lifted two million people out of paying income tax altogether and the gap between rich and poor is getting smaller for the first time in 20 years.”

Gummer’s figures are certainly creative.

Sky news states (May 2014),

“The gap between rich and poor in Britain has become wider, with 10% of the population now owning almost half of the nation’s household wealth.

Those same one in ten households own assets worth over £1m – that’s almost 1.4 million homes.

Teachers’ Unions argue that it is Michael Gove’s ‘reforms’ are undermining education.

Their dispute about  pay, pensions and working conditions, is linked to the government’s efforts to devalue teaching, and open the way to private companies profiting from the schooling system.

Gove’s changes have created excessive workloads, and let free schools operate without democratic control and public accountability.

On public sector workers’ pay the TUC says,

Public sector workers are £2,245 worse off as a result of the coalition’s austerity policies, according to the Trades Union Congress.

NHS staff, teachers, firefighters and local government workers are among those that have lost out following pay freezes and limited pay rises since the government took office, the TUC said.

The figures, which show the average fall in real terms pay suffered by workers since May 2010, were published a day before a wave of strikes among UK public sector workers over pay, pensions and working conditions. Government policies on public sector pay have had a big impact on the spending power of almost six million UK households, according to the TUC.

The Liberal-Conservative Coalition has one overarching policy for the public sector: turning it into a source of profit for private companies.

As Thomas Picketty has noted,

Instead of holding public debt via their financial investments, the wealthiest European households would becomes the direct owners of schools, hospitals, police stations, and so on. Everyone else would then have to pay rent to use these assets and continue to produce the associated public services.”(Page 541. Capital in the Twenty-first Century. Thomas Piketty. Harvard University Press. 2014.)

The trade unions, backed by the People’s Assembly, are fighting back!

10547975_692803704120878_1030374775695649723_o

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10541382_691571194244129_5740422953743565794_o

 

 

Update: this how private companies making money out of public services in Suffolk fail to deliver:

Chartist AGM: the Pro-European Left.

with 7 comments

“Chartist was a very different animal when I took over as Editor in Spring 1974 .  The banner headline on the tabloid talked of joining a ‘joint command of revolutionary organisations and preparing for dual power’.”

Editor’s Report. 2014.

An exceptional Chartist AGM took place on Saturday the 14th of June.

The meeting began with a session of the Financial Crisis and Worker Democracy.

Prem Sikka from Essex University  gave an overview of the part accountancy, to most people one of the most  boring subjects ever invented, had played in neo-liberalism. He illustrated his case by showing how the rules of accountancy underpinned the banking crises, and the ‘outsourcing’ of state functions. This did not mean that the state, viewed in terms of spending public money, had shrunk. It has been “restructured” – to give ever greater subsidies to the private firms who now carry out many of its functions. The present privatising regime had created widespread poverty, not only for the unemployed, but for those working under ‘flexible’ zero hours contracts.  Sikka set out a list of reforms that would bring the banking and financial sector under greater public control, increase transparency,  and end widespread fraud and short-term profiteering.

Janet Williamson, Senior Policy Officer of the TUC, made the case for looking again at the proposals for worker representation in companies, last brought up by the 1970s the Bullock Report. She argued that having a voice for workers in firms decisions was essential, not just for justice, but for better wealth production and long-term stability.

In the discussion that followed  the issues of socialising the banks, the disciplining of the reserve army of the workless by workfare, and whether ‘voice’ was sufficient for socialists who wish employees to have fuller control over their working lives. The ‘shrinking’ of the state was questioned when the transfer of its functions to private companies living off tax-raised funds  had real effects on accountability and workers’ conditions.

After lunch John Palmer (former European Editor – the Guardian) spoke of What now for the left after the European elections? Palmer began by talking about the rise of the xenophobic right, particularly in the UK (UKIP) and France (the Front National). They were joined by other hard and far-right parties in Greece (Golden Dawn) and Hungary. Social Democracy, above all in france, had done very badly. Their left competitors, the Front de Gauche, had stagnated. The British Labour Party had got solid results, but had lost the lead to UKIP.  Palmer, however, pointed to the good results for the left in Southern Europe, notably Greece (Syriza), Spain (Podemos and the Izquierda Unida). From the floor Italy was added, where the centre-left Democratic Party (Partito Democratico), did well and the further left alliance (L’Altra Europa con Tsiprasre-entered the European Parliament.

Palmer explained very clearly that it was up to the Left to promote a federalist agenda as the only way to unite Europe’s left into an effective force that could shape the European Union in a different, social, direction. We need to change the terms of debate.  He cited Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century as a milestone on this journey.It had brought back inequality onto the agenda, showing how rewards to capital has grown at the expense of wage. The left’s agenda needed to centre on the European Parliament. He finished by pointed out how far Britain was isolated in its opposition to Jean-Claude Juncker. By contrast to the British Labour Party, which shares this hostility with the Liberal-Conservative Coalition, the left should be building alliances to fight austerity across the continent.

Chartist has long stood for a pro-European left. Debate and questions raised the problematic stand of some (including Palmer) who back the break-up of Britain yet want a federalist Europe. It was also noted that Picketty’s book came at a time when France’s centre-left was rediscovering the important of fighting inequality. (see The society of equals: Pierre Rosanvallon 2004.  French Edition: La Société des égaux, Le Seuil, 2011). Whether Europe, and the EU,  had played a negative role in backing US-interference the Ukrainian crisis and interventions in the Middle East and Libya was discussed.

Reports indicated that Chartist has continued to attract a wide-range of democratic socialist contributors. The Editor Mike Davis, stated that the journal is supportive of the Labour Party and progressive forces within it, and the majority do not see the way forward in independent electoral left initiatives. But the publication  also attracts Greens, the Left Unity Party,  and independent socialists. The magazine backs the People’s Assembly and has played a significant role in the Labour Assembly Against Austerity.

There were two resolutions. One called for support for the Yes campaign for Scottish Independence, and the other for Chartist backing for a London rally calling for Scotland to break away from the United Kingdom.

From the audience concern was expressed at moves to separate people on national grounds. It was also pointed out by another Chartist supporter that the mover of the resolution’s own party, Left Unity, did not endorse these views, that Chartist is not a directly campaigning group with a ‘line’ and that it was said that Alex Salmond was so vain that he drank his own bath water. We might guess who made the latter comments.

The resolution fell, supported only by its two movers.

The Chartist Magazine is now fully on-line.

The new site is up and running.You can access it here.

It is seriously worth reading.

There was a great get-together in the pub afterwards and an excellent meal in a Greek Taverna.

Socialist Worker Sticks Head in Sand Over Conservative Islamism and Education.

with 9 comments

SWP Reacts to Influence of  Conservative Islam in Education. 

It had to come.

It has come.

Socialist Worker has buried its collective head in the sand about the problems raised by the influence of conservative Islam in education.

Today we read,

A Tory clampdown on schools in Birmingham has unleashed a torrent of racist filth.

The government ordered investigations after an anonymous letter alleged a Muslim “plot” to take over schools. Right wing newspapers devoted pages to personal attacks on Muslim teachers and governors.

The paper of the SWP claims that there is no evidence for any of the Ofstead charges against Oldknow Academy.

Their proof? The Academy has issued this statement stating that the report’s claims are false.

They begin by rebutting the comment about ‘white women’ being ‘prostitutes’. Then that there were anti-Christian chants, and preaching – the list of denials is contained in this excerpt.

This is completely false and taken out of context. The word ‘prostitute’ was used
once by an ex-employee but in an entirely ‘non-offensive’ context. No member of
staff has ever used the term ‘white women were prostitutes’.“And urged to join in anti-Christian chants”

The Principal’s investigation found no evidence whatsoever of such chanting having
ever happened.
“Non-Muslims were banned from taking Friday assemblies so that
they could be “preached at”
All members of staff have access to an assembly rota. Non-Muslims are not banned
from taking Friday assemblies. No one has ever been ‘preached’ at. Assemblies would
usually have an SLT member present. However, in all faith assemblies, staff are
always present. This is the first time SLT are hearing of this.

For the writers of the Socialist Worker this must be true, one assumes, because the Academy says so.

By contrast Andrew Gilligham writes (Hat-Tip Howie’s Corner).

The evidence of “incendiary preachers at school assemblies” – Sheikh Shady al-Suleiman, an al-Qaeda sympathiser, at Park View School on November 28 2013 – in fact comes from one of the school’s official newsletters, still available on its own website (see photo above, from page 17 of this PDF).

At another of the schools, Oldknow, an official Education Funding Agency report finds that the Arabic teacher, Asif Khan, led anti-Christian chanting in assemblies (though also records his denial). I too have been told about Mr Khan’s anti-Christian assembly by four separate sources, one of themon the record. There is other on-the-record testimony that Park View’s head, Mozz Hussain, preached “mind-blowing” anti-American assemblies.

The evidence of “segregated classes” comes from both this EFA report and another one, into Park View, Nansen and Golden Hillock schools,leaked to me, which states that “teachers gave [students] seats in which to sit in class by gender to avoid having to mix” and that “students told us that they were required to sit in the places which they were given by teachers,” often with “boys sitting towards the front of the class and girls at the back or around the sides.” The relevant sections of the report are published on this blog.

At Golden Hillock, according to the EFA, non-Muslim pupils “had to teach themselves” in one subject. At Nansen, there is compulsory Arabic (in a primary school!) and no teaching of the arts for one entire year group. Nansen’s deputy head, Razwan Faraz, is administrator of a group called “Educational Activists” which also includes key staff and governors from several of the other schools and which pursues, in Mr Faraz’s words, an “Islamising agenda” in Birmingham’s schools. Park View’s chair of governors, Tahir Alam, is co-author of a document which calls for the teaching of art, drama and dance to Muslims to be restricted and Muslim girls to be veiled in school.

Even if the self-assessment from Oldknow were true, Socialist Worker does not bother to consider the evidence given above from other schools, Park View, Nansen and Golden Hillock.

Socialist Worker, in short, is peddling hysterical rubbish with no concern about the facts of the case.

Its approach is on a par indeed to the false right-wing claim that ‘extremism’ and ‘terrorism’ are involved.

The problem is clearly that ‘conservative Islam’  has influenced  some schools in Birmingham.

Unable to deal with the issues this raises, from gender equality, and the shutting down of open-minded thinking, not to mention the undue power of religious authorities, it rants about “racist hounding”.

No doubt the SWP has a unique stand on gender equality in its own organisation.

But their position is not isolated.

Socialist Unity also works by screaming at anybody who questions their support for conservative  Islam

They cynically exploit the hatred of the left for the far-right to claim that anybody who questions their position will find, Andy Newman alleges, allies in “Britain First, the BNP, Liberty GB, UKIP, AWL, EDL, SIOE, Gates of Vienna, Pam Gellar, et al.

Apparently secularism “privileges” an indigenous culture.

By not taking sides you ‘objectively’ back a particular party.

This kind of ‘objective’ ‘logic’ is well-known in Stalinist circles.

The Enlightenment, we learn on the authority of these thinkers, was a parochial western affair.

No doubt human rights are also parochial matters and not universal. The Sharia is just one cultural ‘option’ and who are ‘we’ to criticise it from the West?

Newman and his side-kick John Wight have been compressively demolished by Nick Wright, Sandy and Francis King, not to mention Sarah AB on Harry’s Place.

The counter-argument can be summarised: secular education,  is, as Jaurès saw it, marked the absence of religious, or other, dogma. The role of the state is to make sure that individual doctrines, faiths or otherwise, do not get between students and the full range of ideas. That each student should be educated in an environment of equality, where religion plays no part in making the rules.

As the socialist Jaurès said,

The day that socialists come to found schools, I consider that the duty of the teacher would be, if I may say, to never pronounce even the word socialism in front of the children .  Pour la Laïque (1910)

We should stand for universal values of free-thought, free-inquiry, and critical education without the interference of religious dogma.

No word about that from the SWP.

Instead Socialist Worker froths at the mouth at the entirely reasonable statements made by Labour’s Shadow Education Minister  Tristram Hunt,

The Labour Party leadership’s response to the row has been despicable.

It didn’t call for an end to the racist scapegoating of Muslims or a defence of teachers and governors.

Instead Labour condemned the Tories for not witch hunting more.

Shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt said schools had been “skewed to prevent a broad and balanced education”.

He claimed there was “gender discrimination” in schools and that children were being “exposed to extremist views”.

It would be interesting to hear Labour candidate Andy Newman’s comments on his party’s stand on this issue.

Update (Hat-Tip LS).

“Teachers forced out of schools at the centre of the Trojan Horse allegations have been gagged by the authorities.

At least 12 senior staff – most of them heads – were banned from speaking out as part of their six-figure pay-off deals, it emerged last night.

Some claim they were bullied, intimidated and threatened over the bid by extremists to target state schools in Birmingham.”

“Local MP Khalid Mahmood called on the Government and council to ensure that former staff would be released from the gagging clauses.

Mr Mahmood, Labour MP for Birmingham Perry Barr, said: ‘A lot of people are still not speaking even in private because they are frightened of what may happen. “

Daily Mail. 

To those who say, that’s the Mail, will they also accuse Khalid Mahmood?

“Race play” Seymour Wades into Tower Hamlets Debate.

with 4 comments

Richard Seymour Advises  on Tower Hamlets Politics.

The story of Lutfur Rahman is a democratic success story. The fact that it seems dodgy to the political and media classes is indicative of how long they’ve been insulated from anything resembling real democracy.

By Richard Seymour  and Ashok Kumar  (a PhD student of Economic Geography at Oxford University. He lives in Tower Hamlets in east London.)

Compare and contrast,

The Independent.

One thing is clear, though: the Mayor is not a racist. “I grew up with black kids and white kids,” he sobbed. “I grew up with Jewish kids, Christian kids, people of no faith.”

Yet while Mr Rahman can’t take it when he’s accused of racism, some of his supporters seem happy to dish it out.

Here, for example, are comments from one supporter’s Facebook page, adorned with pictures of the Mayor: “Zionists are the root cause of all the evil on this planet right now Zionists are filthy animals with total depravity of any form of decent humanity.

“Behaviour of those who are descendants of Pigs and Monkeys (Zionist). Zionist filth!”

He is the first mayor to fund faith directly from local taxes, which some Bangladeshis themselves believe is potentially divisive.

Although money is going to synagogues and churches, so far most applicants have been mosques since Muslims are by far the most active faith group in the borough.

Lutfur Rahman is also the only mayor who has given grants to the media – over £50,000 to Bangla TV stations and newspapers whose coverage has been flattering; and to run a weekly council newspaper which the Government says has constantly promoted him and his party; and to create a logo using not just his name but also his photo – even on council dust carts.

“One of the most controversial councils in the country is facing an investigation by the Electoral Commission, after a local election vote count was finally competed Tower Hamlets in east London after five days of delays.”

Most people would have thought that Seymour would have shut up about these issues since his dispute about Race Play (see Sex, Power Play, and Trotskyism)

Most people would have considered that Seymour would have taken our kindly meant advice and done this,

“I shall eat grass and die in a ditch in the brown water where dead leaves have rotted”.

Apparently not.

Written by Andrew Coates

May 31, 2014 at 3:25 pm

Morning Star and Socialist Party: We wuz wrong.

with 5 comments

“Right arses” Says Robert Griffiths

With  the historic votes for No2EU at  31,757 (0.2%) (-121,479, 0.9%) the Communist party of Britain and the Socialist Party issued the following declaration.

Peter Taaffe, of the Socialist Party said, “We wuz wrong”.

Robert Griffiths of the Communist Party of Britain added,

“We made right arses of ourselves standing on the No2EU Platform”.

Further comment is unnecessary.

But…..

In the 18th arrondisment of Paris the CCA (Comités communistes pour l’autogestion (CCA ) got 0 (zero) votes in the 1981 legislative elections.

The bloke standing did not even vote for himself.

The SP and CPB have yet to reach thishistoric benchmark.     

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

May 28, 2014 at 9:57 am