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Paul Embery, National Organiser of Trade Unionists Against the EU, hits out at Immigration and “Left Wing Zealots”.

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Image result for Paul Embery Trade Unionists against the EU meeting

Paul Embery  at TUSC anti-EU tour (June 2016).

“…try discussing with….. the self-appointed guardians of enlightened society – the idea that immigration levels are too high and should be reduced. You’re a xenophobe.” “Try saying that kids are better served being raised by two parents, one of each sex. You’re a homophobic bigot.” (June 2018)

There’s been a lot of guff written recently claiming that the campaign for a People’s Vote on Brexit is a Blairite plot to divide the Labour Party.

Zoe Williams has written a firm reply to this which this Blog feels no need to add to: Jeremy Corbyn, take note: leftwing remainers won’t stay silent on Brexit.

This Blog has tracked some of the shifts in the supporters of Brexit, who claimed to be on the left,  from sovereigntism, but communitarianism.

But few have been so openly right-wing in their drift as Paul Embery.

He is a FBU officer and National Organiser of the Arron Banks backed Trade Unionists Against the EU which the Morning Star, the Socialist Party and others from the ‘Lexit’ left supported and to which they gave wide publicity.

From campaigning for Brexit to the following whinge  copied from Spiked-on-Line (which Embery contributes to), peppered with why-oh-why’s about high immigration levels, and “kids are better served being raised by two parents, one of each sex”, is but a step.

The left-wing zealots are threatening our freedom

19th of June 2018.

As a socialist and trade unionist, I despair of the modern Left and its propensity to do everything in its power to alienate the very people for whom it purports to speak. So wrong is its stance on so many social and moral questions, that you wonder whether it even wants the votes of traditional left-wing voters anymore. Perhaps it would be happier as a self-indulgent protest lobby, its ranks of middle-class, city-dwelling, bohemian types smoking their weed and listening to Bob Dylan tracks.

These people preach peace and harmony, while reciting the mantra of ‘Live and let live’ and speaking of the need for ‘tolerance’, ‘diversity’ and ‘respect’ – all the usual buzzwords. Except that in practice they do the precise opposite of these things, openly frowning upon the lifestyle choices of working-class folk, while displaying a sneering intolerance towards their opinions and demanding rigid conformity of political thought.

For example, try discussing with these people – the self-appointed guardians of enlightened society – the idea that immigration levels are too high and should be reduced. You’re a xenophobe. Try saying that kids are better served being raised by two parents, one of each sex. You’re a homophobic bigot. Don’t believe someone with the anatomy of a man can suddenly become a woman just because he says he is? Transphobe. Believe multiculturalism, the active promotion of separation and difference, has been a monumental failure? Racist. (A bizarre one this, since one can of course be a committed multiracialist while disavowing multiculturalism.)

The modern Left’s contempt for alternative opinions derives not only from an innate sense of its own moral superiority, but also from the absurd notion that to promote one way of living – to suggest that society benefits more from one taking one path rather than another – is to somehow discriminate or show prejudice against ‘the other’.

But a month before he was even more explicit.

The Sun 4th of May 2018.

PAUL EMBERY 

Our working class is not racist — they’ve just been shafted by the liberal elite

It is between these places that a new and unintended coalition has emerged, born out of resentment at having  to watch their old-fashioned, socially conservative — what some describe as “faith, family and flag” — views shunned and disparaged by the liberal elite.

You can see something similar writ large across England: An accidental alliance between once-loyal Labour voters in the post-industrial towns and Conservatives in the shires.

It’s an alliance which manifested itself most starkly in the Brexit vote.

..

The indigenous population cried out for respite. The letters page of the local paper was filled with correspondents begging to be heard. But nobody in power took a blind bit of notice, other than to patronise them with trite arguments about improved GDP and cultural enrichment.

Rather than rally to their support, the Left — including, shamefully, the Labour Party and trade unions — treated these marginalised working-class folk like an embarrassing elderly relative, imploring them to “stop blaming migrants” (something they hadn’t done in the first place).

What was genuine bewilderment and disorientation on the part of local citizens was, inexcusably, dismissed as casual racism and bigotry.

Yet it wasn’t their sense of race that had been violated by the sudden upheaval in their community. It was their sense of order.

So, in 2006, locals took the only route of protest they thought left available to them and returned  12 British National Party councillors at the local elections.

….

But the whole debate around immigration has been toxified by what the ruling elites imposed on places such as Barking and Dagenham.

They shook a kaleidoscope then stood back in surprise when the pieces didn’t fall exactly where they wanted. Remember all this the next time you hear someone speak of London as the greatest city in the world.

Chances are the words are being spoken by a politician or a celebrity or a middle-class liberal from one of the trendier parts of town.

For there are, in reality, two Londons. One half — alienated, neglected and resentful — represents a potentially formidable army at the ballot box.

Then there is this:

Who will be so bold as to back this standpoint?

Our bet is that there are many other Emberys out there.

Here’s his Great Uncle:

Alf Garnett: Well, I mean, see if we go into Europe…

Else Garnett: I thought we was in Europe. I mean, I thought we always have been.

Alf Garnett: I know that, yer silly moo. I’m not talking about that aspect am I? I’m talking about the Common Market aspect of the going into Europe.

Alf Garnett: Old Enoch’s against it, in’t ‘e, eh? He don’t want no more bloody foreigners over here. We got enough bloody foreigners here as it is. Bloody country’s swarming with Eities and Krauts and Froggies and Spagnollies and Brussel Sprouts. All coming over here and taking our jobs off of us, aren’t they?

Else Garnett: Well, we can go over there and take the jobs off of them.

Alf Garnett: I don’t want to go over there, do I?

Else Garnett: Wish you would.

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0068188/quotes

 

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France: Emmanuel Macron’s ‘Reforms’ to Continue on Track?

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Image result for maree populaire

Protest Against Macron Calls for General Strike. May 2018.

Is France’s President Emmanuel Macron about to win his battle against the rail strikers?  

Last Friday after the French National Assembly the Senate passed legislation reforming the country’s railway system, the SNCF by 245 against 82. The principal change is that from an “établissement public à caractère industriel et commercial (EPIC) » to « société anonyme (SA) ». That is, it will become a limited company, which will remain under public ownership.

No new recruit will benefit from the existing ‘statut’, the terms and conditions, of existing employees. This open the way for the end of free travel for employees, lower pay, more worker ‘flexibility, and the abolition of the right to retire at 55 for train drivers. A principal argument behind these, and other changes, is that the public railway company must resolve its debt problem to be competitive.

There will be competition between the rail-service and other companies, extending the existing opening to freight. There are suggestions (Spinetta report) that some unprofitable branch lines may be done away with. Maintenance will also be open to private companies (l’Humanité. 15.6.18). From 2019 regional services will be affected and in 2020 the TGV will, leaving the position around Paris in the l’Ile-de-France to be clarified between 2023 and…..2039.

These changes follow European Union directives on public debt and competition. They have been issued with the agreement of the counties of the EU, dominated by supporters of the marketisation of public services, and not from some hidden Brussels cabal.

Strikes, strongly supported by those working for the SNCF, against the ‘reform’ began on the 3rd of April, co-ordinated by the ‘intersyndical’ of rail unions (CGT, UNSA, SUD, CFDT, and FO). As collective bargaining begins in the light of the new law stoppages continue, intended to weigh on the negotiations. Despite suggestions that the ‘reformist’ unions (such as the CFDT) might reach a conciliatory agreement on their own this has not yet happened. What looks likely happen as talks get underway is that strikes will become reduced to a means of pressure for the best possible outcome, within this framework.

Despite a parallel conflict in Air France and a student movement, including militant occupations, against the reform called ORE (“d’orientation et de réussite des étudiants”) which gives universities the power to set admission criteria and rank applicants , a ‘social movement’ against Macron’s moves has not taken off. The wider public appears not to have identified with the fight of the cheminots (rail workers) as they did in 1997. Jean Luc-Mélenchon has stated that while he is drunk with his own self-satisfaction,  59% of those polled have a ‘negative’ opinion of the President. But ‘marées populaires” ‘ (tidal waves of protesters) at demonstration of solidarity with the strikers by his rally-party, have failed to flood the streets.  La France insoumise, the radical left, and other parts of the fragmented green, Communist and socialist left, trade unionists and students, have not created an ‘ insurrection  citoyenne’. Many of the public, lukewarm at the defence of what much of the media has presented as “special interests”  do not identify with the strikers.

Macon now feels free to tackle the welfare state. He has complained about the “pognon de dingue” (daft amount of dosh)  spent on welfare, suggesting wholesale changes in the benefit system. Replacing the complex French pension system with a uniform regime is in his sights. At the same time today it’s confirmed by right wing Economy Minister, Bruno le Maire, that the les Aéroports de Paris, la Française des Jeux (National Lottery) and Engie (unsurprisingly an energy firm) will be privatised (France’s Le Maire set to unveil inflammatory privatisation bill.)

It is sometimes suggested that Macron poses as ‘above’ left and right to cover his neoliberal policies. But is the struggle against neo-liberal globalisation what it was at the turn of the new millenium? The nature of ‘liberal’ policies, when not only European countries like Italy, Poland and Hungary, displaying signs of the less attractive side of anti-liberalism, but the US is engaged in trade wars that strike up the pillars of what was assumed to be ‘globalisation ‘ is in a state of flux. It is all very well for Mélenchon to shout that the President is an “EXTRÊME-LIBÉRAL”. But that part of the French left, including sections of La France insoumise, like other currents in Europe, including Britain, consider that ‘socialist’ version of ‘sovereigntism ‘ that is national control of the economy, is the answer to the difficulties created by years of market reform and liberalisation only adds to the confusion.

The French President himself claims to be a « progressive » both of the « right, the centre, and the left ». (Macron, un président philosophe. Brice Couturier. 2017) Put in less exorbitant langue he is, in effect, claiming the mantle of the 5th Republic, designed by de Gaulle to make the Head of State appear « above » parties and social divisions. Taking this further Macron presents his fight against workers and social rights as a struggle against outdated ‘ corporatism ‘.

A more bogus sets of political assertions would be hard to find. Saint-Simonian top-down technocratic reforms are the opposite of changes inspired by grassroots democratic struggle. But until there is a left united enough to challenge Macron and the domination of the National Assembly by his La République En Marche!  they will be hard to put down.

Fully Automated Luxury Communism: Confusionism for Happy Bunnies.

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Image result for playpower richard neville

Oddly Absent from Aaron Bastani’s pick of five books to understand Marxism (Guardian. May 2018)

I had hoped that by ignoring Bastani he would go away.

Apparently not.

Respected commentators, or sages as we call them, such as Hegemony describe him in terms of a “huckster and half baked ideas” and the below as “essentially what you get if you filter the Utopianism of the hard left through Iain M Banks’ Culture science fiction novels, and then have the result narrated to you by a gym-bunny.”

Then,

Very redolent of the late 60s and early 70s, an era of hucksters and grifters pushing half-baked ideas on the populace, mystics and futurologists competing in the marketplace of ideas and actually being taken seriously.

So here is some background.

Located on the futurist left end of the political spectrum, fully automated luxury communism (FALC) aims to embrace automation to its fullest extent. The term may seem oxymoronic, but that’s part of the point: anything labeled luxury communism is going to be hard to ignore.

“There is a tendency in capitalism to automate labour, to turn things previously done by humans into automated functions,” says Aaron Bastani, co-founder of Novara Media. “In recognition of that, then the only utopian demand can be for the full automation of everything and common ownership of that which is automated.”

Bastani and fellow luxury communists believe that this era of rapid change is an opportunity to realise a post-work society, where machines do the heavy lifting not for profit but for the people.

“The demand would be a 10- or 12-hour working week, a guaranteed social wage, universally guaranteed housing, education, healthcare and so on,” he says. “There may be some work that will still need to be done by humans, like quality control, but it would be minimal.” Humanity would get its cybernetic meadow, tended to by machines of loving grace.

Guardian.

Many people will have thought he was a bleeding idiot on this basis alone.

And,

In the run-up to the United Kingdom European Union membership referendum, 2016, Bastani initially campaigned for the UK to leave the European Union. Bastani went on to change his position on pragmatic grounds two weeks before the referendum.

 

But Bastani keeps popping up , including on the paradigm of luxury communism, the Venezuelan media TeleSUR,

 

 

Bastrani has his eye on the future,

Interplanetary Gold Rush  

As outlandish as it sounds, space exploration, like AI and renewables, is an important terrain on which a rising left must fight. The technology is changing, as are the legal frameworks; we need a politics which understands the possibilities of the future and puts them at the service of social justice and abundance – the province of us all – rather than private profit and scarcity.

Not everybody likes the idea,

Fully automated luxury communism: a utopian critique  mcm_cmc

Fully automated luxury communism thus rests on a highly optimistic vision of the potential of technology to meet our desires with a minimum of human labour. But is this a practical vision? One point that challenges the luxury communist notion is the way in which conceptions of goods as luxurious are often tied up with exclusivity. For example, a Cartier watch isn’t valued for its superior timekeeping abilities as compared to other watches or for its staggering beauty (they are often quite ugly) so much as that they are known for being expensive and thus owning one confers the status of being able to buy something other people cannot afford. ‘Cartier for everyone’ would thus make it meaningless as a status symbol and destroy the very reason it was viewed as a luxury in the first place.

Beyond this, the well established problems of limited natural resources and the damage done to the environment by production raises questions about the possibilities for the growth in production that luxury communism must be predicated upon. Our reliance on maintaining the earth’s environment for our very survival means that sustainability is a key concern to any future vision whilst the new technologies of late capitalism, including technologies such as the internet that rely on vast banks of mainframes consuming large quantities of electricity, have a major impact on the environment, the effects of which we are already seeing. There may well be technological developments that can attenuate or even go some way to reversing these effects, however it would be foolhardy to assume that technology will pull through and avert disaster in the end.

In addition, the limited quantities of materials available for production must inevitably act as a limitation on productive expansion. Thus environmental concerns must limit this promise of ‘luxury for all.’ Older limitations of scarcity may have been overcome, but the problem of environmental scarcity is more pressing than ever before.

Finally, by focusing on work as the production of goods, fully automated luxury communism risks overlooking other forms of labour such as those involved in social reproduction and care. Care work, such as the raising of children, looking after the sick, disabled and the elderly and the everyday tasks required for staying alive remains a large (and proportionately growing) burden of labour time, one for there seems no easy technological fix. Sure, care robots and other forms of automation have been suggested and implemented in part, but these are ill suited to accommodate the complex needs, requirement for human interaction and demands for dignity and agency which must surely be a key part of the provision of care in any future communist society.

As Sylvia Federici argues ‘while production has been restructured through a technological leap in key areas of the world economy, no technological leap has occurred in the sphere of domestic work significantly reducing the labour socially necessary for the reproduction of the workforce.’5

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If production isn’t infinitely expandable and the scope for the technological replacement of labour power is limited then we will need to rethink what we mean by ‘luxury’, and indeed what we mean by ‘communism’. Here it is necessary to think more generally of a transformation of social relations and relations between humanity and nature, looking towards the creation of a ‘public affluence’ rather than the ‘private luxury’ of capitalist desires.

Luxury communism focuses on the fulfilment of privatised, materialistic desires as they exist now through technologically created plenty. This approach has the benefit of clearly resonating with popular demands without telling people what they ‘should’ want, however if this plenty is limited then we need to look more carefully at the transformation of social relations and how desires are constructed.

For example, the promise of a work free society resonates with people’s unhappiness in work; work is something we do to survive and given the choice we would prefer to not do it. However, if it isn’t possible to replace all these tasks with machines what should the alternative be? Aaron Bastani touches on this with the promise of a 10 hour week, and certainly this would be preferable to working 40+ hours. However, this would still mean 10 hours a week in the same miserable, unsatisfying labour.

Readers of this Blog will hardly need reminding of James Bloodworth’s book Hired which describes the use of new technology to make people’s lives a misery of surveillance and hard labour. Not to mention the fate of those ‘freed’ from work relying on benefits. Or the fact that the Italian Movimento 5 Stelle , now in power, has, faced with the obvious difficulties of implementing the idea in a large country, quietly shelved the idea of a Universal Basic Income.

We can “demand” full automation and full common ownership as much as we like, but without agencies organising people with an interest in socialisation, and without real plans to divest the present owners of their power, this has much likelihood of any effect as Richard Neville’s Oz era advocacy of the ‘alternative society’ replacing the old world with playful “heads”.

For a more in-depth analysis of some these ideas on the end of work in the form advocated by André Gorz, see, André Gorz. Une Vie. Willy Gianinazzi. Review.

 

Communist Party of Britain-Marxist Leninist (CPGB -ML) and Stop the War Coalition on the Trump/Kim Jong Un Meeting.

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Image result for CPGB-ML Harpal Brar discusses DPRK on BBC’s primetime The One Show
 

On BBC’s One Show. Really…

On Monday 11 June, CPGB-ML chairman Harpal Brar joined guests on the BBC’s primetime One Show to discuss the historic meeting between US President Trump and Marshall Kim Jong Un, chairman of the Workers Party of Korea, in Singapore this week.On this video, you can see both the package that was broadcast by BBC One and the rest of the comments made by Comrade Brar during the course of the hour-long recording session.As the only person in the room supporting the people of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK),

Comrade Brar put a strong and persuasive case in favour of the Korean people, their government and their hopes for peace and reconciliation on the Korean peninsula. Contrary to years of hysterical hyperbole demonising the north, its socialist system and its leaders, journalists in the capitalist press are now having to concede that the DPRK’s decision to arm itself with a nuclear deterrent was a wise one, and that the leadership of Comrade Kim Jong Un and the Workers Party of Korea (WPK) has been anything but ‘crazy’.For our part, we have always fully upheld the Korean people’s right to work for peace and reunification without outside interference. It is US imperialism that stands in the way of this strong desire of the masses of both the north and the south of Korea, not the DPRK government, which has long pursued a policy of striving towards reunification.

That is why one of the most popular slogans of the WPK and the DPRK masses for decades has been and remains:
Korea is One!

This is closest we’ll get in Britain to the DPRK’s response.

It is laughable but Harpel Brar is seen strutting around – unchallenged – on most London left demonstrations.

Some on the left are more concerned with what they claim are “regime change” plans for North Korea than about the reality of this tyranny.

Just before the summit (11th of June) the Morning Star was issuing warnings on this theme:

Nagging doubt hang over Trump’s talks with North Korean leader

But, until reality dictates otherwise, a nagging doubt remains that Washington — especially the plethora of neoconservative cold warriors surrounding the president — has something more sinister in mind.

The likes of John Bolton and Mike Pompeo find it difficult to talk in anything but ultimatums, demanding “the Libya model” as the basis for Pyongyang’s agreement to renounce its nuclear weapons programme.

After the summit this was their response:

Trump and Kim agree to work towards the denuclearisation of Korea

While the global response to the meeting has been largely positive, Iran warned North Korea against trusting the US after Mr Trump recently pulled out of the 2015 international nuclear deal and reimposed sanctions on Tehran last month.

John Rees of the Stop the War Coalition takes the regime change angle equally seriously while dismissing depth of the concluding agreement,

Sound and Fury, Signifying Nothing.

What does the Trump-Kim summit mean? Not much, says John Rees.

We may all welcome the retreat from earlier war-mongering rhetoric but this deal will not preclude it’s sudden return because there’s nothing of substance in it.

Kim Jong Un must be laughing all the way to the DMZ. In a single bound he’s escaped from the dunce’s corner of international relations and now bestrides the world as, well, if not quite a colossus, then at least the admired ally of the most powerful head of state in the world.

…..

What Trump has actually done is to tear up a functioning nuclear deal with Iran and replace it with a meaningless multilateralist statement of intent with North Korea.

We may all welcome the retreat from earlier war-mongering rhetoric but this deal will not preclude it’s sudden return because there’s nothing of substance in it.

Kim Jong Un must be laughing all the way to the DMZ. In a single bound he’s escaped from the dunce’s corner of international relations and now bestrides the world as, well, if not quite a colossus, then at least the admired ally of the most powerful head of state in the world.

China too will be relieved that any likely further pressure to contain their ally has just sharply decreased.

The real lessons of the circus in Singapore are two-fold.

One, this is another episode in the decline of US power. The initiative was taken out of US hands when North and South Korea began another round of détente at the Olympic games and it has never regained it. Trump has merely managed to grandstand on a stage that he neither created nor on which does he control the action.

Two, the age of populist leaders is an age in which foreign policy goals are determined as much by domestic campaigning priorities as by traditional international relations strategy. US Presidents are supposed to at least make a show of pursuing goals agreed on by the entire foreign policy elite, otherwise known as the ‘national interest’. Trump isn’t interested in that, although he sometimes has that approach forced on him by the wider US power structure.

…..

If there is one thing more dangerous than a US President following the dictates of the foreign policy elite, as Bush did with the Project for the New American Century, it’s a President following his own mercurial interpretation of what viewers of Fox news think is a good idea. But that is where US economic decline wedded to overwhelming military power, plus the aftermath of defeat in Iraq, has brought us.

In other words Trump is still a danger.

There remain three principal points to make:

  • North Korea, the DPRK, is a totalitarian tyranny. Yet, “Trump seemed to play down the severity of human rights violations in North Korea. “It’s rough,” Trump allowed after being asked about North Korea’s human rights record. He then said: “It’s rough in a lot of places, by the way. Not just there.” (Kim Tong-Hyung). We did not expect the CPGB (M-L) to mention this either, but Rees, acting as a chess strategist on the world stage, fails to tackle the issues which the New York Times has just summed up as “Atrocities Under Kim Jong-un: Indoctrination, Prison Gulags, Executions”. Perhaps these are more important than the “decline of US power.
  • On the DPRK some parts of the left have a serious analysis. Shiraz reposts a piece from the US Socialist Worker by David Whitehouse. It says, “During a period of famine in the 1990s, Kim’s father looked the other way while Northern citizens developed private markets for farm produce and other goods. If Kim Jong-un really shifts resources away from military investment, North Koreans can look forward to making even more money from their private efforts.Meanwhile, soon after coming to power in 2012, Kim embarked on structural economic reforms that provide freedom to managers at the enterprise level — freedom to hire and fire at will, set wages at variance with national guidelines, and cultivate their own suppliers and buyers without going through the national planning process.

    These reforms, which mirror the early measures of Chinese economic liberalization in the 1980s, have promoted the development of a new middle class, at least somewhat independent of the ruling party hierarchy. This group definitely has an interest in Kim following through with diplomatic engagement that can open the economy even further.

    North Korea’s working class is overwhelmingly poor. Anecdotal reports, including from asylum-seekers who make it into South Korea, suggest that workers harbor intense hatred toward the rich upper layers of the party hierarchy and toward residents of the city of Pyongyang, where wealth is concentrated.

    To some extent, Kim seems to be able to use the popular cult of the Kim family to deflect popular anger away from himself — and toward those just a few layers below him. Right now, says North Korea specialist Andrei Lankov, “Kim Jong-un is popular. Everyone supports him.”

    Kim wants to keep it that way. The burden of domestic expectations has helped drive him toward the Singapore summit, where he hopes that de-escalation of hostility with the U.S. will bring relief from sanctions — and open up export possibilities, access to international finance, and investment from countries such as China and South Korea.

  • If Rees suggests that ‘populism’ is now the engine of US foreign policy, does this mean that Trump tore  up the Nuclear deal with Iran to please Fox News watchers? What exactly does the term American imperialism mean if instead of “military industrial” interests we have crowd pleasing as the motor of decision-making? Does it mean that ‘anti-imperialism’ now signifies fighting the mob and its leader’s “sound and fury”?

It may well be that there will be less than a massive response in London to a Stop Trump protest against the US President who’s a”walking shadow, a poor player,that struts and frets his hour upon the stage.”

Political Satire and its Critics: From Spitting Image to Tracey Ullman.

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Image result for Tomorrow belong to me, SPitting image

Trigger Warning: Satire!

The reaction to Charlie Hebdo in the English-speaking world has always been marked by po-faced people telling the cartoonists what should and what should not be satire.

The usual hostility to French secular leftists by the likes of Giles Fraser, the ex-SWP supporting Priest, now a Patriot with a wanion, is one thing.

Now we see the same kind of reaction to Tracey Ullman.

As somebody who tabled a resolution at Warwick Students’ Union in the late 70s mocking Larry O’Nutter (something like, “we shall smash the trumpeting bourgeoisie; throwing the error-strewn imperialists apologists into smithereens i.e. into the gutter”) and got a counter-resolution in return taking the piss out of Andrew Coates (First line, “Marxism is all-powerful because it is true, it is not true because it is all-powerful – Louis Althusser), perhaps I have a decades old thick skin.

Ullman’s sketch on Corbyn last week raised the hackles of a swarm of his supporters.

It only offended me because her feeble attempt to give him a North London accent – speaking as Geezer born in his constituency.

 

Now there is this:

Being made of stern stuff I recall this, which I may guess few leftists would object to.

 

So there we have it.

Defeat of the po-faced.

 I fucking hate Tories!

 

 

Labour splits on access to EU single market; Morning Star peddles fantasy “progressive, pro-worker” Brexit.

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Now is the Time To Fight Brexit.

Brexit: Labour too divided to back Norway-style deal, says Starmer

Guardian.

European Economic Area amendment does not have full support within the party

Keir Starmer has hit back at claims Labour will squander the chance to defeat the government over an amendment to keep the UK in a Norway-style deal after Brexit, saying his party was too divided to back it.

Labour’s frontbench has announced a new amendment to the EU withdrawal bill, which returns to the Commons next week, proposing “full access to the internal market of the European Union”.

However, the new amendment stops short of calling for the full single market membership sought by a vocal group of Labour MPs, after the Lords backed a Norway-style membership of the European Economic Area (EEA).

Meanwhile the Morning Star, the paper of choice of a Corbyn adviser on Brexit (“part-time consultant, as Labour hones its Brexit strategy) and the EU, Andrew Murray, publishes this.

Ian Scott, “a Unite member and president of Birmingham Trades Union Council”, blames the EU for “younger people working longer hours on lower wages under harsher job contracts”, ” the closure of car manufacturing at Longbridge, Birmingham, with big job losses.” and the Lisbon Treaty for calling for the “the end of welfare state”. Not to mention “poorer pensions”.

POST-BREXIT Britain is not necessarily the confusing issue it is deliberately made out to be.

Much of the mess we are in today is also due to many of our MPs allowing EU legislation “on the nod” to go through our Parliament and, more often than not, without the content of directives being explained to them and, unsurprisingly, without knowing what the implications could be.

The 2016 referendum saw the largest turnout in a Britain-wide vote since 1992, the people spoke clearly for many issues of concern.

Since the referendum, there’s been much doom and gloom and much panic about the loss of trade, jobs and rights.

Yet, on workers’ rights, one such claim for EU benefits, I was incensed on reading a young electrical worker’s contract of employment which said — with reference to the EU’s working time directive (WTD) — that the employee was required to work up to 48 hours per week. In other examples, the WTD has extended the working week for many (mainly younger) workers.

All this to the negation of what our fore parents fought for. In a nutshell, we will witness younger people working longer hours on lower wages under harsher job contracts, only to retire later than 65 years of age just to receive poorer pensions than what many pensioners enjoy today.

If the above statement is not an indictment of corporate greed exacerbated by EU policy, a question arises about the type of trade union necessary to fight for change. A corporate union interested in the role of corporate business would do nothing for workers, let alone youth who currently working on zero-hour contracts. Did the EU Commission not endorse this type of contract many years ago?

Similarly, more up-front trade unions need to wake up and learn a trick or two on contracts of employment, a powerful tool that needs to be fully researched and an area where trade unions can stand up to erroneous employers in Britain and, importantly, improve their standing with their employees to promote union membership — for job security and conditions.

Remember that 99 per cent of employees work in a workplace employing 250 people or fewer. Just 13 per cent of employees in the private sector are members of a trade union.

Here is an opportunity for trade unions to improve their standing and base of support within the “missing” 87 per cent by forwarding these policies.

A trade union call for better procurement policies to improve domestic trade will resonate with both employees and employers and the public accordingly.

Likewise, from the public perspective, how many who voted Remain would be happy to learn that the EU Commission signed off the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (Ceta) on September 10 2017? This would have huge implications for the future of our NHS as well as trade deals, especially on food and other services.

The role of the EU serves corporate interest by essentially legitimising the flow of capital that contributed to the demise of manufacturing in Britain, for example HP Sauce, Peugeot, jobs that moved abroad and at lower wages. The debacle of EU regulations has led to the closure of car manufacturing at Longbridge, Birmingham, with big job losses.

It is hardly surprising that the largest Leave vote was recorded in both the East and West Midlands, with these two areas witnessing the greatest industrial losses because of EU policy. Also, nationally, with the EU being the driving force behind privatisation, to the closure of car manufacturing at Longbridge, Birmingham, with big job losses. this has led to inferior job contracts and lower wages for fewer people remaining in employment.

We cannot return to the EU’s neoliberal failed economic model, which Italy and Greece are also thinking of leaving. Iceland voted to drop its application to join the EU some years ago and its economy is currently doing well. We need to move on.

Brexit is presenting an opportunity for trade unionists and public groups to demand what type of society and future for Britain we wish to see outside of the EU. I am concerned over any vaunted customs union, a sly manoeuvre that would keep us within EU regulations. Progressive inputs from an enlarged trade union and public base of support will also strengthen the case for a future Labour government to carry out our demands. There is no time to fail.

The Tory Cabinet is currently edging towards a settlement with the EU that will likely include an agreement to only enable services and finance to escape regulation. We cannot continue to sacrifice even more industrial jobs. We need state aid for industry, comprehensive public ownership, a state investment bank and the use of public procurement to buy local and to enforce decent wages, trade union rights and collective bargaining.

Trade unionists need to come together urgently to campaign for a progressive, pro-worker outcome and to put pressure on our political representatives to do so in Parliament.

Remember how the Lisbon EU 2020 programme in 2000 effectively called for the end of welfare state? It restricted “early exit from work” (increasing pension ages), removed “disincentives to work” (reducing benefits) and substituted “flexicurity” for existing employment contracts (casualising the workforce).

To discuss this and more, I make this open call for the biggest and broadest national post-Brexit conference to be held in Birmingham for this September and I seek your maximum support in organising for this.

Ian Scott is a Unite member and president of Birmingham Trades Union Council and writes in his personal capacity.

The tissue of fabrications which lead Scott to blame the EU for successive British governments’ neo-liberal policies, thus include blaming the working Time directive (limiting working time) for long hours and the notion that Thatcher privatised British Leyland at the behest of Brussels, are hardly worth considering.

The Morning Star will no doubt be blaming Brussels for the Iron Lady next!

And for Major, Blair, Brown and Cameron, May……

And their policies…..

How exactly is a post-Brexit UK going to escape the world of the ITO, the IMF, and international finance, and how could a Labour government  operate outside its major market and the rules that govern it?

Better procurement policies – for public services – well, why not!

No doubt Scott’s new best mate Donald Trump will make a ‘deal’ with the UK to ensure that food and services are protected from his own corporations…..

Er, No.

Then there is this. on the car plants Scott is concerned about…

European businesses advised to avoid using British parts ahead of Brexit

The car industry fears a “catastrophe” as the EU warns exporters they may lose free trade access if they use UK parts post-Brexit.

In its advice rolled out to all Dutch businesses, the Dutch government has told its exporters that “if a large part of your product consists of parts from the UK” domestic exporters may lose free trade access under existing deals.

The advice says: “Brexit will have consequences for exports outside the EU.

“After Brexit, parts made in the UK no longer count towards this minimum production in the European Union.”

As the Guardian article indicates: “EU negotiators have repeatedly made it clear there can be no cherry picking or division of the four freedoms of the single market, including free movement of people.”

They also include, “the free movement of goods, capital and services”.

A Norway style deal or not, these remain pillars of our economy.

But they cannot stand alone.

Another Europe is Possible campaigns for:

The 6 progressive elements of EU membership.  We identify those as:

  • Rights at work
  • Environmental protections
  • Freedom to move
  • Human rights
  • Education and innovation
  • Science and research funding

 

 

 

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

June 6, 2018 at 11:28 am

Hired. Six Months Undercover in Low-wage Britain. James Bloodworth. The Must-Read of the Year.

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Hired. Six Months Undercover in Low-wage Britain. James Bloodworth. Atlantic Books. 2018.

Over the weekend it was reported that last year there were just 79 strikes, the lowest number since 1893. Union membership continues to decline.

The GMB, meanwhile, stated that ambulances had been called to Amazon warehouses at least 600 times in the last 3 years. On half of these occasions patients had to be taken at hospital. The union put some of the blame on the severe working conditions that company enforces on its employees.

James Bloodworth begins Hired in an Amazon warehouse – the size of ten football pitches – in Rugeley, “a place with the atmosphere of what I imagined a prison would be like”. Feel-good slogans were plastered on the walls saying that everybody was having a wonderful time. The workers, mostly Eastern European, were brought there by agencies, who hammered home that they could be sacked the instant they made any trouble. The work as “pickers” – in hard shifts – meant, “dashing around”. There was no real contract and no there were no real rights. People were under a full-time “cloud of suspicion”. Wages – for the author £227 a week but regularly underpaid, or involving tax shambles – barely kept up with ordinary expenses. Not to mention the rent to rapacious landlords.

Bloodworth got to know some of the migrants, from Romania. Life in their country was “bullshit”. If they were slaves in the UK, they still had money. These “anonymous foreign drudges” were like H.G.Wells’ Morlocks, while the customers dwelt, like the Eloi, enjoying cheap products.

Hired  is about  a world in which very few people are real Eloi. In Blackpool working for a company supplying care workers as council services have crumbled over the years, Carewatch, Bloodworth comes across the homeless. He sees an old man “buried under a pile of corrugated cardboard and bin liners”. In Blackpool’s main library there are people “who had been sent like badly behaved children to ‘job club’. There were the down-and-outs there too, “holding filthy carrier bags”, some falling asleep to be thrown back onto the streets. At moments like this you realise that only a comparison with George Orwell’s best writing will do.

The home caring job with the elderly came with heart-rending incidents. A colleague who told of having to deal with a client “with basically her bowels hanging out”. Payments, as with Amazon, were again a problem. Some migrant workers employed found the English needed for the job near impossible.

South Wales.

Bloodworth explores the Welsh Valley based Call Centre Admiral in cafés and drinking in Ebbw Vale Wetherspoons he hears the rancour of people left behind by the closure of the mines. As in Rugeley there is fear of migrants, and the targeting of Europe for the “pain inflicted over recent decades.”

Hired comes across many Leave voters. But “taking back control”, was not just a product of resentment at migration, unemployment, precarious jobs, and minimum wages. It was, we could note, promoted by the Sovereigntists of the left, and those who considered it a “transitional demand” to install the chaos that would lead to a left Brexit (Brexit). This was not just against the interest of the South Wales communities, whose remaining social projects were funded by the EU. For many workers, and all the major unions, this disruption would snarl up the supply, production and distribution chains that keep what is left of the country’s industry going. The present state of Brexit proves the case for Remain. The right-wing nationalists, who were its real promoters, have drowned any Lexit  (Left Brexit) voice out.

The book concludes with first-hand experience with the ‘gig economy’ of Uber and others in London. Here the workers, in the shape of the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) were fighting back, establishing a collective bargaining agreement with Deliveroo.

Trade Unions.

A major theme in Hired is the contrast between the strength of the trade unions before Thatcher and today’s deregulated (that is, regulated by the managers of companies) labour market. Perhaps the example of former mining communities is too strong tot transport to London. My friends in 1970s London worked for cleaning agencies where conditions were not too far off today’s poorly paid posts under heavy surveillance. And the gig economy is not that new. I myself spent a Christmas period as an (illegal) stallholder flogging puzzle rings in Oxford Street., paid cash in hand. Nor were unions that powerful. A shop-steward friend of my parents got sacked from a big engineering company in the Lee Valley for union militancy. The AEU did not get his position back.

The book is the first I have read about modern Britain that talks about the world I live in. It speaks about people I know working in warehouses, to those catching what they can in short term jobs, the experiences of care-workers, the treatment of the out-of-work, to the lives of migrants.  There are cheap stores, like B & M, both where people work for another group of grinders and where we often shop. Bloodworth maps up the incomes and costs of how people get by, the constant worries and the little hopes and pleasures that keep them going. If he is perceived as an outsider, he has clearly touched ground. To those who might question how Bloodworth knows the details of their difficulties one can only say: this is what people talk about.

In low-wage Britain problems do not comes from an “ill educated working class” – terms that, given the intelligence of my mates, would make them laugh. Increased social mobility, meritocracy, is not the answer. The heart of the inequalities generated by the economy has to be tackled. They are fostered by deliberate political choice. The first response lies in exactly the daily grind of trade union politics, for rights, for good conditions, and, above all, for solidarity between diverse groups in their common interest. A Labour government would have to begin by strengthening union power. 

I expected Hired to be good. 

It exceeds that.

It is the essential read of the year.

Every trade unionist and socialist should get hold of it.

Written by Andrew Coates

June 4, 2018 at 11:29 am