Tendance Coatesy

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Posts Tagged ‘Bob Crow

The Media and Trade Unions.

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There are those in the media who are so nostalgic for the days of openly bashing trade unions they are busy recreating a kind of Sealed Knot society devoted to replaying the 1970s.

The Evening Standard was always at the front of these battles.

Today we see this ‘story‘.

Comrade on tour: Steve Hedley poses in a Soviet-style soldier’s hat with an assault rifle.

This is one of the militant union officials fighting to succeed Bob Crow as RMT boss.

Steve Hedley, the union’s Hard-Left assistant general secretary, is pictured on his Facebook page wearing a Soviet-style soldier’s hat and brandishing an assault rifle, believed to be a German weapon from the Second World War.

Messages on the page reveal he appears to relish walk-outs, such as the one which caused misery for Londoners last week. His comments include:

“With 3 different strikes announced today I think ill [sic] enjoy the Easter weekend.”

“Two very good Rmt branch meetings tonight. 1 jubilee south branch want to name strike dates for the job losses dispute. 2 Fleet branch reject job losses and want strike dates. I love the RMT membership.”

Steve Hedly is a member of the Socialist Party. This group, of Trotskyist origins, has, to say the least, nothing  to do with Soviet Stalinism.

The below is from the Evening Standard in December 1970 on Electrical Trade Unionists.

How things change……



Written by Andrew Coates

May 7, 2014 at 12:20 pm

No2EU Vanity Politics Part 2: Breaking UKIP’s “Monopoly”.

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Breaking “UKIP Monopoly”. 

“The neoliberal Tory-boys of UKIP should not have a monopoly for opposing a corporate-dominated, anti-democratic EU whose policies they largely support.”

9 September 2013

“The No2EU campaign will be standing in the 2014 Euro elections under the slogan ‘No2EU -Yes to Workers’ Rights’.

“Our movement created the basis for democracy in the 19th century with The Chartists and the demand for universal suffrage which is now being taken from us in the 21st century by the EU.

“The only rational course is to leave the EU and rebuild Britain with socialist policies,” he said.

No2EU TUC fringe meeting
Yes to workers’ rights!

As the myth of ‘Social Europe’ is finally exposed how can workers reclaim their rights?

Monday September 9 at lunchtime

Venue: The Hermitage Hotel, Clifton Suite, Bournemouth

Speakers: RMT general secretary Bob Crow
John Hendy QC trade union rights lawyer
Former Labour MP Dave Nellist
Communist Party chair Bill Greenshields

It is sad to see an old comrade, Geoff Martin, involved in this Vanity Politics.

Who will support this?

That is, apart from Bob Crow, the Communist Party of Britain, and Dave Nellist’s  Socialist Party.

More on this sorry tale here.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 9, 2013 at 4:30 pm

Andy Newman, Witchfinder General: Does He Speak for the GMB?

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Andy Newman Prepares for Work.

Socialist Unity may have bitten often more than it chew.

It has indulged in what many people consider to be red-baiting of AWL member Janine Booth. She  is now London Transport rep on the RMT’s national executive. A great fault in Andy Newman’s eyes.

Andy Newman remarks that given that the,

AWL is deeply hostile to the politics of Bob Crow, then it is hard to see how productive relations between lay members and full-time officials can be maintained, when Janine is committed to writing leaflets that undermine officials who the AWL describe as bureaucrats, and by implication break confidences (telling you what the “bureaucrat” won’t).

In other words Newman insinuates that Janine Booth will break RMT rules regarding the confidential nature of union business. This is an extremely serious charge.

He goes into make this claim,

The AWL says that their aim in RMT is to “prioritise recruiting new AWL members”. Significantly this is regarded as more important than strengthening the union. To this aim in May 2011 they set up a Tube workers’ AWL branch that caucuses around introducing their controversial politics into RMT branches.

“We have prioritised political discussion in the branch, increasing our confidence to sell the paper to more and more people. Together, we discussed, wrote and moved an amendment on Libya to last month’s regional meeting. Although we lost the vote, we impressed some people by articulating clear, distinctive and thought-out views” [AWL expands on London Underground, http://www.workersliberty.org/story/2011/05/04/awl-expands-london-underground  ]

Most unions in Britain have smaller and larger alliances of left, centre, or right-wing activists who stand for election. The AWL takes part in some, and, apparently in this case, organises its members who work on the Tube around their own body.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with this.

It is no secret.

Newman was able to find the AWL statements even from darkest Wiltshire.

But wait, London Underground workers have faced a long (very long – going back to the 1980s) campaign against them. Led by the Evening Standard.

Some of the flavour of this attack – which can be called a witch-hunt – is given last year in the same paper (Here).

The three men orchestrating the RMT union’s two weeks of strike action from behind the scenes can be named today.

Steve Hedley, Brian Munro and Pat Sikorski each have a long history of battling Tube managers and leading militant campaigns.

While RMT general secretary Bob Crow is the union’s public face, he is said to be backed by an even further-Left clique of activists.

Socialist Unity seems to think that they should make their own attack on a “far-left clique of activists”.

For a GMB Branch Secretary (Wiltshire and Swindon) – Andy Newman –  to red-bait Janine Booth in her capacity as a RMT official is a very serious breach of normal  union protocol.

Put simply, officials, including lay-officials, do not publicly attack other unions, including activists in other unions.

How does this work for the GMB?

The GMB is run democratically from the centre.

To illustrate how this happens one of its principles (from the GMB Rule Book)  is that “Members or branches must not issue any addresses or circulars without getting approval from the regional council, regional committee or Central Executive Council. Also, members must not make our business known to  unauthorised organisations, unofficial journals or the print media without getting approval. “

Is this latest attack on members of other unions known to the GMB?

We doubt it, as we have great respect for the union.

We wonder how Newman squares his Web activities with his duties to his own union.

Written by Andrew Coates

December 19, 2012 at 12:18 pm

Bob Crow: Election Challenge to Labour.

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The Times reports (here)  that Bob Crow, the RMT and a variety of groups are seriously discussing standing left candidates in the next General Election.


Mr Crow is planning a new challenge to the political elite. The unions, he says, are planning to set up an alliance to stand candidates at the next general election. The RMT has already had six meetings in the past three months with representatives from other unions, pensioners groups, student bodies and green campaigners. “If we don’t believe that any of the candidates are good, there may be an alliance that comes together. We would be putting up policies that we believe people want. What our members vote for is their democratic right, but certainly we can’t just sit back and say vote Labour.”

He cannot lead the alliance himself — “my rules restrict me from standing at a general election,” he says — but he can help with the manifesto and fundraising, while his preferred policies are clear. “I would like to see taxes go up massively for the rich, I’d abolish all private education and all private medical care. I would do away with the Royal Family — that’s not to say they’d be executed but why should those people have a privileged place in society?”

This is worth deep consideration. I will begin with the best Spartist reasons why.

  • Gordon Brown, who is likely still  to lead Labour in these elections, is nothing but a centre-right politician. His support for free-market globalisation (with a dose of Christian humbug) is far from even moderate social democracy. There has been no back-tracking on this, except a public safety-net for the banking system.
  • The ‘market state’  Blair and Brown have inherited from the Conservatives, has been developed. On the one hand a variety of private contractors are now delivering public services. A large parasitical ‘para-state’ has grown up, taking in profit for themselves and offering disorganised and incompetent services in return. On the other hand the low-paid in the public sector have seen their real wages decline, and their working conditions worsened by outsourcing. Many manual and precarious workers in private companies have not seen their rights, conditions and pay significantly improve. Only a few groups with industrial muscle have made advances. The Cabinet has not introduced significant measures that would enable trade unions tip the balance the other way.
  • The unemployed (a growing number of people, to say the least)  and all those who rely on state benefits have been targeted for a compulsory moral reform campaign. Their incomes have been  reduced, their eligibility for money constantly challenged, they have been harassed, and their lives made a misery by the market state. 
  • The Labour government has failed to combat racism and xenophobia. Its multiculturalist state strategy is unable to fight rising extreme-right support. Instead of uniting people around common interests it divides them,  separating people by ethnicity and religion, and giving power and money to unelected ‘community leaders’. Secular anti-racism, the real alternative,  has been vigorously opposed.
  • The UK Government has engaged in murderous wars in Afghanistan and Iraq  without a genuine democratic mandate. Or a clear exit strategy.

I could go on. A  constituency inherently opposed to the politics of Brown’s Labour Party can be seen emerging here. Attempts by the wordy John Cruddas (who backed the very welfare reform that is causing so much pain for the poor) to offer a Social Democratic  Alternative are not worth much. he ahs no worked-out programme that differs from Brown in the five bullet points listed, except vague principles, such as ‘regulation’ ‘social justice’ or more equality’ (while working for a few quid an hour to get the dole…).


We shall see what Bob Crow’s initiative has to offer. Its policies and its support. And how far it will be able to present candidates. There is an advertisment in the Morning Star (Saturday) about a Conference, open to all, which will discuss this.

In any case I am resolved not to vote for my local Labour candidate (Ipswich), Chris Mole. He has publicly backed Workfare. On these grounds alone Mole cannot be supported by any left-winger, or progressive.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 12, 2009 at 11:08 am