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Posts Tagged ‘Labour Movement

Ipswich Solidarity with the RMT Strike.

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Support Came From Passer-by on the road by Ipswich Station, Motorists and Bus Drivers.

Written by Andrew Coates

June 25, 2022 at 3:08 pm

Posted in Trade Unions

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Class War in the UK.

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Anarchy in the UK: Coming Sometime, Now.

I don’t recall much humour during the 1970s and 1980s industrial disputes.

This was the kind of cartoon the mass readership far right press published at the time:

Anthony Burgess, chiefly remembered for the film based on his book A Clockwork Orange, published this in 1978, which expresses the mood of the right and sections of the rightward moving intelligentsia.

1985 (from James Nicholl Reviews – if anything too kind, the prose is worse even than the ideas and plot).

Britain, or Tucland (from Trades Union Congress) as it is known in 1985, languishes under the doleful lash of syndicalist trade unionism. Britain has been transformed from the vibrant (if, as Burgess admits in his essays, steadfastly stupid) society of yesteryear to one in which predatory tribes of homosexuals roam unchecked, an alien society quietly infiltrates, and any worker can provoke a general strike for such absurd goals as a reasonable wage and safe working conditions.

Poor Bev Jones, once a paid intellectual, was driven out academia when his sort of academia was defunded for irrelevancy in the eyes of the dullards now running Tucland. Now a — unionized, of course! — confectioner, he lives a not-especially-fulfilling life with a wife whom he apparently loves in the passionless, vaguely repelled way of the British of Burgess’ sort. The couple has a daughter, whose promiscuous ways and general lack of intelligence make her a perfect example of the modern Tuclander.

Bev abandons his moping submissiveness after his wife is left to burn to death as a result of a fireman’s strike. He becomes a steadfast anti-unionist. Unfortunately, while the author seems to be on Bev’s side, most of his fellow Britons are not. Bev’s feeble attempts to speak out against the flaws of Modern Society see him stripped of his union card, his job, and his humble niche in society. 

There seems to be a ray of hope when Bev discovers the Free Britons, who oppose Tucland for their own reasons. As Bev will discover to his cost, just because he is on their side does not mean that they are on his.

Burgess did not shy away from racism,

Bev’s underage daughter Bessie, who is addicted to soft pornographic TV shows, at one point is found watching “Spiro and Spero” (Latin for ‘I breathe’ and ‘I hope’ respectively), who transpire to be “a pair of cartoon dolphins who spoke English on the Chinese model: You Say He Not Come I Know He Come I Know He Come Soon.” Later, she sends him a postcard from the city of Ghadan (Arabic for ‘tomorrow’), where she has become part of the harem of an Arab sheikh, which reads “der dad i am alrit ere tely very gud i am ok luv besi.’

From Anthony Burgess’s other invented languages.

But today:

Lynch’s reply:

Yet, even the Spectator has began to publish some kind words for unions.

The Spectator has published this …

“Mick Lynch is not a normal union leader in that he is, well, normal. It’s as if he has taken the best bits of previous examples of the job and moulded them into a finished article – the working-classness of a Ron Todd, the temperament of Bill Jordan, the passion of Rodney Bickerstaffe and the wit and wisdom of another rail union leader, Jimmy Knapp, one of the nicest I ever dealt with.”


Written by Andrew Coates

June 23, 2022 at 4:30 pm

Paul Mason on Labour Long-List for Stretford and Urmston Candidacy.

with 13 comments

Paul Mason as Labour Party Candidate?

Paul Mason is familiar to most people on the left, and, through his work on Channel Four News, Newsnight and, more recently, his column in the New European, to a wider audience. With long-standing ties to the internationalist left Mason has been a campaigner against Brexit, during and after the referendum, stating in 2018 “The opposition should back a second referendum, and vote to remain.” He is opposed to Chinese social imperialism, saying that, “the left must stand against Xi Jinping’s totalitarian China. The Chinese communist elite is the enemy of the Chinese workers. ” Mason has been active in defence of Ukraine against the Russian invasion. With a U.K. left and trade union delegation he went to Kiev in February just before Putin launched his war. In April Paul spoke at the  Whitehall UK trade unions rally in solidarity with Ukraine.

Beginning in politics (during the 1980s) close to the Trotskyist current, the League for the 5th International/Workers Power, the author of Clear Bright Future: A Radical Defence of the Human Being (2019), has become a champion of the humanist Marxism of figures such as Raya Dunayevskaya.

Amongst Paul’s other books, Why it’s Kicking Off Everywhere. The New Global Revolutions. 2012., PostCapitalism: A Guide to our Future 2015, his most recent, How to Stop Fascism, History, Ideology, Resistance. Paul Mason. 2021, was reviewed last year by the Tendance on this Blog. “The left needs the kind of call to arms against these new forms of right and far-right politics made by Paul Mason, even if we may not agree on the details of his programme. Against the far-right, and against populism, alliances between democrats, socialists and progressives (which formed the basis of 1970s anti-National Front campaigning) are needed.”

Alex Callinicos (21.2.2002) has alleged that for Mason, following the reasoning of the book, which he recommends (as does the Tendance) we reach an expansion of antifascism to mean something like an international struggle between states in which the West should be supported. “In a new development (or should one say degeneration?) of your Popular Frontism, the US antagonism with China and Russia is now framed as an “antifascist” struggle in which the left should unite with liberal imperialism against the “authoritarian, socially conservative” regimes in Beijing and Moscow.”

There is undoubtably a danger that such a drift could take place, and apart from the ‘West’ (a bloc that includes, for Brexit supporting SWP, the EU, European “imperialist powers”, “bound to the US through a nexus of institutions”), few will idealise the Ukrainian state and their own oligarchs. But, apart from the lack of evidence for their drive for colonialisation and territorial expansion, there is no ‘Western’ attempt to conquer anybody in the present conflict. In the case of Ukraine one can only begin by siding with the people who are the victims of Putin and back their call to have the means to repel the invasion from whatever quarter they can find it. One is not aware of any similar call for military aid to the targets and casualties, workers, Hong Kong Democrats, and above all Uighurs, of the CCP bourgeoisie and state apparatus.

Callinicos equally fails to look deeply into the political issues arising of the nature of these former Official Communist countries’ imperialism, both in the export of capital in the age of globalisation (China) and straight-forward territorial expansion and rule. The SWP, which calls the conflict in Ukraine, the result of “geopolitical competition against the background of global economic integration” without looking at the specifically nationalist and political projects of Putin’s circle. The Russian leaders, it is said, take some of their inspiration from “Eurasianism”, the basis for a “a kind of messianic “third way” for their state and an expanded, ‘living space’, an ideology which lies between national populism and some themes of classical fascism. (Black WindWhite Snow: The Rise of Russia’s New Nationalism, Charles Clover. 2017) This gives the present war a dimension, coloured with a deeply anti-democratic chauvinism, which the SWP, and other groups, title of “inter-imperialist” proxy war cannot grapple with.

It is to be expected that those hostile to Mason, personally and politically, will now launch attacks on him. Workers Power already described him in 2018 as “stridently anti-Marxist”. The Morning Star has carried many pieces in this vein, “Self-described student Trotskyist turned ‘radical social democrat’ specialises in providing ‘left’ cover for right-wing policies” (Nick Wright). In 2020 Socialist Appeal began chewing the carpet in fury at Cde Mason, “The sad case of Paul Mason: a victim of post-modernism” “A terrible disease is spreading throughout the world. Medical science knows no cure for this sickness. There is no way of avoiding it. Neither facemasks nor handwashing will do any good. And the effects of this disease are horrible to behold. Once you have caught it, your brain turns to jelly. The unfortunate victims become human zombies, who suffer from persistent bouts of verbal diarrhoea and become utterly incapable of rational thought. The name of this terrible affliction is post-modernism.”

As David Walsh says, we can expect more of these comments in the coming days.

The letter below, by contrast, speaks for itself, a serious left-wing candidacy for Labour.

A letter to Labour members in Stretford & Urmston.

Here’s the text of the Personal Statement that will be circulated to members by the party. I’ve decided to go for this because the next Parliament is going to need experienced people prepared to stand up for democracy, radical redistribution constitutional change and internationalism. There’s more to say – but at this stage you only get one sheet of A4 to outline your pitch… and this is all I could fit… Fasten your seat-belts…

MY LABOUR STORY: I was born in Leigh, to a family that had been weavers, tailors and miners for generations. The post-war Labour governments allowed my parents to dream of a better future for their children, and make it happen. Today I want to revive that Labour dream for millions of people who’ve been told that nothing can ever change.

REAL CHANGE: The next election will be critical. We don’t just need to win. We have to inspire people to make big changes:

Raise real wages to match the soaring cost of living;

Devolve power, to give people control over the decisions that affect their lives;

Create millions of good, green jobs as we decarbonise the energy system to save the planet

Shut down offshore tax havens, netting tens of billions a year to spend on schools, healthcare, councils, policing and our armed forces

Repair the damage to our trade, industry and national security caused by the Tories’ hard Brexit.

STORY OF HOPE: I’ve spent my life reporting the struggles of people fighting injustice: from slum-dwellers in Manila, to workers in China’s sweatshops, to people in Leigh where I grew up. What I learned is: you only start winning when you tell people a story of hope.

TAKE CONTROL: The problem facing Britain? Working people can’t earn enough money to live a decent life, and don’t have enough power to make things better – while, for the rich, the avenues to prosperity, security and respect are always open. Our aim is to deliver prosperity, security and respect for all.

ACTIVIST MOVEMENT: Our party exists to bring about a fundamental and irreversible shift in wealth and power to working people. To get there we’re going to need a mobilised trade union movement, grassroots community organising and a united Labour Party. As your candidate, I will use my organising and communications skills to make this happen.

SOCIAL JUSTICE: I will focus on the policies I fought for alongside Keir Starmer in his leadership campaign – including:

Repeal the Trade Union Act.

Abolish Universal Credit and the cruel sanctions regime.

Scrap student tuition fees.

End the detention and deportation of asylum seekers. (A full list of policies forthcoming)

GREEN NEW DEAL: I’ll campaign for a Green New Deal, so that Labour’s £28 billion a year investment plan delivers well-paid jobs and cheaper energy to people in the North West. To achieve zero net carbon within a decade we need public ownership of the energy system.

QUALITY OF LIFE: I’ll lead a determined fight against the crime, high housing costs and rip-off transport prices that blight the lives of working class communities. I’ll fight for local democratic control over the big development projects planned along the Manchester Ship Canal.

FIGHT RACISM: My great-grandparents fled to the U.K. from anti-Semitic pogroms in the Russian Empire. And from the Anti-Nazi League in the 1970s to Black Lives Matter today, I’ve always stood alongside the struggles of black, Asian and minority ethnic people. I want to restore Freedom of Movement with the EU, a fair migration system, an end to the detention and deportation of refugees.

STRONG ON DEFENCE: I want the UK to build the strongest possible ties with our NATO allies. I’ve worked with Labour’s shadow defence team during the Ukraine crisis, where our party has been ahead of the Tories and got the big calls right. Unshakeable solidarity with our democratic allies, and support for our armed force are Labour traditions to be proud of.

WHAT NEXT?: Please ask your branch, union or affiliated society to nominate me. And get in touch! (Contact details circulated to members)

In solidarity

Written by Andrew Coates

June 1, 2022 at 1:29 pm