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Posts Tagged ‘Labour Party

Ipswich Labour PPC Jack Abbott meets with ASLEF Strikers.

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Jack Abbot (Left) talks to ASLEF Strikers – ASLEF joined by Ipswich & District Trades Council opposite Railway Station.

Jack Abbot was selected as Labour PPC for Ipswich earlier this month. 31 years old he has already had extensive experience as a Labour Councillor on Suffolk County Council. Jack has support from all wings of Ipswich Labour Party.

Labour announce former county councillor as Ipswich MP candidate. Ipswich Star. 11th of July.

Mr Abbott, who now works for a renewable energy trade association, said: “It’s a real honour and a privilege to be selected by so many Labour members and to have had so much support through the entire six-week campaign from people of all political stripes.

Mr Abbott said that if elected he would be particularly focussed on supporting children and young families through the cost-of-living crisis and working to ensure that green energy jobs come to Ipswich.

He said: “It’s alleviating and tackling the immediate cost pressures and taking kids and families out of poverty, but it’s also putting a long-term economic future in place as well.”

Jack is mainstream Labour,

“My pitch has been based on three main things leadership, unity, and ambition. I think those three things are really, really important. And hopefully, they will mean that not only can we win the next general election, but actually deliver a real vision for what Ipswich can be in the future as well.”

Our PPC is knows Ipswich well, from his work as a County Council, and through his contact with the rich local associative life.

During his selection campaigning Jack was in Rope Walk, bordered by a small town centre council estate. In the road is the Seventh Day Adventist Sunday Food distribution for people in need. It has been striking, over the last couple of years, to see people I know, including a person who had lived in my street, queuing up there at Sunday lunch-time.

Uniting the town, not driving communities apart.

Written by Andrew Coates

July 31, 2022 at 11:44 am

“Labour needs to take a stand with workers in dispute…” Sam Tarry.

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@SamTarry – “it’s about being crystal clear to the British people … we’re on your side”

Today workers’ disputes are highly visible. Right across the country. It is not just the RMT/TSSA and ASLEF strikes. Just next to Ipswich, to start with, we have the nearby BT’s innovation labs at Adstral Park Martelsham:

Felixstowe docks, the largest container Port in the UK, is a short journey from the town – trains of them rumble in long lines over the railway viaduct in Spring Road:

A few years ago there was talk of ‘immaterial labour’, or cognitive capitalism, a framework to describe how value is produced from affective and cognitive activities, which, in various ways, are commodified in ‘post-indistiral’ capitalist  economies. Fully Automated Luxury Communism: A Manifesto (2019), by Arron Bastani, appeared. Bastani, who was a Corbyn enthusiast, “argued that, the prosperity ushered in by technology is inconsistent with contemporary models of capitalism. While capitalism is organised around a logic of scarcity, the technologically-mediated prosperity he predicts is characterised by the absence of scarcity”. Some have compared this speculation to accelerationism, “to side with the emancipatory dynamic that broke the chains of feudalism and ushered in the constantly ramifying range of practical possibilities characteristic of modernity” and the “link between these transformative forces and the axiomatics of exchange value and capital accumulation that format contemporary planetary society”.

In other words, the old Marxist idea that capitalism creates the forces of production, in a potentially co-operative form, the basis for a new form of society, a transition to communism, were appearing in a transformed modern guise. This has been overshadowed by a range of writers have argued that far from building a springboard for socialist change we are seeing, “a new economic mode: techno-feudalism.” Adasatral Park might be a paradigm of this.

An important contribution to this debate concludes:

“Marxists would do well to acknowledge that dispossession and expropriation have been constitutive of accumulation throughout history. Perhaps the luxury of employing only the economic means of value extraction in the ‘properly’ capitalist core was always due to the extensive use of extra-economic means of value extraction on the non-capitalist periphery. Once we make that analytical leap, we no longer need to bother with invocations of feudalism. Capitalism is moving in the same direction it always has been, leveraging whatever resources it can mobilise—the cheaper, the better.

In this sense, Braudel’s one-time description of capitalism as ‘infinitely adaptable’ is not the worst perspective to adopt. But it does not adapt continuously and, when it does, it’s not a given that the upward-redistributive tendencies win out over the productive ones. It may well be that this is exactly how much of today’s digital economy operates. This, of course, is no reason to believe that techno-capitalism is somehow a nicer, cosier and more progressive regime than techno-feudalism; by vainly invoking the latter, we risk whitewashing the former’s reputation.” (Wages, Price and Profit. Marx).


More classical class relations, the kind of wages, prices and profit motors, and the articulation of capitalism in the state through the Conservative party and government, have come to the fore in the present disputes, “..workers can not only exert pressure to increase their wages as a reflection of the value of their labour as a commodity, but must in fact organise to do so lest the inherent pressures of capitalism reduce them to “one level mass of broken wretches past salvation”. (Value, Price and Profit. Karl Marx.)

Whether these conflicts, which appear to move quickly into the political domain – demands more widely to deal with the ‘cost of living crisis’, alongside climate change pushing up prices and to fight further efforts to restrict the ability to organise to fight for better wages – signal a wider challenge to the government has yet to be seen.

Strikes, ‘food banks’, takeover fears: the sea of troubles circling BTGuardian.

Firm that played key role in lockdown is grappling with pay row, strategic uncertainty and the cost of living crisis.

BT’s first national strikes in 35 years, which kick off on Friday morning, are just the latest in a series of headaches to have beset the telecoms company.

Amid a backlash over accusations that it set up a “food bank” for cash-strapped staff and the growing threat from a stake-building corporate raider, Philip Jansen’s mission to recreate BT’s glory days as a “national champion” seems to slipping away.

It is a steep fall from grace for BT, a pandemic winner. The company’s critical role in maintaining the UK’s internet network as a locked-down nation gobbled up bandwidth like never before for work and entertainment put BT and telecommunications infrastructure in the spotlight.

The biggest headache now facing all telecoms providers is the cost of living crisis. Earlier this year BT and its rivals increased bills by almost 10% – the consumer price index rate of inflation in January plus 3.9%. The company attributed the majority of the sales growth announced on Thursday to the price hike.

Written by Andrew Coates

July 29, 2022 at 12:24 pm

UK General Strike?

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 “Mick Lynch, head of the RMT union, has said there could be a general strike if Liz Truss becomes prime minister and introduces laws intended to make it harder for unions to organise industrial action. Mr Lynch is quoted calling for an “enormous response” if the measures go ahead.” BBC.

Calls for a General Strike, effectively a TUC led Day of Action, have come in the wake of the rail unions’ work stoppages. The Guardian says, “As much of Britain’s rail network ground to a halt, the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union chief, Mick Lynch, called for a general strike in retaliation to ministers’ threats to curb industrial action, warning of “the biggest resistance mounted by the entire trade union movement”.

One of the last acts of Boris Johnson was to make strike breaking by companies hiring agency workers, “New law in place to allow businesses to hire agency workers to plug staffing gaps caused by strike action.

  • Law changed to allow businesses most impacted by industrial action to fill vital roles with temporary, skilled workers
  • Reforms will help ensure crucial public services and people’s daily lives remain uninterrupted by staff strikes
  • Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng: “In light of militant trade union action threatening to bring vital public services to a standstill, we have moved at speed to repeal these burdensome,1970s – style restrictions.”

Challenger for leadership of the Tory Party and the post of PM Liz Truss has promised to extend this scabs’ charter, by effectively making strikes hard, if not impossible, in large sectors of the the economy and public services.

Truss said she would legislate for minimum service levels on critical national infrastructure in the first 30 days of government under her leadership. The pledge would go further than the Tories’ 2019 policy, which promised a minimum service should operate during transport strikes.

The new law proposed by Truss would potentially restrict teachers, postal workers and the energy sector. Tailored minimum thresholds, including staffing levels, would be determined with each industry.

What would be a General Strike against this dictatorial turn?

The word gives the impression of a replay of the 1926 events when some 1.7 million workers went out, especially in transport and heavy industry, in  an attempt to prevent wage reductions and worsening conditions for 1.2 million locked-out miners. But what may be on the cards is probably protest that attempts to be on the lines of the campaign against Tory PM Edward Heath’s Industrial Relations Act in the early 1970s. 12 January 1971 the TUC held a ‘day of action’ in protest, with a march through London. In March, 1,500,000 members of the AEU engineering union  staged a one-day strike.

A few days ago the Morning Star carried this Editorial:

FIFTY years ago today, five shop stewards were released from Pentonville prison in London.

They had been locked up five days earlier, having defied a ruling of the National Industrial Relations Court (NIRC) to cease picketing an east London container depot during an unofficial strike against job losses and the casualisation of labour on the docks.

Vic Turner, Bernie Steer, Conny Clancy, Tony Merrick and Derek Watkins came out through the prison gates, to be hailed as heroes by the waiting crowds.

A militant network of union shop stewards, branches and district committees provided the basis for the Liaison Committee for the Defence of Trade Unions. In many unions, broad left organisations also helped raise the level of working-class political as well as industrial consciousness.


Outraged by the use of naked state power to put trade union activists behind bars, strikes had broken out in ports across Britain, quickly joined by walkouts in other industries. Railway workers and engineers had already taken industrial action in defiance of the law.

The release of the Pentonville Five saved the Tories from an all-out confrontation with a working class which would have included a 24-hour general strike called by the TUC general council. The powers of the NIRC had been shredded. Solidarity won the day.


Since that decade mass strikes of this kind have not happened. To begin with Margaret Thatcher restricted ‘sympathy’ or solidarity strikes in 1980 and in 1990 the Employment Act outlawed solidarity work stoppages completely.

There is no ‘right’ to strike in the UK, “The problem we face is of some strikes being unlawful, which means there is no law permitting them, leaving strikers and unions that call such strikes open to civil litigation. ” (from the useful outline by Ian Allinson. When is it illegal to strike?)

“Official strike action, then, is confined, ” You can only lawfully strike against your own employer, while employers are free to divide themselves into multiple legal entities, outsource and subcontract work. The solidarity on which workers have always relied is now unlawful. Instead of any issue in connection with employment, strikes are only lawful if they relate wholly or mainly to a narrow set of issues which exclude issues such as the sale of the part of the business you work for.”

TUC co-ordindated protests have been seen in meetings and stalls run in towns and cities across the country, local (Trades Council) marches and national protests such as this year, “We demand better: March and Rally, 18 June.”

In this context the RMT chose the words ‘coordinated action’ carefully.

If in the UK national solidarity actions that halt work are not given legal protection and are open to challenge in law by employers, days of national trade union action, with strikes as well as protests, still take place in many other European countries. It may be that unions, as the term “coordinated” suggests, are exploring ways of launching these kinds of protests.

Here is one in France (2020) called by the CGT federation of unions, and joined by a number of other groups (Solidaires, la Fédération syndicale unitaire (FSU) mouvements de jeunesse.

Is there space for further action? What kind of ‘general strike’ could happen?

Sharon Graham – General Secretary, Unite the Union

Liz Truss has declared war on the trade union movement and working people.

Let’s be clear, her mad-cap proposals are an attempt to all but ban strike action and outlaw effective trade unions.

This manifesto is nothing but a charter of discontent.

The rights of working people have been put on the chopping block by an ambitious politician, hawking for the votes of a tiny minority.

At the time of a cost of living crisis, where profits are driving inflation not wages, this would be Prime Minister has instead chosen to return Britain’s workplaces to the 19th century.

Unite the union will not bow to threats and any attempt to place us outside of the law will be met with fierce, prolonged resistance.

In the Labour Party the sacking of Sam Tarry for going to show solidarity to RMT and TASSA strikers continues.

Sky: Senior Labour MP John McDonnell says he supports general strike and hits out at Sir Keir Starmer

Labour List Reports,

Sacking Tarry a “severe mistake” by Starmer advisers, McDonnell says.

Katie Neame

Appearing on Sky News, the former Shadow Chancellor said: “I don’t know who’s advising Keir Starmer, but this is a completely unnecessary row that’s been invented, just at a time when the Tories are tearing themselves apart. and we’ve got the maximum opportunity I think to gain an advantage in the polls.”

McDonnell told viewers: “Sam went on the picket, like minister after minister, shadow minister after shadow minister, over the years, in support of workers who are asking for a decent pay rise. It’s a just cause.

“And now we’re told he’s been sacked not because he went on the picket lines, but because he made statements on the picket lines. But what was he supposed to do? Go on there and wear a gag? It’s a silly, silly situation to get in to.”

The Labour backbencher said Labour needs to accept that there will be a “wave of industrial action now”, as unions members are voting “overwhelmingly” for strikes over concerns relating to pay. He declared: “We’ve got to come off the fence and be on the side of a just cause – the workers. I think they’ve got it right.”

McDonnell said he thought Starmer’s advisers had made a “severe mistake” in firing Tarry, adding that they had “dug [Labour] into a hole in the first place unnecessarily, by telling people not to go on picket lines”.

He said: “To dig ourselves into a hole like this, telling people they can’t go on picket lines, was inevitably gonna lead to something like this, a real mistake and division like this.

“I think it’s time to back off and recognise the real issue is what working-class people are going through at the moment which is a terrible cost-of-living crisis. How do we solve it? We back them by getting inflation-proof pay awards to support them. It’s as simple as that.

“So I think mistakes have been made from the very beginning. We need to stand back and actually start trying to secure unity across, not just the whole labour and trade union movement, but across the country overall.”

McDonnell argued that Starmer and his team had “completely misread the situation” and misread the “mood within the labour and trade union movement” and the “mood amongst the general public”.

Written by Andrew Coates

July 28, 2022 at 11:18 am