Wednesday, 29 September 2010

General Strike in Spain: lunchtime protest in Salford

THE rain today did not deter the 100 local authority workers who demonstrated against the proposed cuts to public services by the Coalition Government outside Salford Town Hall in Swinton. Ray Walker, Branch Secretary of Unison, addressed the protest from the Town Hall steps. Salford Trades Council raised their huge red banner held by Alex Halligan and Steve North, and smaller flags of the GMB union and Unison were on show. Political groups like the local Green Party and the odd anarchist were in evidence as were some supporters of the National Shop Stewards Network. Today, of course, was a European day of action with a 'General Strike' in Spain and other actions in Greece, Ireland, and Brussels. Spain has had six 'General Strikes' (four of 24 hours; one of half a day; one of 1 hour) since the death of General Franco in 1975 only one, in 1988, which paralysed the country. These Spanish 'general strikes' are safety valves and what we would call token strikes, they are more effective than a day of action but not much more. But, it is doubtful that the British TUC could even call a successful Day of Action at the moment.

Buy Northern Voices12 with more stories on the Salford areas and with our special regular feature 'Salford Spy': price £1.50, out next month, from certain select newsagents in Swinton, Walkden, Eccles and Salford or write for postal subscription: £10 for the next 5 issues to Northern Voices: c/o 52, Todmorden Road, Burnley, Lancashire BB10 4AH.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010


'I know thee not old man.': Prince Hal in Henry IV [part II]

IT was like a play by Bertold Brecht when two weeks ago Dave Harker, of North East National Shop Stewards Network, declared to a large fringe meeting on the Blacklist: 'Anyone who asks us to vote Labour must be living in Cloud Cuckoo-Land'. This was met with spontaneous applause much to the dismay of the left-wing MP on the platform: John McDonnell. Mr McDonnell MP had urged voting Labour in the midst of his oration to the campaigners against the blacklist and another speaker on the platform went on to say it is 'a pity he was not one of the candidates for Labour leader'.

But 'Cloud Cuckoo-land' is still, not an easy realm to escape from for many on the left, and the big unions still spend millions supporting the Labour Party. Will they get their money's worth this time? The political pundits are not yet tipping the restoration of trade union rights to the pre-Margaret Thatcher situation, which is something unions like UNITE have been demanding. The best thing on offer from the new Labour leadership, at the moment, seems to be a 'Living Wage; right to request flexible working for all workers'.

This falls far short of what last March, Tony Woodley and Derek Simpson, the leaders of UNITE the UNION, were calling for when they said the last Labour Government had let the labour movement down by failing to do away with Thatcher's anti-trade union laws. Yet in second quarter of 2010, UNITE gave the Labour Party £1.67 million; this compares with £1.2 million that Unison gave the party and £1.05 million donated by the GMB.

At the TUC Conference in Manchester a local group calling themselves the 'northern syndicalists' issued a 'Trade Unionist Review' arguing that:

'After the General Strike in 1926 the Baldwin Government, like Thatcher in the 1980s, had been eager to exploit its victory and in May 1927 it introduced a bill to amend the Trades Disputes Act of 1906. Its main clause made illegal the sympathy strike or “any strike designed or calculated to coerce the government”... The historian, A.J.P. Taylor, writes of this Act (the Trade Disputes & Trade Union Act) that, unlike Thatcher's anti-union laws, “it was fiercely contested in the house of commons, and its repeal followed close on Labour's victory in 1945”. The northern syndicalist Review adds: 'No such attempt at repeal of Thatcher's anti-union laws followed the election of Blair in 1997, indeed the Labour Government, that was in office with an absolute majority up to May this year, dismissed trade union demands for change in the law.'

Today it would be a rash inmate of the Labour Party realm of Cloud Cuckoo-Land, who should risk forecasting any repeal of the laws that inhibit trade unions as a result of last weekends election of Ed Miliband as Labour leader. Indeed, John McTernan, political secretary to Tony Blair 2005 to 2007, wrote in the Telegraph yesterday that now that Ed Miliband has got the job 'he never needs to do anything for them (the unions) ever again.' Mr McTernan says he should tackle Derek Simpson as the newly crowned Henry V dealt with Falstaff when he came to Court looking for favours: 'I know thee not old man.'

Sunday, 26 September 2010


NOTHING to frighten the horses in the Labour leadership election at the Manchester's conference centre with the election of Ed Milliband yesterday. And, nothing to trouble the status quo at the Convention of the Left across the road at the Friends Meeting House. So the party which can only select between Oxbridge graduates confronts a Cabinet full of millionaires, while the far left in the Friends Meeting House yesterday acted, at times, as if it was at the Funeral of the Left addressed by a downbeat John McDonnell MP, he who never gets enough nominations, warning us all of a 'long haul' and that he didn't think the Liberals would split away from the government.

The organisers of the Convention of the Left, with John Nicholson sounding hoarse and looking haggard, did their best to cheer up the throng of some eighty or so dispirited revellers at the event going on about Right to Work campaigns and Stop the Cuts. It all sounded thoroughly so 1980s. Is David Cameron really the new Thatcher? It all seems a bit overwrought. Thatcher was a lower middle-class grocer's daughter with all the bitterness of those particular social animals - the Midland shopkeepers- while Cameron has that English upper-class air. That's why I can't agree with Laurens Otter's analysis below and don't believe Cameron wants to grind down the poor and if we accept Professor Robert Skidelsky's thesis it is the markets that rule us and not the government (see Financial Times: June 17th, 2010: 'Once again we must ask: "Who governs?"'). Thus the consensus across the mainstream political spectrum, even that of the Milliband brothers, is that ultimately we have to please the international bankers and investors.

The Convention of the Left was full of hopes and vain expectations, and the spirit of Mr Micawber that 'Something will turn up' to transform the situation: a Poll Tax type riot perhaps or maybe the climate camp warriors will come to our rescue? One workshop was asked to define what the 'Left' was? Mostly for most that meant 'More of the State', look at what happens when you get a downsized State – look at the USA and Katrina; but some, like a film-maker and former anarcho-punk from Hackney called Sean pointed to Detroit, where people on their own initiative are transforming the depressed city by growing crops amid the desolation. Others, like a lad formerly from Big Flame, seemed to have misgivings the 'More State' solution.

Barry Woodling, who described himself as an anarcho-syndicalist, caused a stir when he drew attention to the decision of Castro and Cuba to set about reducing the size of the workforce employed by the State: The International Herald Tribune [18/09/10] reported: '... the Cuban government's recent eye-popping announcement that it will reduce the government work force by 10% and expect the hundreds of thousands of laid-off workers to find places in a new system that has a resemblance to free enterprise.' Screams came back from old codgers declaring: 'You read the wrong papers!' Barry battled on declaring that the National Shop Stewards Network, that had held a Lobby at the TUC conference two weeks ago that featured on SKY TV, offered a radical alternative to the current stale politics of the left. Meanwhile, I'm worried that I'll lose my bus pass.

Friday, 24 September 2010


Bury Council has told its trade unions that they intend to cut take-home pay by locking staff out for 3 days without pay next Christmas. They also intend to further restrict take home pay by removing incremental progression for the next three years.

At the same time, proposed changes to the Management Board will see two senior managers benefiting from an additional £94,000 to their salaries. The Chief Executive of Bury Council, Mark Sanders, who last year denied that there had been evidence of blacklisting on the The Rock - a controversial construction site in Bury - told the Bury Times that he was resigning because he thought 'it was important that we all share in some of that pain ...' He also said he wanted to get to know his wife. He told the paper he wasn't being 'sanctimonious' and assured us 'There's no conspiracy under the surface here. There's not something going to jump out and bite you.' The locked-out workforce next Christmas may not agree!

Buy Northern Voices12 price £1.50, out next month, from certain select newsagents in Bury or write for postal subscription: £10 for the next 5 issues to Northern Voices: c/o 52, Todmorden Road, Burnley, Lancashire BB10 4AH.

The Coalition: Return of Maggie Thatcher? by Laurens Otter

The argument here owes something to the proposition put forward by former miner Dave Douglass in the 3rd volume of his autobiography entitled 'GHOST DANCERS': price £12.95, published by Christie Books PO Box 35, Hastings, East Sussex, TN34 1ZS'. Dave Douglass was a branch official in the NUM and a member of its Yorkshire Executive during the miners strike of 1984/5 and his book will be reviewed in Northern Voices 12; out next month.

There are obvious resemblances between the present Coalition Government and the Thatcher era; perhaps most relevant is that:

Thatcher came to power with what, some leftists then suspected, and now, in retrospect and after some government admissions, all agree was a preplanned scheme to provoke a showdown with the miners. They would be forced either to strike at a time of the government's choosing – when large stocks of fuel had been stockpiled and a press and Public Relations scheme had already prepared the ground – or alternatively, to suffer salami-slicing to reduce not only their pay and conditions, but also their future action.

Cameron has come to power and appears to be goading what remains of an active trade union movement in much the same way, with the same intent, and the fact that Liberals have agreed to join him in the Coalition does not contradict this, nor will it necessarily impede such a strategy and throughout he wishes to rub their faces in the shit by making them support a variety of right-wing policies, in the knowledge that they dare not break the alliance and go into opposition.

Thatcher was elected at a time when a number of articulate liberal middle class intellectuals were campaigning against nuclear power and were sympathetic to the miners; had they continued their activity, their testimony about the evils of nuclear power might well have been enough to sway the struggle in the miners favour. They didn't because in the year prior to the strike there were a significant number of curious deaths in such circles.

These were sufficiently worthy of suspicion as to cause those who took an interest in such matters to think they have been state murders, but not so far that there was any certainty, so that the Governmental party and venal press could dismiss the suspicions as mere conspiracy theory. It seems fair to expect a similar series of unexplained deaths.

Thursday, 23 September 2010


'A louse is a louse and a bomb is a bomb, even though what you are fighting for happens to be just.' from George Orwell's essay 'Looking Back on the Spanish War' written in the Autumn of 1942.

Last night, Charles Jepson of the National Clarion Cycling Club 1895 welcomed the recent decision of Tameside Council to award a blue plaque to James Keogh, an international brigade volunteer, who died in action in the Spanish Civil War in March 1938 in a confrontation in northern Spain with Italian troops. Mr Jepson was speaking to a group of local people at the Tameside Local Studies & Archives Centre on Old Street, Ashton-u-Lyne on 'Tameside People who served in the Spanish Civil War'. The event was organised by local archivist Alice Lock. Present at the talk were officers from Tameside Trade Union Council and Louise Atkinson, the Tameside Arts & Events Manager.

Charles Jepson spoke of the courage of young James Keogh, who lived on Wellington Street, Ashton, and the other young men from the Tameside area, who served in Spain fighting for what they saw as freedom and democracy. His younger sister, Claire Jackson, still lives in Stalybridge. Another man from Dukinfield, Albert Godwin, who served with James in Spain was captured by the enemy and is believed to have been forced, at one stage, to dig his own grave: in the end Albert and the others who went from Tameside survived the war. No grave nor James Keogh's remains, have ever been found, despite a visit by James's nephew, Mike Harrison, a couple of years ago.

Louise Atkinson of the Tameside Arts & Events Unit, has written that she 'anticipate(s) the plaque (to James Keogh) will be unveiled around Autumn/Winter 2011' and that the plaque will 'include reference to “all other volunteers” from the area that also fought in the Spanish Civil War'. At the last meeting of Tameside TUC, that nominated James for the blue plaque two years ago, the Council's decision was welcomed.

Mr Jepson's talk was a workmanlike and well balanced account of the Civil War. In the end, he echoed George Orwell assessment in his essay 'Looking Back on the Spanish War' that: 'The outcome of the Spanish war was settled in London, Paris, Rome, Berlin – at any rate not in Spain' and that General Franco's forces 'won because they were stronger; they had modern arms and the others hadn't.' Spain in 1936, was one of only three democracies remaining in western Europe – Britain and France being the other two, and it had a legitimate right to international support. James Keogh and the others who fought in Spain, including George Orwell, understood this. Most people in this country, including in the trade union and Labour movement, choose to ignore this preferring a policy of appeasement and non-intervention, and Tory critics of Germany, like Winston Churchill and Harold Nicholson, were still in the political wilderness. Only after Munich did public opinion change on this.

Buy Northern Voices12 price £1.50, out next month, from certain select Ashton and Tameside newsagents & in the Local Studies Archive at Ashton Library, for more on James Keogh and other local heroes of the Spanish Civil War.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010


The political pundits say he was the best thing to come out of
Rochdale since Gracie Fields

After his death on September 3rd, the (Rochdale) Observer say their offices were inundated with tributes to Sir Cyril following the news - from friends and rivals alike ...

Nick Clegg, deputy Prime Minister and Liberal Democrat leader: "Cyril Smith was a larger-than-life character and one of the most recognisable and likeable politicians of his day.
"Everybody in Rochdale knew him not only as their MP but also as a friend.
"Rochdale and Britain have sadly lost one of their great MPs, and I think we can safely say there will never be an MP quite like Cyril Smith again."

Jimmy Cricket, comedian and long-time friend of Sir Cyril: "Cyril was a giant who loomed over the political landscape of Rochdale for over two decades.
“He was synonymous with the town, like the Co-op and Gracie Fields...”

Lord (David) Steel of Aikwood, leader of the Liberals from 1976 until 1988: “Cyril was first and foremost Mr Rochdale..."

See the sinister side of Cyril in our next issue - Northern Voices12: out in October

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Surgeon Calls on Hospital Bosses to Quit!

"We are a clean safe hospital" declared Christine Green the chief executive of Tameside Hospital at the hospital`s AGM on Wednesday. The beleaguered Mrs. Green who is facing demands for her to quit her £144,000 post would like us all to forget the past.

In 2006, local coroner John Pollard, denounced the standard of care at Tameside hospital as 'absolutely despicable' and 'chaotic'. The hospital responded by reporting him to the Office for Judicial Complaints. In 2007, the Fielding Inquiry also found that "the quality of care...over a number of years had been seriously deficient." In 2009, it was revealed that the hospital had death rates which were amongst the worst in the country.This July, Mrs. Green, told members of the Tameside Council health scrutiny panel:

"People are very relieved to find that Tameside hospital is not a killer hospital. If we keep reliving history, we wont move forward. We`ve got to get over our history..we've got to make sure everyone is saying the right things, that we're moving forward."

Alas, for Mrs. Green, not everyone who attended the hospital's AGM on Wednesday, were keen to say what she wanted to hear. Rod McCord her nemesis from the Tameside Hospital Action Group (THAG,)called on Mrs. Greeen and the Board to resign. He told the meeting:

"We're still saddled with the same old discredited management." Referring to the hospital's annual report, he added:

"By no stretch of the most febrile imagination could it be said that the reports by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and Monitor, were 'very positive evaluations'. The CQC reported chronic understaffing and recommended immediate recruitment of staff under threat of legal action. The Monitor report,(which looked at clinical governance)had also commented that a good Board functioned without the need for regulatory intervention."

Although hospital mangement did their best to pack the meeting with lackeys who were only too keen to do Mrs. Green's bidding, they were visibly shocked when Milton Pena, (pictured above)consultant orthopaedic surgeon at the hospital, told the meeting:

"I support the petition for the Board to resign. I have no confidence in the Board. I`ve reported the Trust on three separate occasions to the Health Care Commssion." In 2005, Mr. Pena went public telling the press that elderly and vulnerable patients were being put at risk due to a lack of nursing staff on the wards and were being left unattended for hours. Hospital management responded by disciplining him for speaking out about his concerns.

Outside the building, Mr. Pena, posed for photographs with Liz Degnen, who is campaigning for the dismissal of Mrs. Green and the Board at Tameside hospital. Speaking to the Manchester Evening News, she said:

"I'm pleased Mr. Pena has been bold enough to support our campaign. It takes guts to do what he has done and I think a lot of people admire him for his courage."

SEXUAL ABUSE: Cyril Smith's Family vs Private Eye

THIS WEEKEND the family of Cyril Smith clashed with Private Eye about the image of the former Rochdale MP after the magazine repeated sexual abuse allegations originally published in the Rochdale Alternative Paper (RAP) in May 1979 (the text of the article can be read by clicking on the 'read more' link, below). At the time it had been claimed in RAP that one youth at the Cambridge House boys' hostel that Cyril had 'told me to take my trousers down and hit me four or five times on my bare buttocks' and another said Smith 'had given me a kind of medical examination... he held my testicles and told me to cough.'

In the Rochdale Observer yesterday Cyril's brother Norman castigated these reports in Private Eye saying: 'He (Cyril) thought of nothing else than the people of Rochdale.' He claimed: 'These allegations were proved completely untrue and were dropped.' That, alas, is not how many people remember it! None of the evidence was tested or seriously challenged. At the time RAP's editors declared in conclusion:
'It is not RAP’s function to pronounce on guilt or innocence. We do however believe that the investigation of 1970 should have resulted in a court case. We cannot but believe, like many of the men we interviewed, that had the allegations involved a less prominent person, it would have had exactly that result... Private preferences are, and should remain, personal business. The use of public position for personal gratification at the cost of exploitation of others must be prevented.'

Only last year, one of the former editors of RAP assured me that the paper had a mountain of evidence to prove their case regarding Cyril's behaviour. In the print version of Northern Voices 8 (in the Winter 2007/08 issue) we had suggested that Cyril Smith may have been the subject, along with Jeremy Thorpe, Harold Wilson and others, of a special branch operation called 'Clockwork Orange'. There was a paragraph in RAP's original report of May 1979 that suggested such an interest:


The file, kept since at Preston, the HQ of Lancashire Constabulary, came to the centre of national events in February/March 1974. Then there was discussion of a possible coalition between the Conservatives and the Liberals. The possibility, if that happened, of leading Liberals holding Ministerial posts, prompted the Special Branch to acquire a copy of the Preston file on Smith which was taken, with special security precautions, to London.'

Thursday, 16 September 2010


Now it's Swampy, Direct Action & Extra-parliamentary Man ( & Woman)

LAST SUNDAY on Sky TV Bob Crow, General Secretary of the RMT, was calling for Fathers4Justice type actions, but by Wednesday he was reminding a fringe meeting of the National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) at the Friends Meeting House in Manchester, of Swampy and other extra-parliamentary actions. The Chair, revolutionary syndicalist, Dave Chapple, was moved to ask him if Swampy had now joined the RMT? He said that what was needed was broad based imaginative campaigns in the community and that he thought that this year's TUC conference had been positive with calls for coordinated action and strikes which, in his view, had to be 'political', and he said that, for the first time in many years, the media had turned up in strength. He argued that we had to put forward real social demands.

Linda Taaffe, Secretary of the NSSN, called for a 'strategy of mass action' like the Poll Tax campaigns of the early 1990s. She said it was not just the poll tax riot that had won that battle but rather the determination of ordinary people not to pay the tax. In the end, of course, the Prime Minister who superseded Margaret Thatcher, John Major, had said that as a tax the Poll Tax was 'uncollectable'. Indeed, it was Margaret Thatcher that who through her anti-trade union laws helped bring back the riot to streets of England. In the 1970s and 80s some Industrial Sociologists like Tony Lane and Huw Beynon saw strikes and industrial action as a safety valve in society and some at that time saw the union official as the 'manager of discontent'. Calls for the increasing use of the law to limit the right to strike from people like Boris Johnson may well lead to more insurrectionary, less predictable forms of action

Amid the slogans and rhetoric at the TUC conference and on the streets during the demo last Sunday, there is a sense in the air up here in Manchester of a possibility of summat different on the horizon, summat more exotic perhaps, some alternative action more surprising than an ordinary strike. The utterances of Bob Crow, perhaps unconsciously imply something strange is in the offing and all week senior policemen, with an eye on their own interests, have been warning of social disorder if the cuts are implemented. Perhaps the National Shop Stewards Network will find a role for itself yet.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

What is Anarcho-Syndicalism?

The common objectives of social movements described as "anarcho-syndicalist", "revolutionary syndicalist" and "industrial syndicalist" is to overthrow capitalism through revolutionary class struggle based on the workplace in order to construct a social order devoid of economic, social and political oppression.

Many socialists believe in political action via parliament and the state to institute socialism , anarcho-syndicalists however reject this approach and concentrate on the revolutionary potential of working class economic organisations e.g. industrial unions, rank and file bodies etc. The emancipation of the working class can thus only be achieved not through political means, but by direct action, culminating in the social general strike and the setting up of workers control of the economy and society.

Anarcho-syndicalists place a major emphasis on decentralisation and horizontal organisation and demonstrate a fundamental opposition to the state compared with syndicalist movements outside of the syndicalist milieu.    Syndicalists have been derided by Marxists who slavishly adhere to Leninist orthodoxy. Vide Lenin's "Preface to the pamphlet by Lunacharsky on the attitude of the party towards trade unions (1907)" & "On the Syndicalist and Anarchist deviation in our Party (1921)".

Marxists paint a stereotypical picture of syndicalism as "amorphous", "petty bourgeois", "atheoretical" and "neglectful of politics and the state". This couldn't be further from the truth. Revolutionary Anarcho-Syndicalism has developed a sustained analysis of class struggle. Historically, it has articulated a cohesive structure of aims and methodology. Furthermore, Anarcho-Syndicalism is overtly political and recognises the importance of challenging state structures and the power of capital. Syndicalism has achieved mass support among factory workers, miners and craftsmen.

In the UK there has been a multiplicity of syndicalist movements e.g. Industrial Syndicalist Education League, British Advocates of Industrial Unionism, Industrial Union of Direct-Actionists, Industrial Workers of Great Britain, Syndicalist Workers Federation, Direct Action Movement etc.

Within the National Shop Stewards Network, Anarcho-Syndicalists are addressing the central issue of revolutionary class struggle and breaking the link between the Unions and the Labour Party.

BLACKLISTED FILM FRINGE: Professor calls for action at European Court

ON the day that the TUC Conference moved a motion to fight to get the Government to outlaw blacklisting, a fringe meeting organised by the Manchester Campaign Against the Blacklist hosted a TUC fringe meeting and Film Premier that attracted close to 100 people at the Central Methodist Hall. The UCATT motion at the TUC Conference demanded that 'blacklisting be made a specific criminal offence' and the that workers have 'an automatic right to be informed, should a blacklist be discovered on which their name appears.' The Fringe Meeting ran a film in which victims of the blacklist were interviewed and shown campaigning against the practice.

Professor Keith Ewing, from the Institute of Employment Rights and author of the UCATT report 'Spoiled Lives' on the legal aspects of blacklisting, told the meeting that there ought to be a complaint to the International Labour Organisation (a UN body) that had in 1992 determined that the British Government was in breach of human rights in respect of the right someone to be a member of a trade union and that the evidence of blacklisting also made a case at the European Court of Human Rights now likely. He said that companies operating blacklists fell foul of Human Rights laws in two respects:
Article 8 provides a right to respect for privacy and this could only be set aside if the government could show it was 'necessary': and Pro. Ewing said in the case of blacklisting it would not be possible to show it was 'necessary'.
Article 11 provides a right to freedom of association: the evidence shows that the companies were using blacklisting to hinder freedom of association.
He said: breaches of the European Convention of Human Rights meant that people subject to the blacklist would be entitled to a remedy and compensation.

Some at the meeting criticised the length of time it would take to get all this through the legal process and others challenged the failures of the previous Labour Government to do anything serious about blacklisting or the anti-trade union laws. Even John McDonnell as a Labour MP was on the defensive saying that the previous Government hadn't been 'Labour' but had been 'New Labour'. Mr McDonnell characterised himself as 'Real Labour'. A newsletter 'Our Next Step' claiming to come from some 'northern syndicalists allied to the National Shop Stewards Network' was circulated at the meeting arguing that British trade unions should break with the Labour Party.

Monday, 13 September 2010


IT was a very English demo. Yesterday, in Manchester, saw what Dave Chapple, President of the National Shop Stewards Network, described as the 'first national demonstration against the Coalition Government's cuts' and their slogan was that the 'TUC Must Call a Demo'. Well that should scare the Coalition! But were they merely pushing at an open door all the time? Today, the TUC has declared that it is planning a 'campaign' against the cuts.

Last night, SKY TV and other media captured the occasion on the evening news: 500 flag waving demonstrators outside the convention centre at Manchester's G-Mex. Bob Crow, General Secretary of the RMT, calling for co-ordinated strikes and civil disobedience and right winger, Les Bayliss of Unite the Union, saying this will be suicide.

All the usual suspects were on parade - the Socialist Party with their 'New Workers' Party'; the SWP with its Right to Work campaign; the refashioned communists; Trade Union and Trades Council banners from up and down the country; even a handful of folk from the Manchester Solidarity Federation. Young syndicalists like Becca (UNISON) from Birmingham addressed the crowd and the old anarcho-syndicalist former miner Dave Douglass (NUM) from Northumbria told us that great industries like coal mining did not die 'they were slaughtered' by Thatcher and Major.

This is a movement – the National Shop Stewards Network – that is backed by public sector unions such as RMT; PCS; CWU; the National NUM and the POA. So yesterday's demo was about preserving jobs in the public sector and not about a new world order. Calling on the TUC to call a national demonstration against the public sector cuts must be one of the most timid demands imaginable and this conservativism of the British left is typical. Bob Crow sounds militant and even harks back to the poll tax riots but expectations of radical social change seem very remote at the moment.

Friday, 10 September 2010

BLACKLISTED: Film Premier & TUC Fringe Meeting

The first showing of Blacklisted, a new documentary about the illegal Consulting Association's blacklist of 3,213 building workers. This secret data-base was used by multi-national building firms to stop trade unionists who had raised concerns about safety and unpaid wages from getting jobs.

John McDonnell MP
Professor Keith Ewing: Institute of Employment Rights
Shaun Dey: Film Director - Reel News
Chris Murphy: UCATT Executive Council
plus blacklisted buildingworkers & Bury Binmen from

Monday 13th, September at 5.30pm,
METHODIST CENTRAL HALL, Oldham Street, off Piccadilly in Manchester City Centre.

Tameside considers a blue plaque for James Keogh

Last week, an Arts & Events panel for Tameside MBC considered an application from Tameside TUC that James Keogh be awarded a blue plaque in tribute to him and other volunteers from the Tameside area who served in the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s. If a blue plaque is awarded to James Keogh and the others, it is expected that the event will take place later next year.