Thursday, 16 December 2010

The future of the National Shop Steward Network: a statement from NSSN Officers and Steering Committee members

"We are drawing attention to the disastrous outcome of the Steering Committee of the National Shop Stewards’ Network (NSSN) meeting on Saturday 4th December.

The majority in the meeting, who were Socialist Party (SP) members, voted through a series of decisions despite the opposition of absolutely everyone else, of various political affiliations and none.

The meeting decided to propose that the anti-cuts conference being organised by the NSSN on January 22nd should set up an “NSSN All-Britain Anti-Cuts campaign” and the election of a committee at the conference, which would be separate from the existing NSSN structures. As supporters of the NSSN, we are aware that the NSSN and its supporters are already working, locally, regionally and nationally in opposition to the government’s attacks on our public services and jobs. The NSSN has an immense task in helping to build for effective action which can begin to beat back these attacks, although it is noteworthy that the original proposal put forward by the Socialist Party omitted any mention of the NSSN working to organise industrial action against the public sector attacks.

However, to agree that the NSSN has an important contribution to make to the anti-cuts movement is a long way from agreeing to the need for it to launch yet another national anti-cuts campaign. At a time when there is pressure for anti-cuts campaigns to work together – witness the protocol agreed between the Coalition Of Resistance and the Right To Work campaign; the forum on December 5th organised by Right To Work on working together; and the pending meeting called by the Trade Union Coordinating Group on December 14th – the creation of yet another group can only be seen as counterproductive. That the NSSN participated in the forum on December 5th and intend to take part in the meeting on December 14th stands in stark contrast to this move.

Attempts by non-SP officers of the Network to remove the most contentious aspects in advance of the Steering Committee meeting were unsuccessful. The proposals were the subject of a lengthy heated debate. Attempts to delete contentious parts of these proposals were defeated by the SP majority, with no wider support. Attempts to make positive proposals to work constructively with other anti-cuts organisations were defeated in the same way. The only real progress was the removal of a proposal that the NSSN should support anti-cuts candidates in local elections in May, a proposal which would have immediately wrecked the non-party and cross-party nature of the NSSN.

Launching a further national anti-cuts campaign, while obstructing cooperation with other organisations, would be a retrograde step, as well as changing the nature and direction of the NSSN. If the NSSN becomes controlled by one political party which is unwilling to work constructively with any other shop stewards in the network, we would see no point in further participation. Confirmation that this is the way the the SP intends to proceed seems to be borne out by events since the meeting of the Steering Committee – the secretary has unilaterally announced that only SP members will represent the NSSN at 2 forthcoming meetings discussing left/anti-cuts cooperation, with not even a pretence at consultation with non-SP officers .

We therefore urge the Socialist Party to pull back."

NB: A personal request from Dave Chapple, NSSN Chair: "We are circulating this statement throughout the trade union movement, especially activists in NSSN affiliated or supportive unions, to which, ultimately, the NSSN should be responsible. Please discuss it at your trade union branch or other union meetings. We need messages of support for this statement, but would also welcome questions and comments, sent to the address below. NSSN Officers and steering committee members listed are willing to attend trade union meetings to put our case, so please consider inviting us.

Finally, friends, our London conference on 22nd January gives us a chance to return the NSSN to a sensible consensus-based policy: please do your best to attend: a substantial turnout of mainstream trades union activists can ensure that the NSSN has a future: the Socialist Party alternative, as the 'trade union wing' of a small left group, has no future at all."

Dave Chapple, CWU, Chair, NSSN Steering Committee;
Jane Bassett, NUT, vice-Chair, NSSN Steering Committee;
Bob Archer, NUT, NSSN Website/Press Officer;
George Binette, Unison, NSSN treasurer;
Ray Morell, Unite, NSSN National Organiser;
Becca Kirkpatrick, Unison, NSSN Affiliations/Fund-raising Officer

plus the following members of the NSSN Steering Committee:

Brian Bamford, Unite;
Andy Reid, PCS;
Stuart Melvin, USDAW;
Glyn Harries, Unison
Ian Allinson, Unite,
Gerry Downing, Unite,
Jeremy Drinkall,Unison;
Helen Steel, Unison
Pete Firmin, CWU,
Steve Ballard, NUT
Paul Turnbull, CWU

UK Uncut 'Pay Day' this Saturday, 18th December, all over the North

The latest Day of Action called by the Tax Avoidance highlighting outfit UK Uncut takes place on Saturday 18th December, in cities all over the UK, including the North of England.

Saturday's targets are once again Vodafone and the Arcadia Group. The list of actions has grown massively to 51 towns and cities since the last Day of Action, and they are all listed on this page of UK Uncut's website, and we'll round up those in the North of England below:

Durham - Target unspecified. Starts at 1 p.m. in the Marketplace.

Halifax - Target unspecified. Meet outside Halifax Bus Station at 1.30 p.m.

Kendal - Targeting Topshop & Vodafone, taking place between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. outside those stores.

Leeds - Targeting Topshop & Vodafone. Meet at 12 p.m. in front of Topshop on Briggate.

Liverpool - Target is secret! Meet under the big screen outside Clayton Square Shopping Centre (opposite Radio City Tower)  at 12.30 p.m. You are requested to bring a sleeping bag!

Newcastle - Meet at the Monument at 1 p.m. Targets are "companies that dodge tax and support attacks on education and other public services".

Manchester - Target is unspecified, but likely to be Arcadia group stores where mass disruption is the plan. Meet at Piccadilly Gardens next to the statue at 11 a.m. Interested parties are requested to bring horns, buckets, vuvuzelas, whistles etc, with the plan being to make a lot of noise.

Middlesbrough - Target is Topshop. Meet at the MIMA Art Gallery (next to the big bottle and the town hall) at 12 p.m.

Preston - Target unspecified. Meet outside Fishergate Centre at 2 p.m.

Sheffield - Target is Boots. Gathering at 11am on Fargate for a theatre performance against tax avoidance with leaflets highlighting Boots tax avoidance.

Many of the above events have relevant facebook pages - see the links for each city above.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010


They just can`t help putting their foot in their mouths these Tory inbreds from down south. Earlier this year David (Lord) Young was forced to apologise and resign after telling the British public that they`d never had it so good. Last month, another Tory buffoon Howard Emerson Flight, the former MP for Arundel and Southdowns, hit the headlines when he said that government cuts in child benefit would discourage the middle-classes from breeding but would encourage 'breeding' amongst the poor. Flight is the author of 'All you need to know about exchange rates'.

This week, the leader of Buckinghamshire County Council, David Shakespeare, (pictured above) who is the leader of the Local Government Association`s Conservative group, announced that he had a novel idea for getting unemployed northerners back to work. He`s suggested that unemployed northerners should go south to pick fruit like Eastern European immigrants and he believes that if unemployment goes up: "the north may replace the Romanians in the cherry orchards...and that may be a good thing."

Greater Manchester MP`s have reacted angrily to his comments and say Shakespeare is 'out of touch' and like most Tories, is too south-east focused. Tony Lloyd, Labour MP for Manchester Central said:
"on one level , I can dismiss him as stupid or bigoted, but on another level it is really worrying. That he represents a nation-wide organisation is just astonishing. He clearly is a buffoon. Any Tory - indeed any politician - who holds that opinion isn't fit to hold public office."
Barbara Keeley, MP for Worsley and Eccles South, said: "At a time when they are talking about job cuts no one should be making flippant comments about unemployment."

Graham Stringer, the MP for Blackley, said: "What the north needs is the kind of investment the south has benefitted from for years - we need the level of attention it has had."

Northerners who fancy a job in a cherry orchard down south and who wish to respond to David Shakespeare`s comments can contact him at:

Thursday, 9 December 2010


The sorry sight of Prince Charles' 'Chasmobile' outside the Royal Variety Performance tonight. Window broken, covered with paint. Students know how to party!

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Student occupation of Roscoe Lecture Theatre, Manchester University

For the last 10 days, there has been an occupation of the lecture theatre in the Roscoe Building at the University of Manchester by students protesting at proposed tuition fee rises and education cuts. The presence of the Socialist Workers Student Student is very obvious, but their tactics are scarcely winning over many students. The main problem is that the occupation is transient, and for long periods normal lectures take place in the lecture theatre.

There have, however, been some interesting alternative lectures on the Diggers, Levellers, Mary Wollstonecraft etc, resulting in an exchange of ideas and libertarian and anarchist ideas are gaining some traction. I have participated in the last 5 days of the occupation as a community activist and NSSN supporter and have distributed literature on anarcho-syndicalism which has been well received. Friends of Seisdedos have also made a donation to the fighting fund.

Finally a number of leaflets promoting the NAN in Bolton as well as The OK Cafe have been circulated. The OK cafe is an autonomous space in the squatted Lord Nelson pub on the corner of Great Ancoats Street and Newton Street: Contact, or go to

Monday, 6 December 2010


A blast from the past. An old aquaintance of mine from Salford, Johnny Clarke, the so-called punk poet aka the Salford Bard. Back in the 70`s he did regular performances in the upstairs room of the Black Lion pub in Salford near to Salford central bus station off Chapel Street. That was in the days before he was famous - before he did the sugar puffs add along with the honey monster. Although the pub no longer stands, Johnny Clarke, went on to big and better things appearing on such programmes as the Old Grey Whistle test. A favourite poem of mine was the one I remember him doing at the Black Lion, about Risley remand centre which started thus: 'Risley, Risley, Ree, they put you up for free...'I`ve looked for this poem but alas have been unable to find it. The last time I spoke to Johnny Clarke was outside the Free Trade Hall in the 1980s when I went to see Arthur Scargill at a miners rally. My mate asked Johnny Clarke, what he thought of Scargill and he replied in his inimitable style, "He`s a popular icon."

'My name's “HUNT”, not “CUNT”!'

James Naughtie delivers a spoonerism before breakfast

'AFTER the NEWS', announced the normally sober broadcaster, James Naughtie, 'we are going to be talking to Jeremy Cunt Jeremy Hunt! - the Culture Secretary about the art of Broadband'. That was just before the Today News on Radio 4 at 8am this morning, and within minutes the emails were flooding into Broadcasting House with one from a psycho-linguist who said David Cameron was to blame for appointing a man with the name of 'Hunt'. As if that was not enough, it was a live broadcast and Mr Naughtie had to go on to valiantly, between chuckles, to struggle to introduce the 8am News while all the time desperately pretending he had a frog in his throat. Chris Draper tackled this spooneristic problem with Yorkshire Curd Tart in the last issue of Northern Voices. Today's incident didn't quite descend into the giggles that accompanied the Brian Johnson cricket commentary that included the 'leg over' term, but it has led to widespread comment throughout the day on Radio 4. However, an hour later Andrew Marr referred to the James Naughtie incident on Start The Week on Radio 4, during a discussion on Freudian slips, and blurted out 'Jeremy C***' before gasping with laughter.

Dr Mike Page, a reader in psychology at the University of Hertfordshire, has said it was a classic Spoonerism — the verbal blunder named after the Reverend William Archibald Spooner (1844–1930), renowned for such slips while warden of New College, Oxford. Dr Page said: 'Studies show that where two words share the same vowel sound this will promote the exchange of the preceding consonant ... like saying queer old dean' instead of dear old queen'.

Dr Page did not think the slips revealed that BBC presenters hold the Culture Secretary, who has ordered the corporation to cut spending, in low esteem.

'Freud's theory of para-praxes is that an unconscious or concealed view may emerge inadvertently in a verbal error, but Naughtie was almost certainly a spoonerism. Marr fell victim to the white bear effect': the more he tried not to think of the word, the more he primed his brain to say it.'

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Blacklisted Electrician Steve Acheson in Court for Trespass

Steve Acheson, blacklisted electrician, is in court in Runcorn at 2pm, Tuesday 7th December, at the Runcorn County Court, Halton Lea, Runcorn Cheshire. Warrington Trades Council is lobbying the hearing in solidarity with Steve. Please attend if you can.

It would appear to be a preliminary hearing for trespass by the power company who run Fiddlers Ferry power station, Scottish & Southern Electricity, as they object to Steve protesting outside their gates against his dismissal - nearly 2 years ago now. Steve's dismissal was connected with the use of an illegal blacklist by construction employers against union activists.

The case will turn on the finer points of the English law of trespass. There is one legal case (Harrison v. Duke of Rutland, 1893) which seems to say that the only right on a public right of way is to "pass and repass", however thankfully there is more recent case law (Hirst and Agu v. Chief Constable of West Yorkshire, 1987) which seems to establish a right to use a right of way for any purpose so long as it is "reasonable and lawful."

As Steve's protest is peaceful, and commits no criminal damage and takes place on the public highway, not on land belonging to SSE, it is difficult to see how they will win the case. It is likely to turn on what a judge deems "reasonable" in the circumstances.

Andy Ford (the contact phone number is 0774 241 7862; if anyone needs further details),
Campaigns Officer
Warrington and District Trades Council

Friday, 3 December 2010

UK Uncut 'Day of Action' called for tomorrow, all across the North of England

The latest Day of Action called by the Tax Avoidance highlighting outfit UK Uncut takes place tomorrow, Saturday 4th December, in cities all over the UK, including the North of England.

The campaign originally sprung from the revelations in Private Eye that Vodafone had avoided £6 billion of tax with the collusion of Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs, £6 billion being the same amount that the ConDem government are trying to cut out of the public sector. As a result, UK Uncut held a day of action to shut down Vodafone stores all over the UK.

Tomorrow is the turn of the Arcadia Group, the high street clothing retail group, owned by the billionaire Sir Philip Green. Green was recently asked by David Cameron to audit government spending a procurement, and is another well-known tax avoider, whose companies are registered in his wife Cristina's name, Cristina being a resident of Monaco. Arcadia owns stores such as Burton, Dorothy Perkins, Evans, Miss Selfridge, Topman, Topshop, and Wallis.

Actions for the UK are listed on this page of UK Uncut's website, and we'll round up those in the North of England below:

Leeds - Meet at 12 p.m. in front of Topshop on Briggate.

Liverpool - Targeting Topshop. Meet under the big screen outside Clayton Square Shopping Centre (opposite Radio City Tower)  at 11a.m.

Manchester - Targeting Topshop, Boots & Barclays: Scroogey Santas, a protest against the corporations behind the cuts. Meet at Piccadilly Gardens at the Fountains at 3p.m. for a moving demo with music (Xmas theme).

Sheffield - Targeting Burton, Topshop, HSBC, Vodafone, Boots, Dorothy Perkins, Wallis, Barclays and Lloyds. Most of these can be found on The Moor and Fargate. 10 a.m. start outside the Town Hall.

York - Targeting HSBC, Vodafone, Boots, Dorothy Perkins, Wallis, Barclays & Lloyds TSB. Ghost (Tax) Tour - A magical mystery tour of missing millions, starting at 1p.m. at the fountain in Parliament Street.


At noon today it was announced on the BBC2 news programme Daily Politics that Phil Woolas the disgraced former MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth, has lost his appeal in the High Court against the decision of the Election Court (the first of its type in 99 years) which sat earlier this year in Uppermill, Saddleworth, to remove him from office for 'illegal practices' i.e.making false statements and deliberately telling lies against his Liberal Democrat opponent Elwyn Watkins,during the general election campaign this year.

According to today's Independent, the three High Court judges dismissed the least serious charge on which Woolas was convicted that he'd claimed that Watkins had broken a pledge to live in the constituency. They nevertheless upheld the two most serious charges against Woolas that he`d falsely claimed that his opponent had sought to win the votes of 'Asian extremists' who had advocated violence and that Watkins had refused to condemn the threats of violence.

As the NV blog has previously reported, Woolas's legal position appears hopeless. Although he said he had 'no regrets' about his conduct, he has been banned from standing for public office for 3 years and now faces the prospects of a criminal investigation which could result in a jail sentence. During the general election campaign, Woolas, a former immigration minister, tried to win votes in his constituency by getting "white folk angry." After the High Court judgement Woolas said: "It is the end of the road - I am out."