Friday, 30 March 2012

Bradford: 'The traditional parties have failed this city!'

George Galloway has won a convincing victory in the Bradford West Bye-Election. Last Sunday, Soledad Gallego-Diaz in the influential Spanish daily EL PAIS asked in its Domingo supplement: 'Hay futuro para la socialdemocracia?' ('Is there a future for Social Democracy?'). The writer, Senor Gallego-Diaz wrote: 'The worst crisis of capitalism had resulted in a problem not for the Right, but for the Left.' He continues: 'European Social Democracy has paid for the economic and financial crisis of 2008 much more than the Right-Wing, and the social democrats must now prepare for the next decisive few months.' Consequently, Gallego-Diaz writes: 'European Social Democracy seeks Green Shoots.'

If this is so, last night's victory for George Galloway must be an ill omen for the British Labour Party which had planned a victory celebration that had to be called off at the last minute. This morning David Blunkett put it down to the 'Bradford effect' claiming that Bradford may be a special case, and the Deputy leader of the Labour Party refused to explain this disappointing Northern outcome from her office in London.

Could it have been Galloway's clever networking and manipulation of the Asian Clan system ('Braderies') in Bradford? Some reports suggest that the rank and file Asians ignored the pleas of their tribal elders to vote Labour, and one Bradford lad this morning said: 'With bad education statistics and high unemployment in Bradford; we needed someone who can think outside the box!' Other commentators see wider symptoms at work in British society as witnessed by Scottish National Party's success over the Labour Party north of the border, and the failure of the Tories to gain an overall majority at the last General Election. Others are arguing that people are disillusioned with the main stream parties and are looking for summat different up North.

Catching on! The Musical!


Here's an issue for discussion at the newly formed
Greater Manchester Radical History Group:

Meeting to be held on Saturday 31st, March 2012:
Starting at 11am at the Town Hall Tavern,
on Tibb Lane off Cross Street
near Albert Square,

Entrance Free. Everyone welcome.
WHY was Steve Acheson from Denton in Tameside and a handful of Manchester contracting electricians left standing on lonely pickets around the city's building sites fighting the blacklist in the building trade and almost ignored by the British left and the trade unions for so long? Why do some things become documented and celebrated, and others disappear from the historical memory?

In 1899,a strike took place in New York that forced the press barons, Joseph Pulitzer and Randolph Hearst, into a compromise. This month, Dan Barry in his theatre column of the International Herald Tribune, wrote: 'There really was a newsboy's strike in 1899 that unsettled the empires of Joseph Pulitzer and Randolph Hearst' and 'there really were thousands of children using muscle and wit to thwart delivery of Pulitzer's Evening World and Hearst's Evening Journal...' The sheer embarrassment of these gaffers, Pulitzer and Hearst, being portrayed as heartless scoundrels by thousands of young ragamuffins demanding the right to 'sale or return' on the newspapers they sold on the streets of New York was remarkable, and perhaps more remarkable was that they had some success. Yet, afterwards the New York newsboy's strike, which spread to other cities, disappeared off the historical radar and almost a century would pass, writes Dan Barry, 'before the Newsboy's Strike of 1899 received its due...' It has now been remembered because the historian, David Nasaw, spotted a footnote and wrote 'Children of the City' about the 1899 Newsboy's Strike in a book in 1985, and this month Disney has put on a Broadway musical 'Newsies the Musical' which began previews on the 15th, March: the actor and playwright, Harvey Fierstein who wrote the play says 'facts are not what drama is'. Mr. Fierstein said he wanted to plumb the historical event for art, entertainment and essential truths, as when these striving children come to a liberating realisation: 'That they matter.'

Why was the New York newsboy's strike forgotten about for almost a century? Why did it disappear from the historical memory for so long and now it is being remembered in a musical on Broadway by Disney? Surely not because of some conspiracy by an historical hierarchy? Some things like the consequencies and sufferings of the parties in the Spanish Civil War were clearly shelved and hidden in a great forgetfulness by 'el Pacto de Olvido':
'Pact of Forgetting (in Spanish: el pacto de olvido) is the Spanish political decision (by both the leftist and rightist parties) of avoiding having Spain deal with the legacy of Francoism after the 1975 death of Gen. Francisco Franco, who remained in power since the Spanish Civil War in 1936-1939.'*

The Spanish case was a very special instance of taking an event off the political/ historical record, but it is unlikely that the New York newsboys fell into such a deliberate act of exclusion or that the Manchester electricians were deliberately overlooked by the media during the early years of their campaign against the blacklist; much more likely it was down to a failure of madia management on the part of the workers in the early days. But does this apply to Captain Swing and the Luddites in the 19th century as some radical historians are now suggesting? Was it bad media management or something else that has led to them being overlooked by many main stream and left-wing historians?

This coming Saturday this will be discussed at
Greater Manchester Radical History Group Meeting
to be held on Saturday 31st, March 2012:
Starting at 11am at the Town Hall Tavern,
on Tibb Lane off Cross Street
near Albert Square,

*This pact underpinned the transition to democracy of the 1970s and meant that difficult questions about the recent past were suppressed for fear of endangering 'national reconciliation' and the restoration of liberal-democratic freedoms. Further, responsibility for the Spanish civil war, and for the repression that followed, was not to be placed upon any particular social or political group. 'In practice , this presupposed suppressing painful memories derived from the dictatorship's division of the population into "victors" and "vanquished".'
This pact has since been challenged with the arrival of a socialist government in 2004 under the prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, whose grandfather, himself a republican officer, was condemned to death and shot by Franco's Nationalist troops in the Spanish Civil War.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012


The Peoples Art Gallery have been their current premises at 2, Melbourne Street, Stalybridge, for five years at the end of March. To celebrate the event, they have organised an open party night and are inviting members of the public and supporters to join them for a light buffet and wine. The event which will take place on Friday 6April, 7pm - 9pm, coincides with an open night for the April exhibition featuring artists who have had solo exhibitions in the past. For further details of the event, contact the Gallery on 0161 338 8333

Monday, 26 March 2012

Unemployed refusing 'voluntary' work experience are now being forced into unpaid 'Mandatory Work Activity'!

Members of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) and 'Boycott Workfare', have organised a picket outside the Head office of the CWU in London, to protest about an agreement between Royal Mail and the CWU, to facilitate 'workfare' in the Royal Mail.

The agreement which was signed in January, allows for eighty unemployed people on the 'Work Experience Programme' to undertake four week placements, which Royal Mail and the CWU, "say is entirely voluntary and underpinned by strong Trade Union Principles."

In a 'joint statement' which was sent to CWU branches throughout the country, Royal Mail and the CWU, have stated that participants will receive a 'remuneration package' and on completion of the four week programme, will also have "the opportunity of a job offer in line with agreed criteria that also protects existing fixed term and temporary staff" and that an individual who chooses to leave at any stage, "will not be penalised in any way."

But the agreement has provoked outrage amongst some postal workers and members of the 'Boycott Workfare' campaign, who claim that they have been unable to obtain 'written guarantees' that the Work Experience scheme agreed between Royal Mail and the CWU, is entirely voluntary. Opponents of the scheme, also point out that ministers have stated that "the sanctions regime remains in place", and that anybody turning down, or withdrawing from so-called 'voluntary' work experience, will be transferred to 'Mandatory Work Experience'(MWA), involving four weeks forced unpaid labour, lasting for up to 30 hours per week.

Evidence that jobseekers who refuse so-called 'voluntary' work experience are being forced into compulsory unpaid work placements, is growing by the day. Last week the Guardian reported how it had been contacted by young unemployed jobseekers who claimed that they had been put onto MWA just weeks after claiming Jobseekers Allowance. Others have also claimed that Jobcentres put them onto MWA, after refusing work experience. Referring to guidance given to Jobcentre staff, the Guardian report states that staff have been told:

"A claimant 'dropping out' of an employment measure prematurely may, or may not, indicate a lack of focus and discipline on their part. It is for advisory teams to consider the merits of MWA referral on a case-by-case basis."

Although the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, says that these schemes are not 'slave labour', this will be tested shortly in the courts when two cases are due to be heard in mid-May. At the Royal Courts of Justice, a middle-aged claimant who refused to work six months unpaid under the government's 'Community Action Programme', is arguing that this was a form of forced labour and an "attack on his dignity." In another case, Cait Reilly a 22-year-old graduate from Birmingham, is arguing that being compelled to work unpaid for Poundland stacking shelves under threat of losing her state benefits, was forced labour and breached the Human Rights Act which prohibits forced or compulsory labour. In the meanwhile, protest action aimed at stopping this form of modern-day slavery, is growing daily.

The protest action to demand 'No workfare at Royal Mail' will take place at the CWU HQ, 150 Broadway, Wimbledon, London, SW19 1RX, on 2nd April at 11.OO am.

Northern Voices says: DEFEND RAY SMITH

THE success against the dirty seven and BESNA, was the work of the rank & file members in the building trade! We can now start to rebuild the UNITE union and get rid of the blacklist, end deskilling, enforce Rule 17 and end agency working.

Yet, now one of the formost fighters for these things Ray Smith, Newcastle Central Branch of Unite the Union, and passionate trade union activist in the North East of England, is threatened by his own union because he got his branch to give the Rank & File campaigners and construction workers against BESNA and the Blacklist facilities for meetings and transport to London: also he aided the production of leaflets and assisted thwe protest.

The Rank & File campaign and Northern Voices is 'shocked to learn that Ray Smith is under investigation under the Unite union's Rule 27 and Rule 5.'

The Petition for Ray Smith:

We (the Rank & File Campaign and Northern Voices) say to Len McCluskey, leader of Unite, that: 'You have rightly gone on the record to condemn the politically motivated witch-hunts that have taken place in other unions. We think that there is no place in our union for such things either. That is why we call on you to drop the investigation against Ray Smith. Let us work together to build our union and let us have a union that is big enough and strong enough to accept that although we might at times disagree; that we are all on the same side against the bosses and the Tories.'

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Manchester Employment Tribunal: Claimants Blacklisted Electricians Tony Jones & Steve Acheson

The Pre-Hearing Review in the case of Tony Jones and Steve Acheson began yesterday on Wednesday 21st, March 2012. The story thus far is as follows:

Tony Jones is supported by UNITE the Union and represented by John Hobson from Doughty Street Chambers - who argued that the case should proceed to full merits hearing because the construction companies Carillion (and one time subsidiary Crown House Technologies), Balfour Beatty, Emcor (previously Drake & Scull), Phoenix and the employment agency Beaver Management had refused Tony work because he was a trade union activist on the following projects: Wembley Arena, Heathrow Terminal 5, Manchester University, Manchester Law Courts, Fiddlers Ferry Power Station. The information about Tony's trade union activism was shared amongst the construction giants in the illegal Consulting Association blacklist.

This was not just unlawful but was also in breach of Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The Employment Tribunal has a duty under the Human rights Act to uphold Tony's human rights and therefore it was argued, the case should be allowed to proceed to full merits hearing.

The construction firms had 4 separate barristers in court and argued that the case should be thrown out because it was "out of time" as the incidents had happened many years ago.

Employment Judge Brain has retired to give a reserved judgement (expected in a few weeks). Judge Brain has a history of harsh decisions on this matter having already thrown out the vast majority of blacklisting cases for being out of time. The consequence being that despite pages of documentary evidence implicating the construction firms in blacklisting, very few blacklisted workers have had the opportunity to seek justice in the courts.

Steve Acheson is taking a claim against Dimension Data for blacklisting him from the Holford Gas Terminal construction project in Cheshire under new Blacklisting Regulations 2010. Steve is represented by Nicks Toms and funded by Unite the Union.

This is the first ever Employment Tribunal taken under the new regulations which were introduced in the last days of the previous Labour government in response to the Consulting Association scandal. All the evidence was taken today and the case continues tomorrow with submissions from the barristers. A decision is expected tomorrow afternoon.

Steve said after the hearing yesterday:
'the managers from the blacklisting firms have been put through the mangle today but to fight the blacklist the unions need to do more than just support individual workers in court. We need to launch a proper campaign against this human rights abuse.'

Dave Cameron replies to John McDonnell MP

From Hansard 21 Mar 2012 : Column 791

John McDonnell (Hayes and Harlington) (Lab): The Information Commissioner has confirmed that some of the information used by the Consulting Association to blacklist trade unionists could only have come from the police or the Security Service. When 3,000 people, mostly celebrities, had their telephones hacked, the Government set up an inquiry under Leveson. When 3,200 trade unionists have been blacklisted, and many have lost their livelihoods, the Home Secretary simply suggests that they go to the Independent Police Complaints Commission. Why is there one route to justice for celebrities, and another for working people?
The Prime Minister: There is one law that has to cover everybody in this land, and if there is any accusation of wrongdoing, that is something that the police, who are completely independent of the Government, can investigate. That is what should happen. I say that on the hon. Gentleman’s behalf, but he could do something on everyone else’s behalf. He runs the Right to Work campaign, which is stopping young people getting work experience places. If he cares about opportunities for young people, he will give up that left-wing organisation.

The Blacklist Support Group wish to publicly express our gratitude to John McDonnell MP for raising the issue of blacklisting on the floor of the House of Commons. He has been a stalwart in the blacklisting campaign and a champion of working people fighting for social justice.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

History of the Blacklist & the MI5 Connection

RECENT findings about the unhealthy relationships of police and newspaper editors at the Leveson Inquiry, at which Lord Justice Leveson will examine the relationship of the press with the public, police and politicians, and the strange story about the security services and the police in relation to a blacklist in the building trade told on the 4th, March on the front page Sunday OBSERVER by Daniel Boffey, seems now have a much longer pedigree judging from a recently unearthed article in The Independent on the 7th September 2001:

MI5 offers to spy for private firms

MI5 has told some of Britain's biggest companies that it may be prepared to provide intelligence on their business partners and rivals abroad.
For the first time, the security service this week openly invited representatives from industry and finance to its headquarters in Millbank, London, for a seminar called Secret Work in an Open Society.

The Independent has learnt that in between coffee and a buffet lunch, those attending were given a talk by Sir Stephen Lander, MI5's director general, on "What is the security service for?", during which he said companies ought to ask for help more often.

Since the end of the Cold War, MI5 has been trying to evolve into a service more interested in catching criminals and terrorists than foreign spies. This week's move will be seen as another attempt to re-invent itself as a more user-friendly service. Among the companies invited to attend were BT, Rolls-Royce, HSBC, Allied Domecq, Consignia, BP, Ernst & Young, Cadbury Schweppes and BAE Systems. Of the 64 executives invited, a high proportion were in market development, security or risk-assessment.

'Sir Stephen said he was sure that MI5 could help business more if only it were asked,' said one delegate. 'In situations where we are working abroad,' he said 'MI5 might have information on companies or individuals it could help us with if it did not involve breaching legislation on data protection or human rights.' 'He made the point that, increasingly, organised crime, drugs and money laundering are our common enemy. When getting into deals abroad - particularly Eastern Europe at the moment - you can get into bed with the wrong people if you don't have good risk- assessment information on them. Basically, he was anxious that MI5 shouldn't be thought of solely as a domestic organisation ... In return, he said there might be occasions when we can pass information back.'

The list of delegates gives an insight into the sort of executive MI5 is trying to reach: Nigel Carpenter, BP's deputy head of group security in the eastern hemisphere; Mike McGinty, security director at BAE Systems; Mike Harris, information security manager for Consignia; Michael Weller, BT's head of government security; and John Smith, head of security for the Prudential Corporation.

The seminar was organised in conjunction with the Whitehall and Industry Group, a body that aims to bridge the gap between business and government. Its patrons include Lord Haskins, chairman of Northern Foods and the Better Regulation task force in the Cabinet Office; Sir Andrew Turnbull, permanent secretary to the Treasury; Sir George Mathewson, chairman of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group; Sir Richard Wilson, Cabinet Secretary and head of the Home Civil Service; and Digby Jones, director general of the Confederation of British Industry.

The practice of using the country's intelligence service to benefit companies is one performed in the United States for a number of years. There is evidence that it has used a communications eavesdropping system called Echelon to gather sensitive information on rivals in the European Union that has been passed on to US business. There is no suggestion that the British services intend to go that far, but this is thought to be the first time MI5 has brought in so many senior executives.

Even though they were not explicitly asked to keep the meeting secret, none of the delegates approached by The Independent yesterday [6th, September 2001] returned calls. In spite of a number of approaches, MI5 failed to comment. [taken from The Independent: 7th, September 2001]

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Ought Northern Voices to follow in the steps of the Encyclopedia Britannica?

ON the Church Street Market bookstall a poster declares 'KILL KINDLE & SAVE THE BOOK'. Last week, it was reported that the Encyclopedia Britannica ceased to be a printed publication as it embraced the Web and in a letter in the International Herald Tribune (IHT) a Mr. Fred D. White writes: 'It isn't just Encyclopedia Britannica that is being "reduced to a click", but all books seem to be headed in that direction, as e-book readers proliferate.' The same day a letter arrived at Northern Voices from someone called 'Danny' from Newry in County Down, who having picked up a copy of Northern Voices (NV) five years ago while studying at Huddersfield University, now decides to write: 'I'm not really an anarchist but I find such ideas highly interesting', and he requests a copy of NV.

Meanwhile, Fred White in the IHT writes: 'This digitization of print may be inevitable but we are losing something precious in our culture.' He argues: '...the Internet and its resources can never replace physical books, no more than a photograph of a Rembrandt can replace the actual painting. The very physicality of books plays a basic role in the learning experience. Physical books slow us down - we need to slow down - and foster deeper thinking. And yes, books are beautiful, inside as well as out.'

The forthcoming Summer issue of Northern Voices No.13 has an interview with ex-amateur boxer turn Manchester bookseller, Eddy Hopkinson, about the future of the book and the threat of the e-book. Eddy has been 42-years in the trade and is now the oldest second-hand bookseller in central Manchester. This local interview takes place at the same time as the University of Amsterdam Exhibition on 'The Printed Book: A Visual History'. Of this exhibition in the Herald Tribune Alice Rawsthorn wrote: 'The exhibition comes at a propitious time, when smart publishers are responding to the onslaught from e-books by adopting a more adventurous approach to design.' She, like Eddy Hopkinson in Northern Voices, thinks '... the printed book faces an uncertain future.' Ms. Rawsthorn reminds us that there have been technological threats before to the book trade, but thinks 'that it will probably become a niche product with high design values, and is likelier to be an artist's monograph or special edition of a literary novel, rather than a textbook or pulp fiction.'

It is anticipated that the bibliophile and Northern Voices' affictionado, Chris Draper, will address this topic when he addresses the Manchester Radical History Group meeting at the Town Hall Tavern on Tibb Lane near Albert Square, in central Manchester on Saturday 31st, March at 11am. If so he will have his critics from some of the modernists on the Northern Voices editorial panel. This meeting is a public meeting and the details are as follows:

Greater Manchester Radical History Group
Meeting to be held on Saturday 31st, March 2012:
Starting at 11am at the Town Hall Tavern,
on Tibb Lane off Cross Street
near Albert Square,

The physical printed version of NORTHERN VOICES 13 may be obtained as follows:
Postal subscription: £5 for two issues (post included)
Cheques payable to 'Northern Voices' at
c/o 52, Todmorden Road,
Burnley, Lancashire BB10 4AH.
Tel.: 0161 793 5122.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Not shooting a man pulling his pants up: an example of morality?

In her post below on 'Morality & the Herd Instinct' Rachel writes: 'I don’t think that the issue of morals can help but be troubling to anarchists, being at once matter of individual freedom to choose and respecting the rights of others.'
Before proceeding to answer Rachel, it is interesting to cast an eye over the rich moral contents in the forthcoming physically printed issue of Northern Voices 13: The lead story is an interview with Sylvia Lancaster, the mother of Sophie murdered while defending her lover in a park up Bacup in 2007; then there is the Link4Life attack on the arts in Rochdale; a tribute by Tameside MBC and the local Trade Union Council to James Keogh who sacrificed his life in the Spanish Civil War; a column on bribery & corruption; a piece by the Rev. Father Petty on Philip Morrell, the Burnley MP & campaigner against the First World War; an interview by Barry Woodling with Azeldin-El-Sharif on the Manchester connection to Libya; a piece by Chris Draper on how the trade union bosses in Victorian Sheffield were morally dodgy entitled 'Letters from Ned Ludd's Missus' and another on the twisted historical approach of the British left to less 'morally respectable' events like the Luddites' rebellion.
Postal subscription: £5 for two issues (post included)
Cheques payable to 'Northern Voices' at
c/o 52, Todmorden Road,
Burnley, Lancashire BB10 4AH.
Tel.: 0161 793 5122.


OVER a decade ago a visiting moral philosopher giving a lecture at the Manchester Metropolitan University offered us an example of human morality by referring us to George Orwell's decision, which he took sitting in a trench in Aragon in the Spanish Civil War, not to shoot at a man pulling his pants up after clearly having a crap. Orwell's reasoning, as he described it in his book 'Homage to Catalonia', was that the man couldn't be a Fascist because in his view a true Fascist wouldn't have got himself caught in such a predicament. I recall that Professor Wesley Sharrock, from Manchester University, challenged this arguing this he had 'never understood' that passage in Orwell, and he asked: 'Are we to believe that Fascists don't have a shit?'

The answer to Prof. Sharrock is to be found in Chapter4 of 'Homage to Catalonia', where Orwell writes about the nature of that war in which 'very likely a Socialist or Anarchist trade union member ... has been conscripted against his will [to fight for the Fascists]'. On the Aragon front Orwell describes how the rival troops made moral appeals to each other, and the militia men would shout the slogan: 'Don't fight against your own class!' Orwell writes: 'There is little doubt that it had some effect; everyone agreed that the trickle of Fascist deserters was partly caused by it.' Was that just an example of a moral confidence trick in the view of Rachel and Nietzsche?

In the 1970s, Kenneth Clarke, the art historian, commenting on capitalism which he described as 'Heroic Materialism', dismissed Marxism as an alternative to capitalism by saying then that it was 'Intellectually and morally bankrupt'. No doubt Nietzsche, and perhaps Rachel, would consider any appeal to morality as a weakness, but I think we know given the history of the 20th century what Lord Clarke meant by saying that by the 1970s Marxism as a political force was 'intellectually and morally bankrupt'.

The notion of moral constraints ought not to be snubbed by anarchists, and human beings, it seems to me, have to make decisions according to some standards and do have moral duties to each other. We can't avoid that by holding up a cookbook according to Marx or anyone else. The extreme question then arises: 'Had Robinson Crusoe any duties on his island?' Mary Midgley in her book 'Evolution as Religion' claims that there is a serious disagreement here, but one that can't 'be sneezed away just by saying "it depends what you mean by duty".'

Did the group organising the Manchester Anarchist Book Fair last December have a moral duty to invite the Northern Anarchist Network [NAN]? It could be argued that the 'Gang of 5' who organised it were an independent group who had the right to invite whoever they wanted and even to declare the NAN not to be 'anarchist' if they so choose to. The question then strikes us 'Is that fair?' or 'Is there any natural justice being applied here?' and when we do that, I suggest we are in the realms of morality, fair play and justice.

Mary Midgley, like Kant, even concludes that Robinson Crusoe 'did have duties concerning his island' and that Nietzsche was wrong in taking over 'from the old Thomistic theology which he plundered the assumption that all the rest of creation mattered only as a frame for man.' Barry Woodling and Martin Gilbert in speaking up at the last NAN in Newcastle, were talking of a duty of care that anarchists ought to have for others such as the Libyans in Benghazi a year ago; in opposition to them Dave Douglass admitted that all he had to offer was a cookbook theory of politics. I would humbly suggest that that cookbook is now outdated.

Legality of government forced labour schemes to be tested in the courts!

Solicitors acting for Cait Reilly, a 22-year-old geology graduate from Birmingham, have been granted a hearing scheduled to take place in May, that could determine if government schemes for the unemployed, amount to forced labour and are a breach of the Human Rights Act.

A report in today's Guardian, says that Mr. Justice Ouseley, a high court judge, granted solicitors from Public Interest Lawyers in Birmingham, a judicial review in the case of Ms Reilly, who says that she was forced to undertake unpaid work stacking and cleaning shelves for three weeks with Poundland, or face losing all her state benefits. Although Reilly was doing voluntary work in a museum at the time and was looking for work, she says that the Jobcentre forced her to cancel this, in order that she should work unpaid doing 'work experience' for Poundland. Her lawyers say that this amounted to forced labour under the Human Rights Act.

The Department of Work & Pensions (DWP), say that the work-for-your-dole scheme was voluntary and that sanctions only applied if Reilly, had pulled out after the first week. The DWP also say that benefit sanctions did not amount to coercing the unemployed into forced labour.

Although under the work experience scheme, the unemployed were allowed a one week trial period which allowed them to leave a work experience placement after the first week without losing benefits, reports published in the press, have shown that some Jobcentres had been telling people that the scheme was mandatory and that they would lose their benefits if they failed to take up the placement. After number of companies threatened to withdraw from the scheme, employment minister Chris Grayling, was forced to do a U-turn and announced that the scheme would be voluntary at all times and benefit sanctions would be withdrawn.

The Guardian also reports that in another case that is also to be heard in May, at the Royal Courts of Justice, a middle-aged man who refused to work for six-months unpaid under the government's 'community action programme' - the newest of its five back-to-work schemes - is claiming that it 'represented a form of forced labour' and an "attack on his dignity". The man who had been unemployed for more than two years, was put on the six-month unpaid placement after a private company who were trying to find him a job, failed to do so. His lawyers say that although he told the jobcentre that he was willing to volunteer for the placement, he did not want to be 'coerced' into it 'as a matter of principle'. The man now faces losing his benefits for up to six months.

With schemes like 'Manadatory Work Activity' and the 'Community Action Programme', the government will have some difficulty persuading the courts that this is not forced labour which is prohibited under the Human Rights Act. Phil Shiner, of Public Interest Lawyers, told the Guardian:

"This government scheme is going to be given a full going over in front of a high court judge some time after mid-May."

Although the government claim that their work-for-your-dole schemes offer the unemployed formal training alongside hands-on work experience, that helps the unemployed to get back to work, their critics complain that the schemes offer little training and are exploitative, in as much as they offering major UK companies, a pool of unpaid taxpayer subsidised labour that creates more unemployment through substitution, and undercuts the wages of existing employees.

In a recent letter to the Guardian, the Labour MP for Slough, Fiona Mctaggart, said:

" A constituent who works for one of the big retail chains asked her manager if she could do extra hours, but he said he did not want to give more work to people he had to pay at full rate, because he could meet his needs with people on work experience who were getting Jobseeeker's Allowance and to who he paid nothing."

As unemployment increases, there is a danger of this model of work-for-your-dole, being securely built into the economy. Already, the Jobcentre Plus website, describes unpaid placements with firms as 'vacancies' and refers to its work experience scheme as 'Workfare'. Even the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), now recognises that the schemes 'provide free labour'.

In order to justify this system of forced labour, politicians of all the mainstream political parties, often refer to William Beveridge, the architect of the welfare state, who we are told said that dole payments should after a certain period, be conditional upon attendance at a work or training centre. What they invariably fail to mention, is the rest of what he said that this proposal "is impractical if it has to be applied to men by the million and hundred thousand."

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Morality - The Herd Instinct of the Individual?

The issue of morals seems to have been on a lot of agendas lately. David Cameron virtually used the word as punctuation in his rhetoric on last year’s riots whilst more recently, those professional moralisers at the Church Of England trotted out Arch-Bishop Sentamu of York to challenge the government’s ‘moral authority’ as regards gay marriage. Meanwhile, Radio 4’s Moral Maze returned for a new series with its veritable orgy of moral dilemmas. I’ve already used the word five times in the first two sentences and that’s before we’ve even considered Bammy’s allegations of ‘moral bankruptcy’ against the British left on this very blog.
The Daily Telegraph’s Deputy Political Editor, James Kirkup, suggested that Cameron’s focus on morality in the wake of the riots, together with his promises to fix a ‘broken society’, would define his premiership, further asserting that in putting morality at the heart of his rhetoric, Cameron was swimming against the tide of perceived wisdom in contemporary politics, where ‘good’ or ‘bad’ are out of favour and institutional failure is deemed responsible for the actions of individuals, not the individuals themselves.
But good, bad and especially morality itself are such imprecise, subjective and potentially dangerous concepts that it is impossible to define any one of the three without some form of dissent. Why then do the likes of Archbishop Sentamu deem themselves fit to question the moral authority of others without even considering that their own authority, moral or otherwise, is essentially based on the curious notion that citing ‘the word’ of an invisible being allows them to dictate how others should live?
I don’t think that the issue of morals can help but be troubling to anarchists, being at once matter of individual freedom to choose and respecting the rights of others. But Bammy doesn’t seem to have given this a second thought, branding the ‘British left’ (whatever that is) ‘morally bankrupt’, largely, it seems, in light of a recent disagreement with Dave Douglass over Libya. If such a thing exists, aren’t all of us part of the British left to some degree - or has El Editorismo finally ascended to a higher plain?
So Barry has done his homework on this one, whereas the dog seems to have eaten Dave’s - I agree with his anti-NATO stance but wonder why the hell he used the Morning Star to back it up. There’s plenty of other ‘empirical’ evidence to suggest that ‘liberal humanitarians’ (as some interventionists have rather laughably rebranded themselves) are as blinkered when it comes to acknowledging ‘moral’ grey areas as their staunchly anti-intervention adversaries. I also wonder exactly how blanket allegations of moral bankruptcy directed at those who are against intervention in Libya differ from Tony Blair’s view of interventionism in the Balkans (another impossibly complex situation) as 'a new moral crusade’. Most troubling for me, however, is the notion that an anarchist can or should put themselves in a position of moral superiority over others, morality being, as it is, the favoured justification for all manner of authoritarian, oppressive and elitist behaviour
In fact, when it comes to the moral nitty-gritty, there is another argument here, one that is addressed by the American Indian activist Ward Churchill via the concept of ’metaphysical guilt’. Here, it is argued that ANY non-combative support for a cause, however passionately argued, vigorously undertaken or empirically researched is pretty much useless unless you actually embrace the cause as your own and uncompromisingly fight for it. So far, I don’t see the pro-intervention NAN boys setting off for Homs to take up arms alongside their favoured faction in the conflict or have the Bammy Column already left?
Churchill’s ideas are often deliberately polemical and challenging but if you’re going to open the mother of all cans of worms, that of morality, then you can’t be surprised when someone else’s view forces you to ask questions about your own. Unless you’re so sure that you’re right that you don’t need to consider any other views - surely the most dangerous position of all to find yourself in.
Nietzsche described morality as the herd instinct in the individual and Cameron’s sound bites on the riots certainly proved lush grazing for the bovine, convinced that the wolves of immorality were hot on their heels and all wearing new trainers. Meanwhile, Sentamu’s flock can be reassured that love is not , in fact, universal - it’s subject to the approval of a self-appointed moral elite and their imaginary friend (whether or not love requires marriage is, of course, also a matter of debate).
But in fact, Nietzsche is rather wide of the mark too, as a herd instinct implies a more natural compulsion, whereas morality is an entirely artificial construct. Indeed, the Stanford Dictionary of Philosophy suggests that:
“Morality” is an unusual word. It is not used very much, at least not without some qualification. People do sometimes talk about Christian morality, Nazi morality, or about the morality of the Greeks, but they seldom talk simply about morality all by itself.
But the Christians, the Nazis and the Greeks can’t all be morally ‘right’ because, after all, they seem to have absolutely nothing in common in terms of their individual moral codes. What they do all share, however, is a savvy patriarchal elite, all too aware of the power of so-called ‘morals’ in keeping the lower orders in their place. Surely then, anarchist morality, or perhaps more accurately, anarchist moralising, is not only oxymoronic in theory but, in practice, a waste of time and energy.

Judging the risks in war zones

THE funeral of the Sunday Times journalist, Marie Colvin, took place on Monday in a church in Oyster Bay on Long Island. She died at the age of 56, while trying to escape the shelling of a house used by journalists covering the bombardment of Homs in Syria. In one of her last announcements she said: 'It's a complete and utter lie that they are only going after terrorists. There are no terrorists here.'

It's a tricky call working in 'war zones' or in dangerous situations under dictatorial regimes. The Scottish anarchist, Stuart Christie, found that out at the young age of 18 years in Franco's Spain in 1964, and he has retold the story well of his rapid arrest and imprisonment by the Spanish authorities in his autobiography 'My Granny Made Me An Anarchist' and in an earlier volume 'The Christie Files'. Being at risk in novel situations concentrates the mind but it is hard to make judgements based mostly on hunches and rules on thumb: does one go where the taxi driver recommends is safe or where one really wants to go? Are the local sources of information reliable or is it best to chase after some previously thought out plan of one's own?

Am I being ripped-off by my taxi driver in paying him £40 in sterling and going to his home town, the seaside resort of Saranda in the troubled south of Albania during the chaos and social disruption that folowed the pyramid sales crisis in 1997? Fortunately in Albania, as is the custom in these southern European countries one doesn't pay the fare until one reaches one's final destination, but that custom could change at the wave of my taxi driver's automatic weapon. I had originally wanted to travel to the nearer inland town of Girocastro, but my driver cautioned me against that place as being too dangerous, and I was later to find out from contacts in Greece that part of that town had in fact been taken over by the 'Mafia Turco'. Driving through the rugged Albanian countryside with its shabby houses and road blocks I began to wish the Greek frontier police had prevented me from crossing into Albania in the first place. But by that time it was too late to panic and in a futile gesture I lowered my head in the back seat of the car imagining that by doing that I might escape the bullets of any possible sniper in the undergrowth as we sped towards Saranda and my interview with a local schoolmistress for Freedom Press. At a road block outside Saranda my driver warned me not to use or to put my camera on view as I was told that in Girocastro, a Japanese journalist had had his camera stolen: the thing was don't have any valuables or money on show, and I had even taken the precaution of wearing a ripped old jacket.

When my wife and I entered Franco's Spain in February 1963 what sort of a risk were we taking, even if we had contact with the young libertarians of the FIJL and Spanish exiles in France - that wouldn't be much protection against General Franco's authorities and in the end we would probably have had to turn to the British Consul if we had got into the kind of trouble that Stuart Christie did: even the establishment critic Malcolm Muggeridge, who later became a devout Roman Catholic, was to write a letter on Stuart's behalf to The Times of London appealing to the Franco authorities on his account and excusing his actions as those of an inexperienced youth; Stuart's Glaswegian mother rushed to the Madrid Court to appeal to the authorities on his behalf at his trial. These dangerous exploits can so easily end in tears and grovelling if not, as in Marie Colvin's case, death or in Stuart Christie's case prison, and my wife was quick to remind me, the night before we entered Franco's Spain, that sentences in that country were vastly longer than metted out by the British Courts at that time in the 1960's for Ban-the-Bomb sitdowns and civil disobedience.

Then there was the time in December 2000, that I stayed on the train and tried to enter Serbia without a visa shortly after the fall of Milosovic as President, in the October of that year: only to end up detained by the Serbian police in a cell with a Kosovan prisoner at the railway station in Subotica, a city and municipality in the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina in northern Serbia, and later to be packed off in the next train back to Budapest. Where I had to stay a night and go next day to the Budapest Serbian Consulate to sought out my visa and papers: giving Freedom Press as my employer and Vernon Richards as the proprietor of the Freedom journal.

In the end for me, once I understood the rules within the social setting of Franco's Spain and in Belgrade at the time of the parliamentary elections after the fall of Milosovic, the danger was not so great and it was possible both countries to navigate the dangers, settling into a relatively safe routine and to enjoy oneself, so long as one respected the local customs and played the system. The anthropology of Spanish culture and customs has been well documented and those traditions continued even under the dictatorship of Franco. My German friends had always warned me that the Serbs and Croats as being less civilised than say the Hungarians, but yet I have fond memories of my visit to Belgrade in Christmas 2000. Albania in 1997, was a totally different matter perhaps because I never found anyone I could trust and never understood the rules, I never felt very safe in Albania even when I stuck close to the frontier within sight of the Greek frontier guards. Each night I would return to my Greek village to eat dinner and drink in the bar and to send my dispaches to Freedom, and to the anarchist, Harold Sculthorpe, and his partner Gwen in Hebden Bridge, and each night I would tell them where I was and what I planned for my movements for the next day.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

'Atlas Shrugged' by Ayn Rand. Is this the 'philosophy of the psychopath?'

'Atlas Shrugged' written and published by the Russian emigre, Ayn Rand, in 1957, is one of those books that I've always been meaning to read but somehow never got round to reading. Its been estimated that almost one-third of Americans have read the book which now sells hundreds of thousands of copies every year. Alan Greenspan, the former Chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve, who knew Rand, is said to have been a devoted follower and part of her inner circle, and according to some, her philosophy is now "the guiding spirit of the Republicans in Congress and the American 'Tea Party' movement."

Though Rand's belief system has become popular and influential through books like the fictional 'Atlas Shrugged' and the non-fiction book 'The Virtue of Selfishness', she is not without her detractors. The Guardian columnist, George Monbiot, recently described her philosophy as the "philosophy of the psychopath, a misanthropic fantasy of cruelty, revenge and greed." He believes that she has become a 'demigod at the head of a chiliastic cult' and has become for the 'new right', what Karl Marx once was for the left.

Central to her core belief is what Rand called 'objectivism'. She was once asked if she could define the essence of 'objectivism' while standing on one foot, and she replied:

METAPHYSICS - Objective reality
ETHICS - Self-interest
POLITICS - Capitalism

What Rand meant by 'Objectivism', is that reality (the external world), existed independently of man's consciousness, and was independent of any observer's knowledge, beliefs, feelings, desires or fears, and that things are what they are. For Rand, the task of man's consciousness was to perceive reality and not to create it or to invent it. 'Objectivism', also rejects any belief in the supernatural and any claims that individuals or groups create their own reality. She described 'Objectivism' as a "philosophy for living on earth" and rejected all forms of determinism such as those ideas and beliefs that suggest that man is a victim of forces beyond his control i.e. God, fate, upbringing, genes or economic conditions. For Rand, man was a rational being of 'volitional consciousness'. She also rejected all forms of collectivism such as fascism, socialism, wealth redistribution or the mixed economy, and was in favour of laissez-faire capitalism.

Yet what is philosophy if not an attempt to create an orderly set of ideas by which to live and interpret the world. As the famous economist E.F. Shumacher points out in his book 'Small Is Beautiful', what we understand as thinking, is by and large, the application of pre-existing ideas to any given situation or set of facts. As Shumacher says:

"The way in which we interpret the world depends very much on the kind of ideas that fill our minds, there is a two way connection between thinking and events."

And when we think about this, how could it be otherwise? None of us live in a vacuum and the very world that we are trying to understand, we are part of. Therefore, how we think about things does influence the events in which we participate - there is 'reflexivity', cause and effect. When we try to apply ideas about the meaning of reality in the field of the social sciences to such things as politics, economics, psychology, sociology, and to notions about human nature, things can become problematical.

Ayn Rand believed that selfishness was good and empathy and altruism were evil, irrational, and destructive. Yet while avarice and selfishness may well be aspects of human motivation, they are by no means, the only human characteristics or necessarily the most dominant. The Greek philosopher, Aristotle(384-322BC), (who Rand admired with reservations), believed that mutual aid was natural to humankind and that the key to human happiness, lay in conformity with nature.

In his synopsis of Rand's book 'Atlas Shrugged', Monbiot had this to say:

"Atlas Shrugged (1957) depicts a U.S. crippled by government intervention in which heroic millionaires struggle against a nation of spongers. The millionaires, who she portrays as Atlas holding the world aloft, withdraw their labour, with the result that the nation collapses. It is rescued, through unregulated greed and selfishness, by one of the heroic plutocrats, John Galt. The poor die like flies as a result of government programmes and their own sloth and fecklessness. Those who try to help them are gassed..."

Although over the years, Rand's views and books have increased in popularity, when 'Atlas Shrugged' was first published in 1957, the book and its author were criticised in both the U.S. and elsewhere, for showing an absence of morality. Rand argued that the only moral course was that of pure self-interest and that we owed nothing to anyone, including members of our own families. In her view, the poor and weak were 'refuse' and 'parasites' and she castigated those who sought to help them. She also believed that the only role for government was to provide armed forces, police and courts. She despised what she called the 'intrusive state' and opposed government intervention in areas such as social security, education, transport, and believed there should be no regulation or income tax. In short, Rand believed in total unfettered capitalism and in a society where the rich have absolute power and the poor deserve to die.

Despite the manifest absurdities in Rand's philosophy, Monbiot believes that her ideas have become increasingly influential on both sides of the Atlantic. In the U.S.- where the richest one percent of Americans bank-roll the election campaigns of both the Republicans and Democrats and expect a great deal in return for their money - 'Tea Party' supporters while despising the 'intrusive state', hanker to get into government and carry placards proclaiming, 'Who is John Galt?' and 'Rand was right'.

Her devoted follower former U.S. Fed Chairman, Alan Greenspan, who believes that unregulated capitalism is a 'superlatively moral system', refused to regulate the credit derivatives world when he was Chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve from 1987-2006, believing that credit derivatives made markets more efficient. His policies of cutting taxes for the rich, repealing laws constraining banks and his refusal to regulate, almost brought the U.S capitalist financial system close to collapse.

As for the heroic millionaires who like Atlas, are holding the world aloft, in the UK, the so-called free market in banks collapsed four years ago and had to be sustained by government money. What we now have in Britain's financial sector, is a banking industry where profits are privatised and the risks are nationalised.

As the Cameron government embark on their scorched earth policies for the poor and those on low incomes, cutting public services, increasing unemployment and reducing wages and workers rights, and dismantling what is left of the UK's public services, a corporate welfare state is being built where vast resources are being transferred over to the rich in the form of EEC agricultural subsidies to rich English landowners, fat contracts from NHS reforms and PFI deals given over to capitalist cronies, some of whom, bank-roll the Tory Party.

Though Ayn Rand railed furiously against the 'intrusive state' and government welfare programmes, it is ironic that towards the end of her life, she signed on for both 'Medicare' and social security. One feels that if she had been sincere in her views, then she would have picked up a gun and blown her brains out rather than seek assistance from the state, and the hoi polloi who she so despised. Alternatively, in the world of Atlas Shrugged, she would have been classed as 'refuse', and left to die.

Carillion Boss's Link to Blacklisting may hinder Swindon strike solution

GMB union members at Swindon's Great Western Hospital took part in several 24-hour strikes in February and a 3-day strike at the end of that month. A five day strike began on Thursday 8th, March. The reason for this dispute is bullying, harassment and discrimination against staff - porters and housekeepers involved in cleaning, catering and other support services - by the Carillion management. It doesn't involve the GMB members who work for the NHS Trust or ambulance service at the Great Western Hospital.

THE GMB union has found that the senior Carillion Human Resources manager involved in the Swindon dispute was the Human Resources (HR) manager that for Carillion dealt with the blacklisting organisation that led to the exclusion of thousands of trade unionist from employment.

Dave Smith, a trade unionist who was blacklisted by his employer Carillion, and who has been invited to address a rally in support of the GMB members on strike at the Great Western Hospital in Swindon, has advised GMB about the activities of a Carillion HR manager involved with the Swindon dispute in his own blacklisting.

From Dave Smith GMB has learned that a London Employment Tribunal in January was presented with evidence that Liz Keates the Carillion HR Director involved in the dispute at Swindon managed Carillion’s relationship with the Consulting Association. This was the body that was responsible for the ‘blacklisting’ 3,200 construction workers and excluding them from employment because of their trade union activities.

In February 2009 officers from the Information Commissioners Office seized documents which made clear that the Consulting Association was operating a blacklist of trade unionists on behalf of major companies in the construction industry including Carillion. There has since been an admission by Carillion that two of its subsidiaries had ‘penalised’ Dave Smith for being a trade unionist.

GMB members are now on the eleventh day of strike action at Great Western Hospital in Swindon. They will return to work at midnight tonight and a further seven day stoppage will take place from Saturday 17th March to Friday 23rd March.

A St Patrick’s Day march and rally will be held in support of the strikers who at the start of the a further seven days strike. The details are as follows:

Assemble 11:15 am, Saturday 17th March

Salisbury Street,

Swindon SN1 2AN

Rally, 1:00 pm.

Wharf Green,

SN1 5PL.

Speakers invited Dave Smith construction worker blacklisted by Carillion, Jerry Hicks of Unite and Blacklisted workers campaign, Anne Snelgrove, Swindon Labour Party, John Drake Chair SW TUC, plus speakers from GMB.

The GMB last week called on Carillion to establish an Investigation Board to oversee the investigation into the allegations of bullying, harassment and discrimination of GMB members employed on the PFI contract at the Great Western Hospital in Swindon. GMB has suggested that this Board consist of representatives from Carillion, the NHS Hospital Trust, GMB and the PFI owner Semperian. GMB has also raised with Carillion the company’s invitation to the Police to investigate matters connected with the allegations of bullying and harassment. GMB is keen to be involved in this investigation.

Although these members have already taken 11 days of strike action between February 14th and March 12th there has been no movement whatsoever by Carillion to deal with the issues at the heart of the dispute. This is the reason GMB has called for an Investigation Board to be established to get progress.

During the strike days these union members will fan out across the country to visit staff employed by Carillion at other locations and they will also visit staff at locations where Semperian own the PFI contract. During these visits they will seek support and explain the tax dodging involved in these PFI contracts. See Notes to Editors for list of Carillion and Semperian sites.

Paul Maloney, GMB Regional Secretary said, “GMB has been amazed that Carillion has not been able to resolve the allegations of bullying and harassment which was first brought to their attention three months ago. We simply could not understand why dealing with what looks on the surface to be matters that are easily dealt with has taken such an amount of time.

However, now that we find that the senior Carillion HR manager involved in the Swindon dispute was the HR manager that for Carillion dealt with the blacklisting organisation that led to the exclusion of thousands of trade unionist from employment.

Liz Keates managed the relationship for Carillion that led to the blacklisting of trade unionists for trade union activities. This now poses serious questions as to why there has been such foot dragging and duplicity at Swindon."

Greater Manchester Radical History Group

Meeting to be held on Saturday 31st, March 2012:
Starting at 11am at the Town Hall Tavern,
on Tibb Lane off Cross Street
near Albert Square,

1) To found a Northern Radical History Network.
2) To decide on the nature of our first research publication:
the Luddite anniversary.

11am to 12.30:
Chris Draper on the Practicalities & Purpose of Radical Publishing:
Production, Content, Style, Form, Accessibility & Distribution.
Examining some previously published examples for consideration:
'Chomsky & his Critics' issued in 2001 (first published by sociologists at the Manchester Universities and some northern anarchists); the Northern Voices' series of journals 2003-2012 ( published by Northern Voices' Editorial Panel); Spanish Civil War booklet (first published by Tameside Trade Union Council in 2006 to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Spanish Civil War on behalf of the Greater Manchester County Association of TUCs' program for that year), 'The Workers' Next Step' (2009).

a) What kind of outcome do we want from our project & publication?

b) What kind of booklet do we want?

c) Where will it be distributed and to whom?

d) What should be the relationship of these publications to the Blog?

e) What kind of methodology ought we to be using?

Lunch Break: 12.30 to 1.30pm.

1.30pm to 2.30pm:

Richard Holland on the Luddites & Peterloo-
Why do some events get neglected and others get embraced by the popular culture and the establishment left?

2.30pm to 4pm:

Roger Ball on the History, Practical Experiences & Endeavours of the Bristol Radical History Group, giving everyday parochial examples from his knowledge of the South West of England, and showing how he views a similar venture might relate to the general public in our Northern towns and cities.
What is the knack of opening up the public conciousness to our own history and form of life, away from the stale ghettos of establishment thinking and politics?

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Letter to the Home Secretary

See below text of letter sent by John McDonnell MP to the Home Secretary earlier today:

Dear Home Secretary,

You will be aware of the article in the Observer on Sunday concerning the involvement of the Police and Security Services in the compilation of a blacklist of workers by the Consulting Association used to deny these workers access to employment.

The operation of the blacklist is contrary to law and morally reprehensible but to also discover that the Police and Security Services have been involved in the blacklisting process is extremely worrying and a matter of considerable public interest.

I am writing therefore to ask whether you are intending to make a statement to the House on this important issue.

I am also writing to urge you to establish an independent public inquiry into the operation of blacklisting in this country given that over 3200 workers were found to have been blacklisted and given the severe effect this has had on their lives.

I would welcome a prompt response to these questions.


John McDonnell MP

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Government does U-turn on benefit sanctions. Bosses say protests against 'Workfare Farce' is damaging our businesses!

Following crisis talks yesterday, with employers who are participating in a government work-for-your-dole scheme called 'work experience', the government caved in to demands from protesters who are now targeting firms delivering the scheme, and withdrew the threat of benefit sanctions, for those people who leave work experience placements early.

In an attempt to prevent a collapse of the controversial scheme, after some of Britain's largest firms threatened to pull out unless it was made completely voluntary, employment minister, Chris Grayling, sought to reassure employers that they were not engaged in the exploitation of young people and said that the sanctions relating to the work experience scheme would be withdrawn, but would continue to apply, to those people guilty of gross misconduct and racial abuse.

A source who was present at the meeting at the HQ of the Department of Work and Pensions, told the Guardian newspaper, that employers had said that the protests were threatening to damage the reputations of their businesses and was undermining the morale of existing staff, because of accusations that the work being offered, was not a real job.

Government ministers have sought to blame 'job snobs', 'modern-day Luddites', 'anti-capitalist extremists', and 'Trotskyists' of the Right to Work Campaign, for trying to undermine their work-for-your-dole schemes. Though he denied having given in to protesters demands, Grayling has called on people to "stand up against the Trotskyites of the Right to Work Camapaign."

As anger towards these schemes intensifies and further protests and occupations take place, Work and Pensions Secretary, Ian Duncan Smith, is blaming 'anarchists' for trying to sabotage the work experience scheme and says that protesters are out of touch. He told the press: "The kids love it, the public love it, companies love it, and we love it."

The Work and Pensions Minister, believes that too many 'kids', are obsessed with the cutlure of celebrity and that stacking supermarket shelves, even when unpaid, is better than dreaming about winning the X-Factor.

While the government announced that Airbus, Centre Parcs and HP Enterprises, had joined the scheme, HMV, said they were pulling out along with Poundland, Waterstones, Matalan, Arcadia Group, Sainsbury's, TK Maxx, Burger King and Tesco, who are now paying people on work experience who sign-off, and are guaranteeing them a job, if they prove satisfactory.

This Saturday an 'Action against Workfare' day of protest is taking place and will include groups such as 'Occupy' and 'UK UNcut'. Mark Dunk, of the Right to Work Campaign said:

"The dropping of sanctions for the work-experience scam is one battle won, but the wider fight goes on. forced unpaid work still continues in the form of mandatory work activity and the community programme. We demand that the government immediately drops not just one of its forced labour schemes but all of them."