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Sunday, 31 May 2009

Another beautiful day...

I sometimes think what is the most important thing to talk about for the day? Well today the fact that we are getting another nice sunny day is worthy of a mention so will leave it at that and get ready to go out. Apparently it will be the hottest day of the year! Well that's good enough for me!
Enjoy the weather!
Nick Venedi

Saturday, 30 May 2009

Talking about rubbish...

Just back from a bbq with Portuguese friends and getting ready to go out (Soho land here we come...) Was reminded at the bbq that I completely missed (how unfortunate) the Eurovison bad song contest. My mates were, however, playing some of the entries today and I was impressed with the Spanish and Turkish entries with the Turkish song being my fav so here are the links. Not too impressed with the Greek endeavour and I think Sakis Rouvas is kinda yesterday..

Friday, 29 May 2009

Lambeth Demo Sat 30th

A decisive step towards fighting and opposing the constant attack by local government outfits . The demonstration which is supported by the Lambeth Unison Branch committee will be taking place tomorrow Saturday the 30th from 11.00 a.m. Hoping for a peaceful but decisive show of force to show Lambeth Council that the TU's and the people of Lambeth oppose the constant attack and the privatisation of Housing services. Lambeth Labour administration are, in my opinion, taking a big risk 11 months before the next election by going ahead with wild and mad proposals that will clearly anger tenants and community associations. Have they gone mad? What's going on Steve??
Nick Venedi

Thursday, 28 May 2009

All quite on the blogging front...

Well it looks like my fellow bloggers have gone quite with Jon of the Rogers, otherwise known as Jon Rogers and John of the Gray, otherwise known as John Gray, not putting much on their pages. So I am wondering and so is MFI (nothing to do with MI5) whether the rumour that they have both gone away together on a long holiday is true? My contacts tell me that this is highly unlikely and this is because although they secretly admire each other they would not agree to spend too much time in the same room let alone on the same resort. In addition it is now clear that Jon of the Rogers has not resigned from the Labour party, in fact it would appear that he has been having discussions about possible involvement with the cabinet well the bedroom cabinet in the corner of his bedroom that needs replacing...

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

The wine festival

Those of you who read the blog would have seen a previous entry referring to the great recruitment and exposure opportunity Unison could have had at the annual Greek wine festival which takes place in June.
The Regional Committee was certainly interested in the idea and understood that us having a stall at a venue attended by more than 30 000 people in a two day period would be good for us. But I now have to report that following my immediate approach to the regional office I was told that my branch would have to submit an application to the GPF. This is going to be very difficult as the next Branch committee is in the middle of June. The event has also very little to do with Lambeth Unison. It is held in Harringey and is London wide.
I am very disappointed with this development and know for a fact that our presence in other festivals does not have to come from any specific branch and it confirms my suspicion and that of others that smaller minorities are not taken seriously at all. I was prepared to organise the entire thing and have volunteers on the stall for the two days so I can't see why we have been blocked like this. I shall look into this further and ask the Regional Finance Convenor to comment.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Jon Rogers watch...

Quick update to confirm that rumours of Jon Rogers resignation from the Labour party were somewhat premature. Jon assures me that he has not resigned and has no intention of doing so. He will continue, like may of us, to be critical but in a constructive way but will do so within the party.
Nick Venedi

The Return...



With Juliet on the balcony...

My first day back to work after my visit with friends to Cyprus. I am still not clear as to what happened with Geoff Martin who I worked closely with for 5 years when I was Finance Convenor for London and he was the Regional Convenor. Has he left the Labour party? And I haven't had time to make contact with Jon Rogers so the rumour that he has resigned from the party is unconfirmed. There was a comment send to my blog asking me to clarify but I have no idea. Will call Jon later and find out as he is now on leave.


Nick Venedi

Monday, 25 May 2009

Back to reality...

Hey am back now. Always find it amusing when people who do blogs apologies for not doing them for the period when they are away as though anyone cares!! So I won't be apologising for being away for a week it will be more appropriate to apologies for coming back and starting this again.
Not sure what's been going on when I was away? Jon is resigning from the Labour party and Geoff Martin was expelled?? Is that right?? Is the Queen still on the throne then?? Only been away for a week! Bly me! And presumably James Hewit hasn't confessed yet??
More later when I come to terms with being back...
Nick Venedi

Friday, 15 May 2009

The end is here...

Yes the end of the NEC ballot season is over today. It will be interesting to see whether in London at least members voted for personalities (as I think they do) rather than for slates. I am hoping that people have done that and we get a good mixture of those who will bring in good skills and the ability to represent our interests. Good luck to everyone who took part, we will no doubt be analysing extensively why Ms x and Mr Y didn't get in afterwards. In the meantime I hope that my favorite, Spain, win the Eurovision joke tomorrow night. The Greek entry is ok but prefer Spain!
Nick Venedi

Thursday, 14 May 2009

The annual Greek wine festival

I was pleased with the 'informal' response from members of the regional committee yesterday who seemed to agree that we (Unison) should have a presence at the wine festival which is taking place on the 27th and 28th of June at Alexandra Palace.
This is a huge event that attracts a great number of people from the Greek community and other friends. I was there last year ( under a table most of the time as I had to taste some of the wine...) and was impressed with the large number of young people there. The venue is huge and the organisation that puts it together tells me that they had around 90 000 people (based on ticket sales) last year so I am sure this will be a good recruitment opportunity for us. The organisers did not understand why Trade Unions had never asked to have a stall there. Anyway I will submit an application to the Finance Team and see whether I can organise something so that we have a presence there at least for one of the two days. Any volunteers who wish to help can contact me. Ah yeah and the reason is called the wine festival is because its an ancient Greek tradition from 4,000 years ago people would get together after the wine harvest to celebrate the God Bacchus ( and get pissed) and that tradition has been retained. Leaders of the community over here have therefore carried on and the London festival has been around for 20 years. Nothing to do (yeah right...) with the need to have a bottle of wine or two...

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Regional Committee Weds 13th May

The London Regional Committee took place today in central London. I was impressed with the fact that we were all united in our desire to put extra effort and energy into ensuring that the BNP is defeated at the European election in June and specifically encouraged to hear that some old rivals agreed with each other. A very positive meeting I thought (in that respect) Defeating the BNP must become our priority. If people don't go out and vote then the BNP could win a seat!
Also ecstatic to hear comrades on the real left (or far left?) express their dissatisfaction with Tory run authorities and took that to mean that they would prefer to see Labour in control and winning elections? Hope so! It makes sense after all...
Nick Venedi

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

The filthy world of politics...



Parliament has been reduced to an episode of fawlty towers only its not as funny and its costing us millions!!

Well I am turning my attention away from the filthy world of politics in an effort to forget how corrupt the whole system is. A younger actor friend of mine, who is not at all interested in politics, recently said at a social gathering that those entering Parliament attracted people who wouldn't expect to make it anywhere else and politicians were just attention seeking individuals who would never make it in show business! I think he could be right!! The expenses scandal has exposed all that is wrong with the type of people entering politics. There are few idealists in today's political life! Sad for Democracy but thank God for the Trades Union movement!


One of the reasons used to defend the actions of some of those involved with the expenses scandal is that they need to be retained in public life otherwise the private sector would 'swallow them up' and us mortals would lose out. I say total nonsense to that. Being able to bluff your way through life does not make you an essential member of our society. Are the comrades on the ultra left right about the politics of Britain? I have to say they might have a point looking at the entire mess that the expenses fiasco has exposed?


Nick Venedi

Monday, 11 May 2009

More daft ideas from the economy Taliban..

The economy Taliban are at it again. They have privatised everything that moves or looks like a pound coin and now they want us to get rid of baggage handling people at airports and have passengers carry their own suitcases on the plane like we do when using a coach. Next thing you will have passengers washing their own dishes on the plane and have slot machines that take credit cards in the event of an emergency so that a life jacket can be issued. Are we all going mad??
This is of course a daft idea as it will create unnecessary delays and it will rob people who work in that service of their jobs. It might save a few euros but at the end it will create more problems than it might solve. The economy Taliban will obviously not be happy until no one has a job and we are all signing on. It might be cheaper to get rid of all the services we pay for but it will be at the expense of having vast numbers of us on the unemployment register. The same idea has lately been applied in supermarkets where you measure what you wish to buy and you don't need to go through the till. Again this might reduce marginally the cost of your biscuits but it Will be at the expense of making people who are already on a low wage on the unemployment register.
Will the economy Taliban stop please or could someone section them!!!
Nick Venedi

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Meeting

Who wants to be an MP then?

I Spend the weekend in Brighton with close friends most of whom are more interested in clubbing (younger than me..) than politics but met one or two people who talked about the real world and current affairs. The common perception is that politicians on both sides are in it to promote their self interest and will never miss an opportunity to make a bit on the side, or was it have a bit on the side? Well the truth is they do both they make a bit on the side and also have a bit on the side. They are human after all.
It is true that I advocate discipline within a party and support the Labour government ( not much of a choice right now..) but I am sceptical about the players in any political team. That is why I am much more comfortable being an active Trade Union person and would never wish to be part of these unaccountable cliques. Power corrupts after all and absolute or some power corrupts absolutely. Can we ever get genuine politicians who are there to serve the people?? The answer is no and that is why trades Unions and other interest and pressure groups are much more important than the politicians that run our lives!
Nick Venedi

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Remembering Malcolm...




I shall be attending the funeral of a friend and fellow Branch Secretary Malcolm later on today to remember this wonderful man who was, until recently, very much with us. I see him laughing in the background whenever I think of him and that is the picture I will retain in my mind. He was a wonderful person to know. Rest in peace Malcolm.
Information about the funeral is available at Marsha Jane's blog and Jon Rogers.
Nick Venedi

Meeting Gordon Brown and Caroline Flint




I was invited to a reception organised by the foreign office last night. The event was put together by Caroline Flint, Minister for Europe and it took place at the superb Locarno Hall of the foreign office building which is of course situated in St Charles Street.


Apart from the splendour of the building (something that Gordon commented on) the evening was more pleasant than spectacular. I was there because of my involvement with initiatives in the Greek community. This was also not a Labour party event as I spotted the odd none Labour party person amongst the 80 or so guests from the community.


I managed to have a quick word with Gordon Brown for about one minute ( probably less) and devoted that brief time to mentioning the Parthenon Marbles and how important their return it is to us the question of a solution to the Cyprus problem was also discussed by many others. I wasn't unfortunately able to have any more time with him or mention the 200 other issues I would want him to have in mind. He looked very relaxed and kept making jokes constantly saying that he would extend the invitation to us all next year and after May in Downing street. He gave the impression that he was amongst friends which made the rest of my Hellenic comrades feel good. I left the reception before it ended but left feeling that Gordon is getting a bad press and that he deserves better. There are issues about his image I suppose but he appears genuine and I think his simple mannerism will appeal to the voters. I also found Caroline Flint to be interesting but I don't know much about what she has done before to make any major comments. Her speech on Greek issues was positive but then I wouldn't have expected her not to do that given that all her guests were leaders of that community.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

National Identification cards

Apparently the new scheme will start in Manchester on a voluntary basis from September. I am not your average rebel but I do believe this is a waste of money. We already have drivers licence with our pictures on (bad one of me so not happy!) and new type of passports so why do we need more? I am not against this on ideological grounds but object to the costs (I was an accountant in my previous life before I took on the TU task) the costs will be enormous and will serve no purpose so lets stop making the task of reelecting a Labour government more difficult by creating expensive purple elephants we already have other elephants?

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Labour Victory

I was having a wild discussion in the Branch office this morning (as one does in Lambeth) with a good friend and a Lambeth activist of many years who insisted that the Labour party was going to lose the election for sure. The comrade did not say that he wished for Labour to be defeated but explained that, in his opinion, there was very little difference between the Tory party and New Labour. Now that analysis could be right or wrong and it could be correct that the recent policies promoted by NL have been somewhat to the right but the fact remains that a Tory government (heaven forbid) will come back with a vengeance and it will be knocking on the doors of all Trade Unions. I say this to my friend and to others who think there is an alternative to Labour
Remember the miners strike, the battles and devastation of entire communities by the Thatcher government;
Remember the Sign Off regulations and the fact that TU's had to go out getting every member to sign back on every 3 years;
Remember the utter condemnation by the Tories of the proposal to bring in the Minimum Wage;
Remember Osbornes promise that his first target in government will be the public sector pensions scheme;
And when you remember all of these negative factors (and there are many others) then think again and don't be a banana encouraging people to show their disapproval by either not voting or voting for none mainstream parties that have as much chance of forming a government as I have of being Berlusconis next wife? Don't be a plonker! Vote Labour and help change the party (if that's what you want) from within!!

Monday, 4 May 2009

Hazel Blears and collective responsibility





Foreign Minister of Greece Dora Bakoyanni (the one on the right) to be brought over to help Gordon Brown to discipline the Neo rebels of his cabinet. Hazel Blears beware...

(and I know she is in the wrong party and not a PASOK member but she is tough!! so how about we exchange Dora for the Parthenon Marbles?)


Its been a busy weekend and I haven't been able to get on here but the one thing that has annoyed me is Hazel Blears calculated outburst which was designed to increase her popularity at the expense of her obligations under the doctrine of collective responsibility. I am reminded that Ministers who are after all MP's will take the risk of injecting some popularity into their political veins in the hope of increasing their own popularity amongst their constituents by distancing themselves from decisions and policies that they are, after all, responsible for. This is done in the hope that at the very least they can survive and rescue their own seat. Either that or she really had a bad day and let it all out (something for which I am also known to do in my own Branch)




I think that if Hazel knew what she was doing then she was completely wrong and should be removed at the next cabinet musical chairs show (which will of course ensure she is reelected as an MP) but she should not be allowed to be in a cabinet she disagrees with and if she does she should resign.




We are all uncomfortable with being put on the right hand lane of the Labour party motorway but there is no alternative to having a Labour government. A Labour victory at the next election is essential otherwise we will be returning back to the dark days of Thatcharite dogma and be controlled by Tory boy and the rest of that anti trade union shower.




Get some discipline back into the Labour party! Get Neil Kinock back I say and give him the job of Chief Whip and whip them all into shape like Dora Bakoyanni did with the ND party in Greece (she is the foreign Minister there and a possible future PM) There is a time and place to express controversial opinions but discipline is paramount before a bloody election for God's sake (no I haven't been drinking!)




Nosotros Estamos Preparados!!




Saturday, 2 May 2009

Swine flu

Well its a nice day for a change so will be out with friends celebrating the arrival of that yellow circle in the sky called sun as I am a self confessed sun worshiper.
But on a serious note I wanted to comment on the media coverage of the swine flu that seems to have arrived from Mexico (apparently) I would imagine, and I am not a medical expert, that the impact will be minimal in the summer months given that we are expecting a heat wave (well we'll see) the real danger will come from how the virus behaves from October onwards so lets not worry just yet and concentrate on having a good time in the sun! And no comments about why the United Left is responsible for all of this!

Friday, 1 May 2009

Divided island

Happy May the first. This is a special day celebrated by workers across the world and especially where I originally come from where there are strong trade unions and people who are not members are usually seen as the exception rather than the other way around.
I was contacted by a Greek journalist who knows about my involvement with the community here in London and my activities with Byzantinos and trying to organise ourselves. Anyway I was asked what my thoughts are on the Cyprus problem. Cyprus which is a member state of the European Union is still divided and 38% of its territory occupied by mainland Turkish troops.
I explained that I understood the external factors that allowed for the division of the island in 1974 and agreed that the 1974 coup instigated by the mainland Greek junta was a plan by the CIA and Henry Kissinger specifically who did not like the fact that the government there kept refusing the US air force the right to use the island as a base to bomb Arab lands and protect Israel. That is of course a simplification of the overall problem but the fact is it wasn't the people on the island that created the problem it was the major powers who wanted Cyprus (and still do) to be used as a huge aircraft carrier because of its strategic position.
I had a brief conversation with the journalist and expressed my frustration. I am particularly annoyed with the politicians on both sides of the island and believe that these people have not, so far, shown any imagination or the intelligence to take advantage of small opportunities that had occurred. The Gali ideas in the late 80s was, for example, a good plan/framework to find a solution based on a federal system. I consider the lack of any politicians with idealism to have been, so far, the real obstacle. Turkish troops should be removed as should all other military installations from the island and the people there should be allowed to live in peace and not be used by foreign powers who are so desperate to hang on to their imperialist past. Lets try finding where the idealists are and remove career minded politicians who are only interested in serving their own interest and we will then be able to find a just solution. The workers on both sides of the island are already working together to improve things so there is some hope to this 34 year old problem.