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Saturday, 31 October 2009

Good and bad news...

Well the good news is that the Blair coup seems to have died and Merkel is getting her way (thank God!) One of the criticisms in the British press, which I find astonishing, is that Merkel is against Blair because she wants Europe to shift to the right? How ridiculous, Blair couldn't be any further to the right!! So stupid criticism but then that's the British Press! She doesn't want him there because he is anti European and an opportunist plus he sounds boring.
The bad news is that Miliband, with his vast 2 years experience as Foreign Office Minister (amazing!) will probably be the first Euro land FM this will no doubt allow him to go to Brussels for a few years and come back in time to go for the leadership of the Labour party! What a nightmare! Keep Brown in I say at least he is honest and Scottish!!

Friday, 30 October 2009

Postal Workers Strike

Congratulations to the postal workers for taking up the challenge and not giving up to the bullying and harassment by their overpaid management team this is a crucial test for the rest of us who will no doubt have to endure the hostility of employers who will come for us after the next election. Best of luck to the postal workers

Tony Blair must not...

Peggy Mitchell for Euroland President..

I have been accused of being anti British because I have made my view about Tony Blair and his unsuitability for the Euroland Presidency clear. Well I am British born and I am certainly not anti British, I am simply anti hypocritical and against someone taking up a job and a role that they don't believe in. I dont think I need to go on with this any more but would remind people that this is the man who was seen as Bush's closer ally (unbelievable..) took us into Iraq and promised a referendum on Europe then dropped the plan. In addition and for the rest of the Europeans, he does not believe in a united Europe, fucked the middle East problem up (the invasion of Gaza was during his watch?) refused to have anything to do with the Euro and can't speak a fucking word of any other bloody language?? At least Barosso speaks Portugese, French English and German?? Spot the God damn difference? Lets get real! Might as well have Barbara Windsor doing the job. Blair and Milliband look like the uncomfortable mop and I hope the German Chancellor whips them both into shape. Long live a United States of Europe!!

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Jon of the Rogers and John of the Gray...

A rare opportunity, picture without Jon of the Rogers...

I have been previously accused of spreading gossip about the two bloggers, Jon of the Rogers and John of the Gray, who spend a lot of their time telling us how not to do things or how not to boil the milk in the morning. The truth is these people don't have to accuse me of anything because I admit that I do like a bit of gossip, in fact I think gossip makes the world go around so it will not surprise the thousands of readers who do not read my blog to know that this is the 5th or 6th time when these two have been away from blogging and on holiday the same time!! Research conducted by a mega think tank last night, when I was asleep, has shown that both the Rogers and the Gray have stopped blogging at the same time for more than 6 times in the last two years! You can make your own conclusions from those striking statistics but as far as I am concerned there is no way these two would be away the same time without a good reason! Shocking you will say but there you are. Where are they? What are they up to? Does anyone care? Is the earth really round? And how much edam cheese is there on the moon? I don't care as long as neither of them are out there helping Blair ruin the European union even more!!

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

European leaders coming to their senses...

Feel a bit better this evening having seen the reaction of key European Leaders and their statements regarding Blair and the Euroland Presidency with Mrs Merkel, who is having dinner with French president Nicolas Sarkozy tonight, stating that she does not like the idea of “having to listen to Mr Flash all the time”. I wonder what she means?? Just keep him out I say! I hear Sainsburys are recruiting for trainee managers so he should apply for that!
Nick Venedi

Tony Blair and Europe

It looks like various politicians in the Labour party are intensifying efforts to make sure that Tony Blair gets the first job as European President. Some of these people signed the petition to remove him from the position of Prime Minister. In addition they are pushing for a man who took the country into the Iraq adventure without regard to the wishes of the great majority in the country. None of this makes any sense Blair is as suitable to become first Euro land President as I bloody am! He is an anti European who did the US dirty work in Europe and his mission was to weaken the Federation by forcing its expansion thus ensuring that it became weak. I hope that other major states resist the temptation to shut the British up by offering him the position. He has also failed in the middle East and he would be as good doing this job as Attila the Hunt would be as General Secretary of the UN!! Get real!!

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

The future of the Branch

Looking for secondments to deal with...

We are all aware that there will be a major attack on our members jobs and terms and conditions of service irrespective of which government comes into power in May 2010. In addition we are expecting a radical review of the time off for those of us who have given up our careers to serve in our positions. The ACAS code of practice talks of two separate areas where time off is required by union activists and elected representatives. The major part of what most of us on time off do is to do with duties rather than activities such as preparing for disciplinary hearings, sickness panels, reorganisations (which can sometimes last anything from 3 to 6 months) advising on terms and conditions of service, attending negotiating meetings plus a plethora of other major matters.

Lambeth Council have already warned me, for example, that the fact that they allowed on a temporary basis as they put it for two of us to share the position of Branch Secretary they can no longer afford to have that. The original agreement, as they remind me, was for Jon to be on full time for a period of 6 months and that was to do with trying to finalise policies and procedures and the formal sorting out of single status. Now my glorious employer may be aware (of course they are) that they have not been able to finalise these policies and procedures so whether they can afford to disturb that large donkey or not is a matter for them to decide. What we must be ready for is the imminent attack on those of us who are on secondment. So the world has forgotten that the financial crisis was created by greedy bankers and the likes of us in the public sector have to pay for their mistakes oh.. and their huge bonuses!!

Monday, 26 October 2009

LSE students occupy the lecture theatre at LSE..

A close friend of the family at the LSE tells me that student activists have occupied the main lecture theatre there protesting about the atrocities committed by Israeli troops in Gaze. This conflict is something that disturbs many of us on the progressive side of West European politics. It cannot be just or right that a well equipped army (supplied fully by the USA) is allowed to go off message and attack and kill Innocent civilians. It is also unacceptable that the event happened in the period where the US Messiah (otherwise known as Tony Blair) was supposedly unleashed on the middle East to sort things out. Some bloody sorting out he has managed to do then? And now the sleeping men of Europe want this same man to be the first unelected President of Europe?
It is clear that my generation has failed to achieve a just world but I am hoping that the next generation, represented by today's students, is better able to get some sense out of an unfair world.

Radovan Karadic

Radovan Karadic, war criminal, goes on trial

The trial of Radovan Karadic who was, at the time of the Balkans war, the leader of the Bosnian Serbs, starts today.

The world sat back and waited for years before action was taken to stop the genocide of Muslim Serbs. Karadic's idea was the creation of an ethnically, as he put it, Serb Bosnia which required the extermination of all Muslims. This was wrong and unacceptable as was the indiscriminate bombing of civilian targets by NATO forces in Belgrade. Many Orthodox Christians will not forget the decision to continue the bombing of Serbian cities during the Orthodox Easter.

I totally support the bringing to trial of all war criminals but wonder as to why certain prominent US politicians responsible for the assassination of Heads of state or the start of wars and invasions have not been brought to trial yet? Is this because war criminals are only to be found on losing sides? Am I wrong or was it a famous Secretary of State who was responsible for a few wars around the world and the murder of an elected South American President in 1973? Double standards will not help the quest for fairness and justice.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Europe and Tony Blair

Those who know me are aware that I have always advocated for total political integration in Europe and I am a well known Euro Federalist. I believe passionately that a United states of Europe will deliver greater security and real prosperity for all the people on the continent. I also accept that there is a lot to be done to improve the structures and work must be done to ensure that we do not create a fortress Europe situation. But the one thing that annoys me is the idea that a true anti European like Tony Blair has the audacity to want to become the first President of Europe. That is not acceptable at all. Blair was a well known US poodle and made it clear that his only mission in Europe was to ensure that his masters in America did not feel that their power was withered away by a stronger more united EU, so how the hell he wants to become the President of something he so openly wanted to destroy I do not understand! It will be immoral and wrong to allow this man who also ignored 1 million protesters marching into the streets of London who were against the Iraq war to have anything to do with Europe. And as for Millibak becoming the first Euro Foreign Minister? Well that takes the bloody biscuit! Keep them both well away for Gods sake unless you do, like they do, want the collapse of this great union!!

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Nana Mouskouri...

One of the greatest artist of our times Nana retired at the age of 70 (she doesn't look it) not only was she a classical and popular singer she also served as a Euro MP for an Athens constituency (be it in the wrong party) she was and still is one of the greatest artists of our times... Hoping the the rumours of her return are true!

Time off for Trade Union Duties

There is no doubt in anyone mind that one of the first targets for a Tory government (if they come in ..) will be to attack facility time for trade union officers. People who spend most of their working lives trying to support fellow workers at the workplace and by doing so, in many ways, sacrifice their own career paths, will be selected for all sorts of punishment. The Tories and their friends will justify this on the basis that it is a waste of public money. The reality is that in my own Council for example, Lambeth, we have to deal with more than 2000 members. The employer has a team of 120 officers most of them on very high grades, dealing with HR related issues. Trade Union officers deal with disciplinaries, sickness panels, capability issues, dismissals, pension and payroll inquiries and problems. So in our case the 5.5 full time equivalent officers have to represent 2000 members who are being scrutinised by an HR team of 120? That isn't fair and in fact we should be demanding more time off and more training so that trained officers can support those in need. But we all know that things will be changing and I know for a fact that my own position is now being looked at and I am expecting redundancy news to be announced any minute.

Friday, 23 October 2009

The BNP performance

Was the BBC right to allow the BNP to appear on the question time programme last night? Well most of the people I know watched QT and said more or less the same thing. That the BNP man showed his true colours. First it was obvious that Nick Griffith was enjoying the exposure (for the wrong reasons) and second some of the panel members were not as good as I would have expected them to be. But it was no surprise to me that the audience participation and the way they questioned the Nazi philosophy won the night. The BNP are a party of hate with an ideology based on race and stupid notions of racial purity something that does not exist anywhere. In fact most successful societies were build on diversity. There were 120 languages spoken in Rome and more than that in Constantinople in other words areas where there is economic success attract different people and this helps rather than hinder. Any economist will verify this. On the other hand Nick Griffiths idea of purity can't go very far if we take into account the fact that the Roman legions were here in England for more than 300 years and they obviously contributed to the genetic make up of the 'indigenous' population. The Romans were people from all over the Roman empire and whilst they were here they did not stay home at night and knit jumpers!! We are all a mixture of different things and that is a good thing something that makes us stronger and not weaker.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Freedom of speech and the BNP

Of course the real story today is that one to do with the start of the postal workers story. The decision of the CUW to take action was made following tremendous pressure put on them by the manager level who want to change the organisation at the expense of workers. Congratulations to the postal workers for standing up! Messages of support can be posted on the web site
The other story is the one to do with the BNP being allowed to appear on BBC question time tonight. That will of course give them a platform and maximum publicity but I do not believe it will do anything other than expose what they really stand for. The only concern is that the BBC has chosen people to be on the panel who may not have the intellectual ability to achieve total defeat and they should have chosen (assuming that they were right to allow this in the first place) more capable panel members? I am not sure that the reason for allowing the BNP to be on the programme is an acceptable one and whether a party that will abolish freedom of speech should be allowed to enjoy the facility? Are we back in the 30's and is this Nazi Germany??

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

The Postal strike

There is of course a great risk to me personally in that if the postal workers go on strike (and I hope to be honest they do) I will not get the thousands of letters from you every day and also no Christmas cards either but hey worst things happen at sea, as the actor said to the bishop.
On a more serious note I would like to publicly congratulate the postal workers union for not putting up with the shit dished out by the idiotic top level managers in the post office. They want to modernise to ensure that their huge salaries are preserved and that is no justification as this would be done at the expense of those on the lower grades. Good that the union is taking a stand and telling them to piss off and stick it! I hope that the management there are smashed and the workers win!! All branches should support the action!

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Time for discipline

The thousands if not millions readers of this blog will know that what I mean when talking about discipline is not the type you get in those funny establishments that some politicians tend to frequent (not mentioning any names specifically here) but the discipline that is required for large organisations and political movements so that they can be successful. Democracy is of course the most important ingredient for any mainframe or small party but once decisions are made in a democratic way then the rest of us have to follow policy that has been formulated. An example of this is when decisions have been taken by Unison national conference only to be questioned later on by those with other interests who may wish to push their own agendas. And that can't be allowed to happen. We debate, agree policy and then we follow the rules otherwise we will have little UDI's everywhere in the country. The same applies at branch level. When decisions are taken those decisions must be adhered to and those who wish to change that will be undermining the basic principles of democracy.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Papandreou to visit Cyprus

Prime Minister Papandreou (of PASOK) to visit Cyprus today...

Some hope that the decision of the newly elected Prime Minister of Greece, George Papandreou, to visit the Republic of Cyprus today could result in some positive movement towards a fair solution to the long standing dispute and the end of the illegal occupation of the island. Prime Minister Papandreou will be meeting communist President Christofias for urgent talks. Papandreou, who only came to power last week, had also visited Ankara a few days ago and had discussions with Prime Minister Erdogan. I am hoping that George Papandreou can retain his enthusiasm and become more active than the previous Greek PM Karamalis who simply sat on the fence and painted his nails for the last 4 years. I am also hoping that communist President Christofias of Cyprus looks at the reality of the situation and becomes more determined to talk about a realistic solution. Champagne communists have a habit of not facing reality so am hoping that he isn't going to be one of them? Good luck with today's talks guys!

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Sunday 18th October

Attending my nephews birthday so no time to say much today. Happy birthday to Zac who is going to be 12 tomorrow. Hope that I don't eat to much!!

Friday, 16 October 2009

Front line reality...

The real work in all trade union branches is of course done at ground level and where the workplace is. A well trained network of activists ensure that a large branch, such as mine with 2,300 members, functions well. But then you have what I call 'technical' problems with servicing members that are spread all over London. The Lambeth branch has, for example, 400 members who are not employed by Lambeth Council and whilst some of those 400 are situated, geographically, within the Borough, around 300 are not. So we have the 130 Ofsted members who can be anywhere in the Greater London area and a number of other members with other ad hoc outfits with Head Quarters that can be as far away as Birmingham (Nursing homes) This creates a logistical problem in that the 5.5 f.t.e officers we have on part or full secondment are paid by Lambeth who would not, in real terms, be happy for someone like myself running to Holloway to do a disciplinary hearing. The question here is that I need to take annual leave to cover this and if I didn't then who will do what when or if I am disciplined for unauthorised absence? The Union has to rethink this policy of attaching members from other employers to any branch they like?

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Regional Council

As expected the Regional Council meeting today did not have enough delegates present to ensure that it could function and make decisions. The rules demand that more than 33% of those registered to be delegates should be present and apart from Regional AGM we don't seem able to get them in? Should we be changing the rules or should we reduce the number of meetings? That is indeed the question...

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

The Levithan at its worst...

Well I haven't been critical of Lambeth for some time now not because there was no reason to do so but because people get used to working within an organisation that lacks corporate coordination so at the end those of us who work there (wrongly of course) tend to give up and get used to the chaos. People often ask me what it is that's wrong with the Levithan and the answer of course is that it very much acts like a big blob with parts of it not knowing what other parts do. That cannot be right? There is not common coordination and whereas there are centres and areas of excellence there are also distinct territories of confusion where chaos prevails. The worst part of the Council is the one responsible for coordinating job evaluation appeals. It can take anything from 6 months to 3 years for an appeal to be put together and heard. That cannot be right!!

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Court cases and freedom of speech

Readers of different blogs would have noticed some activity on certain 'prominent blogs' referring to cases against individual bloggers to do with allegations made around statements or comments that could be liable. I am no expert on the law of liable but a balance needs to be found between the right to express an opinion and describe a person the way you see them (as long as you remain within the decency boundaries) and protecting the right of a person to have some privacy. I don't know the detail of the case that the two London Jon's are talking about (Jon of the Rogers and John Gray) but I would imagine that the person they are defending has made comments that the person being criticised was not happy with and if that is the case I hope that whatever was said was true and accurate and not personal. I have been the victim of slanderous comments made against me online by an ex who of course felt bitter about personal issues between us but I never took the challenge and have not responded in kind. We all need to be mature about the world we live in and understand that if we put ourselves online and therefore in a way expose ourselves to the world we lose some degree of privacy. We don't want to end up like people in the US where everyone is suing everyone else all the time?
Freedom of expression balanced against the right of respect and some privacy is what we need to be striving for.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Partnenon Marbles

Giana Angelopoulos Daskalaki PASOK Minister

I was talking to a close friend and associate from Hellas over the weekend who is over for business and we had a discussion about the new PASOK government. Both agreed that PASOK scored a decisive victory but also hope that George Papandreou, the new Prime Minister can shake off the image he was bringing with him from the times he was Foreign Minister under Costas Simitis. During that period he was seen as someone who was looking too close to the US administration something that your average Greek citizen does not appreciate hence the reason he lost the last election. His victory could mean that the population will know give him a second chance and it is my opinion that the 'cosy' relations he has had with Blair and the US will soon be tested. The best way to test his willingness to be more decisive is to show us all that he will do more on the Cyprus problem and get involved with demands for the return of the Parthenon Marbles that are wrongly held by the old brigadier brigade at the British Museum. Make those demands George before its too late! Good news is that Theodoros Pangalos, who is the deputy, is not known for his softness and he is as hard as nails so maybe the two will balance each other out? And I want to see Gianna Daskalaki who made the 2004 Olympics such a great success come over with me to London and stand outside the British Museum until the old brigade at the museum come to their senses!!! Time for action!

Saturday, 10 October 2009

The Importance of the Lisbon treaty

For myself and other Europeans from smaller states full European integration is the only way to avoid the dramatic complications that gave rise to the two dreadful world wars in the last century. A Federal Europe will make countries like Britain, Germany, Italy and France stop their imperialist obsessions and safeguard the security of smaller states. So we won't have the repeat of countries like Poland, Holland, Greece, Denmark or other smaller states being constantly invaded or used in the so called 'super power games' and whilst I accept that there are difficulties with some of the 'pro capitalist' ideas dished out by the treaty I am more than confident that a United Europe can change that approach and ensure that the working class gets a better deal. But the main driver is and must be the security of Europe. So I am hoping that the Czech Republic ends up signing and therefore ratifying the treaty so that it can become fully operational. The objections from Britain are very easy to understand but hard to justify and whilst everyone knows that Britain would rather be another state of the USA the reality is that we are physically in Europe and should move forward. The little Englander mentality is very last century. Britain can't afford to pretend to be a super power any more and if those in control thought they could they wouldn't have given Hong Kong back to where it belongs? Am all for a United States of Europe (preferably without Tony Blair as its President!!)
The Treaty signed by the Heads of State or Government of the 27 Member States in Lisbon on 13 December 2007 will provide the EU with modern institutions and optimised working methods to tackle both efficiently and effectively today's challenges in today's world. In a rapidly changing world, Europeans look to the EU to address issues such as globalisation, climatic and demographic changes, security and energy. The Treaty of Lisbon will reinforce democracy in the EU and its capacity to promote the interests of its citizens on a day-to-day basis

Friday, 9 October 2009

Focus on recruitment

There are no easy answers to how we deal with what is going to be a major crisis in the public sector. There is no doubt that a Tory government will take revenge on public sector workers and embark on major measures to reduce costs which will lead to pay freeze and redundancies. So our strategies to deal with this must embrace basic principles and there is nothing more basic than going back to where members and staff who are not yet members and persuade them to join and do so very fast. We must concentrate on recruiting more people and push the barriers. Its no longer good enough to accept that 35 to 40% membership is OK. It isn't not when we are facing a war!!

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Prepare for battle

You don't need me to tell you that we should be getting ready for battle if the Tories win the election (still an if in my opinion) Cameron made it clear that despite the fact that his wife was ordered to wear shoes worth £30 he is still part of the ruling class and his policies and approach will be to make the rest of us pay for the mess the 'bankers' (where is the w in that word..) have made. So make no mistake they will be going for us and we will all have to work until we are 82 to pay for more expensive shoes... Do not be deceived and be persuaded by the argument that Labour must be punished because you will be punishing yourself!

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

George Papandreou cabinet

Congratulations to the Leader of PASOK George Papandreou for getting together what I think is a very competent cabinet. Full marks for ensuring tha 40% of all Ministers are women and at least one third are Macedonian (largest province of Greece is Macedonia) also great news that my all time favorite Theodoros Pangalos (otherwise known for his abrupt manner towards American Presidents) has been given the job of Deputy. Brilliant news that my own friend Damanaki Daskalopoulou (responsible for the 2004 Athens Olympics) has been given a key role in the cabinet. Sad that Dora Bakoyianni (ex foreign minister under the now dead conservative government) will no longer be around. Perhaps she should consider joining PASOK? She did some good work in trying to get the return of the Parthenon marbles stolen from Hellas and kept by the curators of the British museum. That work needs to continue. But thank God that we have a Socialist Hellas again!!

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

The Tories are at it again...

Well we now know that at the national shower conference (Tory conference in Manchester) the whisper is that when they first come in ( a big if in my opinion) we will all have to wait until we are 66 to retire. This of course could mean that if you are in your mid 40s now there will be a few more changes before you are 66 and therefore work until you are 70 and that is what I really think we are going to have to deal with. The huge problem here is that if those of us in our 40s are not allowed to go at a reasonable age there will be fewer jobs for the younger generation and that, as far as I am concerned, is more unfair than anything else?

Monday, 5 October 2009

Socilalist PASOK returns to power in Hellas...

Historic general election in Greece Sunday 4th October with 87% of votes counted, the centre-left Pasok party was leading with 43% – giving it around 159 seats and enough to form a government in the 300-member parliament – while the centre-right New Democracy party had 34%.. If this is correct and my contacts in Athens tell me it is, then we will be seeing the return of the Papandrea dynasty otherwise called PASOK socialist party to power. George Papandreou who was the foreign Secretary under the brilliant Simitis government and the son of Andreas Papandreou, who was the post dictatorship leader of Hellas, will now be the 3rd Papandreou Prime Minister. His grandfather, George Papandreou, was dismissed by 24 year old King Constitine in 1966 which then led to the military coup in April 1967. I will publicly congratulate my own party PASOK for removing the Karamalis dynasty PM Costas. Maybe I should change my surname to Nikos Papandreou and then I could have a chance? Lets hope that George will not preach New Labour style ideas to a very angry and pro left Hellenic population!

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Priorities for the Trade Union movement

I would imagine that the priority for the TU movement in the UK should be to link in with the existing economic crisis and offer an alternative to working people who did not, for different reasons, in the past considered it relevant to join a union. The current 'credit crunch' which looks like subsiding slightly is only been eased off because of the pending election in May and once that is out of the way all hell will break lose. Any economist or accountant would tell you that the measures that have been taken so far to reduce the impact of the crisis will, in themselves, produce a more severe problem in the near future. So we should be developing tactics to fight back even stricter controls and step up our efforts to explain this to working people and increase recruitment of members. Increase and retain membership is therefore what the real priority should be. And it won't matter if we get a Labour or Tory government in. Labour will delay the crisis by a year or two and the dreadful Tories will go for immediate cuts. Our priority is to accelerate the recruitment process as of yesterday!

Saturday, 3 October 2009

I am joining in with Jon today to ask people to sign the online petition in support of the campaign to get justice for the killing of an Innocent man. The establishment has shown again that what counts is the protection of its own instruments and not justice. Why am I not surprised? It could happen to anyone or anyone who looks foreign so that must be ok? Total disgrace! This must be taken to the European Court of Justice otherwise the famous concept that the rule of Law is supreme goes out and in the toilet.

Friday, 2 October 2009

Free Nicosia

I received a somewhat cryptic message via the blog about my use of the term Free Nicosia which I won't publish. I am assuming that it wasn't from the Mossad as I think they are busy doing other things? They question the use of the word free. Well the term refers to the fact that some of the Capital city is still under occupation by Turkish troops who arrived in 1974 following an illegal invasion. That makes the rest of Nicosia a Free area and that part of it - the occupied part - a Berlin type of a city. The only divided city in Europe. A fact not picked up by most of the groups on the left in this country. But credit to Bob Crow and a few others that have tried to do something on this. So Free Nicosia is the part of the city in the government controlled area the rest is under occupation.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

In defence of Labour..

Well looks like I am making myself more unpopular in my branch by defending Labour publicly again. All I have to ask is whether those who criticise can in all honesty say that a Tory government will be any better for us? What will happen to the Minimum Wage regulations and would we see the return of anti Trade Union laws? I accept that the image isn't right and that Labour should go back to the left (and get rid of the Miliband association) but that aside there is no real alternative, or is there?