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Thursday, 30 September 2010

The Miliband show...

I think it right was for David Miliband not to accept a role in Ed's new shadow cabinet, I did in fact say that it wouldn't be right for him to take a job on Sunday. So on balance he made the right decision.

I am also hoping, like many other Labour party members, that Ed will succeed but the odds are against him. I wasn't aware of the fact that if one voted for a single candidate and did not put down a second and third choice then that vote was wasted. This is unfortunate and wrong. I now understand that at least 10% of those who voted put down one choice of candidate mainly David Milliband. The system that does not allow a member to vote for just one person is wrong. Had the 10% of the votes been accepted David would now be the leader that could win us the next election. David was also right to challenge Harriot Harman for the incident at the conference hall. Many people will, unfortunately link the incident with hypocrisy and see it with cynicism.

Zeynab Jalalian and Hossein Khezri

Zeynab Jalalian and Hossein Khezri are awaiting execution in Iran. Their crime? "Enmity against God."They are both members of the minority Party for Free Life of Kurdistan, and the Iranian government is using this catch-all phrase to persecute political dissenters under the guise of a religious charge. We should all do more to help stop the executions. Their sentencing is unjust, their treatment while imprisoned atrocious: Jalalian was granted only a few minutes of access to her lawyer and was told to "shut up" when she asked to say goodbye to her mother.The EU "is profoundly concerned by the repeated sentencing to death in Iran of people belonging to minorities, as well as of those involved in the post-election protests." Five people were hanged for similar "offenses" on May 9.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Shadow Minister for Europe predicts principled stance on Cyprus for Miliband’s Labour Party

Labour Party politicians and members last night showed solidarity and support for the reunification of Cyprus at a fringe reception at the party’s annual conference in Manchester. Organised under the auspices of the National Federation of Cypriots in the UK and addressed by Chris Bryant MP, Shadow Minister for Europe, Andros Kyprianou, General Secretary of AKEL and Yiannakis Omirou, President of SK EDEK, the event was honoured with the presence of MPs old and new, as well as local government representatives and conference delegates.
In opening the speeches, Mr Peter Droussiotis, President of the Federation, said:"This reception should be a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Republic of Cyprus which we mark this year and, in many respects, it is. Unfortunately, it is also a sad reminder that we gather here, once again, in the shadow of the island's continuing division which we desperately want to see replaced with a reunited, peaceful and really independent Cyprus for the benefit of all Cypriots. “We, British Cypriots, are fully supportive of Cyprus President Demetris Christofias in his really strenuous efforts and the principled flexibility he has shown in the direct negotiations. We will not give up the just struggle to reunite the island on the basis of democratic values. In this vital effort we need the help of principled and influential friends in the Labour Party to help overcome Turkey's intransigence and bring this about."
Chris Bryant MP, Shadow Minister for Europe, is likely to relinquish his post as part of the reshuffle that the Labour Party’s new leader, Ed Miliband MP, will make subsequent to the party’s forthcoming Shadow Cabinet elections, but he spoke of his personal commitment to the reunification of the island whilst in his post, both in government and opposition. He added that, under Mr Miliband’s stewardship, he expected that Labour would continue to press for justice in Cyprus holding the Government to account to “bring about the solution that all Cypriots deserve and are long overdue”.

Andros Kyprianou, General Secretary of AKEL, conveyed his party's commitment to a solution which will serve the interests of both the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot communities and emphasised AKEL's strong support to President's Christofias efforts to deliver a just and lasting settlement. He added:
“The future of our island depends upon the current negotiations but Mr Eroglu does not operate alone... Ankara is central to the search for a solution. Only whenTurkey abandons its unwillingness to find a solution in Cyprus will we see the biggest hurdle to progress overcome.”

Mr Omirou, President of SK EDEK, opened his address by welcoming the election of Ed Miliband MP as Labour Party Leader before stating that the government of the Republic of Cyprus had “exhausted all possible areas of compromise in negotiations with the Turkish Cypriot side in negotiations.” He went on to identify negotiations about Famagusta as an example of how Turkish and Greek Cypriots would benefit equally from a settlement on the island.

In addition to Chris Bryant MP, the event attracted a large number of Labour people including Rosie Winterton MP, Shadow Leader of the House of Commons, Mary Honeyball MEP, Jim Sheridan MP, Gregg McClymont MP, Mike Gapes, MP, David Crausby MP, Jim Dobbins MP, Andy Love MP, Alan Meale MP, Cllr Claire Kober, Leader of Haringey Council, Cllr Stephen Alambritis, Leader of Merton Council, numerous other councillors and High Commissioner to the UK, Mr Alexandros Zenon.

The event was also attended by the Federation’s Vice-Presidents, Chris Stylianou and Michael Kashis, Federation Secretary Bambos Charalambous and Executive Secretary Andreas Karaolis, as well as Federation Executive members Suzy Constantinides (who is also the Chair of the Cypriot Womens’ League) and Neophytos Nicolaou.

Neil Kinock, Michael Foot, or someone completely different?

I conducted a perfectly scientific survey in a pub last night in Clapham, the opinion poll involved 8 people that I happened to speak to whilst having a drink or 6 with friends. I asked those who did not even know they were participating in this fantastic research effort what they thought of Ed Milliband. 3 out of the 8 did not know who or what he was so they were excluded from the findings as they did not have an opinion and were more interested in the next round of drinks rather than politics. The sample of the remaining 5 had a collection of views. Two of the 5 thought that the Labour party could be on its way back to the Michael Foot, or Neil Kinock days when it was almost impossible to win an election. One thought that Ed had to look more comfortable and less shocked on camera and another decided that he should get off the fence and support strike action. What's a new generation by the way?? He is 40 for Gods sake!

I would imagine that most people would be having debates about where those of us in the Labour party can be going with this result. I made no secret of the fact that I supported David Milliband even though I was critical in the past of his position with the Iraq war. But I know that David could win an election against D Cameron and could wipe him off the face of the earth. This was indeed what motivated me and not a true love of the person. So I was voting taking into consideration practical factors, such us the need to win a bloody election.

Saying that I would now concentrate on supporting a leader who was fairly elected and do my bit to ensure that he makes that difference. Ed, however, needs to be clearer as to what he means by a new generation taking over. He needs to come to terms with the fact that at the age of 40 he is relatively speaking and within a political context young but not that young. David Milliband is of the same generation as he is and so are many of us. He packed the platform with members under 30 which may have looked good on telly but he needs to remember that the average age of a Labour party member is between 45 to 55 so he needs to remember that. I am also hoping that David will simply go back to be an ordinary MP and stay in the background ready to take over if or when the time is right. There is no joy in being politically right but in opposition for ever!!


Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Can Red Ed win the next election?

Interesting speech by Ed Milliband at Labour party conference today. Interesting that he did not hesitate to condemn what he calls 'irresponsible strike action' as he put it by the unions in advance. Good that he was brave enough to say that the war in Iraq was wrong but it was interesting that the essence of what he said meant that it was wrong to go in Iraq without the correct alliances, so a bit of a diplomatic climb down?

So can Ed win the next general election or is what we are seeing a temporary care taker leader. This could work if David Milliband sticks around and is ready to take over if or when it all goes wrong? I hope that it doesn't all go wrong and I am also hoping that David does not rule himself out of Labour politics because if he goes now he could never come back...

TUC protests to Turkish Embassy about UPS dispute

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber has written to the Turkish Ambassador to the UK protesting about the violation of workers' rights at UPS in Turkey, as part of the global campaign in solidarity with TÜMTIS.

Monday, 27 September 2010

EU Language day

I was very interested to read in the Greek press that 9 out of 10 children at primary school learn a foreign language at a level where they can actually hold a conversation. However only 2 out of 10 think that they are proficient in the language they learn with 4 in 10 making an effort afterwards to improve on what they learn. The stats were released yesterday by Eurostat to coincide with The EU Language Day. Greece is doing well on this but not Britain so much which is a shame as we now live in a European Federation??

Hard times ahead

Unfortunately I do not believe that we, in the Labour party, have made the right decision in electing Ed Milliband. I think the Labour party has elected the person they like rather than the leader that can win an election and remove David Cameron from office.

I also think that the party will now lose voters on the centre right and the right and will make floating voters more suspicious. This is a shame as the Tories could be on the retreat. The only hope is from organising a strong anti cuts campaign and forming an alliance with those opposing the drastic measures imposed by the Con the Libs coalition. Saying all this I hope that I am wrong and that Ed proves to be a worthy leader. Good luck to Ed.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Ed Milliband becomes leader of the Labour party

Its just been announced at the Labour party conference. Ed Milliband has been elected Leader of the Labour party... Ed won with a very small majority of the vote. He is of course to the left of centre of the party whereas David is centre right. I think that Ed will have a difficult job balancing the need to take the party back to its traditional left wing roots and pleasing the floating voters and middle England who are both suspicious of a real shift to the left...

Congratulations to Ed though... Diane Abbot also comes out of this as a victor for she has shown any new leader that she cannot be ignored and that they are better off with her inside the tent...

Honduran Trade Union leader assassinated

The TUC General Secretary has written to the Honduran ambassador in London to protest about escalating violence against trade unionists there and the murder on September 17 of Juana Bustillo, head of the social security workers union.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Against Easy Council

Helen, 3rd from the left, getting ready to chair the meeting last night

I went to the very well attended meeting organised by the Trade Union alliance in Barnet last night which has been set up to fight the cuts. The hall was full of trade unionists, residents and community campaigners so it is good to see that Barnet Unison is ready for the fight of a life time. Proposals to turn the borough into an Easy jet style corporation will be resisted at all levels by both Unison and the GMB. I think there were more than 200 people in the hall and they all looked determined not to allow this government to destroy what working people build up in the last century with sweat and blood.

Also good to see that at the other end of London and my own old branch Lambeth Unison is organising to fight the cuts with a major demonstration on the 30 October. This is indeed the time to unite and fight!

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Is there a need to organise separately?

I had a long discussion with a distressed Black female activist friend this morning who invited me to a meeting with others where a debate as to whether those of us from different ethnic backgrounds should unite and organise outside mainstream unions. She described this as a move back to the 80s.

I have never believed or subscribed to the need for separate organisation and it is a fact that my own union, Unison, allows and encourages Self Organised groups in fact that is why I joined NALGO and then Unison. I have spoken about the virtues of this previously. But I can see why some of our activists may feel either ignored, left out or bullied. I remember from my own old branch, Lambeth Unison, where there was a systematic campaign of political harassment from sectors of the so called ultra left (very few in number but vociferous never the less) targeting key Black activists. There was a stage when they were been picked up one by one . But I believe that the way to deal with these bullies is to challenge them (and I did this many times ) and deal with people who are not real trade unionists, they join and take up positions through deception to further their own little and pathetic political agendas! So my message is that there is no need to opt out and organise somewhere else we should use the internal mechanism to deal with those who undermine our activists, they may be clever in the way they disguise their tactics but we have right on our side. Stay on and fight!

Save the wolfe..

Wolf Mountain Sanctuary Re-Opened The paperwork is in and Wolf Mountain Sanctuary (WMS) is open -- all thanks to a massive campaign organised by ordinary people across the world and the USA. County officials demanded the sanctuary re-permit in order to remain open, but WMS could not afford the pricey process. After being bombarded with almost 13,000 petition signatures and emails urging them to open WMS, officials finally listened! Great news then for animal welfare activists.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Self Organised Groups in the TU movement

There was a lot of debate as to whether those of us from 'minority backgrounds' should be allowed to organise within the Trade Union movement separately. But we have moved away from that stage of the TU development and Self Organised Groups are very much a part of mainstream organisation in large Trade Unions.

The recent Black Workers Group AGM in Euston with more than 110 delegates attending proved how well the SOG's are organised and how much support there is for what they stand for. It is also great to see that the reps from these groups on regional committee, Council and conferences are always there ensuring that the Equalities agenda remains at the top of Unisons priorities. Other groupings within Unison should take note of this and do more to form meaningful and working relationships with SOG's. I have, in the past, been critical of certain collectives who have either ignored this basic fact and I am hoping my view on this will be changed soon.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

The Lambeth diaries

It was good to see friends and comrades at the London regional committee this morning. This was my first attendance since my return in a none Lambeth mode.

Two people have asked me whether I will continue publishing the Lambeth diaries. I wasn't intending to stop but I was very busy last week and the TUC conference and other things took my attention away. It is also difficult to compile an accurate account of what happened so many years ago and despite the fact that I kept a regular record of events there are some gaps in 1989 so once I find the missing links I shall resume. I have very accurate notes from 1994 to 2010 but of course that would mean missing the early years (poll tax period) and that would just not do! But thanks to those who either text or emailed me I will correct any mistakes if those involved think that my account of events was different (would I now..) I agree though that Jon of the Rogers did not become Chair of the branch until 1992?

Impact of cuts

Some of Britain's poorest families were hit by more than 100 unfair spending cuts during the first 100 days of the new coalition Government, a TUC analysis revealed in August.
The research was published on the day the coalition marked its 100th day in office and showed that cuts which impact more on the poorest families have been made across the board in education, health, housing, welfare and social care.
Rather than swingeing cuts, the TUC believes the Government should focus on alternative ways of tackling the deficit, including a Robin Hood Tax on financial transactions that could raise up to £20 billion a year.
Summary details @

Monday, 20 September 2010

Lib Democrats and Oblivion Avenue...

I am sorry to say that the Lib Democrats are heading towards Oblivion Avenue. A small collection of their power hungry leaders are telling the 'faithful' to stop complaining and concentrate on enjoying the fact that they are in power for the first time in 60 years. Yes but, will they have a link to the idea of power (as opposed to actually having power) for the first and last time this century? That is indeed the question I would be asking if I were (and I am not) a member of the Lib party. Many people I know who have in the past flirted with the idea of 'looking at Lib policy' will now never consider voting for them. They are, after all, the party of opportunists and the party working with a regressive government. A government determined to use them and impose drastic policies that will make the poor pay for the bankers (there is a w missing in that..) mistakes.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Help Pakistans flood victims

The sheer scale of the floods in Pakistan is staggering, and the country will need all its available resources to help it recover from this crippling crisis and to fight long-term poverty. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) - the institution that oversees debt repayments - can play a role in this. Ensuring all of Pakistan's debt is frozen for 2 years would mean an extra $6 billion available to help those affected and it could support projects which will help the country to rebuild its self and the destroyed infrastructure.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Aggressive Secularism or Out of date dogma?

The Pope has complained about what he sees as 'agressive secularism' practised by 'non believers', as he puts it, in Britain.

I have nothing against any preachers that teach us to love and share but I have a major problem with a leader in a position of influence who states that women are not good enough to hold certain positions or relationships outside the mainstream traditional ones is the only acceptable way or that homosexuality is a sin.

These theories are out of date and incompatible with modern democracies where every one is equal in the eyes of the state. The Equalities agenda and implementing its detail is far more important than spending so much time and energy living in the past. The Pope and others in similar positions of responsibility have a moral duty to revise and update their dogmas and bring them up to date they should be teaching us all to love and share not hate and destroy!

Friday, 17 September 2010

The Milliband show

Most of the people I have spoken to this morning watched the debate on Question Time last night. The event was more like the Milliband show with David M looking like the clear winner to those who are not members of the Labour party. The remarks that registered in my brain (apparently I have one..) were about David looking like a real Leader, determined, assertive and with a lot of clear messages. Ed didn't do that bad but in a world dominated by PR and quick real time communications David looks better and will attract Sid Vicious and Doris Banana ( terms used by the great Chairman Jon of the Rogers) so if the Labour party is serious about winning the next election, and I very much hope that we are, then we have to produce a Leader that does not just appeal to the mainstream Trade Union activists.

Is the Pope a Catholic?

A lot has been said about the visit and many have been critical of the Catholic church and some of what has been practiced by its priests. Child abuse is totally unacceptable and those responsible must be punished. The Pope should have apologised publicly and said sorry. He also retains a collection of other views that places him very much out of date with modern democratic societies and for that he should be re educated. This is of course not a specific problem with just Catholics and other religions and religious leaders suffer from the same problem. But there are also those who say that the Pope represents 1 billion followers on the planet and that they, in their own way, derive comfort from belonging to the Catholic faith.

I am not here to condemn or criticise but the problem with all religious beliefs is that it clearly comes from an irrational source. We do as humans have a lot of attachments with illogical concepts like the following of a Monarch etc ( is this treason?)

On the other hand religion keeps people like my mother and her friends who are all very religious and 'good Christians' out of trouble and it gives them something to do. I love it when I try to call my mother who is in her 70s but can never find her home because she is always out with her religious mates attending some charity or church thing. It keeps them off the streets and happy so it is for that reason that religion does, for the time being, have a role. But all religions and churches need to bring themselves up to date. I am sure there are a few unemployed HR officers around that can help out with some sort of a reorganisation?

Thursday, 16 September 2010

The Con the Libs coalition and Trident

There are major contradictions in the message send out by the 'Con the Libs' marriage (otherwise known as coalition) with regards to drastic cuts and spending an extra 20 billion on upgrading the Trident missile programme. The brigadier trolley brigade will have us believe that there is an imminent threat of an attack from the Fiji islands and we should therefore close a few hospitals down so that we can spend 20 billion on a deterrent that is not needed.

There is obviously a clear link between the obsession with playing the 'we are a great power' card and 'we can be under threat' so we must on the one hand make our poor people less well off so that we can attend international conferences pretending that we are a super power. This does not make sense and there is no need to spend 20 billion on such a destructive programme. The Con the Libs coalition should come to terms with reality and spend that money on education and hospitals instead. That will make more sense and it will stimulate the economy rather than bugger it up! I am also assured that the Fiji islands are not interested in invading Britain as the easy jet flight connections are far too slow and their generals won't fly economy!

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Self Organised Groups in London Unison

It was great to see more than 100 delegates and visitors attending the Black Workers Group AGM at Friends House in Euston on Friday the 10th and brilliant to see activists and friends that I have worked with for many years.

The Black Workers Group in London is a thriving and vibrant part of our union and its leadership is working with other Self Organised Groups in the region to ensure that the Equalities agenda remains very high priority for Unison. The fact that so many activists take part in this AGM shows the need for the group and its objectives. We are all going to face very hard times in the next year or two so unity amongst all is vital and fundamental to our success.

Congratulations also to Margaret Greer who got re elected and will serve as Chair of the group for another year.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

One Union per Sector idea

Sally Hunt is right to suggest that the Trade Union movement is weaker because there are sectors where there a number of unions sometimes competing with each other. That isn't good for the movement and it dilutes what we are trying to do.

The argument in the past has been that different Unions had alternative approaches and potential members should have the right to chose where to go. So for example NALGO and then Unison have been the choice for those, like myself, who believe in strong Self Organisation and more local democracy. The other side of the coin shows that some employees chose a union that is cheaper so there were, for example, people I knew in my old Branch, Lambeth Unison, who would join the GMB rather than Unison because the subs were lower.

But all the issues raised by everyone on both sides of the argument have one end result and that is weakening the movement. The 'other side' (employer side) has always been happy to have more than one union around because it means they can divide and rule and this has happend on several occasions in the past and in my own personal experience. I remember distinctly, for example, the long Payroll dispute in 1993 which lasted for 12 weeks where the GMB were not prepared to join in strike action and that, inevitably, created a problem and a rift that was exploited by management.

We need to get serious and consolidate what we have. TU membership has fallen from 13 million to 6.3 million we cannot afford to continue with any internal struggles and our leaders should seriously start talks about merging in sectors where members are represented by one union. We need to concentrate on the long fight ahead of us and we are not going to win if we allow internal divisions and union rivalries. Hoping the TUC will deal with this!

Monday, 13 September 2010

EAT News

In Todd v Strain and others the Employment Appeal Tribunal has held that staff at a care home should have been consulted on changes to pay arrangements following a TUPE transfer but it has decided that the original award should be reduced.

The EAT agreed that the previous owner of the company had failed to consult staff on relevant measures involved in the transfer, including a change to their pay date. Staff working there found out about the transfer at a meeting which was only attended by one third of the workforce. Employees were given little to no information other than a promise that their 'jobs would be safe' other changes were not communicated.

The original ruling which awarded 13 weeks pay to staff was overturned by the EAT and the award was reduced to 7 weeks pay.

TUC Conference

Interesting to hear that the General Secretary of the TUC, Brendan Barber, isn't that keen on strike action but would see it as the last resort.

I think I would agree that taking strike action is less desirable than trying to resolve a dispute through different means first but we are now facing huge and savage cuts that are not necessary. The 25% reduction in public services will in fact mean that the economy will be strangled and the recession could turn into a long term depression that would lead to all sorts of undesirable situations. So although I would agree that continuous and constant strike action is undesirable and probably (and this is the real reason) undeliverable, other forms of industrial action need to be employed to ensure that there is mass mobilisation and real time protest.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

It's in employers' interests to care about stressed staff

On 10 September, the European Work Hazards Network conference will be held in Leeds, where health and safety representatives and managers from across Europe will gather to review and discuss the risks facing employees of all industries in today's marketplace. They will deal with protective equipment, the obligation for employers to provide a safe working environment, and the effective management of employee safety. It is probable – if not certain – that, at some point, the issue of stress in the workplace will be raised. Instead of simply disciplining underachieving staff, employers could benefit from finding out what's really going on.
The Guardian

Saturday, 11 September 2010


Apologies to Doris Banana and Sid Vicious blogger for not being able to spend time on the diary today but busy with other things. I will move on to do the next chapter on Monday (I think) Two things though..

Congratulations to the very competent Margaret Greer who won a decisive victory at the election for the position of Chair for the BWG. The AGM was very well attended, it was good to see BWG brothers and sisters gathering in numbers. Well done Margaret!

Congratulations also to fellow ex Branch Secretary Ed Hall for getting the Coronation Street contract to do their banner celebrating 50 years of English history.... I know that Deidrie Rashid, Langton, Barlow and nearly Baldwin will be very pleased! Well done Ed Hall!

Friday, 10 September 2010

The Lambeth years 1988 part 3, Clear divisions...

So I got elected Shop Steward for the central areas of DMS (Directorate of Management Services) and begun the fight against job cuts and and an internal battle with those who were ignoring the interests and needs of BWG members. The fact that I was involved with that surprised and annoyed me as I did not believe we should be fighting each other in times of great danger.

There were two divisions and it was obvious that Lambeth NALGO was split in some way between those supporting the Mike Waller, Tony Jules administration and those opposing them. Mike Waller had been Branch Secretary for many years. I remember later on in 1989 when I was elected Convenor and begun attending Convenors committee how organised and systematic the attacks against Mike were. Mike Waller was clearly in favour of Self organised groups and his Assistant, Tony Jules, was a leading member of the BWG. There were constant attempts from those who wanted the 'power' (that's how they saw it) against Mike and Tony, but the SOG's and the central areas stood firm and defended the Branch Secretary.

There were obvious but sad divisions within Lambeth NALGO and the disturbing thing was that a small group of ultra leftists (I exclude the SWP from this group as they have always been genuine and have acted honorably in most cases) were clearly against the leaders and the idea behind the BWG. It was as clear as rain that they did not believe that Self Organisation was necessary and they wanted everyone and everything digested by their own little and mostly stupid 'clique' and profoundly ridiculous policies and tactics. This problem did in fact persist until recently when BWG Leaders in Lambeth Unison were singled out and attacked at every opportunity and I will give examples of this and name names when I get to 2008 to 2010.

So my first impression of Lambeth NALGO was one where I could see hope with achieving change within the Self Organisation structures but could not understand the ferocity of opposition from the small ultra left groups against the BWG who were after all there to defend a neglected and often over seen large minority of members. I wanted to change the balance so I got involved with the fight! I became a reluctant Leader of the push for Equality within the union something I never imagined I would have to be doing! It became important to take on two fights a fight with the employer and a fight with the ultra left.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

The Lambeth years 1988 part 2

Those of us who worked with the LSPU thought that we were holding the fort until a Labour government could come to power and re start a new GLC and it was because of that that we all thought that we would be welcomed by everyone in the parent Borough Councils that were sponsoring the 'big project'. But we were all of course very young and naive. The struggle to get those from the LSPU who did not want to take redundancy redeployed proved to be a difficult task. The many motions and messages of support before our abolition looked like empty promises. I was given the option to go to Camden or Islington but wanted to be redeployed to Lambeth. Denise Skinner, the son of the D Skinner MP who worked with me moved to Camden and ended up being a Chief Executive there, so that was a major irony in a way.

Our arrival in Lambeth was greeted with suspicion but once we were there progressive activists like Amanda Baird, who was at the time a Lambeth NALGO Convenor did a lot to support our 'integration' into the chaos that was at the time Lambeth Council. So did Peter Woodward and activists from the Black Workers group. We soon learnt how to deal with the Lambeth beast and realised that we had walked into a mine filed. They were, at the time, going through the famous service plan which meant cutting many jobs. Linda Bellos was under constant attack and being linked to her was not as advantageous as I had thought!

But there were those who welcomed us especially the BWG activists. I decided to keep out of the politics but not for very long. It immediately became obvious to the Leaders of the BWG that I was a young man with many opinions and with a big mouth and did not care about the affect my criticism could have on my employment prospects, so they kept asking me to get more involved. Lambeth at the time was divided between the Mike Waller camp (he was the Branch Sec) and Tony Jules (Assistant) and the ultra left who had some unknown to me characters like Jon Rogers and a few others. I became a Shop Steward in June, two months after my arrival, for the centre and started another struggle which was to last for many years...

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

The Lambeth years, 1988

I arrived in Lambeth on the 1st of April 1988. I was only 20 something at the time and immediately before that I worked for the London Strategic Policy Unit set up by 8 Labour Councils to serve as a springboard to regaining the GLC which was abolished by the Tory mistress Thatcher. Linda Bellos was the driving force behind the GLC and Margaret Hodge, who was then Leader of Islington Council, was the operational Head.

It became obvious in September 1987 that Labour would not be winning the next election and that any aspirations of regaining the GLC would have to be abandoned and frozen. So it was a depressed Linda Bellos that announced this to LSPU staff. We of course started an immediate campaign to save the projects we were working on and staff members who were all in NALGO started contacting activists in the 8 Labour Boroughs for support with some success.

We lost the fight and many LSPU staff were made redundant. I was a Shop Steward at the time with Kienda Hodji and we tried to negotiate for the redeployment of our members to the 8 parent Boroughs but there was great resistance from Leaders of most Councils. But we stood firm and after a long period of arguing most of us were redeployed to Boroughs that we showed an interest in but we all had to have tests and interviews and were treated with hostility.

I chose to apply for a finance job in Lambeth and was interviewed for that job and although I was appointed it took them 3 weeks to confirm my appointment. This only happened after Linda Bello's intervention who did not take prisoners.

So I arrived in Lambeth on 1st April 1988, young, confused, suspicious but gorgeous and in a fighting mood. I was tired of the fight and I promised myself not to get involved with the politics of Lambeth... that wish was of course very short lived....

Russian soldiers

Nearly 4,000 new Russian army recruits commit suicide or die each year due to military hazing practices. This process, known as dedovshchina, requires the recruits to be virtual slaves to their superiors. In addition to being forced to give over their personal effects, money, and food, these soldiers are subjected to humiliation and severe beatings. In one incident, 50 recruits were sent to the hospital with pneumonia after being forced to spend a day in below freezing temperatures without appropriate clothing and one died. The Russian government must stop dealing with these hazing incidents on a case-by-case basis and address the overarching problem. The recent mass protests and desertions of the older recruits should serve as a wake-up call; the inhumane practices of dedovshchina are caustic not only to each individual, but the army as a whole. This must be stopped immediately. Write to the Russian Embassy showing your disapproval now!

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Sharon Shoesmith to appeal ruling

A major judicial shift was made regarding the Sharon Shoesmith case which involved the baby Peter affair. S Shoesmith is now free to appeal the ruling against her sacking as the head of children's services at Haringey council.

In April 2010, Mr Justice Foskett rejected S Shoesmith's claim for a judicial review of her dismissal but in a ruling published on the 31 August he gave her permission to take the case to the Court of Appeal. He also reduced the claims of costs against her from £350,000 to a total of £15,000.
Sharon Shoesmith was sacked by Ed Balls, Education Secretary at the time, after a damning Ofsted report highlighted leadership failings.
In a statement Mr Justice Foskett said he stood by his original judgment but, given the wider public interest issues, Sharon Shoesmith should be given permission to appeal.

Monday, 6 September 2010

More time off for TU reps

The so called Tax Payers Alliance (Tory boy and co) have come back with more criticism about the amount of time given to Trade Union reps for time off. The TPA should read section 188 of the Trade Union Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act of 1992 which was, as it happens, brought in by their darling Mrs Thatcher, which clearly places obligations and confers rights on TU reps to do with representation and consultation in times of redundancies. They should also read the ACAS code of practice on issues to do with time off for duties (that is if any of them can read..)

I would argue that more time is needed and better facilities should be made available to train reps. The majority of those who take up this role end up destroying their own careers and inflict great stress on themselves and those around them because there is little support, many of them suffer in silence but they continue mainly because they are people who go out of their way to help others and are motivated very simply by the desire to help and support fellow workers. The TPA should learn a few facts before they start being so critical. More time off is needed, more support and better training! I am talking as someone with 22 years experience on this!

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Appeal for Haiti

After the devastating earthquake in Haiti, the world stepped up to offer pledges of aid and reconstruction assistance. This was a heartening show of support. Unfortunately, only four countries have delivered on these promises so far. Urge world leaders to pay up so Haiti can build up. >>Haiti is in a more desperate situation than ever. Six months after the earthquake, people are still living in tents and jobs are nearly nonexistent. So why are other countries delaying their aid? Bill Clinton is the special UN envoy to Haiti. He is charged with overseeing the aid and has vowed to accelerate the process. Let's help him hold world leaders accountable and get Haiti the resources it needs to rebuild now! >>

Saturday, 4 September 2010

The shape of things to come

Thousands of public sector workers facing redundancy will not be absorbed by the private sector, the chief executive of Britain’s biggest hiring agency has warned. With the government expected to slash 750,000 public sector jobs by 2015, and private sector companies warning that they can't absorb these unemployed workers. In addition pay freezes and cuts are expected..

Friday, 3 September 2010

Ken Livingstone for Mayor

At least I don't disagree with those supporting Ken Livingsone to become the Mayor of London again. He is without any doubt the best candidate.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Tony Blair and William Hague

Remarkable coincidence that William Hague (the guy who looks so similar to that politician in little Britain and now foreign Sec) and Tony Blairs 'fantasy book' have both hit the news headlines the same time. At the end Tony Bs thesis made the top slot on BBC1 with WH's story coming second.

First I would like to say that the press should leave William alone what he does in his private life is no one elses business. It is remarkable that the press think there is something strange about two guys sharing a hotel room? So what? It saves the cost of having two different rooms?

In terms of Tony Blair's glossy book I will just wait and see what Gordon of the Brown has to say about it. I am sure our Scottish friend would point out that Tony 'lets go around the world' Blair will be accused of never showing much of an interest in domestic politics. At the end of the day Tony has the money to hire the best PR people to write his book and use their influence with the media to push the stories out. That's what its all about these days am afraid. Gone are the days when Deidrei Rushid Barlow Langton and nearly Baldwin could expect to seat down in front of telly (preferably without Ken) and read a book with a true story (she usually reads Barbara Cartland of course..)

Anyway it will all come out in wash..

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Tony Blair and his green book

Yes his little book, all 700 pages of it, has been published, and of course its not about the philosophy of revolution or the origin of species, no our Tony wouldn't know where to start with that one. I am not sure I will be buying it as I am always weary of those who write their own biographies they will gloss over whatever grey skies they created and make their story sound better than what we know it was.

The interesting thing is that the press have reacted to the story about the rift between Brown and Blair as it was something new. Everyone knew they couldn't stand each other and they did not have a love hate relationship like the one myself and Jon of the Rogers had. In our case (and yes am bringing this back to me, me, me..) we had a clear division of labour and we worked well together. I managed the branch on a day to day basis and Jon dealt with the 'revolution' so the lines of division were very clear and obvious and it worked well. We ended up disagreeing because I believed that a branch with 2,300 members had to be managed and some discipline was needed and he wanted a more liberal approach and a free for all, so at the end I left to allow him to do it his way and I wish him the best of luck. He can be a very capable guy when he wants to be but needs to be more assertive.

In contrast Gordon Brown was more ruthless and didn't have a very strong support base. Blairs problem was of course that he saw the job of being PM as a necessary evil and a way to be on the world stage. He had spend more time abroad than here in the UK and it wouldn't matter in some respect had he managed to achieve some major break through. No bloody idea as to why anyone thought he should be appointed special envoy to the Middle East? His contribution to sorting that problem out gets 0 out of 10, I wonder what excuse he uses in his book on that one? So in fairness to him (not that I feel like being fair) his only contribution was to attract some of the floating voters and therefore get the Labour party elected.