Monthly Archives: October 2010

It’s Vested not the National Interest that the ConDems are about

Andrew Mitchell’s name crops up in today’s Observer. Is this the first time? Evidently £40,000 arrived on his desk for smoothing the way for a cocoa smuggler from Ghana. He’s International Development Secretary so he’s found himself in just the right job to play the fiddle and develop his own interests.
A socialist MP noted when he arrived in parliament that a pile of invitations awaited him before he’d got his feet under the desk with offers exceeding the parliamentary salary which he refused, preferring a working person’s wage. It’s not just the Tories who find the built in system hard to resist. New Labour’s unwritten slogan has been “if you can’t beat ’em join ’em.” The likes of Blair, Mandelson et al have enriched themselves as a result. while two Labour peers have handed out reports that have made smaller pensions payable at a higher age (not theirs though) and removed caps for higher education fees (again won’t effect their ability to pay for their kids).
So if you feel that you’ve done your bit putting a cross in the right place on a piece of paper and that these guys are going all out for your interests time to take stock. They will and do take inducements of corporate lobbyists rather more seriously than the cross you put against their name, as they consider what is in their best interests, not yours.

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A day out in Cradley Heath

A group of Socialist Labour Party members and supporters trekked off to Cradley Heath to celebrate the centenary of the Chain Maker’s strike when women workers achieved a magnificent victory in substantially improving pay and conditions for working people. The leader was not a local woman at all as we heard from one of the speakers at the Salvation Army Hall. Former MP Sylvia Heal told the 200 or so assembled about the story of Mary McArthur who had come from a privileged background in Scotland where her father was an anti-trades union Tory.
It transpired that McArthur’s stay in Cradley Heath was just one episode in a life which had achieved a number of notable landmarks for working people and for women. While she supported the campaign for votes for women she was less happy with the suffragette movement who wanted votes for women with property. Her outspoken criticism didn’t make her popular with them but when voting rights came it was universal. Mary MacArthur was influential and her stand with the women of Cradley Heath gained the notice and support of the likes of Winston Churchill, then a Liberal MP, Ramsey MacDonald and Keir Hardy. George Cadbury donated funds to her cause. She stood for parliament as a member of the Independent Labour Party in which her husband had been an MP. As a socialist she was an internationalist and a founder of the International Labour Organisation. She died from cancer at the age of only 40.
Earlier Tony Barnsley, author of “Breaking their Chains” spoke about his book and film was shown of interviews with strikers, something which has been lying in BBC archives for years. How much more working class history lies untouched? I have come across such invaluable material before when viewing the work of Phillip Donellan whose subjects were also connected with the Midlands.

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Racism. A culture of denial.

The UK is a place which sends seven times as many black people to prison than white folk, The US has a reputation of being bad in this respect but the proportion there is a mere four times as many blacks than whites! Jesse Jackson finds that policies being followed are institutionally racist and asks how this can happen in a developed society.
Black people are 26 times as likely to be stopped and searched than white people. How, Jackson asks, can moral authority be maintained if this is the case.
The Institute of Race Relations asks why 77 migrants and asylum seekers have died – they believe this to be an underestimate – through racist policies.
A tolerant caring society? That is what we believe ourselves to be, but these figures deny this and in a highly significant way. The situation is not likely to improve given the massive spending cuts on the horizon and how they are targeted. As the UK’s massive wealth disappears into the black hole of personal wealth – bankers we see are taking another huge multi-million slice of tax payers’ money into their coffers. Presumably this will pay for massive bonuses and pensions, unaffordable for most of us says Labour Peer and millionaire Lord Browne.

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One rule for me. The rest of you can eff off, and this comes from a New Lab MP!

First our jobs now our pensions. While one group massages their salaries and pensions upwards and onwards into phone book numbers these bastards tell us that ours are unaffordable. We pay to keep them in their rarified existence by having to work longer and increase our payments. It’s the public purse we are reminded. Well who has bailed out the banks and financial institutions that created the economic crisis? Their hard work? That’s what they’ll have us believe and they’ve got the craven media to go along with it.
A Con Dem coalition? Where does Lord ******* Hutton come from? Isn’t he a Labour politician? Didn’t their new leader get a union vote to get there? First thing he did was to tell his electors he doesn’t support strike action. Has he said anything about attacks on their pensions? “Red Ed”? Ha bloody ha. The coalition against the working class is Con Dem LAB, virtually the whole of the Westminster clique. The whole edifice is in the pocket of corporate interests. They alone decide our future, poisoning the planet as they pay themselves fancy sums, feeding us on genetically modified but profitable toxic food, contaminating and withholding water supplies and so on. They want bigger and better wars as they back up the arms and nuclear industry. And there stands Lord Hutton with his boots blacked. He was once voted in by Labour voters but who can get rid of him now? How? The rest of us can rot in hell. Class traitor? What do you mean?

Cameron says he “should have warned us”. Yes about his government..

The lone figure of George Osborne droning on slouched against the lectern, the stage empty looked as depressing as the ConDem government. Universality of benefit seems to be another of the enshrined pillars of British society which is best left untouched. The handling of the announcement of the ending of universality of child benefit has opened Pandora’s box.
The big idea of “The Big Society” looks to going down the tubes with the benefit as the tour to promote it is cancelled. Evidently the first meeting ended in uproar due to the announced cuts. At least the Labour Party Conference had the drama of the New New Labour Leader and it seems that this Tory one on Birmingham is a gift to Ed Milibilly, or Ed the Red – as he manifestly isn’t.
A third article in this morning’s Grauniad offers another thought: that it is Tony Blair’s ghost that is haunting our politics. As with Thatcher, whose heir he remains, how do you exorcise the bugger?

Right to Work Rally in Birmingham

I went into Birmingham to see the demonstration against the proposed cuts that the Tory/Lib-Dem Coalition propose attacking the most vulnerable people in society. Tories will be Tories but how do the Lib-Dems manage to hold their heads up. Their shame should be deep as the crawl away into hiding.
Banners were in evidence from across the country and there was a range of speakers, among them Salma Yaqoob, Respect Councillor in Birmingham.
Earlier I had turned to the Tory Party Conference at the NCC just to see an empty stage. It seemed as if it was all happening outside, Not that there was much coverage in the press. The Birmingham Post included a brief report while the Morning Star quickly made the demonstration its lead story.

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Enjoying your cuppa

Enjoyed a good cup of tea this morning? I did until I read this. Conditions on this Bengal plantation are appalling with workers exposed to health risks without protection. A worker dies after spraying chemicals on crops. How these poisons might have affected the tea I’ve just drunk I can’t say.
The plantation belongs to a large multinational concern. The pastoral images on its web site lull us into a sense that this is a benevolent caring concern who spend time supporting the poor and dispossessed. They also trade on their long establishment which gives an air of respectability:
“Amalgamated Plantations’ origins date back to the pioneering days of tea, when James Finlay in 19th century, played a dominant role in the Indian tea industry.
A century later, in 1976, Tata and Finlay joined forces to form Tata Finlay. This partnership, opened up new frontiers of growth and business. Some years later, Finlays divested their share to the Tata Group.
In 1983, a newly energized company was formed – Tata Tea.”
As we know Tata also makes cars along with everything else imaginable.
This is the company’s vision:
“The most trusted provider of quality teas and differentiated agricultural product supply solutions.”
Their mission:
“Enduring partnerships with customers and suppliers.
Agricultural productivity in the regions where we operate.
The quality of life in the communities we serve.
Value for all stakeholders.
An organisation which fosters innovation and empowerment.”

Their values:
“Fairness and respect.
Celebrate successes / Recognise achievements.
Reward meritocracy.
Promote work-life balance.
Close to ground empowerment.
Discuss, decide and then support.”

Elsewhere we find the company extending its interests “beyond tea” with agriculture claiming “the hottest chilli (don’t say if it’s genetically modified or if they’re into that), aquaculture (fisheries). (Don’t know what effect it has on fresh water supplies here) and dairy.

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