Thursday, 29 October 2009

Why?


And yet again here on my blog; I find myself asking the question, why are so many young people dying in Afghanistan; just why, why and why?
I’ve just been reading that At least 21 US soldiers and Marines have been killed in Afghanistan since last weekend, making October the bloodiest month for US forces since they invaded the country eight years ago. Still more have been wounded by roadside bombs, rocket-propelled grenades and small arms fire.
President Barack Obama is expected to announce soon an escalation of the war which will only drive up casualties, as tens of thousands of additional soldiers and Marines and let’s not forget 500 more British that are being sent into Afghanistan to suppress popular resistance to what is nothing more than a foreign occupation.

Why, why, why???

A political struggle against a Labour government


A political struggle against a Labour government

Postal workers confront a coordinated campaign to defeat their strike in defence of jobs and conditions, drawn up and executed by Royal Mail and the Labour government.
Management has recruited 30,000 temporary workers as the centrepiece of a scabbing operation that also involves management personnel who are members of the Unite union. TNT, Britain’s largest private mail operator, is seeking the right to permanently use its own employees to deliver mail door-to-door by offering their assistance to the government to break the strike.
Postmen and women are a part of the community, the service they provide is priceless and this is one business that shouldn’t be run for profit. Not only do postal workers deliver the dreaded bills, they are in a great many cases the pillars of community cohesion, the friendly face in the street whose demise will be very much missed by us all if the management of Royal Mail and the government have their way. The life of mans best friend the family pet Labrador of mongrel will never be the same again and the loneliness of the pensioner will be driven into a little more isolation.

The destruction of tens of thousands of jobs in preparation for the part-privatization of letter deliveries. Management wants to slash staffing levels by up to 40 percent. Some 16,000 jobs are reported to be at risk. Royal Mail has already shed 50,000 jobs since 2002.

This whole dispute has been engendered and scandalously brought forth by a Labour government whose only interest has been to put profit before people who they treat as nothing more than worker ants for capitalism. The harm that the Labour Party has done to the greater community during the last 12 years will have its repercussions and wouldn’t surprise me in the least if it led to social unrest in a few years time?

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Hunger in the Face of Plenty


One sixth of humanity does not have enough to eat and a child dies from hunger every ten seconds. More than one billion people worldwide are undernourished, reports the UN. The global situation is dire, especially in the poorest countries. The annual report, assembled by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (UNFAO), shows that the economic crisis has exacerbated the problem, leaving the world at its highest levels of hunger since 1970.

Since 2007, there have been riots over food in more than 60 countries.”

People are famished or undernourished, since they have no incomes and cannot care for or support their families; they are left with feelings of hopelessness and despair. That desperation can lead to tension, conflict and even violence when the foodstuff of life is denied.

In the better off West we do not hear much about world hunger in the news or media; not unless some celebrity pop stars decide to make a name for themselves and holds a concert, thereby appeasing a conscience and lifestyle based on wealth and privilege that most of the X Factor contestants only dream about. The latest celebrity to speck-out is Singer Melanie Brown who has urged the government to step up efforts to tackle poverty.


The former Spice Girl claimed some of the poorest people in society have been left feeling “abandoned”.

“The Government have got to admit there’s a massive problem here. We need to work together to change things,” the Mirror quoted her as saying.

Brown was speaking out after spending a week on a run-down council estate in her native Leeds for an ITV documentary, ‘7 Days On The Breadline’.

The show saw Mel B looking after five kids, aged six, eight, 12, 16 and 18, on a budget of just 264 pounds a week.

“I did it to make a point and show that just because you’re a celebrity, you can live on benefits. But even I was shocked by the scale of what I saw,” she said.

Hunger and access to good food is not only a problem that haunts the millions in faraway continents such as Africa or Asia, it can be found under our very noses in most of our towns and cities. I have mentioned many times on this blog about the hundreds who line up every night in locations around London for food hand-outs or what are called goody bags, in other words food parcels. For many this is becoming a way of life and the only way to survive in modern Britain the fifth richest nation in the world. One contributing factor must be the government’s severe and constant onslaught on benefits with the result that many are being driven away and into grinding poverty while banks and other financial institutions are given billions if not trillions; like pouring liquid gold profusely into a bottomless pit.

The government’s recent welfare reforms will force more vulnerable people deeper into poverty in the years to come and with the return of the Tories after the general election would mean a more stringent regime with tougher measures.

Many will say that the system overlooks millions and all over the world, some to a lesser and some to a greater degree. I will argue that the system of capitalism never intended to help the poor or weak, for it’s not in its interest or has it ever been and therefore the only cure to poverty is the complete abolition of this system that allows a child wherever in the world to first cry out with pain and then die needlessly of hunger and in the face of plenty.

Monday, 26 October 2009

fuel poverty


Research from the Department of Energy and Climate Change has now confirmed that one in four families in the UK are now trapped in “fuel poverty” whereby at least 10% of their income is spent on gas and electricity.

This figure has risen by 15% since 2007 and now takes in 4 million people although projections for this year suggest the figure could rise to as high as 6.6 million people. This is almost 3 times the figure from 2004 and is alarming. These figures are expected to rise even further as energy prices go up to pay for new generation of nuclear power stations.

Despite the fact that the government has promised to address the problem of fuel poverty and energy prices, in reality just like child poverty little has been done As a consequence, more and more people are now falling into the fuel poverty trap and the 6.6 million people forecast for this year could well increase in the short to medium term.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

‘Liberty’


The ‘Troops out of Afghanistan’ demonstration yesterday in Trafalgar Square marked the 8th anniversary of the start of the war in Afghanistan. It is a conflict in which tens of thousands of Afghans’ have been killed, as well as 222 British troops. The war has now lasted twice as long as the First World War - and yet there are still no clear objectives; only that of looking after the west’s commercial interests in the region.

I came across this young member of the Labour Party, when I say young, I mean a smartly dressed late 20s early 30s something and wearing I noticed an enamelled pin badge on his overcoat that I instantly recognised as the old logo of the Labour Party, the one which had the symbols of a torch or furnace of fire, a quill pen and a shovel; the hand tools of the labourer, well all in fact symbols of sold labour whether by hand or brain. Just pausing for a moment to think about the quill, the tool used for the first three millennia or so since the invention of paper, the writing instrument of choice in western culture was the quill. One simply found a goose, who could be persuaded to donate a tail feather, harvested the feather, allowed it to dry out then, after softening up the quill under moist heat, one used a pen-knife (of course) to shape the tough, horny shaft into a good writing point and split it to hold a small amount of ink. Then, one dipped the quill in ink and wrote a line, dipped, wrote a line, dipped...

It is really rather surprising, when you stop to think about it, that a portable pen that could carry its own ink supply was not perfected until fairly late in the 19th century. What a marvel is human ingenuity and the power of our creative imagination we recorded and with the aid of technology from the first printing press to newspapers and books through to today’s computers and the relevantly still young phenomenon of the internet, we are able to share thoughts, stories and ideas with literally millions and around the world.

And yet the greed of our society and world-wide too, knows no bounds. Coming back to the encounter with the young member of the Labour Party, the first thing he asked of me was why am I against the war? Didn’t I know that our presence in Afghanistan was necessary to keep us safe and prevent the terrorists from attacking as they did on the London underground. Well I was standing politely listening but at the same time thinking to myself – blimey; you couldn’t make this up even if you tried! I then attempted to put this young man right on a thing or two, whether I succeeded I have no real idea, but I said to him; that I realised he was a member of the Labour Party because of the badge he was sportingly wearing, he pointed out that it had the word ‘Liberty’ written on it. The conversation continued about ‘Liberty’ and about Socialism which I said was a far better description for the society that I sought after, and much better than the vague word ‘Liberty’. I ended the conversation by telling this young man that the Labour Party had taken a ‘Liberty’ during the past 12 years with the lives of thousands; to think that 1.500 British Iraq veterans have been diagnosed with mental health disorders, that 1,100 veterans sleep rough every night in London is nothing short of a ‘Liberty’.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Stop the war and have a revolution!


Stop the war and have a revolution – will be the talking point that I intend to raise with people on the latest demonstration called by Stop the War Coalition to be held today in central London – and their theme being ‘bring the troops home’.

It was interesting that Jack Straw appearing on this week’s farcical episode of Question Time and along side the much demonstrated about leader of the BNP Nick Griffin; used the frozen metaphor that enlisted soldiers or rather constipated participants who lost their lives during the last world war did so as a sacrifice for us all; these included he said: the contribution made by servicemen and women from both Africa and Asia. More often than ever these days; mainstream politicians are telling us that those who lose their lives in war do so as an un-selfish sacrifice for the freedom we supposedly enjoy today, as if it’s some religious act to have laid your life down for others. The course of all modern wars including the last world war has been capitalism which literally makes it a real issue of life and death for men women and children in every part of the globe.

War can solve no working class problem or has it ever. It cuts across the fundamental identity of interests of workers of the world, setting sections of this class at enmity (deep-seated ill-will) with each other in the interests of sections of the capitalist class. It elevates force into the position of arbiter in place of the common human desire for mutual peace and happiness. In short its effects are wholly evil and only in Socialism will war disappear and humanity will have taken the first step out of the jungle.

Friday, 23 October 2009

“depression”


It’s a funny old world, I quite can't remember who or which comedian’s catchphrase that was, but it seems to fit the news that we are sill in the grip of a very severe recession which despite much that has been said to the contrary which only proves; do not believe all you read or hear. For the last two or three month’s leaders of business, industry, bankers, and economists; oh and of course some parliamentarians have been very busy talking up the economy.

So now we are being told that the economy unexpectedly shrank 0.4pc in the third quarter, defying expectations in the City that it would have grown for the first time since the start of last year. Its contraction for six straight quarters is now the worst in modern history.

What, oh what do we make of that?

I am not in the least surprised, and have said as much on this blog during the course of the year. I am not in the business like some so-called leftwing gurus of making predictions about booms, busts and deep prolonged loud noises like it was some hobby or spare-time activity to try to emanate Marx and Engels; I just have no time for it.
Capitalism is a subject that cannot be treated as a reading by a fortune teller or palmist; it’s very unpredictable and will swing or move in whatever way it has too; that ensures its dominance and survival as a system.
All that I simply do is to look around to see the affects on my fellow workers, to draw any conclusions as to how bad things really are. I can tell you that in this our capital city known throughout the world as a rich finical centre things are bad. Poverty and unemployment blacken many lives, children surviving and making do with seconded rate diets or even sometimes going without.
Many hundreds of people every night and not just the homeless queue up at the food handouts. This winter it will not only be the pensioners who will be struggling to keep warm, many low paid and unemployed will decide between warmth and a meal. It has become commonplace here in London to see people going though the bins behind shops and supermarkets scavenging for the out of date food they throwaway.

The National Institute for Economic and Social Research has been calling this a “depression” rather than a recession for some time – today’s figures surely now underline such a description.

Strike Breakers or What?


This is the first time in day’s that I’ve really felt like writing anything for my blog, I believe from time to time we all experience what they call writers block, well that is my excuse and I am sticking to it!

But like a bottleneck or a dam that holds water, it just broke and on my way back from the fortnightly visit to the dole office. As usual I thought the dole office was full of fellow workers looking or rather falling over one another in the hunt for jobs and a standard of living that in reality simply for many doesn’t exist.

Last night I picked up a copy of the London Evening Standard which is now a free publication, its front page lead story was that it had discovered a secret sorting office used by Royal Mail to deal with millions of items caught in the dispute with striking mail carriers (postmen) who are fighting to keep their jobs. The Standard claims to have found a huge warehouse in Dartford, Kent - staffed with about 100 agency workers – some may describe them as scabbing during this industrial action. The temporary base is being run around the clock manned as I say by agency workers who are only temporary in all respects, being paid the minimum wage of £5.80 to clear an estimated 15 million parcels and packages caught up in the nationwide strike. And as to pour cold water on hot coals, the standard reports that this is ‘sure to infuriate’ union membership fighting to save jobs feared to be at risk from the modernisation of Royal Mail.

The point that I wish to make; is this is as good an example of how workers are being played off against one another and in a recession too, which I have said many times; always suits the profit making system that runs every aspect of all our lives. The temporary workers were probably either unemployed or just made redundant and like all of us have a desire to get buy harvest and provide for family and so on, especially in this heavily deluged consumer led society, many have blinkers on their eyes, and more so today than ever, falling as victims to the floor of the profit making system, the system that has no answers for poverty, unemployment or war. It is therefore the mission of true Socialists to now step up the work of explaining to all workers with all the means at our disposal that this system has nothing to offer or has it ever, and lets say to those who think that standing candidates with the sole aim of being elected to adjust capitalism, has proven not to work. Socialism is about changing the system not running it!

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Oh Carol




I’ve never composed an obituary for anyone before now; nor did I ever expect that I would sit here today in the face of my computer with the dexterous ambition of trying to write something admirable, sincere, open and genuine; about the death of a dear acquaintance. It had been my intention at first to write the briefest of necrologies about the passing of a friend known to me and many simply as Carol, who for five years was one of my neighbours’ on the Clays Lane Housing Co-operative, before it was forced to close to make way for the Olympics with all 550 residents being re-housed far and wide.
I have written much about the Lane on this blog during the last two years, about a very unique and diverse community unlike any other. But this piece is not solely about the Lane it’s about Carol who like many thousands over the years came to live on the Lane because they needed for one reason or the other to find 'shelter and put a roof' over their own heads. Therefore it would be candid and forthright to say that the Lane became a refuse for many of us who found not only a home, but through friendship a breathing space from personal if not many of life’s difficulties.
Carol was one such person and even after all the years that I knew her, only now dose it really become oblivious that Carol travelled along the rocky road of potholes, falling unintentionally and possibly more often than not into ditches of stagnation, unevenly misunderstood, by those that misunderstand, she was hurt and damaged by her own life’s journey or excursions to try to find peace and happiness and a place in the world; which in the end led her to the Lane and into the lives of many of us who became her friends and enjoyed in return her friendship during that last decade of her life, and I say, enjoyed her friendship not with a light or heavy hart, but with a hart of sincerity and now I hope with true clarity.

Carol came from that great city of Liverpool the birthplace of many great people who have made massive contributions to music, comedy and entertainment, the Scouser sense of hummer is legendary and Carol was never in sort supply of that, it was her humour and outward going personality that drew us all like iron filings to a magnet, she was always welcoming with an ability to make you feel well about yourself. Some of the most memorable times in my life was in the company of Carol and others.

While Carol was on the Lane living amongst her new friends in the East End of London, I think she was at her happiest, even though many hundreds of many miles away from her native Liverpool always she had family and friends who cared and loved her a great deal, but for reasons only really known to Carol she lost contact with that part of her life and speculation should play no part in these words about her; but I think she was the sort of person who really did not intend to burden others with her own problems and that pride had something to do with it along with a misplaced sense of failure.

Carol was a drinker, and I have to say, not the worst drinker in the world; I’ve been amongst the many in my time, so I have a very good understanding of what this addiction is capable of doing to any one of us, if its allowed to spiral out of control and get a hold. It had a hold of Carol in her latter years, because it was her way of trying to blackout emotional pain and hurt – trying to forget what we always remember.
The drink caused us her friends many problems when Carol had her fill, sometimes we fell out with her, did not speak for weeks, but it was always Carol who made the first moves of reconciliation, because deep down she had that big Liverpool hart, and that she was really one of life’s nicer people, but I think at the same time, she somehow refused to see that and instead accepted, that everything was her fault and deliberately looked for more pain and hurt. Because of this, she got involved for many years with a violent partner who I will only say, hospitalised Carol on many accessions and despite the many times we tried to dissuade her from taking him back, it always met with the negative, but towards the end of her life she did met someone else, and I am glad to say she found, albeit small and short-lived happier times. Yesterday I was able to attended her funeral which had been organised by her sister and her husband who have gone out of their way to be there for Carol; a couple of years ago they successfully traced and found Carol, which has meant that Carol was able to go back to Liverpool and see family and friends occasionally, but more impotently they were at Carol's side when after a brief six month fight against cancer was over; and she sadly died in a hospice - but not on her own!

In conclusion although Carol died at the young age of 49 she was a strong individual and scratch the surface there was always a kind person who really did not mean any harm, and I felt that it was right for my part to tell her three young daughters’ that mum always loved them; and never stopped loving them - that became very apparent to me and others!

Carol always 'remembering' you love - Jim


Oh, Carol, I am but a fool Darling,
I love you tho' you treat me cruel
You hurt me and you made me cry
But if you leave me I will surely die
Darling,there will never be another'Cause I love you so
Don't ever leave meSay you'll never go
I will always want you for my sweetheart
No matter what you do
Oh, Carol, I'm so in love with you
Oh, Carol, I am but a fool
Darling I love you tho' you treat me cruel
You hurt me and you made me cry
But if you leave me I will surely die
Darling, there will never be another
'Cause I love you so
Don't ever leave me
Say you'll never goI will always want you for my sweetheart
No matter what you do
Oh, Carol, I'm so in love with you




Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Welcome to my World!


Last week George Osborne the shadow chancellor announced at the Tory conference that his party in government would increase the state pension age by one year to 66 in 2016.

Official unemployment figures to be published tomorrow are expected to show an increase in digits of people unemployed and claiming the dole. But youth unemployment will be an interesting statistic to watch in light of the campaign by both of the two main parties to have us all working longer before we receive a state pension; and when I think about that, I think about the past battles that Trade Unions had to reduce the hours worked in a week, it seems if anything; that were going backwards by adding a year to everyone’s working life; and that is just for starters!

Youth unemployment is expected to hit one million tomorrow as the hopes, aspiration dreams of the young pour down the drain in what will become apparent to them as nothing more than the rat race – welcome to the real world!

But Ray Barrell, a leading economist has warned: The Conservatives' plan to raise the state pension age to 66 will make youth unemployment worse, and would lead to a 200,000 rise in unemployment in the first year - many of whom could be young jobseekers. Barrell said: "One of the things you have to recognise is that markets do not jump to equilibrium; markets work slowly. If you rise the working age by one year, even if you announce it five years in advance, that will cause some unemployment problems when it happens. The numbers I see suggest that if you increase the number of people in the workforce by 600,000, in the first year unemployment will rise by 200,000.”

Barrell added: "Probably the most important of those [changes] is going to be dealing with youth unemployment, because that's what raising the state retirement age will cause, youth unemployment," he said!

Saturday, 10 October 2009

The ‘Governator’


Where I dwell in Newham the council every fortnight puts out a glossy magazine the Newham Mag as it’s called and it’s very glossy and full of colour photography promoting the wonders of our Olympic Borough; which also happens to have some of the poorest people and highest levers of poverty in the country.

The council is run by an elected Mayor, Sir Robin Wales who was and is I suppose, considered to be running what has been described as the flagship local authority of New Labour.

The Newham Mag must cost an absolute packet to produce, and as I say every fortnight. Recent issues have begun to feature very strongly the developments in and around the Olympic Park such as the Iconic Olympic Stadium (not my description) with 80,000 seat capacity. This is not the only development going on there is Stratford City, as it will be known, its expected to be the largest shopping centre in Europe, with up to 300 stores, and better not forget Stratford International were trains aren’t currently stopping due to it being in the midst of a dirty big building site. So this may give the reader some idea of what is accruing here in London’s East End. I just discovered and through the Mag that the Olympic Delivery Authority hold bus trips around the site for the locals so I am thinking of booking a seat and having a look a look, when I do I will of course furnish the blog with a full report.

Well the other thing that I noticed in the Mag was that the Mayor has offered a Olympic invite to the ‘Governator’ – yes Sir Robin has invited the Governor of California and failed actor (in my book) Arnold Schwarzenegger to be the borough’s civic guest during the Games. Now whether Arnold takes him up on the offer is another matter because in the same letter of invite the Mayor also offered financial advice to Mr. Schwarzenegger, whose state is facing huge fiscal challenges. But Sir Robin has identified £70 million in savings over a three year period. Well all I can say is I hope that the Mayor has not upset the ‘Governator’ who in the 1960 was apparently Mr. Olympia.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

British care industry using foreign students as cheap labour


The Article underneath I came across this morning and I’ve reproduced and posted it below because I think it gives a good insight into what is going on and furthermore; has been for a long time in regard to modern day employment practices here in Britain.
In the dying months of this Labour Government this positively and surely stands as part of its true legacy, which has driven down wages and living standards of all workers in order to mollify, conciliate and accommodate the capitalist system of profit making; to the determent of the majority and in favour of the very few who do not lift a finger or have ever sometimes; had the worry of just being able to pay the bills and feed the kids or the nightmare of becoming homeless because you no longer can afford to pay the mortgage.
With it looking more and more likely with every passing day that the Tories are set to return to government, with proposals such as lifting the retirement age to 66 by 2016, (which transpires to be when I would qualify for a state pension) this article gives a whole new meaning to the word enslavement.


By Ajantha Silva
8 October 2009



Unemployment stands at close to 2.5 million in the UK, but the care industry is still failing to attract the necessary workforce because of the harsh working conditions in the sector. Employers in privately run nursing homes, care homes, and care agencies are more and more dependent on students from the National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) in Health and Social Care as their main source of cheap, skilled and flexible labour.


Many employers recruit NVQ students directly from recruitment agencies and colleges and do not advertise vacancies. In this way they can avoid employing better-qualified and established workers who would have more rights. Employers are also using this to avoid paying higher wages to foreign workers with work permits or holding Tier 2 certificates (shortage occupations) under the Home Office’s new Points-Based System of work-related immigration. Even with this paperwork the wages are low enough. Employers would have to pay £7.80 per hour for a Senior Care Assistant, according to Home Office regulations. NVQ students working in the same capacity earn only £6 or less per hour from most employers.


Around 1,500 institutions, including universities, colleges and schools, bring thousands of nurses and allied professionals from poverty-stricken countries like Nigeria, the Philippines, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka to study an NVQ in Social and Health Care. They are a small fraction of the students brought into the UK. Most choose to come as NVQ students simply because it offers an opportunity to earn some money, even though it is often far below the qualifications they already hold. Some think that it might be possible to obtain registration on the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) and become nurses.


Recruitment agencies and colleges do not have any concern about the fate of the students once their work placements are provided.

Under enormous pressure from their employers, students are compelled to do whatever they are told, even though they have been recruited as care assistants. A number of students from the south coast have spoken about the ruthless exploitation they face in the UK care industry.


To avoid reprisals from their employers, most of the students wished to remain anonymous.
An NVQ student from the Philippines who works in a care home said : “I worked as a physiotherapist in my country. I work as a care assistant here while studying for NVQ in Social and Health Care. My current placement is not bad compared to what I had four months ago. That was an awful experience of more than one year. There were 27 residents with dementia and only two carers worked during the night and three carers during the day. There was no time to change the pads of the incontinent residents, but I had to do an awful lot of ironing, folding clothes, cleaning, hoovering, and sometimes painting the walls during the night.”
He was paid £6 per hour, but explained, “Sometimes we had to work without pay when there was a party or other event. Every so often we ended the shift hours late although we were paid only for the shift. Manager and the proprietor considered us as slaves.”

Another NVQ student who works in a residential care home said, “I have worked as a nurse in both the Philippines and Saudi Arabia and this is the worst experience as a worker. Residents and students are both being abused and exploited for the profit requirements of the owner. Although there should be one carer to look after four residents with dementia, we have to look after nine with a terrible amount of other work, including doing daily laundry and bed making.”
She described the desperate financial situation she faces. “I paid $2,300 for the school before I came here,” she said, “and spent lots more for visa processing and other things. My air ticket cost me $1,100. I earn only £6 an hour here. I have to pay £150 a month for my college for another 32 months. It is difficult to save even £200 to send back home for my family’s expenses.”

A highly experienced Sri Lankan nurse who came to the UK as an NVQ student at a school in North London said, “It has been nearly two months since I came to the UK. I have applied for so many jobs in nursing and care homes as my work placement. I haven’t been able to find one yet. That is not what the College told us before we were brought here. We have got to do any work for survival. Some of our Filipino girls do cleaning in the college. Some distribute cards and leaflets for £3 an hour and walk 10-12 hours since early morning while workers already employed in the job get £5 an hour. I did not think earlier that there exists such shocking exploitation in the UK. Minimum wage and other labour laws are only limited to the books.”
Students without work placements are often lodged with people associated with the college, and are charged twice the going rate for London accommodation, he said.
“Some share one room with four or five people. One Nigerian male nurse who has come as an NVQ student like us does not even have a proper place to sleep and to keep his belongings. He sleeps in a small space near the kitchen.”

The situation is not much better for students with work placements: “A Filipino who has already got a work placement in Nottingham receives only £5.80 an hour.”
“The other students’ fate is no different. I know one boy who came from Sri Lanka to study a different degree. He works in chicken shops owned by someone originally from Sri Lanka. They are facing intolerable working conditions too and get even less than the minimum wage in UK. This employer gets work from the students without paying a penny for one week, and then fires them saying their work is not good. The workers in these shops do not get a proper break for their meals and they are nagged by asking why they are eating while the shop is busy.”


Another NVQ student described her experience. She works for a care agency in south London. “I expected a better life when I left my job as a nurse in Sri Lanka,” she said. “I did not come here simply to study for an NVQ, but to earn money. I have borrowed a lot of money to pay for the college and now I pay only the interest on the loan.”
“I start at 6 a.m. and come back around midnight. I work six days per week to earn just more than £1,000 a month. To work half an hour to one hour I sometimes travel by bus for one to two hours. Carers are not paid for the travelling time. Although I am at work or on the road for nearly 17 hours I am paid only for working time. I sometimes walk miles to get to my clients.
“Working on Sunday is difficult as some routes have limited transport services. Some days I walk more than 10-12 miles and spend all my day on the road. I cry sometimes because of fear, tiredness and when I feel sorry for myself. I go to college on my off day.
“Although we are paid meagre salaries I know that the agency earns a lot at our expense. We work in very stressful conditions. They only give us a bus pass. There is no job security for anyone who works here. The managing director takes all the decisions about our jobs.”
Mohamed Sali said, “I finished my NVQ studies, and I now do NQF [National Qualifications Framework], paying double the money. I worked in Poole, Dorset more than one year. We were treated very badly by my previous employer. We got the national minimum wage and had to do everything, though most of [the things we did] were not in the job description. I had to look after more than 20 residents—most depended upon staff to meet their activities of daily living—with one more carer during nights. It was so difficult, with an awful lot of other domestic work.”

A care assistant working in North London said, “I receive £6.50 an hour and work under terrible conditions. Two of us have to look after 21 residents with other domestic work. Early morning we have to wash and dress nearly 14 residents. We have two students working with us and they get only £5.80 an hour.”

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

The Graveyard.......

News Flash :

MAJOR poll published this evening in the Scunthorpe Evening Telegraph has predicted all three North Lincolnshire constituencies will change from Labour to Tory MPs at the next general election.
Politics Home interviewed more than 33,000 people in marginal seats across the country and found big support for the Conservative Party.
If repeated at the election, the local results would see Brigg and Goole MP Ian Cawsey and Cleethorpes and Barton MP Shona McIsaac lose their seats.

The results of the YouGov poll show a 13 per cent swing in Brigg and Goole and a six per cent swing in Cleethorpes, more than enough to defeat both MPs.

In Scunthorpe, Politics Home calculated 13 per cent of voters would change to the Tories, beating the more than 8,500 vote majority secured by Elliot Morley in 2005.

No surprise here then, and after the Elliot Morley scandal with expenses. All three MPs are supporters of that which was known as New Labour. So I suppose they are heading for a watery political grave then, if this translates into votes against them.

What is Democracy?


The post below this is a contribution I’ve made this morning in a debate being had on the new Socialist Blogging Forum set up last week by this blog and the Lansbury’s Lido Blog. The forum very much in its infancy welcomes any new members who would like to partake in the scientific examination of the capitalist world, through debate and the friendly exchange of ideas, as albeit a small contribution to the movement for socialism and a far better world that meets the needs of the overwhelming majority, yes, as opposed to that of the tiny minority. For more information or to join the group click onto the blog forum on this page.

Coming back to the thread about ‘democracy’; and I will use a small d that seems more appropriate to what democracy is in reality. Most people will think that when we speck of democracy with the small d we speck about a system of government carried out by the people governed (direct democracy), or the power to do so is granted by them (as in representative democracy).

This word democracy is used a great deal nowadays by all the mainstream politicians, but they speak with fork-like-tong. Democracy is more than just about government or governance or what they, who rule over us, want us to think it is!

Democracy is about the way we live, and what we live under, not about who or which capitalist party we vote for who are all jockeying about to run the capitalist shit system, which we have no real say over. Government is the smokescreen for capitalism and very convenient too, when things go wrong, blame the governments, even change the government as will no doubt happen soon, but what stays in tacked is the very system, which is the real problem.

This is a system where the slaves get to vote for their masters!

As For Hugo Chavez and his like; I’m just not convinced, that he promotes a vision of democratic socialism, if he dose, it’s very much his own vision, and a vision that he says works for Latin American integration, and anti-imperialism, fine. But capitalism is global if anything more so today than ever and therefore the opposition to capitalism I feel must be global, socialism cannot be built in one country or a continent alone and in isolation. And is it, ‘socialism’ this Bolivarian Revolution? There are a number of things that I find very worrying about Chavez like his trip to Moscow a week or so ago when he reached a $2.2 billion arms deal with the Russian government to supply Venezuela with battle tanks and sophisticated surface-to-air missile systems.

The weapons agreement is symptomatic of mounting tensions in the region, which are increasingly being exacerbated by conflicts between the Washington and other powers on the world arena. Chavez has made it clear that he sees the weapons deal as a means of countering a growing threat of US military aggression, particularly in the wake of the coup in Honduras and the announcement of an agreement by Colombia to allow American military forces to use seven bases on its territory. But I still wonder? The other thing that I take into consideration about Chavez is his military career as an officer in the army and a member of a counter insurgency battalion, not to mention his left-nationalist doctrine that has been given the title ‘Bolivarianism’.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Mika


Mika

Today, this morning I thought it would be nice to write a few lines about Mika.

Mika is my pet ferret and has been for almost three years; she’s what’s called a Jill the name given for a female and Hob being a male.

Love them or hate them, ferrets hold a fascination for most People, be they very young or somewhat older. For me the fascination started about five years ago, when I met a friend in the Socialist Party who owned one; I was instantly won over by these inquisitive very independent animals that know no fear and treat life as one big adventure they are very playful all the time.

Ferrets have had a lot of bad publicity in the past, and have been the butt of many jokes and unkind words. Anyone who has actually spent time with ferrets, and especially those like me who own or work with them, will tell you that they are some of the most intelligent, clean, playful and brave creatures that live on this earth. Too long have they been the subject of comedians’ humour. Authors of fiction, who describe ferrets and their relatives as sly, evil creatures, have obviously never met a real ferret or weasel, or they would know just how inaccurate that description is. If, by writing this for my blog, I have persuaded a few more people to think better of ferrets, then my efforts have not been wasted.

Mika lives freely in my flat, has no cage although her bedroom is the airing cupboard in my bathroom, but for most of the day she has free range of the flat, which is her home as much as mine.
Mika came from a ferret rescue centre and was a year old when she came to live with me, she has many years in front of her and has attended many anti-war demonstrations and political meetings which she always enjoys; on one occasion she got a mention in the Times. Together we work for a better world for all animals and people.

A world for workers and a world for ferrets!

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Bring on the Hardcore Then!


MC Stee

Music ‘jams’ an element in all are lives; and I’ve never as yet met anyone who says they don’t like music per se" in and of it. But you never know there may be someone out there who’s not into any sort of music full stop.

I love music always have and always will. My tastes are multifarious and many-sided but definitely far ranging; from what the youngster’s listen too today to the ballads of the 50s classical and even opera or folk. So you couldn’t be more fucked up than that, and pardon my French! By a strange accident of fate a grate many of my friends happen to be musicians and artists, and for five years, I lived and helped ran a community that had set the pace in the modern 'Rave Sense' here in London and during the course of the last 20 years. That community was a part of the Clays Lane Housing Cooperative sadly closed down by the government and it friends in the Housing Corporation and Newham Council to make way for the Olympics in 2012, but that is another allegory some of which I’ve wrote about on this blog during the last two years, but still it’s very telling that the powers that be 'opted' to cast off adjunctly 550 people by moving them far and wide. Some of the parties we held are what legends are made from; they lasted for days on end, and with so many people in attendance at one gig, dancing and partying the water main was fractured. Before I get back to my thread which is about music and its part if not its impotence, it may be of interest to some readers of this blog to learn that some founding members of ‘Reclaim the Streets’ came from the Lane, as we use to call it; the police use to call it the smog, not that we had any problems with them you understand! They were too frightened to come up!

In the 1970s I was sitting having a beer with some friends in a pub in Islington when I came across for the first time the original ‘Punk Rockers’ in their infancy or if you like at their birth, and during the course of that decade I attended many a punk gig around North London. I was living in a squat in Kings Cross and amongst the London punk fraternity in the end, who were also for the most part into squatting, they were wonderful guys many of whom still remain friend’s years on and some are still punks! Punk rock has it roots so they say in the US, its rock music genre developed between 1974 and 1976 in the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia. Rooted in garage rock, glam rock and other forms of what is now known as protopunk music, punk rock bands eschewed the perceived excesses of mainstream 1970s rock. To me it was fast, hard-edged music, typically with short songs, stripped-down instrumentation, and often political, anti-establishment lyrics. All of that was just up my street and it embraced a DIY (do it yourself) ethic, with many bands self-producing their recordings and distributing them through informal channels cutting out some of the profiteering of the greedy music industry.

To be honest in the late 1980s I moved on from punk in some respects, but will always hold found memories of that great time in my life!

Every generation has its own music and sound, that it either creates or it develops upon from other ideas, no matter what the route is, the thing is what you get out of it, that’s all that matters.
I have recently come across a new 'phenomenon' in music and it’s very similar to what some of my friends do here in London. I came across it in a roundabout way you could say, and through a young man who after having heard some of the tracks that he’s been involved with; leaves me in no doubts about his talent and his passion for his music - But let him say it in his own words:

What inspired you to become a MC- When I was still at school I think about 12-13 I got hold of my first Dizstruxshon tape'Dizstruxshon VI Saturday the 15th of May 2004 DJ Hixxy MC Peta Pan'
And it just set in me in my hardcore mind; it was like the tape was made just for me.
After that i started to get more and more tapes and CD's from Dizstruxshon and Uprising. Then two years later I met a lad who u could call a bit Bonkers lol LUKE GOLDIE GOLDTHORPE. He started off been a quite mouth at school till I brought him in with the right crowd and found out he loved hardcore vibes to (no lie we was the only two people at school who liked hardcore and got every fuker else into it HAHA) so anyways started going round 2 his and was always on his dads Decks but we had no microphone so we robbed one from school then we started trying 2 MC but really was shit haha! Moving on two years later I moved to Cottingham and meet T-Brom Aka Dj Damage he got me “moved on as an MC making more and more lyrics that could be understood and also got me my first booking @ Horizon on Saturday the 31st of may 2008 and since then I’ve progressed and progressed
.

The Hardcore music scene is what this MC is describing, as I’ve already said my knowledge of hardcore is very limited, and me thinks that at my age it’s going to stay that way; and that’s not putting it down as I stopped going to raves when I turned 50 three years ago, I may go to the odd one now and again but I’ve other things to do like this blog. Anyhow it seems that Hardcore has a supremely supportive following and growing around the country. The MC that I refer to is from Hull he works his magic under the name of MC Stee and is performing in towns and cities up and down the North for now. But I believe he has the talent and reach to go much further

What the world needs right now is more music – less war and needless confrontation!

For more information about MC Stee visit him on facebook - So bring on the Hardcore!

Friday, 2 October 2009

capitalist war machine!


On the way back from visiting a friend I found one of those free Newspapers that are handed out every evening at Tube stations in London. I don’t buy papers anymore; have you seen the price of them?
What caught my eye was a double page spread advertisement placed in the London Metro by the army and I assume acting on instructions from the Ministry of Defence and the government. I’ve cut out part of the advertisement scanned and posted it above this post and as you can see an image of a beautiful young women in combat fatigues. I have no reason to believe that this young person isn’t a serving member of the armed forces and with the looks of a model.
The advert has a personal account of army life given by Major Laura Blair 31 (can you believe that name) who is a member of the Adjutant General’s Corps (AGC) and they apparently specialise in HR Personnel. Laura if she does exists says wonderful things about army life and ends by advising anyone who may be interested in an army career to either pop into one of the Army Careers Offices dotted around London or visit the Army Show Rooms in Hounslow or Dalston to find out just what life in uniform could offer them.
Well the killing locomotive that is the army always needs fuel to feed into it's boiler, so tens of thousands of pounds are spent on newspapers convincing youngsters to sign away (no apology) their lives. The campaign to win the young to war has come a long way from that poster used in the ‘First Great War’ you know ‘Your Country Needs You’ and the pointing finger of Kitchener. However the British armed forces were criticised earlier this year for their recruitment techniques in a report that said marketing materials glamorise warfare to children and fail to highlight the risks of military careers.
Anyone who picks up a newspaper or owns a television set cannot fail to miss the risks and the modern wars in Afghanistan and Iraq has proved deadly.

We in Britain are the world’s largest military spender after of course the US, and our armed forces are the most stretched in the world, over £2 billion is spent each year on recruiting and training 20,000 new personnel to replace those who leave or are – killed.

The British armed forces have some of the most difficult and far-flung commitments to maintain. Major commitments in Afghanistan and Iraq co-exist with others from peacekeeping in Cyprus to patrolling the Falkland Islands.To meet these commitments, an estimate is made of the required number of trained full-time personnel, known as the ‘trained requirement’. The actual number of trained personnel, known as the ‘trained strength’, is usually slightly less than requirement. As of 1 April 2007, the trained requirement stood at 183,610; the trained strength stood at 177,760, of which 99,280 were in the army, 34,940 in the navy and 43,550 in the air force. In terms of personnel, the UK regular armed forces are about the third-largest in Europe after Germany and France.

The armed forces and the statistics show; draws its non-officer recruits mainly from among young people with low educational attainment and living in poor communities. A large proportion joins for negative reasons, including the lack of civilian career options; a survey in the Cardiff area in 2004 found that 40% of army recruits were joining as a last resort and the army reveled in 2004 that while roughly 45% of all young people leave school with 5 GCSE subjects graded A-C only, 17% of all Army recruits in 2003–04 had English at A-C level, with the figure for Math’s at about 10%. On average Army recruits have 0.9 of a GCSE at grade A-C. ... Records also show that 24% of all Army applicants in 2003–04 were unemployed for a significant period before applying.

A survey of the personal backgrounds of 500 recruits joining from 1998 to 2000 in the Cardiff catchment area revealed that:
• 69% of recruits were found to have come from a broken home;
• 50% were classified as coming from a deprived background;
• 16% had been long-term unemployed before joining;
• 35% had had more than eight jobs since leaving school (nearly all on a casual basis);
• Just over 60% had left school with no academic qualifications;
• 40% were joining the army as a last resort.

I think that this information leaves me in no doubt that the most disadvantaged and sometimes long suffering young people in our society are shucked into the capitalist war machine!

‘Tears on my Pillow’



I have as it seems, quite a back log of items or posts stacking up that I intend writing for the blog and need to buckle under this month and get them done. But meanwhile I wanted to say something about the choice of music on my video bar which is at the bottom of the page.
Well actually, I’ve picked one song preformed by different artists; they all perform their interpretation of the song ‘Tears on my Pillow’.

I’m not aware of whom was the original recording artist but the song has very much a feel of the 50s and 60s about it. It evokes for me the nostalgia of that decade lived out in the popular TV show Happy Days. But reminds me of my childhood in the 1960s spent with a gang of Rockers and otherwise known as Greasers, which is also an ethnic slur apparently for a person of Mexican descent. So from the very start I was getting in with the wrong sort!

Well back to the song then and first up is Little Anthony, what a voice has he; very quirky but unique, not a good ending I thought. Sha-na-na may have appeal to probably the gay community and my friend Barry ha-ha! Kylie Minogue – Oh lovely Kylie always reminds me of an ex-girlfriend from way back; but my favourite version of this song is from the film Grease staring the two John’s that is John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John.

The employees were treated like minced meat


A spate of suicides which claimed its 24th victim in 18 months led to wildcat strikes on Tuesday at a French telecommunication giant.The last France Telecom employee to kill himself was a father of two who according to reports that I’ve read jumped off a bridge on to a motorway. This disturbed and distressed worker left a letter for his wife saying that the atmosphere at work had driven him to end his life.
The victim was only 51 and was said to be ‘under pressure’ after moving from a job dealing with business clients to call centre which made cold call to offer services to subscribers. An official of the Catholic trades’ union federation said: “This is shameful. He was working in a call centre which was known to be insufferable. There was no interest in people as individuals, no humanity. They only cared about figures. The employees were treated like minced meat.”

France Telecom's new offices in Siene-Saint-Denis have been described an 'anti-suicide building' by Europe 1 radio. The eight-floor building, housing 31.000 m² of offices is designed to prevent staff from committing suicide, Sylvie Robin, a health and safety worker at France Telecom, said: "We have raised the height of walls to prevent employees from falling. The terraces will not be accessible for employees and they will not be able to open the windows. We're trying to make this building as secure as possible."

Sounds more like a prison than a place of work – hold on a minute what is the difference?
Whenever I go into central London on my pushbike and early in the morning; I often go buy London Bridge just to see city office workers in their hundreds stream past and into work; they always have the look of the rush-hour about them, like a column of cloned worker ants, the expressions on face’s often hide the treadmill recurring boredom, but the truth is they work to live, or is it that they live to work?

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Attack the Young



I’ve been struggling recently, struggling as a parent of a teenaged boy, well he’s a man really at 18 but still this can be an impressionable age for a young person making their way in the world of the adult. I think my problem is more to do with understanding than trust; and it seems such a long time since I was that age. Never is there easy answers when it comes to the ones we love, doing the right thing can be hard when all you intended was to protect them from harm.
Returning to the Gordon Browns speech, I felt somewhat nauseated to say the least, which he chose to single out teenaged mothers who he claimed fell pregnant only to obtain the keys to a council flat. In the showbiz factor address to the zombies’ assembled he pledged that teenage mothers are to be placed in supervised homes.

“I stand with the people who are sick and tired of others playing by different rules or no rules at all”.

He declared war on 16- and 17- year old mothers on benefits, saying from 2012 they would all be offered a place in a network of shared ‘supervised homes’ where they would learn about responsibility and how to ‘raise their children properly’.

Brown told the gathering: “that’s better for them, better for their babies and better for us all in the long run”.

His speech and these remarks not only reinforce the myth about single mothers, but is a clear demonstration of a Labour Party that is bullying the young, who have laid down their lives in wars for oil and suffer more than any section of our society when it comes to any future prospects in terms of jobs. Being a young person today is much harder than when I left school and must be a sheared and constant worry for all parents, and this workhouse attack is an absolute disgrace from Brown.

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