Sunday, 28 March 2010

Fuel protest threat looms over general election!

The rising world oil prices have only proven that the Chancellor, that Governments throughout the world have no control whatsoever over the profiteering of the oil producers.

In last week's budget petrol duty was set to rise from this coming Thursday by 1p a litre with a further 1p rise this October and the balance of 0.76 p from January next year.

Alistair Darling has done little more than stagger the pain at the pumps for the motorist, and let’s not forget that the rising costs will be passed on to all through higher food prices and so on it goes!

So Diesel and Petrol prices are on the rise again, when or where it is going to stop, I am going to tell you… It won’t!

The system has got us by the short and curly’s and they are really going to turn the screws, just like apples under the press to make cider, and that’s been clobbered by the budget, but then again just like grapes under foot, you would think that the economic crises this country is going through, you would have thought that we would get a bit of a break, but, no chance, this fuel hike is going to hurt us all, If we were in a prison cell, and were being squeezed this hard, it would be classed as torture?

In Sept 2000, I gave support to the then fuel protests, which was reportedly supported by 76% of the British public. I was at the Immingham oil Refinery of Connoco every day after work and all day Saturday and Sunday with my partner, a flask and sandwich's in support of the protest, but typical of the public, it takes a long time to get them warmed up, the first day I arrived, there was two tankers and one car, lots of people driving past and honking their horns, but not a lot of bodies, the next day I took a few friends with cars to help build the thin line of protesters, after then the line grew thicker and longer with each passing day, and when the weekend came it was great, hundreds of people, lorries’, tanker's, tractors, cars, music playing and a couple of Bar B Q's, then going home late to listen to all the rhetoric, and spin put out on the news by Tony Blair and Company. All the stories spun out that the protesters were holding the country to ransom and emergency services were being denied fuel, lies and more dam lies.

Fossil fuel has become the life blood of most modern day and western societies, our way of life, our survival in the world of today; and this fuel has become as important as the food and water we eat and drink, but the taxes being imposed on us is becoming just too much. The economics of fuel has become close to untenable to the man in the street, and soon we won’t be able to afford to go to work at this rate, almost all of us use transport to get to work, train, bus, car, motor bike, taxi, and it is all pay, pay and pay. The motorist has become Britain's biggest industry, why? Because we are the most vulnerable, we need transport to support ourselves and our families, transport is like the red corpuscles in the blood of the country, flowing along the motorways, highways, and byways, the veins that supply our vital organs, the towns, villages and cities, if that break down then what?

Fuel protest threat looms over general election

Road hauliers and farmers are threatening to hold protests over high fuel prices ahead of the general election next month. There is a planned fuel strike on Saturday 1st May, designed to impact the proposed UK General Election on May 6th.

Post by: Brian Hopper or In the Box

Bloggers never on their own!

By the time I’ve posted this we will be in British summer time, not that it will feel like summer, this somewhat extended and ever so long winter seems to just go on with no end in sight as of yet. However I just wanted to say a few things about this blog and not the weather. Sometimes when I sit as it seems frustrated, even at times angry at the world in which we live, and in front of my computer, I find I’m asking myself am I on my own, am I the only one that sees so much which is wrong, and then I look at my blogroll and find always the answer in the fourteen or so blog links that belong to the comrades, and I do say friends who are part of this Socialist aggregation, a fraternity of brother and sisterhood holding up the torch of enlightenment working to win and bring about badly needed change to the lives of the million throughout the world.

And as I said in my last post on the scum-bag Rupert Murdoch and his gamble to charge for internet access to his titles, starting with the Times Online, but can you imagine anyone paying to view the Sun, well maybe some pervert I do suppose! Well the point is he (Murdoch) can do that if he likes and others may follow, but one thing that has crossed my mind is that this can only benefit us bloggers in the long run as people surf the internet for information and come across socialist blogs. I already think that blogs are the 21 century equivalent to the old soap box and the street meeting's used by socialist pioneers of the past, and I’m really pleased that the Socialist Way is connected to some of the best British blogs, I shall not cause embarrassment and name any, but they are all excellent.

However if I may just welcome David Oster and Though Cowards Flinch (a great name) two new additions to the blogroll and also thank them for adding the Socialist Way to their respective sites, a big thank you comrades, and reminding me we are not on our own in the world!

Saturday, 27 March 2010

what goes round comes round for Murdoch!

Most modern-day British Newspapers are crap (pardon my French), but of course, what I mean is they are of very poor quality in comparison to what they use to be like, and not so long ago. So what to make of the decision that News International has announced that The Times Online web site will begin charging for content as of this June?

The pace of change and new technology seems to be moving sometimes, at a berth taking speed, the internet in particular has changed much in all our lives, information, communication, banking, shopping, education and so on. I do suppose that list is endless, and with all manner of new devices like smart-phones and iPod’s appearing almost daily on the market offering full web page access anywhere with up-to date content, and so publishers are frantically trying to make as much money as they can before everyone can access everything for nothing through a single touch screen device, PC or laptop computer.

From June onwards you will have to pay £1 per day or £2 per week in order to view the cognitive content currently offered for free on the Times Online web site, originally outlined last year by Rupert Murdoch himself in a bid he claimed to protect original content from being copied and re-written again and again across the web. Whether that is the only reason for the new charge is not debatable me thinks’, as the publishing industry tires to compete with the free information phenomenon that is the World Wide Web, well its not exactly that free or accessible to all!

However, I howl and roar with delight, whenever I see or hear Murdoch whingeing about the decline of his empireor the loss of profit, remembering that he used "Fortress Wapping" and a long-running and bitter dispute to de-recognise (smash) unions, enabling the company to use an alternative workforce and new technology in newspaper production. Journalists could input copy directly, reducing the need for labour in the print halls and cutting costs. We would all do well not to forget that, what goes round, comes round and for Murdoch too!
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Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Disabled people wrongly denied benefits by New Labour

Thousands of seriously ill and disabled people who are unable to work are being wrongly denied benefits, a report by Citizens Advice Bureau has claimed.

This only serves to highlight the extent to which New Labour during the course of the last 13 years has travelled along the rocky road of running a capitalist state in the interests of the capitalist system. I will spare the lambasting or bawling out about the trillions received by the banks, but this really gets my goat that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and under Labour can swoop so low in an attack and pounce on those with conditions such as autism, learning disabilities and Multiple Sclerosis, when in a sane society these very people would be looked after.

Backed by 18 other bodies, the bureau says people are "effectively being written off" as the government's aim is of moving people into low paid work.

DWP figures revealed that of those who applied, 68% were considered fit for work.

Meanwhile, between October and December last year, 22,618 people sought advice about ESA, Citizens Advice says.

The DWP said that from next year, doctors would assess 10,000 claimants of long-term sickness every week according to what they can do, not what they cannot.
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Monday, 22 March 2010

Air Pollution Killing Thousands...

Government ministers whilst taking backhanders from lobbyists of business, commercial or industrial enterprises, have been saying for years; that local air quality across the UK has improved significantly in recent years - for example since 1990 emissions of sulphur dioxide has been reduced by 86% and particulates by 49%.

Outdoor air pollution can cause a variety of short-term health effects and can contribute to or aggravate chronic health conditions.
And yet the Commons' own environmental audit committee has said that minister’s failure to tackle air pollution is cutting average life expectancy by up to eight months. It found the government is not doing enough to tackle air pollution on Britain's streets.

"Air pollution probably causes more deaths than passive smoking, traffic accidents or obesity, yet it receives very little attention from government or the media," committee chairman Tim Yeo said.

"In the worst affected areas this invisible killer could be taking years off the lives of people most at risk, such as those with asthma.

"The large EU fines we face, if we don't get to grips with this problem, should now focus ministers' minds. Much more needs to be done to save lives and reduce the enormous burden air pollution is placing on the NHS."

In the worst-polluted areas vulnerable people's lives could be cut by as much as nine years!

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Saturday, 20 March 2010

up-to-date report on the cabin (BA) crew dispute

This is an up-to-date report on the cabin (BA) crew dispute from the blog 'air Strike' so thanks to them for that.  

After months of fruitless negotiation, four mass meetings, one court injunction, a barrage of attacks from the
press and the political establishment and unrelenting bullying from management the walk out from British Airways cabin crew has arrived.

It is a testament to the resilience of cabin crew that despite this gruelling trek to get to this point the mood was buoyant. In near total darkness cabin crew assembled in Bedfont football club ground at 6AM to begin picketing duty.

There are four picket points in total. One at Hatton Cross tube station, one at the Newman Road roundabout near the fire station, one near Heathrow police station and one on the South West Access roundabout.
Despite media reports to the contrary the strike appears to be solid. On a number of picket lines empty staff buses drive about forlornly with only the occasional lonely manager to keep the bus driver company. Reports from workers inside terminal 5 relayed back to reps on the pickets say only one plane has actually taken off so far. Whether there are actually any passengers or crew on them is an open question. At the last cabin crew strike in the late 90s desperate management resorted to sending up empty planes as a PR stunt. In scenes reminiscent of airplane graveyards in Arizona, from the Hatton Cross picket, we can see rows and rows of BA airplanes sitting on the tarmac.

From the pickets an endless stream of cars, busses and trucks honk their horns in support of the strike prompting excited cheers from cabin crew in return. The local trade union movement has also been doing their bit to get behind the strikes. At the picket line near the fire station, ambulance workers came across to give pickets cups of tea and coffee.

The pickets themselves are lively and the response of strikers to Socialist Party members visiting to offer their support has been welcoming. Every picket is festooned with bright red Unite and BASSA flags. Strikers are carrying placards stating “We Offered A Pay Cut” to answer media spin that cabin crew are greedy.
The only off note in the proceedings was when a police van pulled up to a picket and demanded that the number of pickets be reduced. This is yet another sign of the state interfering to try to stop effective industrial action.

Many pickets we spoke to are in a confident mood. The decision of transport unions around the world to offer solidarity has given union members a massive boost. One rep did comment on the irony that solidarity action can be organised across the globe but, under the anti trade union laws, is illegal in their own country.
All in all it was an excellent start to the day. The scene is now  set for the solidarity demonstration at 10:30.

In your face David Cameron

In your face David Cameron will launch his parties latest poster this morning, when he addresses activists in Wandsworth, and as you can see quite a nasty little job, and I think that this sort of campaign is what New Labour is anticipating, even praying for, scaring the hell out of the votes and driving them they hope towards  "we're better than them", is Cameron about to score another home goal?  

Educate Agitate and Organise!

Weeks away from a general election and this weekend it would not escaped the notice of most people that Trade Unionists are preparing to down tools and take industrial action in the defence of jobs, services and what’s left of our industry, well it’s not really our industry but you know what I mean. Whilst I don’t trust any of the current leaders of our trade union movement, we should all nevertheless, give our unequivocal support to workers in their fight and campaign, that’s a fight for the future and make no mistake!

A savage campaign is under way by the political regime and the media against the strike by British Airways cabin crew, scheduled to begin this very weekend.

Its aim is not only to intimidate the 12,000 BA workers immediately involved, but to threaten any workers seeking to defend their jobs and conditions in advance of the massive austerity measures now being drawn up by all the official parties. The dispute centres on working hours and annual pay rise offers in exchange for the cabin crew workers agreeing to BA's planned £62.5m of cost cuts.

Charlie Whelan

Earlier this week the Conservatives unveiled a written account entitled “Charlie Whelan’s New Militant Tendency,” claiming to show Prime Minister Gordon Brown is “incapacitated” to trade union militants and lefties. Using the fact that Labour receives much of its funding from the trade unions—and the Unite union in particular, which organises BA cabin crew—the Tories claim to have discovered that Brown is a “wholly owned subsidiary of the big trade unions,” who they say are intent on class war.

The fact is that the present-day leadership of the Labour Party, and many amongst the trade union somebodies, earned their spurs in the campaign, which climaxed in the creation of “New Labour” as the political representative of the financial oligarchy, prostituting and flogging themselves for capitalism, and Charlie Whelan is a typical representative of this layer. A former public school boy he joined Labour in 1992 where, as one of its “spin doctors,” he played a key role in helping consolidate the party’s rightward trajectory as it renounced any connection with the working class and sought to consolidate its relations with big business. The infamous Charlie Whelan and his return to the centre of spin at the hart of New Labour and its election push was reported and observed by this blog way back in November last year and here. One thing that both contributors of this blog agree on is we don’t think that many people are bothered about the muck-slinging that’s going on between the two representative parties of capitalism, if anything it may turn more away from participating in the election when it comes.

I’ve just read Lansbury's Lido “The Masses Are Revolting” worth a look here

The RMT has announced a possible national rail strike the first in 16 years for this coming Easter bank holiday weekend after workers voted for action.
Unions and the company that owns Britain's rail infrastructure will next week hold talks to try to avert what would be the first national strike in 16 years after the system's signallers voted for industrial action.

Network Rail announced last night it would meet next week at Acas, the conciliation service, with the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union and the TSSA, which represents managerial grades, over two separate disputes. One, over which the RMT has said it will hold strikes, involves the restructuring of Network Rail's maintenance operations and the cutting of up to 1,500 jobs. The other involves roistering of signallers in a number of parts of the country.
Some 5,000 signalling staff, as well as 12,000 maintenance workers, are preparing for a series of national walk-outs which would bring to a full-stop the network during one of the busiest times of the year. Now as you would have imagined the right-wing press are having a field day denoting and denouncing the stand that workers are starting to make, and about time too.

Civil servants' Budget day strike

Chancellor Alistair Darling will have to pass picket lines on March 24 on his way from the Treasury to the House of Commons to deliver his speech on the Budget. The Public and Commercial Services union said it wants to "ratchet up" political pressure after a 48-hour walkout last week and a continuing overtime ban which officials warned would soon start to hit jobcentres, benefit offices, ports, driving tests and courts.
A national day of action is also being held on Friday, including a battle bus touring the Dulwich and West Norwood constituency of Cabinet Officer Minister Tessa Jowell, who has been leading negotiations over cuts in redundancy payments. The union said last week's strike was supported by more than 200,000 civil servants, and attacked Ms Jowell for saying that most PCS members worked.

The union has written to Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Business Secretary Lord Mandelson asking how they could urge both sides in the British Airways dispute to hold talks when the Government is "refusing" to negotiate with the PCS.

Latest from Scunthorpe Corus Steelworks

And finely 3,500 trade union members on the Scunthorpe Corus steelworks remain on tenterhooks about a ballot for industrial action (the Scunthorpe Evening Telegraph is reporting) over the company's decision to mothball its plant in Redcar and the loss of 1,600 jobs. The ballot failed to get the go-ahead following a meeting in London between the leaders of four unions Community, GMB, Unite and UCATT.
In a joint statement, the national trade union steel co-ordinating committee said: 'We remain to be convinced about the progress that is being made and we understand compulsory redundancy notices have been issued, which does not demonstrate a commitment to the future of Teesside.

'This is not just about Teesside but it is also about the future of the UK steel industry.

"There is a pattern of systemic failure to consult with the workforce about major changes within the company and a breakdown in industrial relations.

"We have serious concerns about the leadership of Corus – we see a company in meltdown.

Wherever you are this week, give your support to workers fighting for their jobs and our children’s future – remember an attack on one is an attack on all!
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Friday, 19 March 2010

Unemployment is a time bomb awaiting to go off!

My fortnightly trip to the Jobcentre is always a rush job, filling in the booklet, entering the job searches that I’m supposed to have undertaken since my last visit, always done an hour or so before I sign-on, of course I don’t do the job searches, what’s the point, the few jobs that are available are mostly low paid and miles away from my home in Canning Town, travelling throughout London these days is an expensive business, and the time involved rules-out at least for me, this drudgery, and personally I'm not worried about being unemployed, I view any kind of work particularly for someone else as ‘slavery’ and a waste of my time, the income earned these days would have evaporated in costs involved even before I’d had the time to count it out!

I’m not a lazy person or am I work shy, but even on the minimum wage I would be struggling to pay my rent and the other housing costs, so what’s the point?

However when last I attended this by now customary ritual and government prescribed procedure; I had a very interesting and enlightening chat with the young man who is now my advisor and whom aerates my claim within the system. I remember the first time we met he was sitting alongside my last adviser who was training him in the procedures and ways of receiving and processing claimant's, and as I like nothing more than to have and engage in friendly banter, as I find it helps to facilitate and make easier the whole experience as well as preventing the staff member from recognising a member of the awkward squad, as that’s how I feel and not through choice, anyhow I enquired about the recent industrial action taken by members of the PCS union; had he taken part I asked, and to my delight he said he had, there then followed a general discussion about the threats posed to his and other public workers' jobs, and I told him about the attacks and the regime change that would be forcing, bullying the unemployed into demeaning dead-end low-paid employment, I was surprised that his knowledge was somewhat lacking, that he had no idea what the government was intending or what was being rolled out for those of us who are unemployed, and I suppose the same can be said about many of the unemployed, they have no idea what’s going on or how it will effect them until it happens in the very near future. During the conversation with my adviser he told me that he considered himself to be fortunate if not lucky, that he was in work, as he had spent a year out of work and on the dole. He told me that this was the best he could do for the time being; his preferred field of work the tourist/holiday business had taken a real nose dive and in more ways than one, first the impact of the recession, the tightening of the domestic belt has meant less holidays being taken abroad, and secondly wages had dropped so much that it was not worth his while working in that industry, he was not amused when I said that things were not that much better in his present occupation when you consider that some of his colleges were earning just 24 pence more than the minimum wage.

While I remember this, it’s worth recalling that travel agency Thomas Cook was branded 'despicable and heartless' for charging its employees cancellation fees in 2008 for holidays they booked through the firm but were unable to take because of being made redundant by the firm, that would give you some idea just how ruthless capitalism can adhere too, even to a loyal workforce, but loyalty has never accounted for anything

The Century of Self

The Century of the Self is a British television documentary film by Adam Curtis. It was first screened in the UK in four parts in 2002 and I’ve put a clip from YouTube underneath this as I think it holds some interesting significance worthy of consideration, there’s plenty on the net about this documentary for those of you that would like to research in more detail. However I’m reminded just how dangerous that Sigmund Freud and his decedents really are in the world, manipulating, controlling and holding capitalism in place, I have more to say about this particular family in further posts in the future, but in the meantime let’s recognise family member Lord David Freud, so who is (Lord) David Freud? Well he is one of a clutch of bankers who were brought in to use their expertise (presumably their expertise in mucking up the banking system and the rest of the economy along with it) in the service of government. They let Freud loose on welfare reform. “I didn’t know anything about welfare at all when I started.” he admitted, “but that may have been an advantage...In a funny way the solution was obvious.”
The solution, according to Freud, was twofold:

First, coerce the unemployed back to work with benefit cuts and workfare, and

Enrich the private sector while doing so.

Then with workfare and welfare reform in place David Freud quiet advising the government and is now a frontbench spokesman for the Conservatives, that’s the politics of the ruling class for you!
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Welfare Reform: who will it affect?

A big thanks to Hazel Kent and the blog MULE for the following information about who’s likely to be hit hardest by the Government’s latest welfare-cutting masterplan.

The long-term unemployed

Unemployed workers will be forced to enter into Work for your Benefit schemes, which are being trialled in Manchester from October 2010. Claimants will be forced to enter up to six month long work placements – which they have not chosen – in order to claim benefits.

Low-waged workers

The position of low-waged workers, who in the current economic climate are already struggling to stay in work, will also be affected by the schemes. As benefit claimants are put in placements where they are not paid, unemployed people could basically be used as cheap labour, undermining those in paid jobs and their working conditions. It could also lead to a loss of long-term contracted jobs. In New York, where the similar Workfare scheme was introduced, 30,000 union jobs were lost within the first few years.

Jobcentre workers

The Public and Commercial Services Union have been active in fighting the Welfare Reform Bill from the outset. Included in the Bill are suggestions for Jobcentres to move towards privatisation, and follow a model used by call centres.
This change has already resulted in less face to face interaction between Jobcentre workers and jobseekers. In Manchester, the local Disability Benefit Centre was closed in November 2009. Users must now call or go to Blackpool or Preston. Jobcentre workers have complained that they will no longer provide specialist support, and there have already been many job cuts. Outreach support for carers and pensioners has been taken away, though single parent advisors still exist.

Many people working for the Department of Work and Pensions already claim Income Support and the basic wage for a clerical assistant is only 24p above minimum wage. The Government has pledged to invest £15 million into private schemes, but only £3.5 million into Jobcentre run schemes.

Single parents

Single parents with a child aged 10 or above will be expected to attend workbased interviews, with benefits cut if they do not attend. Single parents are being moved from Income Support to Jobseekers Allowance – meaning if someone turns down a job offer or is deemed not to be making enough effort to seek work, their benefits will be cut under ‘sanctions’. The move is supposedly aimed at eradicating poverty. However, it does not address root problems such as insufficient affordable childcare and inflexible working hours.

At present, single parents are often better able to cope on benefits than if they were working and having to pay childcare costs. The English Collective of Prostitutes has warned they are expecting an increase in women entering sex work with the change in legislation. The age a child should be before a parent returns to work keeps falling; first from 16 to 12 and, since October 2009, to 10. From October 2010 it will be 7. On top of this, single mothers will be forced to register both parents’ names on the birth certificate, meaning that if a woman has been coerced or abused, she must still use the father’s name on official documentation.

Alcohol and drug dependents

Those with an alcohol or drug dependency, some of the most vulnerable in society, can be forced to comply with a treatment programme. Drug and alcohol abuse is already dealt with by the penal and health systems, and many have questioned whether extra pressure from the welfare system will actually help those in need.
There is also a suggestion that Jobcentre workers may be given access to police records, or be encouraged to probe into people’s personal lives. These ideas have been heavily criticised by Liberty, the civil rights campaign group. They worry that people who are in need of benefits may not claim them for fear of having to disclose a dependent.

Incapacity Benefit claimants

Incapacity Benefit is, in effect, being removed and replaced by Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). Many concessions have been won on ESA by disabled rights campaigners but problems persist. A person’s ability to work is judged on physical capacity to perform daily tasks, but ESA does not fully take into account how this translates to a working environment.
Currently more than half of claimants claimin for ill health have mental health problems. It has been reported that the drive to get people off Incapacity Benefit and into work is making claimants more ill with stress. Conditions and sanctions can be put in place to try to force them into potentially unsuitable work. If they refuse their benefits could be cut. The system is so confusing that independent support groups have already appeared online.

At present it is still unclear who will be judging capacity to work, and it is possible that Jobcentre workers, who are untrained in mental health, will have to take on this responsibility.

This article is from one of the MULE volunteers who write and distribute 10,000 copies for free in Manchester.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

filthy rich and happy...

In 2009, the unemployment rate rose throughout the world, millions lost jobs, and wages fell or were dramatically cut. Millions of families lost their homes and became dislocated joining the ever growing ranks of the dispossessed. But world productivity, the amount of output that is produced from each hour of work, rose by 7 percent.

But hay, every dark cloud has a silver lining and 2009 was not all bad - the world’s billionaires saw their wealth grow by a staggering 50 percent last year, and their ranks swell to 1,011, from 793, according to the latest Forbes list of billionaires.

The Wall Street Journal, commenting on the figures, wrote, “How did the world’s rich get so much richer? Stock markets…. In short, what the stock market had taketh, the stock market hath giveth back–-at least to the billionaires.”

The bad news is that America's super rich are getting poorer, poor things! For only the fifth time since 1982, the Forbes annual tally of the nation's richest people has declined, falling $300 billion in the past 12 months from $1.57 trillion to $1.27 trillion. Faltering capital markets and real estate prices, along with divorce and fraud, pushed the fortunes of 314 members down and drove 32 plutocrats off the rankings.

It’s a hard life being filthy rich…

A surprising number of heavy-hitters can be found in that part of our planet we used to refer to as “the third world.” “Third” being a polite, vague way of saying “poor.”
Not only is Asia trouncing the US in wealth creation, but for the first time ever the loaded title of World’s Richest Person belongs to someone from a developing country. Carlos “Slim” Helu, a Mexican of Lebanese descent, is worth a staggering $53.5 billion, $500 million more than Bill Gates and $6.5 billion more than Warren Buffett. Ninety-seven new billionaires cropped up in places like Pakistan and Indonesia, China is now second to only the US in number of ten-digit fortunes and the number of Indian billionaires doubled.
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Saturday, 13 March 2010

Newspapers Jon Venables and knife crime?

Once again the tragic death of toddler Jamie Bulger in 1993 has furnished the press with an opportunity to launch a hysterical law and order campaign, demanding retaliation and “victim’s justice”. It is a demand that has found a sympathetic hearing within the government. I’ve delicately and deliberately avoided commenting on recent developments, and after all what’s nothing more than media hysteria designed to sell newspapers, constant for the last month the media feed a public, curtain twitching speculation based on incomplete evidence or fact.

The news broke that Jon Venables, convicted along with Robert Thompson of the killing of the two-year old, has been returned to prison following an alleged breach of his licence, the premier stories came about when reports were leaked to an irresponsible gutter press, and we must remember that both Thompson and Venables were just ten years of age at the time of Jamie’s killing.

We would also do well to recall that the killing of Jamie Bulger was used by the Labour Party, and its then shadow Home Secretary (now with the blood of many on his hands) Tony Blair, to prove itself even more right-wing on law and order than the Conservatives.

Such was the frenzy whipped up; that at great cost both Venables and Thompson― having been publicly identified at the time of their trial―had to be given new identities on their release from detention.

And now seventeen years on, at the time of an election once again, frenzy accompanied news of Venables recall. The media published one unsubstantiated allegation after another―a fight at work, sexual assault, and viewing child pornography―was brought forward by the tabloid press such as The (trash) Sun, The News of the World and The Daily Mirror. The Daily Mail in a random manner lumped Venables in with serial sex offender Peter Chapman in an article headlined, “The sorry truth is that many sex offenders CAN’T be rehabilitated.”

The demand went up for the government to disclose why Venables had been returned to prison, and for his new identity to be revealed. Labour Home Secretary Alan Johnson jumped on the bandwagon, only to be slaped down in the end, but proclaiming that the public had a “right to know.” Jack Straw with reluctance so he said, made a statement opposing disclosure, but only while stressing that this might jeopardise any future conviction. This provoked hostilities between the Ministry of Justice and the Home Office. A Home Office source told Sue Cameron of the Financial Times that some Ministry of Justice people were “Like wet rags.”

A former social worker has this week spoken at great length to the Daily Mail, disclosing details of Thompson’s time in a detention centre.

It is understandable that Jamie’s father Ralph, and Bulger’s mother, Denise Fergus, should find these events distressing. But this only makes it all the more revolting, the utilisation made by the media, whipping up hysteria only to sell more newspapers.

Such a serious crime should never be used by electioneering politicians, it sickens me to see this: Conservative leader David Cameron hits the newspapers with calls for Denise Fergus to be given “a lot more information” on Venables, what for, what good will that do. None of us can run away from the horrific murder of that child, we must ask ourselves even all these years on why, why did two children do just such an unimaginable wicked act?

I still think all these years later, that our society has had a very big part to play in this nightmare that the call for blood, for more violence and go astern hammer and tongs, fails to answer the real problems that have never gone away, that still remain, and I’m reminded of this every time I read a report of a youngster or youngsters have been involved or killed in knife crime!
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Friday, 12 March 2010

The bankers lied!

One small post before I prepare for my fortnightly trip to the dole office, a snippet from an excellent article in todays Guardian by Simon Jenkins and I recommend it!

The bankers lied. And Darling, a mere puppet on their string, knows it Britain has paid a horrific price for allowing the City to dictate credit policy. Yet there is no inquiry, no questioning, only silence.

Still no inquiry. Still no answers. A trillion pounds has been devoted over the past 18 months to protect Britain's financial system from alleged Armageddon, with not a murmur of value for money. This stupefying sum is more than has ever been spent on any project by any government in British history.

We know where the money came from but we do not know if it was necessary, nor who now has it. We know only that, a year on, Britain is experiencing a worse recession than any comparable country. The lack of accountability, the sheer lack of curiosity from the political community, is amazing.

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Thursday, 11 March 2010

Working for nothing after 13 years of New Labour

Despite high levels of unemployment due to the impact of the recession jobseekers in Greater Manchester will be the first to be forced to work up to 40 hours a week as part of the Work for Your Benefits (WfYB) pilot scheme.

The Manchester region is set to be the testing and trying out ground for a government initiative that will see unemployed people put into mandatory work placements for up to six months just to hold on to their Jobseeker’s Allowance.

Yes this has been introduced by this Labour Government to force the unemployed and others dependent on benefits to take low played employment, that’s of course if there is any, what with unemployment set to rocket and hit the moon and stars after the general election, who ever wins!

Below minimum wage

From October Jobseekers who have failed to find a job at the end of the Flexible New Deal programme will be required to undertake full time employment for between £50 and £65 a week, the equivalent of as little as £1.27 an hour. Concerns have already been raised that, with the numbers of unemployed rising, people who genuinely cannot find a job will be forced to work for next to nothing in an unsuitable role. The programme (renamed Flexible New Deal from October 2009) of active labour market policies was introduced in the United Kingdom by the Labour government in 1998, initially funded by a one off £5bn windfall tax on privatised utility companies. The stated purpose is to reduce unemployment by providing training, subsidised employment and voluntary work to the unemployed.
The New Deal introduced the ability to withdraw benefits from those who refused "reasonable employment". A complementary project was introduced in 1999, the Working Families Tax Credit. This is a tax credit scheme for low income workers which provide an incentive to work, and to continue in work, and please notice introduced by Nu Labour to subsidize Labour costs and focally help not the workers but the capitalists, the owners of the means of production, so at least during the last 13 years someone has benefited – The Boss!

Workers wages could fall by 12 per cent

So it will be Greater Manchester Job Seekers who will be first in line to suffer a mandatory 6 months of 40 hours per week work in return of their benefits. This Work for Your Benefits (WfYB) pilot scheme will begin when Flexible New Deal Phase 2 begins in parts of the country which isn’t already doing Flexible New Deal (phase 1). This means unemployed persons will be working for below the National Minimum Wage. Using the 22 year old (and over) rate of £5.80 and £51.85 per week JSA rate (lower; less than 25 – takes into account the increase in April) works out at £1.30 per hour for a 40 hour week, which is roughly 22% of the National Minimum Wage.

Some suggest that the scheme will affect the working population as well as those claiming benefits. “This flood of unwaged labour into the market will have a big effect on low waged jobs. When a similar scheme was introduced in the US there was a 12 per cent decline in pay for low-income jobs’.
Businesses will be paid for each person they get into a work placement. This has raised fears companies might ignore difficult cases or put people into unsuitable positions just to receive the commission.

Labour MP John McDonnell placed a parliamentary question in December regarding the employment rights that participants in the scheme will be entitled to. He is concerned that, since they will not be technically employed, those taking part may be put in danger as they may not be covered by health and safety legislation.

Do we live to work or do we work to live?

A wage slave is a wage slave. That is capitalisms hold over the working class, and we have all heard of Slave rebellions that have occurred in nearly all societies that practice slavery, and are amongst the most feared events for slaveholders.
Famous historic slave rebellions have been led by Denmark Vesey; the Roman slave Spartacus; the thrall Tunni who rebelled against the Swedish king Ongentheow, a rebellion that needed Danish assistance to be quelled; the poet-prophet Ali bin Muhammad, who led imported east African slaves in Iraq during the Zanj Rebellion against the Abbasid Caliphate in the ninth century; the Haitian Revolution, the only country founded by a slave revolt; Madison Washington during the Creole case in 19th century America; and Granny Nanny of the Maroons who rebelled against the British in Jamaica.

But never has there been any group of slaves demanding the right to be held in slavery has there? So why are we the workers of the world allowing this situation to continue, it’s time to get of our knees and fight back?

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Have you got a light boy!

Today we can all see the smokers standing outside the pubs, clubs and places of work grabbing a quick smoke. I happen to live near a large NHS hospital and drive past regular, along with the fact I’m a regular visitor attending for treatment with my partner being an out-patient. I just get wound up, every time I drive past or visit, why? Well because I am witness to the young, middle aged, old, male, female, the walking, and the wounded, standing, sitting, pushed, and held up in good or bad weather, sunshine, snow or frost. I’ve seen ladies in there long night gowns and slippers, people of all ages in wheel chairs, even a middle aged man standing, holding a chrome gadget on wheels with a drip, all, not at the same time of course. At the main entrance's to the hospital, doing what? Having a ciggy, one more coffin nail, they no longer are allowed inside NHS property to have their puff.

I am not a smoker anymore, but I think that this treatment just stinks!

This is my line of thought: All this is good for the non smoker's and I respect all there wishes and displeasures; passive smoke, bad smells and so on. But the National Health Service still belongs to the people that pay for it, the tax payer; I know certain political parties are trying their best to get it into private ownership. But that word is still there ‘National’ so would the majority of people in our democracy follow government guidelines and ostracise the smokers… Well yes we have done, and just to give you all a thought, the average age or life expectancy for a man is 77 and a woman is 81, and yet the inequalities in life expectancy are persisting across the UK, as figures from the Office for National Statistics have revealed. The South East, South West and East of England continued to have the highest life expectancies at birth, the statistics for 2006-08 showed.

Figures are lowest in Scotland and in the North West and North East of England.

For males, there is a difference of 4.2 years between the South East, which had the highest life expectancy (79.2 years), and Scotland, where life expectancy is lowest (75 years).

For females, the corresponding gap between the South West (83.1 years) and Scotland (79.9 years) is 3.2 years.

The area with the lowest male life expectancy was Glasgow City (70.7 years), 13.6 years lower than Kensington and Chelsea.

This gap has widened by 0.7 years from 12.9 years in 2005-07.

For females, Kensington and Chelsea also had the highest life expectancy at birth (88.9 years), 11.7 years higher than Glasgow City, the area with the lowest figure (77.2 years).

This gap increased by 1.0 years from 10.7 years in 2005-07.

Smoking like it or loath it is one thing, but what about poor diet? It is estimated that almost 70,000 deaths could be avoided every year if Britons followed healthy eating guidelines government reports have stated in the past. The nation's poor diet costs the economy £10 billion, of which £7.7 billion comprises NHS treatment. Obesity in Britain, with 60 per cent of the population expected to be overweight by 2050, compared with 28 per cent today, and 70 per cent of girls and 55 per cent of boys expected to be overweight or obese in 40 years' time that could be avoided if people cut down on fatty and salty foods and ate more fresh fruit and vegetables, but the problem is affordability!

The problem is having the money to pay for this healthy food and lifestyle?

Those who die prematurely would have lived for almost 10 years longer if they were able to adhere to a healthy food intake, and then there’s obesity in Britain, with 60 per cent of the population expected to be overweight by 2050, compared with 28 per cent today, and 70 per cent of girls and 55 per cent of boys expected to be overweight or obese in 40 years' time.

With the recession in full swing and a government that has failed to tackle the real courses of child poverty, it would not surprise me in the least if the life expectancies of our children, began to full. And I started off whining about the so-called nanny state and smoking, twenty years ago did anybody care about smokers, think about it, who brought this segregation on and what’s the real reasons if it’s not control, who will be next as we watch the onslaught on the beer and wine drinkers. Whose next; people suffering and fighting a drug addiction, perhaps those with HIV or Cancer, and why stop there, why not attack the unemployed, the homeless for this is not hypothetical or conjectural…It’s happening now!
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Post by: Brian Hopper or In the Box

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

We are heading into the unknown

Following a chat with In the Box (Brian Hopper) yesterday evening, I learnt that many of the young steelworkers that his son works with, seem to think that the so-called recession is somehow over, and I must say like the many others I’ve met over the last year, who have swallowed up the propaganda that’s churned-out from time to time; that the recession is over, that things will start to get back to normality very soon. And if you have a young family a mortgage, well it’s understandable that you’d like to see the light at the end of this particular tunnel.

So let’s consider the recession and look at some of the possibilities, but I would make it clear that I don’t think anyone can predict or tell in advance what will happen in the future or hereafter, capitalism is a very complicated and unpredictable system that even eminent economists often get it wrong, that’s why I don’t take any heed or pay close attention to any of them, capitalism simply put is about making a profit, and it will do whatever to achieve those ends for the few that own and control the means of production.

Recessions generally start because of a loss of confidence in the financial system. People hold on to the money that they have, rather than spend it, and that means there is less money in circulation.

It's hard to predict how long a recession will last. Statistics released at the end of 2009 suggest that, in technical terms at least, the recession is over and lasted 18 months. However, most agree that many people will continue to experience financial hardship and that economic growth will be slow for a few years to come. The previous UK recession - from 1990 to 1992 - was followed by a long period of economic growth up to 2008.

However yesterday’s Guardian reported that the UK’s trade deficit with the rest of the world widened in January to its highest level since August 2008 as exports suffered their sharpest drop in three years. The pound, which had clawed back some ground lost last week amid market fears of a hung parliament, sank back below 1.50 US dollars and 1.10 euros at one point as markets sold off the currency.

I get a very unconformable feeling when the Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman Vince Cable (respected commentator) calls the trade figures "deeply alarming" as British exporters failed to benefit from sterling's fall over the past year, and the so-called Experts warned the poor trade figures would continue to act as a drag on recovery during the first quarter of 2010, having knocked off 0.2 percentage points from the UK's 0.3 per cent growth in the final three months of 2009.

Now what all this means, well, your guess is as go as mine, but I think it’s an indication that some very rough times lie ahead?
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Sunday, 7 March 2010

The Monopoly Game

One of the many attractions that I’ve enjoyed over the thirty years that I’ve lived in London, and I must say on and off, has been the sheer prominence of history, locked up in its working class areas such as here in my beloved East End. I can stand for hours in front of an old building imaging things or events, what life would have been like for a much poorer working class in times gone by. Well I say for a much poorer working class, but the truth is, that still in London’s east end, poverty has never completely disappeared as I’ve tried to highlight in posts now and again.

Constant and alphabet soup like in nature, the pace of change seems to have stepped up a gear or so recently, of course the city prepares for the Olympics, a non event in my book, sold as a complete pack of lies its so-called benefits to our community, and I have yet to see any. What I do see is luxury apartments shooting up everywhere for the rich and well off as they begin to move into an area occupied for centuries by the working class poor.

Many new apartments have been created or rather converted out of the old storage warehouses and factories that were once connected to the London Docks, the Docks serviced by the working class poor who made their homes in slums and hovels whilst the rich looked the other way when they were starving and trying to get by on the poverty pay, many died in that fight to survive but they never gave up. One weapon that was used in the fight for survival was the establishment of the cooperative movement that provided many cheap retail services to the working class. Now without the need of a history lesson here, the cooperative movement was untenable to capitalism and over a long period of time it set about dismantling and acquiring its assets, a good example of this would be the latest development to spring up in Whitechapel. Apartments in the luxury Sugar House start from £485,000 and go up to more than £1m for the penthouse pads. The gorgeous stone-carved grade II-listed building at 99 Leman Street was the Co-operative's headquarters in the late 1800s, and proving that Whitechapel is no longer as cheap as the Monopoly Game suggests (£60)
For Your Sunday treat I've found some wonderful and extraordinarily old photographs of old East London hope you enjoy them:

 Aldgate Pump 1908

Leman Street 1902
Leman Street Today
Limehouse 1936
Munsell Street 1902
Whitechapel 1913
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Saturday, 6 March 2010

Strangeway Prison Riot

H.M.P Manchester formerly known as Strangeways was the scene of the worst ever prison riot in mainland Britain. The riot started on the 1st of April 1990 lasted for 25 days. 147 prison officers and 47 prisoners were injured. Much of the prison was badly damaged or destroyed; the staggering cost of rebuilding came to £55 million.

Built in 1868 it replaced the New Bailey Prison in Salford with a capacity to hold 953 men. On the eve of the riot the total number of inmates was 1647. Tensions had been amongst the inmates for sometime, complaints about the food, overcrowding and staff brutality were amongst the men’s many grievances. Strangeways is a category b prison, and grade 2 listed building. The prison walls are said to be 16 feet thick. Its 234 feet high tower dominates the Manchester skyline and served as a grim reminder to potential law breakers.

The prison was built on the grounds of Strangeways Park and Gardens, which gave the prison its original name.

Strangeways was also a place of execution, the last hanging to take place there was in 1964. Originally the prison contained an execution shed in B wing. During the Second World War a special execution room and condemned cell were built. The quickest recorded hanging took place in Strangeways, Albert Pierrepoint executed James Inglis in only seven and a half seconds, from being led out of his cell until the trapdoor opened to send him on his fatal drop. In total exactly 100 people were hung at Strangeways.

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The Magic Roundabout

Most of us realize that we are in for a bad time after the election, the question is, who will be at the helm, and will it be Dougal, Florence or Zebedee. And to be honest, when I contemplate and look at the possibilities, well it just scares the hell out of me.

Just let us think about this for a while? When you look at them, who are the men and women and the party of the moment, who is the person with a vision? Or do we need a new type of politician, possibly a new type of politics, a new way of doing things, notice that I use the term ‘doing’ rather than running.

Everything has a progression, an evolvement, an evolution, the evolution of the planet, evolution of life, evolution of man. But just look at the evolution of our politicians, and let’s start with that recent Tory poster and the close-up picture shows a Tory leader with flawless skin, perfect hair . . . and wearing an open-necked shirt with no tie.

This was the image with which David Cameron launched a presidential-style election campaign that he hopes will sweep him into No.10. The Tories denied suggestions that the photograph - feature on hundreds of 15ft-wide posters as part of a £500,000 nationwide advertising campaign - had undergone major airbrushing to enhance Cameron's appearance.

And then an official conceded there may have been minor touching up.

The poster was reminiscent of Tony Blair’s campaign launch in 1997 which appeared on the cover of Labour's manifesto wearing an open-necked blue shirt.

All our politicians (a dirty word these days) have come to a shuddering full stop, when last did we have a leap forward in the organic evolution of politicians, we have had Conservatives and the Liberals (Pink Tories) as it seems since time began, the Conservatives as always trying their best to do what the word implies con and serve the greedy class they represent, and if there had been no evolution forced by the working class through their organisations in the past, we would still be tipping our hats and working sixteen hour days to keep our masters happy. However the Labour Party has now well and truly joined those parties competing to run capitalism and keep that system intact, this is unmistakable the last 13 years is testament to that.

Carline Benn say’s in the introduction to her book on Keir Hardie that it would be difficult to imagine what his opinion would be of the Labour Party that was first elected in 1997 and that he would be surprised that so many of the country’s rich and powerful have ended up supporting them.

I think he must be turning in his grave, because where has that entire struggle for and by the working classes ended up.

That’s a question that we should all consider very carefully as we move towards the general election in the weeks to come, because one thing should now be clear about capitalism – it can never be made to work in the interests of the workers anywhere in the world. It is based (as it has always been) on their poverty and exploitation and can only work in the interests of the privileged owning class!

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Post By: Brain Hopper or In the Box

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Save Dad's Job Please!

I’ve been following and highlighting when I can the developments within the steel working community and particularly of those workers in my former home town Scunthorpe. And this year which I’m reliably informed, marks 120 years of steel making, as if such celebrations and their preparations are what steelworkers have on their minds in these the difficult dark days of uncertainty. I follow the posts and discussions that steelworkers have on the local newspapers website, and have done so for the last two years, they project and convey, make known, pass on information of just how bad things are looking, an insight into the thoughts of this once focused and proud workforce. And I say once; as I always come away somewhat depressed with a real conscious awareness that these workers have their backs to the wall and the bosses are milking them for all they are worth!

When you read some of the posts by young steelworkers, it’s as if you were standing next to them and they in turn are offloading their fears, what lies ahead, will we be in a job next week, next year and so on, these are men and women who do a very physical, dangerous and demanding occupation, and it’s as if they are being made to walk mentally across the top of the coke oven battery barefooted.

As I write and compose this post steelworkers are considering what action if any can be taken in regard to the Redcar mothballing last week of it’s last remaining blast furnace, and the dumping at a single stroke at the doors of the dole office 1600 workers, with a real threat that they could be joined latter by an additional 8000 from connected industry, what would be best described as the domino effect.

The steelworkers at Scunthorpe's Corus works could take industrial action in support of their colleagues at the mothballed Teesside plant, if trade union demands are not met, and the National Trade Union Steel Co-ordinating Committee (NTUSCC) has given Corus a 14-day grace period to choose its course of action over the future of the Teesside Cast Products plant or else! A statement released by the NTUSCC said:

"Corus now has an opportunity to show genuine leadership and to demonstrate its willingness to find an alternative future for Teesside by meeting constructively with potential and credible off-takers or buyers.

"If Corus fails to demonstrate the necessary leadership, statesmanship and progress in the next 14 days, regrettably, we will need to implement alternative plans to safeguard steelmaking across the UK."

Now this is fighting talk I suppose, but I wouldn’t hold my breath, the leaders of our Trade Unions are very good at talking big and bold and then slipping out of the frame after applying the damp squid.

One interesting statement came from disgraced Labour MP Elliot Morley he said: "I think the unions are sensible to have this 14-day period.

"The thing is to try everything to find an alternative customer or buyer for the Teesside plant because there are many thousands of jobs at stake there.

"If the situation was reversed, I would be doing everything I could to make sure the Scunthorpe works stayed open."

What’s he saying?

Here is a link to a short 1960 film made for the Panorama TV programme, very interesting I recommend you take a butchers!

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Monday, 1 March 2010

The Green... Green... Workbenches of Westminster...

About 25 years or so ago I remember attending somewhere in London a T&G broad left meeting, held in a school, and sitting in front of me was a well dressed Jack Dromey. So no prizes for guessing who Jack is then, he is the other half or husband to Harriet Harman the deputy Leader of the Labour Party. Jack also happens to be the Party treasurer and works fulltime as deputy general secretary for the Unite union, which is the relatively new branding of the old T&G.

I also remember attending on one occasion the picket line at Grunwick in Brent that would have been 33 years ago. Jack Dromey was then the Secretary of Brent Trades Council and a leading player in that famous dispute. George Ward the Grunwick Boss heaped vilification on young Jack as I recall. However with the passage of time people change, Jack made himself a name rising up the Trade Union ladder in fact becoming a part of the Labour aristocracy and from those very humble beginnings.

Now the reason I’m blogging about Jack is because I’ve just learnt that he has been selected to contest a Birmingham seat for New Labour at the next general election, the party has announced, he is to stand for the Erdington the seat vacated by Sion Simon who stood down earlier this month to be Birmingham's first elected mayor.

Jack is quoted by the BBC as saying that he was "honoured" to be chosen and had been working for social justice in the city for the past 25 years.

Labour held Erdington with a majority of 9,575 in the last general election.

Well I suppose with an election looming in the very near future for a new General Secretary of Unite, maybe Jack decided it’s time to move on to new pastures, and non as greener and lucrative as the green benches of Westminster!

The Dromey File

Jack Dromey (born 21 September 1948) is a British trade unionist, Deputy General Secretary of the Transport and General Workers Union and Treasurer of the Labour Party. He was for some time the Secretary of the Brent Trades Council, including when it organised the Grunwick Dispute in 1977. He is married to Harriet Harman, the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party.

Dromey was elected Deputy General Secretary of the Transport and General Workers Union, having lost the 2003 election for General Secretary to Tony Woodley by a wide margin. Dromey is active in the Labour Party, serving on its National Executive Committee (NEC).

Dromey first came to public prominence for his involvement in the strike at the Grunwick film processing laboratory in the mid-1970s. The mostly female Asian workforce at Grunwick went on strike to demand that company boss George Ward recognise their union; instead, Ward dismissed the strikers, leading to a year long confrontation involving mass picketing and some violence. The strike was unsuccessful and ended without any concession at all from Grunwick.

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