Friday, 26 February 2021

Alice Cooper - Detroit Stories New Album

The long awaited new album from Alice Cooper Detroit Stories was delivered this morning. With fifteen great tracks including Rock & Roll (featured below) this gives plenty of entertainment for your dollar as they say.

Of particular interest was Hanging On By A Thread (Don't Give Up) which ends with Alice giving out the (US) Suicide Help Line. 

Alice is one of my favourite artists and have a number of his albums from over the years starting with the one that brought him to my attention when I was a schoolboy which was of course Schools Out which was a bit of a slogan back in the seventies.

Planet Rock broadcasts the Alice Cooper syndicated Radio Show on weekday nights. 

More info: Planet Rock Radio

Official website:

Tuesday, 23 February 2021

Israel: Support Histradut's Campaign for trade union rights


10bis, the Israeli branch of the Dutch global food delivery company Just Eat, is denying its workers their right to unionise.

Food couriers have worked tirelessly throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, risking themselves to serve the needs of hundreds of thousands of clients during the pandemic.

In October 2020, half of the 10bis couriers unionised in the Histadrut, Israel's national trade union centre, and demanded insurance for couriers and recognition of their bonuses as components of their salaries.

But the company has tried to prevent unionisation, intimidated organisers, refused to negotiate with the workers and attempted to dismiss the workers' council leader.

While Just Eat boasts in its code of conduct that they recognize employees' freedom to establish or join a trade union of their choice, these are nothing than mere words on paper.

Join with us to tell Just Eat to stop the 10bis union-busting attempt, recognise the workers' council, begin good-faith negotiations and cancel the efforts to dismiss worker representatives.

Click here to send your message.

For more information on Histradut, the Israeli trade union federation:

An International campaign in conjunction with:

Friday, 19 February 2021

Black Sabbath - "Paranoid" - Live in Paris 1970 (Red Vinyl Release) (Coda Records)

Coda Records have released a limited edition red vinyl edition of Black Sabbath's performance of their second album Paranoid from Paris in 1970. This was solicited some time back and only arrived today and was part of the 50th Anniversary of the album.

Of course I'd only just started secondary school that year and didn't actually hear the original album until a couple of years later thanks to a pal whose older brother had a collection of prog/early metal albums. My first Black Sabbath album was Vol 4. I've been a fan of the band and Ozzy's solo career ever since.

Paraniod reached number 1 in the UK charts and went Gold. In the USA it reached No 11 and went four times Platinum!

Considering this is a live recording the musicianship, vocals and production are excellent. If you want to get a copy I've posted a link under the video of the opening song.

Available from:

Wednesday, 17 February 2021

The Pretty Reckless - Death By Rock And Roll (New Album)

The latest album from the American band The Pretty Reckless was released on Friday and finally arrived in the post today but was certainly worth the wait. Death By Rock And Roll has a solid twelve songs on this CD, no filler, no duff tracks just professionally produced rock music that we need to hear in the current climate.

Taylor Momsen delivers heartfelt vocals on every track and performs well in all the videos that have been issued to coincide with the release of this album and I've chosen my favourite to give you a taste of their music especially if you are not familiar with this band.

Death By Rock And Roll is the bands fourth studio album since being formed in New York, 2009.

The Pretty Reckless are Taylor Momsen (vocals)  Ben Phillips on lead guitar, Mark Damon on bass and Jamie Perkins on drums.

Tuesday, 16 February 2021

Bristol Momentum join Labour In Exile to organise a Campaign Strike against Labour


The comrades of Bristol West got a shock at their recent AGM as the party turned against them and faced a complete wipe-out. However a Militant is never without an answer to any problem and they organised a vote amongst themselves for a boycott of helping the Labour Party to which they belong and had sought to control. 

Bristol West Momentum issued the following announcement on Facebook: 

We are thrilled that a whopping NINETY-SIX PERCENT of respondents agreed to hold a campaign strike in protest at the recent attacks on democracy in our region!

The campaign strike means we will encourage our membership not to campaign for any candidate who hasn't signed the letter in support of those who have unjustly lost their candidacies; and targeting campaign efforts only towards those who have signed.
We believe that those who don't support your rights don't deserve our efforts to get them elected.
We will be in touch about campaigning for candidates who have signed this letter of support:

Momentum once again illustrates that it has become more than a pressure or ginger group inside Labour and operates as a "party within a party" and by organising this action have effectively placed themselves outside the Party and should be invited to join their former comrades in Labour In Exile who are also undertaking such action and have issued the following Press Statement:

Labour Party members plan to take a form of extraordinary strike action — against their own party.

The action is being planned by the Labour In Exile Network (LIEN) group to protest against the suspensions of members under the leadership of Keir Starmer.

Under the plan members will only campaign for Labour Party candidates prepared to condemn the suspensions.

Christine Tongue of LIEN said: “Hundreds of people, including many party officers, have been suspended since Keir Starmer became leader, unfairly and without even a semblance of natural justice. This is a purge — and we are going to take collective action to stop it.”

The group aims to target the May elections to local government.

Hardly an action that will go down with the vast majority of hard working Labour activists who will be out doing what they can around the pandemic.  Frankly the majority of these people won't be missed. Members of Bristol Momentum got a shock on the doorstep when a small group turned up to do some canvassing and found out how unpopular his holiness the Corbyn was on the doorstep.

These comrades need to realise they don't belong in the Labour Party. Time to show them the door. 

Monday, 15 February 2021

News from the Labour Party National Executive Committee

There are two useful reports of the proceedings of the Labour Party National Executive Committee from slightly different perspectives. I have published them together in the interest of debate.

Luke Akehurst is a leading member of the moderate Labour First group. Anne Black is more to the left but was supported by the Labour First as someone who was part of the broader spectrum of the Labour Party. 

Luke Akehurst writes:

NEC Report - 11 February 2021

Although there have been the NEC Away Day and a special meeting to deal with the EHRC Action Plan, this was the first ordinary full NEC meeting I have attended since my election back onto the NEC in November.

Apparently, it was a better meeting that others in 2020 had been. The mind boggles about what they were like if this was a “better” one. Presumably, any improvement is down to the changed political balance. There is now a clear working majority that supports the leadership, making any votes that are forced performative displays of victimhood by the Hard Left for the benefit of their reports to the (rapidly dwindling based on the results of recent CLP AGMs) Momentum email list.

When I served on the NEC from 2010 to 2012 it was characterised by being a friendly, collegiate body, where people from across the spectrum of party opinion looked for issues where they could work together, treated each other respectfully, and were polite and positive towards the leadership and the General Secretary.

This longstanding culture has been broken and needs to be restored. I am assured by people who have served in the interim that the breakdown in good manners and professional behaviour is very recent, and that despite profound concerns about his leadership, moderate NEC members treated Jeremy Corbyn with respect and courtesy.

Now we have a situation where the majority on the NEC are behaving in a comradely, professional way and a minority are being relentlessly uncomradely.

The six and a half hours of the NEC meeting included large sections where the time of people of good will who are trying to make Labour electable was wasted in order for people who don’t want Keir to succeed to undermine him with a litany of negativity.

Time, because of what members choose to focus their questions on, is disproportionately spent on attack lines about confected internal cause celebres that excite the hyper-active, have already been extensively aired on social media and are of very little interest to the mass of party members let alone Labour or potentially Labour voters (whether Keir should appear next to our national flag, the end of the Community Organising Unit, suspensions for ignoring instructions about non-competent business, Jeremy Corbyn’s disciplinary case, something that Lord Falconer has said). Rather less time is spent making positive proposals or offering constructive scrutiny that might help the party staff with their immediate and huge task of rebuilding a party traumatised by the Corbyn era and winning the bumper lot of elections that are happening in May.

It is like having an opposition party inside the NEC meeting trying actively to damage the party. On occasion people were overtly personally rude as well.

I think this is a terrible waste. There are talented people from across the political spectrum on the NEC. If everyone played their role as team players we could achieve so much more, and in fact the left of the party would be far more likely to advance its agenda by being collegiate and constructive.

This is not a good use of Keir, Angela or David’s time, and their forbearance, dignity and calm in putting up with this nonsense is extraordinary, as is Margaret Beckett’s skill as chair.

Keir’s report was delivered from Heathrow where he had been meeting Unite union reps in solidarity with their dispute over fire and rehire. He outlined Labour’s approach to the Budget on 3 March and to the May elections, stressing that we want to “build forward” to a different, more equal future, rather than “build back” to the pre-Covid world as the Tories want. Keir said Labour will be fleshing out the detail of our practical “Recovery and Rebuild” policy proposals, which are in the three areas of health and wellbeing, the economy, and redistributing power.

Keir reported that Labour had forced Opposition Day debates on topics that were important to raise in Parliament and divided Tory MPs: fire and rehire, Universal Credit and Cladding.

In the Q&A I asked Keir to emulate the Biden campaign by consistently driving home the message about the need to sign up for postal votes.

Keir was on incredible form and dealt with all the questions, positive and negative, with great answers.

Angela Rayner’s report focused on campaigning but again there were silly attempts by the Hard Left to extract damaging answers, such as asking for foolhardy predictions about May’s elections. Have these people never heard of expectation management? I was pleased that Angela specifically picked up on my theme about postal voting and set out steps that are being taken.

David Evans read out a letter from the Forde Inquiry, saying they had had to pause publication of their report while the Information Commissioner’s Office conducted an investigation into the data breach associated with the leak that Forde was investigating. The report has already been delayed because the panel has conducted so many interviews and considered so many submissions. The letter has now been published on the Forde Inquiry website:

David also covered progress on the Organise to Win 2024 programme of organisational change, staff diversity, and the EHRC Action Plan, where he reported on creation of an Antisemitism Advisory Board (biographies here: ) and said training for staff and the NEC would be completed by 29 April.

On the suspensions for ignoring guidance about non-competent business about antisemitism there had been no blanket policy of suspensions, they had been on a case-by-case basis and were being resolved by Disputes Panel hearings. The key issue was that the EHRC Report had made the Labour Party legally responsible for the actions of its “agents” down to the level of councillors and branch and CLP officers. David said he would, after consulting the NEC, recast and reissue an updated set of guidance in order for CLPs to be able to frame discussions about antisemitism in a safe and inclusive way. He would also change the disciplinary process so that members could be issued with reminders of conduct and formal warnings without them having to be suspended.

I welcomed David’s proposed change to the disciplinary process as I don’t think it is fair for people breaching the rules in less serious cases to lose their right to hold office for months and eventually only get a written reprimand. But I made it clear that I supported the party having taken the action then available to it to stop uncontrolled debates about issues around antisemitism, which could have created flash points that would have caused a hostile environment for Jewish members and could have led to further legal and EHRC problems for the party. I said that many members had contacted me demanding the party take action to tackle the unpleasant culture in their CLPs and desperately wanted positive debates about policy and campaigning, not meeting after acrimonious meeting focused on the debate around antisemitism and the disciplinary process.

The membership report revealed we now have over 512,000 members, 19% of whom have joined since the start of 2020. I urged the party to work with affiliated unions to bring union members into full individual membership to redress the longstanding disproportionate bias in the party’s membership towards older middle class white male graduates and the London and South East regions.

We were given an update on the review of how the party makes policy, which will now move to a period of focussed engagement led by Angela, with rule changes to be proposed at Annual Conference. David said he was committed to there being a 2021 Annual Conference but Covid meant there were still two scenarios, a full conference and a socially distant one.

The most important item from my point of view was the update on the May elections, presented by the newly appointed Executive Director Elections & Field Delivery, Anna Hutchinson. This is a uniquely challenging double set of elections, with the added complication of Covid meaning that doorstep campaigning is unlikely to be possible and in-person voters will be told to wear a mask and even take their own pen or pencil! The party’s top priorities are maximising the number of postal voters, which we are describing as “early voters” as postal voting has connotations of being for older people only; and using the newly upgraded Dialogue phone canvassing. It was fantastic to hear that as much canvassing is now being done via Dialogue as was being done conventionally pre-lockdown. I was pleased that Anna responded positively to my suggestion of greater use of twinning and targeting of key marginal areas given that this is particularly easy when almost all the work is being done by phone. She said the party will be pushing a message to CLPs that every third Dialogue session they run should be in support of a marginal area.

We agreed that in Sandwell, where there has been a lot of local infighting (largely unrelated to national left vs. right conflicts), to ensure the council candidate selections are run fairly they should be untaken by panels consisting of regional appointees, and we added two of our own NEC colleagues, Nick Forbes and James Asser, to the panel line-ups.

A working group to come up with a model for re-establishing a student wing of the Labour Party was agreed. I was very pleased to be appointed to serve on this as I am a former National Secretary of Labour Students.

We agreed that overseas members in the Labour International CLP should be allowed to pay the concessionary membership fee if they are unwaged, when previously all overseas members had been charged the full rate.

Finally, we agreed to sign up the Labour Party to the employer aspects of the Armed Forces Covenant.

Anne Black (Independent)

NEC Report, 11 February 2021

Keir Starmer joined from Heathrow where he was supporting Unite members, on strike against plans to fire and rehire them on worse conditions. He stressed the importance of the May elections. With Scotland, Wales, London, councils, mayors, police and crime commissioners, and all the 2020 contests rolled in, this was the biggest test outside a UK general election. With normal campaigning on pause, phone canvassing was central. Before then the budget on 3 March would present clear choices. The last year had a huge impact on families and jobs, and Labour had challenged the government on its slowness, incompetence and indecision, its underfunding of public services, and the underlying structural inequalities laid bare by the pandemic. The Tories would go back to the broken past, while Labour would build forwards, just as the 1945 Labour government created a better society out of the rubble of war. Policies on health and wellbeing, power, and the economy would be developed across the movement. In parliament Labour had used opposition day debates to call for maintaining the £20 uplift to universal credit and to highlight the scandal of unsafe cladding still in place four years after Grenfell. The Tories don’t even bother to turn up.

Responding to comments, Keir Starmer agreed that postal votes were critical, job retention schemes should be extended before they expire, public service workers deserved pay rises, and long Covid was a growing concern. The low level of statutory sick pay was the biggest reason for Covid-positive people not self-isolating and not passing on contact details for friends. The deepest form of patriotism was the desire for a better country, the cause for which we all campaign. Labour aspired to govern for the whole of the United Kingdom, and using the national flag was inclusive and appropriate.

I asked about the spycops (covert and human intelligence sources) bill. Keir Starmer said it was impossible to tackle terrorism, criminal gangs or people-trafficking without undercover agents. Currently these agents operate entirely outwith the law, and though not flawless the bill would put them on a statutory footing, with safeguards. No action could be authorised if it breached the human rights act, and it was not true that the bill legitimised murder, torture or sexual violence. I also asked for direct mailings to members, similar to the excellent local government briefings, highlighting the work of Labour MPs and explaining frontbench positions. Most of us have no other source of information.

On schools Keir Starmer assured the NEC that he was in frequent contact with the education unions. Far from uncritically following the government, Labour had challenged Boris Johnson over personal and protective equipment, discharging Covid-positive patients into care homes, failings in test / trace / isolate, and circuit-breakers, on all of which the Tories subsequently changed position, as well as continuing to hold them to account through opposition day debates. On protests by Indian farmers he would speak again with Stephen Kinnock, who was leading for Labour. He ended by offering to talk further with individuals, and most NEC members agreed that all efforts should go into flat-out campaigning for May.

Deputy Leader’s Report

Angela Rayner continued the election theme, and shared NEC members’ concerns about safety for voters and election workers. Labour had made some progress on increasing the diversity of candidates, but there was much more to do. Parties with rich donors able to pay postage for direct mails should not gain an unfair advantage. She had visited a vaccination centre, met Black leaders in Birmingham, and supported GMB workers at British Gas also facing fire-and-rehire threats. Labour would keep pushing on free school meals and Tory cronyism. She asked the NEC to send solidarity to Charlotte Nichols, MP for Warrington North, who had received anti-semitic abuse from a Tory town council candidate.

Members said that much was still unclear. Do police and crime commissioner candidates still need 100 signatures, could people sign up electronically for postal votes, how will get-out-the-vote work on election day? For polling stations a few bottles of bleach and bring-your-own-pencil was not a plan. The government should be pressed to restore the scheme for access to elected office and funding for deaf and disabled people, and the party should consider what more it could do to support disabled members.

Others asked about the future of community organisers, a recurring theme of the meeting. As a UNISON activist Angela helped to lead the change to an organising culture which was so central to fighting austerity, and she was totally committed to the principles. (In my view year-round doorstep discussions with voters, being rooted in local communities and going beyond box-ticking voter-ID are what Labour activists and representatives should be doing anyway.) She was happy to help with signing up young people for postal votes, and praised the Welsh Labour government for leading the way on controlling the coronavirus.

Why Are We Waiting?

NEC members were stunned to hear the latest from the Forde inquiry into last year’s leaked report, though someone was not too stunned to forward the “confidential” letter to LabourList and the Guardian within minutes. Its publication will now wait till the information commissioner’s office (ICO) has finished investigating the same leak, to avoid potentially prejudicing their work. I am (almost) speechless, but I can give categoric assurances that absolutely no-one in the leadership or the party wants this dragging on. Until the truth is out, slurs and falsehoods will continue to be stated as facts, within the NEC and beyond.

As the inquiry is independent the party cannot and would not interfere or make demands. However this raises questions about moving towards independent complaints procedures. The party’s internal processes may be slow, but as an NEC representative I can still talk to staff about where cases have got stuck. Independence has its drawbacks. Meanwhile we were reminded that Forde’s terms of reference never delegated the NEC’s powers to adjudicate on individual disciplinary issues, and it is entirely proper for these to be heard by the disputes panels, as with any other allegations.

Internal Matters

General secretary David Evans gave an update on organisational changes. A diversity and inclusion board, staff equalities networks, equality audits and improved recruitment practices were in hand, and the party was engaging with the Labour Women’s Network, the Labour Muslim Network, and anti-Black racism movements. Training in anti-semitism would be provided to NEC members.

Along with other constituency representatives I raised the number of suspensions, the time taken to resolve them, the singling out of local chairs and secretaries, and the effects on those who had been selected as candidates, some of whom were being replaced before their cases were settled. Unfortunately banning people from discussing something is guaranteed to make them want to talk about nothing else.

David Evans reminded the NEC that the EHRC (equalities and human rights commission) held the national party legally responsible for the actions of its “agents”, defined very broadly to include MPs, councillors, candidates and local role-holders. The culture had to be corrected but free speech was indeed important, and he would recast the guidance in a safe and inclusive manner. This would go to NEC officers for approval, and though I am in the officers’ group I supported those who argued for involving the whole NEC.

David also said that where it was clear that the reported behaviour would not lead to serious sanctions, a suspension would not have to be imposed, something which I thought was already the case. The disproportionate impact on selected candidates was recognised, but sadly not remedied. A paper outlining what powers were delegated, and to whom, would come to the NEC in May.

Membership figures showed some decline from the highest-ever level in January 2020, but still well above the 430,359 total in November 2019. Overall more than 56% of members are male, and the proportions who self-identify as BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) or disabled are below population levels, though this might be improved by more proactive data collection. The percentage of BAME members who had lapsed or resigned was about the same as the percentage for membership as a whole.

Party Democracy

More than 2,000 submissions on improving policy-making processes had been received, with concerns that current structures, and connections between the national policy forum, conference and the manifesto, were opaque. There was also wide recognition that Labour members are not necessarily representative of the public as a whole. The next phase of consultation was planned to run to early May, but I got this extended to June so that local parties can discuss it after the elections.

There will be a fully-democratic online women’s conference in June, but whether annual conference can meet wholly or partly in person is still in doubt. Compositing would be a challenge, though the problems are compounded by leaving the deadline for motions at 13 September. This was necessary when motions had to meet the arbitrary “contemporary” criteria by referring to something happening after 1 August, but now that has been ditched the cutoff could be earlier, and allow for more sensible deliberation.

Looking Forward …

By the time we considered detailed plans for the May elections the meeting was entering its fifth hour, though some of the broader issues had already been covered. Representatives from Scotland and Wales, both facing general elections, spoke about their specific national challenges. Twinning and targeting should be easier while everyone is online rather than travelling, and disabled members must be fully included. I believe that accessibility issues with Dialogue, the phone-canvassing tool, are being addressed.

Returning to the NEC’s own terms of reference, we agreed that papers should be circulated seven days before meetings. Getting nerdy, I am concerned that subcommittee minutes and officers’ decisions no longer come to the next NEC in draft but have to be confirmed by their subcommittee first. With fewer meetings overall, this leaves many NEC members outside the loop for months. While I agree that the number of meetings is unlikely to correlate positively with electoral success, lengthy gaps mean that more decisions are taken by committee chairs or smaller and less accountable groups. There are no scheduled NEC meetings between 11 February and 25 May.

Vacancies on various committees and working groups were filled on the pleasingly consensual basis of accepting everyone who was interested. The group charged with developing a new structure for student members includes the NEC chair, vice-chair, treasurer, youth representative, socialist societies representative, the deputy leader/party chair, Michael Wheeler from the NEC trade union section, Luke Akehurst and Gemma Bolton from the CLP section, and the elected student representatives from the Young Labour national committee.

The only disagreement was in deciding which NEC members should join two West Midlands executive members in selecting candidates in Sandwell. I voted for Yasmine Dar, so that the NEC representatives would include a woman and a person of colour, but lost 18-14. However we are promised that immediately after May the new Sandwell Labour group will hold their AGM and a proper Sandwell local government committee will be constituted and empowered to manage future selections.

More about Money

A paper on CLP fees and funding, arising from the 2018 democracy review, had been deferred before and was now seriously out of date. As I have said many times the 2011 Refounding Labour settlement needs a root-and-branch review. I was shocked to hear that Scottish CLPs are charged £600 or more to affiliate to Scottish Labour, way above the English regional fees of up to £270, and on a much smaller membership. So a CLP with 280 members receives £770 from membership subscriptions and then gets a bill for £660 before paying for a single leaflet.

I am initially asking for the Euro-levy to be refunded on the same flat-rate basis as it was collected, which should amount to over £1,000 per CLP. Also conference 2020 was cancelled so the £116 delegate fee should be credited as well. But more fundamental reforms and a fairer, more sustainable system are needed. The NEC did, however, agree that members of Labour International should be eligible for reduced membership rates on the same basis as other members, now they no longer require expensive postage.

And finally the NEC agreed to commit to the armed forces covenant, supporting the employment of veterans, reservists and service spouses and partners, and noted a report on Labour Connected.

Thursday, 11 February 2021

Communist Party and Militant prepare electoral challenges against Labour


The downfall of the Corbyn project has led to the revival of the far-left's attempts to stand in the elections. First up is the old Stalinist Communist Party of Britain (Morning Star) who announced in their internal broadsheet Unity that:

BRITAIN’S COMMUNISTS are to mount their biggest electoral challenge for years. In the 2017 and 2019 general elections the Communist party worked for a Labour victory and a left-led government.

In the May election thousands of council seats are up for contest along with the Scottish, Welsh and London assemblies. In local contests the first past-the-post system is in place but in the assembly elections there is a mixed system with some seats filled with the FPTP system and some seats elected on a proportional basis.

The elections will be held with many lockdown restriction still in place. Communist Party chair Liz Payne said: ‘COVID-19 restrictions won’t prevent the Party fighting the elections.

At the time of writing the number and areas the CPB is standing in has not been announced.

Meanwhile not to be left out the Socialist Party (the largest of the fragments of the old Militant Tendency) along with the RMT union and Resist (Chris Williamson's new organisation apparently) has revived the much vaunted Trade Union & Socialist Coalition infamous for one of it's candidates polling no votes whatsoever.
Nancy Taaffe from London outlined how "in Sadiq Khan we have a mini-Kier Starmer" planning further attacks on workers
Despite total electoral failure in the past one of their more deluded supporters was reported in the latest issue of The Socialist as saying:

Pete McLaren, representing those socialists that support TUSC and are not members of a constituent part of the coalition, said: "TUSC is a stepping stone in the process of building a mass working-class political party, and has made tremendous strides in the last 10 years."

An odd thing to say about a grouping that has lost two of it's constituent organisations (the SWP and Socialist Resistance) whilst the Socialist Party itself lost around a third of it's members plus nearly all it's trade union representation and influence inside the main civil service union PCS.

Wednesday, 10 February 2021

Scottish Nationalism OK, British Nationalism not? The left's confused approach


Photo: By Azerifactory

Kei Starmers recent move to embrace the country we all live in and move away from the perceived "anti-Britishness" left behind by his predecessor has caused an outcry on the left and accusations of "petty nationalism" being behind so many of our probelems and will enable racism. The latter is a bit of a joke after the well documented antisemitism outbreak on the so called left that these people proclaim to be from.

A clear example of this hypocrisy is shown in the latest issue of Socialist Worker where on the one hand they report:

A new organisation, Now Scotland, was launched last weekend to campaign for Scottish independence. Over 1,500 people had joined by Sunday afternoon.

Co-convenor George Kerevan told Socialist Worker, “The independence movement has long since spilled out beyond the Scottish National Party (SNP), so the ­movement needs an umbrella to unite it.

“It is obvious that there are deep tensions within the SNP over ­strategy and policy.

“Now Scotland wants to unite the movement in action and allow people to argue their separate political positions.

“One thing Now Scotland can do, because we don’t have the baggage of a political party, is to reach out to the unions and even to Labour Party members.....

The Socialist Workers Party said, “There is now a consistent majority in Scotland who support independence. However, the SNP seems incapable of making a serious push to achieve the break-up of the British state.

In other words full support to Scottish nationalism. Most of the left takes a similar view. 

However the SWP along with other left groups including the Communist Party and the remnants of Militant all opposed British membership of the EU.

Image: Socialist Worker's anti-internationalism?

Yet as always if anyone takes pride in their own country and waves the flag we are condemned. Socialist Worker continues

There are layers upon layers of dangerous lies behind Labour’s turn towards nationalism under Keir Starmer.

The biggest lie is that this is something unifying and progressive. The most dangerous is that it’s about identifying with the needs and demands of working class people.

For all the pretence that talking about “patriotism” shouldn’t be taken as a sop to racism and the right, it very clearly is.

Why else would Labour target areas where it thinks patriotism is an election-winning issue with adverts carrying the dog whistle message, “Britain is locked down. But the borders are still open. Any idea why?”

Patriotism has nothing to do with racism or the far right and can be a unifying factor to bring the country together regardless of background. There is no need to be ashamed of being British. This country has been long welcoming of immigrant communities and most have successfully integrated. 

Yes there are problems. The UK just like every other country in the world has it's issues and racism is not just a white phenomenon. Ask the people  of West Papua about their treatment by Indonesia or look at the fate of the Tibetans and Uyghur in China. The list is legion...

Much of the working class that these Socialist Worker types arrogantly claim to be the vanguard of is highly patriotic and tolerant. Seeking to control immigration and take action about people entering the UK without checks during a pandemic is not racist in any shape or form. Simply a reasonable policy that should, especially with the latter been implemented much earlier.

Tuesday, 9 February 2021

The far-left free speech conference farce

As the the far left project inside the Labour Party fails and thousands of them head back to whence they came a number of recidivists have formed factions around which to organise and shout loudly from even if their audience has shrunk to just the hard core.

Take the much vaunted Free Speech Conference promoted by the comrades to take place on-line this weekend. It should bring them all thereto to make their case collectively one would have thought, but no the inclusion of one speaker led to a potential boycott by many of the others effectivley "no-platforming" her.

Before we turn to the actual case in hand it's worth remembering that the hard left has itself been no-platforming all sorts of people mostly over women's rights speakers where their views clash with their inability to recognise that the issue is not straightforward and there is a clash of rights or interests which needs to be thoroughly debated without censoring views that others don't like.

It's called ironically "free speech" but as is the case with the hard left when they talk about such freedoms they only want it for themselves. The likes of feminists such as Germane Greer are not afforded such niceties and like many other women are refused speaking facilities in universities and meetings are violently picketed and even attacked in the name of their favoured side.

Hardly surprising that a lot of us refer to them as "Blackshirts" given their propensity to shout sown women and Jews Zionists, conservatives and anyone else they don't like and want to silence. JK Rowling got vilely attacked with rape and death threats by activists who don't want their views questioned in any way.

The reason for me taking the time to point out the way the debate over trans-rights vs women's rights is because the far left cannot tolerate dissent even within it's own ranks and consider even some of their supposed fellow travellers suspect. 

Labour Against the Witch Hunt report:

We are very concerned to hear that Esther Giles of the successful campaign Save Our Socialists and Labour in Exile Network, has been de-invited from the February 7 ‘Stop the Labour Lockout’ event. She was billed to speak next to Alan Gibbons and Gaya Sriskanthan of Momentum, Matt Wrack of the Fire Brigades Union, Leah Levane of Jewish Voice for Labour and Socialist Councillors and many more.

But the day before the event, she was contacted and it was explained to her that some speakers had threatened to withdraw from the rally if Esther was allowed to speak. The reason: three years ago, she supported a comrade who was pressurised to make a statement about trans women. Esther’s feeling was that - regardless of the issue of the debate - nobody should be bullied. We continue to campaign side by side with all those oppressed by this capitalist society, including (but not only) women and all our LGBT comrades......

It is also highly debatable whether this event really presents a “major united left initiative”, as Jewish Voice for Labour puts it here. Neither the Labour in Exile Network, the Labour Left Alliance nor Labour Against the Witchhunt have been invited to participate in what is billed as an ongoing campaign. This is particularly troubling, as these three organisations have been among the most outspoken opponents of the purge of left-wingers and Corbyn supporters

The three overlapping memberships of the groupscules LAW, the LLA and the LIN seem to have been sidelined by the conference organisers. Shades of Monty Python once again it would seem.

Friday, 5 February 2021

Shout it Out Loud: #NoBeijing2022 #FreeTibet


Today marks the one-year countdown to the Beijing 2022 Winter Games.

For Tibet supporters who do not follow winter sports, it may come as a shock that Beijing will be hosting the Winter Olympics next year, and not just because of the lack of snow...
  • Has the International Olympic Committee forgotten that the 2008 Beijing Olympics took place in the shadow of protests and brutal crackdowns in Tibet?
  • Does the IOC realise that since 2008, the human rights situation under the Chinese Communist Party has plummeted to new depths?
  • Has the IOC considered that Beijing is home to a regime that is currently carrying out cultural destruction and torture in Tibet? Or massive crackdowns in Hong Kong? Or genocide against Uyghurs?
Today, we proudly joined 180 of our allies in calling on governments for a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Games.

But we also want to get our message through to the IOC. The IOC needs to see the faces of the brave people who struggle to protect their livelihoods, culture or even their very existence.

Take Twitter by Storm!

Every Thursday for the next 52 weeks, we will share an image of a political prisoner or key human rights concern on our social media. We invite supporters to share them, on their accounts and ALSO in the comments on the IOC’s Twitter and Facebook pages.

Further information:

Thursday, 4 February 2021

Kazakhstan: Hands off the unions!


By Turkish Flame

Eric Lee writes: 

Another independent union is under threat in Kazakhstan, a country notorious for its anti-union policies and persecution of union leaders.

A local authority filed a lawsuit to suspend the Trade Union of the Fuel and Energy Industry Workers, with more than 4,000 members in the oil, metallurgical, energy and other industries in eight regions of Kazakhstan.

The authorities filed this lawsuit on the initiative of a number of oil and gas companies.

In recent years, Kazakh authorities have intensified pressure on independent unions by prosecuting and sentencing union leaders on politically motivated charges.

This pressure has seriously weakened the union movement in Kazakhstan.

Not for the first time, Kazakh trade unionists are appealing for global labour solidarity.

We have just now gone live with an online campaign sponsored by the International Trade Union Confederation, IndustriALL global union and the Central Asia Labour Rights Monitoring Mission.

I'd like to ask you to do two things:

1. Please click here to support their campaign for workers' rights

2. Please recruit one other person -- a family member, a co-worker, a friend -- to also sign up to this campaign.

Let's send thousands of messages today, from all over the world, to the government in Kazakhstan with our very simple message: hands off the unions!

Wednesday, 3 February 2021

RMT General Secretary Election: Back Mick Lynch

Photo: RMT

The election for the new General Secretary of the Rail, Maritime & Transport Union (RMT) is currently beginning. The RMT is no longer affiliated to the Labour Party having been hijacked by the hard left who are currently trying to retake the GS post after losing it to Mick Cash a more mainstream candidate last time.

There has been much controversy surrounding the internal antics of the RMT which resulted i a leadership breakdown due to alleged bullying by the hard left. (Please see: The RMT union at breaking point for further details). 

Whilst the election may not affect the balance of power inside the Labour it would be in the long term  interests of the Party for Mick Lynch to win rather than his opponent Steve Hedley who is a hard line far-left activists who has links to the Socialist Party (who are backing him in this election) for which he was briefly a member but resigned due to a "personal controversy" some years ago.

The RMT is the main backer of the Trade Union & Socialist Coalition and provides much of the funding alongside the remains of the old Militant Tendency in the form of the Socialist Party. Hedley and the RMT NEC majority are very much promoters of this sectarian ultra left project

RMT Members should support Mick Lynch whose letter to branches is reproduced below:

The Covid-19 health crisis has amplified the many challenges we face. The employers and the government will be seeking dilutions of pay & conditions, pensions, and health & safety standards in order to restore profits and make working people pay for the crisis. They will also be seeking job cuts in our sectors.

Added to this are the existing challenges of new technology, outsourcing, and casualisation.

In the face of this, our members expect the RMT to be a united, professional and assertive union, ready to negotiate, but prepared to fight in order to protect them.

A united RMT is a powerful force capable of winning for our members. We can campaign, fight, and win as we have shown over the years. But our members need good campaigns they believe in, and will take action in support of their agenda.

In the period ahead we need to ensure that RMT is a strong and united Industrial Union that is entirely focused on our members’ needs rather than turning in on ourselves and being distracted from the real tasks our members need us to focus on.

Our union must evolve to suit the challenges before us.

We must develop our union so that we are fully suited to the campaigns ahead, but also so that we are vigorously engaged in the equality agenda – fighting racism, fighting discrimination.

We must bring forward new activists that reflect our diverse membership, our industrial sectors, and their real-life issues.

As General Secretary I will be fully committed to our members’ agenda, building and developing our union for the future, and bringing unity of purpose and action across the organisation.

I was blacklisted from the construction industry for trade union activity so joined the railway and RMT and my record is one of organising, building our strength, campaigning and negotiating good deals.

As an activist and elected RMT national official, I have always sought to do the best for our members and their causes. I believe I am a person that can bring our members together and take forward their campaigns and issues.

In my 42 years of trade union activism and as a national officer I have developed the ability and experience to articulate the RMT’s case and policies – in the branch room, at the negotiation table and in the broadcast media.

The members have to trust the union, believe in us and what we are doing. To identify with RMT from the shopfloor to the national leadership.

I believe that I am a national officer that unites RMT members across grades, sectors, regions and backgrounds. Throughout my time as a trade union activist and officer, workers and members have trusted me to take their issues forward.

We are rightly proud that our members and activists have made RMT a leading force in the working-class movement. We have shown the way through effective campaigns and industrial action, and by being a union that is brave enough to decide its own independent political outlook.

Our members have shown courage and commitment to their union and I am committed to RMT being at the service of our members and that the RMT can go on to further success – to grow and to win.

But that needs maximum unity in our ranks – all grades, all sectors. A united RMT can go on to achieve much more for our members.

I hope that as General Secretary I can play my part for this great union and in the campaigns ahead. I have the skills, knowledge and experience that members can trust in the times ahead and to take this union forward.

Therefore, I would be grateful if your branch would consider my name for nomination as RMT General Secretary.

Labour Party members in the RMT are requested to support Mick Lynch in both branch nominations and the vote for him in the coming election.

Monday, 1 February 2021

Spelthorne Labour Councillors quit and may link up with far-left TUSC


Two Corbyn supporting Labour Coucillors in Spelthorne have quit the Labour party and formed an "Independent Labour Group". Surrey Live reports:

Spelthorne Borough Council has lost half of its Labour Party councillors, who claim they were forbidden from showing any support for former national party leader Jeremy Corbyn.

The former group leader Veena Siva, and former deputy Jenny Vinson, said they are stepping down due to misgivings about current leader Keir Starmer, who they claim "has succeeded in tearing the party apart".

Spelthorne Labour said they should give up their seats on the council, and expect them to repay their campaign expenses on quitting the party, 20 months after election.

Cllrs Siva and Vinson say they will remain on Spelthorne Borough Council (SBC) in a new independent group, and "continue to defend policies promised to their ward residents" in 2019.

Their joint statement claimed (extracts):

After a great deal of agonising and soul-searching, we have been left with no option but to resign from the Labour Party.

For some months now we have been concerned about the direction the party has taken, as we see Keir Starmer and other members of the shadow cabinet row back on a number of policies in the Labour manifesto. This includes pledges Keir Starmer himself made in his leadership campaign with respect to social and economic justice, human rights, and uniting the party, to name but a few.......

Furthermore, instead of uniting the party, Keir Starmer has endorsed the decision to suspend Jeremy Corbyn. As a result, a number of Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs) have passed motions of no confidence in Keir Starmer and David Evans, general secretary of the Labour Party.

The final straw, which led us to leave the Labour Party, has been the suppression of free speech, debate and democracy in the party. Evans issued emails preventing CLPs from tabling motions showing solidarity with Jeremy Corbyn or calling for the restoration of the whip. CLPs and members have been threatened with suspension if they exercise their democratic right to table these 'forbidden' motions or even discuss the topics concerning them.

Showing their true political colours the Socialist Party (Militant) has announced:

Two Spelthorne Borough councillors; Veena Siva, Jenny Vinson, and CLP chair Sue Bryer, have resigned from the Labour party ahead of May's local council elections. They have entered into discussions with the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition about standing as part of the coalition.

The TUSC is a coalition of the far-left anti-Labour Party that includes the Socist Party, Socialist Workers Party and the RMT trade union.

By linking up with organisations that are opposed to and committed to overthrowing parliamentary democracy these two councillors have crossed the line into political extremism and illustrate why the hard line tendency that they were part of does not belong in the Labour Party.