Be ready to fight the Tories Latest anti-trade union attacks

Roy Jones exclusive if bit late.

This is a (subbed) of advice given by the NUJ Lawyer Roy Mintof as to the the Labour voting (apparently without reservations) for one of May’s Brexit Withdrawl Bill.

“First is the first rule of politics “never trust a Tory.” Especially when as in this case “Trust me” is their answer to the fact that they will be given by that act the opportunity to try to re-write or drop any law passed on behalf of the working class they don’t like and there are plenty.

In doing so we are telling the trade unions, who are responsible to their members defences and advances with their experience of Tory laws over the last 35 years that has sent them into near oblivion, To Trust the Tories, or are we? Is there some other tactic.

We know what the Blairite Labour Party MPs is up to, stay in Europe. surely Corbyn and his allies knows them by now, have dealt with them and will deal with them. And unlike many of us, have the vote to help them.

Directive which led to important extensions of State protection for pension benefits and protection for other claims;

In Employment Law there is a long list of workers’ rights granted by EU law, including anti-discrimination laws

There is of course the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, under 6 titles, Dignity, Freedoms, Equality, Solidarity, Citizens Rights and Justice and the protections afforded by the EU Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, with the European Court of Human Rights available in some instances.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) decides in The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) decides in favour of claimants quite frequently. It has made a considerable contribution to the protections we enjoy.

The European Court of Justice (CJEU) is also a forum that again, whilst by no means particularly progressive has in some instances been a useful route for workers, for example recently in determining holiday pay includes commission and leading to overtime being included in that.

“Older people are the glue that hold our society together.”*

*Age UK spokesperson

When the priority list for the run out of the Convid 19 coronavirus vaccine some queried the placing of those 80 and older amongst carers, cared for, and health worker

This based on the optimal strategy for minimising future deaths or quality adjusted life year (QALY) losses is to offer vaccination to older age groups first. Which “save the young by vaccinating the old” sounded perverse.

After all in recent times the following comment is typical: “The young tax-paying population has to fund, to its detriment, an ageing society.” – newspaper comment.

Politicians and the media daily told of an older generation that could not be afforded, having escaped the austerity cuts endured by the rest of the population, they should lose benefits such as free bus travel, winter fuel allowance, free prescriptions and TV licences. “The young are paying for the old now and in the future” they claimed.

In fact our twelve million older people are central, some say critically so, to Britain’s economy. “ Older people” are not an amorphous mass but millions of individuals with different backgrounds, wealth, health, and demeanour.

A half of grandmothers and fathers work and a third pay taxes. They care for each other and their grand children, they fill theatres and cinemas, buy books and newspapers, listen to and watch news and current affairs programmes and join phone-ins.

Charities would founder, sporting, cultural and leisure centres close if it were not for older peoples attendance at and their voluntary, unpaid labour not used in them.

A 2010 a survey by the Women’s Royal Voluntary Service showed that all of this contributed an astonishing £40 billion net to the economy. Proof above that Older people are the glue that hold our society together.”*

Only Prawns in the game!

Here’s one I made earlier (in the Morning Star) when things were different on the shop, and editorial, floors but still Prawn’s in the working game!

“You’ve got to remember the shop steward told the meeting, that we are only prawns in the game”

This now once famous phrase, once put to music is part of the folklore of shop stewardship, shop stewards have been maligned, muttered about and some claimed martyrdom since the shop stewards movement was started during the first world war. Their fame was such that the Boulting brothers made a film starring Peter Sellers proclaiming I’m Alright Jack.

That’s maybe what the Brothers thought

To say there was never a rush to take on the job is an understatement after all the men in the wight coats have only just taken the previous steward away.

When the chair asks for a nominee most remained rigid. But a poor soul finally shuffles his feet and mutters “well if there isn’t” and before you can say I’m alright Jack!,,, the vote is taken and a ship steward is about to be made,

It can’t be described a triumphal start and from then on the steward cannot treat triumph and disaster just the same because there aint much triumph about.

A small number make the ultimate in fame and are seen on TV warding off probing questions from journalists trying to trip up him or her during a major strike that has the nation on the edge of its seat.

Most stewardships go through life dealing with complaints, about chips, canteens, the state of the toilets, low bonuses, low temperatures and fending off foremen with high ambitions,

The scope of the work knows no bounds with pay queries. tax queries, common law and criminal law, and now trade union laws. All part of days work and on really bad day marriage counselling is not unknown.

The ability to take abuse at mass meetings has to be part of a stewards armour. But as one old -time shop steward said “Don’t worry about the shouting when they start to walk towards you; worry!

There is a streak of Independence in the British working class that refuse to accept that work is all. It may be because that after 250 years of the industrial revolution started here that people believe they have done their share.

Mrs Thatcher’s laws aimed at keeping them from at their benches, desks, counters or assemble lines are failing. Foreign gimmicks such as Japanese quality circles aimed at keeping them happy at their benches, desks etc., are failing.

It is not because the British are work-shy, just listen to them talking about work in pubs, it just appears they are determined not to give in to the excesses he bosses want.

As the shop steward said, “We are only prawns in the game .” But many have played in the game and sometimes, won.

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Labour not fit for Purpose

The next noise you hear

will be the Labour’ foundling pioneers turning in their graves

The Investigation into antisemitism in the Labour Party and the suspension of Jeremy Corbyn has led again call for Labour’s replacement by a new party of the left.

Timing being all there maybe a case for “not yet” as the right wing continues to make Labour unfit for the purposes that lie in its roots.

The Labour Party, founded in 1900, having grown out of the trade union movement and socialist parties in 1906 its first two MPs were a Keir Hardie a miner and Richard Bell a railwayman.

Labour though at its best at local level and at Westminster held together and made some progress in government and out with the representatives elected from the best of the shop floor, local councils and left intellectuals in alliance.

In 1945 the 1930’s depression remembered returning service personnel helped elect in its early years a reforming Labour government stopped in its tracks.

It’s been downhill ever since with right wing Labour regimes followed by years of Tory power. Keir Hardie and the Pioneers’ aims of an equal opportunities society to one of inequalities with the poor still with us.

Labour’s strengths were once a socialists vision, trade Unions solidarity and unity of purpose: Socialism went with Blair and clause 4. The Trade unions were destroyed, along with Britain’s industries, by Thatcher’s anti union laws. Leaving Labour short of members, money and intellect.

Corbyn’s “crime” was to harken back to the pioneers demands signalling a gleam of socialism in Labour’s 2017/19 manifesto’s welcomed by the electors sabotaged by the right.

The void left by trade unionists and socialist MPs has been stuffed with career politicians and matched by the Tories: The choice between Tweedledum and Tweedledee.

The irony in Corbyn’s suspension is that his leadership echoed Labour pioneers socialism and mass membership funding. Both in dire jeopardy.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Winter Economy Plan founded on the future viability of enterprises is more about fortune telling than economics.

It’s built on the false premise that whatis viable today will be so there after. Its impossible to fathom and depends a great deal on how Rishi and co helps or hinders their viability

The plan is said to be based on the German model; a nation with robust manufacturing, technology, finance and service industries with full employment. In being for ten years. None of which applies here.

Ironically Margaret Thatcher’s “abandonment” of industries such as steel and shipbuilding was based on her opinion as not being viable and sold off to foreign companies or on to the scrap heap leaving the country’s economies and job opportunities to the banks and venture capitalists.

Alongside this the training structure provided people with the skills at its head six Industrial Training Boards overseeing on and off the job training from night schools to tech colleges jointly funded by the employers and the state. Thatcher thus relieving the bosses of “a drag on profits.”

Training today is mostly a hotch potch affair with some apprenticeships as of old teaching the skills needed in industries such as building and engineering, Most are what used to be the in house training by employers.

What to do? Start from the other end seek to keep people in work by improving the chances of enterprises now in being and develop high tech and green industries. Start to rebuild the training structures destroyed by past Tory governments an ignored by Labour.

How about \ new training structure as a first policy document or the Labour Party supported by the TUC!

Keep Your Shirt On/or/off

I wanna Be your Number one  Clarkson JAY

 

If I was to wear a numbered shirt as men (not boys) do nowadays ow do it would have to be Number 1 – not only because I was a goalkeeper or for any sartorial bent – but it keeps things simple.

This came to mind on seeing a man with shirt labelled in large type the number 3. The number three what? Husband, in a queue of some kind, in an egg and spoon race?

Being “first” is enough; no-one stops you to ask “What at?” or where or when. You simply bask in its glory. (as an enigma even).

Lest we forget this phenomena emanates from professional football where it has been and is a multi million dollar earner for football clubs.

Enhanced as the flow of players in and out of clubs increases as players move on, and agents fees explode. Fans it is who shell out to swop the latest “Star’s numbered shirt with another.

Meanwhile on the field only the (first choice) keeper is at Number 1, making sense where the other ten once numbered from 2 to 11 right to left changing formations make numbering meaningless. Its no help to fans its just an advertising gimmick.

Battle to beat O-be-sit-ty

The problem with Boris Johnson’s latest ruse “The Battle to Beat Obesity” Battle, battle, battle to beat, beat, beat ….ob-es-ity!  Is the lack of any knowledge of the target audience.

This vital in a campaign aimed at stemming  millions of our people being “too fat,  to give it the title best known among us the working or in this case the unemployed and the under paid employed classes.

To be fair good start was made with an example of what it means with “fatty” Boris walking the dog but the usual middle class like bans on early night TV adverts and labeling foods, or cookery classes will not help.

The obstacles to considering dieting (exercise they get aplenty daily) for the average women and men (in that order) and children are many and start early.

At dawn possibly to wash, clothe, feed and take the kids to school or nursery and go to that work at home, If any, or away. Then for many collect the kids and home for a similar evening routine.

Cries of foul will come from the food and drink industries if any attempt is made to stem the shops stocking up with sweets, crisps end pop being handily placed and piled high as with is profits.

It is by now well known what the root cause of obesity is it is not having enough money or time to feed families properly and resorting to cheap(ish) junk, processed and unhealthy food and drink.

This is nothing new,  poverty as always leads  to illness as is always the case historically and that someone will find a away of making money from it.

The exploited of Jamaica and Wales

Exploited in the sugar plantation and the slate quarries

The introduction to a “special report” on racism in Britain today Sky news sat a reporter before Penrhyn Castle (North Wales) who told of the wealth of a family built on exploitation, Jamaican sugar fortunes and the transatlantic slave trade.

Research would have revealed this “home” of the Lords Penrhyn the part played by the exploited native Welsh quarrymen suffering and dying in the often Bethesda quarries ice bound Snowdonia mountain sides.

The Pennant family were into the slave trade early and big time when Gifford Pennant by the latter half of the 17th century had sugar plantations “twenty times the average.”

This lasted until the abolition of slavery, opposed by Richard Pennent MP. The Pennants received £14,683 17s 2d (around £1,3million today) for the freeing of 764 enslaved people in Jamaica.

Under the management of Lord George Douglas-Pennant from in 1886 the Penrhyn Estate 26,278 acres, with a rent-roll of £67,000, the Bethesda quarries in good times produced £150,000 a year.

On the 22nd November 1900, 2,800 men at the Penrhyn quarries began a three-year-long strike when Penrhyn workers saud their union dues could not be collected.

Three years of action included clashes with police and troops on horse back met with support and assistance from trade unionist from throughout Britain before starved out and threats of losing their company homes before being starved bak to work,

the National Trust now owning Penrhyn Castle and other such sites are the telling of their history.m

Cymru am Byth!

Climb every mountain in Wales 2012 Senned election

Those looking for signs of Labour’s “mountain to climb” to power should not look further than foothills of Snowdonia or any of Wales ranges in 2021 for their its steps.

The record shows that the Welsh electorate voting in Merthyr Tydfil elected Keir (no relation) Hardy in 1900 the foundation which has given Labour in Wales majority support since WW2 and in the Senedd since 1990.

December 2019 general election Wales Labour lost six seats with 41 percent, the Tories 36 and Plaid 9.9. A January poll showed more people would vote Conservative than Labour in Wales!

A YouGov for ITV/Cardiff University Poll in April gave clear leads of twelve percentage points to the Tories in a general election; and six points for the Senedd on the constituency vote..

Pollster Professor Paul Scully said both the Westminster and Senedd votes were at their highest ever rating with Welsh position then was in line with Britain-wide polls enhanced by a ‘rally to the flag’ effect in the first weeks of the Covid-19 crisis..

But says “Things have changed with increasing public scepticism at Johnson government’s handling of Covid-19.. Doing significant damage to public evaluations of him and his party.” The Dominic Cummings saga significant damage to the Johnson government and the Tories.

This while Labour leader  Mark Drakeford’s emphasis on people’s lives first backed by the people of Wales rather than to Johnson’s “go anywhere.”

The desperate attempt to open schools, and its dangers, in England to the youngest children, aimed as much at getting parents back to work, contrasted badly with the Wales approach to the opening of all schools on June 29.

The signs are of the Labour movement in Wales sticking to its socialist principles under Drakeford its conduct during the pandemic restoring confidence in that and not try taking the Tories on at their own game.

The War against the virus that was Fascism. Circa 1939.

In the summer of 1940 Britain’s clear blue skies were filled with German bombers in close formation their droning engines clearly heard while around them white puffs of smoke from anti aircraft shells exploding, doing nothing to deter their their flight.

We looking north from Ellesmere Port’s edge witnessed this and saw as the bombs fell the skies turn to flaming red across the miles of horizon that was Merseyside.

In the air raid shelter we heard the hum of the German bombers returning and left the shelters and went to bed some a short time before getting up for work.

Liverpool, Bootle , and the Wirral  were the most heavily bombed areas of the country outside of London. They provided anchorage for naval ships with the Mersey’s ports and dockers handling over 90 per cent of all the war material brought into Britain from abroad.

The first major air raid took place in when 160 bombers attacked the city on the night of 28 August. This assault continued over the next three nights, then regularly for the rest of the year. In December 1940, referred to as the Christmas blitz. 365 people were killed .

The last German air raid on Liverpool took place on 10 January 1942, the bombs had killed 2716 people in Liverpool, 442 people in Birkenhead, 409 people in Bootle and 332 people in Wallasey.

We saw for ourselves the devastation of Liverpool’s buildings flattened and shops we had once visited there no longer. The Scousers, giving no signs of defeat. The scars left by these ferocious attacks were on view for years afterwards.

This detail shows how lucky we were as despite having the Manchester ship canal docks near bye, with just three bombs only landing in the Port’s confines.

Once my mother and I after visiting Aunt May in Birkenhead took to running with the crew and passengers of a bus we were travelling at the wine of a bomb dropping. In the dive to the ground by the conductor stumbled and the loose change from his bag went jingling all over the street. After a short time in an raid air shelter we were unharmed and soon home in its safe haven.

WE did once from behind the wood saw a “dog fight.” at about 100 foot was a German bomber accompanied by two Hurricane fighters which, it seemed guided it down to Hooton Aerodrome just about two miles from us.

This maiming and killing in Britain and Germany of thousands of men, women and children in their homes and workplaces along with the armed combat continued. For another year. Then two two atom bombs were dropped on Japan’s Hiroshima and Nagasaki killing all that dwelt in the area and causing devastation beyond anything ever seen before. Ending the war.

On May 8 1945 we celebrated Victory in Europe In front of the shopping Parade on Overpool Road with singing and dancing as I recall and goodies to eat. What we learnt from this particular conflict and carnage seems to be little.

This is an extract of my autobiography being prepared for publication later this year. Roy Jones.