Friday, June 12, 2020


Labels can be used to navigate to parts of the blog. To get just book reviews click on "books"

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Socialist in the European Parliament



Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Most Sun readers think The Sun prints lies

“You cannot hope to bribe or twist,
Thank God, the British journalist,
But seeing what the man will do,
Unbribed there's no occasion to.“

(Humbert Wolfe, poet 1885-1940)

Journalists unleash periodic attacks on teachers and
teaching. “Falling standards” every time the exam
results are better than last year, “failing schools” if
the results are not as good and of course “no progress”
if the results are the same. “Failing teachers” become
“greedy teachers” when we put in for a pay rise.

However the public trust in journalists has been low for 25
years at least, according to the nation-wide face to face
surveys carried out by MORI (now Ipsos MORI) since 1983. In
1983 19% of the British public said they trusted journalists
to tell the truth. Now it is 19% again.

At the top of the scale 92% said they trust doctors
Teachers (87%), professors (79%),
judges (78%) and clergy (74%) completed the top five of
those the public rated as the most trustworthy.

In every one of the last six years overall trust in
journalists has been at 18%, plus or minus the usual margin
of error of 3%.

It is worth remembering that government ministers (24%) and
politicians in general (21%) just come ahead of journalists
at the bottom of the table of sixteen occupations measured.

Interestingly only 30 percent of News of the World and Sun
readers say they trust their newspaper to tell the truth
even "somewhat". Rupert Murdoch sells the newspaper on the
slogan “Lots of fun in the Sun” but it is not seen as a
reliable source of information, even by Sun readers.

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Saturday, June 20, 2009

LA Teachers End 24-Day Hunger Strike

In Los Angeles, a group of teachers have ended their twenty-four-day hunger strike to protest budget cuts. The teachers said they will now organize a campaign to recall some members of the Los Angeles Unified School Board. Thousands of Los Angeles teachers may soon be fired as the district faces a $700 million budget gap.

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Hope or Despair?

The BBC built up the BNP as a "protest vote" so it is hardly surprising that many people misguidedly voted for them as a protest against the corruption of politicians. It was a gesture of despair.

The Labour Party responded not by attacking the BNP but by attacking immigrants - "we have to pay attention to the public concern over immigration" - and perhaps ignore the public concern over MPs with snouts in the trough?

A gesture of hope was the 150000 votes for the left wing "No2EU Yes to Democracy" campaign in the UK and the election of a workers' MEP on a workers wage - Joe Higgins - in Ireland.

In the end education and tolerance will be the death of the BNP ..... and vice versa of course.


Wednesday, June 03, 2009

No2EU rally - the genesis of a new workers' party?


Wednesday, May 20, 2009



Britain’s newest political grouping, No2EU-Yes to Democracy, warned today that Britain is sleepwalking into the wholesale privatisation of the NHS after the European Parliament approved the extension of EU “internal market” rules to cover healthcare services, paving the way for private companies to take over the UK’s national health service.

No2EU is warning that this EU diktat is the biggest single threat to the founding principles of the NHS as a service “free at the point of need regardless of the ability to pay” since it was set up by Aneurin Bevan and the post-war Labour Government in 1948.

The approval of the Commission’s Health Services Directive has been bulldozed through despite assurances from the Party of the European Socialists, which includes the British Labour Party, that they would “defend public services”. Come the crunch they abstained on the vote, without any explanation, allowing it to be bundled through.

Labour MP Gisella Stuart has been quoted this week as saying, “I bet you my wages that in 10-15 years, if this Directive goes through, we cannot have a generally tax-funded NHS system".

No2EU is calling on everyone who supports the principle of a public National Health Service to turn out and vote for them on June 4th. No2EU is running a slate of candidates in every region of the UK, with the exception of Northern Ireland, on a platform of opposition to the Lisbon Treaty and the EU gravy train and in defence of public services and workers rights.

Bob Crow, No2EU convenor and RMT general secretary, said today: “Anyone who believes in the principles of the NHS and public services should be voting No2EU on June 4th. We are fighting to stop the break up of the National Health Service which is being driven by the EU and their backers from the banks and big business. The political elite in the UK are conspiring with this destruction of our public services and we have to mobilise over the next three weeks to stop them.”

Further information:
Geoff Martin 07818 513 435
Brian Denny 07903 376 303


Thursday, April 23, 2009

God for Harry, England and St George

The high street looked very festive with all the flags
flying this morning. For a minute I thought the National
Front had taken over but then I realised it was St
George’s day.

The right-wing writer Evelyn Waugh said the typical English
response to a catastrophe was to "put out more flags". Well
we certainly have the catastrophe and Gordon Brown with his
blather about lessons in Britishness and flags on public
buildings seems to be following Waugh's prescription.

I stopped believing in saints and dragons some years ago but
at least in the myth St George killed the dragon. These days
he would given him billions of pounds and made sure he got a
big fat bonus.

I was amused to see a local shop advertising “celebrate St
George’s day” with a special offer on German lager. I
didn’t know St George was into binge drinking in a big



Friday, April 10, 2009

Euro Elections

I am aware that merely mentioning the Euro Elections can send most audiences to sleep in short order.

However there is a concern that the BNP of all people may use the Euro Elections to gain a "respectable" platform from which to propagate their sick doctrine of hate.

And the only alternative in the past has been to vote for the Tories (come off it) or New Labour (Now I did say come off it!) - the very parties responsible for the mess in the first place.

That is why I welcome the initiative of the RMT in standing candidates in the Euro Election.
The No2Eu - yes to democracy campaign does at least give someone to vote for in the Euro Elections. If their vote is greater than the BNP vote then voting for them will fulfil the NUT policy of keeping the racists out.

Their website:


Thursday, April 02, 2009

Ian Tomlinson died inside a police cordon - no confidence in the police complaints authority

Ian Tomlinson died yesterday inside a police cordon, witnesses are calling for information about his death and for an independent public inquiry. He died inside a police cordon. He was supposed to be under the care of the police and the police have a responsibility for the people they cordon in.

We can't accept that people can die inside a police cordon and for us to receive no information about it.

The police have a habit of surrounding protestors and then insisting that they disperse - how? - this was an inevitable consequence.

The official complaints procedure cannot be relied on. That official procedure pronounced the killers of Kevin Gately and Jean Charles de Menezes "not guilty".


Monday, March 23, 2009

Campaign against Youth Unemployment in Crawley

Youth fight for jobs
Photo shows campaigners in Crawley, including National Organiser Sean Figg. The public response was generally sympathetic and a lot of concern was expressed over the future of Crawley if youth unemployment means school leavers feel they have no future. There was also a lot of anger at the public money being handed out to feckless bankers.

Young people march against fees and job losses at G20, 2 April

Youth Fight for Jobs takes up fight for this generation’s future

The Youth Fight for Jobs campaign fights against fees and job losses, and will be launched through a march for jobs, in the tradition of the Jarrow Marchers, to the G20 on 2 April. This march will visit all 4 of the poorest boroughs in London, assembling at Camberwell Green at 9am, marching past parliament and the Bank of England, through Tower Hamlets, Hackney and Newham and finishing at the G20 meeting.

(there is a facebook event for this march here - invite friends!)

Sean Figg, national organiser for the Youth Fight for Jobs, says “The numbers of unemployed are expected to reach 2 million in official figures tomorrow. So far, as a result of the recession, 40 percent of job cuts have taken place amongst 18 – 24 year olds.

“This news coincides with Universities UK launching their campaign for an increase in university fees. This is a cynical move to take advantage of young peoples fears for their future. Young people face a choice – to go to university and get into debt, and hope to escape the recession and improve their job chances, or take their chances looking for a job and end up on the dole.

“How come there’s money to bail out the failed bankers whilst young people pay for this crisis with unemployment and debt?

“Our campaign calls for the right to a decent job, for training to gain skills, and for the right of all young people to got to university without student debt. That’s why we are marching on 2 April”

The Youth Fight for Jobs campaign has gained the support of prominent activists since its launch in mid-January. Bob Crow*, RMT general secretary, Chris Kitchen, NUM General Secretary, Janice Godrich, PCS President, Glenn Kelly, Unison NEC, workers who took unofficial action at the Lindsey Oil Refinery and won a victory, and young people involved in the Prisme workplace occupation in Dundee and many others (all in personal capacity except*). The Youth Fight for Jobs campaign was involved in the protest of 1,000 people against university fees on 25 February, and together with the Campaign to Defeat Fees will be organising further action.

for more information contact 020 8558 7947

Sean Figg available for interviews, along with marchers who are young workers, threatened with job losses, students campaigning against fees and debt and more




Thursday, March 12, 2009

It's capitalism Jim, but not as we know it!

A greengrocer in Balham selling cheap celery labelled it “Credit Crunch”. That is about as close to a serious analysis as I am prepared to go at the moment.

Remember when unreconstructed lefties wanted to nationalise the commanding heights of the economy?

I do – I was that soldier :)

Now capitalists want to nationalise the banks. There is only one caveat. When the banks were making obscene profits they had to remain private. Now they are making a loss they can become public but as soon as they are making obscene profits again the incompetent bankers (rhyming slang) will have them back thank you very much.

And now at long flaming last the trade unions will be standing their own candidates in the elections, but only the Euro elections and they are not quite sure about taking their seats in the European Parliament if elected.

If you can keep your head when all around you are losing theirs……. You obviously haven’t been paying attention.


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Work related stress

There is a reluctance to attribute absences from work to "work-related stress". People feel that employers do not need to know about mental health problems when they are considering who to promote in the future!

However, as John Illingworth pointed out at the West Sussex Teachers' Association Reps training course. "If employees put work related stress as a reason for absence, employers are bound by law to seek ways of reducing that stress." A recent court case saw a Leicestershire teacher receiving a six figure sum in compensation because the employer had failed in the "duty of care" by ignoring stress in the workplace.

We say this not to encourage the "compensation culture" but to warn employers that they need to change their ways. Piling more and more stress on teachers as a short term fix to problems like OFSTED will have long term consequences for the morale of the teachers and the number of teachers leaving the profession.

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Fight youth unemployment

In June thousands of young school-leavers will be facing the harsh reality of capitalism - no jobs and no incentive to learn. For many of them this will exacerbate their disaffection. If you think we have disaffected youth now - you ain't seen nothing yet.

Jobs are being cut left, right and centre. More than three million are expected to be unemployed by the end of 2009. Young people are among the first to be thrown on the scrapheap. Even when the economy was growing, most of us had low paid, insecure jobs. Now we are facing a future of mass unemployment. The government has bailed out the bankers to the tune of £550 billion - we demand a bailout for the rest of us!
We are fighting for a future. We demand:

* The right to a decent job for all, with a living wage of at least £8 an hour.
* No to cheap labour apprenticeships! For all apprenticeships to pay at least the minimum wages, with a job guaranteed at the end.
* No to university fees. Support the Campaign to Defeat Fees.

For full demands see below

While some bank managers are even daring to demand their usual multi-million Christmas bonuses - paid for by tax-payers - Woolworths have given the legal minimum in redundancy pay for those who have lost their jobs so far - a few hundred pounds for many young workers. The story is the same in every sector- whether it is car workers sent home on 30% of pay or BT staff losing their jobs - it is workers who are being expected to pay for the recession.

This is a global crisis. Governments the world over have acted to try and save capitalism, especially by shoring up the banking systems. But this has not been done for the benefit of the majority of the population. These bailed-out banks have made job cuts, and in the case of Northern Rock are the most likely to evict homeowners behind on their mortgage payments.

We are organising a protest at the G20 to highlight our opposition to international efforts to attempt to make workers pay for the bosses' crisis. We demand urgent action to stop the threat of unemployment, to prevent job losses and to create useful jobs for those who've lost theirs. We are holding a conference to launch the campaign on 4 April.

The government is currently campaigning to keep British bosses' right to make us work more than 48 hours a week, longer than any other EU country. So while millions are on the dole - the rest of us have to work 'til we drop! We demand that the work is shared out - with the immediate implementation of a 35-hour week - without loss of pay.

Large-scale government action should be taken to alleviate unemployment and the threat of job losses. There is an urgent need for more social workers, nurses and teachers. Just a fraction of the money used to bail out the banks could take hundreds of thousands off the dole queues and train them to carry out vital public services.

Five million people want decent public housing, but there is virtually none to be had. But currently there are enough bricks sitting idle to rebuild Nottingham, and building workers are losing their jobs by the thousand! Why couldn't the two be combined in a major, publicly owned, house building programme?

A government programme of investment into these vital areas, reversing cuts from the last few decades, could see millions of jobs created and improve the living conditions of the majority of the population.

When industries threaten closure we demand that they open their books to the workforce so we can see where the profits of the last decade have gone. Where companies threaten closure they should be nationalised under democratic workers' control.

Under New Labour young people who lose their jobs face grim prospects. At £60.50 a week, Job Seekers Allowance is not enough to survive on, with the added insult that, along with many other benefits, under-25s receive a lower rate. You don't get a discount on gas bills or rent if you're under 25, why should benefits be any lower? Without a serious programme of job creation, unemployed workers will be forced to fulfil pointless courses to supposedly make them fitter for jobs that don't exist. University is unaffordable, with graduate debts running into tens of thousands of pounds. Modern apprenticeships can pay less than even Job Seekers Allowance, with no guarantee of a job at the end.

Help build the Youth Fight for Jobs campaign in your workplace, school or college. Get in touch for assistance, leaflets, posters, model trade union resolutions and other campaigning material.

For a list of sponsors see here

* The right to a decent job for all.
* We won't pay for the bosses' crisis!
* No to job losses. Open the account books to let workers see where the profits have gone.
* Bail out workers not bosses. Nationalise big industries threatening closure or large-scale job losses.
* For fighting trade unions, involving young workers and the unemployed.
* For training linked to decent jobs.
* No to cheap labour apprenticeships! For all apprenticeships to pay at least the minimum wage, with a job guaranteed at the end.
* No to university fees. Support the Campaign to Defeat Fees.
* No to bullying management. For decent working conditions.
* For a living minimum wage of at least £8 an hour for all. No youth exemptions.
* Share out the work. For a 35 hour working week with no loss of pay.
* For government investment in socially useful jobs. For a massive public programme of house building, renovation and infrastructure projects. No to profiteering private companies running these projects


Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Construction site walkouts

The construction site walkouts have shown that when workers have really had enough, the anti-union laws demanding ballots are quickly ignored! Of course, the tabloid coverage suggested that this was driven by racist ‘anti-foreigner’ views.

The demands agreed at the mass meeting in Lincolnshiretoday were:

·          No victimisation of workers taking solidarity action.

·          All workers in UK to be covered by the national agreements.

·          Union controlled registering of unemployed and locally skilled union members, with nominating rights as work becomes available.

·          Government and employer investment in proper training / apprenticeships for new generation of construction workers - fight for a future for young people.

·          All Immigrant labour to be unionised.

·          Trade Union assistance for immigrant workers - including interpreters - and access to Trade Union advice - to promote active integrated Trade Union Members.

·          Build links with construction trade unions on the continent.


Monday, October 13, 2008

Socialism 2008

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

End Child Poverty


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Sunday, September 14, 2008

Crawley Socialist Party

The Crawley Socialist Party were out today campaigning against the fuel and food price rises and for a new workers' party. The public response was good. Theres a lot of anger from working people who cannot afford the excessive price rises and recognise the profits of the fat cats are to blame. is their brand new blog.


Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Socialism 2008


Friday, June 13, 2008

Bullies, Nazis and Prats


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

42 days for not committing any crime.

If you favour locking up people who have committed no crime for 42 days then why stop there?

Solzhenitsyn tells the story of a prisoner who got off the truck and told the guard he had been sentenced to ten years. When asked what for he answered "nothing". The guard hit him and shouted "Liar! The penalty for nothing is five years!"


Sunday, May 04, 2008


A strange way to celebrate Mayday by electing a load of Tory councillors. I have taken for going for a walk every time Boris appears on the box. However there was one small bit of good news from a friend in Cumbria:

THE anti-academy campaign has sensationally ousted veteran Barrow Borough Council leader Bill Joughin in the local elections.

And his deputy, Jack Richardson, only managed to hold on to his town hall seat by one vote after three recounts.

The Tories were shaken by this result. They had ignored local feeling against the academy and they have paid the price. It also shows people who stand up and fight can beat the Tories while New Labour goes down to ignominious defeat.


Sunday, February 03, 2008

Teach boys to stab?

I see Norman Tebbitt has done it again - this time saying all boys should be taught to shoot. He always was barking but he seems to have become worse. Obviously what we should do is teach them to stab while we are at it

I wonder if he does it so that Boris will look sane by comparison. He has got a job on his hands if so.

It is on a par with the other Tory policy of paying members of your family to do nothing. I know a lot of teenage boys who need no incentives to do nothing.

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Monday, January 28, 2008

McDonalds A levels

From the WSTA weblog
We have news that McDonalds are introducing their own A levels and we have an exclusive preview of the paper:

Is McDonalds?

a) a vicious anti-union low wage employer?
b) a fast track to a heart attack?
c) fun in a bun?
d) animal cruelty incarnate

If your answer was (c) congratulations you now have a Mc A

(before the Millionaire McLawyers get on the McPhone this is
a joke of course)

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Woodard Corporation takeover of schools

Teachers are up in arms about the transfer of three schools to the Woodard Corporation. this is the press release I was busy with yesterday:

Teachers in West Sussex are planning a campaign against proposals to turn three of the County's secondary schools into Academies, starting with a Public Meeting on Thursday 7 February at 7.30pm in the Assembly Rooms, Worthing.

Dave Thomas, local Secretary for the National Union of Teachers, said:
We are opposed to Academies in West Sussex because:
they undermine democratically controlled Local Authorities,
they put schools in the hands of unaccountable sponsors,
they threaten teachers' pay and working conditions,
they will introduce three more schools of a faith character, with minimal consultation and a reduction in parents' choice.
At a meeting of West Sussex NUT held on Wed 16th Jan, the following motion was passed unanimously:
'WSTA is opposed to the establishment of Academies in West Sussex. It further deplores the lack of consultation by the Woodard Corporation and WSCC with the staff and their representatives in the schools concerned, namely, Boundstone CC, Kings Manor CC and Littlehampton CC.'
The meeting was attended by NUT members from all three schools and from other schools throughout West Sussex.
The public meeting is open to parents, teachers, support staff and others with an interest in state education to allow them an opportunity to air their concerns.

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Channel 4 political awards

The characters listed for this award are as follows:
Of those available I would probably opt for the anti-war protestors although this is technically voting for myself!

Tony Blair: Call 09011 27 27 01
or Vote by email

Ian Paisley and Martin McGuiness: Call 09011 27 27 02
or Vote by email

Ken Livingstone: Call 09011 27 27 03
or Vote by email

Alex Salmond: Call 09011 27 27 04
or Vote by email

The Countryside Alliance: Call 09011 27 27 05
or Vote by email

Anti-Iraq war protestors: Call 09011 27 27 06
or Vote by email

Don't use their premium rate phone lines, you can vote for free.

What is the betting New Labour have full time staff phoning in day and night?

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Defend Tommy Sheridan


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Thin blue line?

I consider it quite ironic the police are seeking the right to strike when their strike-breaking role is well documented.

However they should be supported. Public sector workers should be pleased that the present generation of police officers have seen the light when their predecessors were content to be Thatcher's boys in blue.


Tuesday, December 04, 2007

State Britain

“State Britain”, (an irreverent reference to Tate Britain) recreates Brian Haw's anti-war protest in Parliament Square. It has won the Turner Prize although most of the media coverage references an earlier work by Mark Wallinger which amused the tabloids who could show him dressed as a teddy bear.

"a bold political statement with art's ability to articulate fundamental human truths" is how the somewhat pompous judges described it. However Mark Wallinger praised Brian Haw's "tireless campaign against the folly and hubris of our government's foreign policy". He added: "Bring home the troops. Give us back our rights. Trust the people."

He added: "I think it's regrettable that people have been so quiescent about what the Serious Organised Crime Act has done to people who want to demonstrate. It is against Magna Carta, and that was produced in 1215, before democracy. It's important these freedoms are fought for and preserved."

The painstaking detail with which Mark Wallinger reproduced the protest meant it cost rather more than the 5000 pound prize itself but it is important that a protest which has been attacked with all the force of the corporations and their parliamentary mouthpieces has achieved this recognition.



Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Oxford Union grovel to Nazis

The spirit of Chamberlain is alive in Oxford. The Oxford Union pick and choose who they honour. David Irving was imprisoned for voicing pro-Nazi views in Austria where it is illegal. Therefore the Oxford Union honoured him.

Many people, British subjects and British residents, have been locked up without charge or trial in Guantanamo. The Oxford Union studiously ignores them.

A wee bit two faced perhaps.

Incidentally if fascists "must be allowed freedom of speech" would you say the same of paedophiles? Should they be offered a platform as well? I know people disagree with their views but surely the same argument would apply to them? It is a fake argument.

And how much freedom do the liberal democrats expect to get in a BNP concentration camp as a reward for patronising Griffin?


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Socialism 2007

I attended Socialism 2007. It was a great opportunity to meet old friends and in particular to meet people campaigning against cuts in the NHS who are experiencing the same things we are in West Sussex.

My daughter, whose first Socialist Party event it was, reprimanded me for not teaching her the words of "The Internationale"!


Sunday, November 11, 2007

Nasty one Cyril

Sir Cyril Taylor GBE, chair of the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust has advised the government that there are 17,000 bad teachers who ought to be sacked. It is surprising that Chris Woodhead isn’t suing him for identity theft as he made the self-same spurious claim ten years ago.

The figure is based on OFSTED assessments of teachers. This scientific evaluation is based on a ten minute glance at the work of a teacher who may have been teaching for ten or twenty years. Moreover OFSTED inspectors define lessons as “satisfactory” and by sleight of hand unelected individuals like Cyril translate that as “bad”. A few elementary lessons in the English language would not do him any harm.

I run a helpline for stressed teachers in West Sussex and half of the time the source of their difficulties is senior management who are themselves being bullied by “advisers” and politicians like Cyril demanding impossible targets.

His solution, to sack bad teachers and “go out and recruit fantastic teachers” shows what a fantasy world he lives in. Spend a couple of hundred thousand pounds on training a teacher and as soon as he or she has difficulties you throw them on the scrap heap. Then you replace them with “fantastic” – ie fantasy, mythical – teachers…. from Hogwarts presumably.

All teachers will encounter professional difficulties at some stage in their career and if they get help and support they can overcome them. They get that help and support from other teachers as a rule. Certainly not from people like Cyril. What are they for?

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Sunday, November 04, 2007

Save the NHS demo


Monday, October 29, 2007

Why Militant was expelled from the Labour Party


Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Cane

The late Chris Woodhead was wrong to think educational theory is pointless. Everybody has a theory of education. The taxi driver who took me from Moodlemoot to Milton Keynes station certainly did.

I won’t bore you with everything he said when he found out I was “one of those politically-correct nancy boys called teachers” but it would be no exaggeration to say he wants every classroom to be like a less pleasant version of Guantanamo “to teach the little c*nts to behave.”

I don’t know how many of his passengers get in his cab and tell him how to be a cabbie. Perhaps a lot of them do which would explain why he is so bitter and twisted.

I was not going to go into the detailed educational theory involved so I told him three things:

I went to a school where the school bully was caned every week, sometimes every day. He went in a bully and he came out a bully with a sore backside. It did not help his victims.

My brother went to a school where the cane was used much more often than it was in mine. The behaviour at his school was substantially worse than it was at mine by any measure. The opposite of his theory.

I was caned for drawing a cartoon. It did work. I have never drawn a cartoon since.

It was all anecdotal of course but better than nothing. The temptation after a tiring day was to let him have his say. If everybody does that he will assume everyone agrees with him, “even some ponce of a teacher I had in here the other day!”

(Yes I know Woodhead is still alive but a man can dream!)

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Militant 1964-1997


Thursday, October 11, 2007

Mass rally on Saturday 13th October,
Assemble in Clair Park,
Perrymount Road,
Haywards Heath
at 9.30am
(Admittedly Nicholas Soames will be there but come anyway!)


Sunday, October 07, 2007

New Labour and torture

An astonishing 30 percent of Americans in a recent poll thought that torture was justified. The British government does not torture but it exports the job of torturing to other governments which is just as bad....arguably worse.

It is everybody's nightmare to be tortured but a democratic government which hands over the job to undemocratic governments is disgusting beyond belief.

I can't believe I used to be a member of the Labour Party. What has the party of Keir Hardy become?

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Cardiac Arrest

My experience is commonplace. I had a heart attack and I was rushed to my local hospital. That hospital A and E is being closed. If I were to have another heart attack (and it’s on the cards) the ambulance would have to travel further.

The latest report from Sheffield Medical Care Research Unit concludes, “Our data suggests that increasing journey distances for all emergency patients may lead to an increase in mortality for some.” For every six miles further you have to travel there is a one percent increase in mortality.

Twenty years ago we were campaigning against the closure of our local hospital. The Labour Party (yes the Labour Party) was at the forefront of that campaign. Now it is New Labour spearheading the attack on the health service.

With astonishing hypocrisy – well they are Tories so astonishing is perhaps inappropriate – the Conservative Party is claiming to oppose the cuts in the NHS. When in power they drove through massive cuts in the NHS while Thatcher boasted she could be treated “at the time I want by the doctor I want” because of course she went private.

The conventional response from New Labour was heard on the radio immediately the report came to light. “The data is outdated and does not take into account innovations in medical technique.” The spokesman then went on to mention the medical procedure angioplasty as one of these new techniques. Actually angioplasty has been available since the 1990s. How can you tell if a New Labour spokesman is lying? His lips are moving.

So if I kick the bucket in the ambulance that will be one fewer person to oppose the cuts. A win-win situation for New Labour.


Sunday, March 11, 2007

BBC lose 9/11 coverage

The BBC have lost their coverage of 9/11

The head of BBC news claims on the BBC website that is a cock-up not a conspiracy. If it is a cock-up it is a monumental one. The phrase "heads will roll" springs to mind. When they refer to Richard Porter as the head of is still attached to his body is it?

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Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Tories name the 12 who shaped our nation.

The Conservative education spokesman, David Willetts has announced his “nation building” History curriculum. In place of the study of history, he prefers the narrative approach (telling children little stories) about 12 chosen great people.

The list has 11 white men, three of them wearing crowns, and one white woman. It seems the black and ethnic minorities in the UK made no contribution to its history if we believe the Conservative party; and men made 11 times as great a contribution as women.

Some of the choices – based on the contribution to creation of British institutions and structures are surprising. The inclusion of Oliver Cromwell probably has Prince Charles feeling his collar – one of Cromwell’s “memorable structures” was the scaffold on which King Charles was executed.

Although there are three kings, King Henry 8th is excluded. It is unusual for the Conservative Party to assert that the Church of England is not a significant institution.

Other omissions are less surprising. The Tolpuddle Martyrs are not there – trade unions are an institution the Conservative Party would sooner forget about.

And the whole concept is cockeyed. History is not made by individuals “great” or otherwise. Nye Bevan did not single-handedly create the NHS any more than Millicent Fawcett single-handedly brought about votes for women and neither of them was stupid enough to believe they did.

It is convenient to reduce history to stories about individuals – and then pick and choose which individuals constitute “history” but the events which really shaped these islands, like the Chartist movement, involved the participation of the working class and the poor.

History is made by millions. And so is the future. As David Willetts and his merry men will find out.

Derek McMillan

The list is:

Saint Columba, 521-597 (Christianity in Britain)
Alfred the Great, 849-899 (the Kingdom of England)
Henry II, 1133-1189 (Common law)
Simon de Montfort, 1208-1265 (Parliament)
James IV of Scotland, 1443-1513 (the Kingdom of Scotland)
Thomas Gresham, 1519 -1579 (the stock market)
Oliver Cromwell, 1599 -1658 (the British Army)
Isaac Newton, 1643-1727 (the Royal Society)
Robert Clive, 1725-1774 (the British Empire)
Sir Robert Peel, 1778-1850 (the police)
Millicent Fawcett, 1847-1929 (universal suffrage)
Nye Bevan, 1897-1960 (the National Health Service)


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Christmas cards with a purpose

Omar Deghayes, British resident imprisoned without charge or trial and currently being tortured in Guantanamo bay will be spending Christmas in prison while Blair and co are enjoying themselves.

The Save Omar campaign - whose only demand is that he should stand trial if he has committed any crime - are asking all supporters to post Christmas cards with anti-Guantanamo and Justice for Omar greetings to the Prime Minister and the relevant members of his cabinets. Here are their addresses:

Prime Minster Tony Blair
10 Downing Street

Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
19 King Charles Street

Home Secretary John Reid
2 Marsham Street

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Monday, November 27, 2006

Animal Rights on BBC2

I have just been watching a scientist on BBC2 comparing Animal Rights protesters with terrorists and explaining that all medical advances have been brought about by animal experiments in the past which proves conclusively that there will never be an alternative in the future.

His case was undermined just a little by the way he was puffing away on a cigarette throughout. Obviously all those experiments proving that beagles get cancer if you force them to smoke were lost on him.

I am not an animal rights supporter - I stroke the cat occasionally but that is about it. I do know that equally serious scientists are seeking alternatives to the old fashioned methods of animal experimentation.

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Sunday, November 19, 2006

Socialism 2006

Socialism 2006 looks like being an excellent weekend on November 25/26th. We've got a wider range of speakers and debates than ever - something for everyone.

There should also be an opportunity for Socialist Party teachers to meet on the Sunday to discuss union work.

The details of the event are on the website
You can also buy tickets online at that site.

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Sunday, November 12, 2006

White poppies

A lot of fuss about newsreaders being made to wear poppies. I thought the idea of charity was it was voluntary. A lot of people choose to wear poppies and they think the money is going to a good cause.

My mother always wore a white poppy. She made it herself. People celebrated the end of the war. It was only later that the generals and the politicians decided to make 11th November into a celebration of the glory of .... politicians and generals.

And the idea that people fought for the freedom to be forced to wear a poppy is not fascism but it is a bit ironic.

The state has money to wage war. To look after the victims of war apparently is a job for charity. What if it were the other way round. What if the state looked out for the victims of war but the generals had to hold charity drives to buy cluster bombs?

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Sunday, September 10, 2006

The reluctant cannibal

Boris Johnson is still refusing to apologise for his remarks about the people of Papua New Guinea being cannibals.

He thinks schoolboy jokes about Papua New Guinea and cannibalism are still funny. He was presumably misled by Flanders and Swan's "The Reluctant Cannibal" which contained the memorable line "If the Good Lord had meant us not to eat people, he wouldn't have made us of meat." Of course Flanders and Swan had wit and style and musical ability whereas Boris Johnson is Boris Johnson.

I can imagine an eve of poll election broadcast showing the Shadow Higher Education's more memorable stupidities - his attack on the people of Liverpool and his parlous performance on "Have I got News for You". In all seriousness is that what you want running the country? Is this the kind of thing the universities should be teaching?


Thursday, September 07, 2006

Kelly Osbourne supports Tony Blair

Kelly Osbourne has spoken in support of Tony Blair as he struggles to maintain his well-paid job.

She decided to voice her opinion on the British Prime Minister as he is hit with demands to leave his position - many from his former close supporters.

"She told Contactmusic: "The way I see it, we've voted this guy in to run our Government and we can't just turn against him. It must be the hardest thing in the world to run the country - I know I couldn't. Poor Blair. That said, I always try to stay out of politics."

Perhaps she was right in her decision to stay out of politics. Tony Blair needs her support like a hole in the head. He is paying the price for his lies over Iraq. Thousands of others have paid a much higher price.

The latest rumour is that he will stand down when the weapons of mass destruction are found


Monday, September 04, 2006

Socialism 2006

Socialism 2006 is a weekend of discussion and debate hosted by the Socialist Party, taking place on 25 and 26 November 2006.

Socialism - is society still divided into classes, can socialism be achieved in a globalised world, could a socialist-planned economy save the planet?

There will be a wide range of seminars with lively discussion and debate.
3-5 pm Saturday 25 November 2006
10-4.30pm Sunday 26 November 2006


Sunday, August 20, 2006

Smart Bombs - a short story.

As he got on to the tube train, rubbing shoulders with the men and women, almost tripping over the push chair, his mind was filled with those other men and women; people stranded without food in the rubble of their homes, bearing bloodstained makeshift bandages, searching without hope for loved ones among the slain.

These people did not know what that was like. They were going to find out.

The train pulled out of the station. It was crowded, he had to stand. One or two people eyed his rucksack and then looked away. If they only knew.

Today his family were going back. They had no comfortable lives, no smart suits and mobile phones and ipods. They didn’t have to “imagine no possessions.” They had the clothes they stood up in and those needed a good wash. Their home might be there. Mr Blair and Mr Bush might have sent over one of their smart bombs to destroy it. How smart is that?

If it was gone they would camp near the rubble of their house and try to rebuild their lives, just like before…and the time before that. The smug faces around him hid minds which did not know what that was like.

This was a war of the rich against the poor. The rich have always been at war with the poor. And they conscript the poor to fight their battles.

And suddenly he realised there were men in flak jackets on either side of him. A gun to his head and the carriage was being evacuated. They pushed him to the ground and held him down. Then they were kicking him and shouting questions at him. The contents of his rucksack were strewn all over the carriage.

And then the policemen were laughing and they stood on the sheets of paper. “What the fuck is this? Bloody poetry? Do you think you can win a war with ideas?”

He didn’t say anything but inside his head he whispered, “yes.”


Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Public Service Private Profit

Dispatches last night was a detailed expose on the private finance initiative. It is reviewed here:

Socialist Teachers' Blog

Channel 4 website


Monday, August 14, 2006

Dispatches on PFI

Dispatches on Channel 4 on Monday 14th August was a detailed expose on the costs of PFI to the public services.

The government can borrow money cheaply, PFI means that the public sector has to pay a higher rate of interest. However once a hospital, road or school has been constructed a much lower rate of interest is possible. This enables PFI companies to refinance their loans and make millions, sometimes hundreds of millions. Under pressure they might sometimes pay back a fraction of this to the taxpayer.

Liam Halligan compared PFI to going on a shopping spree with a ludicrously expensive credit card. The amounts do not appear on the government’s books but there will be an almighty payback in the future. Any student with a loan will know just how that feels.

Financiers openly talk about “sweating” resources. Once they have a guaranteed income stream from the government they can seek to minimise their costs. The program showed one example after another of corners being cut in PFI projects. The public institutions can complain as much as they like, they are locked into 25 or 30 year contracts with the private sector willy nilly!

The program also showed in detail how companies like HSBC legally avoid paying UK taxes on public sector contracts. For example, they have transferred a £311 million Home Office contract into an offshore fund .

They also detailed how companies can manage to tell their shareholders they are making a profit and the taxman they are making a loss. The profits seem to disappear into subsidiaries which do not have any employees but manage to provide “management services.”

Some opf these companies are making an extortionate 123 percent on capital investments. Instead of locking them up for profiteering, New Labour award them further contracts.

Liam Halligan has done an excellent job exposing this public scandal. How interesting that HSBC and numerous other financial institutions refused to buy advertising space around this program!

It was not his job to provide a political alternative to PFI but this is all grist to the mill for the Campaign for a New Workers Party.


Friday, August 11, 2006

Relief at foiling of terrorist plot

There is a sense of relief that an apparent terrorist plot to blow up aircraft has been foiled. It will be a bit of a nuisance for people who have to carry GTN (which is actually nitroglycerine!) for angina. I do not look forward to explaining that one. However it seems a price well worth paying.

Unfortunately there has been an unsubtle focus on the muslim community which is irrelevant. Calling Osama Bin Laden a muslim is like calling the Rev'd Ian Paisley a Catholic. The constant linking of "terrorist suspect" and pictures of mosques is not subtle.

The Nazi newspaper, Der Stürmer used to show pictures of synagogues alongside pictures of rats for the same reason. What Der Stürmer did was to take every crime which was committed by a Jew and use it as a way to label all Jews as thieves, rapists and murderers.

And of course the old "innocent until proven guilty" palaver is replaced with a journalist muttering "alleged" occasionally.

The terrorists are making repression and the loss of civil liberties easier.

Terrorism is the other side of the coin from repression. The government can use terrorism as pretext to take away old fashioned "pre 9/11" concepts like freedom of speech or trial by jury.

If they didn't have terrorist plots then they would have to invent them. You can bet good money Dr John Reid will end up with much more power when all this is over and done with and he will be oh so reluctant to relinquish it.


Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Churchill’s Hour

Churchill’s Hour
Michael Dobbs
ISBN 0753124386

This is the third historical novel by Michael Dobbs in the Winston Churchill series following Winston's War and Never Surrender. Dobbs has mined the seam of Churchill’s larger than life personality, the cult which grew up around him during the war and added some rather fanciful conspiracy theories from his own imagination.

I won’t spoil it for you by detailing the clever and just-about-possible “inside stories” which exist in these books. What I will say is that the most incredible events in Churchill’s Hour are the landing of Hitler’s deputy in Scotland and the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour – you really couldn’t make them up.

The intelligence or lack of it surrounding Pearl Harbour has always been a mystery and few people have been able to penetrate what was going on in Rudolph Hess’s brain at the best of times.

The truth in these books really is stranger than the fiction.


Saturday, August 05, 2006

Tommy Sheridan 1 Rupert Murdoch 0

Rupert Murdoch, millionaire and muckraker, won't engage in an honest debate over the ideas of socialism. He prefers to concoct stories about socialists. He received a beating from Tommy Sheridan in court. The News of the World claimed their story was "substantially true" - which is a legal way of saying that it wasn't actually true but a bit like the truth. The verdict of the jury was that it wasn't even that!

The full text of Tommy Sheridan's speech after beating the News of the World in court follows.

"On behalf of my wife and I, can I first of all thank my two sisters and John Aberdeen, from Orkney, for being the best amateur legal team in the world.

"We have over the last five weeks taken on one of the biggest organisations on the planet, with the biggest amount of resources to pay for the most expensive legal team, to throw nothing but muck against me, my wife and my family.

"Well, brothers and sisters, what today’s verdict proves is that working-class people, when they listen to the arguments, can differentiate the truth from the muck.

"The working-class people on the jury who have found in our favour have done a service to the people of Scotland and have delivered a message to the standard of journalism that the News of the World represents.

"They are liars and we have proved that they are liars.

"I could never have conducted this case without the loyalty and support of my wife, my mother, my father, my sisters, my family and thousands upon thousands of working-class people in Scotland who want me to get out of this court and start fighting for the things that matter most.

"Against poverty and inequality in Scotland, and against war and against nuclear weapons.

"Those are the things that matter most, brothers and sisters, and I assure you we will retire for a few days to spend some quality time with our 14-month-old daughter, whom we have had to be apart from for most of the last five weeks, and that’s been the largest and most difficult thing to countenance.

"We’ll spend some time, quality time, with our daughter Gabrielle over the next few days but then I guarantee you, the people of Scotland who believe in their hearts in justice, who believe in their hearts in fighting poverty and inequality and who believe in their hearts in the need to fight against war, I’ll be back on the streets calling for the Israeli troops to stop killing innocent people in Lebanon, calling for the scrapping of nuclear weapons and to call for an independent socialist Scotland

"I want to finish, brothers and sisters, by saying one thing. Gretna have made it into Europe for the first time in their lives, but what we have done in the last five weeks is the equivalent of Gretna taking on Real Madrid in the Bernabeu and beating them on penalties, that’s what we’ve done."


Sunday, July 30, 2006

Ted Grant 1913-2006

Ted Grant

I was sorry to read about the death of Ted Grant in The Socialist 27 July. I first met Ted in 1968 when I was 16. One of his strengths was his ability to patiently explain the fundamental principles of Marxism to young and inexperienced socialists. I didn’t feel patronised. For him the movement and the ideas were all important; he was painstaking and perfectionist in relation to ideas and fond of open debate.

I ended up working with Ted and the others (in a very minor role) with Militant. He was not the easiest of people to work with but the role of Militant in that period is well-documented and we were all caught up in the work and the ideas and consigned personalities to their proper place.

He will always be remembered as someone who kept the ideas of Marxism alive under the most difficult of circumstances in the UK.

But Militant grew. It was very far from being a “one man band” like some of the “piddling little ultra-left sects” Ted used to laugh at. And in the heat of the Poll Tax campaign and the struggle against Thatcher, new tactics were called for.

When I knew him, he was fond of saying, “Events, events, events will teach the broad masses of the working class more than any pamphlet or manifesto.” And events (the symptoms of the degeneration of New Labour) were to invalidate the position he came to adopt – seeking signs of life in the corpse of the Labour Left. He remained wedded to a tactic which was doomed to failure.

He is rightly honoured as a pioneer. He is not honoured by those who seek to gloss over his mistakes.


Friday, July 21, 2006

Church school bans "Imagine"

A church school in Devon has banned children from singing the John Lennon classic, "Imagine". Obviously people have a right to their religious beliefs but this is supposed to be a free country and there is such a thing as freedom of speech. Banning songs is one thing. How long before they start burning books too?

The lyrics of this wicked song are as follows:

Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today...

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace...

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world...

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one