Thursday, 30 December 2010


Despite enormous pressure placed upon pupils of Parkview school, the majority defied their teachers and walked out onto the playing fields to express their opposition to the formation of an academy that would absorb their school and two other schools in the town

Concerned parents formed a committee to organise a campaign to oppose the proposed amalgamation of three local secondary schools to form an academy.  It was a carefully organised campaign and public meetings were well attended.  

Several local people were elected to the local borough council on an 'anti-academy' ticket and there was much coverage in the local press.  

The campaigners, of course, could not compete with the financial and material resources of those in favour of the academy - especially when the government of the day (New Labour) had promised to hand over 40 million pounds for the scheme if it was accepted....but NOTHING to upgrade the existing schools if the academy offer was refused. 

Borough and county councillors of all political hue drooled at the mouth and local school governors dribbled wetly at such a prospect for here was prime building-site land being offered up for the taking.  Not only that, but think of the highly lucrative contracts for supplying and maintaining the equipment of the new school......whilst the dumb local tax payers paid to run it without having any say in the matter!

And what of the teachers' unions?  Well, they were opposed to the formation of an academy and would have supported any teachers taking 'industrial action' against the scheme - but no Barrow teachers chose to do so.  Their pupils showed them the way but they did not follow.

The campaign 'fizzled out'  and Furness Academy came in to being because local people could not, or would not, continue to support the campaign opposing it.  The adults of Barrow sold out the future democratic education of their children because doing nothing was easier than resisting the plans of the profiteers.  

If nothing else, these blogs depict the genuine level of moral integrity of the local - adult - population and this probably explains why locals will willingly support building the new submersible launch platforms for American weapons of mass destruction, accept the transportation of nuclear material through their town and, in the region, condone the burial of highly radio-active nuclear waste in the countryside. Wage slaves take what they are given and are grateful for what they receive.  


Friday, 17 December 2010


Northern Region Trades Union Congress invited trade unionists and members of community organisations to attend a meeting at the Crown Hotel, Bassenthwaite last August.  Plans to resist  government- proposed cuts to Public Services would begin by dividing the county into three areas: North, Central and South.

Cumbria South, incorporating Barrow, Ulverston and Kendal, would have as its co-ordinator Deborah Hamilton, fulltime Unison officer for Cumbria.  No representatives of the shipbuilding trade unions or of Barrow Trades Union Council attended.  

Shamefully, apart from a single, very wet,  one-hour leaflet distribution in Barrow (see posting 1st Oct "Unions and Pensioners Unite Against Cuts") there has been no co-ordination in any part of the South since then.  

In November, a group of concerned people in the Kendal area decided they could no longer tolerate the absence of any trade union initiative and held a meeting of their own at the Shakespeare Centre on the evening of Wednesday 17th. (A similar meeting was held at Lancaster the following evening)  Both meetings were well-attended and Steering Committees were established.

AntiCuts campaigns are now being conducted in Carlisle, Workington, Kendal and Lancaster but here, in Furness, there is no activity because not a single organisation or group of people is prepared to call a meeting to plan action against the cuts.  There had been some expectation that Barrow & Furness Pensioners' Association, following months of campaigning on behalf of the People's Charter, might do so but this proved to be one step too far; the proposal was met with resigned defeatism and dismissed as 'impractical for Barrow' by its secretary.

Thus, in Furness, the way is now clear for any opportunist group (which has never expressed any interest or made any effort in the past eight months) to seize the moment and pour forth shouting against the cuts as if this is something recently announced. 

Two such groups spring to mind:  the egotistical councillor Hamezeian could declare himself 'The People's Hero' and with the assistance of the 'little helpers' of his local Socialist People's Party (he's got more 'little helpers' than Santa) and a very supportive spread in the local (capitalist) press, mount a self-promotional campaign dressed up as concern for the local community.  And guess who would be Chairman of any subsequent action committee........

Or the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) might call a public meeting.  The author of this blog is not anti-SWP.  The local SWP group actively campaigns on behalf of Unite Against Fascism (UAF).  Indeed, many of the aims of that organisation are shared here - it's just SWP strategies that can be a bit of a problem.

The SWP has called upon councillors to ignore the government and allow a budget deficit to be run up.  All very good revolutionary stuff, you might think.  Until you realise that  councillors would be held personally liable for payment of the debt and that failure to cough up would result in a term of imprisonment.  And the SWP response?  Then councillors should be prepared to go to prison!

Morecambe Bay & Lancaster Communist Party Of Britain (CPB) does not call for any councillors to be political martyrs but suggests that if councillors really have no desire to be held responsible for implementing savage cuts on their community then they should resign.
This would have two interesting outcomes: it would free them from unpopularity or risk of imprisonment and it would create a local political crisis, placing it straight into the lap of the government. And if the majority of councillors throughout the land did that same thing then it would become a national political crisis and, probably, the end of this slimey coalition gang now occupying the Houses of Parliament. They would be 'unable to govern in the same old way' and the Boss Class would be presented with a genuine crisis of democracy.  (See the posting  'What is a revolutionary situation?')

Perhaps the difference in strategy between the SWP and the CPB is now understood.

Monday, 15 November 2010



At its 2010 conference, the British Trade Union Congress agreed to hold a national demonstration against 'the cuts' in...............................March 2011.  It's fortunate they're not in charge of the fire or ambulance services! 

But, in fact, we do have an emergency situation and just another peaceful, civilised, 'carnival atmosphere' march in the capital (which the boss class can ignore and about which the news media may provide the odd paragraph/two minute broadcast) will be of little consequence for such demonstrations are as effective as having a picnic on the Thames Embankment.

Clearly, there is now a realisation that just holding parades and waving banners is ineffective and that something further is required if the authorities are to be made to sit up and take notice and that even modest damage to property is guaranteed to achieve this - especially if there are people around with devices to record the event and pass on 'dramatic' footage to the press and TV when it can then be described as 'mindless violence', 'thuggish vandalism', etc.  I can imagine that smashing a few windows is a good way of releasing some pent up frustration. At least no cars were overturned or buses hijacked and set on fire: well, not this time.

Barrovian, Ben Martin, a student studying for a degree in multimedia journalism at Bournemouth University attended the National Union of Students demonstration alongside about 300 other students from his university and was able to provide a first hand report.  He said some people were being deliberately antagonistic and getting the crowd worked up.  He went on to say that some people said the violence undid the good work (of the demo) but added that every aspect of the cuts is happening right now to him and his fellow students and they regard this as a violence made against them.  He declared that as far as he was concerned, it was a case of responding to violence with violence. He believed the NUS would be unlikely to call another mass demonstration and that further campaigns would be conducted at a 'local' university campus level. Ben's account was reported in full in an article published in the November 13th edition of the North West Evening Mail.

Public meetings against the cuts are being held on Wednesday 17th November at the Shakespeare Centre, Kendal, at 7pm and on Thursday 18th November at Lancaster Town Hall, at 7.30pm.

Meanwhile, in Furness.......................................................... 


Saturday, 16 October 2010


Again, the photograph is deceptive; the place seems deserted!  But, in fact, this is the upper end of the main shopping street in the town on a Saturday when it was quite busy.

As usual, just three pensioners set up and manned the stall from 11am until 1pm with no assistance or support from any local Trade Union or union members.  Barrow Trades Union Council was absent.

Words from an old song were used to introduce the day's campaign:
"It's the same the whole world over,
Ain't it all a bleedin' shame?
It's the rich what gets the pleasure;
It's the poor what takes the blame!"

And in highlighting some of the cut-back measures already outlined before the results of the Spending Review are announced next week, members of the public were urged to tune in to their radios and TVs next Wednesday to hear what this government has in store for them - a bit like Christmas except that instead of being told what gifts we are to receive we'll be told what 'gifts' are to be taken away from us.

Weather permitting, Barrow pensioners have confirmed they will hold another stall next Saturday - with, or without, union support (sorry, there are no prizes for guessing which one it is likely to be!) 
There is no evidence of any People's Charter campaign in Ulverston or any other town or village in Furness.  The Insular Peninsula sleeps on..........

Tuesday, 5 October 2010


A revolutionary situation is a build-up of social/political conditions necessary for revolution.

Its symptoms may change at various stages in history but in all cases it presupposes a profound crisis of the old system.  It can be brought about by economic shocks, failures of government policy (such as the collapse of a military adventure), or national or racial conflicts leading to a sharp aggravation of social contradictions, etc.

Lenin defined these symptoms as follows:
1.  a crisis among the upper classes, when it is impossible for them to maintain their rule without any change,
2.  the suffering and want of the oppressed classes have grown more acute than usual,
3.  as a consequence of the above causes, there is a considerable increase in the activity of the masses who, in peace time, uncomplainingly allow themselves to be robbed and exploited but, in turbulent times (such as a severe financial crisis) are drawn by all the circumstances into independent historical action.
V. I. Lenin   Collected Works Volume 21 pp213-14

Think now of the draconian laws passed by the previous New Labour government and the errosion of civil liberties these brought about, the rising unemployment figures and the suffering that will result from the coalition government's austerity programme, British involvement in the military disaster in Afghanistan, and now the threat of yet another 'banking crisis' and all the boxes seem to be ticked for the creation of a revolutionary situation in Britain today.  So why isn't it happening? 

Lacking a politically educated, class conscious, advanced section of the proletariat means a revolutionary situation remains just that - a revolutionary situation (impotently without direction).  When will it become evident that the British working class has developed class consciousness?  Only when it supports the political parties that truly represent its interests. 

Until then, the proletariat will be prey to all manner of diversions such as soft porn comics masquerading as 'newspapers'; radio, TV and popular mass-produced culture dumbed down to the lowest common denominator; to intensive advertising campaigns for shoddy goods or the latest technological toys; to the religious messages of a better life after death and that joyous poverty has more merit than miserable wealth;  to a choice of political parties that claim to be different yet which all promise to maintain the capitalist system of greed and exploitation.  A politically educated working class would not tolerate this stinking mess but flush it down the nearest lavatory - where it belongs.
And that is why the ruling class will do everything in its power to keep the proletariat in political ignorance.

And once more to comrade Lenin -
" The division of any society into different political parties is revealed most clearly of all in times of profound crises shaking the whole country .... all phrase-mongering, all that is petty and extraneous, is brushed aside by the gravity of the struggle; the parties strain every nerve and appeal to the masses, and the masses, guided by their unerring
instinct and enlightened by the experience of an open struggle, follow the parties that represent the interests of a particular class."
V. I. Lenin  Collected Works  Volume 18 page 45

The party of the working class, the Communist Party, is the advanced, politically organised and active section of the working class - its vanguard.

All other organisations of the proletariat - trade unions, social, cultural and educational associations, etc. serve as necessary means in the class struggle but they cannot solve the fundamental problem - the problem of abolishing the capitalist system and carrying out a socialist revolution.

Only a Marxist-Leninist Party, which is the highest form of class political organisation of the proletariat, is capable of uniting the activities of all proletarian organisations and guiding them to the single aim of socialist revolution.

Friday, 1 October 2010


At lunchtime on Wednesday 29th September, despite remorselessly pouring rain, pensioners and trade unionists covered the three entrances to Barrow's indoor market to distribute TUC leaflets about the proposed government cuts in public services.

It was encouraging to see full time Trade Union officials, Deborah Hamilton and Steve Forbes providing leadership by attending and supporting the campaign.

The photograph of a group at one market entrance suggests it was a rather forlorn affair but it was not: the weather failed to daunt the spirits of the campaigners and   a great number of leaflets were distributed in a short while.

Incredibly, not one member of the PCS was present.  This is the union that is supposed to be spearheading the anti-cuts campaign and whose members' jobs are to be culled in massive numbers!

It is true that the turn-out by other pensioners and trade union members was disappointing but the response by the public to the leaflets was most encouraging.  During brief conversations it was clear the public knows the proposed austerity measures that are about to be inflicted are grossly unfair to the poorer sections of society but they do not know what to do about it.

This is where Barrow Trades Union Council should step up to the mark.  Barrow Trades Union Council should be organising events such as public meetings with national speakers to inform the public about how this financial crisis happened and why the depth of the proposed cuts is unnecessary.  The public need to be made aware of a believable alternative strategy that would be much less devastating for family incomes and standard of life and would provide a programme to create jobs rather than cause massive unemployment and misery. Apart from a somewhat limp letter, written by the secretary of Barrow Trades Union Council and published in the local evening newspaper, Barrow TU Council has done precisely nothing.  Similarly, there is a 'mortuary' silence at Ulverston TU Council.

Barrow pensioners have been campaigning against the cuts - first proposed by the New Labour government - since before the general election last May by promoting the People's Charter. They have consistently invited trade unions to use this as a focal point for their own local campaign but to no avail. All the unions would have to do is turn up for a couple of hours on a Saturday lunchtime with their banners, placards and leaflets.  They would have no 'setting up' to do because the 'site' is already established.  However, if they really wanted to demonstrate determination and commitment, they could provide their own pasting table and loud hailer!  Only when such measures become evident will local trade unions convince pensioners and other members of the public that they really are capable of leading a determined campaign against the cuts.


Sunday, 26 September 2010


At 5pm on Monday 13th September, Furness trade unionists met at the GMB union's offices in Hartington Street, Barrow, to consider the strategy for mounting local defence of public services.  Community groups had also been invited to attend.

Unfortunately, shortly before the start of the meeting, Northern TUC co-ordinator for South Cumbria, full-time Unison officer Deborah Hamilton, sent word that she was unable to attend.  This clearly caused full-time GMB official, Steven Forbes, some anxiety for he exclaimed he had been "Dropped in the doo-doo." Fortunately, pensioners attending the meeting were able to advise him to accept suggestions from people present so that a plan of campaign could be drawn up.

There was a further delay to the business of the meeting when Mr Forbes announced that some GMB members had expressed their objection to the attendance of Steven Smart as he was a member of the Conservative Party.  As a trade unionist (NUT) I reminded Mr Forbes that this was neither a GMB nor a Labour Party meeting but a TUC meeting open to all who opposed the proposed government cutbacks; the GMB objectors were sectarian and this should have been explained to them by their union official.  Margie Arts, Secretary of Barrow and Furness Pensioners' Association informed Mr Forbes that Mr Smart was attending as Deputy Chairman of the Pensioners' Association and had every right to be at the meeting. With such ignorance existing in local trade unions, it is hardly surprising no support was ever given by them for the People's Charter stall and petition held by pensioners since before the General Election in May.

The meeting finally returned to the matter of planning a campaign against the cuts and, following expressions of solidarity, it was agreed a Day of Action (to coincide with the TUC's national campaign) would be held in Barrow town square from noon until 1pm. Is that impressive, or what?

Pensioners announced they would set up their People's Charter stall at 11am and advised trade unions to apply for a quantity of official TUC campaign leaflets to distribute on the day (and I made a note to also apply for some just to ensure they were available - decision to do so based upon past experience in these matters)

Pensioners also advised that union officials should urge their retired members to turn up to support the Wednesday event and that the Students' Union at both Furness College of Further Education and Barrow Sixth Form College be contacted as cuts were to be inflicted on these institutions. These proposals were agreed.  

Naturally, I shall attend on Wednesday - for 11am - to fully support the action and also take along my camera to record this historic moment.

Much to the delight of the women of Manchester Trades Union Council, Betty Tebbs, 92 years old and still active in the labour movement, was presented with the Elizabeth Gaskell award at a ceremony at Manchester Town Hall last week.

This special award is given to an individual or group that has promoted the role of women in public life and made a significant contribution to charities or humanitarianism
Betty, a long-time member of the Communist Party, shop steward from a young age, dedicated peace activist and, it is thought, probably one of the oldest and longest serving members of a Trades Union Council has never wavered in her commitment to the Party, to peace and socialism.

Comradely greetings and very best wishes from a Furness Red to Betty Tebbs. 

Mr E Milliband was elected as leader of the New Labour Party yesterday (Saturday) 

Wednesday, 15 September 2010


It's an interesting question so let's look at the situation in several countries throughout the world...

There are, at times, situations in human history that present unique opportunities for human beings to bring about radical social change - if the human 'forces for change' are capable of meeting that challenge, that is.

The Boss Class owned and controlled news media remorselessly spouts encouraging messages of 'recovery' (from the economic crisis) but there is no recovery.  Billions upon billions have been spent on saving the banks yet the banks are still not lending to inject funds into businesses that would aid economic recovery.  Why not?

The simple fact is that the banks used methods usually applied for getting out of a recession during the boom period.  How bloody irresponsible was that, do you think?
Such stupidity must even have left the bourgeoisie itself totally gobsmacked! So why did they do it?

Well, they used low interest rates to avoid a recession (but merely to delay the inevitable). But now the recession is far more serious than it could have been - a bit like somebody delaying an operation on their foot that subsequently results in the amputation of their leg.

Marx explained the role of credit in capitalism: it serves to artificially expand the market beyond its normal limits. However, borrowed money must be repaid with interest.  The basic contradictions of capitalism remain - all that happens is that the crisis is delayed but, when it comes, it is much worse than it would have been, as in the example above.

In countries throughout the world there are signs that people are becoming aware of their exploitation.  And not just their exploitation but the exploitation of the whole planet in the cause of generating profit at any price no matter what the cost.

In all countries the comfortable barons of the Trade Unions are desperately trying to do a deal with the capitalists. They want a peaceful life (see the next posting 'Furness Trade Unionists Meet For Fightback') They want to do a deal they can sell to their members but the Boss Class has nothing to offer except cuts and more cuts.  Thus it will be that even the most right-wing, pro-Capitalist, union leaders will be obliged to enter the battles of the Class War or be thrown out of office.

Workers must learn to view things in a 'political' fashion.  A one-day strike, for example, is just a 'big demonstration'.  An indefinite general strike, however, challenges POWER.
Yes, Communists support one-day strikes because these provide the workers with a sense of their own strength but acknowledge this type of action will never defeat the schemes of the Boss Class. 

Even the most determined and protracted strikes will achieve no fundamental change in the social-economic order.  What is required is the complete overthrow of the capitalist system.  And only the working class and its allies (having attained a mature level of class consciousness) fully prepared to follow the course mapped out by the political vanguard are capable of achieving this.

Without political class consciousness, working people are condemned to live out their lives in uncertainty and insecurity.  Either socialism or barbarity - it's their choice.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010



This - more of a statement than a question - was put to me by a Roman Catholic acquaintance as I gave him a lift home one wet and windy winter evening.  He meant 'not many in Furness' and that, with so few, not much was likely to be achieved. 

He was, of course, absolutely correct; there are not many communists in Furness.
However, I reminded him that Jesus Christ had apparently started out with just a dozen followers and he should think what they ultimately managed to achieve......    

There being but few comrades in this largely politically backward part of the country is actually of little consequence for it is in the cities and large conurbations that revolutionary political activity is most likely to bear fruit.  As for 'numbers' -  well, at the last count, there are still quite a few communists in the world. And numbers are increasing as more and more workers understand that capitalism can never provide them with a secure future but only misery, wars, and further pollution of the planet in the quest for private profit.

Meanwhile, here's the English version of the Internationale (Eugene Pottier) as sung by comrades of the Communist Party of Britain at the close of major Party events....

Arise ye starvelings from your slumbers;
Arise ye criminals of want.
For Reason in revolt now thunders,
And at last ends the age of cant.
Now away with all your superstitions,
Servile masses arise! Arise!
We'll change forthwith the old conditions, 
And spurn the dust to win the prize.
    Then comrades come rally,
    And the last fight let us face.
    The Internationale 
    Unites the human race.

We peasants, artisans and others;
Enrolled among the sons of toil.
Let's claim the earth henceforth for brothers,
Drive the indolent from the soil.
On our flesh too long has fed the raven;
We've too long been the vulture's prey.
But now, farewell the spirit craven,
The dawn brings in a brighter day.

No saviour from on high delivers;
No trust have we in prince or peer.
Our own right hand the chains must shiver;
Chains of hatred, of greed and fear.
Ere the thieves will out with their booty
And to all give a happier lot.
Each at his forge must do his duty
And strike the iron while it's hot.

Go on, bellow this out with enthusiasm and blow the cobwebs away while you prepare for the coming trials and tribulations of Class Warfare unleashed on the poor by the multi-millionaires of the Boss Class.

Sunday, 12 September 2010


Even in the 1970s I sensed something was wrong in the fabric of the Communist Party of Great Britain.  There appeared to be a willingness to 'dumb down' the terminology to make some things more understandable for the (presumably) dim British working class. So, gone was the term 'Dictatorship of the proletariat' as this was deemed to be too 'foreign sounding' for the parochial islanders of Britain.  Neither was there to be further mention of Democratic Centralism - the bedrock of the Communist democratic process.

In the 1980s there was much blathering about 'pluralism' and Gorbachev's Perestroika and Glasnost.  The publication 'Comment' was transformed from a pulp paper magazine into a full colour 'coffee table' glossy named 'Marxism Today' which featured luminaries such as Michael Heseltine and contained articles that argued for the sale of council houses.  I stopped buying the magazine.  

And soon after that there were rumours of some comrades being referred to as 'Tankies'.  What a ridiculously infantile expression!  This was followed by a serious attempt to take control of the People's Press Printing Society, the democratic organisation responsible for the production of the Morning Star, the only English language socialist daily newspaper in the world. Fortunately, the revisionist assault was defeated and control remained firmly in the hands of that democratic co-operative society.

The Party branch of which I was a member consistently met in full its financial obligations to both the District Quota (target sum of money) and to the National Appeal (another financial target) and was pleased to announce this at regular north west regional meetings.  Was the branch praised for its achievements?  Well, no, it was not.  When the time arrived for branches to report progress, this particular branch was sneeringly referred to as 'the best branch in the North West.'  This childish idiocy was incomprehensible to this author.  Was this really how professed revolutionaries conducted themselves?  Who were these creatures who labelled themselves 'EuroCommunists' and what were they doing in the Communist Party of Great Britain? What was the source of these deviants and how had they been allowed to become so influential within the Party? 

Worse was to follow.  The National Executive overturned the democratic election of a new North West District Committee.  The branch to which I belonged deliberately withheld all financial contributions to the Party and demanded reinstatement of those elected to the NW District Committee.  

Matters turned decidedly 'uncomradely' as the months progressed towards the fateful, final, National Congress of the CPGB.  I was elected as a delegate to that congress, defeating a comrade nominated by the trendy liberal EuroCommunists.  During the election process, I was called a 'Stalinist'.  The pathetic idiot who made the remark had clearly intended it to be an insult and was very much surprised when I congratulated them on their perceptiveness. Indeed, I considered it to be a compliment!  However, my Euro opponent in the election was 'slipped in' by means of a discovered spare place and that is when I fully understood the gravity of the situation - this scum was out to conduct a cull of genuine Communist comrades and to erase any vestage of Marxism-Leninism from British politics.  

I resigned from the CPGB and gave support to the Communist Campaign Group set up to defend the fundamental principles of the CPGB.  The dross that purged the Party of its intellectuals and activists abandoned the name 'Communist' and instead chose to call themselves the  Party of the Democratic Left.  They clapped and cheered and then disappeared back into the political void from which they had come.

And socialism was abandoned in the former countries of the Warsaw Pact without need of violent insurrection. (If working people demand to be screwed by the capitalists, then let them be screwed until their pips burst - then what will they do and to what will they turn?  To fascism, perhaps?)

Communist recovery in the UK was not as joyful or successful as that of our Greek comrades but the Party reorganised under the title Communist Party of Britain and adheres to the principles of Marxism-Leninism.  In Britain, various splinter groups exist which also call themselves 'communist' and, generally, their hearts are in the right place - it's just their cognition that seems to be out of kilter; there can be no place for factions in the class struggle for these simply undermine the principle of solidarity as was experienced in the 1980s and play into the hands of the class enemy - could that be their objective? Only time, and the intensifying class struggle, will tell.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

KKE 1985 - 2000 +


Coalition of Resistance | Dot Gibson - National Pensioners Convention |

The General Secretary of the National Pensioners' Convention advised those attending a meeting of the Coalition of Resistance not to underestimate the support pensioners can give to the campaign.  Yes, some may be slow moving, poor sighted and hard of hearing but they have enjoyed the benefits of the Welfare State and know what is at stake for the working class and lower middle class of this country.  

Their parents demanded, after the second World War, no return to the 1920's and 1930's lack of social care for working people.  The war had left Britain in a position of financial ruin much worse than today yet the newly elected Labour government was able to establish the National Health Service and all other sections of the Welfare State that became the envy of countries throughout the world.  And pensioners rightly ask, if it could be done then, then why not now?

(The difference is that in 1945 there was mass mobilisation of people demanding a better standard of living and social care and nobody was scared of using the word 'socialism')

This same question will be asked at the Monday 13th September meeting of the Barrow & Furness Pensioners' Association when a plan will be drawn up for conducting direct action in October.  

Clearly, the pensioners will rightly expect the local Trade Unions to support their action for two very obvious reasons: one, trade unionists will be pensioners themselves one day;  two, the protest is not just about pensions and care for the elderly, it is about resisting the most savage and wholesale attack on the standard of living of ordinary people this country has ever seen. 

If just a few local pensioners are left to engage in some form of civil disobedience to draw attention to the cuts programme this will be a huge condemnation of the apathy of the local population. Indeed, if the level of local support is the same as that given to the courageous pupils of Parkview School who stood alone in defence of their school against the proposed academy then protesting pensioners will be on their own.

When the well known comedian, Mike Harding, described Barrow in Furness as 'a medieval town (at the end of a 32 mile cul-de-sac)' he did not refer to the local architecture but to the peasant mentality of the local population (as he allegedly found it to be). And the word Barrow describes a mound in which the dead are housed.  Do the people here truly deserve this?  As it is said: "The proof of the pudding is in the eating."


Saturday, 4 September 2010


Members of Barrow & Furness Pensioners' Association could never be described as a bunch of revolutionaries but they can certainly tell the difference between right and wrong and this is why most members have signed the Charter's petition and why a few also promote the Charter in Barrow town centre whenever possible.

The Charter sets out particular steps for resolving the current economic crisis without need for savage cuts in public spending - cuts that, if implemented, will have very serious consequences for the well-being of the most disadvantaged members of our nation i.e. the sick, the disabled, anyone on benefits, those on low wages, and people on fixed incomes such as the elderly on the state pension.

THE PEOPLE'S CHARTER, adopted by the Trade Union Congress at its annual conference, Sept 2009.
A FAIR ECONOMY FOR A FAIRER BRITAIN. Progressive taxes without loopholes or tax-havens.  We must own and control the main banks. Guarantee all pensions, mortgages and savings. Tie pensions and benefits to wages.  Give pensioners free transport and heating.  Increase the minimum wage.

MORE AND BETTER JOBS. Protect existing jobs. Reduce hours, not pay, to create more jobs.  Make a massive investment in new jobs, particularly in green technology, for the sake of our children.

DECENT HOMES FOR ALL. Create 3 million publicly owned homes.  Stop the repossessions. Control rents.

SAVE AND IMPROVE OUR SERVICES.  Energy, telecommunications, postal, water, and transport to be placed in public ownership to serve people not shareholders.  Remove profit making from our NHS and schools.  Support our public service staff.

FOR FAIRNESS AND JUSTICE.  Equality of opportunity for all.  Together against racism and all forms of discrimination.  Equal pay for women. End child poverty and give young people a future. Provide free child and youth facilities, education and training for all.  Repeal the anti-union laws to fight poverty and inequality.

A BETTER FUTURE STARTS NOW.  No more blood and money for war.  Bring our troops home.  No more billions of pounds for nuclear weapons.  We want massive investment for a greener, safer world. Get rid of the debt economy in Britain and cancel the debts of the poor of the planet.

Meanwhile, one year on from the Charter's TUC endorsement, Furness Trade Unions remain comatose and their slumber is enhanced by the blanket silence of the local press on the issue.

There was a glimmer of hope of a fight-back against proposed cuts to housing benefits for the unemployed when, in a recent article in the local press, Barrow Borough (Conservative) councillor, Ray Guselli, openly criticised his own party in government for this measure. How are these unfortunate people, he asked, going to be able to afford to make up their rent shortfall from their meagre benefits? Landlords will have no alternative but to give them 'notice to quit' and then seek tenants who can afford to rent the flats and bed-sits (a difficult proposition when there are increasing numbers of unemployed and a glut of empty properties in Barrow). But then, of course, councillor Guselli is himself a landlord of rented properties in the town.  Was he concerned about his tenants, or about a loss of income?   



Wednesday, 25 August 2010


Under the title 'Northern Region Public Service Alliance', Northern Region Trades Union Congress has held a series of meetings across the North East and Cumbria to decide how to respond to the Government's planned spending cuts.

Although union-led, it is hoped to involve members of social and community groups such as Pensioners' Associations, residents' groups and special area voluntary organisations (health, environment, nature conservation, etc) whose very existence is now under threat.

At a meeting held at the Castle Hotel, Bassenthwaite, Cumbria at 5.30pm on Friday 6th August, assembled members of various Cumbria Trades Unions agreed the county be divided up into three zones: Cumbria North to cover Carlisle and Penrith; Cumbria Central to cover the west coast (Workington down to Millom) and Cumbria South to cover Furness and Kendal.

North Cumbria has already announced campaign meetings to be held but all remains quiet in Cumbria Central and Cumbria South (with the exception that Barrow & Furness Pensioners' Association has agreed to hold a meeting to determine what direct action is possible to support the National Pensioners' Convention demonstration in the capital in October).

Very recently, 50 jobs were lost at the Telephone Directory Call Centre in Barrow. The pharmaceutical company, Welcome Glaxo Smith Klein, at Ulverston is to enforce 100 compulsory redundancies.  Job losses of this kind are not simply 'losses'.  The work these jobs did has been eliminated and they will never arise again to offer occupational opportunities.

And for the people of Furness, that distant thunder draws ever closer. They, like the rest of the population of Britain, freely vote for a barbaric system of 'Profit before people' then wonder why things get a bit tough for them.  They appear to be incapable of grasping the fundamental truth that history is made by the people, not by kings and queens or prime ministers and generals.  

A better society can only be established by the will and actions of masses of people united in their determination to strive for it - even willing to risk their lives for its achievement.  That level of political enlightenment and commitment does not yet exist in today's Britain; which is why we are now in such a hell of a mess.