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.