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?