Saturday, 31 December 2011


The 'Unions, Labour Party and labour movement' matter will have to be continued in the next posting - as will further comments I wish to make about the Member of Parliament for the Barrow and Furness constituency, John Woodcock - because, as reported in yesterday's edition of the Morning Star, many Britons will (together with members of other English-speaking nations) at midnight this evening (31st December) either just make up, or mime, the words of the song 'Auld Lang Syne'.  How absolutely humiliating this must be for them, and how awfully embarrassing for those unfortunate enough to be in their company at what ought to be a joyful moment for everyone.
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,  And never brought to min'?  Should auld acqaintance be forgot,  And days o' lang syne?  For auld lang syne, my dear,  For auld lang syne,  We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,  For auld lang syne.

We twa hae run about the braes,  And pu'd the gowans fine,  But we've wander'd mony a weary foot,  Sin auld lang syne.  (Chorus - For auld.....)

We twa hae paidl't i' the burn,  From mornin' sun til dine;  But seas between us braid hae roar'd,  Sin auld lang syne.  (Chorus - For auld....)

And here's a hand, my trusty fiere,  And gie's a hand o' thine;  And we'll tak a right guid willie-waught,  For auld lang syne.  (Chorus - For auld....)

And surely ye'll be your pint-stowp,  And surely I'll be mine;  And we'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,  For auld lang syne.  (Chorus - For auld.....)
Words by Robert Burns.  Tune 'I feed a lass at Martinmas'  Taken from 'The Song Book', published by Macmillan & Co, London and New York, 1892

OK, so a brief departure from things political as I have a headcold and I'm a wee bit peely-wally the nicht.

Sincere best wishes to all comrades actively engaged in the battles of the class war.
The struggle continues!

Monday, 19 December 2011


Barrow MP, John Woodcock, 'Baby Hugging'
Condemned to forever roll a boulder to the top of the mountain only to have it roll back to the bottom again was the lot of poor Sysiphus - but at least he had the satisfaction of getting that rock to the summit each time, which is more than can be said for those who struggle for socialism here in Britain.

Communists and socialists know that Socialism is the only system that will create a fairer society but  British working people do not appear to understand this simple message even when the results of capitalism (a ruthlessly greedy system designed to rob and cheat them and which offers them nothing but anxiety and conflict) are staring them in the face.

Millions buy copies of imbecilic tabloid 'newspapers' to fill their heads with vacuous nonsense and fantasies every day of the week and seem to be incapable of holding any type of meaningful conversation lasting more than a minute.  Yet persistent brief encounters reveal that these people know something is 'not right'.  Some will vote Labour and/or join a trade union in the hope that 'someone' will sort things out for them but it is then that the real problem is created - when Labour 'betrays' them, or their union 'sells out'.  

Socialists are ridiculed for suggesting that the Labour Party can be 'reclaimed' as a party for working people and that the individual unions can unite in the struggle to achieve a more just society when, according to critics, historical evidence demonstrates this is but a pipe dream.  Unfortunately, historical evidence does indeed prove them to be correct - Labour governments do betray working people and unions do sell out their members.  But, today, people on 'the Left' are engaged in finding ways of 'restoring the trust' (in Labour and the unions).  Does the contemporary issue of the Communist Party of Britain's programme, Britain's Road to Socialism, offer any guidance?

   Whether the trade unions and the socialist and social-democratic trends (in the Labour Party) will be sufficiently strong, resolute and united to take back control of the Labour Party from New Labour can only be assessed in the course of a determined struggle to do so.
   The working class and peoples of Britain need a mass political party, based on the labour movement, that can win general elections, form a government and implement substantial reforms in their interests.
   For as long as many of the biggest trade unions are affiliated to the Labour Party, the potential exists to wage a broad fight to reclaim the party for the labour movement and left-wing policies.  Certainly, this is the most direct route to ensuring the continued existence of a mass party of labour in Britain, and is an objective that every non-sectarian socialist and communist should support, whether from within the Labour Party or from without.
   But decisive progress in this direction requires the unions themselves to fight both inside and outside the Labour Party for policies that will challenge state-monopoly capitalism in Britain.  Moreover, support will need to be won at every level of the trade unions and the whole labour movement for an alternative economic and political strategy (AEPS) to that being pusued by the British ruling class.  This would provide the most favourable conditions in which to resolve the crisis of working class electoral representation.  Here, too, the Communist Party and the daily socialist Morning Star newspaper have an important contribution to make to the struggle within the labour movement.       (BRS, p21)
Now, before there are groans of "Oh, no - just more of this 'reclaim the Labour Party' wishful- thinking nonsense!" it is necessary to read further......
   Only after a determined fight can the big trade unions make a realistic assessment of whether the Labour Party can be reclaimed.  They will have to decide whether to persevere or, together with their political allies, to re-establish a mass party of labour that will represent the interests of the working class and the people generally.
   For as long as little or no progress is made in the direction of reclaiming or re-stablishing such a party, other left-wing and class-struggle trends are likely to emerge that are not organisationally or politically related to the Labour Party.  It is likely that they will seek to participate in the political and electoral arena.
   The Communist Party's role is to work with all left trends that have a real, sustained base in the labour movement, urging them to unite around policies and in actions which raise the combativeness, confidence and political consciousness of the working class.  This would lay the basis for their convergence in a reclaimed or re-established mass party of labour, one federally organised to permit the affiliation of socialist and communist parties committed to the fight for socialism.   (BRS, p21)
So the way forward is either by
a) the trade unions, and the socialist and social-democratic trends uniting to take over the Labour Party, or by 
b) them abandoning a Labour Party that no longer represents their interests and forming a new federal party of labour that is unequivocal in its aim to establish a British socialist state.

Well, that's the theory and it all seems quite simple and straightforward, so what could possibly go wrong?  (To be continued in the next posting)

Meanwhile, leader of the Labour Party, Ed Miliband, does not agree with workers striking to defend their pensions, makes no proposals for returning energy provision or transport to public ownership and has little to say about regulating speculative bankers and financiers.
   John Woodcock, (pictured above) Labour MP for this constituency, believes 'The Cuts' are necessary.  He was unable to attend a public meeting for the defence of the National Health Service because, his assistant explained, he was attending 'a meeting'.  Yes, he was - he was on a trip to Israel as new chairman of Labour Friends of Israel and was pictured 'standing in an area that could receive a Palestinian rocket attack'!  Gosh!  As no full explanation for the visit was provided, are we to assume it was just another meeting to draw up some new lucrative weapons contract to assist Israeli expansionism and further illegal occupation of Palestinian territory?  Or did he advise them, as a friend, to begin heeding United Nations resolutions before the Security Council finally loses patience, imposes sanctions, draws up a comprehensive 'no fly zone' and lays the ground for a full NATO invasion?
   Robert Pointer, Labour Councillor and secretary of Barrow Trades Union Council, agrees 'The Cuts' are necessary. This probably explains why he persistently ignores requests to support the TUC-endorsed People's Charter local campaign and why he did not attend the recent meeting of Trade Union Councils in Derby - though he did confess "I don't like travelling in winter."

The struggle continues.


Saturday, 10 December 2011


Strikers rally in front of Town Hall, Barrow, 30 Nov 2011
Guidance worthy of note from comrade Lenin
Can there ever be compromise in the class war?  Is it ever acceptable to retreat at the height of confrontation with the class enemy?

'...proletarians schooled in numerous strikes (to take only this manifestation of the class struggle) usually understand quite well the very profound (philosophical, historical, political and psychological) truth expounded by Engels.  

Every proletarian has been through strikes and has experienced "compromises" with the hated oppressors and exploiters, when the workers had to go back to work either without having achieved anything or agreeing to only a partial satifaction of their demands.  Every proletarian - owing to the conditions of the mass struggle and the sharp intensification of class antagonisms in which he lives - notices the difference between a compromise enforced by objective conditions (such as lack of strike funds, no outside support, extreme hunger and exhaustion), a compromise which in no way diminishes the revolutionary devotion and readiness for further struggle on the part of the workers who have agreed to such a compromise, and a compromise by traitors who try to ascribe to outside causes their own selfishness (strike-breakers also enter into "compromises"!), cowardice, desire to toady to the capitalists, and readiness to yield to intimidation, sometimes to persuasion, sometimes to sops, and sometimes to flattery on the part of the capitalists. (The history of the British labour movement offers especially many instances of such treacherous compromises by British trade union leaders, but, in one form or another, nearly all workers in all countries have witnessed the same sort of thing)' (My emphasis - FR)

And further...
'Of course, in politics, where it is sometimes a matter of extremely complicated - national and international - relations between classes and parties, very many cases will arise that will be much more difficult than the questions of a legitimate "compromise" in a strike, or the treacherous "compromise" of a strike-breaker, traitor, etc.  It would be absurd to formulate a recipe or general rule ("No Compromises!") to serve all cases.

One must use one's own brains and be able to find one's bearings in each separate case.  That, in fact, is one of the functions of party organization and party leaders worthy of the title, namely, through the prolonged, persistent, variegated and comprehensive efforts of all thinking representatives of the given class, to evolve the knowledge and experience and - in addition to knowledge and experience - the political instinct necessary for the speedy and correct solution of intricate political problems.'

And finally...
'Within every class, even in the conditions prevailing in the most enlightened countries, even within the most advanced class, and even when the circumstances of the moment have roused all its spiritual forces to an exceptional degree, there always are - and inevitably will be as long as classes exist, as long as classless society has not fully entrenched and consolidated itself, and has not developed on its own foundations - representatives of the class who do not think and are incapable of thinking.  Were this not so, capitalism would not be the oppressor of the masses it is.' (My emphasis - FR)

Text from "Left-Wing" Communism, an Infantile Disorder, V.I. Lenin, pp 63, 64, 65

For many who took part in the one day of action on 30th November, this was their first ever strike.  The public sector workers who took part that day did so in the belief that their leaders were taking the correct decisions and had a strategic plan for the future confrontations that are sure to follow.  These workers are advised to keep a close eye on that leadership and the nature of any 'negotiations' conducted on their behalf.


Friday, 9 December 2011


   NOVEMBER 30TH 2011
"United, we stand; divided, we fall."  is a simple enough statement and one that most people understand yet it is apparently beyond the comprehension of many in Furness.  Either that or the many have become convinced that, no matter what they do, they will not succeed in bringing about change.

Many remember Prime Minister Gordon Brown declaring there would be a cut of 100,000 civil servants and Chancellor of the Exchequer, Alistair Darling warning that cuts about to be imposed by the New Labour government would be 'worse than under the former Tory Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher'.  And all this before the General Election in May 2010 at which the Conservatives, with the backing of the Liberal Democrats, took (unelected) power to unleash a slash and burn campaign against the Welfare State and to privatise sections of the National Health Service.

The TUC one day strike of Public Sector workers on 30th November was, in Furness terms, quite well supported.  Pickets were evident outside schools, the offices of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP, pictured above), the Town Hall, and Furness General Hospital, for example.  A thirty minute 'rally' in the town square, supported by local members of Unison, GMB, PCS, and NUT unions culminated in 'one minute of noise' obtained by blowing of whistles and vuvuzelas.  Furness Against the Cuts attended with a stall and members of Unite Against Fascism displayed their banner.  The secretary of Barrow Trades Union Council was seen sidling about in the background and the local Labour Party was conspicuously absent.  Later, the local press gave the event good coverage estimating an attendance of 300 persons.  

Was the strike successful in drawing the public's attention towards the threat to its Public Services and demonstrating workers' strength of feeling against the proposed Pensions reform?   The strike certainly made national headlines in the press and was featured in TV news programmes so, in this, it was a successful piece of publicity.  Did the strike serve to strengthen workers' resolve to take further action?  In as much as the strike had little affect upon the government's Pensions plans and further pressure will be required, then the results of future union strike ballots will demonstrate whether resolve was, or was not, strengthened.  

One thing that has not yet been clearly understood by local unions is the pressing need to educate the public about the damage being planned for the Welfare State and the National Health Service.  They will certainly not educate anyone by sitting in a room discussing issues amongst themselves, or having a 'fun' rally for half an hour every six months:  they need to follow the lead provided by Furness Against the Cuts by getting out into the town, talking to members of the public and explaining exactly what is at stake here.  But then, of course, any serious campaigners would have been doing this months ago and promoting the People's Charter as the TUC's alternative to the government's politically-motivated cuts agenda.

Blackleg office worker entering DWP "I'm not supporting the strike; the union's never done anything for me!"
Picketing union official "What do you think your union is doing for you today, then?"   
Neither the secretary of Barrow Trades Union Council nor the secretary of Ulverston Trades Union Council was prepared to attend tomorrow's (Saturday 10th December) Trades Union Councils' Joint Planning Meeting - for Jobs, Industry and Public Services - at Derby.  Literature for this event clearly points out 'The TUC Trades Council programme of work highlights working with The Peoples' Charter'.  Given that Carlisle Trades Union Council and Kendal TUC have both been defunct for some time, and that Barrow and Ulverston TUCs are contemplating a merger 'just to keep going', it would seem the first proirity of the Trade Union movement ought to be encouraging trade union branches to support their local Trades Councils recognising that TUCs are an invaluable means of communicating directly with the general public.  Class conscious, politically aware, trade unionists know this of course.  Has anyone spotted the elephant in the room here - that thing which is so obvious but which most seek to deliberately ignore?