Greenman's Occasional Organ

Ecosocialist. Syndicalist. Critical Techno-Progressive.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Green Left Events Around Green Party Conference

Green Left are involved in a number of events around the Green Party of England and Wales Autumn Conference over next weekend.

'Greening Latin America'
Thursday 4th September, 7pm to 9pm
Bolivar Hall: Embassy Of Venezuela
54 Grafton Way
W1 5AJ
Chair: Joseph Healy, Green Party of England and Wales International Secretary
Roberto Perez, Cuban permaculturalist who launches his British tour .
Dr Diana Raby, Lecturer at the Institute of Latin American Studies (University of Liverpool)
Nestor Lopez, from the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.
Dr Derek Wall, Green Party Principal Speaker
'This meeting will show case the progress being made in Latin America (with an emphasis on Cuba and Venezuela) in dealing with climate change, biodiversity and a range of environmental issues. It will examine the lessons in terms of politics and environmental policy that both the Green Movement and the wider left in Britain can learn from the Latin American experience.'
Organized by Green Left

Green Left and SOAS Palestinian Society

Anti-Zionism. A Jewish Perspective.

Friday 5th September @ 7pm (Khalili Lecture Theatre SOAS)


Simon Lynn (Editor of Jewish Socialist Magazine)

Tony Greenstein (Palestine Solidarity Campaign)

Chair: Dr Joseph Healy (Co-Convenor Green Left)

Meanwhile our comrades in Scotland are involved in putting on the following event :

Social Forum on climate change and peak oil issues and strategies

Imagining and creating a just and sustainable society

Sat 18th October (10.30-5.30) Sun 19th October (11-2)

Edinburgh Students Union, Teviot Building

For all who want action not just targets

Key speaker: Sian Berry London Mayoral candidate, Green Party

Workshop Strands will include:

1. WHAT are the causes of climate chaos?

2. HOW can we reduce carbon emissions fast?

3. WHO can change Policy not just light bulbs?

While governments plan to reduce emissions some time in the far distant future, global warming emissions rise rapidly worldwide (Scotland’s emissions rose 8% in 2006). While the Arctic is set to be ice free and absorbing rather than reflecting heat by 2013, scientists argue that this could be just the start of the feedback loops which will drive temperatures higher and potentially drive us to extinction.

This situation has lead people from a range of environmental and political groups to put aside their differences and ask: what is causing this, and how can we stop it, and stop it fast? How can we challenge this system of ever-increasing economic growth that drives climate change emissions up daily?

If the politicians won’t act to tackle the causes of climate chaos, then can ordinary citizens create a community based, nationally effective, and internationally connected political movement that seeks to deal with peak oil and avoid catastrophic climate change by creating ecological and social justice now?

Come along, learn and share views on the issues that need to be addressed and the action that can be taken.

organised by activists from

Democratic Left Scotland, from the Scottish Green Party and from the Scottish Socialist Party

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Saturday, August 30, 2008

Reissmann Unfair Dismissal Tribunal This Monday

Karen Reissmann, the community psychiatric nurse allegedly sacked for speaking out over service cuts and privatisation, will bring a claim of
unfair dismissal to an employment tribunal this Monday (1 September).

Reissmann, who is also a Unison activist, was suspended by Manchester
Mental Health and Social Care Trust in June 2007 and then sacked last
November for gross misconduct. Her suspension and dismissal led to a
series of strikes at the trust and campaigners have taken her case to
parliament. So far 64 MPs have signed an early day motion calling for
her reinstatement.

Colleagues, service users and union activists will stage a demonstration
in support of Reissmann on the day of the tribunal, which will take
place in Manchester. Unison branch secretary Caroline Bedale said: "We
want NHS trade unionists to be able to speak out when they have concerns
about the impact of the private and voluntary sectors taking over the
provision of health services."

More from Labournet -

Sacked Manchester nurse: Employment Tribunal starts on Monday 1st September

Karen Reissmann, sacked union rep and nurse, finally gets to take her case for unfair dismissal to an Employment Tribunal. It starts on Monday 1st September at Tribunal building, Parsonage Gardens, Manchester. The case is expected to last for the full week.

Supporters will assemble at 8. 45am in the Parsonage Gardens, behind Kendals on Deansgate, Manchester, to offer solidarity at the end of a very difficult 18 months for Karen. Colleagues who came out on strike in support of her, users of mental health services in Manchester, other trade unionists and concerned members of the public continue to offer her their full support. They want to be there for her at the start of a difficult day.

Karen was suspended on June 15th 2007 and sacked on November 5th 2007.

She was sacked for speaking out about cuts and privatisation of health services. Karen has always been an active trade unionist who has organised campaigns to defend the NHS.

“Karen’s case raises issues about how the NHS is no longer a national cooperative body. Over the last few years it has become increasingly a myriad of different small Trusts competing for business with other Trusts, charities and private health companies.” said Caroline Bedale, UNISON Manchester Community and Mental Health Branch Secretary.

She continued “NHS trusts are not buying and selling cornflakes. We are providing a public service. We want NHS trade unionists to be able to speak out when they have concerns about the impact of the private and voluntary sectors taking over the provision of health services. We should not be silenced by commercial interests. It is not good for staff, not good for patients and not good for the NHS.”

Sheila Foley, the chief executive who sacked Karen, resigned from the Trust in July this year. This followed an independent report very critical of the Mental Health Trust in Manchester, which was found to be third from bottom nationally in a recent inspection for in-patient services. However Ms Foley is still expected to come and give evidence in the Tribunal.

Last year UNISON’s national Health Service Group Executive said “UNISON will vigorously defend its member’s right to speak out without fear of persecution and we will ensure that Karen will be supported throughout this process and her interests will be positively defended.” UNISON is providing Karen with a barrister for the case.

It is not just UNISON which is backing Karen. “Messages of support for Karen have been flooding in to the branch from all over the country,” reported Caroline Bedale. “We’ve written an open letter to Ivan Lewis, the Minister for Mental Health, calling for a new start to rebuild relationships and confidence across those involved in Manchester’s mental well being, and for Karen’s reinstatement. Hundreds of people have signed this, including the General Secretaries of most of the big trade unions: Keith Norman, Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen (ASLEF); Joe Marino, Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU); Michael Leahy, Community; Paul Kenny, GMB; Bob Crow, RMT; Mark Serwotka, Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS); Brian Caton, Prison Officers Association (POA); Steve Gregg, Fire Brigades Union (FBU) North East Region; Kevin Brown, FBU North West Region. And 64 MPs have now signed an Early Day Motion in support of the right to speak out and for Karen’s reinstatement.”

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Weekly Links 28/08/08

A good article here from Red Pepper on the Lisbon Treaty and the left opposition to it -

Which part of No don’t they understand?

When the EU constitution was rejected in 2005, European leaders resolved that the people of Europe would not get a vote on its replacement. But Ireland’s constitution forced one exception, and the Irish promptly rejected the Lisbon treaty. Westby Swift looks at why the Irish voted No, what the EU plans to do about it and how the left should respond

American Politics
Elsewhere in this month's Red Pepper is a debate on the Obama Presidential challenge and the left -

Holding Obama’s feet to the fire

With his appointment of a series of Clintonite economic and foreign policy advisers, Barack Obama has attracted fire from the American left. But does this mean that hope in his campaign for the presidency is misplaced? Doug Henwood, Gary Younge, Jo-ann Mort, Betsy Reed and Ta-Nehisi Coates debate the politics of Obama’s candidacy and the huge mobilisation of support behind it

The anti-ecologist, "Wise Use", and libertarian right sometimes like to use the arguments of Garrett Hardin as an intellectual totem, a weapon in the battle for the privatisation of everything and the permanent defeat of collectivism. Ecosocialist activist and writer Ian Angus takes on Hardin's arguments in an article published on the Socialist Voice website here -

Will shared resources always be misused and overused? Is community ownership of land, forests and fisheries a guaranteed road to ecological disaster? Is privatization the only way to protect the environment and end Third World poverty? Most economists and development planners will answer “yes” — and for proof they will point to the most influential article ever written on those important questions.

Since its publication in Science in December 1968, “The Tragedy of the Commons” has been anthologized in at least 111 books, making it one of the most-reprinted articles ever to appear in any scientific journal. It is also one of the most-quoted: a recent Google search found “about 302,000” results for the phrase “tragedy of the commons.”

Angus presents a convincing attack on both the veracity of Hardin's argument and the duplicitous uses to which it has been put.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Historic IWW General Assembly This Weekend

This weekend sees a historic General Assembly of the IWW (Industrial Workers Of The World)in London. This is the first time in its' 103 year history that the legendary industrial union organization has held a General Meeting outside of North America.
Motions include an already hotly debated one to move to a Delegate Convention so that international meetings can be more representative of the international growth of the union.
More information here.

The BIROC (Regional administration of the Union in this part of the world) are honoured to be hosting the union meeting at such an important time and extend a warm welcome to fellow workers from across the world who will be attending.

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Sunday, August 24, 2008

The First Volume of the Autobiography of Dave Douglass

Dave Douglass is something of a celebrity, even a legend, for some union radicals, anarchists, socialists and working class activists in Britain. For others he is a somewhat controversial and ideologically eclectic figure, a view tending to be confirmed in such minds by the forthright views on the Climate Camp and environmental movement that he expressed recently, and also the way he expressed them. I first met Dave 25 odd years ago when he was a leading NUM figure at Hatfield Main Colliery near Doncaster and I was a student with anarcho-syndicalist views, doing my bit for the Miners' cause in the ill-fated strike. ( A period interestingly - though controversially and painfully - novelised in David Peace's book GB84)

Dave D's History of the National Union Of Mineworkers is on their website here.

Whatever else might be said about Dave he is usually brutally honest in a way that both Geordies and Yorkshire folk are renowned for. He has also had a very interesting life - when I moved in his circles in the 80s and early 90s he already had a history of mixing and adapting his own versions of Bolshevism and Buddhism, syndicalism and hedonism, anarchism and vegetarianism, heavy theory and a wicked sense of humour. He latterly became a bit of a TV celeb after one of those programmes where opposites are brought together - in Dave's case a class warrior spending some time living with a family of landed gentry. Dave remains a fighter for his class and his beliefs as a fellow worker in the IWW, now returned to his native North East.

So I look forward to reading the first volume of Dave's projected autobiographical Trilogy, Geordies - Wa Mental which is just coming out. I have just received the following anonymous review and publication details -

Geordies — Wa Mental
David John Douglass

A great American author once advised anyone wanting to become a real writer to tell the truth until it hurts, and then to go on telling it. I don't know if David Douglass has ever come across this advice, but his autobiography is far and away the most honest piece of writing I have read for many a long year. And whether or not it hurt him to write it, it certainly hurts to read it but only in the sense that page after page is so hilarious that the reader laughs aloud. Personally, I laughed till I gasped for breath and I'm not even a Geordie, but the sort of hard to impress Yorkshireman who will gloomily say of a comedian:
'Aye, he's all right, I suppose, if you like laughing.'
Not that Douglass sets out to be a comedian. Far from it.
His book has a serious purpose. He dips his pen in vitriol as he describes his childhood in a damp pit cottage and the dismally barren schooling that turned him into a rebel at an early age.
And what else could a highly intelligent boy become, relegated to the despised 'C' stream and told by cane wielding teachers that he was 'cocky' because. pursuing his interests, he read books borrowed from the adult library. Soon the young rebel became a revolutionary, trying for size a succession of movements that sought, with varying degrees of realism, to overthrow the system. As a teenager he seems to have taken part in every sort of street battle that the 1960s offered him and those of like mind, culminating in the great 1968 Battle of Grosvenor Square. He gives the best available description from inside of the 'love' movement of the 1960s,that 'raggyarsed working class hippyism'.
But some of the most effective writing in the book tells graphically of his demanding stint 'in the cauldron of hell', down pits in Durham and Yorkshire. David Douglass was, and remains, a working-class fighter, fiercely proud of his north eastern roots, fiercely loyal to his friends and his class. He is also a born story teller, whose characters come urgently to life on the page.
Without doubt, his brave and gripping account of his early life is destined to become a classic.

New from ChristieBooks
Published September 29, 2008
ISBN: 1-873976-34-8
Pages 352
Size: 129mm x 196mm
Publisher: ChristieBooks
Published: 29 Sep, 2008
Binding: Paperback
Price: £9.95
Market: Memoir


POBox 35, Hastings, East Sussex, TN34 1ZS
Tel: 07818416851

David John Douglass
Geordies — Wa Mental

Geordies — Wa Mental, is the first volume in the
autobiographical trilogy (Stardust and Coaldust) of David John Douglass, a coalminer for 40 years. It tells the fascinating story of the radicalisation of a working-class Geordie ‘baby-boomer’ during the first twenty years of his life and provides a unique and valuable insight into the political and cultural movements of the 1960s.

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Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Empire Strikes Back? Johnson's Monarchists Advertise

The British Republican agitation around the oath, royal finances and the heir to the throne overstepping the political mark must be having some effect as British Monarchists are now advertising for support for a counter-campaign. The Constitutional Monarchist Association is connected to the well-dodgy right-wing International Monarchist League. The following is a press release from Republic, with some links added by me.


The Constitutional Monarchy Association, headed by figures such as Boris Johnson, Derek Conway and Iris Robinson, is advertising in political magazines to head off Republic's growing campaign.

The advert says the monarchists are: "appalled that Republicans and certain factions in the media are determined to discredit our Monarchy." Adding that they need help to 'sustain' support.

Republic spokesperson Graham Smith told reporters:

"Republic's campaign against the oath of allegiance has clearly rattled these royalist-ultras. It is extraordinary to see the monarchy advertised in this way."

"The royalists clearly fear for their beloved institution, but I would be surprised if Buckingham Palace would approve of this sort of publicity."

"The last thing the palace wants is more scrutiny, but that is what this advert will prompt - particularly as it has the backing of high-profile royalists such as Johnson, Conway and Robinson."


The advert has been placed with House Magazine and the Spectator.

Republic has acquired a copy of the advert, which can be found at

The Constitutional Monarchy Association lists various conservative
politicians and little-known aristocrats (and Cliff Richard) as 'patrons'.
Their site is


Republic is a membership-based pressure group calling for the democratic replacement of the monarchy by an elected head of state.
Republic lobbies politicians and opinion-formers, undertakes original research on the monarchy, comments on Royal stories in the media and provides information on republicanism.
Republic is a non-party-political organisation with members from all the main parliamentary parties. Its distinguished supporters include 20 MPs, as well as leading figures from politics, law and the arts. A full list of Republic’s supporters can be found at


Visit our website :

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

A Green Answers Scargill And Monbiot

Last week I posted on the exchange between Arthur Scargill and George Monbiot on the Guardian website. Dave Howells, A Green Party Trade Union Group member from Gower has written a letter in response which he also circulated on the Green Party Trade Union Group E-list in case it did not get printed, so I am publishing it here. I do not agree with every point, but it is closer to my viewpoint than the arguments of Monbiot and Scargill.

To the Guardian -

Clean coal is a mirage.

Re Arthur Scargill's letter in support of coal (Guardian 8th Aug), no matter what the government's intentions, and George Monbiot's possible resignations about our energy situation, the future of nuclear power is hugely doubtful.
The answer to global warming is not nuclear power, because it is a massive, centralised and hugely expensive technology. It is aimed at perpetuating business-as-usual, ie. generating massive amounts of energy to enable us to carry on with our present lifestyle aimed at achieving "Progress" by means of eternal economic growth.

On pragmatic grounds the economic downturn is making such investments look increasingly risky, and so less likely. Investments are huge, and the payback time is a long way off. The world is slipping into economic slowdown while the cost of resources is increasing. Also, any large increase in nuclear generating capacity worldwide would mean even greater demand for uranium, and there are strictly limited reserves of this.

I have no reason to dispute Arthur's financial arguments, and the usual fiasco of the public eventually being made to foot huge bills to make the best of technological nightmares and writing off misguided private/political financial misjudgements. I agree with him too on the matter of nuclear waste still remaining an unsolved problem. Indeed, it is now looking overwhelmingly likely that, after all these years, there is really no solution. We are faced with the prospect that species of life that come and go on this planet from now on will have to live with this stuff for geological time.

I agree with Arthur too that we are sinking into an economic and political crisis of an unprecedented scale. Underneath the daily news of credit crunches, mortgages, employment and oil prices lies the increasingly voiced grassroots fear that the end of our current industrial lifestyle might wellbe much closer than is being publicly recognised. Our political system seems helpless in the face of this, and any form of competent leadership appropriate to the situation is completely absent.

I agree with him too that, for all the bad political decisions made in the past, the UK still sits on vast quantities of unexploited coal. I also agree with him that the UK has never had an integrated energy policy: when energy was cheap and in seemingly inexhaustible supply we never needed to.

However, I must fundamentally disagree with Arthur that coal can answer all our "needs" without causing harm to the environment. In his eyes the simple answer is to capture carbon dioxide produced by power stations and bury it.
However, if one looks at this claim realistically it quickly becomes unfeasible - or at least deeply dubious. In fact it seems that the idea is now failing.

As Arthur noted, only some 20 percent of the CO2 we produce comes from power stations. Secondly, most power stations are situated nowhere near any rock formations that would be suitable for burying the gas. Those that might be would find collection and pumping costs very large - indeed taking a sizeable percentage of the energy produced by the power station itself. The safety issues of burying the gas in or near any residential areas hardly bear thinking about. CO2 is colourless and odourless, and spending two minutes just breathing that would probably prove lethal.

Some may point to a few schemes already in operation. However, these are very few, overstated, and not at all representative of any broad commercial application. For instance, the hydrogen scheme in Peterhead, Scotland is planned in order to maintain pressure in a depleting North Sea oilfield, with the aim of wringing out as much oil as possible (and thus maximising financial returns for BP and Rio Tinto - with government backing).

At this point I feel that Arthur's letter becomes very misleading. His statement that "all existing and new coal-fired power stations should be fitted with clean coal technology - including carbon capture that would remove all CO2" could easily give the reader the impression that carbon capture is with us, and no obstacle to progress any more. That is most definitely not so. In fact the technology has not been developed at all yet, and there are no real genuine examples of it at all - anywhere in the world. But as usual promises abound, and dreams of widespread application are getting well out of step with reality.

UK energy policy has been talked about at length, but the pressure for business-as-usual remains as intense as ever - like a wolf in sheep's clothing. At the very least, any government that is serious about global warming would prohibit the building of any further coal and hydrocarbon power stations, and any other coal-processing industries (hydrogen,petrochemicals, etc), unless demonstrably workable carbon burial, specific to that project, is completely built in to the scheme from the very outset. Empty promises of retrospective bolt-on bits must be strictly not allowed.
We have to stop living on false promises.
Yours sincerely
Dave Howells
Green Party, Gower

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Latest from Peter Tatchell

Two recent pieces from Green Party left campaigner and human rights activist Peter Tatchell have come to my attention. In the first he looks at the attacks of the Ahmadinejad regime on trade unions in Iran -

Iran's war on trade unions

President Ahmadinejad is intensifying the repression of labour activists. We should support them in their fight for basic rights.

By Peter Tatchell

The Guardian – Comment Is Free – 18 August 2008

There is a petition on this subject on the Labourstart website that Peter links in his article.

Secondly this week Peter commented on the passing of the former Labour MP Leo Abse who spearheaded changes to the law on homosexuality in Britain in the 1960s -

Leo Abse – Appreciation and disappointment

London – 20 August 2008

"Leo Abse will be remembered by the gay community with a mixture of appreciation and disappointment," said gay human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell.

He was commenting on the death of the former MP, Leo Abse, who helped secure the partial decriminalisation of male homosexuality in 1967.

"Although gay people felt huge relief following the passage of his
1967 gay law reform, we were also angry because his bill perpetuated the criminalisation of many aspects of gay life. It was not the liberation that many of us had wanted and expected," added Mr Tatchell.

"His homosexual law reform bill decriminalised sex between men, but only in narrow circumstances. It retained many discriminatory
provisions, such as the unequal age of consent of 21. These
inequalities were not finally repealed until 2003.

"The Homosexual Law Reform Society was often exasperated by Leo's expectation that it should lobby MPs to win support for his bill, while he ignored their concerns that his limited reform proposals maintained homophobic discrimination.

"Mr Abse could be quite arrogant and patronising towards gay people.
He had a sometimes dismissive, disapproving attitude towards the gay human rights movement; believing that law reform should be left to politicians like him and that gay organisations should play, at best, a marginal, backroom role," said Mr Tatchell.

Chris Moncrieff's Press Association obituary for Leo Abse on the Guardian website is here.

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Monday, August 18, 2008

Weekly Links - 18/08/2008

Environmental Campaigns
Friends of The Earth in Britain have updated their anti-incineration web pages which now include a link to an interactive map showing 150 locations nominated as possible sites for the proposed 80 new incinerators around the UK, and a draft protest letter - all here
As FOE say, the incinerators will waste valuable resources and contribute to emissions. What is more, many will be energy inefficient by not making use of the heat energy in CHP arrangements.

Unions and work
The TUC's handbook for union green workplace representatives is now available online here -

The TUC is also supporting a World Day for Decent Work that is taking place on Tuesday 7th October.

The Institute of Employment Rights is running a conference to update activists and union lawyers on changes in employment law on 15th October in London - more here.

The Inveresk Street Ingrate blog has some William Morris resources including a downloadable talk given in 1982 by Steve Coleman. All this here.

James at La Lutte Continue blog reported on one of the examples of over zealous policing at the climate camp last week.

Socialist Unity Blog has pics and details of the anti-fascist mobilisation in Derbyshire at the weekend, and an article by Louise on the latest from the DWP.

A Very Public Sociologist blog also has a report from the Derbyshire demo.

On his blog Nation of Duncan, Duncan Money discusses a recent IWCA document on Economics and Immigration.

The GPTU blog has a post on the actions being taken against the Mugabe regime by South African union COSATU and others.

Blue Green Earth/ESEI blog has an interesting post on Sci Fi utopias.

Dave Osler commented that the "Left doesn't have to take sides" on the Georgia/Russia conflict on his blog Daves Part and sparked a debate in his comments section.

Lenin's Tomb blog has some interesting stats on social and economic conditions in the USA.

Jim has launched another "Best Green Blogs" thing on his Daily (Maybe) blog.

The Left
The programme is now availble for The Convention of The Left, running alongside the stage managed Labour Party private-lobbying-festival, sorry, "conference", in Manchester in September. Manchester Green Party are running a session on Transport at the Convention of the Left. All the sessions are discussions so the named contributors won't be giving a talk but will be expected to lead the discussion.

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Sunday, August 17, 2008

Advance Notice - 1888 Bryant and May Strike Commemoration

Later this year a meeting is being held by trade unionists in London to remember a very important strike that took place in 1888. More info on what became known as the London Match Girls strike here.

The London matchgirls strike of 1888 was a strike of the women and teenage girls working at the Bryant and May Factory in Bow, London. The strike was prompted by the poor working conditions in the match factory, including fourteen-hour work days, poor pay, excessive fines, and the severe health complications of working with yellow (or white) phosphorus, such as phossy jaw.[1]

Led by Socialist activist Annie Besant, with the support of Herbert Burrows, the strike began in June 1888. Three weeks later, the factory owners agreed to rehire the strikers and end the fine system

Meeting details

Dear Comrades,

GLATUC has organised a Celebration of the 1888 Bryant & May Matchgirls
Stike on Saturday 18th October 1.30 for 2.00pm at TUC, Congress House, Gt
Russell Street, London WC1B 3LS (nearest tube Tottenham Court Road)
supported by Unite London & Eastern Region, CWU London Region & SERTUC

All Welcome


Louise Raw - active trade unionist and researcher of the Strike

Professor Mary Davis - Professor of Labour History, London Metro
University - active trade unionist, member of the TUC Women's Committee
and founder and initiator of the Charter for Women Campaign

Teresa Mackay - active trade unionist and Regional Organiser for Women Race and Equalities for Unite the Union/T&G Section in Region 1

Christine Coates - active trade unionist and Librarian of the TUC Library Collections at the London Metro University which has created a website with original records from the Strike.

Come along and learn the lessons from this Strike which are still relevant

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Saturday, August 16, 2008

Anti-Fascism At Home And Abroad

Today there were various actions against the far right festival in Derbyshire I blogged about on Thursday.
Reports on Indymedia - here and here
BBC report here.

Meanwhile there is concern regarding far right attacks on the Hindu community in Berlin. According to a recent e-mail I received -

The Neo-Nazis have announced that they will march on 23rd August to protest at the proposed building of a Hindu Temple in Berlin. They have decided to march through the largest immigrant district of Berlin (Neukoelln) ending at the proposed site as they believe that "symbols" of this nature attack 'German' culture.

More here for German readers from German Indymedia -

Let us hope there is a strong counter action to this latest divisive fascist offensive.

Bearing in mind current and ongoing developments in Italy and former Soviet bloc countries the situation in Europe as regards the influence of far right movements and currents continues to remind us of the necessity for eternal vigilance and for concrete attempts to address the effects of the dysfunctional capitalist system on vulnerable groups from a democratic, left and progressive angle.

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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Anti-Fascist Mobilization In The Midlands This Weekend.

This weekend sees the UK's largest far right Party returning to fields near Denby and Codnor in Derbyshire in the East Midlands for their annual "Red White And Blue" Festival. Whilst locals have opposed previous occurrences of this event there has not yet been a major mobilization to protest against the attempts of extreme right thugs, criminals and loudmouthed bigots to present themselves as some kind of legitimate, family-friendly, peaceful democratic party. Previous "festivals" have seen some of the far rightists discredit themselves with drunken brawling and the Notts/Derbyshire border area has seen some nasty faction fighting involving different groups within the BNP. This year the decision has been taken to publicly oppose the far right jamboree by a mobilization of anti fascists. Unfortunately some sectarian outbreaks on the left have marred the run up to this, but there seems to be a truce with different elements of the anti-fascist coalition agreeing to disagree and run complementary activities on the day. We shall see how successful this will be and whether the strategy of UAF (National SWP dominated "popular-frontist" Unite Against Fascism), Notts Against the BNP (More locally based and independent group that launched the first plans for the day with strong representation of the AWL and Socialist Party) or Antifa (Radical direct action/physical force anti-fascists and anarchists) are more successful on the weekend.

Related Indymedia stories here, here, here and here.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Scargill And Monbiot Debate Coal And Climate Change

Former National Union of Mineworkers leader Arthur Scargill and environmentalist George Monbiot have posted articles on the Guardian Comment Is Free site regarding the role of coal in meeting future energy needs. Last week they both addressed meetings at the Climate Camp near Kingsnorth Power Station.

Arthur Scargill's article is here

George Monbiot's article is here

Keep it clean guys!

Both have reasonable points to make, though from an ecosocialist point of view the political positions of both leave a lot to be desired.

There appear to be strongly contested points on both the science regarding emissions levels and practicalities of proposed new technologies and the economics around costs.

What must be priorities are a strategy for Just Transition to defend against ordinary working people being asked to pay the heaviest for the changes that are needed, and a strategy that engages with the need for technological transfer to the areas of the world likely to be responsible for the fastest rises in emissions. A narrowly nationalistic approach, a focus on "market based solutions" and retreats to entrenched ideological positions are unlikely to achieve the speedy and effective changes that are needed to cut emissions. Any programmes that campaigners put forward should be underpinned by concern for social justice and be based on accurate, peer reviewed sound science. These should be the ground rules for further debate.

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Saturday, August 09, 2008

Weekly Links 09/08/2008

Climate Camp Links and Commentary
Jim at Daily (Maybe) has been monitoring developments at and around the Camp For Climate Action all week. Derek reported on an amusing miniature protest at Legoland.

War and Peace
Commentary on the Georgia-Russia conflict from Andy Newman at Socialist Unity Blog here, with "full and frank debate" in the comments section as is usual on SUB!

A very amusing, but unfortunately only too accurate A-Z of (right-wing) message board commenting was published by Anton Vowl on Enemies of Reason blog this week.

Green Politics
Jim at Daily Maybe has been previewing the forthcoming Autumn Conference of the Green Party of England and Wales. An encouraging development this week was the formation of a Green Left grouping amongst Scottish Greens.

Human Rights
Green Left's blog this week publicised the work of the Green Party LGBT group on Home Office approaches to LGBT asylum claims in the light of several recent high profile cases.

The Green Party Trade Union blog this week publicised the repression against workers in South Korea by publishing an appeal from Eric Lee of Labourstart.

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Friday, August 08, 2008

Urgent Response Action From Republic

I get urgent response e-mails form the anti-monarchist group Republic on a regular basis. The latest concerns the move to challenge the oath of allegiance which is being widely reported in the British media today:

Today's Daily Mail carries a front page story on Republic supporter Norman
Baker MP's Early Day Motion to give MPs the option of swearing allegiance
to their constituents rather than the Queen.

This is potentially a very big story so please take a few moments to
comment on the article online at

The story has already been picked up by The Telegraph and The Sun, both of
which also allow comments:

For more information on the 'Challenge the Oath' campaign go to

Let's get the republican point of view out there!

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Monday, August 04, 2008

Climate Camp Updates

I have had my disagreements with some of the tactics of the Climate Camp and particularly the absence of meaningful contact with energy industry workers or their unions until recently. (See here for what I said about the 2006 Drax protest) However, hopefully this camp may see some more engagement with this side of the issues alongside some commendable direct action and consciousness raising.

You can keep up with events and debates around this year's UK Climate Camp via UK Indymedia here
And here is the Indymedia timeline for this year's camp.

Workers' Climate Action are running three workshops at the camp and the Campaign Against Climate Change Trade Union Working Group have also been active around the issues this year. Here is the leaflet produced by WCA for this year's Camp. There was a "full and frank debate" over NUM/IWW member Dave Douglass' call for a "counter Demo" to the climate camp on Socialist Unity Blog some time ago. The hope must be that there can be full, informed debate on the way forward to a "Just Transition" to a lower carbon economy rather than grandstanding or confrontation as the ruling class look on, sniggering.

Green MEP Caroline Lucas spoke at the rally on Sunday. Here are pictures on the Green Party Trade Union Group blog.

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Sunday, August 03, 2008

A little light reading?

I got this "Big Read Top 100 Books" thing from Jim at Daily (Maybe) blog who in turn got it from A Very Public Sociologist

This is the blurb that comes with the list (confusingly there appear to be two lists with slightly different selections of books - my own lists are below)

“The Big Read reckons that the average adult has only read 6 of the top 100 books they’ve printed.
1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
2) Italicize those you intend to read.
3) Underline the books you love.
4) Strike out the books you have no intention of ever reading, or were forced to read at school and hated.
5) Reprint this list in your own blog so we can try and track down these people who’ve only read 6 and force books upon them"

1. The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien
2. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
3. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman
4. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, JK Rowling
6. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
7. Winnie the Pooh, AA Milne
8. Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, CS Lewis
10. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë
11. Catch-22, Joseph Heller
12. Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë
13. Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks
14. Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
15. The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger
16. The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
17. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
18. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
19. Captain Corelli's Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres
20. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
21. Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
22. Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone, JK Rowling
23. Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets, JK Rowling
24. Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban, JK Rowling
25. The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien
26. Tess Of The D'Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy
27. Middlemarch, George Eliot
28. A Prayer For Owen Meany, John Irving
29. The Grapes Of Wrath, John Steinbeck
30. Alice's Adventures In Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
31. The Story Of Tracy Beaker, Jacqueline Wilson
32. One Hundred Years Of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez
33. The Pillars Of The Earth, Ken Follett
34. David Copperfield, Charles Dickens
35. Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl
36. Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson
37. A Town Like Alice, Nevil Shute
38. Persuasion, Jane Austen
39. Dune, Frank Herbert
40. Emma, Jane Austen
41. Anne Of Green Gables, LM Montgomery
42. Watership Down - Richard Adams
43. The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald
44. The Count Of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
45. Brideshead Revisited Evelyn Waugh
46. Animal Farm - George Orwel
47. A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
48. Far From The Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy
49. Goodnight Mister Tom, Michelle Magorian
50. The Shell Seekers, Rosamunde Pilcher
51. The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
52. Of Mice And Men, John Steinbeck
53. The Stand, Stephen King
54. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
55. A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth
56. The BFG, Roald Dahl
57. Swallows And Amazons, Arthur Ransome
58. Black Beauty, Anna Sewell
59. Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer
60. Crime And Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
61. Noughts And Crosses, Malorie Blackman
62. Memoirs Of A Geisha, Arthur Golden
63. A Tale Of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
64. The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCollough
65. Mort, Terry Pratchett
66. The Magic Faraway Tree, Enid Blyton
67. The Magus, John Fowles
68. Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
69. Guards! Guards!, Terry Pratchett
70. Lord Of The Flies, William Golding
71. Perfume, Patrick Süskind
72. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Robert Tressell
73. Night Watch, Terry Pratchett
74. Matilda, Roald Dahl
75. Bridget Jones's Diary, Helen Fielding
76. The Secret History, Donna Tartt
77. The Woman In White, Wilkie Collins
78. Ulysses, James Joyce
79. Bleak House, Charles Dickens
80. Double Act, Jacqueline Wilson
81. The Twits, Roald Dahl
82. I Capture The Castle, Dodie Smith
83. Holes, Louis Sachar
84. Gormenghast, Mervyn Peake
85. The God Of Small Things, Arundhati Roy
86. Vicky Angel, Jacqueline Wilson
87. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
88. Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
89. Magician, Raymond E Feist
90. On The Road, Jack Kerouac
91. The Godfather, Mario Puzo
92. The Clan Of The Cave Bear, Jean M Auel
93. The Colour Of Magic, Terry Pratchett
94. The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
95. Katherine, Anya Seton
96. Kane And Abel, Jeffrey Archer
97. Love In The Time Of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez
98. Girls In Love, Jacqueline Wilson
99. The Princess Diaries, Meg Cabot
100. Midnight's Children, Salman Rushdie

However, that was the list Jim printed - AVPS's list is different. At G.O.O. I like lists, so here is my version of the other list -

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 The Harry Potter Series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger

19 The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchelll
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma - Jane Austen

35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune – Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley

59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold

65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville

71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola

79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl

100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

I have read 29 of list one and 36 of list two. (Prefer AVPS's list - though "the complete Works of Shakespeare" and Hamlet are surely an overlap?) Most of the books I read whilst in education ages ago, or to my children, recently! Novels are a luxury these days, but I have recently made use of a holiday to read Thomas Pynchon's great doorstep of a book, Mason & Dixon, which was very enjoyable, but then I'm a Pynchon fan......

Friday, August 01, 2008

Roads And Runways 2008

Advance Notice
The British Government plans to build new roads and airports at the expense of the environment and local communities' health and wellbeing.
Want to do something about it?
Roads and Runways 2008
25 October 2008, 11am-5pm,

Network. Plan action. Learn skills. Share info. Plot.

Register today:

Conference put together by Airportwatch and Campaign For Better Transport.

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