Friday, April 29, 2011

Remember the dead but fight for the living

Yesterday was International Workers Memorial Day.  London UNISON Regional Health and Safety committee marked the occasion in two ways. 
Firstly we remembered those who had been killed at work or who had died from work related ill health by holding a minute’s silence at noon before the start of our Safety network meeting.  Secondly we had invited trade union solicitors Thompsons to give a legal presentation and Q&A to the network meeting on “Risk Assessments”.
“Risk assessments” are key to ensuring safety at work.  I will post on this excellent presentation when I get sent the handout (we ran out of copies). 
The London UNISON Safety network is a meeting of elected regional committee members and branch health and safety officers.   All branch health and safety officer should get invites via their branch.

Later that day at the very successful West Ham Labour Party AV debate (which I will post on next) our local MP Lyn Brown kindly donated a Bottle of House of Commons Whiskey to be used as a raffle prize for a health & safety charity.   She will get some senior politicians to sign the bottle while I work out the best way to hold the raffle and maximise the money raised.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Today is Workers' Memorial Day: Cuts Cost Lives

Don't forget to stop for a minute at noon today and remember those who have been killed at work or have died of work related diseases or ill-health. 

Check out Workers Memorial Day and details of UK events at the TUC website

It is also an important campaigning day on health and safety and to protect the living.

The TUC is encouraging unions to use Workers Memorial Day on 28th April to campaign against the cuts in HSE and local authority funding and enforcement activity.

Previous post and links are here

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

London asked to help give Cameron and Clegg a "savage" Council election beating

In London there are no local elections this year. UNISON Greater London have distributed the following list of 11 target Council's in areas surrounding London.  So, if you want to send a real message to Cameron and Clegg about what you think of their "savage" Cuts, their attempts to privatise our NHS and to destroy our welfare state. Then get out and mobilise the vote against Tory and Liberal Democrat Councillors in these target seats.

If these CONDEM Councils get completely smashed on May 5th then this will make the local Tory and Lib dem MP's think again about the Cuts. If the defeats are really deep and profound then think "rats and sinking ships" - a real election beating may even help result in this Coalition's well deserved early demise. Even if you don't usually support Labour you can see this makes political sense. So if you live in London and really hate what this government is doing and want to do something positive and practical to oppose it, then get yourself out there and help defeat them on May 5th.


"On 5 May local elections will be taking place outside London. UNISON's objective is to sustain our anti public sector cuts campaign by defeating Tory and Lib Dem councillors and returning Labour controlled Councils where we can. Eleven target Councils have been identified in surrounding areas where I would encourage activists and members to volunteer some time to help campaign to defeat the Lib Dem and Tory Councillors who currently hold those Councils.

The list of 11 target Councils is attached along with the contact details for the local campaign organisers. Please cascade this request for volunteers encouraging them to give up a few hours of their time to ensure that Labour is successful in these elections. 

Council area linked  Reg Name Phone email
Bedford East Lou King 01234 272472
Brighton and Hove South East Paul Barlow 07966 260262
dover South East Paul Harrington 07545 421412
Gravesham South East Simon Wady 07843 344318
Harlow East Charlie Cochrane 01279 625870
Luton East Francis Steer 01582 730764
Reading South East Ben Zielinski 07743 595426
Stevenage East Joseph Sherry 01279 625860
Thanet South East Michelle Fenner 07766 452552
Thurrock East Richard Speight 07794 307840
Watford East Steve Cox 07505 843553
Picture basin of gravy

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

RIP Poly Styrene - "Punks' First Lady"

I'm not sure that Poly Styrene of X-Ray Spex (Marianne Joan Elliott-Said 3 July 1957 – 25 April 2011) would have been all that pleased with the "first lady" label.  Farewell Poly and thank you and your comtempories for the sheer glorious pleasure your music has given me over the years. 

Those were the days when songs had proper tunes and lyrics you could sort of understand (but not admittedly make much sense of)

Monday, April 25, 2011

FAIL! New campaign video - Vote YES for fairer votes on May 5

This morning I've sent off my postal ballot and voted "Yes".   This new campaign video by Yes2AV makes the case in a short and effective way on why AV just makes sense. 

I have responded to comments made on my previous post that if we had AV last year we could have had a Labour Lib Dem Government with this updated quotation “the worst day of a Labour led  Government is better than the best day of a Tory one”.

Remember there is a progressive majority in this country.  Why else are the Tories opposed?

ps don't forget the Alternative Vote Debate at UEL Stratford, E15

"The Labour Party AV Debate is taking place on Thursday 28th April between John Denham MP for YES and Margaret Beckett MP for NO. It is being held at the University of East London Stratford Campus, Room CC101, Computer and Conference Building, The Green (off Water Lane), London E15 4LZ. Doors are open at 7pm for a 7.30 start. The venue is about 15 minutes from Stratford tube station, 5 minutes from Maryland station and can be accessed by a number of buses along Romford Road. The event is being organised by West Ham CLP and Lyn Brown MP.  It is sponsored by UNISON Labour Link. All Labour Party members and affiliates are welcome".

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Tossa de Mar

Off message-ish homily rather than homage to a relaxing short break in Tossa De Mar, Costa Brava, Catalan. The resort is famous for its medieval walls around the old town and sandy beaches. It is also far more popular with locals than Brits and other northern Europeans.  I last visited the town about 15 years ago and I was pleased to see it had hardly changed and it was as pretty and pleasant as I remembered.  

Some fantastic free walking maps from the local tourist information office. Along the coast (1 hr) and the hills behind the town (no shops so take all the water and snacks needed - 4 hrs). The route descriptions and way marks (see red and white strips in picture) are a little unclear at times but you should not get lost if you take your time at junctions. A less successful walk (supposed to be 3.5 hrs but took 4.5 hrs) from Tossa to Lloret spent too much time walking past endless holiday and retirement bungalows although the final couple of km along the coastal path was magnificent and made up for it. The wild spring flowers found everywhere were simply gorgeous.

As usual avoid the fixed price menus at the seafront restaurants like the plague. The better value ones tend to be the furthest away from the front. I would however recommend watching the sun go down with a cold beer from the bar in the old town overlooking the walls and the beach. During the civil war a British destroyer took off foreign nationals trapped by the fighting from this beach. 

What is striking and a joy to behold is the Catalan love of their family and especially children. The grumpy and officious bus driver who refused to let us on the bus 2 minutes early then held up the queue of passengers while he made a number of attempts (unsuccessful) to make a toddler smile. On the journey itself another passenger spent most of the trip trying (equally unsuccessfully) to persuade the child that he had stolen his nose. In a restaurant a teenage girl at a family meal completely unconsciously loudly kissed and hugged her grandmother. Dogs are numerous and also clearly adored. I had thought this was a particularly British canine love affair. The near constant cacophony of barking dogs is seemingly ignored. In London this would have resulted in at the threat of an ASBO! As for the Catalan’s loving football; try finding a bar or restaurant that didn’t have a massive TV on as loud as possible when local team Barcelona played on Wednesday evening (alas impossible)

Goggling Tossa I was pleased that I had a sort of excuse not to have gone swimming (the sea was freezing) by finding this report.

Btw for the avoidance of any doubt the title of this blog is no geographic reference whatsoever to any other (unison) blogger :)

Saturday, April 23, 2011

3 Companies Project Awards

Organising, organising, organising...our new trade union mantra, especially in the outsourced private sector. The initial joint UNISON/SEIU 3 Companies project is now over. The self organising stage is next.

Good to see Bob Oram speaking (standing for re-election to NEC in North West region)

(Actually its always been about organising).

Socialism Free Purity Pledge

I'm back.  Came across this "pledge" here.  It reminds me of this.  Enjoy....

"For the Tea Party crowd, other socialists and I invite them to take the pledge and spread it around at every event they may hold.
I, ________________________, do solemnly swear to uphold the principles of a socialism-free society and heretofore pledge my word that I shall strictly adhere to the following:

I will complain about the destruction of 1st Amendment Rights in this country, while I am duly being allowed to exercise my 1st Amendment Rights.

I will complain about the destruction of my 2nd Amendment Rights in this country, while I am duly being allowed to exercise my 2nd Amendment rights by legally but brazenly brandishing unconcealed firearms in public.

I will foreswear the time-honored principles of fairness, decency, and respect by screaming unintelligible platitudes regarding tyranny, Nazi-ism, and socialism at public town halls. Also.

I pledge to eliminate all government intervention in my life. I will abstain from the use of and participation in any socialist goods and services including but not limited to the following:

* Social Security
* Medicare/Medicaid
* State Children’s Health Insurance Programs (SCHIP)
* Police, Fire, and Emergency Services
* US Postal Service
* Roads and Highways
* Air Travel (regulated by the socialist FAA)
* The US Railway System
* Public Subways and Metro Systems
* Public Bus and Lightrail Systems
* Rest Areas on Highways
* Sidewalks
* All Government-Funded Local/State Projects
* Public Water and Sewer Services
* Public and State Universities and Colleges
* Public Primary and Secondary Schools
* Sesame Street
* Publicly Funded Anti-Drug Use Education for Children
* Public Museums
* Libraries
* Public Parks and Beaches
* State and National Parks
* Public Zoos
* Unemployment Insurance
* Municipal Garbage and Recycling Services
* Treatment at Any Hospital or Clinic That Ever Received Funding From Local, State or Federal Government
* Medical Services and Medications That Were Created or Derived From Any Government Grant or Research Funding
* Socialist Byproducts of Government Investment Such as Duct Tape and Velcro
* Use of the Internets, email, and networked computers, as the DoD’s ARPANET was the basis for subsequent computer networking
* Foodstuffs, Meats, Produce and Crops That Were Grown With, Fed With, Raised With or That Contain Inputs From Crops Grown With Government Subsidies
* Clothing Made from Crops (e.g. cotton) That Were Grown With or That Contain Inputs From Government Subsidies
If a veteran of the government-run socialist US military, I will forego my VA benefits and insist on paying for my own medical care
I will not tour socialist government buildings like the Capitol in Washington, D.C.
I pledge to never take myself, my family, or my children on a tour of the following types of socialist locations, including but not limited to:
* Smithsonian Museums such as the Air and Space Museum or Museum of American History
* The socialist Washington, Lincoln, and Jefferson Monuments
* The government-operated Statue of Liberty given to us by the French
* The Grand Canyon
* The socialist World War II and Vietnam Veterans Memorials
* The government-run socialist-propaganda location known as Arlington National Cemetery
* All other public-funded socialist sites, whether it be in my state or in Washington, DC
I will urge my Member of Congress and Senators to forego their government salary and government-provided healthcare.
I will oppose and condemn the government-funded and therefore socialist military of the United States of America.
I will boycott the products of socialist defense contractors such as GE, Lockheed-Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics, Raytheon, Humana, FedEx, General Motors, Honeywell, and hundreds of others that are paid by our socialist government to produce goods for our socialist army.
I will protest socialist security departments such as the Pentagon, FBI, CIA, Department of Homeland Security, TSA, Department of Justice and their socialist employees.
Upon reaching eligible retirement age, I will tear up my socialist Social Security checks.
Upon reaching age 65, I will forego Medicare and pay for my own private health insurance until I die.

_____________ _________________________

Signed Printed Name/Town or City"

Friday, April 15, 2011

My filled out London Community UNISON NEC ballot paper 2011 - hint, hint

Most UNISON members will have different ballot papers depending upon their region and service group.  The trotskyists (aka the splitters and wreckers) are apparently too ashamed this time to call themselves "united left" anymore and are trying to pretend they are not (in my view) ultra left extremists. 

As a rule of thumb if in any election statement you find WE ARE SO VERY, VERY ANGRY...WE WANT TO STRIKE ALL THE TIME... FIGHT EVERYONE WHO DOES NOT AGREE WITH US...END UP WITH YET ANOTHER GLORIOUS DEFEAT then they are what they are....

 Check LONDON SEATS advice here

These are my recommendations for National Health Care Seats: James Anthony (General Seat), Eric Roberts (Male Seat), Ann Moses(Women's Seat) & Christine Sullivan, (Women's Seat)There are two women's seats

National Higher Education Seats: Alison Shepherd (Women's Seat)

National Local Government Seats: Peter Crews,(General Seat) Paul Gilroy, (Male Seat) Lynne Poulton, (Women's Seat) and Julie Robindon (Woemn's Seat)There are two women's seats

National Young Members Seat: Graham Smith

National Black Members Seats: Mark Clifford (male seat), Liz Cameron (Women's seat), Gilly Anglin-Jarrett (Women's seat)
There are two women's seat.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

"If we had AV last year there could have been a Labour LibDem Government"

This morning while listening (yet again) to "Today" on the way into work, they interviewed John Curtice, professor of politics at the University of Strathclyde. He number crunched that if we had AV in the last election, there could have been a Labour led Coalition government. Presumably, at the expense of Tories MP’s .

In 1997 he claimed that there would have been an even bigger majority for Labour under AV

I actually think that no-one really know how the Great British Public will actually vote in a AV election. Asking people for the last 20 years who are their second preference is not that useful if you have a First Past the Post system in place. If voter’s thought that their second preference vote actually meant something - this could change peoples voting behaviour.

I cannot see at all what is wrong with the principle that every single MP is supported by at least 50% of voters?

While, if like me, you think there is a progressive majority in this country, who when presented with credible progressive parties and policies they would (usually) support them. Then I think the case for AV is unanswerable.

A Labour led Coalition with the “Orange Book” Liberal Democrats such as Clegg would have been a nightmare at times but when compared to this horrible reactionary Government, which is hell bent on destroying our public services and our welfare state, then the choice I think is clear.

Vote Labour and Yes to AV.

Of course. In my opinion. For what it is worth.

London 2012: Playing By the Rules on Workers' Rights?

Double click to see details about the Play Fair conference on April 18th 2011 at Congress House.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Communist in Space: Yuri Gagarin

 I was actually delivering Labour Party letters to the Old Barrowfield estate in West Ham early yesterday morning, while listening to the coverage on Radio 4 "Today" on the 50th anniversary of manned flight to space.

This was surely a great moment in our history. It must have been a terrifying experience for all the early space pioneers. I'm also sure that the Daily Worker headline (right) of the time didn't go down all that well in many quarters.

I wonder what happened to the well deserved Gold Medal that the Manchester Foundry Union workers awarded to Soviet cosmonaut and hero Yuri Gagarin?

Old Barrowfield is a lovely and well looked estate but comprises of a number of low rise non-lifted blocks.  Could have done with just a little bit of a rocket boost up and down those stairs.

hat-tip Col. Roi

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


To have your voice heard, please vote for people who will stand up for you and your rights.  Check out London Regional NEC recommendations here

Newham Classic 10k 2011

Off message: The photo collage is from the Newham Classic 10k Run on Sunday.  We started and finished in West Ham Park (my Council ward). Double click picture to bring up detail. The run took 1 hour 8 minutes (3 minutes earlier than last month's Newham London 10k). Must do better.

The weather was lovely and warm with blue skies and sunshine. The blossom of the the trees on route was simply gorgeous.  Mr "Reggie, Reggie" Sauce" Levi Roots, helped see us off (top left).  Picture of Tessa Sanderson cheering us on on (bottom left).

Main top picture is of the elite athletes storming past us home in just over 30 minutes! Bottom middle is of Mr Singh, who competed the race in good time despite being 100 years old!  While bottom right is another one of the race finishers proudly wearing his medal.

Monday, April 11, 2011

New SWP Split: Propagano the Revisionist Resigns!

Following the shock resignation tonight of leading SWPer, Chris Bambery, I thought it was only right and proper, that I should repost Comrade Mercader's superb youtube video "D.HALLAS".  This exposes the evils goings on of the rich folk who control the Soggies' Central Committee.  Interesting how few of the old Guard are left (pardon the pun) since 2008.

I note that Chris complains that the Party still owes him money he lent it during its recent financial crisis.  Hopefully Baron Loads a Money will step in and help.  If not we could always set up an appeal fund?

Hat-tip lots and lots of people:)

UNISON NEC Elections 2011: The Forces of Light & Reason in London

Ballot papers are due out today.  These are the candidates for London Regional seats that I will be supporting and I hope you will support as well.  You can usually (its not always that clear) guess from reading the election statements, who are the sensible left candidates and who are supported by the evil ones.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Labour Party AV Debate: Stratford Thursday 28 April 2011

West Ham CLP and London UNISON Labour Link are sponsoring this debate on the AV vote in Stratford on Thursday evening 28 April 2011 (Workers Memorial Day!).

John Debham MP will speak in favour of AV and Margaret Beckett MP will speak against.  The venue is only a short walk from Stratford stations, it is comfortable and there will be plenty of seats. 

I am personally a supporter of AV in Parliamentary elections.  While I think there is a progressive majority in this country and that AV will benefit the Labour Party and our policies.  I recognise that no one really knows how the Great British Public will actually vote if such a system is introduced.  Regardless of this, I do think that the principle of each MP having the support (or rather the preference) of at least 50% of their constituents is just right and proper.  The only thing I cannot bear to think is of course that my vote would be in any way to be an endorsement of Clegg.  But who really gives a monkey anymore what he thinks of anything never mind what he considers "miserable compromises".


Captain Frederick John Matthews MC: Royal Naval Division

This is the scanned picture of my Teid (my Welsh maternal grandfather) which I received yesterday morning.  In the beginning of the First World War there were too many volunteers for the Royal Navy. So Winston Churchill created the Royal Naval Division which fought on land but retained Naval ranks and traditions.  

"It was regarded as a highly efficient fighting force and played a prominent part in some of the bloodiest battles of the war".

Teid had volunteered to join the Navy in 1915 and was sent to the RND.  He eventually became a Captain (temporary wartime commission RNVR). He fought in Gallipoli and on the Western front in the First World War. In 1917 he was awarded a Military Cross for attacking and capturing a German Machine Gun post and taking 40 prisoners.

After the War he became a Regular Warrant Officer in the Royal Welch Fusiliers and in the Second World War he was a Warrant officer in the Royal Air Force.  So he served in all three Armed Services.  I was 9 when he died in 1971.

This picture is important to me.  I have waited a long time to get a copy.  It was obviously displayed in pride of place in my grandparents' home in Denbigh, North Wales.  Together with the actual Military Cross and the Certificate of Honour from his hometown of Abercarn.  All my (seven) maternal aunties and uncles also had copies displayed prominently in their homes.  I am sure that many families can relate to this experience.

However, equally important to the Mathews family, Teid, was also known as someone who would stand up for ordinary people in the local community.  Someone who write and send letters to Landlords, employers, the Bank, the Council or whoever - on behalf of those who could not express themselves in this way.

In our family we took pride in him representing ordinary working people as well in his bravery in Battle.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

TUC March for an Alternative: What would Clem do?

Tower Hamlets Labour Party on the TUC March 26th.  With the very apt placard to the front "What would Clem do?" (Clement Attlee - former Labour Prime Minister and local MP).   This is important because the National Debt in 1945 was far, far higher than now and yet the Labour government of the time led by Clem managed to nationalise Coal and Steel, have a mass housing building programme and set up the NHS. 

Those were the days!  Hat-tip Col. Roi. Picture Dan McCurry.

Friday, April 08, 2011

March for the Alternative Big Night Out

"After the 26.03.2011 TUC March for the Alternative Philosophy Football organised a 'Big Night Out in association with the TUC. Featuring the spoken word electronica of Dan le Sac vs Scroobius Pip, comic Josie Long, juggler Rod Laver and soulful acoustic from Maddy Carty. Plus contributions from trade unionist, campaigners, journalists and marchers on what the protest mean to them.

'Does my Society Look Big In This' T-shirt available from"

UNISON National Housing Seminar 2011: "We Ain’t Seen Nothin' Yet"

Keynote speaker, Heather Wakefield, Head of UNISON Local Government. (Usual health warning about the accuracy of my hurriedly typed notes) "It seems to have been a very long year. So much destruction has taken place. We now know that Nick Clegg “cries”. Bless his heart. His cabinet of millionaires that wreaks our welfare state. £80 billion in cuts. With no mandate to do so. Before the election Nick Clegg said not a single front line worker would be affected.  Check out Richard Murphy’s excellent blog on taxation. The Tory minister who boasted that these are cuts that “Mrs. Thatcher could only have dreamed about”.

This financial crisis was caused by banks and financial services. Who caused a massive reduction from 60% to 35% in the share of wealth. This led to the debt crisis. They lent mortgages to those who could never pay for them. It was not us, not you, that caused this crisis - but the friends of this Cabinet. They are proposing massive cuts in housing and people’s rights. Pay cuts, even though Local government pay is the lowest in all public services. The new White paper that will propose that all public services in England will have to be put out to tender. Also the review of “public duties”. We ain’t seen nothing yet - I am very sorry to say. We all know someone who has been made redundant. Many Tory and coalition councils don’t have to cut as much as they need to - they are not necessary. Thanks to Pete Challis for his work on educating branches and regional organisers on Council finances and show it is possible to not make such cuts. There are 3 things to do

1. Get technical – get on top of budgets.
2. Get political. There has been a lot of disengagement by branches in politics - especially in England. Nowadays a lot of branches do not think they should engage politically but I think we should be doing this. We have to use the local elections to give the coalition a “bloody nose” if we can. This is essential. Certainly not everything was rosy under a Labour government and Labour councils, we all know that, but just think of the difference between now and then. We have to undermine them.
3.Massively increase density. It is around 50% in local government but below this in some branches. We cannot allow our industrial bargaining position to fall in line with lower density. There is no excuse for any reduction in density. We must build organisation and strength. We have got to use our industrial muscle only when we can and when it will achieve what we want it to do. Industrial action is an important weapon. I’ve been told off in the past as being too keen than some about strikes but if we have industrial action that does not deliver – this does not improve things. If we have industrial action over pay or pensions we need to get our records updated. We cannot afford to take action that is not successful. That is what the government wants us to do – to get egg on our face. Take precipitate industrial action.  

UNISON branches are doing an amazing job day in and day out. We may not stop every redundancy. But we have seen success by taking councils on over finance, equality impact statements and campaigning. We have had successful industrial action and I am sure we will continue to have more. This is a government who despite being hard nose bastards can be forced to backtrack and do a “U turn”. Have seen this over Forests but also plans to cut housing benefit for those who are unemployed. There was a partial victory over EMA and the “break” over plans to privatise our NHS. It can be done. Got to be very canny about the way we do it.

Our primary job is to defend our members - we are a trade union but we must also win the argument with the public against privatisation. We cannot afford it. Public money goes down the drain; millions spent on drawing up processes and increased money for senior management. Don’t forget the shareholders premium. Privatisation only delivers cheaper services on the backs of cuts in our member’s wages and conditions. They have got rid of the 2 tier code so new starters will not be paid decent pay and terms. Decent Pensions will also soon go. Privatisation is the biggest threat face the union.  

So what to do? March 26th was a great day. In itself it may have affected the NHS proposals. They, the government, would love us to wear ourselves out by constant marching and industrial action. How do we build on March 26th? How to keep the pressure up on the government and coalition councils? Develop a massive movement against this government from the bottom up. There is no other alternative. We can have another March 26 and this would not change the governments mind. We in housing have to work with tenant and resident groups, voluntary organisations and others and not just fight for pay and pensions. The groups who are taking action against tax corruption such as London Citizens and UK uncut. Important social movements that are born of the same feelings as us. They are different from us. We in the unions are big organisations and are use to leading, but we have to work with others. There are problems with the politics. But by working with other unions and peoples who feel like us - we can derail this government"

Thursday, April 07, 2011

UNISON National Housing Seminar 2011: City of York

This year the seminar was held in York. I went up last night and this morning before breakfast went for a run (aka slow jog) around it’s almost complete City walls (see picture).

This was quite a fitting start in one way for a housing event since apart from the glorious displays of spring daffodils on the grass banks under the walls, you are acutely aware of the huge range of different types of homes and buildings that exists. From the medieval Shambles to the modern scandinavian style wooden fronted low rise blocks. Small traditional family terraces and the mansions with huge gardens next to the Minster.

The housing stock looked in relatively good condition with no obvious graffiti, vandalism or dumped rubbish. The communal washing lines were even in use and it would appear that residents had left clothes hanging up to dry overnight. I am sure that there are problems with Housing in York (homelessness and affordability?) which are not readily apparent. I did wonder how “sustainable” the new housing units would prove and whether they will still be in use in 500 years time.

There were around 100 branch delegates present at the seminar from Council’s, ALMO’s, DLO’s and Housing associations up and down the Country.

The Chair of the UNISON National Housing Forum Nick Olgard welcomed us and reminded everyone about last year’s seminar when we had the then Labour Housing Minister John Healey present, who he called one of the best ever housing minister’s with Graham Shapps. Then we were worrying about possible Tory Housing polices – now we know.

Our first (keynote) speaker was Heather Wakefield, Head of UNISON Local Government. I’ll post on this next.

Mad Bankers' Disease: BMA search for Vaccine

 As seen in Norwich City centre last week. I couldn't possibly comment.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Newham Fabians AGM 2011

Picture is from Newham Fabians AGM which took place at the Town Hall in East Ham on Monday evening. The Fabians are an independent socialist society affiliated to the Labour Party. 

The Guest speaker was local MP Stephen Timms (main picture).  He spoke about the role of the Fabians in the current climate.

I missed most of the meeting due to a clash.  When I came in there was a robust but comradely debate going on about possible past mistakes and the future direction of the Party.  Very Fabian!  Stephen then had to leave in order to go to the House of Commons to vote against the Tories (to loud cheers from one and all).

It had been a very positive and constructive Labour Movement meeting.  A local MP, Councillors, trade unionists, (a former MEP) and Party activists meeting up together to exchange views and progress Labour politics.

Many thanks to Tower Hamlets Labour Party activist and photographer, Dan MCCurry, for the excellent photos.  They really bring the event to life. Check out his "Newham Fabians" FaceBook album here.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Thought for the Day: What have the unions ever done for us?

With all their faults, trade unions have done more for humanity than any other organisation of men that ever existed. They have done more for decency, for honesty, for education, for the betterment of the race, for the developing of character in man, than any other association of men.”

Clarence Darrow (hat-tip J)

UNISON Nurses meet Labour Health spokesman after Government "pause".

"UNISON nurses and midwives meet with Labour Health spokesman John Healey and local Tooting MP Sadiq Khan at the House of Commons (4th April 2011) to discuss the on going campaign against the Coalition's NHS & Social Care Bill, after Conservative Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley was forced to invoke a two month pause in the passage of the Bill because of growing opposition from NHS professionals and the public.
Maureen Brown UNISON Nursing Convenor stated  "The growing campaign against the NHS Bill, had forced the Government to pause, now we need to move forward with the public to ram home the overwhelming opposition to the NHS Bill and NHS privatisation".

John Healey stated the Government NHS proposals were now weighed down in "confusion, chaos and incompetence" he also referred to Andrews Lansley's ability to unite in opposition to his NHS Reforms former right wing Thatcherite Minister Norman Tebbit and rap star NxtGen, the later responsible for viral video hit Andrew Lansley NHS Rap.

Sadiq Khan MP stated  "He would work tirelessly with UNISON, NHS staff and patients to defend the NHS from this vicious attack". (UNISON press release)

Workers' Memorial Day 2011: Cuts cost lives

"Take part in a minutes silence on International Workers Memorial Day, on Thursday 28 April 2011. Join the many others across the UK and internationally, who will be remembering the dead and fighting for the living".  This year's theme is "Cuts cost lives

The TUC is encouraging unions to use Workers Memorial Day on 28th April to campaign against the cuts in HSE and local authority funding and enforcement activity".

Check out UNISON Health & Safety unit site on WMD here.  You can also order posters, leaflets and other materials.  Find out what events are being planned to mark this day and let the unit know if you are planning any local events.

Hazards WMD site

HSE WMD site

TUC WMD site

Monday, April 04, 2011

Labour Party Banners on TUC March 26th

Hat tip to this LabourList post featuring the 121 photographs taken by Kirstin Hay of Labour Party Banners at the TUC March 26th.

Including of course West Ham CLP (2nd row)

Click on picture to enlarge.

Check out the flickr pages with all the photos here

Sunday, April 03, 2011

UNISON London Labour Link Forum 2011

This photo is from the Annual London Labour Link (APF) Forum meeting held last month in the Grimond Room, Portcullis House, Houses of Parliament. I was jointly Chairing the meeting with our Regional Convener, Gloria Hanson.

The Forum is the annual meeting of UNISON London Region Labour Link (APF) branch delegates.
To my right (speaking)  is Joanne McCartney, GLA member for Enfield and Haringey and to my left is our keynote speaker Sadiq Khan, MP for Tooting, Shadow Lord Chancellor and Secretary State for Justice.

We also had as speakers Karen Buck MP, MP for Westminister North and Shadow Minister for Welfare Reform: Margret Hodge, MP for Barking and Chair of the Public Accounts Committee (picture right)

Jeremy Corbyn, MP for Islington North and our final speaker, Chuka Umunna, MP for Streatham, member of Treasury Select Committee and Parliamentary Private Secretary to Ed Miliband (picture below).

All the speakers were well received and there was a good Q&A debate afterwards.The Forum passed a motion from the Housing Association Branch on "the Death and Rebirth of Public Housing" and "Fighting the Tory Cuts" by Waltham Forest LG Branch (which attacks the wreckers who are trying to split the opposition to this Tory led ConDem government).  Both these motions have been sent to the national forum meeting.

The importance of the TUC March on the 26th was made clear by everyone who spoke.

We also got UNISON members from Ekaya Housing Association who are facing massive pay cuts to lobby the guest speakers.

"The NHS is not for Sale you Toss.." - 208k hits on Youtube

The Observer and the Sunday Mirror today reveal that Council Binman and rap singer "NxtGen" (aka Sean Donnelly see picture) age 22 was supported by UNISON with regard to the filming of his song
on Youtube - "Andrew Lansley Rap".  

I had listened to a BBC Radio news report on the huge success of the song on YouTube while driving home this lunchtime (over 200,000 hits - which I had posted last month here).

Hat-tip COHSE

Update: You can buy the single online here from itunes

Saturday, April 02, 2011

TUC March for the Alternative 26.03.2011

Another great video - this time of the TUC March last Saturday.  It tells the story of one group of campaigners, from Northampton, and their journey to join the big 26 March.  It follows them and interviews other protesters then ends up at the TUC celebration Party that took place later that night.

The video was funded by

Bringing The Cuts Home


Great, great video. Winner of TUC 60 second Ad Contest.  by False Economy.

Friday, April 01, 2011

'Protecting Our Best Interests: Rediscovering Fiduciary Obligation'

On Wednesday evening I went to the launch of the latest report by "Fair Pensions" the respected campaigning organisation for "responsible investment". 

"New research by Fair Pensions calls for an ‘enlightened fiduciary' model for institutional investors to parallel the new duties of company directors introduced in 2006. The report argues that such a provision would provide a valuable ‘nudge' towards sustainable, long term investment to overcome narrow interpretations of fiduciary obligation which emphasise profit maximisation at the exclusion of all other factors, including financial system stability".

Lib Dem Government Minister for "Employment Relations, Consumer and Postal Affairs" Ed Davey gave a positive but guarded welcome to the report. 

Hermes fund manager, David Pitt-Watson was also one of the speakers and gave his usual demolition job (how going dutch can double the value of the average Brit personal pension) on most private pension schemes.

He also pointed out that pension "trustees" came about historically to prevent pensioners from being ripped off and still perform this role.  I made a comment about this and the anomaly that if trustees are seen as a "good thing", why are there huge penison funds run by insurance and investment companies where there is no such representation to look after the interests of beneficiaries?