Sunday, 23 March 2008

Cameron to speak at the TUC????

I have just posted this on my blog but thought it worthy of discussion here.

I must admit being not at all surprised that Cameron, forever the opportunist, actually fielding such an idea.
It is insulting to think that a representative of a party that set as its main priority the destruction of the Trade Union movement back in 1979 would even be considered to address TUC conference. While it comments that one third of trade unionists support the Tories it is highly unlikely that these trade unionists are activists who would serve as delegates to TUC conference.The report though should be seen as a warning.

Cameron's march for the so called 'middle ground' which both he and New Labour worship, will see the Tories attempt to mop up the anti Labour mood amongst the Unions.

There are a few suggestions to stop Cameron in his tracks; give public sector workers decent pay; introduce the Trade Union Freedom Bill; stop the privatisation of our public services; build and stop the sale, of council houses and re-nationalise the companies sold off during Thatchers reign of terror. Most of all break this servile relationship the UK has with US foreign policy.

The Unions affiliated to the TUC would rally behind a workers Labour Party committed in this way. Cameron would disappear back into the hole he come from.

My wife has just asked the question; whats the difference between Blair speaking to the TUC and Cameron doing it?

Answers on the back of a postcard please.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

British Values Under Fire: Oafs of Allegiance.

It is common subject-matter for both broadsheet and tabloid journalists nowadays to try to define what makes Britain "British". Gordon Brown's speech to Labour Spring Conference referred repeatedly to "British values" without defining them. Now Lord Goldsmith's report on citizenship has recommended several important changes which will surely leave us feeling more British than ever.

What does make Britain "British", and why? Well, opinion polls regularly come up with the same few virtues which Britons consider themselves to embody: tolerance of others, politeness, fairness, modesty and a sense of humour. Tony Blair defined explicitly what he meant when he talked about British values: "[F]air play, creativity, tolerance and an outward-looking approach to the world."

I see history being responsible for this: the spirit of the Blitz, the Somme, Trafalgar and Agincourt have traditionally been said to have moulded the national character, for example. The fact that for over a hundred years Britain sent its intolerant megalomaniacs to govern places like Rhodesia and Burma into the ground might also have been a factor.

Anyway - my point is clear: where is the tolerance, politeness, fairness and modesty in Lord Goldsmith's proposals? Is the idea of schoolchildren pledging allegiance to some inbred hereditary billionaires his way of giving the British sense of humour some new material to work with? Since when have masturbatory nationalistic rituals fostered "an outward-looking approach to the world"?

I'm in favour of a voluntary citizenship ceremony/party/pish-up, perhaps to mark the time when incoming Britons and native Britons first exercise their right to vote. This is on the grounds that very occasional liminal rituals create a sense of belonging and can be good fun. But forcing children to make pointless and fake pledges throughout the time when they are just beginning to question and rebel against authority is the best possible way to impart nihilism to a new generation.

Sunday, 9 March 2008

Still a lot of work to be done

Hat-tip to Organised Rage for this one....

What’s the problem?

If I lived Birmingham, I would happily campaign for Salma Yaqoob, the Respect Renewal councillor. If I lived in Preston, I would happily do the same for councillor Michael Lavalette, from the other side of the Respect divide. In Coventry, I’d be with the Socialist Party and in Brighton with the Greens. There are Scots Nats as well as Scottish socialists [on both sides of the Tommy Sheridan split] who I’d be glad to knock on doors for. And of course there are still plenty of good Labour councillors and even a few MPs who I would be pleased to have representing me. I’m obviously far from being alone or none of these people would ever have been elected.

My question, in relation to the continuing inability of the left to unite in pursuit of a common purpose is this: If I and people like me have no problem with such a diversity of elected representatives, why do they all seem to have such a problem with each other?

Carol Winter


Any thoughts?

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

One law for the finance house...

...another for us.

A friend of mine has just attended a meeting about pensions at his new job. Out of the money he (and his company) will contribute, the finance house will deduct:

a service charge - amount unknown; calculation unknown
an insurance premium - amount unknown; calculation unknown.

He doesn't want insurance - but they won't stop the deduction.

He is told he can choose the type of investment - high risk or low risk - but the amount he may lose or win is of course "unknown". He has no control over these investments or indeed over the bonuses the finance house will pay out to their staff. They also take his Serps (or equivalent) and use only that as the basis for his protected rights. In 20 years time they will probably say sorry - the stock market is iffy we can't pay you any more than you would have got with a state pension. But within those 20 years they will of course continue to pay bonuses and dividends.

WHY CAN'T I FILL MY TAX RETURN IN WITH "AMOUNT UNKNOWN - CALCULATION UNKNOWN"? It is time that finance houses are forced to be completely transparent in their dealings with ALL customers, especially the worker.

This robbery has got to stop.