welcome and stuff

Greetings! Use labels below to filter so you can read about union disputes, where i'm on holiday, revolutionary politics, or just what i have said in the last 7 days. Ta

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Was it right to attempt to stop a Labour MP speaking at the May Day rally?

We should certainly challenge the failings and, yes, betrayals of the Labour Party and Labour politicians. But the RCG and some anarchists were wrong to attempt to no platform Labour MP Graeme Morris at the May Day rally. If we had organised the rally we would, as left-wing activists, have put together a very different platform – with speakers like Sparks involved in winning the recent dispute, other rank-and-file strikers, disabled activists fighting benefits cuts, or activists from Greece or other countries involved in fighting capitalism. At least we would have had a wider range of speakers. (Actually it’s unlikely that the left in general, or even within the ACN, would agree on all speakers. For instance, the RCG would probably have invited representatives of the Stalinist dictatorship in Cuba – say what you like about Graeme Morris, he has not banned trade unions! Similarly the RCG hailed a representative of the capitalist government in Venezuela as the only real revolutionary on the platform, others would disagree.) But we didn’t organise the May Day march, the rally was organised by an imperfect, part of a bureaucratised, conservative labour movement body, the May Day committee of the trades council. But a labour movement body nonetheless! I am not claiming that the trades council is simply a reflection of the labour movement as it exists in the city; it has its own bureaucracy and political failings. But nonetheless it is part of the labour movement, with affiliated unions sending delegates and at least influencing its decisions. We should not disrupt that democracy lightly. If a labour movement body had invited a Tory or a boss to speak on a platform, disruption would have been legitimate, even if that decision had been made democratically. If this had happened I think we and others on the left and in the labour movement would have complained before the day itself. But – like it or not – the Labour Party is part of the labour movement. Of course, given the Labour Party’s contradictory character, there are Labour politicians who we might want to treat similarly to Tories (for instance in the unlikely event Blair was invited to speak). But the idea that it’s totally illegitimate to have anything to do with anyone Labour, or even any Labour MP, is wrong. It’s not a question of Labour bad, trade unions good. The bureaucratic, conservative nature of the British labour movement at present finds expression in both the unions and the Labour Party. If we say no platform for Labour, we should logically say no platform for most unions too. (Supporters of the RCG might flirt with that idea, but we shouldn’t.) Graeme Morris is not Tony Blair. He is a local representative who has, in fact, been involved with some labour movement campaigns in the city. For instance, the RMT say he has provided invaluable support to their important campaign organising Churchill cleaners on the Metro. (I probably would have voted against him speaking if I were on the committee – but that is a different issue.) If we insist that we can have absolutely nothing to do with such people, then we are sending the wrong signal to the many trade unionists and working-class people who, in one form or another, support Labour and the union leaderships. Rather than developing common activity with them, highlighting and criticising the limits of their politics and the failings of their leaders, and winning them over in comradely discussion in the course of struggle, we are cutting themselves off from them and actually helping to entrench the labour movement bureaucracy. We are saying to them that the ACN is not a radical part of the broader workers’ and anti-cuts movement, but hostile to it. I think that is how many trade unionists will have interpreted ACN activists, wearing red ACN t-shirts, attempting to prevent Graeme Morris speaking. I would also like to know why the RCG and others did not raise this question at an ACN meeting, or ever put forward the position they attempted to implement at the May Day rally for discussion in the ACN. This smacks of contempt for our democracy as well as that of the broader labour movement. I think we should issue a statement which, while absolutely raising criticisms of the Labour and union leaders, disassociates us as an organisation from the disruption at the rally. Ed Whitby

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Footage of our Pirates of the Tax Havens fun - 18 August - Northumberland Street, Newcastle

Thanks to Ewan for this great video clip, and to all Tyneside Pirates...

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Support the Postal Workers Strike this week

As part of the Tyneside Postal Workers Solidarity group i've set up the blog on behalf of the group. You can visit that blog here.

It includes, links to all strike dates, stalls details for this saturday (2pm, newcastle monument) and next weekly planning meeting (wed 11th Nov 6pm, gateshead civic centre)

For Workers Liberty bulletins (see here) and other reports from workers liberty here

To join the facebook group go here

Monday, May 25, 2009

Blog's i like

Hi comrades not been on here for ages and just realised i hadnt added David's excellent blog http://republic-of-teesside.blogspot.com/

Its here now for you to link to and its also in the listing on the side.

David is involved in the Teesside Solidarity Network which organises meetings for for our revolutionary mates in the South of the region and very good thing too, though i havent been to one for a few months.


Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Yes, fight for jobs - and for all workers!

a response to the recent strike waves on workers liberty.org  

Wildcat strike action has spread across the UK in support of a strike by construction workers at the Lindsey oil refinery in Lincolnshire over an Italian firm getting a contract for part of the refitting work on the refinery. The Italian firm will use its permanent workforce of Italian workers.
Part of the background to the strike is increased use of sub-contracting on construction jobs, using EU rulings which allow contractors to undercut union-negotiated agreements by employing sub-contractors from other EU countries.
On Monday 2 February the Lindsey strikers adopted a series of positive trade-union demands. But socialists have faced the paradox that the most inspiring working-class movement for many years takes place under a central slogan, "British Jobs For British Workers", which cannot conceivably answer the needs which spur the action. What should our attitude be?

click here to read the full article:

Yes, fight for jobs - and for all workers!

a response to the recent strike waves on workers liberty.org

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Teesside Solidarity Network: inaugural meeting

Teesside Solidarity Network: inaugural meeting

Ecology, feminism, solidarity
Time and Place
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
7:30pm - 9:00pm
Sassaris (upstairs)
Linthorpe Road
Contact Info


With the recent war in Gaza, the economic crisis across the globe, and attacks on abortion rights, asylum seekers, and civil liberties many activists are looking for new ideas about how to confront injustice and oppression. 

We are a group of activists inspired by workers and womens solidarity movements and are a from a variety of different traditions - what we are all concerned with is thinking about which way forward for the left and for working class and feminist politics. 

This is the first of a new series of meetings where we can get together and talk openly and critically about politics with each other and revitalize the threads of radical history and politics that have been part of Teesside's hidden history.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Class, Climate Change and Clean Coal

Class, Climate Change and Clean Coal - a conference organised by the IWW (one big union) with support from National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), Rail, Maritine and Transport Union (RMT) and green activists was held in Newcastle on Saturday 2 November.

Over 60 trade unionists, socialists, anarchists, greens and climate activists crammed into the room for this very welcome and ambitious conference. Though the platform in the morning was heavily nominated by "Pro- coal" 3 NUM fulltime or ex-fulltime official speakers including Dave Douglas, Arthur Scargill, and Ian Lavery, and just one critical of coal, Paul Chatterton (Leeds Univ and Climate Camp activist)

The room seemed evenly split with half retired miners / friends with suits and NUM ties, alongside many activists mostly half their age, and a handful of the organised left.

The morning didn't start too well, with an unfortunately biassed platform, speakers such as Ian Lavery (NUM) claiming that what ever scientists said he saw Coal as the future, and with NUM speakers failing to recognise that Paul was critical of all carbon based fuels(not just coal "what about gas, what about oil"), and was not saying that Clean Coal (Carbon Capturing Systems) couldnt be part of a "just transition" away from the present fossil fuel dependence which leads us sleep walking to environmental destruction.

Paul made significant efforts to recognise the importance of unions and history of NUM (his grandfather was a miner) while NUM speakers showed less understanding of the other activists present (socialist, green, anarchists, and other non-aligned activists) by referring to them as Green Party members (of which i am not sure any were!)

When the top table contributions were over the event livened up (though many NUM speakers including Scargill left after speaking)

When some of us challenged the bias and the amount of time for the top table, there was some recognition that this needed adjusting and the NUM chair limited afternoon speakers to 10 mins (in the morning they had 25!) this gave more opportunity for discussion and although by now many of the NUM had left, it did show that we had a lot more in common. Also at odds with Dave Douglas's (NUM / IWW organiser of this event) reports of Climate Camp, that of activists uninterested in unions or the history of the miners, this event showed that those critical of coal, were very keen to work with unions, to build links with NUM and understand the importance that unions play in challenging the government and bosses.

Kev Bland (Green Anarchist) explained that Workers Climate Action had made important links with Kingsnorth workers at climate camp explaining that our ways of workers are already moving towards a united response with workers. And myself and Paddy (Plane Stupid) handed out Workers Climate Action publicity that seemed to get a good audience. The NUM regional officer also agreed to discuss with the campaigners against open cast pits in Northumberand, working more closely together and helping with resources for the campaigns.

But the most important thing is that this event happened and at all, and for this we should congratulate IWW and NUM for organising it, and offer to work with them in this kind of initiative where we can

So where now?
This conference was an important first step and it was reported that NUM reps from Notts are talking about approaching Notts Trades Council  to organise something similar there.  Hopefully supporters of Solidarity, and those active in Workers Climate Action can help make this a reality and consider something similar in Yorks / Derbyshire / Leics areas?

We should also approach the speakers and see if we can get there speaches or articles published on Workers Climate Action website to contribute to the debate, or perhaps see if we can turn them into a pamphlet.

We cannot the seemingly huge culture change between climate campaigners and miners to prevent events like this from happening. We congratulate the IWW and NUM for organising this event and should look to work with them to make sure this is just the start.

Ed Whitby