Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Ghastly Hypocrites

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I've been preoccupied with the fight for equal pay in Glasgow in recent days, but I've finally got round to setting my thoughts down about Jeremy Corbyn.

If the opinion polls are correct, a lot of people, particularly younger people, are attracted by Corbyn's message which I find rather odd because in my opinion, Jezza's not fit to lead the Labour party, never mind the country.

My reason for saying so is that Corbyn's politics are not rooted in the socialist or social democrat traditions of the Labour party and just like his shadow chancellor John McDonnell, Diane Abbott or Ken Livingstone - Corbyn is an old-fashioned Marxist at heart whose views belong in a bygone political era.

While the rest of the world has moved Corbyn and his key allies remain stuck in the past with their resolutely 1970s anti-capitalist, anti-west, anti-American agenda (even during the presidencies of Barack Obama and Bill Clinton), apparently unmoved by the fact that former allies in 'socialist' countries around the globe, like Russia and China, turned their backs long ago on the old shibboleths of Marx and Lenin.

Nonetheless, the Labour leadership has been captured by a small group of highly organised activists who still believe in obscure Marxist political concepts such as the 'dictatorship of the proletariat' and 'vanguardism' by trade unions, as the way to bring about a social change.

Now Team Corbyn talks in code language about their political philosophy, for fear of giving their game away, but this stale Marxist/Leninist claptrap really does underpin their thinking and it's what drives individuals like Seumas Milne, the Labour leader's official spokesperson, and Andrew Murray, Len McCluskey's right-hand man, who has been released by Unite to help run Corbyn's general election campaign.

While the bulk of Labour voters may not realise what is going on their party has, in effect, been hijacked by people who regard its traditional supporters as 'useful idiots' in a revolutionary class struggle to overthrow what they regard as a corrupt, capitalist economic system. 

Marxists regards trade unions as an elite force in this revolutionary struggle, as 'vanguards to enlighten the downtrodden masses, which helps to explain the close connection between Labour and the Unite union, the party's biggest financial donor.

The conundrum being that while trade unions bosses like Len McCluskey are often as left wing as can be, their leftist brand of politics is highly unrepresentative and commands very little support amongst ordinary union members.

So Len McCluskey, who was elected by a tiny fraction of the Unite membership, in controversial circumstances, may be an enthusiastic 'Corbynista', yet Labour in Scotland was been knocked of its perch by the SNP and more recently the Scottish Conservatives and now languishes in third place with only 20% or so of popular vote, according to the opinion polls.

I think it's fair to say that the fight for equal pay in Scotland's councils has been the most significant industrial battle of the past 12 years, one that has affected the lives and livelihoods of well over 100,000 low paid workers (predominantly women) and their families.

But far from leading this landmark struggle, the 'leftist' trade unions in Scotland have been a big part of the problem as their party allegiances and narrow political outlook took priority over the interests of their own members.

While some argue that the unions have been held back by Tory 'anti-union' laws, the truth is that over the past two decades the trade unions in Scotland have never threatened a single strike or mounted a major national campaign in support of equal pay - which speaks volumes about their day-to-day priorities.  

As a result, I have no time for Corbyn and his ilk because these ageing Marxists are ghastly hypocrites if you ask me, illustrated by their refusal, for example, to share a platform with David Cameron (and other Conservatives) to argue the case for the UK to remain a member of the European Union.

Yet these 'toy town' revolutionaries are perfectly happy to speak alongside apologists for Islamist violence including representatives of Hamas and Hezbollah who don't even support universal human rights, religious tolerance or secular democracy.

If life has taught me one thing, it is never to trust zealots and that includes people for whom politics has become just another form of religion.  


Sunshine of Socialism (11/11/15)

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I didn't hear Kezia Dugdale deliver her leader's speech to the Scottish Labour conference at the weekend, but I read what she had to say later (see link below) and the following two sections stood out for me like a sore thumb. 

"I want to thank our brothers and sisters in the union movement for standing by us, in good times and bad. Your values are our values. We are, and always will be, the party of working people, a proud party of trade unionists."

"In Scotland nearly 350,000 families rely on the money from tax credits. The average family will be more than £100 a month worse off as a result of these changes. 70% of the money saved by this tax rise on working people will come from the pockets of working mothers."

Now back in the year 2000 when the Scottish Government was Labour-led, Jack McConnell (then education minister) signed-off on a new pay deal for Scotland's teachers (the McCrone Agreement) at a cost of £800 million a year.

The McCrone Agreement was fully funded which meant that no specific productivity gains were demanded from the teaching workforce in return for a 23.5% increase in pay in a single year; the agreement having been struck by a triumvirate comprising the Scottish Government, Labour-led COSLA and the teaching trade unions.

A year earlier, the big three public sector trade unions (Unison, GMB and Unite) along with the council employers reached what was hailed at the time as a landmark agreement on equal pay - the 1999 Single Status Agreement which promised a 'new deal' for tens of thousands of low paid women's jobs: carers, cleaners, classroom assistants, clerical and catering workers.

But unlike the McCrone Agreement the 1999 Single Status Agreement was not fully funded and in the years that followed the council employers and the trade unions simply allowed the landmark deal to wither on the vine, even though in the 10 year period between 1997 to 2007 the budgets of councils in Scotland virtually doubled.

What happened, in effect, was that the interests of 70,000 teachers were given a much higher priority than those of over 100,000 of the lowest paid workers in Scottish local government, the great irony being that thew two groups are both council workers and employed by Scotland's 32 local councils.

The cost of implementing the 1999 Single Status Agreement, in full, was put at £450 million a year compared to the £800 million price tag attached to the teachers' McCrone Agreement and the added advantage of the Single Status Agreement was that it would have ended low pay in Scottish local government by raising the lowest hourly rate of pay towards £9.00 an hour - thereby eliminating the need for working family tax credits.

The cost to low paid council workers of not implementing 1999 Agreement amounted to thousands of pounds a year for full-time workers, i.e. much more than the £100 a month refereed to by Kecia Dugdale in the section of her speech about tax credits.   

The 'rainbow coalition' collectively responsible for this historic failure to tackle low pay were the Labour-led Scottish Government of the day, Labour-led COSLA, the big Labour-led councils (in Glasgow and Lanarkshire for example), and the Labour-supporting trade unions who failed to stand up for their lowest paid members when the chips were down.  

So if that's what's meant by the 'sunshine of socialism', my name's Jeremy Corbyn.


Empty Words (31/10/15)

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Jeremy Corbyn is up in Scotland for the Scottish Labour Party conference and yesterday delivered his first 'leader's speech' which I found dull and boring because it was full of vacuous words like these:

"To me, socialism is simple. It’s about everyone caring for everyone else.

"This is a kinder, more caring politics … we don’t compete, we co-operate.

"But it is a politics fired by our passion for fighting injustice, in our belief that an injury to one is an injury to all … the concept of solidarity."

Now I don't remember Jeremy, or the kind of people who share his politics, having anything of significance to say during the fight for equalpauy that has been raging in Scotland over the past 10 years.

In fact, some of the worst offenders have been the big Labour councils who presided over pay arrangements that discriminated against female dominated jobs: carers, classroom assistants, cleaners, clerical and catering workers.

Not only that, of course, because the Labour-supporting trade unions were often in cahoots with the employers and in some cases actively discouraged their members from pursuing claims for equal pay.

Socialist, my arse.