Tuesday, 4 February 2020

Embarrassment to the Trade Union Movement

Here's another candidate for the post of 'Embarrassment to the trade union movement', Alan Mardghum, president  of the Durham Miners' Association, who told the BBC:

“To paraphrase [Boris] Johnson, I would rather be found dead in a ditch than invite them, or Johnson, to the (Durham Miners) gala.”

Now the target of Alan's wrath seems to be the Conservative MPs elected at the 2019 general election and Alan goes on to suggest that these four 'tribunes of the people' might need police protection if they turn up at the event (as lots of people do) without a special invitation.

Now this is a ridiculous stance for the Gala organisers to take if you ask me, because it's akin to punishing people for voting 'the wrong way' which is a dangerous road to go down.

Tom Blenkinsop, Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland until 2017, poked at Mr Mardghum, with the following comment:

“Is he [going to] ban the people carrying the banners? Playing in the brass bands? Pulling the pints? Serving the food? Attending with their kids? [Because] those people did vote Tory.”

Not only that, of course, as I imagine that many Police officers (of whom Alan speaks so warmly) also voted Conservative rather than Labour.

So Alan and the Gala Organisers are going a strange way of trying to win friends and influence people.   


Organiser ‘won’t invite’ Tory MPs to Durham Miners’ Gala

By Henry Zeffman - The Times
Banners and brass bands leading the parade at the Durham Miners' Gala - Photo PA

New Conservative MPs are vowing to attend a totemic celebration of miners despite its organiser saying he would “rather be found dead in a ditch” than invite them.

Alan Mardghum, president of the Durham Miners’ Association, warned that Conservatives would not be welcome at this year’s Durham Miners’ Gala, an annual parade celebrating the area’s coal mining heritage.

Until last month’s election all seven of the constituencies covering County Durham were represented by Labour MPs but four are now held by Conservative MPs.

Mr Mardghum, who formerly worked as a miner at Wearmouth colliery, told the BBC: “To paraphrase [Boris] Johnson, I would rather be found dead in a ditch than invite them, or Johnson, to the gala.”

He continued: “We never saw Arthur Scargill invited to the Tory party conference. Why would we invite Tories to the Durham Miners’ Gala? They did their best to absolutely destroy the Durham miners and the miners of Great Britain.”

While he acknowledged that as “it’s a free country” he could not stop any MPs attending, Mr Mardghum added: “I would suggest that if any of them are thinking of coming in that they speak to the police, who do an absolutely marvellous job ensuring all of our personal security.

“So they might need to speak to the police to make sure that they’re safe on the day.”

The rally, held since 1871, includes a parade of banners and has in recent years been addressed by Jeremy Corbyn. Between Neil Kinnock in 1989 and Ed Miliband in 2012, no Labour leader had addressed the gala.

However. Dehenna Davison, the first Conservative MP for Bishop Auckland, responded on Twitter to Mr Mardghum: “See you there, Alan.”

Lee Anderson, the new Conservative MP for Ashfield in Nottinghamshire, wrote to Ms Davison: “As an ex-miner and a Conservative MP I would be glad to join you my friend.”

Richard Holden, who defeated the Labour rising star Laura Pidcock in North West Durham, told The Chronicle: “I always go where my voters are.”

Tom Blenkinsop, Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland until 2017, also hit out at Mr Mardghum, asking: “Is he [going to] ban the people carrying the banners? Playing in the brass bands? Pulling the pints? Serving the food? Attending with their kids? [Because] those people did vote Tory.”

Embarrassment To The Trade Union Movement (22/01/20)

Facebook photo of South Lanarkshire's Stephen Smellie alongside Jeremy Corbyn who in December 2019 led the Labour Party to its worst general election defeat since 1935

A kind reader sent me this Facebook post from Stephen Smellie (pronounced 'Smiley' not Smelly) who is the long standing secretary of the local Unison branch in South Lanarkshire Council.

"The GMB call for COP26 to be taken away from Glasgow is an embarrassment to the trade union movement. This is the union movement's opportunity to ensure that our demands for a Just Transition to a low carbon economy is front and centre in the discussions. It is not the Council who will be funding policing or the other costs and in fact the city stands to make money out of the event due to the numbers visiting. Instead of grandstanding Comrade Smith should get behind the effort to mobilise workers behind those fighting for a future for new industries and new jobs for the trade union members of the future."

How rude, I said to myself when I read Stephen's comments and if you ask me, Stephen has a cheek calling anyone an embarrassment to the trade union movement, for the reasons set out below:

1) Stephen Smellie and the local Unison branch actively discouraged union members from pursuing equal pay claims against South Lanarkshire Council back in 2008/09.

2) Stephen Smellie gave evidence in support of the Council  Management Case at the long running Employment Tribunal hearing over equal pay back in 2013. Mark Irvine gave evidence in support of the largely female Claimants - who won, of course.

3) Stephen Smellie has been the branch secretary of Unison in South Lanarkshire Council for the past 21 years ever since the year 2000 in fact. So for all this time Unison has been 'led' by the same bloke while women make up 70% of the union  membership. 

By the way, I think Gary Smith has a point about how best to spend hundreds of millions of pounds in Glasgow, especially when the city is paying for the huge cost of delivering equal pay without any financial support from the Scottish Government. 

So far at least.  


Glasgow, Spending and Climate Change (17/01/20)

The GMB union has a pop the at the eye-watering costs of hosting a major climate change summit later this year,  making the case that there are far more important things on which to spend 'several hundred million' pounds.

Read the full article in the link below to the Evening Times and decide for yourself.



GMB union calls for Glasgow to call off major COP26 climate change summit

By Catriona Stewart - Evening Times

A UNION has called for Glasgow to "ditch" hosting a major climate change summit later this year saying the city has its "priorities all wrong".

It emerged today that policing costs for the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 26) will run into "several hundred million pounds".

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has called for Westminster to honour a pledge to cover the costs that will be incurred by Police Scotland.

But GMB Scotland says the policing costs will "sicken" frontline council staff and said the event should be moved elsewhere.

GMB Scotland Secretary Gary Smith said: "The prospect of hundreds of millions of pounds of public money spent on policing costs alone will sicken frontline council staff and struggling local communities.

“The world’s political elite will fly in and out of Glasgow later in the year but the city’s many challenges will remain the day after the circus leave town.

“What exactly are we hoping to showcase by hosting this summit?

“Glasgow waste crisis is getting worse – you only need to look at the latest footage of the conditions facing cleansing workers on a daily basis.

“Our home carers are working alone on foot at night to provide basic home care help for some of our most vulnerable citizens.

“The council needs to find an additional £250 million to settle residual equal pay claims for tens of thousands of council staff past and present.

“It also needs to replace its discriminatory WPBR with a new job evaluation system lifts up the pay and conditions of chronically low-paid staff."

An estimated 90,000 people, including around 200 world leaders, will attend the UN’s COP26 summit over 12 days in November.

A report by the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) estimates security costs for the event could run to "several hundred million pounds".

The Scottish Government has maintained the bill should be footed by the UK Government, which is hosting the event.

Ms Sturgeon said she welcomes the fact the event is being held in Scotland, but discussions will need to be held over the costs involved.

She earlier told Radio Clyde News: "The UK Government has committed to meeting the policing and other costs and it’s important that they honour that commitment in full, and the Scottish Government will be looking forward to productive discussions to make sure that’s the case."

But Mr Smith added: “Our priorities are all wrong.

"The best thing government could do for Glasgow is to ditch hosting the COP and instead invest the money in dealing with the state of the city.”

A Glasgow City Council said: “Climate change is the biggest issue of our times and any suggestion it should not be considered a priority is extraordinary.

“The simple fact is that COP is of huge significance, both locally and globally.

"Hosting the event presents major opportunities for Glasgow, its communities and the local economy.”

Quite the Year! (02/01/20)

Jeremy Corbyn has been mocked over his upbeat New Year message which completely glosses over Labour's disastrous defeat in last month's general election - the party's worst since 1935.

Instead the erstwhile Labour leader doubled down on his idiotic 'we won the argument' claim with an equally dumb boast about the outcome of the election:

"We have built a movement. We are the resistance to Boris Johnson." 

Now the whole point of elections is winning not losing - and the only thing worse than losing is pretending that you played really well and actually deserved to win. 

Yet the Corbyn-led Labour Party seems quite chipper about the prospect of settling back down to its 'resistance role' on the opposition benches - instead of being seen as a credible party of government.