Wednesday, 12 February 2020

Embarrassment To The Trade Union Movement

A regular reader dropped me a cheeky note the other day to suggest that I email Ian Lavery to alert the outgoing Labour Chair to the lack of an 'all women shortlist' in the Unison South Lanarkshire Council branch.

See post below dated 22/01/20 - "Ian Lavery tells Keir Starmer to quit Labour leadership race to make way for a woman"

Now the reader may be on to something you know, as I can't be the only one to find it very strange that the same person (a man) has been the Unison Branch Secretary in South Lanarkshire Council since the year 2000.

Because unless I'm mistaken that's 21 years and counting in one of the country's largest trade unions which boasts around 70% women members.

So what's holding them all back?

I have my own views, but if you ask me it's definitely an embarrassment to the trade union movement - see post below dated 22/01/20 "Embarrassment To The Trade Union Movement".


'Continuity Corbyn' (22/01/20)

Politics Home has an excellent editorial on the hypocrisy of Corbyn supporters, in particular Labour chairman Ian Lavery, who is calling for Keir Starmer (the bookies favourite in the Labour leadership race) to 'stand aside' in favour of a female party leader.

Now, as Kevin Schofield points out, Ian Lavery was not such a big fan of gender equality when he backed Andy Burnham to be leader in 2015, or when Jeremy Corbyn stood for the second time in 2017, or when Ian Lavery considered standing himself in 2020.

Yet all these 'killer facts' seem to have been conveniently brushed aside in the effort to try and deliver a result for the 'Continuity Corbyn' candidate, Rebecca Long-Bailey.


Politics Home Editorial

Good morning,

All of a sudden, the Corbynites believe it’s time for Labour to have a female leader. Momentum has even produced one of its flashy videos declaring that in 120 years, it was a disgrace that the party had never been led by a woman.

Ian Lavery was the latest to jump on the bandwagon last night, calling on Sir Keir Starmer - who just so happens to be the main rival to his favourite, Rebecca Long-Bailey - to “stand aside”.

Funnily, I don’t remember Ian being such a big fan of gender equality in 2015, when he backed Andy Burnham to be leader rather than Yvette Cooper or Liz Kendall. And maybe it was a different Ian Lavery who considered standing this time round, when he already knew that there were female candidates in the race.

Happily for Lavery, a Channel 4 focus group of traditional Labour voters who backed the Tories at the election last night showed that they definitely want Jeremy Corbyn’s successor to be a woman. Sadly for him, though, they think it should be either Lisa Nandy or Emily Thornberry. Not a single person in the room put up their hand when asked if Long-Bailey could win them back, and only two backed Sir Keir. Nandy got a clean sweep of support, with Thornberry not far behind. Something for Labour members to chew over.

Nandy will look to build on the momentum her campaign is enjoying following the GMB's endorsement in a major speech in London this morning, while Thornberry will become the latest candidate to be grilled by Andrew Neil tonight.

Corbyn will continue to keep the leader’s seat warm by facing Boris Johnson at PMQs later, and Labour MPs will be hoping he puts a bit more energy into it than last week’s rather half-hearted affair. Mind you, we all take our foot off the gas a bit when we’re working our notice.

Meanwhile, MPs are sure to overturn the four amendments that peers made to the Withdrawal Agreement Bill when it returns to the Commons this afternoon. Some minor ping-pong will then ensue before the new law is ready for Royal Assent later in the week.

Enjoy your day.

Kevin Schofield, @PolHomeEditor

Ian Lavery tells Keir Starmer to quit Labour leadership race to make way for a woman

By Matt Honeycombe-Foster - Politics Home

Labour leadership frontrunner Sir Keir Starmer should "stand side" to make way for a woman, the party's chairman has declared.
The Labour chairman urged Sir Keir to 'stand aside' - Photo Credit: PA

Ian Lavery, who is backing Sir Keir's main rival Rebecca Long-Bailey, called on the Shadow Brexit Secretary to quit the race so the party can pick its first-ever female leader.

The comments from the key ally of Jeremy Corbyn came at an official campaign event for Ms Long-Bailey, who is one of three women left in the contest.
Mr Lavery - who considered running for the leadership himself - said: "We need a female leader of the Labour Party. Stand aside Keir."

He added: "If we stand with Rebecca Long-Bailey, Baileyism, we'll have a leader who can take the fight to the Tories not in 2024 but in 2020. We've got a woman who is as strong as anyone within the party.

"She's got fantastic vision, she's got a fantastic history and a fantastic background, and she isn't frightened of anybody - she's not even frightened of me. And she is the right person for the job."

The comments come after Mr Lavery drew anger from some Labour MPs for staunchly defending the party's election campaign, which saw it plunge to its lowest number of Commons seats since the 1930s. 
But the former president of the National Union of Mineworkers once again urged the party to stick to the course set by Jeremy Corbyn by backing Ms Long-Bailey.

Mr Lavery said: "I’m a bit bruised, battered, disappointed. But you know what, the only way is up. The only way is to continue with the socialist revolution. The only way is to continue to build on what we promised the British people. Comrades, there’s no going back.”

And, taking a swipe at Labour MPs hostile to Mr Corbyn, he added: "I’ll tell you something else: I’m not taking any lectures from some of the people in the party who are now saying we need to draw a line under it and we need to focus on the future when they’ve undermined Jeremy Corbyn."

The fiery comments from the party chairman came as Ms Long-Bailey confirmed that Labour MPs will have to face automatic reselection - a key demand of left-wing activists - before every general election if she becomes leader. 

The Shadow Business Secretary said she wanted to "throw open the door to a new generation" of Labour politicians.

Ms Long-Bailey's place in the final round of the contest is likely to be confirmed on Friday when Unite announces who it is endorsing.

Bookies' favourite Sir Keir is already on the ballot paper, while Lisa Nandy's hopes of joining him received a huge boost when the GMB said on Tuesday that it was backing her.

Continuity Corbyn (21/01/20)

Morten Morland on Labour's leadership election which may not be going so well for the 'Continuity Corbyn' candidate Rebecca Long-Bailey.


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.”