Monday, 7 December 2015

Blairites = Moderates?

In the past few days some newscasters and TV journalists are speaking in terms of ‘moderates’ in relation to a group of Labour MPs. It appears that this strange status has been endowed upon Labour MPs who voted with the government last week in favour of bombing Syria.

The same status has also been given to the Blairites within the party. The same MPs who have in the past supported ConDem and Tory party austerity motions. These are the moderates who in the past three months have busied themselves stabbing Jeremy Corbyn in the back.

Our media is once again guilty of twisting the reality. The reality is that those MPs who voted against bombing are acting moderately. Those MPs who voted against benefits cuts and an austerity programme that is killing people are moderate. Those MPs who are supporting a Labour leader who won through democratic process by a massive margin; they are the moderates.

Let’s call upon our biased media and demand they cease their dirty tricks campaign against Corby. Let’s vote with our feet. Let’s stop buying the scum newspapers who misreport; and stop watching the TV news stations who purposely skew the news against the Corbyn leadership.  

Sunday, 6 December 2015

The Farage mask slips, again

Running up to Thursday’s Oldham West and Royton by-election an ebullient Nigel Farage was predicting a close race. There was even a possibility of UKIP taking the seat by a few hundred votes, thought Farage.

Farage was wrong. He was wrong to the tune of almost 11,000 votes, the margin by which the Labour candidate John McMahon won. Yet despite the Labour candidate winning the seat with a 62% share of the votes cast Farage is unhappy. Accepting defeat with the grace of a sewer rat, Farage is blaming the postal ballot and the fact some of the Oldham West and Royton constituents didn’t speak English

Farage told the BBC: "The northern correspondent of the Guardian wrote last Saturday that she knocked on the doors of a street in Oldham where nobody spoke English, nobody had ever heard of Jeremy Corbyn, but they were all voting Labour…”

There is no prerequisite under UK voting rules that demands voters must have English as a first language. Neither is there any rule that states voters must be familiar with the party leadership structure of their preferred constituency candidate.

The UK does not operate a presidential election system. Voters in bye- or general elections vote for a constituency MP, they do not vote for the leader of a particular party or indeed the prime minister.

Once again the cheeky chappie one-of-boys persona Farage likes to masquerade behind is exposed as a front; and the true message of UKIP as an ultra right-wing racist party comes shining through.

Friday, 4 December 2015

All votes exercise conscience

Don’t we exercise our consciences as part of our thought and decision-making processes?  

So this week’s talk of votes of conscience and of giving free votes on non-political issues is interesting. Thinking things over every vote in Parliament is a political vote; and each time MPs are asked to consider a motion their consciences will be a considering factor.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Give Corbyn a chance!

A FB friend commented: "I was enthused by Jeremy's huge win as Leader, It was inspiring to see the Blairites roundly thrashed".

I responded:

“You make it sound as though it was a grudge football match. Winning the leadership can only be viewed as the first step in changing Labour. For all those who joined the Labour Party as affiliates, voted for Corbyn, then walked away. Well, they did him a massive disservice.

If they had the conviction to vote for him as leader, on his winning they should have joined the Labour Party as full members (obviously those who were permitted – and yes the party needs to root out all corrupt rightist elements) to help Corbyn win from the bottom up.

People are joining; they’re beginning to populate Branches and CLPs. Will they win over the Labour Party to a body that looks to the interests of the 99%? Is 4.5 years enough time to cleanse the party of twenty years of Progress neoliberalism? Many doubt it. Yet unless those of us who are willing to give Corbyn a chance fight on the right will prevail.”

If only our bombs fell on Daesh alone

If only we confined our actions to bombing Daesh. In recent military adventures overseas, and nearer, has this country’s armed forces been able to restrict its action against armed forces or military targets alone?

The civilian bloodbaths of Iraq and Afghanistan stand testimony to the inability of armed forces, with or without ‘smart’ weaponry, to contain their violence. Of course civilian deaths in these conflicts have been sanitised in the Orwellian-speak of collateral damage; the language of the accountants of death who measure life in ‘bottom lines’ rather than in lives of children, women and men.

Modern methods of bombing densely populated towns and cities have proved that this method of warfare does not discriminate. From the Blitz 75 years ago to Syria today we know that the greater causalities will be non-combatants, often as not women and children. Sure a few of the wring ‘uns get caught up; but enough to justify the deaths of those innocents?

On the question of our support for right wing politicians in the past – ok, let’s leave that in the past and move forward. One way of moving forward is to tell any MP – and I don’t care if they’re called Beckett, Benn, Umunna or Watson – that if they can’t accept our Labour values then they stand a strong chance of being deselected.

Finally, statements such as: “But to simply withdraw support for MPs who want to fight Daesh in a different way to ours…” are an obscenity. 

In the first instance those MPs who voted for war last night will not be fighting; no they’ll be sending others to fight and to fight from the relative safety of 15,000 feet and higher.

In the second instance it isn’t only Daesh who they’ll be fighting, as it is inevitable they will draw civilians into the fighting arena they create with their bombs. And anyway, isn’t a fight a two-or-more sided affair with all parties trading blows? How can bombing civilians be classed as a fight when only one participant is actually raining down blows?

Here we go again

As I was in bed before the 'War' vote was carried last night I awoke today to the sad news that we were once again raining death down upon innocent civilians.

Thanks to Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell and all those other MPs who voted against the terrorising of women and children; and thank you to Helen Hayes, my MP, for voting against the air strikes.

Listening to the odious rat Nick Robinson interviewing John McDonnell on Radio 4 this morning strengthened my resolve not to support the BBC if it runs into problems. How can the BBC claim to be independent; where is the journalistic objectivity when this public news service tows the government line.

Nick Robinson’s disgraceful interview of John McDonnell on Radio 4 shows just how low the BBC has sunk. Robinson, a rank Tory, demonstrated no objectivity at all. In my view the BBC is finished. I certainly won’t support the corporation when the vampires come for it.

Monday, 30 November 2015

The Social Cleansing of Brixton

The demand for housing in London is becoming so great that poorer areas of the city once overlooked are now becoming 'desirable'. Places like Brixton with a large pool of older housing stock as well as lots of social housing along with good public transport links relatively close to the centre of London are in high demand.

Venture around the back of Brixton and you'll see a house building boom. Places such as  Myatt's Fields, Robsart Street, Stockwell Green and Coldharbour Lane to name but a few have hundreds of new units being built. 

New low-rise flats being built around Myatts Field most of which will
start at £400,000 
Little or none of this building work is for the social housing market. This government and the Mayor of London Johnson are also proposing that council and housing association rents should rise to 80% of private sector rent prices. This will socially cleanse Lambeth, and Brixton, of thousands of tenants. 

Add to the equation what's going on in Brixton Town centre, the railway companies raising rents of railway arches way above that affordable to small, often family run, businesses. These the very backbone of community traders in touch with their working class customers.

Friday, 27 November 2015

Act as Usual Day

Trick or Treat, high school proms, Dress Down Friday and Black Friday traditions or practices that have seeped into our lives from the USA. In my view most of these practices promote a negative rather than positive side to American culture as they celebrate materialism and addictive consumerism.
Conversely creating and supporting a Buy Nothing Day in opposition to Black Friday is merely pandering to the tyranny of consumer capitalism. Drawing attention to Black Friday by forming a counter Buy Nothing Day is not the solution to curbing consumer excesses. Rather it comes across as a smug reaction to the more consumerist among us.
Instead of one or the other why don’t people simply carry on their lives as they would normally? If you need a new pair of shoes, go out and buy your shoes.

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Progress Adds Nothing to Momentum

Lambeth Momentum met last night. It appears we are an open and inclusive group. Now I'm all in favour of openness, however as inclusiveness is an absolute I'm more inclined here to be careful. Why we allowed Progress members into the group I'm unsure. This poisonous group of right-wing Blairites is doing its utmost to stymie Jeremy Corbyn's leadership, just as they tried to derail his bid for the position.
After a good debate on Syria it was decided, almost overwhelmingly, to put forward a motion to the three Lambeth CLPs. The motion is to call for a No vote next week to the UK's military involvement in Syria. 
However, the Progress member present did not agree with the motion calling for the UK not to bomb or go to war in, Syria. Arrogantly he tried to put his argument across despite 60-odd people agreeing with the motion.
The Chair, Ruth Cashman, quite correctly moved business on not allowing this minority voice the oxygen of Blairite publicity.
If it were my decision Progress members would not be welcome to Momentum meetings. Last night's Syrian motion showed the massive gulf between the two groups. We are inconpatible having very divergent opinions on everything from austerity to Syria.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

He's appealing cos he's not kneeling

I can think of nothing more obscene
Than to having to kneel before the queen
Who’s only royal by accident of birth
And has an overblown sense of self-worth.
At the Cenotaph Corbyn respectfully stood
But this was deliberately misunderstood
By our vindictive redtop fourth estate
More interested in promoting hate.
Jeremy can’t do right for doing wrong
Even in parliament he doesn’t belong
As straight talk and being basically decent
Are terra incognita to the most recent
Parliamentary set of grey-suited yahoos
Better identified by their guffawing boos
And their lazy Lords of Creation attitude
That gives approval for their being bloody rude.
However, Corbyn is a politician of honest conviction
Unlike those others, just poor works of fiction
Whose pages are read but nothing stick
As they pursue fleeting fame and the quick fix.

Friday, 6 November 2015

I love the sound of breaking glass

Pop, crack, tinkle. The noise of me having a leak in the White Horse pub on Brixton Hill. Went for a couple of wet ones with a departing workplace colleague. My colleague, Anna, qualified as a full blown British Sign Language Interpreter this summer; recently she succeeded in finding a job in her chosen field. Well done Anna. The BSLI’s gain is our loss.

With a neurogenic bladder it doesn’t take long before the call of the loo comes. It didn’t help with me drinking a triple espresso and a strong Americano coffees earlier in the day.

(Note to self: avoid coffee on days you’re going for a beer. Reminder to self: remember to look at this Blog on days you’re going for a beer.)

We used the pub because I knew they had an ‘accessible’ toilet. However, on arriving at the WC armed with my Radar key I noticed a large beer keg gas bottle. This wasn’t a problem for me as it stood to one side of the toilet bowl. Opening the door wider I noticed boxes stacked at the back of the toilet. Around 16 boxes of GLASSES!

Having locked the door, had a pee and arranged myself back in my wheelchair I began a 33 point turn. As I began reversing I heard; POP! Followed by CRACK! Followed by TINKLE! With each manoeuvre the same riff.

When I told the bar worker she looked aghast. She apologised before asking whether there were any breakages to which I informed her in the affirmative.

Who the fuck leaves glasses in an adapted toilet? Mops, cleaning paraphernalia, spare chairs and Christmas trees I can kind of see how people pub people would abuse adapted toilets this way. But glasses?

What’s the strangest thing with which you’ve shared an adapted toilet?

Thursday, 5 November 2015

How do we break down barriers for disabled people?

How do we break down barriers for disabled people?

To begin with let's hold rogue employers to account. Strengthen, or better still, actually use current legislation to its full extent. Years ago I recall Margaret Hodge claiming that disabled people shouldn't rush to litigation when confronted with discrimination, but rather they should negotiate.

The days for negotiation are long gone. Successive governments tell us that employers need education not legislation. I don't see this applied anywhere else. Why can't we educate benefits claimants rather than using sanctions against them? Why not educate 'debtors' instead of evicting them?

No, let's use legislation as a blunt instrument to bash recalcitrant employers over the head, in the same manner the Tories are planning with their vicious anti trade union laws.

Tom Shakespeare, in every other area of civil life there are laws and rules by which we live. If and when we stray across the boundaries within which these laws and rules are set, we are punished.

In attempting to make a case for the use of law I am also aware that this government and its predecessor have ensured that millions of us are denied access to the law by placing, often insurmountable, financial barriers. As we are left with fewer 'legitimate' avenues from which to fight our corner alternatives such as taking to the streets and civil disobedience are all that remain.

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Demo and Rally Against the Cuts and Capping of Access to Work

Yesterday, Saturday 26th September 2015, saw the coming together of around 700 disabled people to protest at the cuts in Access to Work. Deaf workers are particularly hit by the cap on Access to Work; and yesterday they came out in their hundreds to show solidarity with other disabled workers and BSL interpreters also affected by the cuts.

Yesterday's march to Downing Street to deliver a petition calling
 for the government to put a halt to the capping of Access to Work  

In my capacity as Unite Executive and TUC General Council Councillor for disabled workers I would like to thank all those involved in making yesterday a success. So thanks to the National Union of British Sign Language Interpreters (NUBSLI), Inclusion London, DPAC, and all others who participated.

I was privileged to be invited to speak at the event. Here is my speech to the rally opposite Downing Street:

Sean McGovern speaking to the rally at Downing Street
“Hello Comrades, I’m Seán McGovern of Unite the Union and the TUC General Council and I bring a message of solidarity from both these bodies.
Comrades, you can always tell when a Tory is lying…his lips are moving.
You can also tell when they’re being disingenuous for that’s when they call taking away our disability benefits and services Welfare Reform.
But the deceit does not stop there.
This Tory government perpetuates its great lie by telling us that the root of our poverty lies in our idleness.
Get a job they say and you will be lifted from the abyss of poverty.
Get a job they say and we will make work pay.
Well Cameron, Duncan-Smith and Osborne lots of us who can work have got jobs.
Indeed Remploy workers had very good jobs until you in your wisdom scrapped them; throwing thousands of hard working disabled people out of work and on to benefits.
Oh, and by the way, Duncan-Smith, whatever happened to the scores of millions you saved when closing down Remploy factories and doing away with Residential Training Courses for disabled people?
You put a measly £15 million into Access to Work over 3-years.
And you have the gall to tell the world you’re serious about getting disabled people into work.
Access to Work is a winner.
For every pound spent on Access to Work the Exchequer recoups £1.48.
This is the goose that lays the golden egg.
But what does this government do?
It puts up barriers to the scheme such as introducing ATOS as the assessing agent.
It overcomplicates the process so that those claiming it spend inordinate amounts of time on bureaucracy.
Not satisfied with making life difficult for us they’ve now placed a cap on Access to Work.
This cap particularly hits deaf people using Access to Work and will restrict their use of qualified interpreters so necessary for them to carry out their jobs.
This government looks after hedge fund managers and merchant bankers who create capital profit, usually for their own ends.
Yet when a highly skilled group of workers such as British Sign Language interpreters demand a decent wage this government fails to recognise the social capital they generate.
Comrades, we call on this government to stop the changes to Access to work for disabled people, their support staff and British Sign Language Interpreters.

Solidarity Comrades!"