Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Articles

Beard of the Dead at Tottenham Ploughman’s Day of the Dead

In Uncategorized on October 17, 2014 by kmflett

Beard Liberation Front
press release 17th October
Contact keith flett 07803 167266
_____________________________________________________
BEARD OF THE DEAD AT TOTTENHAM PLOUGHMAN’S DAY OF THE DEAD

The Beard Liberation Front, the informal network of beard wearers, has said that it plans a competition for the Beard of the Dead at the Tottenham Ploughman’s Day of the Dead event to be held at Downhills Community Café in Tottenham on Sunday November 2nd.

The hirsute campaigners say while the flesh may be weak, the beard often has an afterlife along with the skull and zombies with beards appear to be plentiful.

However on November 2nd the competition will focus on the connection between the beard and the head and how dialectically in balance the two are.

For example people with long faces may find that a beard softens their features. People with shorter faces such as Antony Worrall Thompson might take the hint that a beard doesn’t help

BLF Organiser Keith Flett said it’s a new departure for us and we should emphasise that it is not a modern attempt at phrenology. The competition is purely about how the beard is balanced with the rest of the head not what size the head is

Articles

1860s & 1870s: wage cuts in Victorian Britain and how we responded

In Uncategorized on October 17, 2014 by kmflett

1860s and 1870s: wage cuts in Victorian Britain & how we responded

It would be unfair to say that the British Trades Union Congress is unaware of labour and trade union history. Aside from the annual Tolpuddle Festival and the Durham Miners Gala it also has a library at London Met University and from time to time marks significant labour movement related historical events.

Even so labour history is not something that features that often in the day to day utterances of union leaders.

Full marks then to the research that has been done ahead of the Britain Needs A Pay Rise demonstration in London on October 18th looking at the history of capitalist crisis and falls in wage levels since Victorian times

http://www.tuc.org.uk/economic-issues/labour-market-and-economic-reports/economic-analysis/britain-needs-pay-rise/uk

The conclusion is that the current period of recession and reductions in wage levels is the deepest since the early capitalist crisis of 1865-67 which lasted only two years and the longest since that of 1874-8 which lasted 3 years less than the current fall in real wage levels.

As Eric Hobsbawm’s timeline in Age of Capital underlines, the first great depression started from 1873, when he begins his Age of Empire volume and went on into the 1890s. The deepest impact was in the first few years.
The point of the crisis from the early 1870s was not only that it was a worldwide crisis but that it shook the confidence of the ruling class that their system was built to last.

What is presented in the TUC research however is economic history and there is more to history than economics.

The context of the 1865-7 crisis is an interesting one.

It was immediately before the foundation of the TUC itself, and it started just after the formation of the International Workingmen’s Association in 1864 which successfully raised the horizon of some English trade union leaders beyond a largely parochial level.

Karl Marx who had been drafted in to write the opening address of the International, in 1865 published a pamphlet, Wages, Prices and Profit.

If you haven’t read it, it remains freely available on the interweb and contains important arguments which relate directly to the TUC march on October 18th.

Marx had taken issue with a socialist follower of Robert Owen on the International, Weston, who had argued that trade unions could not have any impact on the level of wages and that even an attempt to do so was harmful. Weston had little support for his points but even so Marx took them and showed the importance of trade union agitation.

Weston thought, like Jeremy Hunt on the current NHS wages bill, that the amount of wages available in society was a fixed amount. Marx demonstrated that this was not so. Hence pay rises in real terms were a perfectly achievable aim within the existing system.

The pamphlet was no doubt a distraction from what Marx was meant to be doing in 1865 which was finishing Capital Volume One. This eventually appeared in 1867 and demonstrated, amongst other things, that the crisis of 1865-7 was not a one off event but something that was endemic to the structure of capitalism itself.
The crisis had a political impact too. Trade union organisation and agitation had revived in the years before 1865-7 and the wage falls of that period provided a focus on the need to change the world as it was. The First International was part of that as was the Reform League, a campaigning body of trade unionists and middle class radicals pushing for an extension of the vote and Parliamentary representation.

That led to the 1867 Reform Act which did indeed extend the Suffrage- a bit- but extended labour representation in Parliament hardly at all.

Despite the depression of the 1870s the growth of trade union organisation continued- though it was no doubt often a very hard slog indeed the impetus to organise was there and the pressure of that was felt. A new Factory Act in 1878 consolidated previous measures and restrictions on child labour in particular.

The wider context of the 1865-7 crisis, the 1874-8 depression and the fall in wages that accompanied them is perhaps something worth discussing over a beverage after the TUC demonstration on October 18th.

Historically wage cuts have been tough for those in employment but they have sparked both political responses and increased union organisation. Maybe 18th October will do the same.

Articles

Haringey trade unionists say drop in jobless not matched by rise in wages

In Uncategorized on October 15, 2014 by kmflett

Haringey Trades Council

Press Release 15th October

c/o Union Office, St Ann ’s Hospital, St Ann ’s Rd, Tottenham N15

 

Contact Keith Flett 07803 167266; keith.flett@btinternet.com

_____________________________________________________________________________

Trade Unionists say drop in jobless not matched by rise in wages

Haringey TUC, the local wing of the TUC in North London, has welcomed the news that the jobless total in Tottenham fell further in September. Figures released on Wednesday showed that 100 more people were in work compared to August meaning the total unemployed figure stood at 4,088 its lowest since 2008.

 

However at 4.4% the total still remains easily the highest in London and twice the national average.

 

The trade unionists say that while the increase in employment in Tottenham is welcome, there is little evidence that it has been matched by an increase in wage levels.

 

In the private sector in the Borough pay at or around the minimum wage is common, two pounds an hour short of the London Living Wage of £8.81

 

Haringey TUC Secretary Keith Flett said The TUC has called a Britain Needs a Pay Rise demonstration in central London on Saturday October 18th and we expect a large turn-out from Haringey. More people in work is good but if their pay is so low they have to rely on benefits to make ends meet- which numbers do- the boost to the local economy that more people in work should bring does not take place

 

Britain Needs a Pay Rise assembles at Blackfriars Embankment at 11am on Saturday October 18th and marches to a rally in Hyde Park

 

 

Articles

A Change is Gonna Come? Labour’s October 1964 & 1974 Election Victories

In Uncategorized on October 15, 2014 by kmflett

Labour Election victories 1964 & 1974:A World of Which We Have No Conception?

It is the 50th anniversary of the Labour Election on 10th October 1964 and the 40th anniversary of the victory on 15th October 1974. In both cases Harold Wilson became Labour Prime Minister.

Both Election victories and the context they took place in are fast moving from living memory into labour history.

In both cases the Labour majority was slim-an overall majority in single figures in both 1964 and in October 1974. Indeed so small was the margin 40 years ago that Labour spent some of the time up to the 1979 Election in a Lib-Lab Pact which itself may seem rather odd to those more familiar with the events of the past 5 years.

In 1964 Labour was expected to win well.

After their 1959 Election victory the Tories had suffered a number of crisis not least the Profumo sex scandal that in effect saw Tory Premier Macmillan bow out of politics. His replacement, Alec Douglas Home, an old Etonian who looked and sounded as if he was from a by-gone age, and very probably was, was widely satirised.

Labour stood on the need to ‘modernise’ Britain and move firmly into the 1960s based on scientific and technological advance. Part of that was aimed at restrictive practices in industry but there was also criticism of trade union protections.

That is worth remembering as in recent times there has been a trend to see ‘Old Labour’ as fundamentally different from what came afterwards.

The narrowness of the Election victory was a surprise, not least to some of the left.

New Left Review urged Wilson to push on with change as the only way to keep Labour in Office. Whether that was his record can be debated by historians- left activists from that period would certainly say not I think- but in 1966, when an early Election was called Labour was returned with a 100 seat majority.

NLR also pondered why Labour’s margin of victory in 1964 was so small. It reflected that a mood for change which was to be found in the media and in public discourse was not yet fully in tune with the feelings at the grassroots of society.

Indeed as David Renton’s recent review of Ford and Goodwin on UKIP reminds us historically sections of the working class voted Tory and did not automatically and sometimes at all support Labour. In 1964 seats in cities like Sunderland and Liverpool were won by the Tories.

This was after all the period of the long post-1945 boom and whatever the specific economic problems of the moment, many in work were feeling better off. The crisis was more one of politics and the future of Britain rather than the economy.

October 1974 was very different. Britain faced an energy crisis and Labour had been returned to Office in February 1974 on the back of a miners strike. Tory Premier Heath had called a ‘Who Governs Britain’ Election and the voters had determined it wasn’t him.

It was a period of significant class struggle in the UK which was at best only partially reflected within the Labour Party itself. Moreover 1974 was also the year of the Portugese Revolution and much of the left was taken up, quite rightly, with events in that country.

Tony Benn’s Diary records the October 1974 Election as one where ‘red scare’ tactics were used against the left. Harold Wilson on the advice of the Security Services determined not to appoint the left-winger Judith Hart as a Minister because she had Communist connections. She did indeed. She had telephoned a meeting organiser to say she could not speak at a meeting because a Communist was on the platform. Wilson backed down.

Perhaps the wider historical point to ponder here is that while Labour was in Office for 11 of the 15 years from 1964 to 1979 and again for 13 years from 1997 to 2010, and while some changes for the better were made, the chance to re-shape the system in the way that Thatcher did, let alone to bring about any fundamental change was passed by.

In that sense the New Left Review comment of November 1964 that Labour needed to push on with change to secure support was both correct and over optimistic in thinking it would

Articles

1865-7: a History of Wage Cuts & How to fight them

In Uncategorized on October 14, 2014 by kmflett

1865-7: A history of wage cuts & how to fight them

It would be unfair to say that the British Trades Union Congress is unaware of labour and trade union history. Aside from the annual Tolpuddle Festival and the Durham Miners Gala it also has a library at London Met University and from time to time marks significant labour movement related historical events.

Even so labour history is not something that features that often in the day to day utterances of union leaders.

Full marks then to the research that has been done ahead of the Britain Needs A Pay Rise demonstration in London on October 18th looking at the history of capitalist crisis and falls in wage levels since Victorian times

http://www.tuc.org.uk/economic-issues/labour-market-and-economic-reports/economic-analysis/britain-needs-pay-rise/uk

The conclusion is that the current period of recession and reductions in wage levels is the longest since the early capitalist crisis of 1865-67 and even that lasted only two years. Admittedly it was followed, as Eric Hobsbawm’s timeline in Age of Capital underlines, by the first great depression from 1873 onwards.

That said what is presented here is economic history and there is more to history than economics.

The context of the 1865-7 crisis is an interesting one.

It was immediately before the foundation of the TUC itself, and it started just after the formation of the International Workingmen’s Association in 1864 which successfully raised the horizon of some English trade union leaders beyond a largely parochial level.

Karl Marx who had been drafted in to write the opening address of the International, in 1865 published a pamphlet, Wages, Prices and Profit.

If you haven’t read it, it remains freely available on the interweb and contains important arguments which relate directly to the TUC march on October 18th.

Marx had taken issue with a socialist follower of Robert Owen on the International, Weston, who had argued that trade unions could not have any impact on the level of wages and that even an attempt to do so was harmful. Weston had little support for his points but even so Marx took them and showed the importance of trade union agitation.

Weston thought, like Jeremy Hunt on the current NHS wages bill, that the amount of wages available in society was a fixed amount. Marx demonstrated that this was not so. Hence pay rises in real terms were a perfectly achievable aim within the existing system.

The pamphlet was no doubt a distraction from what Marx was meant to be doing in 1865 which was finishing Capital Volume One. This eventually appeared in 1867 and demonstrated, amongst other things, that the crisis of 1865-7 was not a one off event but something that was endemic to the structure of capitalism itself.

The crisis had a political impact too. Trade union organisation and agitation had revived in the years before 1865-7 and the wage falls of that period provided a focus on the need to change the world as it was. The First International was part of that as was the Reform League, a campaigning body of trade unionists and middle class radicals pushing for an extension of the vote and Parliamentary representation.

That led to the 1867 Reform Act which did indeed extend the Suffrage- a bit- but extended labour representation in Parliament hardly at all.

Even so the wider context of the 1865-7 crisis and the fall in wages that accompanied it is perhaps something worth discussing over a beverage after the TUC demonstration on October 18th

Articles

Haringey Needs a Pay Rise

In Uncategorized on October 13, 2014 by kmflett

Haringey Trades Union Council
Press Release 13th October

Contact Keith Flett 07803 167266; keith.flett@btinternet.com

HARINGEY NEEDS A PAY RISE

Haringey Trades Union Council has said that it expects a big Haringey turn-out for the TUC’s Britain Needs a Pay Rise protest in central London on Saturday 18th October.

Haringey has been hit hard by the Tory years in Government from 2010.
Council services have been slashed and jobs lost.

There has been little in the way of much-trumpeted private sector job creation to compensate. The new Sainsbury’s store at Northumberland Park in Tottenham employs over 300 people. However, Sainsburys do not pay the London Living Wage of £8.80 an hour that even Tory Mayor Boris Johnson thinks is essential.

Unemployment in Tottenham, although it has fallen, remains easily the highest in London. Plans for regeneration and investment after the 2011 riot have so far made too little difference. What the Haringey economy needs is a pay rise. That means:

 £8.80 an hour minimum for all workers across the Borough [Haringey Council already pays core staff this]
 More jobs created paying at least the London Living Wage
 An end to misguided Tory austerity cuts in the Borough which do nothing to help boost the economy.

Haringey TUC Secretary Keith Flett said, while the Government talks of economic recovery there hasn’t been much sign of it in Haringey.
True unemployment figures are down but there has been very little sign of a recovery in wage levels. Without that the economy of the Borough wont get the boost that is needed.

Workers in the NHS, FE at Tottenham College and the Civil Service are taking strike action this week in Haringey to underline the depth of feeling about what the TUC has identified as the longest period of falling pay since the mid-1860s

Articles

The Ambridge Socialist: Exclusive-new Bert Fry poem

In Uncategorized on October 12, 2014 by kmflett

The Ambridge Socialist

12th October CONTACT KEITH FLETT 07803 167266

The real Borsetshire Echo: 60 years of class struggle in Ambridge

Exclusive: new poem by Bert Fry

Bert Fry is back and has written a new poem for the Harvest Festival. The BBC however have refused to broadcast it. The Ambridge Socialist prints an exclusive extract below:

Arise ye workers and peasants from your slumbers
Arise ye prisoners of want
For reason in revolt now thunders
And at last ends the age of the Archers
Away with all your superstitions
Servile masses arise, arise
We’ll change henceforth the old traditions
And spurn the dust to win the prize.

Refrain:
So comrades, come rally
And the last fight let us face
The Internationale unites the human race.

Pat Archer is right

Pat Archer has had a robust discussion about Helen’s decision to give up working and stay home to look after Rob [and possibly Henry, if he lives]. Her point is that there were campaigns to allow women to work rather than have to stay at home. She has a point. Working, for all the exploitative downsides, brings a sense of purpose and a degree of financial independence

Difficult Times

Could it be a fallow year for the Ambridge Panto? We hope so. Lynda has found few takers it seems. As Jill has noted these are ‘difficult times’. They are indeed. There is a crisis of volunteering across society [Big or otherwise] because people are just too weighed down trying to get by. Yes, even in Ambridge.

In Other News

There has been social media discussion about the voting intentions of Ambridge residents. As the Ambridge Socialist recently reported South Borsetshire Tory MP Bufton Tufton has been considering defection to UKIP.

But who might he rely on for votes? The question is posed, would Eddie Grundy ever vote UKIP?

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