Just as we turn into animals when we go up to the line, because that is the only thing which brings us through safely, so we turn into wags and loafers when we are resting. We can do nothing else, it is a sheer necessity. We want to live at any price; so we cannot burden ourselves with feelings which, though they might be ornamental enough in peacetime, would be out of place here.
All Quiet on the Western Front
…and as the autumn leaves fall on the dug-outs we make the most of the lull that has hovered over the trenches for the best part of the summer apart from the bitter dispute at the National Gallery which ended with the reinstatement of senior rep CANDY UDWIN in October.
We very rarely have anything to crow about these days but this clearly was a victory if only for the fact that it was the first time PCS has actually won the reinstatement of a dismissed rep. CANDY, a veteran union and SWP activist, was sacked in January for “breaching commercial confidentiality” during the struggle to halt the privatisation of the Gallery’s visitor services staff. Protest walk-outs culminating in an indefinite all-out strike eventually made Management see reason and though the union failed to win on the substantial issue of privatisation, the gallery and the new contractors have accepted union recognition and the London “living wage” as part of the settlement.
Not so much victory perhaps but undoubtedly a “good draw” almost certainly down to a number of factors not least the fact that the indefinite strike was solidly supported by the membership at the gallery. It was, of course, a very high-profile dispute at a national icon in the heart of the capital. UDWIN could count on support that went far beyond the ranks of her diminishing band of SOCIALIST WANKERS to include art lovers, passing tourists and the rest of the labour movement that had closed ranks behind the campaign.
Even the soon-to-be Labour leader, JEREMY CORBYN, took time off from his own campaign trail to support the pickets and speak at a PCS lunchtime rally outside the Trafalgar Square landmark in London. Whether CORBYN’S intervention really was the tipping point, as some of his eager young followers claim, is debatable. But there can be no doubt JEZZA is going to play an important part in PCS’s future as Labour’s leader and perhaps as Prime Minister in the future.
But this poses a number of problems for our leaders and all the factions within the DEMOCRACY ALLIANCE. The first is the question of the union’s stance towards the new CORBYN leadership and the Labour Party as a whole. On the one hand JEREMY is an outspoken defender of the public sector and his right-hand man, JOHN McDONNELL, is PCS’s chosen man in the House of Commons. On the other, barely half the leading lights of the DEMOCRACY ALLIANCE are actually members of the Labour Party and many of the others in LEFT UNITY, the dominant trend within the BIG TENT, were until recently, actively opposed to the party.
“If Jeremy Corbyn wins, that would change everything … We wouldn’t rush into affiliating but would want to work very closely to develop policy together – and if that goes well then let’s see where we end up,” MARK SERWOTKA told the Financial Times after Corbyn’s leadership bid was announced.
Our great and glorious leader, who left Labour in 1980, publicly supported JEREMY CORBYN’S leadership election campaign and became one of the tens of thousands of £3.00 Labour supporters that helped sweep CORBYN to the helm in September.
In the end MAREK’S vote was rejected, a victim of the bizarre purge that barred several thousand from voting in Labour leadership contest on the grounds that they did not share “Labour’s values” - perhaps because of our great and glorious leader’s previous support for a number of Trotskyist movements openly hostile to Labour or simply because he denounced GORDON BROWN’S Labour government in April 2010 as the worst government ever in the way it treated public sector workers.
Sadly, none of this has dampened speculation that an affiliation motion for next year’s ADC is imminent amongst the dregs of the old right-wing within the union and a number of mainstream labour movement correspondents who clearly should know better.
Former 4TM National Secretary HOWARD FULLER, who resigned to join PROSPECT in January, says: “During Jeremy Corbyn's election campaign for leadership of the Labour Party the PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka went on record as saying he would affiliate his union to Labour if Corbyn won”. Whether FULLERSHIT is right, and his rants on his ghastly blog rarely are, is irrelevant because whatever SERWOTKA might say affiliation is a gift that only Conference can give. Under current rules PCS cannot affiliate to any political party. Para C4 (Appendix) of the constitution states: “No payments shall be made from the [political] fund in respect of the affiliation by the union to any political party”.
Some unions are indeed returning to the fold. The FIRE BRIGADES UNION is certainly going to consider returning to Labour next year and a similar proposal from the mighty RMT is also on the cards. But PCS has never been a Labour affiliate and its predecessors were forced to disaffiliate by anti-union legislation passed after the 1926 General Strike.
Some CPSA general secretaries were open supporters of Labour, most notably BARRY REAMSBOTTOM, who publicly called for a Labour vote at election time in the union rag. But none of them were prepared to tackle the thorny issue of re-affiliation, largely because their own constituencies, both right and left, were largely opposed to directly affiliating to a party that could be, and was in the 1970s and during the BLAIR era, the direct employer of most of their members.
Apart from the COMMISSARS, who count for little in PCS, the only consistent argument for affiliation has come from Labour stalwarts in the high-caste PCS DEMOCRATS within the BIG TENT and some of the old 4TM crowd. They believed that affiliation would strengthen their hand and curb the influence of the dominant TROTSKYIST sects in PCS. Whether they will be so eager now that the CORBYNISTAS are at the helm is another matter…
In any case the SOCIALIST PARTY, which effectively runs LEFT UNITY and consequently dominates the BIG TENT, is still wedded to the dream of building a “new workers’ party” as an alternative electoral platform to Labour. Though some of their rank-and-file have been swept along by CORBYNMANIA and are now questioning SP dogma, the internal debate has only just begun.
It’s an ill-wind that blows nobody any good and that’s certainly true of LORD FALCONER, the former Blairite, JEZZA has chosen as his new Shadow Justice Secretary. The Scottish peer is believed to be a friend of RAMSBLADDER, who has plenty of spare time on his hands these days.
So has MICHAEL McCANN, another of BARRY’S old JOCKOCRACY who was turfed out of his Scottish seat along with virtually all the other Labour MPs north of the border at the last general election. Still, he probably won’t starve. According to the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) the former Labour MP was among the top 20 most expensive MPs in the Westminster parliament claiming over £194,000 in the last year of tenure as MP for East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow. To be fair most of it went on staff, including McCANN’s wife, TRACY, who was employed as his office manager and a number of ne’er do wells from our own ranks including JIM HANSON and GORDON PATERSON.
GORDY the GOPHER, who was the IT supremo at FALCONCREST in the BARRY era, cut up his Labour Party card when he heard that JEZZA had won and posted the picture on Facebook. He’s now possibly sniffing around the SNP for a new master, although merely cutting up your card is meaningless unless you send in a letter of resignation. JIM, on the other hand, is scouring the House of Commons hoping to find another MP who shares his interests in gambling and drinking …
General Secretary of the Civil Service Pensioners Association (CSPA) and Chelsea FC season-ticket holder MICKY DUGGAN is also vehemently anti-Corbyn. The Labour Party member has not had a hissy fit like THE GOPHER, but does spend considerable time and effort re-posting on social media anti-Corbyn propaganda scoured from the national press.
Back at Falconcrest the uncertainty about the future of the premises has encouraged more of the admin staff to jump ship despite the fact that there is currently no serious buyer for the property on the horizon. Rumours of that £30 million plus offer for the land were just that, rumours, and at the moment the property developers, including dreaded Chinese speculators, have their greedy eyes on other parts of Wandsworth and anything going around the new US Embassy quarter in Nine Elms. Crossrail 2 is cited as a reason as due to its proximity to Clapham Junction, Falconcrest land could be compulsorily purchased, even though Crossrail 2 is still a twinkle in architects’ rheumy eyes. If planning permission were to be granted tomorrow, the first trains wouldn’t run until the early to mid 30’s.
Incidentally, what’s this we hear about the 2016 ADC being scheduled for Monday to Wednesday lunchtime. No Group Conferences, or are they to take place on the weekend? If the latter, there may be serious accommodation difficulties as it’s in the middle of Brighton’s festival month, very popular at weekends. If the former, we shudder to think of the reps’ reactions.
Be careful who you call your friends. I’d rather have four quarters than one hundred pennies.
1899 -- 1947