Sunday, 26 September 2010

Ed Milliband and the Trade Union Vote

Over at Liberal Democratic Voice there appears to be confusion regards the influence of the Trade Unions in electing Ed Milliband as Labour Party Leader. A very good rebuttal of this has been posted at Socialist Unity with an explanation that it was not a bloc vote.
Looking at the votes cast by the Trade Unions it can be clearly seen that there was a fairly low turnout amongst union members, an average of 11.14% of all those members that pay the political levy and thereby contribute to the finances of the Labour Party.
Obviously members of the three larger unions Unite, Unison and GMB have voted strongly for Ed but the big three all had below average turnouts which should have given the other unions especially USDAW and Community the opportunity to influence the vote in favour of their preferred candidate David Milliband.
Unfortunately for David the USDAW vote did not get off the ground with 15,202 votes cast out of over 350,000 ballot papers issued to their members.
There has also been some criticism of the procedure which allows Union members who pay the political levy being allowed to vote in this election despite the fact that the majority of them are not party members.
These people contribute freely to the levy and pay taxes in the UK and quite rightly are allowed a say in the leadership election of the party they help fund.
However as can be seen here Ed Milliband was consistently picking up 2nd preference votes from all three sections of the party including MPs, MEPs and Party members.
MPs and MEPs are allocated one third of the electoral college votes and because they are fewer in number than party members and members of affiliated organisations they have the greater influence on the vote.
Ed Milliband received 84 of those votes with his brother getting 111 from there Ed began to close the gap on 2nd preference votes to a deficit of 18 votes. This is where David Milliband lost the election with MPs and MEPs not giving him a clear enough majority and thereby allowing the Trade Union vote to decide the outcome.
In effect it was an electoral  system of The Alternative Vote, one that the Liberals wish to impose upon the public for General Elections, that gave Ed Milliband the leadership of the Labour Party and not the Trade Unions.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Unite GS Election Nominations

Total Nominations from Branches and Workplaces:

McCluskey 829
Bayliss 214
Hicks 137
Cartmail 97

Further Breakdown:

Branch Nominations:

McCluskey 692
Bayliss 117
Hicks 102
Cartmail 61

Workplace Nominations:

McCluskey 137
Baylisss 97
Cartmail 36
Hicks 35

Invalid Nominations:
Branches 165
Workplaces 83

Branch nominations appear with the ballot paper workplace nominations do not but they will be placed on the union website.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Unite GS Election and The Pubic Spending Cuts

A lot has been made of the recent press release by Les Bayliss on how to oppose the Public Spending cuts.
His use of the Murdoch press is quite rightly being heavily criticised by Trade Unionists as are his criticisms of the BA dispute.
Below is the statement by the leading candidate in the Unite GS election Len McCluskey hopefully decent minded members will spot the difference in approach to attacks on services, pay and pensions.

Len McCluskey Statement on Public Service Cuts

The Con-Dem Coalition's public spending cuts are an issue for ALL Unite members. Of course, our members in the public service sectors are in the front-line. They must be supported in fighting back against this assault on their jobs, pay and pensions.
But the cuts also impact across our union. The construction industry is already being hard hit. Manufacturing firms like Sheffield Forgemasters have had their future blighted by the withdrawal of government support. Transport will suffer from the cuts. Finance sector workers - including in state-owned banks - are paying the price for their bosses' blunders.

And all Unite members and their families will feel the pain of the government's economic policy in their communities as the cuts bite into vital services.

So I believe fighting back against the government must be top priority for Unite as a whole.

We must:
Back our members in the public services in taking industrial action to save jobs, pay and conditions.

Campaign politically to say working people should not pay for a crisis caused in the City, and that the situation shows we were right to warn against reliance on free-market policies.

Support initiatives to unite unions with community groups fighting against the cuts and for social justice. Let's connect with our communities!

Put fighting for jobs at the top of our agenda across sectors, and demand that the government stops redundancies at state-controlled banks, and use those banks to support jobs employment throughout the economy.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Effective Opposition is Required

Yesterday the TUC passed a composite motion calling for co-ordinated industrial action to oppose the expected cuts in public services whilst building alliances with communities and charities.
Speaking on the public services motion at TUC conference, Dave Prentis, Unison General Secretary

“Today we face our greatest test for a generation. Our economy still on life support. The blight of unemployment scarring lives, wearing down communities. The Government are hoping no one will notice banks are posting record profits, bankers back to their bonuses. Hoping no one will notice the income, of the top 1 per cent of our society. Now greater than the total pay bill for our NHS, schools, and local government put together"
“Hoping no one will notice the amount we lose every year in tax evasion, and avoidance by big corporations. More than enough to wipe out the deficit at a stroke"
“A society in which some backers of the Tory party, pay less in tax than a cleaner in a hospital"
Congress made a commitment to work with local organisations in opposing cuts that will hit hard upon the most vulnerable in our society yet leave the rich unscathed. Delegates supported the call for strikes to protect the elderly and the poor who will be the ones who are made to pay for the crisis caused by the greed of the bankers.
This flies in the face of the right wing candidate in the Unite GS election who stated in an article in the Murdoch Press on Sunday that strikes would be a return to 80s militant lunacy and that strikes should not be called during Christmas.
This statement follows his recent claim that Steelmaking on Teesside was saved due to negotiation and not reverting to militancy. As can be seen here this is evidently wrong and shows Bayliss is out of touch when it comes to dealing with industrial issues.

Len McCluskey the leading candidate for the unite GS position has a different view on how to deal with the spending cuts. One that recognises the need for fighting back and not rolling over to have our tummies tickled.
Tony Woodley Unite JGS sees the need to get an alternative message across so that a broad based campaign can be launched in every town and city across the UK.
The vulnerable in our society need the support and protection of the whole labour movement with the use of strike action if needed.

Tonight both myself and another Unite rep will be meeting with reps of other unions to discuss ways that we can oppose the cuts in Scunthorpe and we will be taking the message that we will support any legal means necessary to protect those at risk, even during Christmas.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

School Days

Just like the vast majority of kids who are brought up in a northern Steeltown I went to a Comprehensive.
Thomas Sumpter Comprehensive to be exact, and this post has been inspired by watching my old school being demolished and a new building thrown up in its place and is being granted academy status.
I can see all of this from my back bedroom window with the new building being erected on the rugby pitch where I scored my one and only try.
Being a person approaching 50 my thoughts begin to concentrate upon my days there especially the Physical Education sessions.
We had two PE teachers, one of them would instruct the pupils in the usual activities such as football, rugby and basketball but the other was a big cruel sadistic brute who took great delight in humiliating children for the slightest mistake or even their appearance.
He was called Mr. Bateman but would be referred to by everyone as Batman. He had several descriptive words  for the ones he tormented, cretin, half-wit and moron being among his favourites. His lessons usually consisted of a three mile road run around the streets surrounding the school followed by circuit training in the gym. It was in the gym that he would be in his most   sadistic mood. Picking on those he knew could not perform the exercises he had devised. If he thought anyone was being lazy he would hit them with the metal end of the climbing rope or make them run the gauntlet of a row of the other pupils who were ordered to slap his object of fun on the backside. He would twist the skin of any pupil he considered to be overweight making them cry out in anguish. I remember one pupil being made to run around the gym for thirty minutes in his underwear because he had forgotten his white gym kit and at the end of the lesson he received the gym slipper as his punishment.
Despite the fact that I could complete his exercises he singled me out for special attention due to his experience of teaching my two older brothers both of whom rebelled against him.
I would be made to perform extra duties in an attempt to make me fail.
Occasionally he would inspect our gym shoes to see if we had whitened them the night before and if he was satisfied with our appearance we would be given the reward of a boxing lesson. Pupils of a similar size would beat each other in a makeshift ring for two minutes. He would pit me against the bigger ones in the class hoping I would take a beating but I always managed to come out of it unscathed. This eventually led to me fighting him and I did what any boy of fifteen would do against a grown man in middle age. I dodged his punches whilst landing a couple of my own upon him but his quick jabs soon had me against the ropes where he pressed against me not allowing me to move. I came out of it slightly the worse for wear and a little punch drunk. Afterwards he offered to train me with a view to take up amateur boxing but I flatly refused.
Maybe I should have taken him up on his offer because a few months later I turned up for my first job interview sporting a black eye. Needless to say I was not offered the job.
Some pupils like my eldest brother would have the misfortune of being in his Mathematics class. His style of teaching was not designed to educate his charges. They would be made to copy out endless sheets of sums which did not progress beyond addition and subtraction and if any pupil made an error he would make the whole class copy out the exercise again.
Certainly not the type of education that would prepare anyone for the big wide world awaiting them.
There were many stories circulated to explain his style the favourite being that he had spent time in a Japanese Prisoner of War Camp but no one really knew his past.
I can't remember the year but it was in the 90s that I read his obituary in our local paper. He had left an estate worth £250,000 to no one. He had no family and no friends now why was I not surprised.
So Mr. Frank Bateman just in case you are looking down or more likely observing from a deep dark corner in the nether regions of Hades this is for you.


Thursday, 2 September 2010

Even Beckam Can Understand This

Apparently if you calculate this:
(s) = 0 +1S [es/L −1]

You can achieve this: