How much is it fair to charge for the expense of using a parents'
house in London as a base near work?
How often did the MP sleep there?
What rules and evidence exist from the time?
That's a question that a lot of us have come-up against in different
versions, on the right side or the wrong side, winning or loosing,
inspector or inspected. Like whether I have breached conditions
of bail at a bail hostel in a significant way, whether I am actively
seeking work while claiming benefit, whether my muddled accounting
justifies a VAT or income tax return, or whether I was a double
agent russian spy for much of my brilliant career at MI5. We
have all been in these situations, on one side or the other,
and talking about "attitude" is the worse thing
that anyone can do to collect fair evidence for a decision: talking
about "attitude" is wrong and emotive. Some
of us had school teachers or parents or bosses who talked about
"attitude", sometimes while we are vulnerable
and would prefer justice; to talk about "attitude"
is to say "I am an emotional cripple, not just, and have
no idea how this sounds to others".
How is it reaonable for MPs journalists and the public to talk
about someone who might have been the MP who was an arrogant
dishonest shit on one TV documentary about fiddled expenses?
- I don't remember if it was this one. So discussing detail is
important. This might be the person who has already been exposed
as unemployable and unelectable, but somehow has a safe seat
and the support of the bosses.
Reasonable, I think, to report confirmed detail and compare with
the other situations that us constuents have been in. Compared
to making a tax return or a dispute with a bail hostel or a benefits
agency ruling or the teacher who seemed to represent all that
was wrong with the world and an obstical to life experience at
age 16. Or being the tax official or hostel worker or benefits
agency worker or teacher of teenagers. Reasonable to report the
details in those terms. What would a constituent do? Shouldn't
the rule be the same? Obviously yes.
- So: MPs and the people who make a living reporting MPs are
digging themselves into a pit for spitting-at, if that makes
sense. MPs will lament how the actions of one minister continue
the trend of non-MPs becoming know-alls who are cynical about
the whole process, but they contribute to the process, as do
the journalists who surround them.
MPs, journalists, and editors need to concentrate on the small
print of each case.
MPs, journalists and editors need to avoid the argy-bargy team
sport of whether someone can be accused of "attitude"
or "full support" or "disrepute"
or "resigning to clear her name and spend more time with
her family". These are all codes for nothing-much, and
discussion of an alien nothing-muchness team sport brings-out
the worst and most cynical in electors like me. A program or
an article about what other people would have done - whether
it's Paul Flowers or a passer-by in the street - would be much
more fun to watch.
Trying to comment on TheNews.Coop
I discovered that my email address was already in use; I could
Trying to recover my username and password I discovered that
my email address was unknown; not in use.
Anyway, if you are interested enough in the Co-Operative Group
to want to find out if John Lewis bigwigs have said anything
about them, you find these "thenews.coop" pages where
nobody has commented and I discover that I am not allowed to
I googled these pages to see if there was a comment by Andy
Street of John Lewis about The Co-Operative Group. None. I notice
that nobody else has commented on the few thenews.coop pages
that I've read, and that some have robotic "commented ....
added ... commented ... said" lines in them to suggest being
thrown-together in a PR office.
Personally, I think staff co-ops are a good way fo running
big organisations and consumer co-ops can be good for specialist
organisations where the customers have a reason to be loyal,
like a village pub or a football club.
That's it! If anyone is interested I am a co-op bank customer,
a watitrose customer, and have never been on the staff of any
The Guardian's previous
article on the same subject had quotes about "happy
chickens"; "I want chickens to be happy", said
Lord Myers, but not to have someone on the board table spending
dis-proportionate time on the subject. At the same time, the
are likely to loose customers and warm-fuzzy-feeleing because
of a decision to ignore one of the interests that's represented
among enthusiasts on the non-executive board.
By the way there is a great headline on one of the Guardian pages:
Group Pays Official £2,000 a day to examine why it is in
debt". Obviously it is in debt for three reasons:
- It can't sell voting shares (and has defaulted on bonds),
so, like John Lewis, it relies more on borrowing than other big
firms, often linked to property deals and so hard to un-ravel
- It makes grandiose take-over bids and then
- It looses the customers gained and has "now lost all
the customers gained by taking-over Summerfield", according
to Lord Myners, so that the take-over doesn't pay for itself.
That makes the debt, which would look big anyway, look very big.
The headline might say more than the article. If the group
used minimum paid executives for five years and took no expensive
decisions, how much would it save as a proportion of the debt?
I am such a clever boy. After writing something rude about the
co-op a few years ago...
...now, everybody acknowledges that the Co-Op, with its heritage
spanning-back ten years or so to a group of vein MPs who used
the word "modernise", doesn't make sense and
is hard to work in. If your are the boss, you have to manipulate
the non-executive directors who think they run the place, by
appointing ones who are very polite and always try to say the
right thing about governance like Rev. Flowers.
Meanwhile there are no non-executive directors who tell you to
concentrate on groceries and what keeps people buying their washing
powder at your shop rather than another shop; they are all people
who would rather talk about anything else but groceries, funeral
care, chemists and farms. A bit like when I worked for a voluntary
sector social work agency paid by government to run community
alcohol services, with managers and directors who would talk
about anything but the A-word, whether about training or selecting
the right staff or measuring performance, until people on the
board of trustees who might come from a narrow background and
not know how the thing worked decided to start sacking the lot
of them, including me in a way, all the way down the management
There is some subtle point to make about the relationship between
trustees / governers / non-executive directors and directors,
but I don't yet know what it is, despite being a clever boy who
has been rude before other people were rude. Two articles recently
show that the Co-Op has lost its Compassion in World Farming
badge for happy chickens by giving them less space, while a comentator
is reported in the Guardian as saying how badly it is run because
people on vital board meetings talk about this. They are right
to do so but wrong not to be good at running supermarkets undertakers
chemists and farms (although one of them is a farmer apparently).
The dragon comentator is right to be interested in mainstream
corporate management but wrong to loose customers by loosing
a badge about happy chickens. There is some subtle point to make
about how big business needs a betters supply of applicants who
are good at happy chickens and good at getting repeat customers
at supermarkets, but I don't quite know what that subtle point
is the url of some people who turn-up in search results for this
site. It's a new union of a few dozen people based in Derby who
pay £5 a month, according to accounts
at the certification office.
Just felt the need to blog in ignorance about the late Bob Crow.
He appeared on Have I Got News For You and mentioned that
he had something in common with people from the other end of
the political spectrum, because they were both working class
and realised that the welfare state is what's important. So the
idea of him being at one end of a political spectrum seems an
idea imposed by others. As for getting a good deal for his members
at nearly all costs, he did it; members wanted it. When I told
a taxi driver that I'd been ripped-off by a trades union that
refused to represent me (or did but was worse than useless) on
a reasonable adjustment to disabilty case, the taxi driver said
that the RMT did a good job for their members. When I googled
the cheapskate cashback solicitor Edwardes Duthie, I found a
page saying that RMT had sacked them and apologised for bad service,
signed Bob Crowe.
Just felt no need to blog about the Police Federation and the
way it provides a social group for the odd one or two people
who get carried away on the pleb thing, rather than being as
democratic and transparent as modern technology allows, and doing
what members want. Hopefully not getting police constables to
be above the law and get £50,000 a year, but at least to
be transparent and democratic. I know nothing about the detail
so shall stop typing.
- Co-operative group survey on what it should do.
...includes a comments section under the article
Oh I've just seen that Handelsbanken is quoted as an employee-owned
bank on this
page or employeeownership.co.uk.
I didn't know there was one. Its website mentions shareholders.
So I am still in the dark - are they employee shareholders? -
or non voting? - or minority?
Scotland and the sterling area. A speech by an ex BBC economist
makes out that England is not better-off without Scotland, but
that there is a problem about who pays for Northern Ireland and
the North East if they get any worse. The chances of North-eastern
manufacturing doing badly under a long period of Conservative
government are high.
Why can't Scotland share the subsidy to Northern Ireland, at
The bit I mentioned is near the start.
So many things in the world I do not know about...
"Independent review for BIS, by Graeme Nuttall, on employee
ownership. Explains the obstacles to promoting employee owned
companies, and sets out a framework for knocking them down. Makes
recommendations to government on how to promote employee ownership.
If I understand right, Brittania will cease to be a brand and
has ceased to be a separate organisation.
That leaves an opportunity to set-up some kind of specialised
building society with the purpose of flogging it off.
I don't know how you sell-out to a not-yet formed group of members,
so that may be an insolvable problem; maybe it's possible to
sell to bondholders or to voting shareholders with some kind
of legal set-up to say that they have to sell-out over time to
their staff or customers. Maybe co-op staff and costomers can
be polled to find out if any see a gap in the market that they
would like to fill.
Brittania is a well-known name; there are dozen or so others
names on Brittania's
wikipedia page, with opportunities to specialise by area
as before or niche market, or to set-up a low-cost online society
with no branches, or combinations of the two.
The Observer reports a firm of management consultants advising
schools and councils to clear money out of Co-Op business accounts.
I'm still trying to work this out. Co-op group claims to have
found enough vulture capitalists to buy 70% of the bank, and
thinks it can sell Co-Operative Insurance Services to raise a
bit more cash. Meanwhile at the last accounts, Co-Op Bank including
Brittania had assets of 47 bungles and the predicted hole was
only 1.5 bungles.
The hole is caused by
(a) claims for mis-sold payment protection insurance which Reverend
Flowers never asked about
(b) new government requirements to keep more money in the till
effecting all banks. Co-op would have passed except-for
(c) skeleton debts found in the cupboard at Brittania. Mis-sold
buy-to-let mortgages were known about, but not loans from a commercial
department that Brittania bad. Nobody knows what loans these
are; they're said to be a handfull of large ones.
The 1.5 bungle hole is to be filled by
(a) selling-out & flogging-off as above
(b) lending no new big formal loans; reducing card limits, waiting
for lent-out money to come back-in. I didn't watch the full Project
Verde videos on the parliament channel or the members' meeting
video at all; I don't know if Brittania is still lending for
(c) paying no interest
(d) reducing staff - where offices & branches of Co-Op and
Brittania are in the same place or do the same thing. Reducing
the ratio of branches to customers.
My hunch is that this is more than enough to fill a 1.5 bungle
gap from assets worth 47 bungles from the odd scraps of video
I've seen, and retail customers seem happy to hang-on to their
accounts too. That leaves small business acounts, often aquired
via a special offer to Federation of Small Business members or
free banking and a £25 bonus for paying FSB membership
starting at £120. FSB now encourages business to go to
P2P lenders like Rebuilding Society and Thincats rather than
banks, and savers should do the same.
As for larger account holders, there is still £85,000
protected for these organisations which is probably enough
to protect a school's account.
If an organisation has more than £85,000 in the bank, why
aren't they lending it on Thincats, Rebuildingsociety and the
rest anyway, rather than leave it sitting there?
This 10-year-old idea of finding non-executive directors from
amongst a few activists and paying them more than a lot of executives
sounds wierd. I've lost my co-operative membership card but saw
it around recently and hope to become an activist soon in hope
of promotion. Meanwhile googles of co-op events reveal a lot
of people from another side of politics being rude. Why? One
headline, that I did not click on, from Conservative Home suggested
that Co-Operative members ought to be balloted on their donation
to the Co-operative Party (or Labour Party: the distinction is
unclear - it's not much in favour of worker co-operatives). A
fair point, but can I vote on my donation from Fidelity Worldwide
Investment going to the Conservative Party? I seem to be donating
to both. I know that companies like Fidelity are usually bogus
shareholder co-ops with the voting rights in practice resting
with a few fund managers, the ebbs and flows of the stock market,
and a self-perpetuating management. As an invester in tracker
funds and a small pension I probably ought to have voting rights
in this Fidelity donation to the Conservative Party and my vote
is for both financial institutions to give less until the parties
share their pollsters, cut their poster adverts, and come clean
about where the rest of their money is spent so that it can be
cut or spent from some shared public sector institution.
As for big merged consumer co-operatives and big merged shareholder
PLCs, I wish I knew how more of them could become staff-owned
and raise money with non-voting shares if needed.
Reverend Flowers is not in the same video as Mr Tootle, who does
a great job of saying that the bank was being asked for more
cash in the till by regulators and more cash to cover bad debts
by the Brittania, so it pulled out of a rather audacious bid
for surplus Lloyds branches. He does really well. I'd employ
him to run a bank. The MPs are odd - like children in some documentary
about a difficult school, but worse. They can't sit still, some
of them, without playing with their mobiles or going to the loo,
luckilly not on screen. The one on the chairman's right makes
himself out as a master of rudeness and accuses Mr Tootle of
smirking, but when the chair shuts him up and gets a proper reply
this MP is playing with his mobile again. Silly man. I hope to
work-out which MP he is.
of Co-op executives, including the Reverend Paul Flowers, giving
evidence in parliament. Apparently he thought the assets
were £30 bn instead of £47bn
If I ran the Co-Op bank, I would introduce this new account option:
shared money would be a good name for it.
The option would allow an account holder to show the detail,
line by line, to any member of a group on the net. A spouse.
A tax collector. A member, shareholder, partner, co-operator:
anything like that. Within the account I would add the chance
of categorising each line as Barclays does, so that any onlooker
could see how much is spent line my line and category by category.
Co-Op doesn't have teh money for bespoke software, but there
are several writers of applications that read bank account data
and maybe one or two of these could be re-badged and incorporated
into the existing set-up (also allowing download of account data
but that is another thing).
So all the clubs and societies and branches of unions and
parties can have a good reason for keeping their Co-Op account:
it makes them accountable and saves work for the treasurer.
About the Co-op bank. I was going to link to a video of one of
the finance brokers that finds borrowers on Justin.tv/thincats
It's a site done by some very lean cats - very slow and full
of ads - but http://www.justin.tv/thincats/b/477510807
seems to be the one.
Anyway, he said he was an ex bank manager who was now allowed
to try and understand the business as well as just the numbers,
as he'd been forced to do at Nat West. He made a point of visiting
each client, deciding whether he could do business with the individual
if the firm went bust, and paying a receiver to work out what
capital was available if the business did go bust. During the
loan he would keep in touch with the borrower about once a year
and monitor through credit reference agencies. Hopefully he lends
to sensibly because he's visited the site and checked all he
can. Then if a borrower does go bust - he quoted a roof rack
manufacturer in Birmingham - it does so in an organised way because
he's able to work with the debtors and they're thinking about
their personal guaruntees. Everyone is as happy as circumstances
Anyway, if I were the Co-op, and had read the news about bank
executives asking for multi-million pound payments to run
the larger banks, and had no
money to lend anyway (whatever the ethical policy) and no
money to run 50 of the branches, I would try to think of
ways to economise.
I would try to find the best business finance brokers and offer
them vacant office space in Co-Op branches, because banks are
where customers traditionally seek business loan. Not an obscure
P2P lending site or a broker with a stall at a Business Finance
trade show. With luck, some of these brokers could take-on Co-Op
managers to save redundancy pay.
If I could find a way of linking a Co-Op savings product with
the performance of P2P loans, that would be good as well, because
savers, like borrowers, traditionally check what their bank can
offer. So I would be directing savers and borrowers towards the
same sites, using finance brokers that I don't have to pay, and
I wouldn't be making any money out of it but it's still better
than loosing money.
I suppose I would try to turn the retail banking part of the
business into a staff co-op like John Lewis. None such exists.
How to get to that point from a 30% controlling stake in an obscure
de-listed PLC is above my head: maybe there is a way.
That leaves another problem: what is a bank branch for? If they
don't have a purpose, maybe they can be converted into hot-desking
places - somewhere like a reference library with a coffee machine
where people can rent somewhere to work. What to do about the
customers who still come-in wanting to cash a cheque is a problem.
If every customer were allowed free time on a mobile contract
run by Samba Mobile or Ovivo or such, and offered a smart phone,
then maybe the withdrawal of bank counter services could be a
virtue rather than a vice but I don't quite see it.
I have posted a version of this on http://saveourbank.coop
, where the forum
mentions other mutual banks and one or two calls to action.
At what point did the Co-op cease to be a co-op? Probably when
television became more attractive than going to meetings, as
the note about the co-ops subsidy for user groups among its members
shows. I have not read about the rights and wrongs of what one
user group did, but notice that the cause overlaps with what
users of a similar system in the old Transport and General Workers'
Moving-on to the mainstream, it's easy to sound well-informed
when you hope to hear a bit of news, there's some news coverage,
and your hoped-for bit is not reported. That is why I can sound
expert, because the Co-Op bank re-structuring, the Grangemouth
oil refinary management, and the means of raising money for new
nuclear power plants are all missed opportunities for staff ownership.
shows Grangemouth's owner to be more intersted in union-bashing
than refining oil. They might to go and do union-bashing somewhere
else and leave refinery the size of a town for the highest bidder.
It is making a loss. Current staff might be the only people who
can take the refinery over, and be sure of running it at a long-term
profit because a staff-owned refinery would be trusted to raise
wages again if possible, after emergency pay cuts. A shareholder-owned
company has to ask for an unlikely amount of trust when asking
for pay cuts: it has to say "trust our figures and analysis;
trust us to cut your wages, and trust us not to pay shareholders
and senior staff if there is ever money available again".
Sadly, nobody has suggested a staff-owned management company
and nobody has built-up towards one over time. Not even Unite.
- George Osborne's background is in de-industrialisation. That
is what his hero in politics was good at.
He is reported as saying that UK perception of China as a sweatshop
should be changed, and how helpful it is to have Chinese investment
in UK airports. This is worrying. If I remember, airports had
to be sold quickly because BAA was ruled to be a monopoly. Airports,
like oil refineries, are large things to buy and sell; a sudden
demand for capital can lead to international deals and ministers
popping-up in odd places. If I remember right, nobody at BAA
put-together an offer to make any of their airports into a staff-owned
mutual, raising money in the traditional way which is to find
people willing to forego current earnings in hope of a slightly
better deal later-on. That is how a market stall is funded; that
is how people buy most large domestic appliances, I guess, with
finance deals coming second. But slightly larger appliances like
oil refinaries and airports have to be sold to corporations based
a long way away, who are told that they are buying them as a
favour. That way, there are fewer bidders and business people
about when the next airport is on the market; capital gets hard
Oh, Unite is a commonly used union among airport staff.
- Co-Op business bank managers are redundant soon while their
plc employer turns-out no-longer to be controlled by a consumer
co-op, as described in the cifwatch link above. The bank is majority-owned
by US venture capitalists and managed by a new Co-op boss who
has ceased all business lending, so, whichever big boss makes
the decisions, the business bank managers at Co-op bank branches
are unlikely to be in post for long. It's a bit late now, but
if their co-op had been a proper co-op run by the staff, would
they have merged with Brittania and risked their jobs on dodgy
mortgage selling that had been reported on Panorama? I
guess not. Their union is Unite.
I hope some of them put their money into P2P
finance sites (which are Wordpress with and Ebay-like plug-in
I guess, if you want to set one up) and find new jobs as finance
brokers, putting deals together for the same sites like https://www.rebuildingsociety.com/introducers/
- PS I have just remembered that my personal bank account
is with Co-Op's Smile Bank
service; I joined
the Co-Op. Who would have thought it? I haven't heard anything
from them about the future of the bank - maybe I opted-out of
rather sickley member mail as there is some
kind of video message online here.
So here is my customer review among
It works. You can log-on via e-wise and services like that, or
directly. One years' statements are kept free online
Account details can't be downloaded without obscure work-arounds
that other people have invented a a favour to cusomers; maybe
you can cut-and-paste. Co-op was slow to make and take BACS payments;
I think it might just be quickening now. Online reviews state
that they are not lending, which is embarassing if you expect
a credit limit and don't check often. There is zero interest
paid, which saves insult, and the best telephone contact is via
the lost-card line which can put you through to others. You can
pay money in via rare branches, post office counters using a
special envelope, and Brittania branches. Not a bad free bank
account if you don't want to use it for much - just like the
rest of them but with a more interesting history.
Brittania counter staff
have a slower system for taking a cheque than the ones at Santander,
who just run a cheque through a reader, type-in the destination
account and amount, then ask "do you want a receipt?".
Brittania use a system of quill-pen ledgers and tally-sticks
which are balanced every night by candle light. There used to
be a mortgage discount for Unison members.
The phone co-op
is a much more recently formed company that shares branding and
membership discounts. I have an 0800 number with them that has
no standing charge; this is unusual. Staff seem very highly skilled.
I get annual invites to an annual general meeting in Chipping
Norton, Oxfordshire, or you can dial-op over the phone in
some way apparently.
Co-op legal services still offer free "initial advice"
by phone to any co-op member, and membership is free. Worth reading
the comments under this article before taking them too seriously
though: apparently the paid services they like to refer-to aren't
cheapest or best.
The current government have more-or-less ruled-out access to
justice via employment tribunals by charging a lot to use a court.
If this happened to people who call the police (which are free)
or magistrates courts (which cost £80 last time I looked),
people would think it unjust. But something about how employment
disputes are seen rules-out an outcry. Often the ministers making
decisions have never had a normal job, which might be the problem.
"for lawyers ... there will be a one-off registration
fee of £25; a 2.5% charge based on the quote provided by
the lawyer, with a minimum charge of £5; and fixed fees
of £25 and £99 for conveyancing matters and no
win, no fee cases respectively. There will be no charges
for legally aided matters as part of the sites corporate
It's not obvious whether Mr
Lawyer's and Mrs Lawyer's referral system can help more than
it hinders in employment cases, because the cost of the work,
compared to the small win, makes employment law barely economic.
Any economy helps. On the other hand, a service like Mr Lawyer
puts a client
in touch with a willing lawyer for the right speciality for
free. This may be a lawyer with low overheads, saving time and
effort on both sides.
is worth checking alongside, from a client's point of view, because
it makes no charge to lawyers. On the other hand it is less easily
edited by them; it doesn't allow them to cancel their link in
August, nor to say much about their fees within a speciality.
It does say whether a firm offers fixed-fee first interviews,
and whether they specialise in employment law.
I don't know if this is important or not. The "Transparency
of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration
Bill" has various parliamentary stages ahead of it.
One problem is that the only way to catch an un-subtle MP will
be removed. In the past, you or I could pose as a new lobbying
company and offer money on video to MPs that had been turned-down
by the main lobby groups, because they were a bit desparate and
un-subtle as viewers see on the video. If there is a register,
these MPs will learn to be as subtle as their colleagues. They
will check the register. There will be no way of catching them
out as a (pretend) inexperienced lobbyist talks to an inexperienced
MP on video.
I do know, even before reading the bill, that it will say
nothing about transparency for ordinary members who sign-up for
something like the AA and get something like Hezbullah,
or Hammas, or Hummus,
or whatever it is called, or more likely just an empty office
block and a stream of junk mail about discount pet insurance
rather than help at work.
Talking of which, you can mash chick peas with a little peanut
butter to get slighly cheaper hummus than the ready-mixed tubs
in supermarkets, but so far my recipe does not taste so good.
Consulting once employed another Mr
Purnell, later an MP, who had the job of allocating £5m
a year of higher education funding money to
Chinese factories that might want to make things for UK businesses
and designers. The scheme, called Creative Capital World
Cities and then Creative Connexions worked alongside funding
from the Euroepan Regional Development Fund for regional development
Chinese factories that might want to make things for UK
businesses and designers - typically fashion designers at London
Fashion Week. You can read more about the first scheme here.
You can read about Mr James Purnell's £295,000 a year next
16% of MPs have a consultancy background according to Medano
Just googled some of the people in the Trades Union Reform Campaign.
I don't know what to make of their CVs, except that they are
similar strange and worrying. I thought that successful management
consultants were people retired from senior jobs and paid for
that reason, but I was wrong. Take this one who worked for Accenture
and later Hedra/Mouchel
"After leaving Oxford, I worked as a Researcher for
Philip Hammond MP before joining an international firm of Management
Consultants, where I specialised in projects designed to improve
the Criminal Justice System. I helped to deliver a large number
of projects, working closely with government departments such
as the Home Office, Cabinet Office and the Department of Health,
as well as the NHS. I also did a lot of work with Police Forces,
helping them to become more efficient and effective,"
Just googled a reference to Jane
Pilgrim, UNISON organiser paid £40,000 by St Georges
Healthcare NHS Trust.
I had some experience of this before, from the patient side.
St Georges Healthcare managed Roehampton clinic that covered-up
a mistake in the early 2000s, leading to slight brain damage.
Nobody on the staff team said anything as the situation got worse,
like "you could get a second opinion". If they
had done, and got the sack, it's unlikely that Unison would have
backed them; the union did not even bother to respond to management
proposals on staff conditions or whistleblowing. Complaints,
years later, lead to lies. Suggestions made in the same meeting,
about making the clinic safer and a union fit for the purpose
of protecting whistleblowers were listened to politely, but not
even minuted. Maybe I do have more to do with this TURC bunch
than I realised.
Just googled a reference to something called the "Trades
Union Reform Campaign", mentioned in the Telegraph online.
Their web site now has blank white pages, but a look at the
cache on archive.org shows that there were speeches quoted on
the site from annoying politicians, spin doctors and wannebe
politicians, and that there was a wishlist about how the law
and how government departments should deal with unions. It was
a wordpress site, neater than this one. For all that work, it
as a disapointing list. The people who wrote that defunct web
site do not seem to have read this one. Not all of them seem
to have had normal jobs. They liked to write about whether union
offices are sometimes let to them at below market rent, or collection
of dues by payroll departments is sometimes offered too cheaply.
are some public sector employers where "time off for
union duties" extends to an entire full-time salary
for an official, but that official isn't working for the
organisation as a qualified human resources worker. Lack of accountablity
in union structures allows the person not to work for members
as a qualified human resources worker either. The person could
be like the union folk mentioned
in Unison v Jervis.
An employer-paid union job is a rare one, that could be used
to promote some experiments. If the person is properly elected
and does a fair share of the organisations' work, then maybe
it's a good idea. Or if the organisation doesn't allow a little
time-off for union duties by ordinary reps - jobs like witnessing
a disciplinary meeting for example. On the other hand it could
be a terrible idea. Some hospitals employ patient reps and the
same questions apply.
There's nothing on the TURC's front page about the union members'
need for a good organisation, or the chance of saving money on
human resources staff if good elected officials are in place.
Nor the possibilities of unions saving the stress and cost of
bad things in the workplace - whistles not blown; unfair dismissal
patterns repeated over-and-over again. Suggestions not made.
Training not provided. No-wonder nobody read the site and it
is now a set of blank pages. For the record, this is what they
had to say about themselves....
This organisation is run on a voluntary basis by people
who work in both the public and private sectors, outside of their
normal work hours. Just as trade unions should be. Who are we?
Burley MP Member of Parliament for Cannock Chase. After
leaving Oxford University, Aidan worked as a researcher before
joining an international firm of Management Consultants, where
he specialised in projects designed to improve the Criminal Justice
System. He also helped to deliver projects working closely with
government departments such as the Home Office, Cabinet Office
and the Department of Health, as well as the NHS. Chief Executive
business background has spanned the industry and consultancy
working for Procter & Gamble, Mars, The
Boston Consulting Group and now works in strategy consultancy
in the City of London. He is also a Director of the Young Britons
Foundation and President of the League of Friends of St Georges
Hospital. While standing in for Parliament in Tooting for the
Conservative Party he stumbled across the infamous Jane
Pilgrim who abused her well paid taxpayer funded trade union
position. Press Officer Andre
Walker has a wealth of experience working in Press for
the Greater London Assembly, Westminster Council, Hammersmith
and Fulham Council, Windsor and Maidenhead Council and various
Members of Parliament. Social Media Adviser Harry
Cole is a journalist and blogger. He is currently the
News Editor of Guido Fawkes and the UK Political Editor of The
Commentator. He has actively campaigned against publicly funded
trade union officials through his work. He is a regular broadcast
commenter on politics and social media. Director of Operations:
Brummitt [pictured - no explanation beyond the made-up
The bunch don't state where their funding comes from, despite
a question on their web site from a reader. They could afford
to register a limited
company and get a logo designed. Maybe their jobs as "consultant"
have been real paid jobs, got without other experience.
list of unions that pay the labour party.
I haven't read this stuff but it looks like a rare shaft of sunlight
in a gloomy room.
If trades union members, who do not opt-out, fund a political
party, then they should vote or be consulted as individuals by
that party; their union should not be allowed to vote for them.
This is such an obvious solution that it seemed impossible, after
generations of labour leaders missed the point. It is a mystery
why they missed the point, but as most of them are dead we will
never know. The idea of union leaders having a bloc vote within
an electorial college was a particularly bad and stupid solution
to a simple problem.
What might change for union members?
- Glasnost. If union members are allowed to go to labour
party meetings and say "my union is crap and the legal
system doesn't work in putting it right", right in the
centre of self-deception vested interests and denial, then other
people can't avoid the subject.
- Maybe unions can be compelled to have contracts with their
members in the same way that legal insurers do.
- Maybe unions will be compelled towards internal democracy
on local budgets, numbers of officials per member or workplace
- Maybe democratic votes will compel trades unions to provide
plausible accounts, unlike my union's accounts which said
they spent a tiny bit of money on legal help to members, while
they also admitted using no-win no-fee lawyers who paid them
- Maybe democratic votes will encourage unions to provide other
useful services and useful suggestions. Community-tu.org
is a union that already provides employment training. Transport
and General used to be keen on John-Lewis like worker co-ops.
Nowadays, they just send junk mail about buying pet insurance
on commission (the pet gets a contract to FSA standards but the
Member votes aren't an excitement in other mutuals like Equitable
Life of building societies, but it's not always a failure, and
building societies' elections share the same faults as current
union ones, with one vote on a national committee membership
that individual members know nothing about. A better system would
be for trades unions to consult individual members are about
an individual workplace or an individual budget, as well as the
committee at the centre.
What might change for party hobbyists and managers?
- non labour voters will get more mail with "labour"
written on it in red. Ballot papers. Invites to meetings. This
is good. Some conservative local parties invite non-conservative
voters to come and help choose candidates. It discourages nutters
from becoming candidates with the support of small minorities
(like faith groups or Thatcherites). It's nothing to worry about,
but a good thing that a party defines itself by being a broad
party of union members.
- non labour voters might opt-out more. There is already
a tick-box on some Unite ballots asking (with no authority or
reason) for members to confirm that they are labour supporters
before voting, and the tick-boxes might continue. On the other
hand, a party of union members and people who have joined individually
sounds a more attractive thing to join, so more people might
- people who don't know or care about the welfare state
or the world of work will go to labour meetings. No change there
then. But as these will be trades union members, I think
the average will shift towards people who are down to earth.
- organised groups of non-labour voters might be more common
within the labour partorganised groups of non-labour voters
might be more common within the labour party, such as a Conservative-voting
Labour Party Members' group, or some of the embarassing small
parties. Again: no big change. At the moment, party grandees
have to make-up some kind of internal message in order to have
a conference motto like "one nation" or "onward
and upward", so a bit of genuine division is OK. The only
danger is that they will carry-on spending money on events and
PR which can't be afforded, and that's an area where a party
within a party might be useful: a faction asking them to stop
having big conferences.
- journalists will have to change their conventional wisdom.
I guess that students on journalism courses are given a list
of cliches to learn by heart. One is that left-of-centre people
oppose Trident, but that the centre prevails. That cliche came-up
in reporting of the liberal party recently - it is a cliche that
has survived the end of the cold war and so has no relation to
defence, as far as I can tell.
The relevant cliche here is that Labour depends on un-popular
trades union funding; that unions somehow twist the arms of Labour
politicians and force them to do some bad thing or other, like
talk in a fake regional accent or eat chips. I don't know where
to look-up the book of cliches, so I can't give your detail an
maybe none exists - it is just something un-said.
- union scandals might be reported. People might ask:
"if these union folk ripped-off their members on a massive
scale for decades, why are they now in the House of Lords or
a committee or a council?". Sir Fred Goodwin didn't
go to prison, so I doubt that ex union leaders will. Unless someone
finds-out where the money goes.
Why is Unite The Union reported in the press as a trades union?
I don't see a union.
I see an paid organisation that
- has no proxy voting for the vast majority of committees and
elections - so it's no more democratic than a PLC or a building
- hires too few officials to read members' cases or attend
their disciplinary meetings
- cons aggreaved members by sending them, without warning,
to no-win no-fee lawyers who have to pay referral fees to Unite
- has no system for promoting employee-owned companies as its
TGWU part was set-up to do, nor other detailed ideas for improving
work at the unionised workplaces I've worked at
- chooses not to use contracts with members that would pass
a Financial Services Authority inspection
- charges £12 a month
- gets its members by referral from employers.
Chuka Umunna MP was on the radio today defending trades unions
as bodies that represented people of all parties. They don't.
The one I belonged too ripped-off its volunteer reps, by leaving
them caught between desparate members and paid services that
were worse then useless. It ripped-off its members by allowing
branches to spend political money regardless of any opt-out.
It consulted none of its members for suggestions or votes, and
so could not possibly be said to represent those suggestions
or votes. It was a disgusting scam that exists because the politicians
and journalists who cover trades unions have never had to use
their scam trades union services. The failure of unions like
Unite to represent anything but their own slogans and office
politics allows employers to remain bad places to work, and parties
to remain unaware of this part of peoples' lives.
Oh, the story this time is about the Falkirk constituency
and arbitarilly turning union membership data into ghostly labour
members with forged votes. Just look at pictures of union bosses.
side of the story is different but I haven't read it; their
computer couldn't even print-out a list of members in a particular
branch without a months' wait when I was a member. Their bosses
would not answer a letter of complaint. They were not capable
of telling the truth. If you look at pictures of them, would
you believe a word they said, if you didn't know who they were?
Or if you'd heard that they ran financial services companies
that would fail any financial services authority test? The scam
is not that they behave as expected; the scam is that they are
still referred to as trades unions at all.
...looks an interesting debate three years ago about why employment
tribunals don't work. The pattern of a big organisation flinging
funders' money at lawyrs to cover-up, and a tribunal un-equipped
for balanced judgement seems a common one.
The Clothing Works is a new company set-up to run a vast Aquascutum
cut-make-and-trim works in Northamptonshire. I don't know their
minimum order, price range or lead times but they are looking
for customers for "a wider range of garments, including
soft tailoring, trousers, dresses and skirts".
MPs in other commonwealth countries sometimes sing their national
anthems, which is embarassing.
Broadcasters today have been covering a lack of news, which is
embarassing. People in Boston stay indoors. Thank you for that.
What news on the ground? Well, people in Boston are staying indoors.
One has been in his closit. None gives recipes or gardening tips,
or anything but stories about staying indoors. Nobody from more
interesting or newsworthy countries is interviewed. I have been
indoors all day and been to the loo. There is little to say but
the news values of USA + World Stage + Violence dictate the time
to fill, and reports of Bostonians staying indoors and going
to the loo have to fill this space. Explanation from ex-nutters
about why they were once in sympathy with the idea of blowing-up
a marathon ceremony might be interesting, but no.
Back to MPs of commonwealth countries, I am afraid there is
a subject I am patient to hear about that was covered in New
Zealand. You might be interested just for the rhetoric: if you
to see the best speech in the world about nothing much happening,
click here: it starts after the singing:
As many national insurance benefits are cut in scope and rate,
Prime-Ministers' Funeral Grant has shot-up to £10,000,000
in one case even though no claim has been made: the ex prime
minister did not want a state funeral. She is in no position
to benefit. Most state funerals are paid by councils when a body
is found with no relatives available to charge. Environmental
health laws require some action. Sometimes the body is in a public
place, or council housing, or a hospital demands some action.
None of these factors applies: this funeral is pomp designed
for people who think it is their duty to do the right thing by
attending, and a very few who think it gets them on telly and
brings the nation together at the same time. An even smaller
number might want to go. In Mrs Thatcher's younger days she might
have said (not asked - it was a rhetorical flourish):
"Yes: but where is the money coming from?"
The Thatcher family have paid themselves for a quiet
cremation which costs £540, but state funerals can
be £340 in the 9-9.30 morning slot before the organist
Matada might get either, in the same crematorium if cremated
here. An official from Richmond Council would attend. The council
is paying itself for this service so I doubt they mind whether
the organist is included in the fee. I doubt the ashes are often
mixed-up, but if I worked in a crematorium and there were some
ashes to swap-around I would choose these two. The Thatcher family
have also paid their own costs for getting a death certificate,
moving the body the first 50 miles for emotional reasons, and
towards ordinary undertakers' costs like a coffin and hearse.
costs are vague and varied but if the Thatchers are on certain
benefits, their national insurance could have covered this. They
paid privately, which is also good. In the woods by the river
you sometimes see a few cut flowers were someone has distributed
some ashes. There is a good pub nearby with wheelchair access
where funeral parties often meet after singing a song or listening
to a speech at the cremy. It would be nice if Mortlakecrematorium.org
had a £340 late slot for mourners to save the organist
and spend some of the money perhaps on beer. That is all there
is to be said about a private funeral from outside. Even from
inside, it is hard to know what to say, and that is why people
have little ceremonies like scattering flowers with the ashes
or drinking alcohol in a pub later.
Meanwhile, commentators tell us that the person changed a
lot while in office. A cringing obituary documentary by thatcherites
for thatcherites reminded me what they are like; emotionally
challenged people who back a show and a leader, partly by showing
hostility to other points of view they don't understand. Harry
Enfield characters like the "loads of money"
plasterer were described as a left wing attack on the class mobility
which Mrs T speaheaded or pioneered or sounbited or some such.
Evidence was that she presided over an end to market distinctions
between buyer and seller in the city of London, bringing-in all
the US banking culture which has brought so much wealth with
it. I haven't googled "city of London big bang"
on Wikipedia, but I think it was something like that. Another
of her contributions was privatisation of shares without usable
voting rights. British Steel employees could now own British
Steel shares, but with a voting system more twisted than the
worst trade union, there wasn't much that anyone could do with
these shares except make use of the discount by selling them-on.
Mrs Thatcher's character was full of the contradictions of
a person who tries too hard to do all the cabinet jobs, gets
too tired, and becomes a even more of a hectoring, narrow, cartoon
character. She might have been similar to Atlee that way, who
was also surrounded by a brain-damaged entourage of party loyalists
and believers in sound-bytes, excusing his demolition of town
centres for Pollson
archetecture, changing the ownership of British Steel again in
the name of the workers who again had no say over how it was
run, and introducing a national insurance system that someone
else dreamed-up for which he got the credit. For example, the
thatcher acolyte who made a TV obituary about her believed that
thatcher was pro-business. She introduced a monetary policy which
flattened business, at taxpayers' expense, by paying a little
too much for government debt, bringing-in overseas investors
until the exchange-rate compensated, and so allowing cheaper
imports from autocratic states. So we paid to put our factories
out of work, and paid again for the extra benefits bill. Google
"monetary policy transmission mechanism" and look at
the bottom row of arrows on a flow diagram if in doubt. So the
acts were opposite to the soundbites, in Atlee's case and Thatcher's,
but it is the sounbites that are remembered.
Thatcher echoes Macmillan in a separate way. Labour politicians
have sometimes been slow to kill subsidies to some lame duck
industry (I guess that duck legs can't be mended, as with horse
legs and Morris Marina rust patches). Macmillan encouraged the
maximum possible dishonesty in order to close too many branch
lines rather than too few. He was a shit that way; there's no
getting around it. Likewise Thatcher avoided noticing the simple
accounting for pensions in coal mine accounts, that made them
seem unprofitable when they were profitable, or the effect of
her fiddling the exchange rate. Her ministers were much more
astute in their choice of lorry convoys to transport imported
coal rather than cheaper sea freight. Driving the lorrices through
cole-mining areas and sending-in a psyched-up tactical reserve
force of police was bound to lead to resentment, breaches of
human rights, division and good TV pictures. It did. She won
popolarity for being bad and dishonest. She was a shit that way
and there is no getting around it, however much she did and said
things to like such as "where is the money coming from?".
Some things haven't changed. For all the distrust of silly
old farts in politics, Mrs Thatcher employed one as deputy prime
minister and he answered a question in the House of Commons about
at Windsor Castle. On no particular authority he said that
the taxpayer would pay to rebuild it, diverting millions from
the benefits system. Likewise, someone in this government has
paid ten million pounds from taxpayers' money, on no particular
authority, to encourage a lot of leaders from around the world
to take time off work and tire themselves out in awkward interactions
and boring ritual. They will need more time off work to recover.
They will become more like cartoon characters themselves as they
get more tired. And they show no shame in doing it on television,
lined-up for the cameras on prominent pews like families in the
Daily Mail who have a zillion children in order to live off the
Broadcast lies haven't changed much. I am too young to remember
cringeingly un-critical reporting of town centres being pulled
down and industries nationalised for no particular reason. I
remember the time when Gay Pride marches in London or Democracy
Now marches in Edinburgh could attract thousands, but the BBC
would report a small un-connected event in a remote town, or
a particularly long cricket match instead. Recently they forgot
to show much of Protest the Pople dispite him having near-daily
and doting coverage on programs which were officially called
news. They report that Mrs Thatcher reformed or "took
on" the trades unions, but here act to make them democratic
only applied to the top-titled elections and was written for
a pre-digital age, asking for elections by marking of ballot
papers. Attempts to open-up union finances were half-hearted
and have been overturned in case law. Just recently time they
chose not to breadcast Ding Dong The Witch is Dead, and happened
not to show people at Ludgate Circus with banners saying "waste
of money" or "where is the money coming from?",
or who turned their backs on the procession. Later we'll see
most dramatic protest, rather tahn the most typical, as with
coverage of the miners' strike. Mrs Thatcher did not get rid
of old farts and was not pro-business, but would possibly have
agreed with the demonstrators against her state funeral.
- no state-funded funeral for Mrs Thatcher.
Forces of evil. What are they?
- Borderline personality disorder
as in the Philpot case are important. I should but don't know
if there's any use in distinguishing betwen psychopath
and borderline personality disorder, or whether it is possible
to separate, or whether there is anything to do to help people
who might take up so much of their own and taxpayer's energy
in crime and courts and prisons to do something more fun.
- Undiagnosed slight brain damage.
Philpot was so cross during interviews that he
punched the air. Anyone would in frustration when their head
doesn't work properly, and gets tired & flustered in ways
that nobody else can guess and is hard to interpret and explain
to them. So fights, bad medical treatment, accidents or whatever
can cause slight brain damage and the victim is a menice and
tail of woe for the rest of their lives. Addiction agencies for
example are no good at helping their clients measure any brain
damage and make sense of any need to act differently (compulsively,
an outsider would say but there is no choice) when information
comes slower from the top-of-the-head for reacting or back-of-the-mind
for planning a to-do list.
- Nerdyness in religious form
as in the Taliban case are important. Apparently some people
are religeous; they are genetically prone to asking silly questions
like "will by body be compost when I'm dead?"
. Obviously so. But some people are like that; they worry. And
a preacher who says "all you have to do is believe XYZ
and you need no longer worry" can have un-deserved and
un-welcome effects. Particularly if the religious bod is gay.
One or two religeous loyalty cults are anti-gay but welcome gay
peope into their midsts like the two boys who loved each others'
company and failed at dealing with anybody else's company except
when learning to fly a hijacked plane into the world trade centre
on 9/11. There's another bunch who have userped President Obama's
usual role as the person most reported for doing least on the
BBC news. They're the bunch who are against condoms and abortions
because they want more people to be poor and unhappy and catholic
and so increase their market share.
- Pointless urge to compete
happened in two forms for the Greater London Authority recently.
The need for variety and randomness in how things can be done
is worth recognising, and it is good that there are different
organisations providing olympian activities or financial services
such as easy get-into-debt deals or mis-sold payment protection
insurance and mis-sold fuel contracts signed-up door-to-door.
My worry is that people compete for the wrong reasons and impose
bad competition on their subordinates with systems of commission
in the private sector or general comformity to hold down a job
in the public sector so that nobody, even now, says on telly
that taxes are for essential services and not for a silly sports
event that reduced trade and tourism in London for a month or
- Big. The urge to be part of something
I think this is another force of evil which counters human beings'
instict to pull-out of something like a media organisation or
a political party or a government department when, really, the
thing is beyond help and needs exposing so that it gets a quicker
end. Other factors mix-in. I know that I was shy for decades
and doubted my ability to get another career path outside the
mediocre one that I had started. This was rational. But we see
every few months how people paid far more money than they can
ever spend in their lifetimes clinging to careers doing something
like forcing RBS HBOS staff to increase market share far too
quickly and so probably make the company go bust and rip-off
customers. Why? Probably the same urge that makes people want
to join the territorial army: the urge to show-off in a big organisation.
Another grand statement from a TV history of the world's final
episode. We are monkeys who like shopping
and showing-off. A pity that such innocent instincts
somehow become forces of evil.
I would have blogged today but the people under the train at
Highbury and Islington weren't pushing hard enough, causing delays.
As a member of the political class I imagine that this is how
News of Whipcar's
unexpected closure today leaves motorists short of income and
short of cheap local car hire options.
Car hire companies tend to have higher costs with charges to
match - often concealed by a requirement to return the car in
office hours, so that the most advertised and cheapest-looking
daily deals are hardly any use to anyone. You have to hire the
car for two days.
Locally-run and less well-known firms tend to be better at allowing
you to put the keys back through the letterbox after hours.
Whipcar drivers and car-owners might be looking for a whipcar
alternative. Tempcover short
term motor insurance does the job if used through Topcashback
to reduce the price of temporary car insurance by £8.
commercial position is not disasterous, leaving their own
explanation puzzling. "...Barriers to widespread adoption
of peer-to-peer car rental in the UK. As a small team with limited
resources, we have taken a good long look at these scaling challenges".
Maybe a shareholder had believed a business plan with "year
one, one pound; year two, one million pounds, year three....
etc" and lost patience with reality rather than cutting
costs and, perhaps, working from home as whipcar members do when
they hire-out their cars. Or maybe an insurer pulled the plug.
Sooner or later, news will emerge, but for people who want a
whipcar alternative here and now, suggest Topcashback's deal
on Tempcover to former whipcar members who own cars. You may
know some of them from previous hires, or track them down on
the archived version of whipcar: http://web.archive.org/web/20130120161358/https://www.whipcar.com/
. - put a note under the windscreen wiper to say that you might
hire the car and provide your own insurance through Topcashback
and Tempcover.com if you think you can find the right car.
As a guide to the UK for visitors, I offer this information.
Decades ago, 8-year-olds and 7-year-olds were sent to very expensive
boarding schools by selfless parents in order to be toughened-up
for jobs like surgeon or judge or government officer in India.
The ideas was that you needed to be tough, physically and emotionally,
to survive the responsiblity and travel. In the forces, you would
know what squaddies and able seamen were going-through if you
had done it yourself before beginning your management career
at 21 or 24.
Grave stones around the world mark these strange aloof and
unemotive people who often died of maleria in India in their
teens and twenties. Their achievements were to be less corrupt
and better at engineering than others. Their emotional retardedness
was the problem, from the Amritsar Massicre to thousands of other
petty incidents and failures to improve. Noel Coward said of
the colonial service thet half of them couldn't run the Hackney
Empire, let alone the British Empire. He judged them on their
emotional intelligence, politeness, and origality I suppose.
The same goes for older judges and generals and hospital consultants
Recent decades have shown a change in the system. Instead
of denying yourself any luxury in order to deny your children
any luxury in a spartan school learning greek and latin, you
pretend to be religious and get an exclusive education for your
children at other taxpayers' expense just for being a hypocrite.
Nick Clegg of the Liberal Democrats has just followed Tony Blair
of the Labour Party in securing a place at the London Oratory
school. Meanwhile a comprehensive up the road has among the worst
results in the UK because people like Tony Blair and Nick Clegg
withdraw their children and put them somewhere exclusive. We
know the time bomb that was set-off by the previous system. It's
harder to talk like a a grand historian about the current system.
Crap, obviously, and in need of sorting-out. Maybe some nineteenth
century Indian army types would have seen the problem and fixed
When an autocratic state has, say, 115 votors, european politicians
say nothing at all when getting cheap imports and hopes of export
sales or inward investment. Then, when things get sticky, european
politicians urge respect for human rights and broadening of the
electorate as the foreign office now sometimes does about Syria.
And a conference with air trips to a destination, sandwiches,
cautious speeches to write, policies to draft and press releases
for the BBC would be good as well. All these things create employment
for civil servants and commentators. Thankfully the Syrian opposition
groups have saved UK taxpayers the expense by refusing to take
part, even for free sandwiches, hotel accommodiation, and a chance
to be on the the telly.
When a faith group has 115 votors the process is much the
same but more excruciatingly public and nervous. The UK government
has not urged restraint, but the prime minister and main broadcaster
have said and broadcast embarrasing things in hope of popularity
among cartoon catholics, like the ones they meet in parliament.
I'm better informed than most senior politicians because I
have spent a minute or so trying to google the things my partner
reads out to me. The majority of US catholics are in favour of
same sex marriage but the 115 votors include plenty of dodgy
I've just asked for the list again to transcribe but have lost
track. 28 are Italians apparenlty. A cardinal in Mexico claims
that there are no sexual abuse cases but has defended a very
large number. A cardinal in New York has spent more than anyone
could expect on settling abuse claims because it is cheaper,
he says. A cardinal in Mexico claimed that protostants (maybe
including atheists and other religions - we don't know) are shameless;
women who do not cover themselves up increase the rape statistics.
Meanwhile there is a nice cardinal in
[Argentina] who uses buses go get about and urges people not
to go to Rome to stand outside the Vatican window but to give
any such spare money to charity instead.
People have to go on the air and talk about bye-elections: are
there lessons to be learned from a process that allows voters
to say arse to the usual process, but not why? Obviously not.
It would have been easier if the governing party were not wierdly
against the alternative vote system and had not put-up posters
paid-for from Belize to say it is not understandable. Not even
with two inflatable horses to demonstrate that the current system
is a two horse race: apparently the governing party financed
a pink and a blue horse to show just how bad the voting system
they voted for really is, and one of the inflatable horses sprung
a leak. Another reason for low tory votes may be the neighbouring
tory MP who was interviewed on the radio. According to her there
are groups, and feelings, and a need for groups to "tune-in"
to each-others' feelings. The groups need not be well-defined.
So "leadership" in a party should "tune-in to
the feelings" of a disparate group who do not share any
mailing list but are vaguely the conservative protest votors
of a constituency. I imagine that dousing-rods are called-for.
Or emotional antennae. If the feeling of anger is identified,
action must be taken without reference to whether it is wrong
or right. MPs have suggested that wind farms, for example, are
a distraction from causes of anger. It's not stated whether cheap
energy and construction jobs are a counter-distraction, which
somehow bring the feelings of the ill-defined group of people
who can't be contacted back to a voting choice. No-wonder people
didn't vote for a party with such a nutter as a neighboring MP.
I forget her name.
Queer and Catholic is a video site and such which I have not
spent time on, because I am queer an atheist or softer words
along those lines. (Gay and from a CofE culture or some such).
Apparently, homophobic gays are a significant shaper of what
rubbish this faith group talks. I hope the papal emmisory that
I met in a backroom in Rome a few years ago is not part of this.
Qadabra is showing ads on this site for fat credulous people
who want to know a wierd old tip for a tiny belly. If this applies
to you you might be interested on the ad on the left for a pontiff
as well. It's different to other voluntary sector job ads in
not stating the funders at the end.
I'm no great pundit, but more people look at this site after
I have written a post about something, and that helps keep it
online, so here goes.
shows a committee
on the same sex couples bill being philibustered,
as parliameterians call time-wasting with verbosity, for about
two days by the MP for
Enfield Mr David Borrowes who looks like someone just walked-out
of my old school with a V-neck jersey, neat hair, white shirt
& tie over smelly trousers (not him: we used to have quite
smelly trousers at my school). A bit less fit. Maybe he went
to a special sort of school which is a pity because I am sure
a lot of people in Enfield think he just campaigns for dog competitions
and more trains or more spending in Enfield and don 't realise
that this is what he is up to. Unless they like selective schools
paid out of taxes for pretending to belong to a faith group,
in which case I guess they want to keep quiet about it and not
have someone pretending to believe in the scam a they have to
do, and drawing attention. One of his colleagues put similar
arguments in defence of biggot teachers but took the precaution
to sit just off-camera in the cramped committee-room so that
we can only see his hands on TV, just as we can see real sensible
MPs twiddling their thumbs, typing and staring into space while
special pleading for biggotry continues.
Likewise I am sure that if he went to a proper school or got
to think about things again, he wouldn't be wasting taxpayers'
money and patience for days in a row and would be more interested
in care for the elderly or something related to his constituency
in a less dodgy way.
The members are very patient with his time wasting, because
taxpayers pay for it not them, because some of them can be seen
doing their constituency work on laptops as he speaks, or passing-around
a bag of sweets at one point. Many did not return after lunch.
Good luck to them: I am sure they will not rise to the bait and
say something that can be quoted against them by people with
deeply-held religious biggotry and other no-hope MPs who seek
publicity. Or to avoid blackmail. Or whatever motivates MPs to
talk a load of rubbish for hours at a time in defence of what
might be in the head of someone offended by sharing a word "marriage"
with different class of people, or what might happen to marriage
registrars who apply for a job and as soon as they have got it
say "I'm not doing same sex and will take you to court
if you make me work my fair share of marriages", or
the faith school - surely an indefensible drain on taxpayers
- that asks for taxpayers' money to teach crap.
Meanwhile the faith group with 11% affiliation in surveys
and that causes most fuss still gets most free publicity on the
BBC, for example when its leader in Italy looks out of the window
and gets headline news, and is still allowed to gets subsidy,
for example when people seek a selective school for their child
and suddenly start believing and donating in order to secure
a place at a catholic one. The fact that there are more and more
faith schools was raised by one of the MPs opposed to gay marriage,
without any apology or remorese, in front of a very patient committee.
I am rude but never typed onto this page that the catholic church
is a loyalty cult at the top. I thought it but did not think
anyone would be intersted in my opinion. Maybe about the Moonies
or the Scientologists, but a bigger donomination is more something
that should be left to sort itself out, surely? Now Mr Ratzinger
had said what I did not think polite to say, pledging cultish
loyalty to his successor. What is his successor is wrong? This
bunch at the top of their heirachy have never been good at moral
decisions: as Mr Ratzinger and perhaps his boyfriend and papal
bankers said: they pledge loyalty.
As this strange faith group with 11% of polite survey tick-boxes
and huge public subsidy begins to unravel, it's sensible to wish
it the best. Maybe a former pople will come-out as gay. Maybe
priest staff pensions will not depend on sucking-up to the nonce-o
in future, or conditional pensions will become illegal. Or the
electorate will expand more widely than eight. Or the Italian
government will end Mousoulini's independence for Vatican City
and encourage ordinary police to go about ordinary business of
preventing crime there. Maybe senior clerics will marry. Maybe
they will recognise the role of condoms in reducing poverty.
Not many people in the UK are much interested, but it is good
to see signs of positive change.
BBC reporting is different. If the pope comes-out as gay,
I guess there is a BBC plan as to how it will be reported. If
the cardinals in the USA are arrested on their way to vote, I
guess there is a BBC plan as to how it will be reported. And
if Mr O'Brian, biggot of the year, is reported as molesting young
priests then another story about windbags without much life experience
who had trouble fending-off a lecherous liberal advisor will
be given far more time than it deserves in the hope that it seems
in some way to compare with the what catholic bishops do, in
the minds of the audience.
Going off the subject a bit there was a liberal MP here who
was quite convinced that I was a "local person" and
that "most people are interested in local issues" to
the point where she had no idea what was going on in the commons
and lobbied for me on some subject that she was also voting against
without really knowing or caring. She was voted-out after pretending
that a local hospital A&E department was closing in order
to campaign for it to stay open, according to an over-heard conversation
opposite a tabloid journalist on the London Underground. She
has never apologised or explained why she should become a lord
after being such a scumbag, other than being a loyal votor for
her party and having no ideas and so no inconvenient ideas. So,
in a way, the liberal party is a thing to compare on the air
waves with an 11% faith group, but only in a real way about how
the scum rise to the top rather than become more happy by being
24.02.13 - from The
Those involved believe the cardinal abused his position. "You
have to understand," explains the ex-priest, "the
relationship between a bishop and a priest. At your ordination,
you take a vow to be obedient to him. He's more than your boss,
more than the CEO of your company. He has immense power over
you. He can move you, freeze you out, bring you into the fold
he controls every aspect of your life. You can't just
kick him in the balls."
This seems a bad way to run a market stall, let-alone the
management of a faith group with disproportionate media coverage
on the BBC, and a tendency to preach procreation to third world
families in order to increase its market share at all human costs.
The BBC simply reported "innapropriate acts"
in followed by other "innapropriate acts" by
a member of the liberal democrats, without reference to Cardinal
O'Brien's Bigot of the Year award for opposing gay rights, nor
the strangeness of an 11% denomination recieving disproportionate
coverage and from a top-down respectful point of view. The day
before, the BBC reported to its UK licence payers that the Vatican
criticised the US press for reporting of acts by another of its
eight votors who may be allowed by police to travel from the
A vicar who poured boiling water over a homeless man before stabbing
him after he took shelter outside his church, has been jailed.
Reverend Friday Archy, 51, screamed at his victim: 'I told
you to go. If you stay here you will die,' before plunging
the knife into his neck, armpit & chest. The holy man claimed
the injuries to Ben Donetus were karma for being a sinning homeless
person. The 25-year-old, who suffered severe burns and four stab
wounds, spent two days in hospital with a collapsed lung.
Rev Archy was jailed for seven years after being found guilty
of inflicting grievous bodily harm with intent following a trial
at Inner London Crown Court. The green-robed Nigerian, of the
Church of God in Peckham, southeast London, clashed with
the victim after failing to move rough sleepers away.
The victim said from his hospital bed on the day of the attack:
'I have been sleeping rough for the last two years.' About two
months ago a friend told me of the Penarth Centre and that it
was a safe place to sleep. I have now been sleeping at the centre
for the last two months. 'I sleep there every night, on the landing
outside the door leading to the Christ Choosing church of God.
I believe this is on the first floor of the centre. There are
two other rough sleepers who also sleep there every night. 'I
see the reverend at least three nights per week. He used to talk
to me and tell me to go away and sleep elsewhere. 'Recently he
has stopped talking to us. Last night I arrived as usual at about
11pm.' Mr Donetus discovered one of his friends had joined him
on the landing because his usual spot was flooded. 'I rolled
out my bedding and went do sleep,' said the homeless man.
'The next thing I remember was waking up, feeling wet. I felt
my back and it was wet. I could feel it was also hot. 'I turned
over and saw the reverend standing over me with an electric kettle
in his left hand. 'He was shouting: "Get out, get out".
I tried to get up, but the reverend pushed me to the ground.
As I fell I saw he had a silver knife in his right hand. 'I turned
away to protect myself, then felt myself being stabbed. I could
see the reverend was standing over me, stabbing at me. 'He was
shouting: "I told you to go, if you stay here you will die".
'I was really frightened he was going to kill me. I yelled for
help.'The reverend then stopped stabbing me. He just ran back
in to the church, closing the door behind him.'
The injured man was taken to nearby Kings
College Hospital for treatment for stab wounds, a collapsed
lung, a fractured rib, and two 40cm burns on his torso following
the incident on May 2 last year.
Archy had two previous convictions for making threats to
kill in 1991, the court heard.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1375768/Vicar-jailed-scalding-stabbing-homeless-man-sheltering-outside-church.html#ixzz2Em3FHonc
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook - quoted
on various other sites. Events were late 2011.
The church web site states "Our church is part
of the Diocese of Southwark and we have connections with the
following organisations: Evangelical Alliance www.eauk/org New
Wine www.new-wine.org Reform www.reform.org.uk " I have
emailed the fundraising email address of the diocese of Southwark
to ask them if they will end any connection with this church,
which seemed to promote faith healing in a recent sermon. I have
to tell you now that no such undertaking has been recieved.
If any atheists like me who happen to be from a tolerent
CofE culture are reading this and wondering what to do for a
fondly remembered organisation, I suggest two things.
Faith groups should hold atheist days, for people who
want to meet neighbours to sing a song and drink tea or maybe
It seems unfair that a traditional faith, like the CofE, is not
allowed to hold tea parties and singing sessions in order to
build community, just because some bunch want everyone to sign-up
to a load of rubbish.
Legislators should remove funding for faith-selective
schools, which are basically selective schools paid out of taxes
on the excuse of repesenting a faith and give the faith group
a power to call-in donations, acceptability, and congregations
in exchange for choosing parents. Corruption, in other words.
There is something about the false release from troubled
thoughts that is given by membership of a nerdy theology group
- from Harry Krishna to The Evangelical Alliance to Al Kieda
if that's how they spell it. They all release their worries and
critical faculties into nerdyness, gain a circule of aquaintances,
but upset the rest of us sometimes as a result. Without any apology
or recognition of the balls they talk.
11.12.12 : quoted from
Tax-paying alternatives to Amazon
Once you've decided not to shop with Amazon you'll need to know
which companies do pay tax. Otherwise you could simply end up
supporting another tax dodging company.We found five well known
High Street shops that appear to be paying a fairer amount of
- Debenhams - Paid 22% tax on its profits for 2012.
Debenhams online offers everything from fashion to furniture.
- John Lewis - Paid 35% tax on its profits for 2012.
John Lewis online offers virtually everything that's available
on Amazon with the exception of books.
- Lush Paid 42% tax on its profits for 2011.
Lush online offers an extensive range of handmade cosmetics.
- Marks and Spencer Paid 27% tax on its profits
Marks and Spencer online offers everything from frocks to food.
- Next Paid 26% tax on its profits for 2012.
Next online offers everything from evening wear to electricals.
Of course we always recommend that you support your local
shops - many of them on localbookshops.co.uk
- before you hit the big High Street chains. Phone first to order
In a reversal of Amazons famously unpopular suggestion
to browse books first in a High Street bookshop and then buy
them cheaper online, it's quite fun to browse for books first
on Amazon and then buy them from a tax-paying local bookstore.
A good option is newsfromnowhere.org.uk
a workers co-operative and radical bookshop. hive.co.uk
is another good alternative initiative combining online shopping
with supporting local book stores. Search on Amazon Marketplace
and then buy the book you want directly from the seller by searching
for it elsewhere online. Other good options for second hand books
and Oxfam Books.
A note on our research
While this research isn't an exhaustive exploration of each company's
tax affairs, it does go some way to show which retailers are
making a greater contribution to the public purse. This is specifically
in terms of the percentage of actual tax paid on their profits,
provided that profits recorded were a reasonable proportion of
Osborne the chancellor's speech talked about "welfare"
and the US economics text books that people tend to study from
call them "transfer payments" rather than the
using the british jargon of "national insurance".
The concept of National Insurance in the Lloyd George sense and
the Beverage Report sense, I guessed, was that a lot of the paymens
make sense over a taxpayer's lifecycle from cradle to grave.
It is not a difficult concept. It is not an unusual concept.
For a while there was even a National Insurance Fund. It is a
concept that politicians pretend to find difficult, or are too
lazy to think about. They will say "It's difficult to
justify universal benefits to rich people when you are talking
to a much poorer person on the doorstep", but it isn't.
Everyone understands insurance. Nobody would restrict car insurance
pay-outs to a wealthy person, and most people would want a national
car insurance scheme if the state could run it cheaper.
For the first time I have heard George Osborne call pensions
"welfare". Sadly, the opposition parties are
no better. If they admitted that they were guardians of a national
insurance fund or the chance to run one, people would ask: "aren't
you like Equitable Life directors, bankers and all the rest of
them who spent money on casino risks, sponsoring the Olympics
or the Royal Opera House instead of doing your job and staying
out of prison?" Oh I forgot: they don't go to prison
for spending £9 billion on the Olympics or however many
million a year on the Royal Opera. Nor do enough people say they
should go to prison. That's another bad thing about the vague"welfare"
and "transfer payments" idea: it allows too
much power for political types, who are never likely to be short
of a pension or unemployment benefits, to decide at whim where
the money goes. If you ask for tax to go down they say it's needed
for the welfare state; if it stays the same, even in the middle
of a recession, they have no shame at funding the Department
for Culture Media and Sport and the Royal Opera House that sums
- please sign this petition against genocide President Yoweri
with people from across Uganda, we ask that you keep your promise
to uphold Uganda's Constitution, and the human rights embodied
within it, and veto the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.
I don't understand this phone hacking scandal but I do understand
- The hacked including John Prescott MP found that they could
not get help from the police and this is not in the news.
- Debate is about a trade association and various metaphors
and details about how it is set-up, as though there is no equality
before the law that applies to journalists and everybody else,
or if there is, it works prefectly, which it didn't.
I do understand that those who are let-down by trades unions
face the same problem. There should be equality before the law
that applies to bad trades unions, bad legal insurers, and everybody
else. Union members who have been let-down are not likely to
have a crack legal team. The failure of the financial services
authority or trading standards to help is as odd as the failure
of police to help the hacked. There might be some need for special
organisations and one exists, called the Certification Office,
but the main problem is why mainstream judges and journalists
and lawyers tolerate a crap system.
Oh - just to pretend I understand the phone hacking scandal and
have been following it, here is a link to something I have not
A-level history and a CofE up-bringing taught me a bit about
the organisation, although I'm not religious or fully christian.
The C of E was set-up to end a period in which an incoming king
could be protestant or catholic, and in the catholic case decide
to burn-alive any protestants who happened to be associated with
the previous regime. In other countries then and now, religious
minorities were forced to flee or convert. So the new protestant
church was designed to consider the bible in english, its own
traditions, and rational thought. The leadership was bound-up
with parliament and the head of state, so that non-religious
people like myself could protected against religious intolerance
as well as religious people. We all suffer from the deference
given to religious organisations and their tendency to get given
rights to run schools or social services by their supporters
in government, just as people all over the world suffer from
religious crackpots even if they are not religious or members
of the dominant faith group themselves. Richmond Council plans
to use taxpayers' money to fund two exclusive secondary schools
managed by the same faith group - which isn't C of E - and will
probably get away with it.
This little web site was set-up in anger at a bunch or geeks
and odballs from a 400-member political party controlling the
budget of a 1,000-strong union branch of Unite's T&G membership
in South London, with connivance of paid central office staff
who kept the election processes unworkable and the accounts un-accountable.
You'll see the kind of outcome on the union
The same thing has happened with an obscure organisation called
the "House of Leity", which historically would
have been set-up to feed a bit of morality and common sense into
the rarified debates of paid priests. It has done the opposite.
It should go. A Mori poll is a much more effective way of finding
out what non-christians or people who are not employed by the
C of E think. Such polls have already said that exemption from
discrimination law is wrong. So the exemption should go, and
nobody should be ashamed that they are not christian or not theologans
in asking for the law to change. As for the House of Leity, it's
clearly some kind of asylum for theology geeks and crackpots
and has no purpose.
As the Ugandan parliament's hate-&-faith majority gets ready
to pass a genocide bill against gay people, the EU still has
no tariffs against Ugandan trade. Will MEPs talk about it if
you write to yours? Try it on Writetothem.com
But there is one who just might reduce the subsidy to provide
social services which the Ugandan government cannot be arsed
to provide. The MEPs who just might reduce subsidy are on a different
committee to the ones who set tariffs and the two groups don't
meet in the corridor apparently.
I wrote after seeing this link about Uganda's genocide plans
on Richond on Thames LGT forum facebook page:
"Thank you for your e-mail.
I would like to re-iterate to you my support for LGBT rights
across the European Union and beyond. Please see link below which
clearly outlines my view on this matter:
On a separate but related issue, I have previously written to
the European Commission asking it to take into account persecution
against LGBT minorities when distributing development assistance:
I have also tabled a resolution through the Women's Rights committee
on the situation of LGBT people in Africa with particular reference
to intensified persecution of lesbians.
For your information, please find some links to reports
on my work on LGBT rights in the EU:
I am also currently the only British Conservative MEP to have
signed a pledge to promote an inclusive definition of family
in EU legislation:
Please do not hesitate to contact me again in the future, and
be assured that I will continue to maintain political pressure
on this issue at the European Commission. Yours sincerely, Marina Yannakoudakis
MEP, Conservative, London region "
- it's not just the public sector builders that fund the
tory party. Like labour, they're funded by *ankers who rip people
off and provide bad financial services. Now I know where Newsnight
gets its facts from I can pretend to be knowledgeable after skim-reading
the front page from the link above.
"Lack of curiousity" - this is the way dishonest people
run organisations, so that their hints and fudges have to be
fixed secretly by their middle management. It is clear that Barclays
pressure staff to rip-off customers on commission. It is clear
that the BBC pressures Newsnight not to report the Saville story
by "lack of curiosity" about how it would effect their
memorial programs over the bank holiday. Countless employers
tell tribunals that they lacked curiosity about how their middle
managers are bullying and lying in order to do what their non-curious
directors pretend not to know. How do they get the jobs? What
do they say in job interviews? Do they say "I will take
an overall view and delegate the dirty work"?
Oh bugger. The interview below was with Mr Mark Stevens, human
rights lawyer and friend of Mr McShane, not Mr Ben Stephens,
spokesman for Unite Against Fascism which was a cause Mr McShane
was involved in.
Fraud against the taxpayer is defensible according to a spokesman
for Unite Against Fascism, a Mr Ben Stevenson, talking to Radio 4's World
At One who justifed Mr
Dennis McShane MP's fraud as being
- not a criminal offence [it was a fraud], and
- reported by the fraud investigators by a bad person.
While Mr McShane's statement stated that he was still trying
to come to terms with his own motives for fraud, the Unite Against
Fascism spokesman sounded to me as though he denied that fraud
was wrong. The tape will be available online for seven days from
3rd-10th of November so please don't accept my impressions and
have a listen: maybe he's arguing mitigation, and it was just
me and the interviewer who thought it "an extraordinary
Mr Stevenson doesn't address the issue head-on of defrauding
for a faith group or defrauding for a political group, or defrauding
for nobody-knows-what because it's un-accountable, or channelling
contracts to one exotic group or another like Richmond Council
channelling contracts to their favourite faith group. The exotic
imported one that passes moral decisions to the management and
is against condoms because they threaten its market share.
The frauds involved a series of payments to private or unconvincing
organisations along the lines of the trades union branch that
prompted this site several years ago. I went to complain at lack
of a legal service to find that (a) two people had made the same
complaint recently (b) the committee were busy paying hundreds
of pounds to a list of unconvincing organisations (c) a majority
on the committee were not holding employers and central trades
union offices to account. In contrast they quoted their employers
as as volunteering or working for various organisations such
as the Communist Party of Britain, or South East Regional TUC.
The treasurer of branch 1/1148 (and of the Communist Party of
Britain) told me "we are not the fifth emergency service;
the purpose of a trades union is not legal insurance but solidarity".
Oh and Mr Ben Stevenson was press officer to the branch and secretary
to the exotic political party where Mr Graham was treasurer.
It all overlaps in a rather confusing way.
Who would have thought that the same problem applies in the Royal
Borough of Richmond upon Thames as in a little known trades union
group that meets in Lambeth.
Barclay's head of global diversity, Mark McLane, now explains
that it "detracts from what should be a wholly positively
focused event", so his bosses have told him that he
has to be in favor of good things but not against bad things
like the gentlemen below taking over the secondary schools of
Richmond on Thames for example. Contradictions and bad things
are for the little people to worry about. A recent undercover
program about bullying at work showed that it's the same if you
work for Barclays. The junior staff are forced to earn minimum
commissions or they get the sack, and they get the commissions
by pretending that customers asked for a pay-every-month bank
account, or that they are giving sensible advice when recommending
some mediocre financial product or a bit of confusion marketing.
The artical ends with a kind of double negative and a "do
you agree?" poll with a two-to-one majority agreeing. If
I've read it right, they're agreeing that evil is should be discouraged
as well as good encouraged, while those who disagree are just
bamboozled by convoluted question.
BBC Bergous are reporting from their home state of Washington
this month, talking about the weather in New York and explanations
of how it came from other countries, with maps.
Catholic peer Chris Patten is put in charge of Pope's visit
By Daily Mail Reporter
UPDATED: 00:53, 9 June 2010
David Cameron has put a Roman Catholic Conservative grandee in
charge of the Popes visit to Britain.
The appointment of Lord Patten of Barnes, former party chairman
and Hong Kong governor, is an attempt to ease the controversy
surrounding Pope Benedicts autumn tour [...] the tour was
thrown into jeopardy after the leak of a mocking Foreign Office
memo suggesting the Pope could use the trip to open an abortion
clinic and bless a gay marriage.
That fiasco led to charges from the Vatican that dark
forces were at work within Whitehall & saw grovelling
apologies from two ministers. Mr Camerons choice of Lord
Patten as his personal representative to take
responsibility for the visit is a rebuke to the Foreign Office
& an attempt to mollify the Catholic hierarchy. A spokesman
for the Catholic Church in England & Wales said: We
welcome the appointment. This will enable plans to move into
a decisive phase.
Lord Patten was credited with engineering John Majors
1992 election win. After losing his seat he became the last Governor
of Hong Kong. [Disclaimer: no suggestion is made by juxtaposition
of photos that Pope Benedict was in Jimmy Saville's caravan nor
a bad DJ who talked over the playlist records on Radio 1 in the
1970s, nor that Jimmy Saville played a leading hierachical and
public relations role in a faith group that preaches contempt
for its own congregations and causes extra-ordinary harm in its
bigotted position on issues like condoms]
The pay for blogging is not high. Current earnings from adfly,
which frames some of the links on the right, are one hundredth
of the minimum payment over one or two months, predicting payment
in 8-17 years' time which isn't very clever. Maybe something
will come-up. Meanwhile, the
accounts of Rodell Properties Ltd (formerly the Communist
Party) are just as not-clever as the rest of us or more so. It
looks as though They pay £2,600 for Macintyre
Hudson to do the books on "unaudited accounts"
each year - which is called book keeping - and accept arrears
of £76,000 from their offspring tenant, an organisation
that might do better working from home rather than running-up
debt to another comittee. "Photocopier rental"
costs even more than accountancy and is heading towards "sundry"
and "professional fees". Charitable donations
of £13,000 are down on last years' £60,000 and given
without receipt any receipt that's easy for strangers to find
online but are within a thousand pounds of the company's loss
for the year - over £13,000 if you believe all these costs.
As with most companies, Rodell Properties does not make receipts
easier for strangers to find online but as a group that wants
to unlock democracy, it's odd that they don't want companies
to become more accountable and sometimes more democratic. This
does tend to suggest that think tankers don't think quite so
hard when it comes to fixing a photocopier than they do about
playing with the figures and renting a new one. I suggest using
Wizz which is recommended as the best solvent for unclogging
old inkjet printers, which are to had for free on Trashnothing.com.
In the political world, it's OK to talk about people as "yobs",
and lock them up for an insult so they know their place.
Nobody is too worried that the chief whip gets his constitution
wrong and asks a policeman to know his place; to claim to be
part of a group that runs the place. "Pleb"
is a bad word, though. "Yob" good; "Pleb"
bad. Apparently. Say Plobs.
There is a healthy competion among a half dozen or so communist
parties in the UK - much more so than trades unions, where the
need seems greater. My old union branch or some of its members
are now interested in the New Communist Party of Britain, with
its paper and web site The New Worker. It seeks to promote a
way that people can be nicer to each other by handling most of
the economy through committees instead of markets, reducing the
problems of capital becoming monopoly capital and competition
becoming a corosive competition that effects the norms and character
of competitors or their monopolist bosses.
The blog does not carry any advertisements, so how to fund the
As the old Communist
Party of Britain was wound up to become Rodell
Properties Ltd with a building in Cynthia Street, London
and an interest in sane pro-democracy think tanks, other Communist
parties have had more trouble. In the words of one Communist
Party treasurer in his return to the electoral commission "The
Communist Party of Britain does not 'fundraise' like capitalist
parties" but I think they do. Inherited wealth helped
the Communist Party of Great Britain, along with entry-ism: a
good trick for people who believe in lots and lots of committees.
Sit on enough of them for long enough and then you get to control
the cash of a union branch or such, then donate funds each year
to the Morning Star and a network of organisations without public
accounts - campaign groups usually - which do not publish receipts.
Calls to donate are another idea often tried. The New Communists
state that they have raised over £10,000 towards renovating
a some space for printing and meeting, now that they cannot use
machine leased by another communist party.
Lastly, many old communists were surprised that secret donations
had been made by the Soviet and Czech embassies, made to help
keep up appearances after those governments had been discredited.
Can the trick be repeated? The Morning Star praised China's treatment
of Tibet. What other wealthy discredited governments are there
to try. Well, the New Worker suggests
that the Syrian army are the goodies in the current civil
war. Maybe they will get a donation in return, or maybe this
is more of a cult-like test of loyalty in a group of some particular
kind of people.
I suggest the religious route to fund-raising in future. "Watching
Over You" banners on the right hand side might suggest an
idea. And the same crowd of people used to hold their meetings
at Cafod, the in-house and anti-condom charity of a hierachical
faith group, so the idea will have crossed their minds.
If you meet one of these people, can you suggest adverts down
the side of their blogs as a simpler solution?
Most of this site is about scam trades unions
which use no-win-no fee lawyers and a minimal staff to cover
disuptes and if that doesn't work for contentious employment
disputes: tough. The employer generally inherits the union agreement
and nods, so why bother what employees think?
But the interest began at the end of a career with a tax-funded
social work agency in London called Foundation66 which still
appears to employ those who cleared-out the payroll of troublemakers,
people in post a long time who were paid a little more, and those
in need of reasonable adjustments to disability such as sane
informed supervision. By any means necessary. Because driving
your staff to extremes and letting down clients seems cheaper
than paying them off. That's just one person's view but widely
shared and widely experienced in similar agencies. On the
other side, trustees might state that the thick and the lazy
and the in-the-wrong-job are being cleared out as well; that
the formal means are badly written and not up to the job. As
put by Gerry Robinson in on an open university program about
the NHS "you cannot sack any body except in a rather
machiavellan way?" (no reply or disagreement recorded).
Foundation66 also tweet the opposite side of the argument
between good and evil:
Cost of poor mental health at work: http://bit.ly/txyFJX
via @SocietyGuardian > alcohol and drug use can be a factor
in mental health
Oh here's another tweet. If anyone is worth
£55k they should be able to find this on google and
state their position on the same place if they are hired. I think.
If you read this in a few months' time and cannot google any
such statement, you might want to ask why the postholder is being
paid £55k of your taxes and possibly directing your service
or your job. Or why a well-paid job like this requires a chief
executive and director of this and that alongside, and whether
such folk with their truties are limiting what the director of
operations does. There have been quite a few postholders recently
so the person would have to make their mark soon after being
hired. The system contrasts with UK manufacturing where smaller
firms usually have a director and that's that: the other job
titles are redundant. After all, what would a director direct
We're hiring! Director of Operations, circa £55k starting
salary #jobs #substance misuse, see website for details http://bit.ly/udZrw5
A Tory MP with a name a bit like Alan B'Stard has voiced opinions
about trades unions.
He would like them to represent their members better.
That's fine. I'd expect someone with more background in representing
a constuency with a lot of unionised employers and perhaps a
background as a shop steward to add comments and suggestions,
so that a credible debate takes place.
of a regional committee reveals how unfit for pourpose the
union is, and how any political party needs to make unions transparent
and accountable along with company pensions and PLC-owned employers.
Under the old bogus T&G system, regional unions paid the
Under the new bogus Unite system, "The Region would receive
£270,000 as the opening balance and any monies not spent
would more than likely be recouped by Central Office.",
so there's pressure to get through £270,000 on any pet
project at the end of the financial year but still no accounting
or accountability to make sure it's spent on the members: still
a bogus system. Some subjects are kept out of site and out of
mind, like a subject that shouldn't be discussed in front of
the servants. It appears that a third of a million names on the
membership database are not linked to recent payments for membership,
which raises questions as to who put the names there, whether
these people ever existed, and how long it took to type them
but the questions go unasked. Other questions might be asked
about the politics of UK manufacturing closing, staff having
no share of responsibility in decisions about British Airways,
or why the union is backing a strike by staff at British Airways
but not at Swissport a few years ago. Do they only back staff
who can help the union get on television, or was there a deal
behind the scenes about Swissport?
Apparently the political part of the meeting was just about marginal
seats at Westminster and "the anti trades union laws",
so it isn't clear why the union employs specialist political
officers. It isn't stated whether the 37-member Communist Party
of Britain or the Taxi Drivers' political party are still getting
concealed hand-outs but the emphasis seems very much on the Labour
Party without any explanation of why, how much money they are
getting or for what reason.
There still seems to be a legal department that does more
than farm-out the simplest safest injury claims to no-win no-fee
lawyers on commission, but it's not clear what this department
does except defend the union against its own staff and members.
Three staff are on long term sick leave and "the matter
regarding the NW tutors was being dealt with by the Union solicitors
and could not be discussed." Something is rumbling about
legal services - "Georgina Hirsch" ex Amicus
"Director of Legal Services would be leaving the employ
of the union on 29 January and her position would not be replaced.
The assurance was given that the department would not suffer
a detriment. However, Paul Talbot would oversee the running of
the department. Tony Woodhouse explained that the panel of union
solicitors was being examined." Whether it's being examined
for lawyers who pay too many backhanders and win too few cases,
or the other way around, is not mentioned.
Whatever the union, it is the only major one that Unite cabin
crew have got in the face of a far worse employer that's even
more prone to the them-and-us / us-verses-them dirty tricks and
macho management far more than the junior staff or the union.
Few of us would support a system that said we have to shop at
Woolworths or we have to fly with Ryanair, but reporting of employment
disputes is a little vague. Journalists and passengers don't
know quite what to say. Of course employees have a right not
to work for an employer, and all of them to decide at once to
withdraw their labour, just as passengers have a right to use
Other pages of this site quote the union criticsised and berated
by staff of Swissport - tha desk staff of Swissair who's employer
was bought off the reciever by a private equity group detirmined
to cut costs at the expense of staff. However little Unite wants
its members to share the decision-making, it's better to have
a union that stands up for BA members than a union which just
takes £10 a month of Swissport members and lets them go
when they realise it's a waste of cash.
Taking a pargraph almost at random from the second statement
"Because this is a dispute directed at breaking trade
unionism, BA has invested heavily in strike-breaking measures
which would otherwise make little business sense. An example
is the cost of wet lease aeroplane hire that
is, planes which come fully crewed."
"A well-connected source has told Unite that on one contract
alone, the hire of twenty planes for the three-days strike last
weekend came to £7 million. All together, we believe BA
used around 40 wet - lease planes, which would mean
on this head alone, BA probably spent British Airways cabin
crew are about to start the second period of strike action in
the course of the current dispute. This will run for four days
from March 27-30. Around £14 million over the three days.
During the second strike, this bill may rise even further. The
CEO of Ryanair, Michael OLeary, has told the Daily Telegraph
(March 23) that he leased three planes to BA over the first strike,
but will lease four or five for the second strike.
The bill for this will also obviously rise."
Passengers who wish that their services did not grind to a
halt while trying to sleep in an airport terminal, or wondering
what the point of all this strife is, should think about an employer
which is willing to spend redicoulous emounts of money subsidising
its rival just to quash a union rather than co-operating with
staff as the most dependent stakeholders and the ones with most
to offer given good will.
New Name, same fiddle:
the Unite Left launch meeting
The only purpose of keeping this page is to note that big
unions are not democratic in any generally understood way as
you might expect from the way they are reported on telly as "representing"
their members. The Unite union is not democratic in any normally-understood
way, but has changed the system by which people are excluded
from the trustees. In the past the governing group was quite
literally a private members' club, meeting in private and deciding
- who should be excluded from backing next time,
- who shoud be voted-against among those present, and
- who should be excluded from among those keen to stand next
Backing takes the form of "nomination" by
branch structures that hardly pretend to be democratic, such
as the communist branch 1/1148
or the taxi driver's branch.
Such a system prevents many mavericks from standing and if they
do, the political machine can make sure there are candidates
standing against them next time (some seats are un-contested)
and that their votes are out-voted at the biennual trustee meetings,
whatever they are called. The General Something-or-other that
meets for an awayday in a hotel with minutes usually carefully
sensored and no video cameras allowed. If you are a posh journalist
reading this thinking "how do real-life union members
really view their unions?" it is with contempt and patience
in the hope that one day things get better. Unless the member
has never tried to use union services, in which case their opinion
probably comes from the BBC.
So what do the status quo candidates want, except the status
A chance to get through the show and off the stage with some
Maybe it made more sense to those present because they are
reported in adjectives rather than the subjects verbs and objects
of most working life. "new left", "old right",
"up middle", "good afternoon madam, can I interest
you in a bucket?" - like Ken Dodd, these are people
who note the applause in their diaries. One thing that works
is to appear to have a contest by roping-in some half-forgotten
factions to stand as a favour and get a seat or two, by mouthing
the old traditional
lies, like the one in the Wilfred Owen poem in order to get a
nervous round of applause in the general's HQ, well behind
the trenches and the front lines. By using the jargon
and adjectives of politics rather than stating practical
things to do with £10 a month per member, a millions-strong
mailing list, some half empty office buildings and a vague old
- When union leaders talk of nationalisation of Waterford or
Vestas or LDV vans they are
in a position to buy at least one themselves, and later sell
slowly to staff-owned organisations if some business can be salvaged
or for scrap and land if not.
- They are in a position to make union accounts more plausible
- including the accounts of local activist groups who decide
who can be nominated to stand for election. Union leaders are
in a position to expose any
- deliberate sweetheart deals
with employers and to
- pay proper lawyers what it
takes to be as good as employer's lawyers in employment tribunals
rather than pay proper lawyers to defend them against their own
disgruntled ex-members. They are in a position to
- insist on
democracy, almost for free, mainly on web sites and by email
in all their branches. They are in a position to say
- where the money has really
been going all these years. Meanwhile, bribes to MPs who
are embarassed to recieve them but work in a system of un-capped
expenses could surely be mentioned in a speech. MPs would surely
celebrate to see
- election expenses were capped all-round at low levels, and
never mentioned again. Other parties have asked for it. But unions
and the party establishment insist on a system paying bribes
to distant ansympathetic MPs for unknown reasons from the contributions
of members who are not always in regular work and don't get three
secretaries, shared office space and large allowances, let alone
salary of an NHS consultant. Somebody with the time and the
skill could work out these: the best price a reciever might quote
for LDV vans, and the total of all union expenses paid to MPs,
say every two years because the best financial rate of return
anyone can get is usually to get your money back in two years.
If the current rate of return on MP bribes is zero to give and
taker, anything greater would be a bonus. Can Unite
- buy LDV vans for two year's MP election expenses? (suggestion:
don't say "government-backed just before an election";
find out what the phoenix four did)
Like the tradional lie in the Wilfred Owen poem, that it is
right and proper to die for your country, some of the activists
have a traditional lie that employment has to get worse before
it gets better: more monopolised, more unpleasant, more us-and-them
in order that the system implodes to a worker's paradise in a
few generations. Nobody believes it any more, just as the military
staff at General Hague's HQ didn't really like latin poetry and
think things were going well, but they were glad to be there
and to stick to status quo rather than be in the trenches. The
old traditional words still get a nervous round of applause at
General Hague's HQ.
Left Launch Meeting
in different countries: they involve staff over there
This June 2009 British Airways has asked its staff to work
a week for free.
Passengers are paying in pounds and euro while fuel is paid in
Air travel and upmarket air travel are cyclical trades; they're
more sensitive than most to boom and bust; the executive flies
economy class and the trourist skips a holiday.
Staff response at this pivotal moment has been ....
Oh: sorry. None. There is a system of recognising bogus unions.
Swissport for example is one of the headline examples of union
failure: someone bought it off Swissair, reduced the staff terms
and conditions as much as the law allowed and the T&G union's
response was just to merge the Swissair branch in order to keep
troublemakers quiet. Whether they took any money from Swissport's
new owners is unknown. Unite T&G section, as it's now called,
employs an ex labour party spin doctor as a senior political
officer who is unable to share an office with anyone else - they
refuse. So the response of employees to an employer's offer to
do things differently from now on has been silent.
GM Detroit goes bust: government bails out some of
the company to be owned by creditors with some ownership by staff,
represented by unions.
GM Germany aka Opal goes bust: government bails out
some of the company to be owned by creditors with some ownership
by staff, represented by works councils.
GM UK aka Vauxhall is one fifth the size of Opal because
of bogus exchange rates designed to make politicians look good
these last 20 years. Politicians lament the likely closure of
Elsmere Port van factory. Staff response. As above. Government
response: bail out the banks and ignore Elsmere Port. When Rover
Group went bust a few years ago, politicians ended the talks
with a last-resort buyer prematurely to prevent bad news surfacing
during an election. One Labour politician told people near a
hundred year old plant that there were jobs being created at
Tesco, misunderstanding the long-term nature of manufacturing
clusters of expertise and tools.
Rivals to Elsmere Port's van factory are LDV vans,
closed and c/o Price Waterhouse Coopers recievers in Birmingham.
They just make vans so their business is even more cyclical than
the rest of the motor industry as they're making things that
companys can cut-back on replacing when times are hard - in fact
they're still open for business in the sense that un sold vans
are available, the tools licences and buildings are all in one
place, just waiting to an end to the recession. In saner times
this kind of problem would be dealt with by arrangement with
staff, shareholders or bank but when a bank goes bust and pulls-out
of agreements, it seems that governement subsidises the bank
and lets the real econonomy that makes vans disperse and loose
any chance of opening again. The union's response? As above.
Except that they back a party with a car scrapping policy which
doesn't seem to apply to vans - more to imported cheap cars which
keep politicians in power by making it looks as though goods
are available long-term, when they're not.
One of the strange things about bogus democracy in unions
is the effect it has on those who take part. It makes them cynical
about any kind of democracy, including the control of work by
people who do it that most people would want and has been proved
efficient. The cynecism shows most strongly when unions are called
to say something in order to get free television coverage after
some closure or scandle, such as cases where an employer is also
a pension provider to its staff, but is controlled by a team
of managers. One such firm went into receivership, dispite help
from the pension fund. Luckily the management team found enough
money from somewhere for a buy-out from receivers, sadly without
any money available to pensioners. In effect, staff and ex-staff
at all levels should have come to own the company because it
had defaulted on them. But the paternalistic wording of the contracts,
and of company stuctures, meant that a certain group of senior
staff got the lot and the rest got a job if lucky.
The union position on this? None. Simply to deplore the closure
of a pension. This cycnecism is the worst effect of the antics
below, and the reason for quoting them.
from The Times February 16, 2009 Derek Simpson / Unite - apology
Our report United they fight to the bitter end: how
marriage of unions went sour (January 17) about the
internal feuding in Unite wrongly stated that Kevin Coyne, one
of the challengers to Derek Simpson for the post of General Secretary
of Amicus, had received twice as many nominations as Mr Simpson.
In fact, the opposite is true. Mr Simpson has received almost
twice as many nominations as Mr Coyne. We apologise to all concerned
for the error and are happy to put the record straight.
Unable to work
for Spin Doctor
- political officers off sick for three months
from The Observer February 15, 2009 by Toby Helm, Whitehall editor
Britain's biggest union was in turmoil last night after it
emerged that three key officials in its political department
have been off work for much of the past few months on full pay.
They claim that they were bullied by Gordon Brown's combative
former spin doctor, Charlie Whelan.
Another top official, who clashed with Whelan after he was
appointed as Unite's political director in autumn 2007, has done
no work for more than a year, while receiving his full salary
and perks package of about £70,000.
The revelations of chaos and wasted money at the super-union
put the spotlight firmly on joint general secretary Derek Simpson,
who backed Whelan's appointment and who is standing for re-election
in what promises to be a bitter contest beginning tomorrow.
The allegations of bullying against Whelan have fuelled a
backlash against Simpson. Many claim the union, which has given
several million pounds to Labour since Brown entered Downing
Street, is not only riven by vicious internal disputes, but is
also being run like an outpost of Number 10, rather than an independent
organisation fighting for workers' rights.
Last night Simpson's main challenger, Kevin Coyne, accused
the union under Simpson of failing to fight for its members'
In a statement to the Observer, Coyne said: "On a host
of issues, from the privatisation and fragmentation of public
services, the failure to overturn laws that prevent unions from
representing their own members, through to the potential sale
of Royal Mail, we have failed to press our case.
"I'm a lifelong member of the Labour party, but I recognise
that our independence from Labour is vital. The job of the general
secretary is to protect the money in our members' pockets, not
to be in the pocket of the prime minister. Our members are entitled
to ask what value they get out of our support for Labour."
A Unite spokesman confirmed that three staff members - including
former Labour MP John Cryer - had chosen to be off full duties,
citing "stress" and other reasons, after lodging grievance
procedures last autumn against Whelan, and that a fourth had
not been doing anything for the union for 14 months.
He dismissed as "absolute nonsense" claims
that Whelan - a renowned figure in Whitehall, known for fierce
loyalty to Brown and equally robust treatment of his press critics
- had bullied staff and pushed people to adopt a more pro-government
line. He also pointed out that the tortuous process of bringing
together two unions - Amicus and the TGWU - into one organisation
had inevitably led to unpopular changes.
"In any merger situation or change, there are always
going to be people who are uncomfortable, or who lose out in
terms of their own position." He added: "Any suggestion
that we have not been fighting the government is ludicrous. We
have called for a bigger bail-out for the car industry, we have
attacked them over the row on foreign workers. We have gone for
them on every issue."
One of those who instituted grievance proceedings against
Whelan, Sarah Merrill, the union's political officer who had
been responsible for liaising with MPs, was in effect ousted
from the role.
Relations deteriorated to such an extent that Merrill, Cryer
and another female political officer jointly began grievance
procedures last autumn. A written statement submitted by Merrill
said the political department had "a real culture of fear
and a climate of bullying that he [Whelan] allows to take place
in his department". Merrill has been off work with "stress"
Cryer has also been away for most of the time, though he returned
to work recently, and the third official has also been off for
lengthy periods and has now been found a new role in the union.
Separately Mike Griffiths, a senior political officer sidelined
by Whelan, has been at home on "gardening leave" for
Whelan's arrival at the Treasury in 1997 as the new chancellor's
chief spin doctor was followed by the rapid departure of Jill
Rutter, the head of press.
Last night Whelan declined to make any comments.
Labour MPs believe that Simpson will face a tough fight from
Coyne. Last week, more than 25 MPs attended a meeting at the
House of Commons addressed by Coyne, who received a warm reception.
"Simpson is going to be run close," said one.
"It really is time for change at the top."
"gift" from a union with an overdraft
from The Times February 14, 2009 by Christine Buckley and
This article is the subject of a legal complaint from Derek
Simpson and Unite
One of the leaders of Britains biggest union has been
accused of breaking election rules, an allegation that could
have serious implications in the battle to gain control of the
Derek Simpson, a strong ally of Gordon Brown, is standing
for re-election as leader of the Amicus half of Unite, with voting
due to begin on Monday. The Times learnt that his main rival,
Coyne, made a complaint after Mr Simpson sent a letter to
a million Unite members this week saying that it was vital
that I, together with senior colleagues, am able to provide the
continuity so necessary in these difficult times.
Under Amicus rules, candidates cannot use union resources
in their campaigns.
Mr Coyne said that the letter, which outlines Unites
efforts to help its members during the recession, would have
cost the union more than £250,000 in postage alone.
The union said that an independent commissioner had seen a
draft of the letter before it was sent and rejected Mr Coynes
complaint. It added that it was not appropriate to comment on
the commissioners decision. Mr Coyne is now taking his
complaint to the Certification Officer, the unions watchdog.
Electoral Reform Services, which runs union elections, says
that the election will cost Unite about £500,000.
The election process is checked by a returning officer and
a scrutineer chosen by the union, but all union elections are
ultimately governed by the Certification Officer, who has the
power to order a fresh election if any rules have been broken.
Mr Simpson, who is standing for only a years term, triggered
the election after a legal challenge was made to his attempt
to stay beyond his retirement age.
The controversy comes amid fears that the union, which negotiated
a £6 million overdraft last year, is running out of money.
A senior Labour figure familiar with the union was worried that
it may be in difficulty. Unite said that it had not used any
of the overdraft.
Unite has given £13.4 million to Labour since Mr Brown
became Prime Minister, and was instrumental in saving the party
from bankruptcy last year.
It has given guarantees that it will continue to fund the
party but ministers fear that it will run out of cash, partly
as a result of a bitter fight between its joint general secretaries,
Tony Woodley and Mr Simpson.
Ian Gibson, Labour MP for Norwich North, said:
There needs to be a breath of fresh air. Someone needs
to take a hold and provide inspiration to members, many of whom
are going to suffer more and more in coming months.
Coincidentally, Mr Simpson recently met union activists in
a tour of the country. The union offered to reimburse travel
expenses for those attending. A union spokesman said that the
tour had been arranged before the ballot was called and was not
intended to further Mr Simpsons election campaign. A complaint
was made but dismissed by the independent commissioner.
from The Times, January 17th 2009 by Francis Elliott, Christine
Buckley and Sam Coates
This article is the subject of a legal complaint from Derek
Simpson and Unite
Derek Simpson and Tony Woodley, the joint general secretaries
of Unite, were the butt of last years best political joke.
Look how far theyve come, Dave Prentis
observed, sarcastically, of his fellow union bosses at the TUCs
annual conference in Brighton. Only last year I said
to Derek, What would you do if you saw Tony staggering
down the road? Derek replied, Reload.
Today Mr Simpson is the target of the latest volley in the
most bloody union fight for decades. The fight has serious implications
for Gordon Brown and the Labour Party.
It is not what Unites two million members were promised
when Amicus and the Transport and General Workers Union
merged on May 1, 2007. As a new dawn broke over that May Day,
Mr Simpson declared that this was the beginning of a process
that could lead to a global super-union.
Right now we have this madhouse where we are all played
off against each other. Until the unions can be structured internationally
like the companies, we will always lose, he told The
Nearly two years on, the question of who precisely
is running the asylum has never been more acute. No company
that was the result of a merger would let both chief executives
remain at the helm until they retired, but neither Mr Simpson
nor Mr Woodley would agree to the merger unless allowed to stay
The agreement was that Mr Simpson would retire on his 66th
birthday, December 23, 2010, and Mr Woodley a year later. The
election of a single general secretary was supposed to take place
next year, Mr Simpsons last in office.
The period of co-rule started badly and promptly got
worse. Mr Simpson stayed away from Unites launch, offended
that Mr Woodley had made a media appearance without telling him.
There are few better symbols of the disharmony than the way that
T&G and Amicus have been unable to move in together. While
Amicus is in Covent Garden, the T&G is over a mile away at
Transport House in Holborn. As observers never tire of pointing
out, the two halves remain in spitting distance of
Damaging stories about both men appeared to be the result
of tit-for-tat briefings. It emerged, for example, that Mr Simpson
had twice taken a helicopter to attend the Glastonbury Festival.
Not long afterwards the arrangement of Mr Woodleys grace-and-favour
flat in London came under scrutiny. Mr Simpsons purchase
of a £50,000 painting by Antony Gormley for the Amicus
headquarters found its way into print recently.
The manoeuvrings were sometimes farcical: at Labours
conference both men were given cubicles of equal size
behind the Unite stand because they literally could not
bear to be in the same room.
When Mr Simpson likened some of Mr Woodleys staff to
SS guards and cheerleaders in ra-ra skirts
it became clear that their relationship was heading for a breakdown.
The formal merger, due to take place last November, was put
off. Mr Simpson was put on notice that he would face a legal
challenge if he tried to stay in office beyond his 65th birthday.
To prevent Mr Woodley from seizing control after Mr Simpsons
forced departure next year, he has now put himself up for reelection
as Amicus general secretary, a battle he is far from certain
to win. Nowhere is the battle for control being watched more
closely than at No 10. Not only is Amicus Labours most
generous union donor, but Mr Simpson stuck with Mr Brown through
the Prime Ministers darkest hours last summer.
While Mr Woodley boycotted a crucial meeting of union leaders
with Mr Brown, Mr Simpson stayed loyal. When David Miliband was
about to open up a leadership challenge on the eve of Labours
annual conference, it was Mr Simpson who launched a devastating
attack on the young pretender, labelling him smug and arrogant
with a stream of epithets deemed too abusive to print
by the newspaper that carried the interiew.
It came as little surprise to those in the know, therefore,
when Mr Simpson hired Charlie Whelan, Mr Browns former
spin-doctor, to become the unions political director. Anyone
who believes you can write off Gordon Brown can think again,
Mr Whelan told a meeting during Labours conference.
Weve got an £8 million political fund.
People need to know that a union can mobilise its members to
support a candidate that the union likes.
To the growing dismay of Labour MPs directly funded by Unite,
most of the unions energies are being spent on infighting.
The level of mistrust in the union is graphically displayed in
a recent e-mail sent by Mr Whelan to his staff. You
will need to let me know in advance when you are visiting the
House of Commons and the purpose of your visit, Mr
Whelan wrote on January 6.
One of the e-mails recipients, Sarah Merrill, had already
lodged a written complaint claiming that the political department
under Mr Whelan had a culture of fear and a climate
of bullying. Ms Merrills complaint went on to
say that the atmosphere was totally at odds with the
policies of the union, and indeed is totally against the principles
established under any dignity-at-work procedures.
With little evidence of any dignity, many of the 111 Labour
MPs sponsored by Unite are embarrassed at the damage being caused
by the infighting when the party is desperate to reassure voters
that it is focused on the effects of the recession.
Next months Amicus election is a two-way fight between
Mr Simpson and Kevin Coyne, a northwest regional secretary.
Simpson on greed
We need action to protect jobs not just the huge
shares and pensions that the executives secure for themselves
Derek Simpson, 2008
The pay gap between workers and employers is astonishing,
with average earnings rising by 4.5 per cent a year but 20 per
cent per year for directors pay. City executive pay and
bonuses would make Midas blush
Derek Simpson, 2007
Woodley on greed
Londons cleaners are fed up with fat-cat profits
for the bosses while cleaners struggle to make ends meet
Tony Woodley, 2007
We live in a world where there is too often a race
to the bottom in terms and conditions for workers, where the
bad employer is able to undercut the good. A world of pensions
robbery for those at the bottom and unbridled fat-cat greed at
Tony Woodley, 2003
advice can be difficult at some employers
from The Times, November 8th 2008, edited from artical by Christene
Buckley and Valentine Low
Whelan, a senior member of staff and Gordon Browns former
spin-doctor, is at the centre of bullying allegations that he
could lead to the unions staff going on strike.
Mr Whelan is no stranger to discord. As Mr Browns mouthpiece
at the Treasury, he was notorious for his foul-mouthed briefings
to political journalists [...] Mr Whelan is now the political
director of Unite, where he is accused of
- breach of staff members contracts and
by three Unite employees, one of whom is John Cryer, the former
The three, who are all political officers, are being represented
by GMB, a rival union, which is considering balloting for industrial
action among its members at Unite.
One of the political officers, Sarah Merrill, says in a written
complaint that the political department has
a real culture of fear, and a climate of bullying
that he [Mr Whelan] allows to take place in his department, which
is totally at odds with the policies of the union, and indeed
is totally against the principles established under any dignity-at-work
It is not known whether Mr Whelan, as part of his induction
at Unite, was made familiar with the concept of dignity-at-work
Mr Simpson, who is currently in Cuba [...] is fighting an election
for the Amicus side of the union after a legal challenge against
his plans to stay on beyond retirement. He is facing four opponents,
all of whom argue that the merger process is going badly [...]
Complaint against Charlie Whelan, Unites political director,
by Sarah Merrill on October 14
Over the last year, I have been excluded, undermined,
bypassed, accused behind my back of committing issues that have
led certain people to question my capabilities, conduct, and
performance and . . . have been accused of plotting against the
union, among other issues. Charlie has led a bullying campaign
against me . . There is a real culture of fear, and a climate
of bullying that he allows to take place in his department, which
is totally at odds with the policies of the union, and indeed
is totally against the principles established under any dignity-at-work
Further claim against Mr Whelan
he has said hurtful comments about members of departments
to others, and at a Christmas function abused a female member
of staff. At the same function, he treated other female members
of staff inappropriately.
Employees.org.uk notes on this Times artical:
- Never add a weak & easily parodied complaint about a
Christmas function after a strong but vague point about what
people were doing all day, every day.
Complainants choose Chirstmas functions as well-witnessed examples,
but these examples are so often quoted in tribunal cases that
they overlap with cases where two people dislike each other,
something possibly awkward or rude has happenned, and there's
no provable reason for the legal system to judge anything. Laywers
will begin skim-reading much faster from the word "christmas".
- Judges and tribunal chairs are much more comfortable doing
what they are good at, looking dignified while bored stiff and
then making academic judgements backed by essays on what they
have heard. They have risen to the top of a tough profession
doing all this. They are less good at risking criticism in judging
the power relationships that add meaning to the events, or complainant's
good and busy track record that made an assertive response harder
at the time before things came to a tribunal (or a newspaper
but it's only polite to assume that the complainants knew about
tribunals and couts and made their complaints; to remind the
of it, as Unison did to their member,
For example when judges themselves in Zimbabwe or any other autocratic
state have been over-worked, given very meaningful threats by
very threatening people over a long period, and are trying to
make the best judgements on principal rather than just doing
a habitual cash-in-hand job (the law would expect them to show
efforts to find other judging jobs and sue only for loss of earnings
while searching) and are driven to a nervous breakdown, the individual
details sound petty without context. It is a bit like describing
a rape case to a Victorian judge. The judge might agree privately
that if it happened to someone somehow vulnerable as suggested,
or to Anthoney Gubbay in Zimbabwe, it would be a terrible thing
but that a judge's job is an academic one and without the evidence
and case law s/he is in trouble.
The judges' problem is more stark when overseen by ministers
who are members of a party that used to employ Mr Wheelan and
Mr Cryer and recieves donations from the employer for no reason
that anyone outside the clique of individuals has ever worked-out.
It is not 10% or 1% as bad as examples like Zanu-PF's influence
in Zimbabwe over Anthoney Gubbay's role as chief justice, but
there may be party pressure nevetheless just as there is a concentration
of ex party press spokesmen or MPs in this particular trades
union which had nothing to do with the employer's rule book until
the clique tried to change it unsuccessfully a while ago. A judge
wants to know: "what are you for? Why does Transport
House not have anyone around who can advise on an employment
dispute and suggest you leave out the Chistmas Party incident?"
and that isn't clear from the Times report.
A GMB political officer tried to argue the same kind of case
to the employment appeals tribunal a year or two ago; the employer's
case was that with falling membership this kind of pith-helmet
job title was no longer required and the vagaries of the situation
made the case harder to judge.
- If there are no good union officials in Transport House,
get a friend to pretend they are a tribunal chair and explain
to them what this is about. Find someone who isn't part of a
political clique who is in on the secrets, and doesn't understand
why "political officers" are employed at all
in a union that so obviously cannot represent its own staff.
Were the indignent staff busy doing useful things with a good
track record, or where they sitting in the canteen plotting legal
wrangles? What was their job? Employees.org.uk/inded.html
provides a list of legal helplines for factual advice about how
to handle a tribunal case if a trades union has let you down.
guards; team meetings in Cuba
Christene Buckley, Industrial Editor, The
T&G section of Unite has sought legal advice about pulling
out of its troubled merger with the Amicus union, amid tensions
between its joint leaders. [...] The T&G side is also very
unhappy with Amicuss finances after it went £3.6
million into the red in the past six months. Amicus says it is
paying for some operations that serve both unions, such as communications.
The confirmation of the severity of the problems at Unite
comes as Mr Simpson prepares to stand for re-election to bolster
his own position. He will submit himself to an election among
members of his Amicus side of the union after a legal challenge
to his plans to stay on beyond retirement age.
As revealed in The Times last month, Mr Simpson is seeking
a fresh mandate in the face of the legal challenge, which is
being considered by the unions watchdog, the Certification
Officer. [...] Mr Simpson will face a serious internal challenge
for his job from Laurence Faircloth, a regional official. A third
candidate will be Jerry Hicks, a former Rolls-Royce official
who is mounting the legal challenge to Mr Simpsons tenure.
The election will be held early next year.
Mr Simpson had intended to quit as joint general secretary
of Unite in late 2010, when he is 66.
Mr Woodley plans to step down early the following year and
hand over to a single successor for the merged union, who is
due to be elected next year.
Mr Simpson has been an ardent supporter of Gordon Brown, giving
a job to Charlie Whelan, his former spin doctor, and if he were
toppled it would be a blow to the Prime Minister.
An emergency meeting of Unites ruling executive yesterday
voted to approve his plan to hold the election. Significantly,
it also suspended for six months the new rule book for the merged
union. [T&G rule book now here]
This means the two sides remain individual organisations. The
full merger was supposed to have been sealed, with the new rule
book, on November 1.
Although formal plans to merge were laid out in May last year,
the two sides are still at odds over a financial structure. Finance
is a key issue for the T&G, where officials are also unhappy
with the spending of Mr Simpson. He has been criticised for living
in a house paid for by the union and for other costs such as
twice taking a helicopter to the Glastonbury Festival.
Mr Faircloth, 56, Unites regional secretary for the
southwest, said he was standing against Mr Simpson because he
did not believe enough was being done to push through the merger.
The election will enable the new joint general secretary to serve
only for a year, finishing in 2010. Unite officials declined
Office News Alerts: inadvertant scanning error
Not many people would want to stand for a volunteer-job on
the executive council of a union, attend a small number of seminar
discussions or committee meetings, and do their best to improve
a trade union. Of those that do, trouble-makers such as the independent
candidates to TGWU's council below, tend to be removed.
Individual's sources of information about Amicus are
They give more idea of how a rambling institution justifies
itself to directors in a jostle of detail than any official statement,
and most organisations could do with more independent opinion,
and encourage fair elections.
There's something puzzling about union ballot papers, which
have to exist for national and regional elections even if the
local branch secretary says "the region would probably
not allow it" of a home-based vote for the branch committee.
Like Eurovision candidates, the names on the ballot paper are
a surprise to many members, even if claiming to be nominated
by the branch or eurozone that the member belongs to. Anyone
with the time and inclination can get email alerts from the government
offices in Northern
Ireland and Great
Britain that certify unions as independent and put their
accounts online. At least once a month there is an emailed advance
notice of a Certification Office internal tribunal hearing at
which a union member claims s/he has been unreasonably
prevented from standing. Later an email follows saying that
it doesn't matter as the member "has now been expelled
from the union", so that's OK then, or that the tribunal
has been held and there was some
confusion about nomination by various undemocratic branches.
The latest decision reads "in order to become a candidate
Mrs Simms required five branch nominations", so that's
reasonable. Not. It's a system like Westminster before 1832,
when the gatekeepers of power are a host of rotten boroughs.
Why would such a system not exclude trouble makers? What else
is it for?
So many people complain about trades unions that often two
of them have similar names. There is Lisa Simms and Cynthia Simms.
It's tricky from skim-reading of googled sites to know which
simms is which.
There was another Simms complaint to the same tribunal a year
or two before, which was fobbed off in a different way. According
to the minutes of Amicus
NEC 2005 (para 33/06 "other reports) before such things
we made private - it was reported by the union's legal officer
that after the 2003 election the union had had to admit to a
change to the same candidate's election address caused by an
"inadvertant scanning error", but the Certification
Officer had "accepted that the change was not deliberate",
"noted the general secretaries declared intentions re the
conduct of future elections and had made no enforcement order".
vote results made public
Unite TGWU union managers were "delighted"
at the high turnout of just over 25% for merger, held after they
paid for a ghost-written magazine full of pictures of people
smiling and praise for the unoin's merged prospects to be sent
to all members and then sent ballot papers with a freepost address.
Management got near-17%
turnout for the rule book vote. Recently the union's management
have taken to putting election results on their web site, rather
than the "activists extranet". The results are
re-typed from those of Electoral Reform Services and don't mention
seats where only one candidate stood, nor figures for spoilt
balllot papers: only staff of Electoral Reform Services know
whether the words were about Electoral Reform Services and it's
signing of Unite Transport and General Workers' union elections.
There is a surprisingly steady 10% turnout. There's no mention
of membership of internal political parties, but most of the
successful candidates are members of the Broad Left internal
political party. Whistleblowers are excluded.
download link 12/08]
The union has also started publishing some sort of financial
account on its web site, to save members having to discover the
one at the Certification Office. The account claims that an amount
of money is spent on legal services, while another, non-public
account quoted in minutes of an Amicus National Executive Council
pre-merger states that T&G "charges
referral fees to solicitors" and Amicus too has
benefited from "reduced professional fees".
- old rules for T&G section: an unusually interesting document.
Rather than PDF, is is transcribed to a format that can be cut-and-pasted
into a Wiki
for comment among branch members, from which paragraphs can be
cut and emailed, put-on to small web sites, and so-on. The new
rules below have been put into plain text as well.
- proposed rules which will probably be voted-in on a small good-will
vote, like a vote of shareholders in a company. With recent turnout
for executive council elections under 10%, the glossy magazine
was necessary just to make the union look democratic by getting
some kind of turnout.
Here are some reasons for a protest "no",
like the Irish vote on the EU constitution.
Is the new organisation about help at work, or a fundraising
organisation pretending to be about help at work?
The new rule book describes a fundraising organisation for
the central office of the labour party which is mentioned by
name and various cartels which are also mentioned by name.
Political contributions are limited by law but there is no bar
in the rule book on ways of getting around the law, such as investing
money at 0% interest in a bank that goes to the legal limit in
making soft loans to the Labour Party, making soft loans direct
writing to members asking them to vote labour, making soft loans
to labour (something they were caught doing recently), failing
to defend members against the state funded organisations that
can be bad employers, attempting unfair dismissals of staff who
step-out of labour-line, or turning a blind eye to money transfer
via various organisations like branches, trades councils and
charities that do not keep accounts and can in turn pay money
to anyone they like.
Surveys of why people join unions show two things. "help
at work" or similar phrases are top of the list (not
fundraising), and membership is falling. Membership is falling
because unions have become fundraising organisations. If you're
offered a chance to join an expensive organsation that gives
secretive amounts of money to the labour party, why not give
more efficiently and post the cheque direct?
Funding politicians or PR in the new Unite rule book?
The old rule book allows members to donate collectively to sympathetic
politicians. In 1922 when the first draft was written, MPs weren't
paid. Those who could afford to be MPs seemed less likely to
be interested in a national health service, for example, than
union members wanted them to be. There is no bar to the union
funding break-away politicians like Ken Livingstone or Martin
Bell, regional parties or opposition parties.
Now MPs are well paid and donation to a central PR machine is
more likely to divert their attention onto "two or three
eye catching initiatives ... entirely conventional ... associated
with my name", as the prime minister explained in his
email to ministers in July 2000. The idea of funding a PR machine
is precisely the opposite of the original purpose of funding
practical MPs who wanted social insurance, a safety-net, and
"From time to time": democracy in the Unite rule
book (now the old rule book again as, dispite the ceremonial
vote with only one option and no detail put to members, the ruling
party has decided the rule books should not be merged for another
The new rule book tries to do a good thing in encouraging branches
to be something to do with one trade or employer, and introducing
democratic rules "from time to time". This good thing
is done in a way that pours all power into the centre:
officals will "from time to time" choose a ballot system.
There are no checks and balances to say how or why. For example,
there is no way of going to arbitration.
This is odd because the current General Secretary and Deputy
General Secretary did a lot of work investigating people who
tried to change the voting system "from time to time"
in Scotland at another set of union elections. And they haven't
shown much interest in newer cheaper ballot systems for local
branches up till now. However much they ask governemnt for laws
allowing easy ballots for senior jobs, they don't ask themselves
for ballots on anything else.
Without good, cheap systems of democracy that fit-in with how
people live, it will continue to be hard to trust branches with
a share of the membership money, and most of the money will remain
in the ten regional offices or simpily donated-away, while the
executive council and conference will continue to be like Eurovision:
something you might see on television once in a blue moon but
have no great part of making.
Black hole accounts: accountability in the Unite the Union
draft rule book
The old rule book assumed that members met each other in person
and could keep a pretty close eye on the union bank accounts
and budgets. The new rule book doesn't open-up the black hole
that is Unite accounting now. For example a due dilligence report
by Stoy Hayward accountants for Amicus into Transport and General
noticed that T&G "charged referral fees":
members pay a union for years and then get a no-win no-fee lawyer
who has to pay commission to their official. There are so few
officials per member that it's possible to believe that they're
paid for by these referral fees. The whole organisation is no
more than a claims managment
agency, but with a volunteer-co-ordinator role added-on to
the claims handling that the other firms do.
Services to members: don't ask the Unite rule book
If the union is going to become a way of helping people at work
then it ought to say so in a sensible adult contract.
The 1922 rule book mentions "Schedule II: services to
members" but there is a mysterious absence where this
document should be because there are basically no services to
members. Employment Appeal tribunal cases where members have
been let down by large unions, won cases against their ex-employers
privately, and then tried to sue the union for discriminating
against them demonstrate the problem. There is a case like that
on this site, against Unison,
and another linked from it against University and College Union.
Until unions do something for the money they're given, they will
continue to sink and pull-down with them any volunteer effort
like rep work that's related.
Someone else has done the work: why criticise the Unite
final draft rule book?
Wikipedia links to a thing called "Amicus Unity Gazette"
which is a political party controlling part of the Executive
Council. The Unite equivalent is called "Broad Left"
and more secretive. Members of the executive council who were
not part of these two groups did not even get to see the new
rule book until recently - after the last elections with their
less than 10% turnout. Members of the council who blow the whistle
are mysteriously not re-elected. So whoever and whatever a "Rules
Commission" was, it wasn't allowed to rock the boat,
and these rules are called "final draft". Whoever
did all the work of discussing these rules would probably like
a bit of an uprising. There are probably all sorts of things
they'd have liked to put-in if the weight of job and party hierachy
wasn't resting on them. The polite thing is to vote "no",
and bring the issues out into the open, as well as keeping
the union afloat in future. Otherwise you might have to start
your own union, which is another thing.
Aspirations are for the Labour party - not for yobs and
non-supporters according to the new rule book.
The 1922 rule book is for aspirational people who want to work
for an employee-owned firm like John Lewis, and encourage others
to do so. They also want help with student loans. Reading the
rule book, you'd expect the union to encourage members to buy
from employee-owned firms, union-recognising firms and good employers
site tries to do and possibly buy shares in firms and encourage
staff ownership as Baxi
Partnership does. Unite the union is now emphatically opposed
to workers even controlling their own pension funds, let alone
their employers. The party it backs is
This site is not funded by any organisation and is written
in odd scraps of time.
Your ideas may be different and based on better knowledge but
in any case, vote No.
super key marginals
Charlie Whelan reported on the use of Unite donations to support
the Labour Party. There was some discussion about which party
to support, or whether to use the money for the purpose given
instead such as paying for lawyers in unfair dismissal cases.
No. That was a joke by the person transcribing this text. The
£2 million from Unite would be used in the super
key marginals to counteract the money being pumped
in by Lord Ashcroft for the Conservatives. Unite money would
be used for social profiling and to send out personalised mail
shots to voters. [note: I got a picture of my crap scam union's
regional general secretary on top of a rare letter urging me
to vote labour. I have since left my union and was anyway in
a liberal / conservative constituency. I have know way of knowing
whether jargon phrases like "social profiling" were
used to bamboozle a volunteer committee but suspect that nothing
useful was done with £2,000,000 of Amicus members' money].
One NEC member asked how many Unite sponsored MPs had voted
against the Agency and temporary Workers Bill, and expressed
a fear that it had been kicked into the long grass by the Government.
Another NEC member talked about the problems in the NHS. There
were over a
million NHS workers, and their families and friends as well.
She had had a phone call in the lunch break from health workers
set to lose their jobs, and another about the privatisation of
the GP out-of-hours service in North London. The written political
report to NEC members noted the threats to health visiting, and
the written report commented on a cardiac unit threatened with
closure. If the Labour Party was serious about those people voting
Labour, what was needed was a sharp reversal of policy. There
would be similar issues in other sectors. If we gave so much
money to the Labour Party, we had to start saying,
Come on guys, we want something in return.
Charlie Whelan said there had been a meeting with a Health
Minister on health visiting, and the intention was to arrange
a fringe meeting on health at the Labour Party conference.
The General Secretary said he partially agreed with the people
who had raised problems, and that putting £2 million in
wasnt all we were doing. Arguing for the right policies
and putting the money in was the best combination. We had a commitment
from Gordon Brown that the principle of legislationon agency
and temporary workers would be in the Queens Speech, and
we would take part in a commission aimed at actually delivering
the legislation. We couldnt win it in a private members
bill, so we had to participate in the commission. If we didnt,
what else had we got? We didnt want this kicked into the
run a successful campaign to win a national T&G election
requires serious finance, once nominated. Your financial support
would be appreciated. Cheques made payable to 'Friends of Tony
This from the ballot paper for national executive elections,
which doesn't tell you how you were meant to have stood for election,
or how to ask questions of the candidates:
"This page intentionally blank"
internal union elections are not governed by specific laws,
nor are rule books enforced as contracts
- more as guides to an evolving tradition as the King
v TGWU case shows: the rule book insists on all members attending
a biannual branch meeting and electing on a show of hands; it
says that all members should have an equal say in the how the
property of the union is managed. The Certification Office says
that one part of the branch committee is keeping up appearances
by electing themselves on a show of hands round the table and
if they say that other committees of more or less the same people
with the same letterhead and bank account are different then
that's OK. And people like this draft the next edition of the
rule book. Obvously it isn't OK but they say it's OK and it is
not for us to criticise the learned. They sound like a theologians
"This is nonsense, obviously, but if we read it in
a way that suits our funders us we can keep our salaries".
The Trades Union and Labour relations Act insists that some
elections are held by postal ballot and that no member should
be unreasonably excluded from standing and having a hundred word
statement printed for members. The way the papers are printed,
it's made to look as though you have to go-round loads of branches
getting nominated before you can stand and this may even be true:
you would have to ask a theologian. There has just been an election
to the first Unite General Executive Committee and the turnout
was under 10%, according to Electoral Reform Services' letters
to the General Secretary, published on the private activists
intranet and from there on the DearUnite.com web site. This large .pdf file shows the results.
Guardian article describes the few remaining branch committees
that meet and an enclosed world in which factions try to get
the votes of those at the tables. The answer - online voting
- is easy and ways of doing it are listed at the end
of the page. If individual union activists don't get nerdy
and invite colleagues to vote, then unions will get dodgier and
dodgier, failing ones will merge, and younger people will prefer
to buy insurance off PLCs or probably go without. An immediate
problem is dirty tricks like overwork, bullying and goal-post
moving played on just the people I most disagree with according
to the DearUnite site, but the principal that union officials
should have the tools for the job , a controlled workload known
to their members and to be chosen in a rational way on merit
are common to all union officals and people in the voluntary
sector who they (except mine) try to help.
Bucking the system: independent
This from a
blog of Tuesday, 25 March 2008, written by someone who has
held-down a real job and been a branch chair and been elected
to the National Executive Council's quarterly four-day conferences
until just now. She has a special interest in democracy because
truck drivers, like cab drivers, are obviously not going to assemble
in a car park and elect on a show of hands while loosing trade
as the rule book suggests and are more intersted in things like
an online blog. Independent candidates lost to the party machine
last time, so for the moment it looks as though new unions have
a better chance of working than reformed old ones. What follows
is a direct quote.
Can Democracy survive in Unite?
As the elections for the national Executive Committee in Unite
draw to a close, questions are being asked about the role of
the Broad Left, the Amicus Unity Gazette and other groupings
in the union. These factions are officially banned but tolerated
within the TGWU Section, but formerly permitted in the Amicus
Section. The new Unite Rule Book is presently known only to a
few at the top of the union. Early indications are that it will
further reduce democracy in the union. The problems start at
the local level but manifest themselves right up to the top.
We understand that there is a sub-committee of the GEC taking
responsibility but members do not appear to have access to minutes,
further the GEC, to whom the sub-committee reports does not have
a Published Agenda so delegates arrive from Ireland, the UK,
Channel Islands and Gibraltar for a four day meeting without
proper documentation which would allow them to consult their
members before the GEC, this includes Rule Book drafts. Examples
of our Concerns:
Case Study 1. Rigged Voting.
Like the Monty Python film "Life of Brian" each
of the union factions portray themselves as the "goodies"
and all other factions as the "baddies," Delegates
elected to a Trade Groups in Region 1 attending their first meetings
in February, (which were due themselves to elect delegates to
other Regional and National Committees), were recently bombarded
with phone calls from the so-called Broad Left just as meetings
started and urged to support and oppose a whole series of representatives
merely on the say-so of key people, thereby diverting the democracy
of the union. Where did the BL get elected delegates mobile phone
numbers from? Surely only from within the union, in clear breach
of the rules. So this amounts to rigged voting, with members
being pressurised and perhaps bullied, with candidates possibly
smeared. About as democratic as fraudulent filling in of ballot
papers en masse. Monty Python would never dream of a situation
where there were about three organisations in the T&G calling
themselves "Broad Left", as far as we can discover
none is broad and none is left, this must be a first - a two
word title with two lies in it?
Subsequent voting within the trade groups followed a pattern
that was remarkably consistent for people some of whom had never
met before. (The temporary acting Chairs never invited those
seeking office to state their policies). The Broad Left is also
suspected of using the official union mailing database and Steve
Hart, Region 1 Regional Secretary is presently investigating
this. We do not disagree with factions in principle and totally
oppose the current T&G Rule on factions which was drafted
to enable witch hunts against Communist Party members, however,
at the moment we in the T&G get the worst of both worlds,
factions and currents are forced underground and have become
secret societies lacking accountability and lacking any responsibility
to the membership.
Case Study 2. Broad Left becomes New Right.
The Woodley supporting Broad Left has long since abandoned
any political principles or policies in favour of promoting people
because they are "good people", ie "one of us";
who just happen to know one another, (and be trusted to vote
according to personal wishes of the group "leaders"),
rather than people who share any common political objectives.
Social anthropologists would have a field-day if set loose on
the TGWU Broad Left.
The semi-clandestine Broad Left has no open record of members.
Like the Freemasons, individual union members are invited to
join based on recommendation. Divided into regions to reflect
the TGWU regions, each has its own unelected Chair and Co-ordinator
and the BL nationally has an unelected Chair, currently Martin
Mayer a GEC member.
BL policies are largely handed down from the GEC BL members
to the BL membership which is ruthlessly policed by regional
trusties, some of whom regularly milk the union of attendance
allowances and "stand-down" money supposedly paid in
place of pay lost but often within the gift of Broad Left union
Regional Industrial Officers. The Broad Left has become a secret
union within the union.
The Broad Left took over control from the old corrupt Right
Wing of our union, (also called the Broad Left), culminating
with the election of the then Left candidate Tony Woodley at
the last elections for GC. Without any checks and balances, the
Woodley supporting Broad Left has mutated to become a controlling
network for an increasingly New Labour-style union leadership.
25 of the 40 TGWU executive seats were uncontested, reportedly,
the result of a secret deal between the BL and all the other
Case Study 3 - Broad Left starts expulsions.
Activist Andy Erlam was expelled
from the Region 1 Broad Left, without the right to appeal, apparently
for questioning the transparency of the BL Slate. Standing against
the BL candidate, Erlam beat the slate decisively. Activists
Rachael Webb and Ian Lidbetter also stood successfully against
Broad Left Regionally, with the former securing 5 times the number
of votes as the BL rival. All three are currently standing as
independent Left candidates in the GEC elections, suspecting
a groundswell of support for principled, accountable and determined
socialists on the union's executive.Case Study 4 AUG. The same
trend has occurred within the Amicus Unity Gazette, previously
a relatively enlightened grouping of the Left and allowed under
Increasingly, the AUG, with the exception of the London Region
and isolated pockets of members, acts as a support network for
Derek Simpson the dominant Joint General Secretary of Unite.
Case Study 5. Des Heemskerk. Former Simpson Campaign Manager,
Des Heemskerk, a candidate for the Amicus Executive was recently
and mysteriously sacked from his job at Honda despite being a
model employee. There no evidence that the Amicus organised this
sacking but Hemskeerk is now unable to stand for the Executive
because rules dictate that candidates must be actually employed
in the relevant sector. These rules must be changed. Case Study
6. Swissport. 1,000 bag handlers at Heathrow airport have been
let down very badly by the union by being mis-led into agreeing
to a transfer of undertakings in 2001. Hundreds lost their employment
as a result and more have had pensions affected. The union response?
Closing down their Branch and refusing to talk about the problems
at every level of Unite. Protecting Tony Woodley, the Broad Left
in Region 1 refused to listen to Swissport leader Eugene Findlay
and has refused outright to support the Swissport Workers, presumably
because it might embarrass the Woodley leadership of our union?
A recent Swissport request for details of meetings in Region
1 was met with an insulting reply from the co-ordinator full
of foreign language lettering. Is this democracy and the intelligent
Left? What is the difference between this sell out of our members
and the sell out of the Liverpool dockers?
BL is now based on confidence trickery, lies and misrepresentations.
However, we must not ignore the good intentions of those involved
when it started and the good intentions of the majority who remain
in it, they just don't happen to be the ones who can afford hour
long telephone conversations and have access to lists of delegates
Case Study 7. Branch Political Corruption.
Take the case of a branch where the Branch Secretary pays
herself an annual sum of money in excess of £25,000 and
is protected by a Broad Left activist. There are apparently several
examples of Branch officials taking all the Branch income personally.
Case Study 8. - Broad Left pulling the wool over the eyes of
union democracy. Recently a disabled woman delegate to her Trade
Group last bi-annual period was told in her Branch meeting by
the Broad Left Branch Secretary that "she wasn't eligible
for reconsideration for election as Delegate to Regional Trade
Group (Woman's Reserve Seat) because she had stepped down as
Shop Steward". There is no such ruling in our Rule Book.
Case Study 9. John McDonnell.
Having previously stated that the Broad Left in TGWU would
support John McDonnell as Labour Leadership candidate, the BL
members of the GEC refused to back McDonnell in the final nomination
vote and voting records from that meeting still remain unpublished
despite previous assurances that they would be. It was sickening
to hear the self-appointed Broad Left Chair of the Broad Left
recently announce to the Labour Representation Committee, (which
effectively ran McDonnell's campaign), that it would affiliate
to the LRC. Some support! The Broad Left is exactly the sort
of trade union organisation that MI5 would help organise - control
and contain the Left, in case it finds the confidence to act
in genuine solidarity.
Case Study 10. Apprx 6 years ago two members of what is now
1/888 Branch campaigned against cheap labour from Eastern Europe
threatening hard won pay, terms and conditions under circumstances
where Willi Betz, using Bulgarian drivers at very low wages,
encouraged racism and national chauvinism amongst British drivers.
The 1/888 members campaigned under the slogan "fight
Will Betz, not the drivers". They linked up with Danish
Trade Unionists who set up a series of meetings of rank and file
drivers paid for by European Union Funding, one of the 1/888
activists was criticised for "being too open and putting
everything on her Branch Blog". Both the 1/888 activists
were sidelined by a current B/L member and now we hear nothing
of the project which showed signs of becoming a genuine rank
and file workers pressure group within the existing union structure
when it started. If any work is done it must be being done in
secret. We state unequivocally there is no such thing as secret
negotiations in our movement, no secret diplomacy, no secret
negotiations behind the members backs and no "working in
the background". Either the members know what is happening
or the "ordinary" members will not be there when they
are asked to support union calls for action.
What is to be done?
We must fight like hell for the democratic worker-led fighting
union that the T&G was more like when
the Rule Book was written. At one time we fought for the
Broad Left. Now the Woodley-ite Broad Left reminds one of Legs
Diamond when attacking other factions when he said of Bugsy Malone:
"it's bums like him what gives honest hoods like me a
We must now demand a Special Re-call BDC to examine ways in
which we can re-involve members in running our union. At such
a Conference, we would be ask Conference to endorse new requirements
that factions are democratic, transparent and act within the
constitution of our union, publishing their minutes for all to
Is there any reason why National Executive Council meetings
can not be broadcast, via the internet, to all members so that
they can see at the time what is being decided in their names?
Videocasting is now cheap and high quality. The TU movement must
use all available technology
to spread union democracy.
PRESS RELEASE FROM TGWU BRANCH 1/888
posted Monday, 3 March 2008
Release date: immediate
"Rebel" Unite Candidates bid for union national
General Executive Council (GEC)*
Three rebel union candidates may win places on the executive
of Unite, the new union which combines the Transport and General
Workers' Union and Amicus in protest at the "New Labour-type"
leadership of the union.
The candidates, all life-long union activists, who describe
themselves as "independent", are within striking distance
of national success following big regional election wins. If
elected, they are likely to be sharp critics of the two Joint-General
Secretaries Derek Simpson and Tony Woodley's drift away from
"lay-member democracy" in the new Unite union. The
influential TGWU Truck Drivers' Branch (Branch 1/888) is supporting
the 3 Candidates: Rachael Webb, Ian Lidbetter and Andy Erlam.
While each of the candidates is "fiercely independently-minded",
they are all furious about what they see as the closing down
of democracy and transparency in the union and last year's crucial
executives' decision to back Gordon Brown for Labour Leader rather
than the Left firebrand John McDonnell.
Union leaders are also secretly drawing up a new Rule Book
which many fear will end members' democracy. Apparently, the
new rules will not include an effective grievance procedure for
members with a complaint about the union. The candidates are
also challenging the informal "machines" called The
Broad Left and the Amicus Unity Gazette" (AUG) which fix
the elections, undermining genuine union democracy. The candidates
are also backing members of the Swissport Branch*, 1,000 baggage
handlers from Heathrow, who have been "badly let down by
the union" in a scandal which has rumbled on from 7 years.
International lorry driver Rachael
Webb, the women's candidate for London, the South East
and Eastern England said:
"Most women members, apart from those with union careers,
are still sidelined in the union. I want to see good socialist
women running about half the union at every level in every region
based on merit not on being patronized. I'm a woman working in
a man's world - the road transport industry - so my decades of
experience will be very useful, if elected. Tony Woodley and
Derek Simpson, (once heroes of the Left), have both been huge
disappointments in office."
Andy Erlam , Chair of
the large Central London Branch said:
"The Unite union leaders increasingly make the important
decisions, such as supporting Gordon Brown, behind closed doors.
Debate is stifled and "slates" of candidates produced
by self-styled informal leaders of the Left are like rabbits
out of a hat. There is no discussion. The semi-clandestine Broad
Left in the TGWU and the AUG in Amicus are as about democratic
as the freemasons and about as progressive as Opus Dei. It's
now time for political change." Andy is London's candidate
for the GEC.
Lidbetter , another truck driver said:
"The average union member doesn't know how the union
works or how to influence it. That suits the powers that be.
Those members aren't stupid, they just haven't been encouraged
to really own the union. There is a wealth of experience and
power to utilize - that's my mission. Disabled members, including
so many injured at work like myself, must be a real priority
for the union. No-one else is taking up the challenge."
The three also said:
"The TGWU is a great union doing some great work,
such as defending migrant workers. Unite will only be a great
union if the members rise up and demand to be involved in all
major decisions. This is our mission."
Rachael Webb 07989 851602 rachael dot webb at bbnet
Ian Lidbetter: 07838 381998 iglidbetter at y ahoo dot
co dot u k
Andy Erlam 07518 743 007 or 07795 547033 or hm 01273
841827 andyerlam at y ahoo dot co dot uk
Eugene Finlay (Swissport) 07985 800019 eugene dot finlay
at y ahoo do co dot uk
Note to Editors.
Executive Council (GEC) is the top national ruling body of the
TGWU Section of Unite with 40 seats.
26 of the 40 seats are not being challenged with just one candidate.
The Amicus Section has an additional 40 seats. (Controversy surrounds
Amicus candidates being disqualified).
The combined 80 seat Unite executive soon to be elected will
probably run the union for the next 3 or more years.
Webb and Erlam are candidates for Region 1: London, the South
East and Eastern England.
Lidbetter is a national candidate for truck drivers (Road Transport
Commercial Trade Group).
Unite represents over 2½ millions workers. The national
postal ballot for the GEC begins now (on Monday 3rd March and
runs to 28th March). Ballot papers will be dropping on members'
doorsteps at home this coming Monday.
----- ENDS -----
MPs expenses - another party machine
gets money from union party machines at the expense of help to
members at work
chief accused of using funds to boost New Labour
By Barrie Clement, Labour Editor, The Independent, Tuesday
11 Novermber 2003
Labour's biggest union benefactor was in turmoil last night
over allegations that its co-leader abused the organisation's
funds to promote the interests of Tony Blair and New Labour.
Derek Simpson, left-wing head of the Amicus-AEEU trade union,
is to investigate claims that Roger Lyons, TUC president and
general secretary of the MSF division of Amicus, misused union
resources to promote the interests of Blairite candidates for
The allegations have emerged on the eve of the official opening
of the union's new headquarters in central London, which will
be attended by senior cabinet ministers.
Mr Lyons is accused of using the journal of Amicus-MSF, released
yesterday, to boost the chances of New Labour in the forthcoming
election to the union's national executive committee. At stake
is the political direction of Labour's largest union affiliate
in the run-up to the next general election.
Left-wingers point out that in the latest issue of the journal
MSF Works, there are references to 11 New Labour candidates -
and pictures of some of them - to the exclusion of any others.
The magazine, for which Mr Lyons is responsible, costs £500,000
to produce and circulates among 350,000 members.
Ballot papers go out today in the election for the first unified
executive of the newly merged Amicus, which will begin its work
in January. Three other factions are involved in the fight to
control the new union: left- and right-wingers from the engineering
section, and left-wingers from MSF.
In a reference to Mr Lyons' expected elevation to the peerage,
one left-winger said Mr Lyons was "earning his ermine"
by allegedly advancing the careers of New Labour loyalists at
MSF. The Amicus-AEEU leader is retiring in a year's time, although
Mr Simpson has already assumed administrative and financial control
of the new amalgamated organisation.
Brian Pemberton, a left-wing candidate in the north-western
area of the union, described the contents of the organisation's
official journal as an "abuse of union funds" and an
"obscenity". He accused Mr Lyons of rewarding existing
right-wing executive members who voted to increase his salary
by £20,000 to £100,000 ahead of his retirement. Mr
Pemberton said that when the grassroots membership heard about
the allegation, the membership would "blow them away".
Mr Simpson said the union took the allegations "very
seriously" and would begin an immediate inquiry. If necessary
the complaints would be passed to the Certification Officer,
the Government's union watchdog.
Mr Lyons denied there was any attempt to promote the interests
of one candidate above another.
How to run a ballot
This duplicates "startyourownunion#running-a-vote"
but sits here just to show how cheap it is to run an honest election.
Union Ideas Network has some quite subtle articals about how
branch members can do business from home with something called
This collection isn't all subtle. It suits a branch secretary
or a rep or official who has an election to hold or a recognition-agreement
meeting to go to on behalf of a load of people, but is only in
touch with the three who turn up at branch meetings.
Traditionally in the T&G, branches are self-election committees
of these people who elect on a show of hands and don't necessarilly
have to be anything to do with one employer; they can be more
interested in politics and campaigns and turn a blind-eye to
a cruelly dispicably illegally bad union services as long as
they get a subsidy for the Cuba Solidarity Campaign or whatever
their favourite cause is. They certainly won't make the accounts
known to each member, as the law says they have to.
Recognition agreement meetings are often cancelled by management
without explanation, or held with one out-of-touch rep representing
the work force, who, because they are working, may not have made
time to go the the last branch meeting. The chances of a workplace
bullying problem or bad management being sorted out are nil.
Online ballots are one small part of sorting the problems out
if they include more people than the show-of-hands-in-a-back-room
Free online vote systems come-&-go over time. Some of the
sites that come-up on a Google search are government funded papers
that never get to the point and list dozens of dud links. There
are also free commercial sites, sometimes ugly with adverts or
short-lived. Sites that offer surveys with roughly one vote per
computer tend to come-up on the same google searches as these
rarer voting sites that offer roughly one vote per code from
the vote-holder's list, such as a reference on the electoral
roll, a membership number, or a code that has been posted
or emailed. Larger organisations might have web sites that allow
ballots to be built-in but simpler voting pages are less fiddlable.
A web link about socks is run by the same group of companies
- an open source collection of deliberative software, whatever
that is. One of the packaged products - My Election - has a price
guide of £5,000.
Fraud gets mentioned on the web. The main difficulty with
a small election is whether the secretary and chair are simply
making-up email addresses from distant branch members, as the
union law about a register of addresses is about postal addresses
and union IT departments (or the T&G one at least) don't
help voluntarily. When I asked a Unite T&G branch secretary
about elections he wrote "the regional office would probably
not allow it".
In my branch the membership database didn't always work, was
kept in Manchester for the whole union, and didn't have a way
that branch secretaries could log-on: they have to ask the few
paid staff and wait for a reply. To convert postal addresses
all over the UK to a decent email list could take a long time
but presumably most branches have some sort of email list. Mailouts
of over about 50 letters, asking members to log-on to a web site,
to vote, and give their email address to save the union money
might be done by hand or online, with Viapost being about the
same price as sticking stamps on postcards by hand and probably
with easier proof that you've posted most of the things to most
of the right people. If doing it by hand in the worst situation
you'd need a certificate or posting with one address per line,
or someone to witness that you've done the right thing.
- employer's franking or stamps: free if in recognition agreement.
It might be possible to get a committee of a few people to share
the stamping and addressing while talking. If there are just
a few members who aren't on email this might be the best system
but it's fiddle-able.
or stamps: 30p+postcard. Slow.
- Viapost.com 30.5p per
letter inc. paper & envelope. Mailmerge. Program download
25p+VAT+35p card processing fee
- Ezgram.com 50c per US
letter, US based
0.55 per German letter, German based
- Pc2paper.co.uk 54p
per second class letter, UK based
- l-mail.com (a small
L) 70p per UK letter, by credit card, +their logo
- doc2post.com no price
given - possibly 50p. Website down 6/10
online calculator for large mailouts by post code
The next stage is trying to get at least as many people to
vote online after a meeting as turn up to meetings. That can't
be hard. The problem of a register of voters is solved if all
members want to join something like CollectiveX or a Yahoo Group
and there may be similar things like Facebook or Meetup that
I know nothing about.
government names upmarket firms authorised to ballot and
scrutenize under the Trades Union and Labour Relations Act, which
covers a few votes for the most senior union jobs and insists
on paper ballots sent to physical addresses rather than email
ballots, so the posh end of the market has no privilages over
the free firms above when it comes to email voting. Some of the
firms are listed on the BERR
page about these ballots. One, Polaris,
has partnered with the expensive-looking firm
to do online elections for other votes. Another of the named
Electoral Reform Services,
also runs expensive-looking e-votes - this
is a sample.
deserve a mention here about government spending and political
Just Say "No"
offer junk or search for free junk on recycling groups near
you. Simple interface. Easy to use.
Your neighbours might be lending objects for free: lend, offer
services, save money, build community
- Poverty Wages
- More subsidies than Corporation Tax
- Treating staff as robots
- Crushing small business
eat me: Clover
google for edible weeds
Telephone advice for about £80 a year - appeals not
covered - price offers vary
Eat Me: Dandelions
Pay a financial advisor commission to tell you about pensions.
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advert on behalf of the financial thingey authority
Telephone advice for about £80 a year - appeals not
covered - price offers vary
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Pay a financial advisor commission to tell you about pensions.
Pay a pension company commission for putting your money into
a tracker fund and inventing extra rules and charges.
Pay tax on your pension when you're 65.
You don't have any choice in this: this is a public service
advert on behalf of the financial thingey authority
Cheap cruise deals
Kenyan Safari tour from a hotel that pays commission to the cruise
Find out half way through that the
staff are paid in tips and starve if you don't pay more.
Or they drop you off in Somalia
the new generation of cheaper money transfer between currencies
that uses P2P technology