Thursday, February 26, 2009

Socialist Party Public Meeting

The next in the fortnightly series of films and talks at the Socialist Party's Head Office, 52 Clapham High Street, London SW4 will take place this Saturday, 28 February, at 6pm.

It will be a showing of a short, 20-minute film "The Story of Stuff". Afterwards Pat Deutz will open a discussion on how to organise the production and distribution of "stuff" directly for use without markets or money instead of, as a present, for sale on a market with a view to profit.

Everybody is welcome and admission is free. The nearest tube is Clapham North on the Northern Line.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Between the first and the second cup of tea . . .

"You celebrate chaos."

" . . . no match for natural stupidity."

Weekly Bulletin of The Socialist Party of Great Britain (86)

Dear Friends,

Welcome to the 86th of our weekly bulletins to keep you informed of changes at Socialist Party of Great Britain @ MySpace.

We now have 1454 friends!

Recent blogs:

  • Prejudice and Equality
  • The end of the market
  • Free money for everyone?
  • Quote for the week:

    "A class of labourers, who live only so long as they find work, and who find work only so long as their labour increase capital. These labourers, who must sell themselves piecemeal, are a commodity, like every other article of commerce, and are consequently exposed to all the vicissitudes of competition, to all the fluctuations of the market." Marx and Engels, Manifesto of the Communist Party (1848).

    Continuing luck with your MySpace adventures!

    Robert and Piers

    Socialist Party of Great Britain

    Monday, February 23, 2009

    Friday, February 20, 2009

    11 days a week

    Weekly Bulletin of The Socialist Party of Great Britain (85)

    Dear Friends,

    Welcome to the 85th of our weekly bulletins to keep you informed of changes at Socialist Party of Great Britain @ MySpace.

    We now have 1454 friends!

    Recent blogs:

  • Stop Supporting Capitalism! Start Building Socialism!
  • Have the Tories gone Marxist?
  • Is the End of Capitalism Nigh?
  • Quote for the week:

    "Journalism is one of the devices whereby industrial autocracy keeps its control over political democracy; it is the day-by-day, between-elections propaganda, whereby the minds of the people are kept in a state of acquiescence, so that when the crisis of an election comes, they go to the polls and cast their ballots for either one of the two candidates of their exploiters." Upton Sinclair, The Brass Check (1919).

    Continuing luck with your MySpace adventures!

    Robert and Piers

    Socialist Party of Great Britain

    Thursday, February 19, 2009

    What's Going On? by Mark Steel (2008)

    There's a layer of society brought up with the expectation that it will rule. At their schools, when they do subjects like the First World War, instead of being asked to write about what life must have been like shivering in a trench, they're asked to construct a battle plan for capturing Verdun. They consider, like Tony Blair, that to end up as a Headmaster would be a failure. Instead of being taught to respect authority they're taught to BE authority. They ooze confidence that it's hard not to be intimidated by. For example, I was contacted by an Eton student who wanted me to speak at his debating society. I was doing a national tour at the time, so I called him back to say it would have to be after that finished. He rang me back and left a message that went, 'Right. Now I've looked on your website and seen the dates of your shows, and you've got two days off one week so I'm booking you in to come down on the Tuesday. It's quite simple.' And the words 'quite simple' were imbued with a slight exasperation, as if he was having to take time out from an important meeting with an admiral to explain to the servants how to serve the pâté.

    On the other hand, whenever starts a request, as most of us do, with 'Oh, eer hello, um sorry to bother you but I was just wondering' you know they didn't go to Eton.

    Is it because I'm not black?

    Click on pic to get the joke.

    Found via Urban 75.

    Wednesday, February 18, 2009

    One for your diary . . .

    . . . if you happen to be in Britain, have Film4 and are so inclined.

    Via Scottish Patient Kev comes the news that Film 4 is showing Bill Douglas's 1986 film, 'Comrades', tonight at 11pm.

    'Comrades' is a dramatisation of the Tolpuddle Martyrs. Of course it's a work of fiction; when was the last time you heard of six activists at a union branch meeting?

    As I've only ever seen five minutes of the film - and Kev seems to love the film in the same way that I love Cornish Pasties - I think it's best if he does the sales pitch:

    "'Comrades' has been described as one of the lost masterpieces of European cinema. It appeared in 1987 to critical acclaim then disappeared almost as quickly. It hasnt been seen in cinemas or on television for almost twenty years. But tomorrow night (Wed 18th) Film4 will show a very welcome screening of Bill Douglas's epic three hour movie about the Tolpuddle Martyrs. This really is a special event. People have campaigned for many years to have this film returned to the public domain.

    For my money Bill Douglas's masterpiece stands alongside the best of Tarkovsky, Bresson and Bergman. Within minutes the viewer is pulled into a story of love and passion, solidarity and bravery. 'Comrades' is not just one-dimensional political polemic either. Far from it. Nor just a historical epic. This is character-driven story-telling of the highest order, definitely, although there are many layers to the film. It fuses and transcends both narrative drama and the avante garde and cries out for further viewings.

    In many ways 'Comrades' is an experimental visionary movie as well as a tribute to the cinema that came before cinema. (Watch out for the magic lanternist who appears in many guises.) Interestingly, the famous actors of the day - who Douglas didn't want in the film but was forced to use - were cast as the affluent classes while complete unknowns were cast as the Martyrs and their families.

    Director Bill Douglas was a man knew about poverty and struggle. He was raised in abject poverty in Newcraighall, which was then an impoverished mining village on the outskirts of Edinburgh. His autobiographical 'Trilogy' - filmed in a post-war Newcraighall that is now gone - is his only other cinematic output. But what a work! It is by far the finest cinematic achievement to ever come out of Scotland. Even the film scripts of 'Trilogy' are works of literature in their own right.

    It is one of those typically Scottish re-occurrences that this intensely creative and single-minded individual had his artistic vision blocked at every twist and turn after 'Trilogy'. Bill Douglas had a purity of aesthetic and a nobility of purpose that few before or since have matched. Perhaps now that 'Trilogy' is out on DVD and 'Comrades' returned to its rightful place in the public domain more people will come to realise just what we lost when Scotland's greatest cinema auteur died at the young age of 41.

    If you love cinema try not to miss 'Comrades'. It starts at 11pm on Wed 18th Feb on Film4. And a big thanks to those at Art-Flix for the nod.

    OK, so it's not John Thaw in 'Praise Marx and Pass the Ammunition' - a film I only know of by reputation but which I'm desperate to see - but if you have the chance, you should definitely check out 'Comrades'. Maybe, just maybe, it's our 'Matewan' or 'Commune' and where else will you see Lily's dad playing a hero of British Labour Movement history?

    PS - Anyone reading this who happens to rip it, bit torrent it and then uploads it onto Pirate Bay or Mininova, I have to inform you that that is illegal activity . . . I think you know what I'm saying.

    One for your diary . . .

    . . . if you are so inclined.

    Details of the Summer School will be posted on the blog if and when I stumble across them on the SPGB website.

    Is it just me or are you also thinking Port Sunlight?

    Sunday, February 15, 2009

    Pelican West . . . South . . . East . . . and North

    Remember the other day when you grabbed the sleeve of my cream coloured cable knit sweater and insisted that you needed to know everything, EVERYTHING (you were shouting at the time . . . caused quite a scene in the condiments section of the Oak and the Iris) about Nick Heyward and Haircut 100?

    Well, I had a word and Saltyka has come up trumps. So exhaustive are the trumps (eh?) that there is an A side AND a B side.

    And there was you thinking that I was going to title the post 'Kingsize'. Keep whistling in the wind whilst I grab my dark brown corduroy jacket.

    Saturday, February 14, 2009

    "Give me a baby in a Celtic top before he is seven months old and I will give you a Bhoy for Life"

  • Wardrobe provided by Uncle Graham and Auntie Sharon
  • Photographed by Auntie Anne
  • A bastardisation of that famous Jesuit quote by his Dad . . . and if the accompanying photograph doesn't convince him where his football loyalties should lie then telling him he was named after Owen Archdeacon should do the trick.
  • Hug someone wearing an AK Press Hoodie Day

    First spotted over at Ian Bone's blog, it now gets a very generous write up on the BBC website.

    It's an alternative universe as scripted by Martin Millar . . .

    Staring back at me on the magazine rack at Union Square's Barnes & Noble

    What is it about me missing the important memos? What happened to the 50% plus one scenario of enacting SPGB style socialism? Did a floor resolution overturn the long established Party position?

    It does beg the question: Is it time for me to invoke my favourite Marxist quote . . . 'I don't want to be a member of a club that will have me as a member.'? Maybe it's time for my very own bailout package?

    I wonder if I can get the Newsweek front cover made into a T shirt? . . . I wonder if this the thirty-fifth or thirty sixth time that some bright spark in publishing on either side of the Atlantic has used William Harcourt's famous quote as a headline since the shit hit the capitalism fan? I wonder if they know they're quoting Harcourt? . . . I wonder if they know that nine times out of ten when they're lifting the quote they've misrepresented the context in which Harcourt said those famous words? . . . I wonder if the World of Free Access people are tearing their hair out now that 'socialism' is somewhere between 'Britney Spears' and 'Christian Bale's rantathon' in Google's most popular searches? . . . I wonder how to end . . .

    Friday, February 13, 2009

    Support Yahya Al-Faifi

    Via Socialist Unity blog:


    Yahya al Faifi, a trade unionist and socialist is facing deportation back to a tyranny in Saudi Arabia that regularly tortures and “disappears” dissidents. On 12 February, he received a rejection letter for his appeal against the refusal of his asylum claim appeal. Now, he and his family are in imminent danger of deportation from Britain.

    According to Leanne Wood’s blog, Yahya is based in South Wales and has continued his union work with the Communicatioms Workers Union. He has spoken at the Cardiff and Swansea Trades Councils among others to highlight the oppression trade unionists face in Saudi Arabia.

    The trade union movement is organising a day of action for Yahya on Thursday, 19 February. There will be a lobby of the Home Secretary in Queen Anne’s Gate in Whitehall at 2:00pm. A number of prominent trade unionists and MP’s will be attending. Any supporter who can be there is urged to join us.

    We are calling on trade unionists and other socialists internationally to organise protests/lobbies outside British Embassies and Consulates around the world on the same day – and to let the media know. If this is not possible in certain cases, then we are asking for whatever protests can be made on 19 February to be made.

    It is important that anyone taking part please contact the campaign to let us know. The best protection that Yahya can have is a huge show of support – and that support will only help if it is well publicised. (Contact: )

    So far, Yahya has the support of Ann Clwyd, MP; Jeff Cuthbert, AM; Leanne Wod AM, Billy Hayes, General Secretary of the Communications Workers Union; Mark Serwotka, General Secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union (that organises the Civil Service); Wayne Thomas, General Secretary of South Wales NUM; the Executive of the National Union of Journalists in Wales; the Executive of the University and College Lecturers Union in Wales; the Merseyside Port Shop Stewards and many other trade union bodies. In 2006, Wales TUC passed a motion supporting Yahya’s campaign for Saudi Arabian trade union rights. Yahya is a member of the CWU in Britain and an honourary member of the National Union of Mineworkers.

    Anyone who can write to the Home Secretary should please do so and should send a copy of the letter to his campaign. Anyone who has an official trade union or other labour and trade union position in Britain - or internationally - and who can give their support to the campaign should please forward us their details, so that we can add their name to the list. This public show of support is very important in persuading the Home Secretary to reverse her decision and stop Yahya and his family being deported.

    A fighter for Saudi Arabian Trade Union Rights

    Yahya worked for BAE Systems in Saudi Arabia. When the company announced that they were cutting the pay of Saudi Arabian workers by 40% in 2002, Yahya organised the 2000 workers affected and led them to victory, stopping the pay cut.

    This, of course, entailed organising a trade union in the plant. 500 attended the first meeting - even though trade unions are illegal in Saudi Arabia - a huge testament to Yahya’s abilities and to the determination of these workers to become part of the trade union movement given half a chance. Unfortunately, BAE Systems immediately sacked Yahya.

    Yahya fought to get his job back and took the case to a tribunal. In fact, the BAE Systems wished to make it clear that the matter was out of their hands. He has an official letter from the company saying that it was the government officer who ordered that Yahya be sacked.

    The whole series of events, the victory, the establishment of the union, Yahya’s sacking and his fight for reinstatement received a great deal of media coverage in Saudi Arabia at the time. Yahya soon found himself under surveillance and receiving telephone threats from the government. He was told they would “cut his tongue out” if he didn’t stop campaigning. Eventually, he was warned that he should leave the country, if he wanted to protect the safety of his family. This he did.

    Yahya and his family arrived in Britain four and a half years ago and asked for asylum

    Now, both the Home Office and the judge from the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal appeal hearing are saying that – despite the appalling human rights record of Saudi Arabia where dissidents regularly are jailed, tortured and “disappeared” - Yahya and his family face no threat if they are returned to Saudi Arabia. No one can reasonably agree with this assessment.

    A fine record of supporting struggle in Britain

    Since he has been in Britain, Yahya has supported every trade union struggle. During the Irish Ferries occupation in December 2005, Yahya not only attended every picket organised, he wanted to sleep on Pembroke Docks until all of the Irish Ferries workers had their jobs back. He has been on picket lines for the Council Workers, Job Centre Workers and Teachers.

    Email or write to Jacqui Smith and register your support for Yahya Al-Faifi and his family to stay in the UK:

    Rt Hon Jacqui Smith MP,
    Secretary of State for the Home Department,
    3rd Floor, Peel Buildings,
    2 Marsham Street,
    SW1P 4DF

    Email the campaign here:

    Thursday, February 12, 2009

    St Valentine's Day Mass'concur?

    Socialist Party debate with the UK Independence Party

    Saturday 14 February, at 6pm

    52 Clapham High Street, London SW4 7UN

    (Nearest Tube Stations, Clapham North and Clapham Common.)

    "British Jobs for British Workers?" will be a topic of debate on Saturday 14 February between Magnus Nielsen, of the UK Independence Party, and Danny Lambert, of the Socialist Party which has its offices at 52 Clapham High Street where the debate will take place.

    UKIP wants Britain to leave the EU. The Socialist Party wants a world without frontiers. Elections to the European Parliament take place on 5 June.

    Magnus Nielsen will be arguing that everyone in Britain has a common interest and should go it alone against the rest of the world. Danny Lambert will be arguing that workers in this country have more in common with workers in other countries than with employers in Britain, and that there is no national solution to global problems such as the environment, wars and, now, the world-wide depression.

    The debate starts at 6pm and admission is free.

    For more information, contact or visit the SPGB website.

    Wednesday, February 11, 2009

    Baby Mama (2008)

    Glued to my side

    Weekly Bulletin of The Socialist Party of Great Britain (84)

    Dear Friends,

    Welcome to the 84th of our weekly bulletins to keep you informed of changes at Socialist Party of Great Britain @ MySpace.

    We now have 1441 friends!

    Recent blogs:

  • Xenophobic unionism?
  • Darwin and the Intelligent Design Brigade
  • Democracy and dictatorship
  • Quote for the week:

    It grows and grows--are we the same,

    The feeble band, the few?

    Or what are these with eyes aflame,

    And hands to deal and do?

    This is the host that bears the word,


    A lightning flame, a shearing sword,

    A storm to overthrow.

    William Morris, No Master, 1885.

    Continuing luck with your MySpace adventures!

    Robert and Piers

    Socialist Party of Great Britain

    Infotainment Scam

    Our TV died on us last autumn, but after viewing this recent clip from Fox's Glenn Beck Show I now realise that it committed suicide.

    Before any British readers get a bit smug about right-wing loud-mouth American tv, wrap your peepers around this recent clip from Noel's HQ:

    I always knew Noel Edmonds had his head up his own arse but it's sad to see Keith Chegwin plumb such sorry depths. The man who fronted Naked Jungle reduced to the status of being King Noel's arse wiper. I bet he never thought it would come to this . . . and it must be a bastard trying to wipe when Noel's head is in the way.

    Gallows humour

    Despite it being unavailable stateside, I've finally been able to snaffle a copy of Mark Steel's 'What's Going On?'

    Only seventy pages in, I'm enjoying it as I have all of his books that I've previously read but I am once again struck by the thought that I wish that I had a dollar for every time he starts a sentence with, "It's a bit like . . . .".

    I wouldn't be rich but I would be able to afford a jar of marmite from the Chip Shop.

    Of course, as with the wonderful 'Reasons To Be Cheerful', waves of recognition pour over you as you read Steel. He may have been thirty years man and petition peddler in the SWP but, whether you have SPGB, SWP, CWO, CPB, SPEW, ICC, L & S or RWP-UNB sewn into your lapel, there is a reason why we all pretend to be in on the Life of Brian joke.

    Irrespective of the groupscule you're currently hiding from the real world in, the experience is pretty much a muchness of a muchness. On average, the groan of recognition hits you every two pages by my reckoning.

    The excerpted passage below about the break in relations between the SWP and ISO a few years back had me shouting at the walls, 'that's us, that is':

    The result of all this was the British and American wings of the organisation formally parted, so the British attempted to start up a new American party. After a few months someone told me excitedly, 'There's good news from America - we're up to eight.' Eight - in the whole of America - good news. When I relayed this conversation to someone else they said, 'And what he didn't tell you is that six of them are on Death Row.'

    In my darker moments, I realise I only stay in obscurantist politics because of the one-liners.

    Garfunkel and Garfunkel Simon and Simon

    Swedes have always been my favourite Scandinavians for some inexplicable reason but a bit more of this from the Norweigans and I might have to revise my opinion:

    Of course, I've been here before with my declared love for Kings of Convenience, but I would have thought after nearly four years my mancrush on Erlend Øye would have melted away just a wee bit.

    Quick, throw me my favourite Abba youtube clip before I write something I might regret.

    Vittumainen with a bell

    Swedes have always been my favourite Scandinavians for some inexplicable reason but a bit more of this from the Finns* and I might have to revise my opinion:

    “It's not just Premier League footballers who have become world-renowned – some supporters have an international reputation too. During the Finnish TV coverage of the Bristol City v Portsmouth FA Cup replay on Tuesday night, commentator Tuomas Virkkunen referred to the notorious John Portsmouth FC Westwood, in English, as ‘the cunt with the bell’, then explained that he wouldn't translate the term into Finnish since some people might find it ‘offensive’.” [From the When Saturday Comes website.]

    What would cause the greater pain . . . stuck next to that tube local character for 94 minutes or sitting in front of those wankers salt of the earth Sheffield Wednesday supporters who used to play the same few bars from The Escape To Victory theme over and over and over and over again for 92 minutes on their brass instruments? Given that choice, I'd sooner sit in the cubby hole in Conway Hall on a Saturday afternoon listening to the ICC drone about decadence.

    *According to wiki the Finns may or may not qualify as Scandinavians. It is open to debate. For the purposes of this post, they do qualify.

    Tuesday, February 10, 2009

    Tubes being tested

    Remember back in the day when the blog had its act together and would post details of the latest Socialist Standard each and every month. What happened to the good old days? Will they ever return?

    Nowadays, if I want to post details of a Socialist Standard article, I have to go the circuitous route of posting a link to the Richard Dawkins (dot net) website because it carries a repost of a piece from this month's Standard.

    Nice to see that the article generated a few comments from the pocket protector brigade . . . even if they do come off as a surly bunch of gits. I guess that comes with the high IQ and the love for prog rock.

    PS - You can view the latest Standard by clicking on the superb front cover on the right hand side of the screen.

    Wednesday, February 04, 2009

    Terry's all told

    He never did get over missing that penalty in Moscow.

    Hat tip to a poster on Urban 75.

    Winning a battle, losing on the away goals rule

    Weekly Bulletin of The Socialist Party of Great Britain (83)

    Dear Friends,

    Welcome to the 83rd of our weekly bulletins to keep you informed of changes at Socialist Party of Great Britain @ MySpace.

    We now have 1436 friends!

    Recent blogs:

  • Racism is bunk
  • Human behaviour
  • The weakness of the anti-war movement
  • Quote for the week:

    "Any society does not consist of individuals but expresses the sum of relationships [and] conditions that the individual actor is forming." Marx, Grundrisse, 1973.

    Continuing luck with your MySpace adventures!

    Robert and Piers

    Socialist Party of Great Britain

    Tuesday, February 03, 2009

    Hating on HP Clash style

    Looks like a certain someone won't be getting a civic reception from Dacorum Borough Council any time soon:

    What one song would feature on the soundtrack to your life?
    London Calling by the Clash. It reminds me of opening my eyes, looking around at Hemel Hempstead and thinking, "I'll get out of here." [Claire Skinner interviewed in yesterday's Guardian.]

    And there was me thinking that she was from Kings Langley. It could have been worse. She could have been from Tring..

    Batshit 4

    Splendid. Majestic in its intensity and use of colourful language.

    Granted, it doesn't top Joe Kinnear's more measured and slow burning rant from last year but you have to admire the range of Christian Bale's accents during his four minute swearfest on the set of the new Terminator movie. Is he doing an American accent? A British accent? An Australian accent? The sarcasm is all English.

    Method, man. METHOD and stick with it.

    If Michael Sheen doing Brian Clough does the box office, then Christian Bale will be John Sitton.