Monday, April 29, 2013

Pensioners of the world unite

Ian Duncan Smith has proposed that pensioners should hand back their bus passes and the meagre winter fuel allowance. Ian Duncan Smith is best remembered as the glutton who claimed £39 on expenses for his breakfast. We want it back – not the breakfast Ian, the money.


MPs – millionaire MPs – like Vince Cable have insisted that all “pensioners perks” should be taxed out of existence. Cable – a rich pensioner if ever there was one – does not need a bus pass. We pay for his travel – first class all the way.

They are giving hypocrisy a bad name! They are attacking pensioners while saying they cannot do anything about bankers' bonuses or (God forbid!) MPs expenses. They believe pensioners are weak. They are wrong. They believe pensioners have no allies. They are wrong.

When the sleeping giant (occasionally comatose giant!) of the TUC wakes up to its responsibilities and calls a general strike these wiseacres will have to learn to walk again. It will do them good to stand on their own two feet and learn to live in the real world.

Pensioners of the world unite – you have nothing to lose but Vince Cable!


  Click here to preview Socialist Reviews http://www.amazon.co.uk/Socialist-Reviews-ebook/dp/B00C9G7682/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1367232839&sr=8-2&keywords=socialist+reviews

Friday, April 26, 2013

Can I help you?

I run a helpline for stressed teachers. When I tell people this they frequently say “you must get a lot of calls” and add “it must be a real strain for them dealing with the little b******s”.
The second part is wrong. Curiously it is the big b******s who cause the most headaches for my callers. It is true that there are people who have been driven out of teaching by the behaviour of some pupils. The teacher is the first person who has ever said “no” to some pupils and the pupils do not like it. The potential for disruption in a school is considerable. One teacher quit in her first year because the classroom displays she lavished time and love on were continually vandalised. You realise this could have been the work of just one pupil.
However, teachers expect and can cope with most of the “challenging behaviour” of pupils. There is always the support and above all the knowledge of other teachers to fall back on. Other teachers will have knowledge of dealing with pupils and knowledge about the particular “challenging” individual in question.
No. The calls I get are about the overgrown playground bullies who have positions of power in education. Bullies in chief are Michael Gove and his henchman Michael Wilshaw. Wilshaw's first piece of advice to heads was “if morale is at an all-time low, you will know you are doing something right.” What a charmer.
If teachers are having problems (and that would be all of us at one time or another) then the Wilshaw style head does not offer support and advice. They just tell you what you already know. “Your results are not good enough.” Teach for a few years and you will realise that nothing is good enough for people like them.
I have even had one head who wants the staff to wear uniform. He will be getting them to salute him next. Since this was a unilateral change of contract we were able to dispute it. I had one caller who had been given a target of “driving” not the school bus as you might think but the English department. This is in Sussex and “we won't be druv!” is the county motto.
Over the last sixteen years I have had an insight into the dark side of education. People do not ring me up to say they are having a good time. I have also seen how the union can help people who are having problems and occasionally cut some of the worst heads and line managers down to size.
Excuse me, that's the phone.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

In the mirror of eternity




These are the books and monographs which I have published on Kindle this year. The eagle-eyed among you will notice that one is actually by Leon Trotsky – we did not work together on it, I am really not that old.

Book – Classroom Teacher Manual – 16 years of a helpline for stressed teachers condensed.

Monograph – The Concept of Evil – detailed study of The Lord of the Rings.

Pamphlet – Death Agony of Capitalism – commentary on Trotsky's classic work.

Monograph – The Role of the Hero – detailed study of The Iron Heel.

Monograph – Letters to Lara – a study of how children relate to computer games.

Monograph - French Translation of The Role of the Hero

Book – French Translation of The Mirror of Eternity

Book – The Mirror of Eternity – Science Fiction stories

Book – Museum of old Jokes – self-explanatory.

Book – The SS Dagger and other stories – more short stories.

You can download any – or indeed all – of these books for free on the first of March 2013




You can email me on derekmcmillan1951 (at) gmail.com

I also have a blog: derekmcmillan1951.blogspot.com

I even have a page on Amazon
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Sunday, April 21, 2013

E-petitions against Goveism

Gove wants to unilaterally worsen conditions for teachers and pupils. His implicit assumption is that teachers do not work hard enough. This will play well with the Tory blowhards he is appealing to but anyone who knows about education will query whether "more" invariably means "better". Otherwise why not have schools open 24 hours a day?

If schools want to lengthen the school day or cut holidays they have to consult and negotiate. Gove is just a bully. Teachers are good at dealing with bullies.

Do writing to your MP or e-petitions change the mind of a government which responds to criticism by literally going "yadda yadda yadda"? Probably not but as Tesco say, every little helps. The government assume everybody agrees with its policies just as they assume everybody loves Margaret Thatcher and was happy to pay millions for her funeral. 

One particularly useless Tory MP proclaimed to the local newspaper "nobody is against school x becoming an academy" because nobody had bothered to write to him.

Provide some evidence that they are lying.

 

There is a suggested petition to insist Gove has a go at teaching although that could be child abuse.

 There is also one against his proposed changes

 
 
 
 
 










Click here








Thursday, April 18, 2013

Rallies for education organised by NASUWT and NUT

This is for those people who think the unions should be working together - which would be most teachers. I hope ATL members will take part too. Parents and governors will also be invited. Gove's attack on teachers and his philistine "yadda yadda yadda" attitude to criticism pose a threat to education.

 AssociationVenueDateTime & Speakers
LiverpoolHoliday Inn Liverpool City Centre
Lime Street
Liverpool
L1 1NQ
click for directions and map
Saturday
27 April
2013
click for parking
11am - 12.30pm
Christine Blower General Secretary NUT,
Patrick Roach Deputy General Secretary NASUWT
ManchesterMidland Hotel
Peter Street
Manchester
M60 2DS
click for directions and map
Saturday
27 April
2013

click for parking
11am - 12.30pm
Chris Keates General Secretary NASUWT,
Kevin Courtney Deputy General Secretary NUT
BirminghamICC
Broad Street
Birmingham
B1 2EA
click for directions and map
Saturday
11 May
2013
click for parking
11am - 12.30pm
Chris Keates General Secretary NASUWT,
Kevin Courtney Deputy General Secretary NUT
LeedsThe Hilton Leeds City Hotel
Neville Street
Leeds
LS1 4BX
click for directions and map
Saturday
11 May
2013
11am - 12.30pm
Christine Blower General Secretary NUT,
Patrick Roach Deputy General Secretary NASUWT
CardiffMotorpoint Arena
Mary Ann Street
Cardiff
CF10 2EQ
click for directions and map
Saturday
18 May
2013
click for parking
11am - 12.30pm
Chris Keates General Secretary NASUWT,
Kevin Courtney Deputy General Secretary NUT
NewcastleCentre for Life
Times Square
Newcastle upon Tyne
Tyne and Wear
NE1 4EP
click for directions and map

http://classroomteacher.blogspot.com 
Saturday
18 May
2013
11am - 12.30pm
Christine Blower General Secretary NUT,
Patrick Roach Deputy General Secretary NASUWT











































Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Gove's pay cut for teachers

A new 2013 School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document (STPCD),
confirming Gove’s divisive performance-pay plans, has been released on
the Department for Education website, along with a ‘Toolkit’ of
dangerous advice encouraging schools to set teacher against teacher.



For a summary, look on the LANAC website:


http://www.nutlan.org.uk/?q=node/8985






















Click here








Frankie goes to St Pauls

Francis Maude, first "bastard" to put the knife into Maggie Thatcher, is the unlikely choice for organiser of the pro-Tory rally we are all paying 10 million pounds for today. Maude knew that Thatcherism would live on. When Thatcher only stole milk from children, it is now proposed to rob them of free school meals too. It is what the blessed Margaret would have wanted.

The old Tory lie about the royal family being "above politics" dies at this event. Although they reportedly despised Thatcher and her pretensions when she was alive, they are Thatcherites at heart. The views of the duke of Edinburgh who insists on referring to the Chinese as "slitty eyed" echo those of the Thatchers with their "golliwogs". More importantly a policy which puts the rich first is bound to appeal to the richest woman in Europe and her consort.

There will be protests at the funeral but if we are to bury Thatcherism it will require a concerted effort by the trade union movement. Labour lickspittles will be out in force today.  There is no hope that they will be of any use. A 24 hour general strike has been proposed - thanks to lobbying by the National Shop Stewards Network and others. It would be a good place to start.

The funeral of Thatcherism is coming. There will be no mourners by request :)


Monday, April 15, 2013

You know when you've been fraped

One of the irritating things about Facebook is the little tick box "keep me logged in". It frequently comes up with a tick already in it so if you do not have your wits about you - and I don't always have my wits about me! - then you are still logged in next time somebody uses the computer.

What happens then is what Angela's daughter Liz called "getting fraped". My experience of this has been harmless and salutary. One comment was posted ostensibly from me telling the world that I had just been fraped!

However, you might click "like" next to something on a website and suddenly find that you have just told all your 500 friends about it. That may not have been your intention.

The Teacher Support Network does issue advice on staying safe online. It is just a question of having your wits about you....come back wits, I need you now.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

A fitting tribute to Thatcher

Where there was discord, Thatcher brought harmony as this photo illustrates.


Thatcher did not invent selfishness and greed. However, sane people have always shunned selfishness and greed as anti-social. Human solidarity predates Socialism by centuries. Our ancestors found out that they could achieve far more working together than they could by selfishness.

If, as Thatcher believed fervently, there was “no such thing as society” then it made no sense to talk about anything being “anti-social”. For the first time selfishness and greed were lauded as positive virtues. The virtues indeed of the hard working strivers.

Thatcher believed in hard work. She herself worked very hard. However the strivers who benefited most from Thatcherism were the spivs and speculators. They worked hard at making money. A pickpocket also works hard and an old fashioned Socialist might regard the pickpocket's activities as anti-social.

Indeed one simpering sycophant on the BBC gushed about how restricted the banks were before the blessed Margaret set them free from old-fashioned regulation. Then the commentator clearly realised what she had just said and started backtracking, “maybe that wasn't such a good thing!”

The other aspect of Thatcherism was described as “rolling back the state” as a means of setting free the hard-working strivers. Instead of subsidising the infrastructure for the public good, state money and assets found their way into private pockets. Far from demonstrating the power of capitalism, privatisation merely verified its rapacious nature. The resources of the public were plundered for the benefit of profiteers.

The state, in the form of Maggie's blue cavalry, rolled over the mining communities and the lives of thousands of people were devastated. For some strange reason a police truncheon on the head did not make them love Thatcher. How ungrateful.

So the first response to Thatcher's death was to push “Ding dong the witch is dead.” to the top of the Amazon charts and there were street celebrations.

This is not enough. We need a lasting memorial to Thatcher. For decades parents who saw selfish behaviour in their children would mutter “I blame Thatcher.”

Every time you do something Thatcher would hate; every time you help a neighbour, every time you express solidarity; every action you take which asserts that there is such a thing as society is a nail in the coffin of Thatcherism.

And the time is coming when it will be buried forever.

 Socialist Reviews now out on Kindle

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A Tory political demonstration and we are paying for it

"The old saw that one shouldn’t speak ill of the recently dead cannot possibly apply to controversial figures in public life. It certainly didn’t apply to President Hugo Chavez who predeceased Margaret Thatcher amidst a blizzard of abuse." (George Galloway)

 It is nothing but hypocrisy when the same Tory blowhards who rubbished Chavez now start being pious.

I do not see eye to eye with George Galloway but no other member of parliament seems to want to speak up. Shame on the whole shower.

The government is intent on making Thatcher's funeral into a political demonstration and using the police to silence anyone who doesn't like it. She would have loved that.

When we bury Thatcherism it will not be a cause for grief but for celebration.

 Socialist Reviews now out on Kindle

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Miliband on Miliband

My collection of reviews on Amazon includes this
Available for download now

Read it and you will be jumping the gun because it has not appeared in Socialism Today yet :) I had to listen to Ed Miliband toadying to Margaret Thatcher on the BBC News. A particularly nauseating token of what "One Nation Labour" has become.

Miliband on Miliband


Parliamentary Socialism by Ralph Miliband
Second Edition 1972
ISBN 0850361354

The first time I tried to get a copy of this book in 1972 I was confronted by a very angry librarian who demanded to know “Are you one of those people who go around libraries asking for books?” Clearly I had quite the wrong idea about what libraries are for. I recommend that you get this book from the library quickly before the politicians close down the lot.


Although this book is from the 1970s it could have been written as a searing criticism of the present Labour leadership. The small detail is that they have continued the process which Miliband outlines by making the Labour Party a servant of the rich and powerful.The supreme irony is that it is Ed Miliband who is currently leading “One Nation Labour!”

The book traces the development of parliamentary socialism through the first six decades of the twentieth century but it is by no means simply a matter of historical interest. Ralph Miliband's criticism of the Labour leadership in the 1960s was that all the reforms for which they genuinely crusaded were “deliberately set within the context of an economic system whose basic features were accepted...the changes of which he (Wilson) spoke, if they were to be as far-reaching as he proclaimed to be necessary, would require precisely the kind of challenge to that economic system which his whole approach precluded.”

The book records how Wilson discussed with Lord Cromer, the Governor of the Bank of England, who insisted that all-round cuts in expenditure were incumbent on any government regardless of party. Wilson retorted that he was not prepared to go as far as Lord Cromer wished. “There is a Tory way of carrying out Tory policies and there is a Labour way of carrying out Tory policies. It may readily be granted that the government carried out Tory cuts in a Labour way, with heart-searching, qualifications, exceptions and so forth. But carry them out it did, all the same. And thus cleared the way for the more drastic application of Tory policies by their Tory successors.”

Conservative Chancellor Maudling taunted the Labour leadership that “it is true that they have inherited our problems. They seem also to have inherited our solutions.”

In fact in this century with such things as academies and privatisation of the health service it is fair to say that New Labour trod where Tories would have feared to go and this enabled the Tories to go much further.

Throughout the book there is a vivid contrast between the willingness of the working class to sacrifice and struggle and the yearning after “pelf and place” which pre-occupied the overwhelming majority of the Parliamentary Labour Party. Right from the start there was an alternative way to use parliament. As far back as 1907 there was an Independent Labour Party MP called Victor Grayson. Miliband records that “His impassioned zeal for pressing the cause of the unemployed soon involved him in angry 'scenes' in the House of Commons, and led to his suspension from it. Grayson's activities were profoundly embarrassing to his colleagues, both because these activities were deemed to compromise the Labour Group's respectability, and also because they offered to the activists a striking contrast with the Group's own lack of impact.

It is well to recall this when most workers are asking, if they think of Labour at all, “What are they doing?” and to imagine the impact which a Victor Grayson (or for that matter a Dave Nellist or a Joe Higgins) would have on the situation.

Themes throughout the book are the Labour Party insistence on “gradualism” - which has been described as the idea that you can skin a tiger claw by claw – a rejection of the class struggle in place of their bowdlerisation of the Owenite view that the classes could be reconciled, an urge for respectability and a tendency for compromise with the Liberals. Does this ring any bells?

The decisive test came with the General Strike of 1926. Miliband records in detail how the government prepared for the conflict. Then comes the chilling phrase “Labour did not prepare.” At the present time the TUC has been charged with making preparations for a general strike. Frances O'Grady reported on these preparations to the South East TUC last year. Apparently she had been talking to her lawyers! Hands up those who can remember a mass movement of the working class led by lawyers.

This book stands as a stark repudiation of everything the Labour leadership has come to stand for. Whereas Wilson is roundly condemned for supporting the Vietnam War, the left was sufficiently vertibrate in the 1960s to prevent him sending troops. While Gaitskell tried to remove Socialism from Labour's constitution the trade unions got in his way. Not so Tony Blair who succeeded in removing Clause Four and making the Labour Party into a party of privatisation and war.

The book is a brilliant and meticulously argued account of Labour history. Ralph Miliband did not see it as his job to point out how the left should respond. That is something we will have to do for ourselves.

Tony Benn is fond of listing the various groupings on the left to suggest there is no alternative to the Labour Party. It is clear that the Labour Party is no longer a party of the working class and it is the trade unions – i.e. primarily the rank and file – who will have to break with Labour and create a new party of the working class. This book will be a valuable weapon in the arsenal of those who want to bring that about.

Derek McMillan
08 04 2013











Table of Contents
Miliband on Miliband
Les Miserables 2012
The Apprentice final
Fahrenheit 9/11
Remember me Rescue me
The Exception to the Rulers
The Media in Question
A Child called 'It'
The Root of All Evil
Battleship Potemkin
Lady Chatterley’s Lover
The Chatterley Affair
V for Vendetta
Forget you had a daughter
Two lives
Life on the Screen
Borgen
Ideological dimensions of Taxi Driver
The Iron Lady in meltdown
Various Pets Alive and Dead

Margaret Thatcher


Margaret Thatcher will mainly be remembered for the Poll Tax. It must have exasperated her advisers to patiently explain that every political and financial expert opposed it when asked for advice.

One objection was that it was unfair but she did not waste a moment with that. So long as she told us it was fair and called it a community charge not a poll tax all would be well.

The other problem was that it was unworkable. This would make any sane person pause but the lady was not for turning.

Common sense would tell you that you cannot tax people who have no money but she had her answer. Non-payers were imprisoned. At the height of the campaign against the poll tax there were 15 million non-payers. They were people of principle who would not pay and people in poverty who could not pay. The most arrogant megalomaniac would pause before imprisoning 15 million people. It was the sheer logistics which defeated her.

She was not for turning but her own party turned her out and the poll tax was a major factor in her ignominious defeat.

Of course the bankers will be drinking a glass in her beloved memory. However we should spare a thought for the miners' wives and the Argentine widows. For them the passing of the Iron Lady must be a cause of deep emotion.

Derek McMillan




Monday, April 08, 2013

BBC shame - grovelling to Thatcher





BBC coverage of Thatcher in the self-styled "news broadcast" was disgusting sycophantic drivel. They grovel to Thatcher the same way they did to Jimmy Saville!



Book and film reviews for “The Socialist”


I was once a full-time employee of The Socialist – weekly paper of the UK Socialist Party. I was privileged to work with Ted Grant, Keith Dickenson, Peter Taaffe, Roger Silverman, Clair Doyle, the brilliant cartoonist Alan Hardman, Dave Galashan and Pete Jarvis. I attended Editorial Board meetings although I was a “technical” full-timer, not a political one.
I could write volumes about my work there. I will however pay tribute to just two people. Ted Grant was responsible for converting many people to the ideas of socialism. Born in South Africa, he still had a trace of a South African accent. Whenever I hear that accent I am reminded of Ted. He had devoted his life to socialism since before the war. He contributed to Socialist Appeal, Socialist Fight and The Militant (which was the name of The Socialist when I started work there). He was also quite an infuriating person to work with because he had a painstaking approach to his articles and tested deadlines to destruction.
Peter Taaffe is a left-wing activist from Liverpool and devotee of Everton football club. I first met him on a train to a Young Socialist conference. At that time he was the only person working for the paper full-time. When Ted Grant ignored the signs in the British Labour Party (the expulsion of socialists and the adoption of privatisation, inequality and war as items of policy) Peter Taaffe had to lead the fledgling Socialist Party. I still remember how he wore his voice out addressing meetings. After having a sore throat for a long time he attended a doctor who told him he had chronic pharyngitis. He came back to the office amused at this diagnosis because pharyngitis means “a sore throat” and chronic means “for a long time”!

I still write reviews of books and films for The Socialist. My friends assume that I am writing for “the” only remaining Socialist in the world but things are not that bad. I also write for Socialism Today which is a monthly journal. Some have suggested “Socialism Tomorrow” or “Socialism the day after” but we shall see.

During the banking crisis, the BBC broadcaster, Sarah Kennedy, joked that “The TUC have a demonstration against capitalism this weekend. They are bringing it forward because capitalism may not last that long.” Yet capitalism did survive the banking crisis and every family in the land knows how it survived. It survived at our expense. Bankers still get million pound bonuses (I always think six months in prison would do them more good) and we get cuts in wages, pensions and social services.

Perhaps it is those who believe in capitalism who are living in cloud cuckoo land.

I have collected some of my reviews. The most recent is a review of Parliamentary Socialism entitled "Miliband on Miliband". The earliest is a review of Life on the Screen by Sherry Turkle which is simply the most fascinating insight into the strange world of cyberspace that I have ever come across.

I review things which move or interest me.That is the advantage of freelance writing.



Table of Contents
 
Miliband on Miliband
Les Miserables 2012
The Apprentice final
Fahrenheit 9/11
Remember me Rescue me
The Exception to the Rulers
The Media in Question
A Child called 'It'
The Root of All Evil
Battleship Potemkin
Lady Chatterley’s Lover
The Chatterley Affair
V for Vendetta
Forget you had a daughter
Two lives
Life on the Screen
Borgen
Ideological dimensions of Taxi Driver
The Iron Lady in meltdown
Various Pets Alive and Dead

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Reds under Ian Grayson's bed

A disgraceful Guardian article by Jessica Shepherd attacking left wing teachers was worthy of the Daily Mail. The picture it sent around the world was a burning left wing newspaper. Do the oddly named 'broad left' approve of burning newspapers? Will they start on books next?

This does not seem to be a good time to divide the union with a witch hunt against reds under the beds

I do not read Socialist Worker. In fact I read the Broad Left leaflets at conference. I would oppose burning them :-)