Grave Suspicions on Membership Entitlement - What is Gaan On?
There are rumblings of concern and anger that the NUM has dramatically changed its rules on membership, and may well have cut loose nine tenths of the members. Dave Douglass asks why NUM members are being cut loose.

Ukraine - N.U.M. takes sharp right turn
Events in Ukraine are perhaps the most dangerous flash points in the world at this moment in time....
A view of the Ukranian situation from David Douglass

Middle East Wars, Islam and Jihadism
A personal view from David Douglass

Class war never went away
David Douglass reports on the destruction and restoration of the highly symbolic Wardley miners' banner.
Weekly Worker 868 Thursday June 02 2011

The Big Meeting 2007
The 123rd Annual Durham Miners Gala or the 'Big Meeting' as it is called took place on Saturday 14th July. Defying forecasts of the torrential rain which had fell incessantly for weeks, 70,000 people were blessed with glorious sunshine which reigned all day and into the evening.

Unofficial shift in NUM policy
A personal view by David Douglass

Nine For The Days Of The General Strike
On 1st May 1926, over one million coal miners were 'locked out' of their jobs refusing to work under the imposition by the coal owners, of longer hours and reductions in wages.
Dave Douglass' account of the 1926 strike and the events leading up to this bitter struggle.

Obscene Fundamentalist Reaction In London Slaughter
We are shocked and saddened by the outrage which has hit London.

Forgive and forget?
What should be the attitude of militants to the strikebreakers of 1984-85?
Weekly Worker 523 Thursday March 25 2004

Of course it was political
Dave Douglass speaking the March 14 Communist Forum about the Great Miners strike

The Strike - BBC2 27th January 2004
Dave gives us his first thoughts about this documentary

Paying the blood price
Weekly Worker 490 Thursday July 24 2003

Lies, damned lies, and WMDs
Weekly Worker 489 Thursday July 17 2003

What Political Backlash?
The Eurovision Song Contest. Last but not least?

A REPLY TO CAROLINE FLINT
Re: MP'S REPORT OF NOV 2002 ON THE FIRE FIGHTERS DISPUTE.

Rose Coloured Spectacles
Dave was shocked after reading "Official" N.U.M. spokesperson's comments.

To The Nameless Person Complaining About The North East Area
Dave replies to a comment made in the Miners Advice Guestbook.

Underground Construction 2001 Exhibition and Symposium
Dave got free tickets to visit this exhibition, so he went.

This year's CND Conference
A report from Dave Douglass

It's War!
Dave Douglass gives us his view of the terrible events of September 11th

A Report on the last Mark Barnsley Noise Demo at Wakefield Prison in March 2001.
We held another Noise Demo outside Wakefield Prison on March 24th, to once again demand that Mark Barnsley be transferred to a more appropriate prison

Chronic Bronchitis - Blair's Mining Disaster
Chronic Bronchitis and Emphysema victims robbed
- Now includes copies of correspondence between Dave Douglass and Mr Hain MP

NACODS compensation levy
The furore over NACOD’s levy on successful compensation cases, a political orchestration ?

Blair's Government Targets New Attack Upon Claimants
Scandalous new attack upon folk at the bottom of the pile

Letter to Doncaster Gazette
Dave writes to the Gazette and asks why the mineworker's pension fund should be misappropriated

The Socialist Labour Party
Or Follow The Leader

Tory Blair, sweet on the Scabs, hard on the Union miners.
‘No Favours’ to the Unions ?

Rain, floods, global warming and platitudes
Read what the Socialist newspaper the Weekly Worker had to say about the recent deluge.

Hatfield Miners Welfare Grounds, Dunscroft.
Dave Douglass writes to Hatfield Council

New Labour scroungers fiddle £4Billion from the hard working miners pension fund
Thousands of Hard working miners have been robbed by New Labour of £4 Billion

If you have anything you would like to bring to our attention
or if you would like to discuss any items appearing on our site, then contact us.

 





Our View Items


 

The Strike - BBC2 27th January 2004
Dave gives us his first thoughts about this documentary

A full review of the recent Ch4 and BBC2 Miners Strike programmes is soon to follow, both for the Website and the Weekly Worker. However one item which went out with the BBC2 programme cannot go unchallenged. This is the Harry’s legend that I took some sort of pacifist deviation in the mass sit down at the top of the pit lane. Activists including Harry will know well my attitude to physical resistance during the strike so I need not labour that one. Harry to be right has always took the piss out of me and the sit down tactic, accusing me of ‘peace man’ hippyism, it has usually been tongue in cheek. Unfortunately the way BBC2 shot the resulting police charge and riot, straight after the statement, it made it look like I had somehow caused the assault on the miners and their families. This is not a nice suggestion even by implication or inference. I had never suggested the police wouldn't attack you because you were sitting down ! I cut my teeth in the Tyneside Committee of 100 and numerous such sit down at nuclear bases and the bumps on my head by the time I was sixteen had led me to believe they would hit you with as much glee if you were sitting down as if you were standing up, so I had no illusions on that score and neither had anyone else. No, what usually happened whenever we went to the pit gates in any numbers was the police would find some excuse to charge us and then a fight would happen while the scabs on the bus quietly slipped out of the gate almost without sight or sound of the pickets and the battles further up the pit lane. The idea of the sit down just as the bus was setting off was to force it to stop, cops couldn't pick you up and move you while they were carrying riot shields so it was also planned to force them to loose some of their armour. The idea was to hold the scab bus as long as possible while they got some humpty for a change instead of the cops. Course a combination to two things happened, riot cops were still tooled up in the wings, and for some pickets bricking the cops was a hard habit to loose, so when a few bricks went over as the cops moved in to shift us that was the que for the snatch squads to charge into the crowd many of whom were still sitting down. So whatever else happened that day I neither had an attack of pacifism or naivety. One would have hoped in an otherwise excellent programme such a strong criticism, could have been balanced by an explanation from me as to what the idea was from my point of view.

 

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Report:
CND CONFERENCE
15 -16 SEPT. UNIVERSITY OF LONDON

This was the best conference in years, it was better attended than usual, probably because of the terrifying events in America there was a seriousness and dedication of purpose which had been somewhat absent for some time.
Old adversaries seemed to want to concentrate on the issues before us and be more flexible and understanding. There was a groundswell of feeling that we could be on the brink of a devesting process of events about to unfold. That our Voices should be heard, that we would not be rushed headlong into some modern USA led crusade against virtually anyone potentially everyone in the Arab states.
Noticeable at the conference were more Trade Union Voices, more working class common sense voices than for some time. There was a resolve to get Trade Unions and CND back on some constitutional lines, and to set targets of work with Unions and Union Conferences.
Guest speaker was Hillary Wainright, who I knew in Oxford during my student Days, that was thirty years ago and she was a swinging member of IMG then, now she helps Edit Red Pepper a very worthwhile radical paper. Still lost none of her passion and enthusiasm, though the miniskirt has now gone. Ah Well.

Dave Douglass.

 

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ITS WAR !

YES IT IS BUT TWO THINGS ARE CERTAIN

ONE, IT DIDN'T START ON TUESDAY 11TH & TWO, IT WILL NOT BE ENDED BY STILL MORE WAR.

The scenes as they emerged on Tuesday were literally unbelievable, they looked like scenes from a fiction, from a blood and gore Hollywood spectacular. It took time for the realisation that within these burning collapsing buildings and around the surrounding streets, ordinary people were being crushed and burned and suffocated in their hundreds. The attacks had been planned to coincide at 9 a.m. a time when the maximum number of people would be at the centres and the streets would be grid locked with morning traffic. The building as centres of administration of the State machine, as symbols of American Imperialism were strategic but the American people themselves en-mass were equally the intended target. We are revolted by the loss of the life, unequivocally and unconditionally revolted and appalled. However this incident cannot be staged managed by Blair and Bush into some kind of Imperialist bandwagon which can now roll on through the world enforcing their equally horrific agenda on the back of the carnage, and sowing still more Seeds of destruction which like Tuesdays attack will the potential of reaping whirlwinds of still more death and devastation in return. Blair’s absurd attempt to gather "the British people" into the conflict and try and send throughout the country a feeling of fear and involvement by flight bans and travel blocks, tear jerking phone in.'s, sombre faced minute by minute news reports etc. are preparation for a widespread and probable indiscriminate revenge attack involving British forces. Blair’s attempt to make this a war between "democrats versus terrorists" ignores the fact that these attacks were not indiscriminate, they could not just as well have been made against New Zealand or Oslo, they were tightly targeted on the USA (and may yet also be targeted on Britain.) Why ? Can anyone say they don't know why, America and possibly in future Britain ?

Despite the horror of the attack it must be said that this was retaliation, bloodthirsty and disproportionate, but retaliation and revenge for decades of American (and British) bombing of cities around the world, and in particular the Muslim world. Libya, Sudan, and of course almost daily Iraq, have seen US and British bombers with untouchable unstoppable fire power devastate cities and massacre innocent Civilians just like the ones in New York. More than 2 million Iraqi people, mainly women and children have died in recent years as a result of bombs , disease and starvation caused by The US imposed sanctions. The wanton abuse of power by Israel in the middle-east the ongoing carnage reaped against poor Palestinians, theft of their land, denial of basic rights to live never mind civil rights, murder almost daily of even baby's and little kids has not stirred a hair of reaction among the US population who have been at best indifferent. The Palestinians are non people. Double standards everywhere abound, Israel is given an exemption to carry on the most vulgar forms of imperialism and genocide, whilst the United Nations is rendered Impotent by the Veto of the US and Britain every time the subject is raised. Racialism , apartheid and slavery can be discussed globally but when Israel is agendered the US walks out.

Perhaps the powers that be in the US state have become so gorged on their own apparent unmatchable power, so unquestionably superior now that the so called Soviet Union has collapsed that they are the march of God through the world. Perhaps in their arrogance they thought these situations would carry on without massive reaction. For so long they have scared themselves with nightmares of one of third world countries or resistance groups gaining some weapons of mass destruction, that they scoured the world looking for atom bombs and germ war capacities, forgetting the first rule of guerilla strategy, to use the enemies weapons. It has long been a fact that it would never be some cruse missile which hit America but a man carrying a small suitcase with a high explosive device. If one could crash even a small plane into a nuclear power station it is unnecessary to develop a nuclear strike capacity of your own, America is full of them.

So who did the deed ? Almost certainly it is related to the Middle East for the reasons outlined above and many more unstated. It is unlikely to be bin Laden, who despite his vast resources does not maintain an air born division skilled at flying super jets. Such expertise suggests some state force, but also it seems likely a force of between 50 and 100 involved in this team have been resident, training and planning meticulously in the USA for above a year. Such residency clearly points to an American connection which is unlikely to be either Muslim or Arab and could be one of the dissident American groups like the one who carried out the last attack.

The spectre of Afghanistan and bin Laden raises still more gluts of hypocrisy, these "extremist fundamentalists" were trained , armed, equipped and funded by the American CIA and special forces. They were hailed as "freedom fighters" as they attacked the modest social and sexual progress being made by the left leaning Afghan military government. They were photrayed as the David fighting the Goliath as they decapitated and tortured Soviet soldiers . These were at that time Blairs "democrats" these were on "our side" at that time. Odd, isn't it. Now all over the world little chickens are flapping their wings and looking to come home to roost. The potential to ratchet this whole nightmare up another few notches and take the world nearer the edge is very close. If Bush goes on some "take no prisoners" crusade and launches a blood bath against the whole Arab and Muslim world, with Blair and Israel baying at his side we can expect decades of similar attacks and counter attacks pervading more and more levels of society and diving countries and people globally on religious and ethnic grounds in a way never seen before.

The alternative, short of a socialist world and that is the only real tangible alternative is for the US to reassess its role in the Middle -east and seek an honourable and just settlement. That would require a major shift in US foreign policy which is probably out with the capacity of George W. That being the case the storm clouds are likely to get much darker in the coming days and years. Once that happens the actual

issues and causes of the problem will get lost in the politics of the last bullet bomb or atrocity, we must be clear not to get drawn into this, these wars are not in the interest of the working class. The working class world wide are brother and sisters, we have a world to share in equality and mutual respect and justice.

Dave Douglass 13/09/01

 

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A Report on the last Mark Barnsley Noise Demo at Wakefield Prison in March 2001.

 

A Report on the last Mark Barnsley Noise Demo at Wakefield Prison in March 2001. As we announced in the last campaign bulletin. We held another Noise Demo outside Wakefield Prison on March 24th, to once again demand that Mark Barnsley be transferred to a more appropriate prison. About 30 people gathered this time outside the gates of Wakefield Prison, where miscarriage of justice prisoner, Mark Barnsley, is currently being held. We marched straight onto prison property to stand right in front of the main entrance, which they didn't like at all, but as we've discovered it's impossible for them to try and "negotiate" with you because you just can't hear anyone speaking! We made an enormous racket, sometimes even getting quite rhythmic! People brought all types of drums, whistles, air-horns and cooking pots that got beaten into some interesting shapes. Some people took photographs of screws on their shift change (which annoyed them no end) and resulted in them coming out and taking photos of us. At one point the prison governor also came out, looking visibly unhappy.

Some campaign supporters went inside to have a pre-booked visit with Mark. The visit was yet another "closed" visit, behind glass. Mysteriously the sniffer dogs always manage to smell something whenever Mark has visitors; even a 75 year old ex-headmaster visiting Mark recently, had the sniffer dogs sit at his feet! One of Mark's visitors on March 24th told us that this time: " To say it was blatant would be an understatement really- the screw didn't even bother to make the dog sit down; he just held it by my leg until the other screw threw a ball at it. You could see the dog trying to move on and the screw just refused to budge".

This has become the pattern for almost all Mark's visits and just another example of the blatant harassment that is going on. However, on March 24th, Mark was still in great spirits, despite being on a 24 hour hunger fast and said that he could hear everything. In fact they could all hear the fireworks going off whilst the visit was happening! He thanks everyone for turning up and really appreciates all your support. Thanks also to all the people who took part in the mass phone/fax-in to Wakefield Prison's Governor, David Shaw, on March 28th.

As most of you know, Mark is a lower security risk (Category B) prisoner, yet Wakefield is one of the top, maximum security Category A prisons in England. Moving Mark to Wakefield (his 20th prison move to date) was a clear act of punishment by the Prison Service, designed to isolate him from supporters and people sympathetic to his struggle for justice, both within the prison system and outside. Since arriving there Mark has been constantly harassed - put in the punishment Block for no reason, in unheated cells in sub-zero conditions, attempts have been made to put him on a Wing with sex offenders, his mail is routinely tampered with, almost all his visits have been 'closed' ones. The strict rules at HMP Wakefield, also mean that supporters are unable to send Mark basic items which would assist him in working on his case, such as pads of paper, envelopes and stamps. While Mark remains at Wakefield the injustice of his wrongful imprisonment is further compounded and contact with his family and friends is disrupted. Mark's children were unable to even send him a present for his recent 40th birthday. On March 24th, 300 leaflets were handed out stating "the worse they treat him, the harder we will fight!" and "we will continue to make a noise until Mark is moved". Despite these latest attempts to obstruct Mark's struggle for justice, he remains as committed as ever. We hope that we can continue to count on your support. Until Mark is moved, the 'Noise Demos' and 'Mass Phone/Fax-ins' will continue.

You can give your support by coming to the next NATIONAL NOISE DEMO on Sunday 22nd April. We'll be meeting at 12.30pm at Wakefield Westgate Train Station, which is very close to the prison. Please ring 07944 522001 or e-mail barnsleycampaign@hotmail.com nearer the time in case they move Mark before then. Again bring noisy things, drums, whistles, cooking pots, air-horns, banners, flags, and all your mates. The more the better.

Take part in the next MASS FAX & PHONE-IN: WEDNESDAY 25TH APRIL 2001. TO GOVERNOR DAVID SHAW AT HMP WAKEFIELD. FAX: 01924 299 315 & TELEPHONE: 01924 378282. Demand that Mark Barnsley be moved from Wakefield Prison.

For more info on Mark's case see: www.freemarkbarnsley.com, or send £2 to Justice for Mark Barnsley, PO Box 381, Huddersfield, HD13XX, England for an excellent booklet all about his case. To receive regular updates about the campaign and Mark's situation send us an e-mail.

 

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The furore over NACOD’s levy on successful compensation cases, a political orchestration ?

 

Jackie Lawrence MP is kicking up a stink because he’s discovered that NACOD’s in Wales is deducting a levy from successful claims against the NCB/BCC. Figures of 5% - 10% have been quoted. He says all the costs are paid by the Government. If this is true, why was the NUM nation-wide refused a Claims Handling Agreement by the Government which would have paid the Union back its costs in processing and administering the scheme, (although as reported elsewhere they granted such a scheme to the UDM and now Mr Lawrence claims they did so for NACODs too ). So if one can't levy a deduction for the extra administration and campaigning, advice surgeries etc. how would the NUM meet the costs ? The NUM deducts 3% from each claim successfully handled, plus £2 per week Limited Membership fees while ever the claim is running, the total often adds up to 5 / 6 % and could on occasion reach 10%. The problem is , there is no ceiling on the amount of subs deducted regardless of the gross amount received, obviously a long running claim with a small settlement at the end of it is going to be a high % the man has to pay. What is the real reason why Jackie is singling out NACOD’S in Wales ? Because Bleddyn Hancock one of its leaders is running against his New Labour Party and for Plaid, which is destined to give New Labour a bloody nose at the General Election. All kinds of dirty tricks are being used to disgrace Plaid the Welsh Nationalists as anyone who watched Question Time would have witnessed on Thursday. Accusations of racialism were being thrown at a candidate who criticised rich southern English folk who move into Wales during their retirement to buy up cheap houses and benefit from the lower standard of living. Driving up the house prices so ordinary Welsh folk couldn't afford to live in their own areas. The same of course could be said in inner city developments, riverside developments, rural and fishing communities all over the island, except its not race is class. Seems to me the latest furore is just another piece of New Labour mud slinging at anyone who stands to their left ( almost everyone.)

 

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Blair's Government Targets New Attack Upon Claimants

In a scandalous new attack upon folk at the bottom of the pile Blair's government whizz kids have come up with new scams of stealing £55 million - from people on Incapacity Benefit.

It seems incredible, it is certainly unjustifiable in any way, but as of April anyone who is on Incapacity Benefit, and discovers they will not be able to restart work owing to their disability and applies for Incapacity Retirement from their own Company Pension Scheme, entitlement to I.B. will stop. Likewise if you are struggling to work suffering from some incapacitating condition and all agree you can no longer manage and will be afforded Incapacity Retirement under your Company Pension Scheme, the Benefit Agency will henceforth debar you from claiming Incapacity Benefit.

So far the move is being kept rather secret or low key, Claimants Groups and Unions, so far seem not to have got a big public protest movement together on this issue.

We hope as Blair and his cronies, pound the pavements seeking to keep their cushy jobs in the palace of Westminster, and ask us all to vote for them, we confront them with this injustice loud and clear.

 

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Letter to Doncaster Gazette


Mining Communities Advice Centre
Emerson Ave., Stainforth, Doncaster
01302 841 365
Correspondence C/O
David Douglass BA. MA.
16, Abbeyfield Road, Dunscroft, Doncaster
8 Feb. 2001

 


I was interested to read in the Doncaster Gazette that Councilors and members of the Coalfields Communities Campaign are to redouble their efforts over Mineworkers Pension Scheme profits. Among other things "calling upon the Treasury to agree to it its share of pension surpluses being ploughed back into coalfield communities".

Well pardon me, as a member and representative of many thousands of members of the MPS let me ask them to think again. Why should the miners pick up the tab for the dereliction left in our devastated communities following the destruction of our industry ? Our so called friends are asking the Government if we the victims can fund reconstruction using money from our pension fund ! With friends like these.......

We have a better idea. Give the pension fund profits to miners pensions, that is why the fund was established, why we paid into it and why its profits exist. To call for any less is an outrage.


David Douglass

National Union Of Mineworkers

Stainforth. Doncaster.

 

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The Socialist Labour Party
Or Follow The Leader


Now that ‘King Arthur’ has found his way back into the news again, heralding himself as the workers saviour from Mandelson and announcing that he and 130 (!) Other SLP candidates will be running in the forthcoming election, it may be timely to look again at the Socialist Labour Party phenomena.

Illustrative of the way in which working class organisation can rapidly change form and move into unexpected areas creating a new agenda had been the way in which the idea of forming a Socialist Labour Party caused an excited ripple to spread through leftist sections of the class. Totally and finally disgusted with Tory Blairs open acceptance and advocacy of Thatcherite policies, the destruction of the last shreds of any procedures and their replacement by a virtual Leader dictatorship, the scrapping of all socialistic policies finally cemented by the ritual public slaughter of Clause Four pt four many have cried enough ! Centred around the charismatic and influential leadership of Arthur Scargill the debate had been opened up around plans for the new party, a principled working class organisation directly challenging New Labour. As soon as the call hit the streets it lit a spark throughout the working class communities. In northern cities, in pubs, shops, and clubs debate around the local football fixtures, love affairs and lottery results was peppered with discussion on Scargill’s new party. Not for many a year had anyone seen so many ordinary usually non political people debate class organisation, and whether Labour new or Socialist or either offered any way forward for the working class. Phone-in programmes in Newcastle, Hull, Sheffield, and Leeds were flooded with callers trying to make their respective points, it being noted that they were two to one in favour of a new working class organisation and against New labour.


The far left two rustled with excitement, here was a man of impeccable class credentials with standing among the most militant sections of the Working Class, surely the cement which could weld the disparate sections of the left together ? If such were the nieve aspirations of the ‘varieties’ on the far left they were at least well intentioned God love them. They seemed to forget the differences between the Traditional Left, the Social Democratic Left, the Stalinist old CPer and those on the Revolutionary Left, the young left forged in the flames of the 1960’/70s surge of world revolutionism. This latter was bred and born into faction fights, polemics, disputes and debates, it held together by fundamental recognition of the right to dissent and present differing views of the world. The old International Marxist Group which was to sink itself into the SLP under the factional nomination FISC (Fourth International Supporters Caucus) had in the heady days of the 60’s and 70’s no less than eight different factions each presenting analysis and position papers and often with their own publications, united in the same revolutionary organisation. Such groups somehow had assumed Arthur knew how the far left worked. If he did he was having non of it.

Arthur’s trajectory was based upon the Stalinist traditions of the monolithic leader, the one road, bureaucratic structures and rules. There would be no pluralism and diversity in Arthur's party, but the far left was yet to realise this as they excitedly flocked to the new party. If it was to mature the SLP had to stop being "Arthur’s Party" and become a genuine "Workers Party" which they (the working class members ) directly controlled.


The 96 Hemsworth by-election seemed to present an early challenge and Brenda Nixon of Women Against Pit Closures decided to take on the official labour candidate. Having given itself less than 10 days to mount a campaign nobody seriously expected Brenda (least of all her) to storm into parliament on the crest of a left-labour wave. To our Anarcho-Marxist wing of class politics numbers of votes are of little qualitative importance in themselves, but it is a simple fact she might easily have gained the few hundred extra votes required to come second, with all the physiological and propagandist value that would have delivered. That this wasn't achieved was due entirely to Leader-Centrism and Arthur's absolute obsession with supervising and checking everything himself for fear of far left contamination. One of the reasons why people in our camp stand well clear of political parties is precisely the tendency to bureaucracy, egocentricity and internal wrangles over who should be boss.


What was incidentally and initially amassing (although perhaps shouldn't be) was the way in which self declared revolutionary groups like SWP had condemned the break away from Blairs New Labour, virtually defending it as the workers party against socialists arguing for a more radical platform. That Benn and Skinner with a lifetime role as loyal leftist opposition of the Palace of Westminster should take such a stance is understandable, that self declared revolutionaries should do it is unprincipled and opportunist to a fault. Fortunately such a position was untenable and the organised left around SWP and SP (the old Militant group) began to orientate toward the new formation and offer critical support. It is not certain how welcome this was in the SLPs top table. After all the first commandment "Thou shalt have no Gods before me" equally applied to how Arthur viewed other socialist parties and groups.


All of this forebye, the first thing to say about the situation in general was that it was an extremely healthy sign, putting back on the agenda of ordinary folk the question of working class organisation and opening up arguments over which type of programme and perspective. It had briefly and to an extent opened a window in a room of dusty conservatism and decay. Industrial Unionists such as myself were able to enter the debate on the airways and news pages and pose our perspectives of direct working class struggle in a climate of renewed political interest. As a guest spokesperson from the pit communities and representative of the NUM Branch which moved a resolution to the 1996 NUM Annual Conference that the Union disaffiliate from the Labour Party , I had been an invited speaker on a number of the phone-in.s, posing more radical solutions to class struggle than those presented by a left labour Party.


The original Socialist labour Party was Industrial Unionist, Revolutionary Marxist and anti-parliamentarian. The new SLP is none of these, having survived the bureaucratic conditions of its birth it has no problem standing to the left of New Labour on everything, it is thoroughly more working class in composition than probably any of the left groups and certainly at first in the full flush of birth struck a more popular cord with the class than the SWP/ WRP or any other of the self declared saviours of the class. SLP candidates received a total of 52,110 votes nationally with an average of 1.85% in the 97 General Election, given that individual candidates with far left credentials such as Iran Khan took 6.76 % of the vote, and many others had respectable returns despite the mass abstention by many advanced sectors of the working class. In the 1998 by-election for Barnsley's Worsbrough Ward, Ann Scargill, quite the most honest and dedicated person in the whole organisation took the Party to second place, with 17.1 % of the vote (however 75% of voters made a conscious choice to register NO vote) it is clear some form of revolutionary message still strikes a cord despite years of depoliticising, declassing, debilitating state propaganda even within this mind chillingly boring arena, demonstrates a clear potential for genuine revolutionary class struggle organisations.


Having said that the organisation was from its inception malformed by an unnatural breach birth and bureaucratic manoeuvrings and behind the scenes posturing which already has served to dampen the original joyous tones of the christening. Comrade Scargill was determined that the constitution be drafted in his own image and likeness, that this should be approved BEFORE the founding conference, that a special IN CROWD form the central caucus and have the whole thing stage managed before any of the raggy arsed revolutionaries waiting to join could cry Comrade Chair we object ! Crucial in the infants deformity is the obsession by Arthur and the leadership to keep tendencies and factions OUT of the new organisation. Something which Old Labour did with clause four pt five in 1921 with the bans and prescriptions rule. It is a feature which has ensured leftist groups such as Militant Labour and the remnants around the CPGB and the SWP were unable to throw their not insignificant weight and organisation capacities into the new organisation, something which in objective terms it needed, to continue its momentum. Since its foundation the bureaucratic manoeuvring and scandalous exclusion and expulsion (the old Stalinist trick is to say the dissident member ISN'T a member and never was one) of leftists has continued with a force old Reg Prentice would have cheered as the ranks of voided individuals and now even whole branches gets longer.

This interesting communiqué from Arthur Scargill appeared in the Weekly Worker - Thursday 16 November 2000

Addressed to Alan Brooke, Huddersfield SLP and dated November 2 2000, Mr Scargill wrote:
Dear Comrade,
I understand that you have joined or are supporting the Socialist Alliance, a decision which of course is contrary to the Socialist Labour Party’s constitution, in particular clause II. Clause II (4) makes clear that any individual who has his or her own programme, principle and policy, distinctive and separate propaganda, or who is engaged in the promotion of policies in opposition to those of the party, shall be ineligible for affiliation to the party, whilst clause II (5) makes clear that a member of the party who becomes a member of and/or supports a political organisation other than the party shall automatically be ineligible to become or remain a party member.
In view of your decision to join/support the Socialist Alliance it is clear that you are no longer eligible to be a member of the Socialist Labour Party.
Yours faithfully
A Scargill
general secretary
This is a confidential document and it’s contents must not be disclosed without prior permission from the author or the general secretary. Unauthorised disclosure will be considered detrimental to the Socialist Labour Party.

Alan Brooke replied to Mr Scargill’s with a letter dated November 6 200, addressed "To Arthur Scargill". After thanking Mr Scargill for his letter, he went on to say:
You are incorrect in your assertion that by supporting the Socialist Alliance I am in breach of clause II (4) of the party constitution. I do not have my own programme, principles and policy or distinctive and separate propaganda. I am supporting the SA in order to promote the same policies, principles and programme which I subscribed to when I joined the SLP.
Clause IV in fact advocates working with other socialists. This is all I am doing. This is more than can be said for others who remain in the party with their own agenda and party structure.
The difference is that you apparently support the Stalinist agenda of the Brar group which has operated as a party within our party since 1997. You have not responded to our concerns and have therefor forced us into this course of action. Your willingness to expel good comrades while tolerating these hard line Stalinist elements is an indication of how far our party has lost it’s way. This is very sad, as the SLP had so much promise. The SLP could have provided leadership to the working class - instead it has marginalised itself through it’s sectarian and undemocratic practices.
I will continue to fight for the principles on which the SLP was founded before it proved itself to be a bear pit of intrigue, duplicity and untruthfulness. You often said you had dropped your baggage, but the ghost of Uncle Joe seems to follow you. Until you exorcise this ghoul the SLP will go nowhere.
Yours regretfully
Alan Brooke
(on behalf of Colne Valley and Huddersfield CSLPs)

The hapless delegates to the organisations first conference, foolishly thinking they could actually vote for direction and change were rudely awakened by the discovery that one delegate had 3,000 votes solidly behind Arthur on every issue, The Lancashire Miners Association ,whose leadership were members of the SLP had apparently affiliated the whole organisation and comfortably ensured that Arthur and Co. would have their own way on everything from Constitution, to Policies on Race and sex. A very clear lesson of the dangers of political parties even at the early stage of their lives, think what such a formation would be like in office let alone power !


The history of the SLP is the history of how Arthur views the world and attempts by poor mortals in small leftist factions trying to be the court favourite.

Since the original drafting of the above paragraphs for my book All Power To The Imagination, already by Feb. 98 the SLP is entirely bureaucratic and deformed at least as a participatory party of the working class is concerned , as Arthur's Fan Club, or a Retirement Home for ex- Stalinists, ex-Trotskyists, and Union officials and some activists, it continues, insofar as working class people pissed off with the obscenity of New labour are concerned the superficial message is still nice, nostalgic and even inspiring, it will earn a clap, a standing ovation , and maybe votes in any future election, but even this vision is fast fading as the far left re-finds its feet and attempts to start the project off again on a more democratic basis’ . Essentially the SLP as a real vehicle for change, has misfired , that moment has gone , for this team anyway. Many will still clutter to its glow, but that glow tends sadly to be Arthur's and not the real day light, moths will tell you if they could what a mistake that is !


In 1996-97 the SLP was perhaps 2000 strong. The closest allies to Arthur at that time were the old decedents of the IMG ,FISC. The first general secretary was their leading light Pat Sikorski. As the Great Leader started to curtail more and more areas of democratic functioning, Sikorski made the fatal blunder of trying to exert some control. FISC became the enemy and by Nov.98 all had been removed from leadership. To do this Arthur engaged a new ally this time from the right of the party Royston Bull, with his faction . Bull lasted two months as Vice President and was finally expelled in April 99 the rest of his faction left by the end of the year.


Only one other group remained. The biggest most dynamic faction and mainstay of the party itself the ultra-Stalinist Harpal Brar leader of the Indian Workers Association and Stalin Society. By 1999 he was running what was left of the organisation in London while his son Ranjeet was editor of Spark the youth section paper, and his daughter Joti held the same post on the women's section journal Women For Socialism.


Suddenly Brar and the Brarite organisations no longer get the frequent mentions and adverts in The Socialist (the SLP paper) and Simon Harvey that long suffering left wing member of the SLP suggests the political hit squad is out even for Harpal and his faction.


We take no pleasure in watching good comrades who joined the SLP with stars in their eyes and full of enthusiasm being brought down to earth with such a sickening jolt. We are pleased to see the rest of the Marxist - Leninist - Trotskyist left have not sat like smacked kids but have made strenuous efforts to reforge themselves into The Socialist Alliance. We have deep and historic differences with these teams but must welcome the new found unity between groups and parties who hitherto only came together to throttle each other or score points. The fact that the CPGB and SWP and SP to name but three can actually be standing in a single joint organisation is a good sign and one few thought could ever happen.

While in Scotland the whole has fused into The Scottish Socialist Party. (in November elections 2000 The SSP won 7.13% of the votes in Glasgow and a similar amount in the Scottish parliament coming forth place ahead of the Liberal Democrats. The SLP in the same election standing for the Scottish Parliament, on its own and in spite of the rest received just 298 votes (1.47 %) While Arthur still insists all these others are fakes and his SLP is the real thing, people are beginning to see through the cosmetic paper and glue. The Wizard with the flashing lights and booming voice is really the little man behind the curtain working the handles. Socialist Alliance candidates are easily outstripping SLP candidates in election contests. The Alliance has spent many painful months planning a united platform for the election and selecting candidates trying to keep the show on a united keel while the SWP and Socialist Party and CPGB kick each other in the bollocks under the table. Arthur , ever the showman and strategist homed straight in on the Mandelson debacle and announced himself the SLPs candidate in that seat. It is quite a coup , and ensures the Socialist Alliance must, at the risk of a charge of being splitters, fall in behind him. The same will not be so of the mythical SLP candidates in other seats, these figures, real and imaginary are basically wrecking devices to derail the Socialist Alliance efforts, already under strain from internal SWP/ SP border wars. It is a sorry mess, but one should note many in the class will see here a chance to register a vote against Blair but for real Socialism, we cannot even as Revolutionary Socialists and Anarchists knock that aspiration and endeavour, only the vehicles they hope to do it through.


As Anarcho-Marxists and Anarcho -syndicalists we have a deeper maxim :-


Trust NO-ONE BUT The working class together, ourselves, and at liberty, to be what we want, say what we want and decide what we want TOGETHER. Our organisations when we build them are for us, together, not for leaders, not for executive committees, not for special conferences of special people, rules, when we have rules and sometimes we need them WE ALL DECIDE ON, and the first rule is OTHER OPINIONS MUST BE HEARD, before we decide what we think together. Our history of momentous struggle and inspired visions is littered and polluted with dictatorships and leaderships, ruling groups and constitutions which have robbed us at every vital juncture of our own collective control of events, not all leaders and visionaries are doomed to be traitors, ONLY IF we the mass of the people hold absolute control and power to ensure that they do not get the chance, or occasion to test that view.

( Of course we have strong views on other groups on the left too, for the full discussion on the Labour Party and the Vanguard left as well as the Anarchist sects you can purchase a copy of All Power To The Imagination from which much of this article was based) advertised elsewhere in this paper)

 

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Tory Blair, sweet on the Scabs, hard on the Union miners.

We will all recall Tory Blair’s address to the TUC Conference following his landslide election victory. ‘No Favours’ to the Unions, or their members, stand on you own feet. Funny then that when given the choice between the scab anti Union UDM and the NUM , he doesn't say ‘NO Favours to either of them’ he actually channels £millions to the scab outfit while slamming the door in the face of the NUM. Firstly the test centres to which all the miners and ex-miners must go to have their lungs tested for the Chronic Bronchitis claims. In Nottingham and Leicester he locates them in UDM owned and operated buildings, while refusing to allow the NUM to use its buildings either in the scab coalfields or in the NUM heartland's. Doncaster one of the biggest former Yorkshire coalfields and one which still has operating collieries has NO test centre. The big NUM HQ at Barnsley was rejected as a test centre for the coalfield as a whole or Barnsley on its own. Next they grant a claims handling agreement to the UDM which allows the scab outfit to claim back £millions from claims and copperbottem an extensive raiding sortie into all other British Coalfields looking for claimants and taking out national press and local radio adverts. The same facilities are denied completely to the NUM, despite having requested them first. This has made the UDM a rich organisation when it was dying a death while robbing the NUM of valuable funding at a time when it could have made a fortune and secured its long-term future for ever. Most scandalous of all, after intense pressure over the fait of our men sacked, jailed and victimised during the strike and blacklisted ever since, former Labour leaders had promised "the first thing" they would do on gaining office was to set the score straight, reinstate the sacked men, compensate them, and at the very least restore their lost pension rights. Bliars concession to the deafening cries for justice was to set up a Committee Of Enquiry. Not we hasten to add to look at the whole injustice of the situation and the price our comrades and communities paid, some of them with their lives, but to see if any "fresh evidence" had emerged "in individual cases". Bad though all that is, they have now actually canvassed the opinions of ...guess who ? The UDM ! To ask them if they think our men should be reinstated or have their cases looked at again ! The UDM who caused directly and indirectly hundreds of our men to be sacked, beaten and jailed. The organisation which caused the men to be victimised in the first place. Just how low can Blair go , that's how low. We hope as he starts his election tours up and down the country the above facts are rammed hard down his smug throat. !!

 

 

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Rain, floods, global warming and platitudes

As floods continue to cause havoc over large areas of Britain, politicians, the media and even royalty have been pouring out more rubbish about the weather than we have had rain.
Charles Windsor, for example, put it all down to human ‘meddling’. He said: "Some recent occurrences, such as the BSE disaster and even perhaps- dare I mention it?- the severe weather conditions in our country, are, I have no doubt, the consequences of mankind’s arrogant disregard of the delicate balance of nature."
Others, not least Tony Blair, have been claiming that the high winds and intense rainfall are an example of what results from global warming. The point about global warming is that it can be blamed on the working class insisting on driving their cars to work or even going on holiday by aeroplane. It cannot be blamed on the social system, of course.
It is true that the current floods are the worst since 1947. But, there again, some area will break a record for cold or heat or rain, etc, every year. If one takes 50 variables for any given area, then on average there will be a 50-year record broken every year in that area. This is simply a statistical fact.
Taking this into account, the storms that we have had in the south east of England in 1989 - 1990, and again this year, are not exceptional - not when they are viewed in a historical context. For instance, a storm in 1703 killed 9,000 people in a population of about 6 million; in 1839, 400 people were killed in floods; and, in 1953, 300 people were killed - again as a result of flooding. David Alexander’s book lists much worse calamities than the ones we have seen recently (D Alexander Natural disasters London 1998).
If there is ant general trend, it would seem that although storms and heavy rains occur in Britain and other maritime western European countries just as frequently as in the past, the death rate from such storms has been steadily falling. Although the storms are getting no less fierce, a more solid infrastructure, advances in construction and the provision of social services have produced far fewer casualties.
It is almost inevitable that there will be some disruption from such weather phenomena. Nevertheless there is no such reason why damage to property and human casualties cannot be largely prevented through flood protection, more efficient drainage and better design of buildings. Capitalist cost-accounting may consider such measures not to be ‘worth while’, but a society based on need, not profit, would take a rather different view.
We communists are for the ending of the distinction between town and country. For example, in the last week, the Thames Valley had a particular increase in water flow from north Surrey. Yet, although central London is mostly at sea level (and the London Underground has a large portion considerably below sea level) no damage was done to the London area. This is because particular flood control installations are available. We must demand equivalent protection for all areas, not just those where capital deems it to be ‘cost efficient’.
Looking at the question from a global point of view, it is clear that the advanced capitalist countries suffer far fewer deaths or injuries from weather-related activity than do the less developed. In January 1998, areas of the USA and Canada, including Montana and the St Lawrence Seaway, had an ice storm which knocked out the whole electricity supply for Quebec, Montreal and upstate New York. There were no deaths.
Last week, Montana got 60 inches of snow in a single day, again with no casualties. This was an all-time record and certainly was not expected at this time of the year. Clearly the advanced capitalist countries are better able to cope primarily because of their more developed infrastructures, not because of less sever climatic conditions.
Are these the weather phenomena due to climate change? Nigel Calder describes the winter of 1683-84 as being the coldest in southern Britain since the last ice age 10,000 years previously. He lists a series of periods spread out over 100 years of alternating cold and warm since 1470. In 1895 the Thames froze over at Henley (N Calder The manic sun New York 1996). According to another source, "In 1816 it was so cold in England that grain would not ripen" (M Hulme, E Barrow Climates of the British Isles London 1997). On the other hand, Greenland had areas that were farmable in the 9th and 10th centuries. Most of these data are derived from scientific methods such as tree ring growth.
None of these weather variations prove that there is climate change. And even if there were climate change it would not necessarily mean that the weather would become less stable. In fact, the weather is remarkably stable in the Sahara Desert. The view that there is global warming is not certainly backed up by the historical records.
Even more misleading, in my opinion, is the ‘explanation’ that carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere have provided this outcome. This ignores the fact that the biggest single factor in the ‘greenhouse effect’ is actually water vapor. But even if we took the viewpoint that the burning of fossil fuels is to blame, then we would have to account for the fact that large volcanoes - which release at least as much carbon dioxide as ash, together with a number of green house gases - do not appear to cause any large-scale or long-standing effect on the climate.
One illustration of that is the island of Thera in the Adriatic in 1500 BC. A volcano blew 83 cubic kilometers of pulverised ash into the stratosphere and there would have been a corresponding amount of carbon dioxide released. More recently, an eruption on Mount St Helens two decades ago was equally awesome: "The ash column rose to 60 kilometers high" (R Dicker and B Dicker Volcanoes New York 1998).
The real point is that the forces of nature dwarf anything that humanity is doing or can do in relation to its effect on the weather. For instance, 1.37 kilometers of energy falls on every square meter of the earth’s surface. In consequence natural energy supply and dispention is hundreds of thousands of times greater than the total energy used up by the earth’s population. The Gulf Stream, for instance, releases 1,000 times more energy than humanity does in the whole of western Europe.
None of this suggest that we should not take sensible environment precautions against damaging the climate, including at a local level. But what is clear is that the ruling class is trying to use green issues, particularly ‘global warming’ as a cover for their own failure. What a pity that the Socialist Worker (November 4) and The Socialist (November 3) echo the same subjectivist line.
Such alarmism frequently leads either to despair of to reactionary solutions. Instead we must have an immediate agenda that requires areas of housing to have up-stream flood protection. Flood plains must be left open; there must be proper drainage on rural roads, along with river and canal development. Train services must be protected up to a level commensurate with the populations needs. We also demand sufficient funding for the fire brigade and emergency services.
What we do not need is a load of crap by politicians and propagandists who cannot even read the text books which are available in any local library. They spout platitudes which give them an excuse to sound learned and concerned when their main aim is just to throw dust in the eyes of the population.

 

This report featured on the back page of the Weekly Worker, Thursday November 9th, issue No. 359
You can visit the Weekly Worker's web pages at www.cpgb.org.uk

 

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Hatfield Miners Welfare Grounds, Dunscroft.

Can I again on behalf of the NUM raise my concerns on the fate of the above grounds. The latest concern is raised by the leaflet of Toni Wilkinson prospective Hatfield Town Councilor, in which she asks what people wish to see on the welfare grounds. This could, I hope, be a slip of the pen. However if not, I would again remind you that the terms of the agreement to transfer the grounds from the Hatfield Miners Welfare Scheme were quite specific. The NUM trustees insisted and the NCB / CISWO trustees agreed that the grounds would be handed over to Council control on the strict understanding that they would remain recreational green field sites for posterity. That is there would never be any building on the site, (other than small scale children's play devices which would not alter the status of a green field site, obviously). It concerns me that people think there is a blank cheque to do whatever they want with this space, when that is not the case. The Current managers of CISWO have no legal right to alter the terms laid down by the Hatfield Welfare and NUM Trustees who were the owners of the land, as their control postdates the terms of the agreement. I would appreciate your assurance on the status of the land .

Faithfully,

David Douglass. NUM Branch Secretary Hatfield Main Branch.

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New Labour scroungers fiddle £4Billion from the hard working miners pension fund.

Thousands of Hard working miners, Tens of thousands of old retired men and widows of miners killed by the Coal Board have been robbed by New Labour of £4 Billion which was intended for Miners pensions.

The government which has never paid one penny piece into the scheme has grabbed the cash surplus which should have been used to increase the pathetically poor pensions, some as little as £1 per week.

The surplus accumulated from Miners invested funds should have been used to bring in retirement and a full pension at 50 for all miners, working and redundant. It should have been used to make up existing pensions to modern rates, instead New Labour the Pension Fund Scroungers and Fiddlers have taken it .

They attempt to justify the crime by saying, they underwrite the fund ! The richest Pension fund in the world, get f....d off ! The fund has such a range of investments it cannot be in deficit and in any case a portion of the fund in held in reserve each surplus to pay for such a contingency be it ever so remote. The government "underwrites" nothing it is simply a lie.

Some liberal pillocks have requested that the government use the surplus to regenerate the blighted coalfield areas. Well bollocks to that, this is not their money, its the miners money and is intended for pensions not bailing out governments or propping up crumbling pit villages, which by the way ought to be done from the massive taxes already taken from the backs of the miners for generations in taxes and NI contributions. Its a bit like being broken into and having your savings stolen and some fool suggesting perhaps the thief might use some of the stolen money to buy you some new windows !Its not their money !!

The latest MPS circular informs us , that despite protests and suggestions from the MPS Trustees, the government "doesn't think it would be useful" to give us back the money governments have already taken or not to take any more out of this latest surplus. Can anyone think of anything "useful" to do with this government ? Pensioners should not be fobbed off, write to your MP, Tory Blair and Mr Brown and the MPS demanding they stop taking our money and that they refund the money taken so far.

This Government had already continued a nasty legacy of robbing the miners, taking disablement pensions from men crippled with lung diseases and mining injuries, and giving them a poxy £10 a week instead . Robbing the Reduced Earnings Allowance and Hot Meal Provision from men because they had reached 65.

The robbery of the miners suffering chest diseases is a disgraceful story in its own right and is covered elsewhere, it is utterly despicable.

NEW LABOUR, YOU'VE BEEN CAUGHT FIDDLING THE PENSION FUND !

WE DEMAND YOU REPAY THE £4 BILLION YOU'VE NICKED YOU ROBBING B.......íS !

 

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A REPLY TO CAROLINE FLINT MP'S REPORT OF NOV 2002 ON THE FIRE FIGHTERS DISPUTE.

Dear Caroline
It really ill becomes any MP to condemn the fire fighters 38% wage claim after having voted recently a 40% wage rise for themselves. Apart from the fact that MPs earn far in excess of the wages being sought for skilled and brave fire-fighters despite the fact that there is no comparison whatever in the work they themselves do in content, skill or bravery.
£30,000 for fully trained fire fighters, who risk their lives at any time of the day or night is not an exorbitant demand and is clearly a fair wage for the job they do. We might respect nurses and Drs or paramedics but with respect they do not actually stare death in the face, risk horrific death and injury, in a selfless act to rescue people. Aside from which we all support fair wages for NHS workers and have supported any industrial action they have chosen to take in the past, as well as actually mounting solidarity strike action on their behalf, so they did not have to go on strike.
I object to MPs, so called labour MPs at that, dishing the dirt on these brave people in an attempt to turn public opinion against their legitimate action. I note that The Sun and other well known champions of the working class have been down to the gutter in their attacks on Mr Gillchrist and his members. This is exactly the kind of propaganda war waged by Thatcher and the Tories against our mining communities in 1984/85 I am surprised you think we wont recognise it when we see it being waged against our fellow trade unionists today.

It is a fine achievement that the FBU has made a stand against organised overtime. Planned overtime is simply over work, it means one person doing someone else's job. This practice is antisocial and dangerous in any profession, in the fire service it would be the height of irresponsibility and the FBU are correct to reject it out of hand.

Most deaths occur at night time, you want to cut the number of fire-fighters available on night shift ? You want to get rid of specialist fire control room operators and move over to a general dogs body service covering all emergencies and services. You want fewer people working longer hours. All of this you call 'modernisation' ? Doublespeak is the correct term.

The constituency you serve is a Trade Union, Socialist one, it might be nice if your views on the FBU reflected this rather than Mr Blairs anti union campaign. It is clear to many of us, Blair no more wants a just settlement to the fire dispute than he does to the Iraq question. He wants conflict and he wants war, both for the sake of his ego and the ruling class interests he represents. I for one totally disassociate myself from his brand of Tory , imperialist strategies both locally and on a world scale.

Faithfully

David Douglass
NUM Branch Secretary. Hatfield Main Branch.

 

 

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Obscene Fundamentalist Reaction In London Slaughter

We are shocked and saddened by the outrage which has hit London. Ordinary folk going about their business are blown to kingdom come in revenge for the war which Blair and Bush is waging across the world. We are not responsible for the war, ordinary people in Britain and across Europe and the United States have bitterly opposed it, why should we be the targets ? The truth is mad elements of the political 'Islamic' movement consider everyone who isn't of the same mad derision as them, infidels and worthy of death. We oppose and condemn them as well as Bush and Blair with their own version of fundamentalist political 'Christianity' and gang of wild eyed born again right wing bigots who actually mock the teachings of the poor carpenter and communist Jesus by their greedy and selfish schemes. We will take no lecturers on ‘innocent people being killed’ from Bush and Blair, the men who bombed Baghdad day and night and caused the death of thousands of innocent men women and children during the starvation of that country and in the saturation bombings which preceded the invasion. We are innocent, the people of Iraq are innocent, Blair Bush and Saddam are not.

Our sympathies go out to all those who lost loved ones in the blasts and we call on all fellow workers to recognise we have a common cause across the globe for justice for all working people and not to allow this murder to divide us from one another.

 

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davedouglass@minersadvice.co.uk


David Douglass BA. MA
Mining Community Advice Centre
St. John's Hall
Emerson Avenue
Stainforth
Doncaster
Telephone: 01302 841 365 for information on office opening times.


 

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