Saturday, February 13, 2016

Custom House for Sadiq Khan as London Labour Mayor

Picture from a cold, wet, windy canvass session this morning in Custom House, West Ham. Lyn Brown MP (and her little Labour attack dog, Cara), Local Councillors and Party activists were out knocking on doors, talking to residents and asking them to support Sadiq as our next London Mayor in May.

Custom House is a Labour heartland but it was still humbling to see the instinctive support we get from so many life long committed supporters.The message we have to get out is that due to PR,  every single vote will count in the May elections.

Newham voters could end up deciding whether or not we have another rich multi-millionaire, old Etonian as London Mayor or a proper Londoner. 

Friday, February 12, 2016

Love Unions Week (and Greater London UNISON AGM results)

This week is "Heart Unions" (8-14 February) in opposition to this Tory Government's fascistic attempts to destroy trade unions via their vile Bill which is currently going through the House of Lords. There will be a Labour Government in the future and I hope it remembers what the Tories have done when we are in power.

Picture is from our UNISON London AGM early this month. Yesterday I got the results from the ballot of Regional delegates as below:-

Regional Convenor
Doolan, Jane                     55
Green, Yvonne                 110  elected

Deputy Regional Convenor
Ashley, April                   48
Lawrence, Conroy          117 elected

Regional Finance Convenor 
Gray, John                      112 elected
Sangarapillai, Vinothan  53      

Regional Publicity Officer
Bentley, Lynn                  Elected unopposed

Regional Equalities Convenor
Baptiste, Elizabeth          Elected unopposed

Regional Young Persons Convenor
Cox, Ashlyn                    Elected unopposed

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Ronald Valentine Higgins RIP - Socialist, Footballer, Trade Unionist & War Hero

I was sad to hear yesterday of the death of 92 year old Labour Party loyalist, Ronald Valentine Higgins (his middle name is due to being born on 14 February!).

Ronald had a long and fascinating life as a East End Steelworker, semi-professional football player, war time Lancaster Bomber Gunner, Docker, trade unionist and life long Labour supporter.

I remember meeting him at a Labour Party BBQ on Wanstead flats many years ago and being so impressed by this quiet, friendly, unassuming man, who had done so much in his life for his country and working people.

See the tribute here from the Newham Recorder.

Picture is of Ron supporting a Labour Party stall in Green Street last year and making clear what he believes in. 

RIP Ron and condolences to your family.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Newham United Against Austerity Launch with John McDonnell MP

Picture collage from the successful recent launch of "Newham United Against Austerity" (NUAA) with key note speaker, John McDonnell MP, Labour Shadow Chancellor, who was introduced by West Ham Labour MP Lyn Brown.

Other speakers were Kevin Courtney, the Deputy General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, Custom House Councillor, Rokhsana Fiaz and Yvonne Green, the Greater London Convenor for the public service union Unison. 

More than 100 people turned up to the launch of a joint trade union and community based campaign against the Government's attempt to starve Newham’s public services of funds and impose austerity upon us. I will post further on John's speech, the other speakers and the ongoing NUAA campaign.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

The Ideal London Pub "The Moon Under Water"

Off message but there was a marvellous report this morning on the Radio 4 "Today" programme about 9 February being the anniversary of the article "The Moon Under Water" written by George Orwell in 1946 on his "Ideal Pub".

They got different members of the public to read out the article on what makes the perfect London Pub.

A certain pub chain (owned ironically by a hard right political nutcase) has taken up the theme and a number his pubs use the same fictional name given by this famous left wing and anti fascist writer.

"Orwell stipulated ten key points[3] that his perfect pub in the London area should have (his criteria for country pubs being different, but unspecified):

The architecture and fittings must be uncompromisingly Victorian.

Games, such as darts, are only played in the public bar "so that in the other bars you can walk about without the worry of flying darts".

The pub is quiet enough to talk, with the house possessing neither a radio nor a piano.

The barmaids know the customers by name and take an interest in everyone.

It sells tobacco and cigarettes, aspirins and stamps, and "is obliging about letting you use the telephone".

"[...] there is a snack counter where you can get liver-sausage sandwiches, mussels (a speciality of the house), cheese, pickles and [...] large biscuits with caraway seeds [...]."

"Upstairs, six days a week, you can get a good, solid lunch—for example, a cut off the joint, two vegetables and boiled jam roll—for about three shillings."

"[...] a creamy sort of draught stout [...], and it goes better in a pewter pot."
"They are particular about their drinking vessels at "The Moon Under Water" and never, for example, make the mistake of serving a pint of beer in a handleless glass. Apart from glass and pewter mugs, they have some of those pleasant strawberry-pink china ones. [...] but in my opinion beer tastes better out of china."

"[...] You go through a narrow passage leading out of the saloon, and find yourself in a fairly large garden [...] Many as are the virtues of the Moon Under Water I think that the garden is its best feature, because it allows whole families to go there instead of Mum having to stay at home and mind the baby while Dad goes out alone."

Orwell admitted that "to be fair", he did know of a few pubs that almost came up to his ideal, including one that had eight of the mentioned qualities.

The essay finishes as follows:
And if anyone knows of a pub that has draught stout, open fires, cheap meals, a garden, motherly barmaids and no radio, I should be glad to hear of it, even though its name were something as prosaic as the Red Lion or the Railway Arms.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

When Workers Unite

Great cartoon from USA Union General Electrics Workers union. If you want to know what trade unionism is all about, this says pretty much it all. Unity is strength. United we stand, divided we fall.  

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Labour Local Government Association Conference 2016

Picture taken today at the end of the conference with the 3 J's - James, Jeremy and John. Labour Leader, Jeremy Corbyn (and a UNISON member) fellow Newham Councillor (and UNISON member), James Beckles.  I had never been to this conference before (nor Nottingham where it was held) and was impressed with both.  I will post a fuller report soon.

Friday, February 05, 2016

Forest Gate North Labour Branch AGM & HeartUnions Campaign

Yesterday I had my 2nd Labour Movement AGM in a row. On Wednesday I went to  the UNISON Greater London Region AGM, where I was re-elected (for the 8th consecutive year) as a Regional Council Officer (the Executive Convener for Finance).

Last night I went to my local Labour Party branch AGM for Forest Gate North.  Where I was elected as Vice Chair of the branch and my good trade union comrade, Anamul Islam, was elected Chair.  The excellent existing Secretary, Heather Jones, was also re-elected unopposed. The former Chair Rachel Tripp who stepped down was thanked for all her hard work in the past.

It was heartening to see so many members turn up to the AGM and want to get involved. We had to move to a bigger room and then bring down even more chairs. It shows that people are definitely interested in politics again.

I made it clear in the mini "hustings" that I wanted change in West Ham and Newham Labour politics and that branches, affiliates and above all members should have a greater voice and role to play in the local Party.  

At the end of the meeting members gathered for the picture above to support the TUC campaign against the Tory Anti trade union bill currently going through the House of Lords - "HeartUnion". 

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Greater London UNISON AGM 2016

Another AGM and another victory for the forces of light and reason in Greater London UNISON yesterday. UNISON delegates voted overwhelmingly in favour of a sensible left slate and reselected the existing Regional Council Officers for another year (including yours truly).

Many thanks to all our supporters.

Congratulations to Yvonne, Conroy, Liz, Lynn and Ashlyn (not in picture). I will post further on the meeting.