Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Selfish Meme

Thanks to the Disillusioned Kid for these questions...

1) Complete this sentence. "Say what you like about him, but at least Tony Blair..."
...fearlessly and consciously follows his material interests.

2) What's your favourite sandwich filling?
a nice salad, with mayonnaise. I had one this afternoon. Rock on!

3) Who would win in a fight between an aardvark and a badger?
This is exactly the kind of hypothetical question I just can't answer. What are they fighting over? There's no conflict of interests! Where are they meeting? They live on different continents! Ok, assuming they were both hypnotised into fighting each other, on neutral territory, I'd go for the badger, based on the weight advantage.

4) One of your friends has discovered a time machine in the attic following a clear-out. Unfortunately the instructions seem to suggest it is can only make one journey (i.e. you can't come back). You decide to go anyway, but when and where?
Well all the good things in the past ended in defeat, and the future is a leap in the dark. I think I'd say that very attic, twenty years from now. Surely things will be kicking off one way or another by then. It's the waiting I can't stand.

5) Gordon Brown is coming around for tea. What meal are you going to prepare for him?
Well as things stand there's no point in doing a propaganda by the deed-style meal on him, because I'd just go to prison forever and he'd become some kind of creepy New Labour martyr. So I'd probably make the new managing director of the United Kingdom imperial ruling class some beans on toast. Lidl beans. Netto bread.

***

Here are the rules:
1. Leave me a comment saying, “Interview me.”
2. I will respond by emailing you five questions (or leaving them in a comment on your blog). I get to pick the questions.
3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Truck Drivers Unite Against Tesco In Scotland!

In a great show of solidarity, Eddie Stobart drivers have refused to scab on their Tesco counterparts and deliver supplies to Scottish supermarkets this bank holiday weekend. The 150 Tesco drivers - who supply nearly 100 stores in Scotland - are on strike against the company's outrageous demands.

Tesco made £2.5 billion last year, but that wasn't enough. They caused this confrontation by seeking to derecognise the drivers' union (UNITE), a move the unions says would have cost many drivers £3,000 or more per year.

In self-defence, the drivers voted 126 to 6 for strike action from Thursday 24th to Saturday 26th May.

Tesco then offered Eddie Stobart workers £500 on top of their normal wages, plus food, drink and accommodation in a top hotel, to take on the deliveries. However, they apparently didn't mention anything about the strike.

One worker at Eddie Stobart’s headquarters in Carlisle said, “I know of at least 11 people who were offered an incentive bonus to go and work for Tesco during the strike. They all agreed but they were not told they would be strike-breaking.

“When union reps contacted them, they all agreed to drop out in support of the Livingston drivers. They are giving absolute assurance that they will not cross that picket line.”

Tony Trench, a T&G officer in Edinburgh, said, “We are humbly grateful to these guys who have turned down such large sums of money to support their comrades.”

Tesco drivers across Britain have declared support for the Scottish drivers, and a nationwide strike seems likely. Clearly, many drivers recognise that derecognition for the Scottish distributors will affect their own deals when they come up for renewal.

Livingston MP Jim Devine has called for a one day boycott of Tesco stores, but this is not the way to go for two reasons. Firstly, Tesco are no better or worse than any of the other supermarkets; they may currently be the biggest in the UK, but the profit motive is the same for all of them. Secondly, it's no good taking any action for just one day and then allowing the exploitative bastards to get on with it!

Wherever we work, the bosses want to get more work out of us for less money. They are forced into this race for the bottom, because the so-called 'free market' pits each against all, on an international level. As always, working class solidarity is vital if the the bosses are to be beaten.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

The Permanent Way

Written by David Hare
Unity Theatre (17th-19th May 2007)


On paper, it's difficult to imagine a less entertaining idea for a play. Nine people on stage, pretending to be different people involved in the sell-off of British Rail in the 1990s, and its aftermath. So it's to the credit of writer David Hare and the second year LIPA students that they kept the audience's attention for about two hours.

Taking its name from what is apparently railway terminology for the physical elements of a railway line, The Permanent Way is a kind of dramatised documentary, which is full to overflowing with righteous anger, humanity (in the best sense) and even comedy moments. The vision of a puffed-up 'John Prescott' strolling towards the cameras in front of another smoking wreckage to announce "This must never happen again" time after time is simultaneously hilarious and aggravating. As a bereaved mother complains, the pattern goes: Rail accident. Inquiry. Recommendation. No action. Rail accident. Inquiry. Recommendation. No action."

The play does suffer slightly from the sheer number of facts and figures thrown around, and this is unfortunate because that's exactly the technique that spin doctors often use to win their arguments, blinding people with lies, damned lies and statistics. They want us to trust them, and that's the worst thing we can do.

It's common sense really, co-operation is better than competition, for everyone except the super-rich. Ok, so this isn't a perfect analogy, but how many more goals would be scored in football matches if the twenty-two players all passed to each other rather than blocking and tackling? And this applies to every aspect of society.

On The Frontline - Resistance's regular workplace column

The enemy might just have appointed a new commander-in-chief in Gordon Brown, but as he measures up curtains in his war room, he's bound to notice a pile of worrying reports from the frontline.

Teachers and nurses are considering action over Brown's offer of a 2-2.5% pay rise, which is effectively a cut when you consider prices have gone up by about 3% over the last year, according to the government's own figures. And on May 1st - international workers' day - around 200,000 civil servants went on strike over job cuts, privatisation, and crap wages. Clearly, all public sector workers are being attacked by New Labour and need respond with united action.

But of course it's not just state employees who are feeling the squeeze. Tesco may have made £2.5 billion profits last year, but the capitalist beast can never be full, so their new contract for Scottish distribution truckers derecognises their union (UNITE), and would mean a pay cut of £3,000 per year for some drivers. Tesco offered Eddie Stobart drivers £500 on top of their normal wages, plus food, drink and accommodation in a top hotel, but they refused to scab on their Tesco counterparts. A nationwide strike now looks on the cards.

Probably the biggest news is that postal workers are taking nationwide strike action for the first time in eleven years. The bosses want to 'modernise' the service, which is a nice way of saying they plan to make 40,000 redundancies, attack pensions, and slash paypackets by up to 30%!

Meanwhile, one Iraq story you won't see on TV is that oil workers are striking over a new law which would allow Shell and BP amongst others to make huge profits from the world’s second largest proven oil reserves. US Republicans and Democrats are very keen to see the law passed, and have demanded that the puppet Iraqi cabinet force it through. But working class solidarity has the potential to defeat both the occupying armies and the terrorist leaders out for a big cut of the loot! Visit Hands Off Iraqi Oil for updates.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Celebrity Bastard Of The Month: Tony Blair

It may be a bit obvious (and he might not actually be celebrated by many people these days), but as he jets off on a victory lap of the globe it seems very appropriate to make Tony 'Prime Sinister' Blair our Celebrity Bastard Of The Month, if not decade.

In ten years as 'our' PM, the glorious bleeder has shocked many on both the 'radical' left and the reactionary right with the speed and ferocity of his attacks on working class people worldwide. You'll have your own favourites amongst his crimes against humanity, but here's our Graham with a quick reminder.

The UK’s capitalist class have been delighted by: wars (in Sierra Leone, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq) creating hundreds of thousands of corpses, Dickensian inequality (with the richest 1,000 more than trebling their wealth), ID cards and other police state attacks on so-called 'democratic rights', scapegoating of asylum seekers fleeing poverty and war abroad, the shuffling around (but not reduction) of poverty, the economic rape of Africa dressed up as ‘debt relief’, massive additional pressure on children and teachers in schools, plans to slash pensions, the continuing destruction of social housing, ever more vicious persecution of benefits claimants, UK personal debt growing by £1 million every four minutes, the ongoing sell-off of essential services like healthcare and education, the abolition of student grants, the introduction of university tuition fees and top-up fees, and the government pretending to give a shit about climate change while allowing industry to keep increasing carbon emissions astronomically.

We could go on. The man leaves a horrific trail of blood and tears in his wake.

So no anarchists are crying about this political gangster's retirement. Only problem is, Gordon Brown is going to make even bigger attacks on working people. Like each new Prime Minister, he has to, because UK PLC is in ferocious competition with every other country’s economy. Besides, he knows which way his bread's buttered. When he leaves office, he no doubt plans to make money gladhanding billionaires, just like Blair does.

There's only one solution: working class revolution! We need to organise in our workplaces, universities, streets and communities to build an alternative based on equality, solidarity and individual freedom. No politician could do that for us, so the future is in our hands!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Injustice For All?

“Freedom is the freedom to say 2+2=4.”
George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four


Yes, dear readers, Nerve is officially dangerous. That doesn’t mean you’re going to get formaldehyde poisoning from reading it or there’s a pop-up knife in the centre pages. It’s just that certain rich people don’t like the truth about their business to be widely known.

In December last year, Kirkby’s own mass polluters Sonae put pressure on our website’s hosts, trying to get our site taken down! Apparently, a 2004 article by Steve Tombs and Dave Whyte was “having a damaging effect” on their reputation. Fortunately for us, the people of Kirkby, and any notions people might have about journalists pursuing facts, our hosts refused to be bullied.

So, in an act that isn’t anything to do with petty revenge, but more to do with ideas like ‘freedom’ and ‘justice’, we are dedicating quite a few more pages to rubbing the powerful up the wrong way! We have an update on Sonae’s atrocious health and safety record, an interview with ex-Guantánamo prisoner Moazzam Begg, and we examine the case of the ‘Shrewsbury Pickets’, who were imprisoned in 1973 after a blatantly dodgy trial. There’s also a look at the Hillsborough disaster, the West’s plunder of Iraq’s oil reserves, 9/11 and loads more! We’re not exactly ducking controversy!

As you’re aware, 2008 is fast approaching, so what better time for a profile of the man who owns a massive chunk of the newly developed city centre, His Grace The Duke of Westminster? But enough of the capital, how about some actual culture? Well as usual we’ve got loads of lovely stuff for you to feast 40% of your senses on. That means art and music, by the way.

Over the course of ten issues(!), we’ve tried our hardest to bring you something different with our features, interviews and reviews. We think we’ve succeeded, but there’s always room for improvement. If you can contribute an extra ingredient (or money), we’d be delighted to see an email from you in our inbox, via mail@catalystmedia.org.uk

Us x you = more!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

May Day Picket of Liverpool Army Recruitment

After turning away from the lure of warm beer and a cover of John Lennon's Imagine at the official Merseyside TUC rally, ten activists from the Liverpool Social Forum picketed the Army recruitment office on James Street, to try and stop young scousers fighting and possibly dying for oil in the Middle East.

It was our second picket at the James Street offices, and our second go at finding new tactics which will break the Stop The War Coalition chokehold on the anti-war movement. And since it was May Day, what better way to show solidarity with Iraqi and Afghan workers than stopping a few guns from being pointed at them?

Unfortunately we were minus our megaphone, since it was stolen by a group of gangsters called Merseyside Police at a protest last week. However, we still managed to hand out a lot of propaganda to passers-by and potential recruits, and we engaged many locals in conversation about the army, the drive for oil, and the fucked-up nature of capitalist society in general.

Her Majesty's Constabulary paid us a visit, and after a farcical debate about whether our table or the sign behind it was blocking the pavement, they left us alone. After all, we didn't have a megaphone to swipe. And it wasn't as if we were animal rescue workers.

I said it last time, and I'm going to say it again. Wars won't be stopped by petitions, marches or 'left' politicians. We need to organise in our streets and our workplaces. We also need to make the link between capitalism's demand for oil profits abroad and attacks on living standards at home.

So what are YOU going to do in the fight against war?

Low-Key May Day March and Rally in Liverpool

About eight hundred people - including many from the striking Public and Commercial Services union - marched through Liverpool city centre this afternoon, in an event organised by Merseyside TUC.

The event was smaller than in the last few years, partly because today was a work day for most. However, the PCS strikers swelled the numbers, and showed a great example to others by honouring the noble tradition of May Day strikes (even if they will be back in work tomorrow).

The march started from St George's Plateau on Lime Street, and made its (very quiet) way down to the Victoria Monument in Derby Square. Merseyside TUC President Alec McFadden apologised for the lack of a festival (which is down to the fact the TUC haven't bothered to organise one this year), before descending into his usual football jokes.

Lindsey German of the Stop The War Coalition - co-author of a recent humble letter to Gordon Brown - made all the usual noises about pressurising the government into listening to people before they go invading next time. This, despite the fact that the failure of Stop The War's strategy to actually stop any wars is staring everyone in the face.

Then John McDonnell - the least right wing candidate for the Labour leadership when Blair finally throws in the towel - presented his case (which basically amounted to 'trust me to sort it all out for you'). McFadden openly encouraged the crowd to vote for McDonnell in the Labour leadership election, which of course would mean joining the Labour Party, and handing over money for the party's anti-worker campaigns.

After that it was time for music and beer, so this journalist went off in pursuit of some more radical activity...

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