Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Raging Against the Machine

Normally the track that reached Christmas no1 in the UK singles chart wouldn’t merit comment. For the last few years it has been whichever performer that won the X-Factor final’s debut single, but even prior to that it has mostly been a song released at just the right time to maximise sales.

But this Christmas a facebook campaign to wrest the Christmas no1 away from the latest X-Factor winner’s track, The Climb was launched. X-Factor winner, Joe McElderry, whose victory in that competition had been watched by close to 20 million viewers, was pushed aside by the campaign to get anti-capitalist band Rage Against the Machine’s anthem, Killing in the Name, to the top spot. Whilst as the bands guitarist, Tom Morello, has commented, the campaign “tapped into the silent majority of the people in the UK who are tired of being spoon-fed one schmaltzy ballad after another” and would simply be glad for anything different to be Christmas no1. Yet there has certainly been a number of people choosing the song for its overt lyrics denouncing alleged links between the Ku Klux Klan and US Police forces, and the political content of the rest of the bands music.

Of course, the tools used to win this victory are the same ones that have been used to attempt to place past winners at the no1 spot, a concerted campaign which involved large scale purchase of the particular song (physical single sales from 6,500 retail outlets and downloads which cost over 40p from online retailers count towards chart ratings). It is somewhat ironic that Sony both released Killing in the Name originally back in 1992, as well as Simon Cowell’s Syco which released The Climb, and therefore will have profited from the fierce competition between the two tracks.

But the key difference in this case is that such a clash had not been promoted by the music industry, and stands as a testament to people wanting a change to the usual dictatorship of mainstream music. Whilst McElderry’s track had been consciously promoted, both through the build up of the X-Factor competition and the promotion of the newly released single, which was sold in physical copies unlike Killing in the Name. Although the first ever download-only no1 was in April 2006, this is the first download-only Christmas no1, marking the continual development of the internet as a music distribution tool, undermining the traditional role of the record labels.

But the great question is what next? True, that Killing in the Name was an unexpected Christmas no1 will have surprised the music industry and those who have participated in this success have begun discussing on the facebook group that started the campaign whether to keep buying this song to keep it at no1, or to plan to try and repeat this feat next year. Either way, the record companies and Simon Cowell (who seem to have a similar status to the bankers in that we detest what they are doing but seem powerless to stop them) will still be there not just next Christmas where they will undoubtedly come back to attempt to dominate again, but all year round. As great a feeling as you get from denting the dominance of such figures, it is only when their power is permanently broken and the organs for publicising and distributing music are taken into public ownership and democratic control that we can see a blossoming of real musical talent and not just what particular acts that Cowell and his ilk can make the most money from.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Bangor Socialist Party Xmas Quiz

Try your luck, quiz is slightly modified from Wednesday night, and is out of 36 (Tiebreakers not couting towards this). A few questions need two answers as indicated. Answers are in the comments section.


1) Who won this years Formula One drivers world championship?
2) In which sport did the English team come runners up in the world cup final in Finland this year?
3) Welsh rugby league team the Celtic Crusaders are set to move from Bridgend to which Welsh Town?
4) In cricket, who won the Ashes this year, England or Australia?
5) Which country won this years six nations competition in Rugby Union?


6) Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia is the fear of what?
7) Telephonaphobia is the fear of what?
8) What is Wiccaphobia the fear of?
9) What is Leukophobia?
10) Glossophobia is the fear of what?


11) In which country did the 25 year civil war end this year?
12) Who became this first black president of the United States of American this year?
13) Who became the first Irish Socialist Party MEP this year?
14) Which countries banking system collapsed in January this year?
15) President Zelaya of which country was overthrown by a coup this year?
16) Which country was forced to vote for a second time on accepting the EU’s Lisbon Treaty this year?

17) Who wrote Frankenstein?
18) Which controversial popstar died this year at the age of 51?
19) Which are the two best selling books of all time according to wikipedia? (2 points)
20) What is the name of the TV show that drew record freview ratings on Dave this April?

21) Which student uprising in China happened 20 years ago this year?
22) Which revolution 220 years ago did Chairman Mao famously say that it was too soon to tell the consequences of?
23) The second world war broke out 70 years ago with the invasion of which country?
24) Which group of workers took a year long strike action 25 years ago?
25) Which organisation had its founding conference 90 years ago in Moscow?
26) Which hated figure came to power 30 years ago?
27) Which currently existing international organisation was founded in a pub in London 35 years ago?

British Politics
28) Which Trade Union was on strike today in South Wales? (NB On Wednesday 16 December)
29) At which company were members of UNITE set to strike over Xmas?
30) The GMB and UNITE won a huge victory for workers in a strike led by a Socialist Party member, where was it?
31) Following successful mobilisations of community activists and anti-fascists, which far-right group has been humiliated in Wales 3 times this year?
32) Which group of people caught with their snouts in the trough by an investigation by the Daily Telegraph?
33) Which trade unions organised a protest against cuts to staff pensions at Bangor University? (2 points)
34) What was the name of the electoral coalition headed by the RMT trade union in the European Elections this year?

Tie breakers
35) How many millions of pounds is Gwynedd Council planning in cuts?
36) How many people are currently unemployed in the UK?

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Socialists Support Welsh Language

Article from Socialist Party Wales website

Osian Jones has been freed from a month's jail for protesting against the anti-Welsh policies of some store chains. Iain Dalton presents the view of Socialists in North Wales

In November this year, the Welsh Assembly approved a bid for powers over the Welsh language, seeking the passage of legislative competency order (LCO) through parliament. The step is argued as being the first move in a bid to legislate for the extension of language equality measures to cover the private sector.
The 1993 Welsh Language act stated that; 'in the course of public business and the administration of justice, so far as is reasonably practicable, the Welsh and English languages are to be treated on the basis of equality' - in essence giving equal status to English and Welsh languages, but only throughout the public sector. This leaves many large companies with no compulsion to provide Welsh medium services to first language Welsh speakers.
According to the 2001 census, in Wales around 20% of the population speaks Welsh, although this is heavily concentrated in certain areas, such as Gwynedd and Anglesey where around 80% of the population speaks Welsh. This is an increase of 2% from the previous census, but the 2004 Welsh Language Use Survey showed a further 1.2% increase on that figure to 21.7%. This marks the reversal of a century long decline in the Welsh language.
Socialists stand for the equality of English and Welsh languages within Wales and demand that all major companies provide services that give the option of using Welsh. Already some companies provide bilingual signage, but this should be extended to cover packaging as well as customer service. Whilst many staff in companies in Wales may not at the moment speak Welsh, learning to speak the basic Welsh needed in relation to their job should be seen as part of their training for that job and paid for with company money in company time.
However, even if the Assembly was granted such powers and passed legislation along these lines, such measures would not bring about real equality, just as equal pay legislation hasn't stopped there being major differences between the pay of men and women. The faults of current legislation and the lip-service paid by some public authorities can be seen by the poor quality of many translations. These are often made fun of in the press (for example, the sign where apologies for a translator's being out of the office has been put on roadsides as the official Welsh translation). 'Golwg' the Welsh medium weekly magazine runs a section 'Sgymraeg' highlighting more egregious errors. Under capitalism, equal rights always come second to the need to skimp and do things as cheaply as possible. In the Public Sector, this means 'belt tightening' and impending cuts in budgets. In the private sector, anything which weakens the great god profit must be axed.
It is entirely possible that with the prospect of such legislation there may be an attempt to set Welsh speakers against non-Welsh speakers as companies, who wish to avoid the cost of a fully bilingual service, seek to threaten non-Welsh speakers with the prospect of being unable to get a job. That's one of the reasons why socialists call for these companies to be taken into public ownership so that it's not left to fat cats who only see the bottom line to provide our services, but ordinary workers, both Welsh-speaking and non-Welsh speaking to be able to work out how to provide services bilingually and accessible to all.

Socialists do not necessarily support the use of direct action against companies who refuse to support the Welsh language, but we understand the anger of young Welsh-speaking people and see the use of the prison system against them as wholly wrong.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

A Stand Of Solidarity - A Stand Against Cuts

From the Socialist Party Wales website

On Friday 27th November the Joint Trades Unions (UNITE & UNISON) for support staff at Bangor University called a protest demonstration against the proposal by Senior Management to cut the pensions of Support Staff (BUPAS) whilst increasing the University’s contributions to their own pension scheme. This proposed cut would reduce the pensions of Support Staff by an estimated 40%, taking it to less than a state pension.

Sean Dalton, Bangor Socialist Party

James H Clarke, Branch Secretary of the Unite Bangor University Branch, said “Management’s disgraceful behaviour is both unfair and inequitable. This is a case of the powerful attacking the less powerful and constitutes a dereliction of duty by Senior Management in respect of their obligation to look after the welfare and well-being of those whom they are responsible.”

Over 300 staff and students attended the protest showing a strong united front against the cuts to the pension. It was announced that further negotiations were to take place and that Senior Management had already backed down on one attack to the pension; however, Unite and Unison said they were committed to pushing for retention of the final salary pension scheme. They also stated that this was only the first step and that more protests and possibly industrial action may be necessary to force management back.

Bangor Socialist Party held stalls in the run up to the protest to help build support for the protest. Our bilingual placards on the protest carried the slogans, “VC gets pay rise. Staff get pension cuts,” and, “No Fees, No Cuts, No Closures. Fully Fund University Education!” We sold 21 papers in the run-up to the protest and on the day itself and are trying to strengthen the links of Socialist Students with the campus trade unions.

More photos (nb. i couldn't fit the whole protest in, on the last photo the protest actually curls round to the left)

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Youth March for Jobs

Yesterday saw the second demonstration through London organised by the Youth Fight fo Jobs (YFJ) campaign. We took a small number down from North Wales armed with bilingual placards (see photo) to join other who'd travelled down from across the country.

As we headed for the march's starting place at Malet street, we bumped into two lost Malaysian students from Hertfordshire Uni and directed them in the right direction. As the crowd gathered it looked like a small turnout, however, just at the moment we set off, several groups of people joined, including a turkish youth organisation (Day-mer Youth?). As we marched through London the demo seemed to grow, especially as we marched down past Downing Street certainly reaching at least 1000.

The rally concluded in a park the other side of the Thames at a rally which included Hannah Sell for the Socialist Party, Matt Wrack from the FBU and some others that I can't remember. Altogether, it was a good march which will hopefully inspire people to go back and build the campaign in their local area.

Other Reports

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Attacks Begin at Bangor University

Earlier in the year, Bangor university vice-chancellor, Merfyn Jones, announced £5 million in cuts to be made at the same time as receiving a 9%, above inflation, pay rise. According to lecturers' union UCU, 40 jobs are under threat in health sciences and 67 staff face losing full time contracts.

Iain Dalton

University management are now lining up the final salary pension scheme in their sights, and have recently announced they will change it to a career average scheme as well as other cutbacks. This only affects low and middle paid staff, leaving management with their pensions intact!In response, Unite and Unison, who represent the affected staff, have called a protest.

Socialist Students at Bangor University will be supporting the protest and are calling on the Students Union to unite with the campus trade unions to build a campaign against cuts.

As Bangor Students Union senate recently voted to lapse the policy supporting the Campaign to Defeat Fees passed by referendum last year (the votes of 17 people undoing the vote of 271 students), Socialist Students members and other activists will be drafting an updated policy to be debated at the next Students Union senate.

Even if this fails to pass, which is likely given the lack of action or poorly organised action taken by the Students Union, Socialist Students and other Campaign to Defeat Fees supporters will continue supporting action by university staff whilst building a movement against cuts and for free education.

Save Our Pensions protest, called by Unison and Unite. Friday 27 November, 12.30, outside main arts building.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Racists not welcome in Wrexham - or in Wales!

From Socialist Party Wales website (

On Saturday, November 21st, the racist English Defence League, masquerading as the Welsh Defence League, held a demonstration in Wrexham town centre. The ‘official Welsh Defence League’ demonstration comprised 30 football hooligans from Bolton and a mere half a dozen local racists.

More than 150 Wrexham socialists, shoppers, and working people opposed the racist demonstrators, who amounted to no more than forty in total, and who must be all too aware now that they are not welcome in Wrexham.

Report by Dylan Roberts

The people of Wrexham were already hostile to the EDL, but tensions increased after the racist demonstrators unfurled a large English flag, sang God Save The Queen, and chanted racist slogans suck as “kill the Muslims”.

“This is our town and you are not welcome here!"

One woman, laden with shopping bags, summed up the feelings of the whole town when she stood her ground as the EDL tried to rush the much larger, and by this stage extremely hostile, audience of working people and shouted; “This is our town and you are not welcome here”! There was an extremely high Police presence around the pub, and four members of the EDL were arrested for public order offences.

Meanwhile, Wrexham Communities Against Racism held a communities celebration in Queens Square, in the centre of town. This aimed to bring together all sections of our community in celebration of the social cohesion evident in our peaceful working-class town. More than 300 people throughout the day attended the celebration, despite the torrential rain.Those at the celebration enjoyed music from local musicians, a drumming workshop, a martial arts exhibition, poetry, a children’s carousel, and speeches from a wide range of politicians, community leaders, and activists, amongst other acts and speakers. The event was entirely peaceful and great fun, with people dancing in the rain, and even a conga line around the square! The contrast between the communities’ celebration and the much smaller racist demonstration up the road could not have been more apparent.

Amongst the speakers on the day were Dave Reid, regional secretary of Socialist Party Wales, who talked of the need to create a new political voice for working people that would cut across the divisive racism of the EDL and the far right, and Rae Lewis-Ayling, of Bangor Socialist Party and Youth Fight for Jobs, who spoke on behalf of Youth Fight for Jobs on the disproportionate burden placed on young people by the crisis of capitalism, and encouraged an extremely appreciative, if wet, audience to head down to London for the forthcoming YFJ march. I had the pleasure of closing the event, but by this stage, drenched with rain and, frankly, elated, I could manage little more than expressing my pride and admiration of the communities of Wrexham, both at the communities’ celebration and opposite the EDL demo, who had braved awful conditions in huge numbers to make it clear that they would not allow the EDL to spread their message of division and hate here. Our Socialist Party stall, given pride of place at the celebration, was busy throughout the day, as workers and young people spoke about the inequality evident in our society that feeds racism, and the need to build a new workers’ party to overcome racism and inequality.The communities’ celebration was a tremendous success, and has galvanised the local communities to the extent that there is now huge popular support to host an annual event! By contrast, the English Defence League were heavily outnumbered and opposed at their demonstration, not by anti-racist campaigners but by ordinary working people, and were shown up as the violent racists that they are.

The message from Saturday was clear: The English/Welsh Defence League is not welcome in Wrexham or in Wales.

I am proud that Socialist Party Wales played such a leading role in organising opposition to the E/WDL in Wrexham, just as we did in Newport and Swansea, and I am particularly proud that the working people of Wrexham needed little encouragement, despite Police and press scaremongering, to come out in huge numbers and make their views on the E/WDL and racism clear: Not in our town!

Saturday, 21 November 2009

BBC Misreports Events in Wrexham

This has angered quite a few of the people at the Wrexham Communities Festival. For a start the BBC is lying when it says there was a march by Wrexham Communities Against Racism - actually there was a community festival that stayed in Queens Square the whole day.

Moreover the two groups had a big difference in size, with 40 WDL protesters turning up (apparently most of them from Bolton) whilst at least 150 people turned up to the communities festival, which featured bands amongst other entertainment.

Maybe the police were needed to keep the WDL in check, but its a little exaggerated to say that their 'strong presence' was needed to keep the groups apart, indeed from talking to organisers the police have panicked alot about the WDL coming to Wrexham in the run-up to the event, scaring people with the idea it could be like Birmingham, when it seems clear that the WDL have verylittle base (if any) in North Wales.
In the next few days I will post up a written report from someone present at the event (unfortunately I was working today)

Friday, 13 November 2009

Anti-Flag in Belgium

I've just been informed that the Blegian section of the CWI - LSP have published my review of Anti-Flag's latest album, the People or the Gun. Now I'm not publishing this to brag about it, but because they did a campaigning stall at an Anti-Flag gig in Antwerp last night and did an interview with Anti-Flag's drummer Pat Thetic which readers of this blog may be interested in (the interview is in English)


Monday, 9 November 2009

Socialism 2009

This weekend just gone saw the annual Socialism event hosted by the Socialist Party in London - I guess its a bit cliched to say it was the biggest one ever, but it was! But this was reflected in the fact that 7 of us managed to get down from North Wales, almost doubled from the year before, which considering the cost of travelling for us is exceptional.

Anyways, I kicked off with a visit to the book stall and suprised myself by only spending £32, including buying a xmas present for someone too. I got books on Kenya, an account of the 1918 in Russia, the Red Clydesiders, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and a book about the Warsaw Uprsings during WW2. But then i ruined that by spending £60 on Trotsky's military writings. I also have borrowed a collection of books off a comrade on the Paris Commune after he kindly responded to my appeal. So my bag came away appreciably heavier than i set off with.

The first session I attended was on 'Is Cameron a new Thatcher' which had both Alec Thraves from Swansea and Tony Mulhearn from Liverpool speaking at it. The session was quite interesting, outlining the economic and poilitical situation that Cameron would inherit and drive him into a confrontation with the unions like Thatcher, out pointing out the obvious differences between the background to Thatcher coming to power 30 years ago and today. Most of the questions were directed at Tony Mulhearn about the Liverpool City Council dispute, but my notes of these were pretty poor as I had been up for quite while by this point.

After this came a quick meeting of those of us there from North Wales (such is the geographic spread of the branch that it takes being in London to organise a proper get together some times), in particularly discussing about the Community Festical Against Racism we are helping to organise through Wrexham Communities Against Racism in opposition to the divisive policies of the E/WDL.

Next came the Saturday evening rally. Every single speaker was really good, starting off with Brian Caton (POA General Secretary), then Matt Wrack (FBU General Secretary) and a very loud speech by Keith Gibson from Lindsey Oil Refinery. Next up was Bob Crow who was adamant of the need for an electoral coalition in the general election and also raised the idea of fully nationalising the banks and linking them up through the post office. According to comrades who had been at the earlier RMT conference, Bob Crow went a bit further with this speech than earlier in the day.

The rally then moved onto the last few speakers, Tracy Edwards from Youth Fight for Jobs (and also PCS Young Members Organiser), Peter Taaffe as ever, Senan from Tamil Solidarity and finally Joe Higgins, Irish SP MEP. The collection wasn't as large as last year, being at roughly £25,000, but then it is a recession!

To round off saturday night, I first had a drink with my old comrades from Huddersfield in a pub before heading off to the gig/social. To be honest I didn't pay loads of attentions to the bands, apart from Chairman Wow (did i get that right?) which seemed to be composed of Brighton comrades playing Clash covers (they probably played other stuff too, but that was what i remember recognising) but they were pretty good.

And then it was finally time to head off to the hostel, except i was in the difficult to find overflow hostel and to make matter worse someone decided to get up around 6am ish and take a ridiculously loud alarm clock with them to wake everyone else up with the process - suffice to say i was not impressed.

The first session I attended was Peter Taaffe speaking on 'In Defence of Leon Trotsky'. The background to this session was a review of Robert Service's recently published biography that Peter had written where he issued a challenge to Service to debate the ideas of Trotsky, which Service declined, and even pulled out of debate elsewhere when he realised Peter was speaking there. Peter outlined the contributions Trotsky made to Marxist ideas and the movement, and the discussion followed this course, as well as discussing why there is such a voluminous body of works attacking marxist ideas and in particular anything associated with the 1917 Russian Revolution.
The final session I went to was a discussion on 'Where now for the German Left Party?" introduced by Stephan Kimmerle. The discussion from this mostly focussed on the experiences of building new working class parties and the difficulties that had been faced in doing so. Unfortunately i had to dash off early from this session.
The final event of the weekend was the closing rally. In some ways this was a better rally than the previous nights, as the majority of the speakers were relating their experiences of disputes which when you spent the entire weekend really tired helped keep you more alert. The speakers there were Rob Williams (reinstated Linamar convener), Dave Nellist, Sean Figg, Hannah Sell, John Denton (CWU London Regional Secretary) and a British Airways union rep.
Of the contributions, I listened with the most interest to John Denton's appraisal of the deal that the CWU has struck with Royal Mail, by the sounds of it he sounded skeptical at first, but he sincerely believed the deal to be a big step forward, and commented that is Royal Mail renege on it the ballots are all still active and postal workers will be out once more. In my opinion it is possible that the CWU could have got a good deal, as one comrade pointed out to me, it would be unusual for it to be passed unanimously by the postal executive if it wasn't. But we will have to wait until the full details are announced (but in my opinion, surely a the details of a good deal should be announced immediately). The BA rep's speech was quite interesting too, particularly pointing out that BA had head-hunted some of the very people who'd drawn up to attack the CWU in Royal Mail.
Overall, I had a great, but very tiring weekend. Hopefully I shouldn't have to set off to future Socialisms at such a ridiculously early events as i did this one. For those of you that couldn't be there videos were recorded of some of the sessions and they will hopefully be online soon.

Reports from Previous Socialism events at Leftwing Criminologist

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Trotsky on the Paris Commune

Following on from my previous short piece on the Paris Commune.

Trotsky wrote several times about the Paris Commune and the lessons that it gives Marxists in their struggles. As Donny Gluckstein correctly points out in The Paris Commune: A Revolution in Democracy, “Trotsky identified parallels between Paris in 1871 and Russia in 1917,” (pg200), and goes on to elaborate some of these with a series of quotations from Trotsky’s 1921 article, “Lessons of the Paris Commune” (available on the Marxist Internet Archive – despite footnotes citing them as secondary quoatations from other sources the entirety of the text quoted can be found in this document. There is also a quotation from this document in a footnote earlier in the book).

The first point which is elaborated is that of the similarities between the Central Committee of the National Guard (hereafter Central Committee) and the Councils of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies (or Soviets), as Gluckstein points out, “Both were organs of working class power with systems of instant recall and direct democracy. The French National Guard operated its collective control through the battalions which assembled on a daily basis and so could keep representatives under constant scrutiny. In Russia soldiers’ regiments and factories played the same role.” (pg.200). He especially points to Trotsky’s criticism of the National Guard for abdicating power after the 18th March events (when the Thiers government failed in its attempted to remove from Paris cannons that had been paid for by public subscriptions and thereby compromise its defence), noting that Trotsky saw their this decision as a weakness in not gaining a complete victory in the aftermath on March 18th as due to the inexperience of the members of the Central Committee, but also as an attempt so, “…that Thiers would halt respectfully before revolutionary Paris the minute the latter covered itself with the ‘legal’ Commune”. (Trotsky, Lessons of the Paris Commune)

Following on from this Gluckstein goes on to demonstrate the missing element in the situation, a revolutionary party. He points out that such an organisation is able to bring the experience of past struggles to bear in the current situation, as well as having a nucleus of experienced organisers. He further states that, “...[The Soviets] too wished to abdicate power early on…Through patient argument the Bolsheviks won over the majority in the Soviets…” (pg.202), which in general is correct, although it should be noted that until Lenin’s return in April, the Bolshevik party under the direction of Stalin had argued in the same manner as the Soviets and the Central Committee. He also highlights as an example of this the lack of agitation amongst troops fighting in the Franco-Prussian war, who were demoralised by the ineptitude of the French army command and looking for an alternative, obviously such an approach would have made it much more difficult for the reaction headed by Thiers to militarily crush Paris.

The final point which Gluckstein touches on from Trotsky’s document is the to do with the isolation that Paris faced, both the Central Committee and Commune were organised in Paris alone, which despite being the largest town in France, still left it isolated. In his book Gluckstein comments very briefly on the short-lived communes created in other areas. As the quote from Trotsky points out, “It was necessary to enter into contact with sympathisers, to strengthen the hesitators and shatter the opposition of the adversary. Instead of this policy of offensive and aggression which was the only thing that could save the situation, the leaders of Paris attempted to seclude themselves in their communal autonomy: they will not attack the others if the others do not attack them; each town has its sacred right of self-government.” However, a further quote from Trotsky (which Gluckstein does not use) links this in with the point Trotsky makes about the indecision of the Central Committee, “Passivity and indecision were supported in this case by the sacred principle of federation and autonomy… it was nothing but an attempt to replace the proletarian revolution, which was developing, by a petit bourgeois reform: communal autonomy.”

The main problem I have with Gluckstein’s commentary on Trotsky is that it he barely uses any of it. Having printed off ‘Lessons of the Paris Commune’, it fills 9 A4 pages, of which Glucksteins’ quotations come entirely from the 3rd and 4th pages. There is a wealth of other interesting observations that Gluckstein effectively ignores as we have seen in parts already above. This is not to say there is nothing in Gluckstein’s book on some of the points below, but it surely would have been strengthened by considering this material too.

For example, at the beginning of the article, Trotsky, points out that “The Commune came too late. It had all the possibilities of taking the power on September 4th… But power fell into the hands of the democratic praters, the deputies of Paris.” To Gluckstein’s credit he notes that Marx had originally opposed workers taking power in the 4th September, but Marx changed his mind afterwards, realising that such action would have changed the course of events drastically and evolution of the Franco-Prussian war. But Gluckstein leaves his commentary at this point, yet Trotsky develops from here, characterising those who wished to be leaders of the workers at this time. “The Renaudels and the Boncours and even the Longuets and the Pessemanes are much closer by virtues of their sympathies, their intellectual habits and their conduct to the Jules Favres and the Jules Ferrys than to the revolutionary proletariat. Their socialist phraseology is nothing but an historic mask which permits them to impose themselves upon the masses… When the revolutionary babblers of the salons and of parliament find themselves face to face, in real life, with the revolution, they never recognise it.”

As Trotsky goes on to point out, “Six months elapsed before the proletariat had re-established in its memory the lessons of past revolutions, of battles of yore, of the reiterated betrayals of democracy – and it seized power… If the power was found in the hands of the proletariat of Paris on March 18, it was not because it had been deliberately seized, but because its enemies had quit Paris.”

But Trotsky also spends some time on the question of how the National Guard should have been organised, as he comments, “The question of the electibility of the command of the command was one of the reasons of the conflict between the National Guard and Theirs. Paris refused to accept the command designated by Thiers. Varlin subsequently formulated the demand that the command of the National Guard, from top to bottom, ought to be elected by the National Guardsmen themselves. That is where the Central Committee of the National Guard found its support.”

But as Trotsky notes, whilst electibility has its strong sides politically, it can also weaken an army militarily. As Trotsky states, “The political task consisted in purging the National Guard of the counter-revolutionary command… Electibility served as a wedge for splitting the army into two parts, along class lines.” However, “…the liberation of the army from the old commanding apparatus inevitably involves the weakening of organisational cohesion and the diminution of combative power. As a rule, the elected command is pretty weak from technico-military standpoint and with regard to the maintainence of order and of discipline… Before wide masses of soldiers acquire the experience of well chosing and selecting commanders, the revolution will be beaten by the enemy…The methods of shapeless democracy (simple electibility) must be supplemented and to a certain extent replaced by measures of selection from above.” Thus Trotsky attempted to apply his experience of leading the Red Army to the military tasks of the Commune.

Finally, Trotsky notes that the election of the Commune, did not see the end of the Central Committee – rather both existed side by side, both due to their electibility being able to compete against each other, which meant that both to a certain extent paralysed the actions of each other, especially in the military field.

Moreover, there is another text that Trotsky wrote around the same time that contains an extended section on the Paris Commune, ‘Terrorism and Communism’, which replied to criticisms of the Soviet regime by Karl Kautsky. Kautsky attempted to counterpose the democratic Commune to the dictatorship of the Soviets. Several of the points made in there are similar to those in ‘Lesssons of the Paris Commune’, but there are two major additional points Trotsky makes.

The first is in relation to the similarities and differences in the run up to events in Petersburg (the focal point of the 1917 Russian Revolution) and in Paris. Whilst both were more developed than the majority of the rest of the country, Trotsky notes that whilst Paris contained substantial numbers of workers, they were mostly contained in small workshops, whereas Petersburg had huge concentrations of workers in large factories. Moreover, whilst Paris had been the centre of several revolutionary uprisings, Petersburg had just the 1905 experience, although undoubtedly this was much fresher in the minds of Russian workers than previous revolutions had been for French workers. But most importantly, the Russian working class had the experience of the Paris Commune to draw from.

The second point is in relation to organisation, both in terms of the representativeness of the Soviets and the Commune and also measures to suppress hostile elements to them. As Trotsky points out, although the Commune appeared not to be a class based organ at face value, events soon drove it in this way, where bourgeois elements elected to the Commune soon withdrew. Moreover, initially the Soviet regime had released Tsarist generals and the like on their word that they would not rise against the Soviets, a word that they soon broke. Despite the Bolsheviks dissolving the Constituent Assembly (which had been based on an election and electoral lists corresponding to a previous stage of the election – in my opinion a better solution would have been to call fresh elections where undoubtedly the Bolsheviks and Left SR’s would have a majority), there had been elections in November 1917 to municipal Dumas where the Bolsheviks one a majority and these institutions dissolved themselves in favour of the Soviets.

Moreover, despite the severe measures that the Bolsheviks took to suppress the resistance of pro-capitalist elements, the Commune itself moved in the same direction – ordering the demolition of Thiers house and also passing a decree on the execution of hostages in reprisal for executions of Communards. The aftermath of the Paris Commune shows, as Trotsky points out, what happens if counter-revolution is not taken seriously, the bloody week massacres and subsequent executions and banishments are all too great proof.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Supporting the Posties

Members of North Wales Socialist Party and Bangor Uni Socialist Students made their way down to support striking postal workers outside Delivery Offices across North Wales. The mood on the picket lines was good across the area, with strong showings on the picket lines

In Rhyl the strike was 100% solid, with 20 pickets out in force, with a similar situation in Wrexham where only two pickets went in to join the managers. In Bangor, just one picket went in and strikers told us reports they'd received from other delivery offices in North West Wales where the strikes were virtually solid too.

The strikers are worried about the losses of wages, but they know that Royal Mail management are hellbent on breaking the union and attacking their pay and conditions and know this is a fight they can't afford to lose.

Iain Dalton, Bangor Socialist Party

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Coming Soon: YODA

No, I don't mean the short, green alien from Star Wars (pictured).

What I'm on about is a story I started writing 7 years ago and managed to finish a few months back. Its called Ye Olde Detective Agency, which is, as you may have guessed, where YODA comes in. It really doesn't bear any resemblance to Yoda from Star Wars at all.

Anyways, the thing about writing a story is that its a bit of a waste if you keep it to yourself. So hopefully over the next few days, i'll be able to make a last edit and publish it online somewhere. I'm not promising that its any good at all, people may completely hate it, or they may really like it.

That's it for now, in the next few days I'll put another post up with a link to wherever I post it online.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Rifts in the SWP... Again

A few years ago I made a comment that all the Socialist Unity blog was about was bashing the Socialist Workers Party (or something along those lines). Whilst Socialist Unity does publish a lot of other stuff, I still find it to be the best place to find gossip on the SWP.

And the news that comes from this recent article (Rift in the SWP Over Student Work?), is several things which could quite possibly be related. Post 151 in the comments gives us them in summary

1/ 2 leading SWP activists at SOAS have been suspended from membership. (Clare S and James M)
2/ That John Rees initiated a motion at last weekends SWP Party Council on anti-fascist work.
3/ That the suspended students supported the motion intiated by Rees.
4/ Further suspensions of Rees supporters may happen in the North East, North West and Birmingham.
5/ That Rees will declare a formal faction tobe called ‘The Left Faction’.

For a party that was supposed to be recomposing itself after the fallout of the split with Respect, it doesn't seem to be going two well when there's a faction fight hitting off after the party has just finished a democracy review. And this is important for a few reasons, most importantly, that as other activists we will have to work with SWP members in campaigns.

Naturally, as a member of a different organisation I believe that the one I am a member of, the Socialist Party, is a better organisation (ie. its perspectives, ideas and how it organises is more useful to workers) - otherwise I'd be in the wrong one. But I do tend to think about what I'd do in the situation that SWP members might be finding themselves in.

After all, the SWP are no small organisation - they are not some CPGB or Workers Power, they certainly have as many (maybe more, but no-one ever seems to know any reliable membership figures for them) momebers that the Socialist Party. Plus also over the last few months I've become quite friendly with an SWP member whom I have a lot of respect for, and has given me hope that there are some very good socialists in the SWP.

And if we look back at history, in my opinion, there are times where socialists who have held a viewpoint that has subsequently been proven correct by events have been in a minority in the organisation that they belong to. Therefore, as socialists, we should all be prepared to be able to think for ourselves and critically assess the policies our organisation adopts.

So what would I do if I were a member of the SWP? Well I'd start by attempting to assess how the SWP is in the mess it is, what did go wrong with Respect. I would read over the documents that the SWP leadership are producing, and those of other groups (although i've heard how difficult it is to get access to these apart from in the 'pre-conference discussion period'). I would also attempt to read over the criticisms that other groups have produced of the organisation, I know that the Socialist Party have produced 2 in the last 10 years or so (btw, if the SWP have ever bothered to reply to these, let me know, I'd be very interested to read it)

Ultimately, what the revolution needs is comrades who can think indepently and organise in their local area as well as playing a role in their national organisation. Part of this comes from not only having a serious debate on issues at national conference/congresses, but in the local branches themselves.

For example, in my Socialist Party branch, when the discussions were going on about taking part in the No2EU coalition - we had several discussions, firstly in the run up to our congress which had a debate to decide the issue, and then when the two of us who went to that congress reported back on the discussions there, as well as further discussions about the campaign as it progressed. Now, I'm not gonna say there was no disagreements, but it revolved entirely around the name No2EU and how we could try and make sure something better was used in the future.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

North Wales Shop Stewards Network

On 29 September, trade union reps and activists from across North Wales gathered in Wrexham to found a North Wales Shop Stewards Network. There were trade unionists there from UCU, NUJ, GMB, Usdaw and from several branches of PCS.

Iain Dalton, Bangor

The national chair of the shop stewards network (NSSN), Dave Chapple introduced the meeting and there was a wide-ranging discussion where reps outlined their experiences. This ranged from discussing industrial disputes in colleges and the postal service to the problems of organising shop workers. It was clear there is a need for an organisation that can share these experiences as well as helping rebuild the trade union movement and increasing the participation of young workers.
Plans were made to organise further meetings, particularly in solidarity with the expected national postal strike, as well as to extend the layer of reps attending meetings.
Anyone interested can find our facebook group at: (North Wales Shop Stewards Network) or contact the local network co-ordinator Eileen O'Reilly (PCS) at

Monday, 5 October 2009

Thinking About The Paris Commune

The Paris Commune holds a significant place for Marxists, it was after all the first time that workers took power somewhere, even if it was only for a tenuous period. But also it was an incident that was important on developing Marxist ideas about the role of the state, so it has always been something of interest to me. So I've been reading up on it over the last few days.

For those who don't know, the jist of what happened is this. Dictatorship of Louis Bonapart loses war against Germany (Prussia) and gets overthrown by a provisional government which fails to do anything and in its turn gets overthrown by an organisation of conscripted soldiers (the National Guard Central Committee). Provisonal government flees to Versaille whilst elections in Paris go ahead to elect local government (the Paris Commune). The Commune passed lots of good laws, but eventually was defeated militarily by troops from Versailles and others realeased by the Prussians to assist with the crushing of the commune and drowned in blood.

Theres quite a few things that strike me about it. The military ineptness has to be one of the main causes of the Commune's defeat, for a start they essentially let the Versailles troops into Paris because they didn't plan guarding the gates properly, and on several times they ended up losing positions because reinforcements weren't sent. But also the sympathy throughout France that existed and the attempts to set up their own Communes / stop troops being sent towards Paris. There's more that could be talked about but I think it is an event that is extremely rich in things that one can learn from it, so I may end up writing a long article or doing a leadoff on it at some point.

So far I've read

Civil War in France - Karl Marx
State and Revolution - Lenin
Terrorism and Communism - Trotsky
History of the Paris Commune - P.O. Lissagaray
The Women Incediaries - Edith Thomas
The Paris Commune: A Revolution in Democracy - Donny Gluckstein

I've also found an archive about the Paris Commune on the Marxist internet archive

Theres also another article by Trotsky about the Paris Commune (which Gluckstein uses instead of Terrorism and Communism)

Theres also a short piece by Lenin here

If anyone knows of more good resources I can look at please let me know!

Friday, 25 September 2009

Music Review: The People or the Gun, by Anti-Flag

From this weeks issue of the Socialist.

Reviewed by Iain Dalton

The latest offering from Anti-Flag at first seems like a bit of a trip down memory lane for the band. Quite a few of the songs are rougher and shorter than their previous album and sound more like their albums from around 10 years ago.
The political content of the songs is anything but from Anti-Flag's past.
Whereas over the last few years Anti-Flag's inspiration has come from anti-war movements and general anti-capitalist angst, this album draws much more from the traditions of workers' struggles.
This is at its most stark in When All The Lights Go Out, which talks of "One million workers stand up..." whereas in the past something more vague like the word 'people' would have been used; and then states "Revolution: the engine of history".
Further on, the song speaks of how "We don't need the CEO's, they need us" and even quotes the Communist Manifesto: "Proletarians of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your chains". And Marx is quoted elsewhere in the album's liner notes for Sodom, Gomorrah, Washington DC, a song about how religion is used by the ruling class to divide people.
The title of one of the songs is taken direct from the slogans of the May-June 1968 events in France, The Economy Is Suffering... Let It Die, the song itself being a crying indictment of how capitalists and their governments have propped up themselves whilst placing the burden of the crisis on the working class.
The song describes how they have been "Lining up their pockets with the people's cash..." whilst asking "Where are all the bailouts for the homeless and the poor?"
Anti-Flag's lyrics drew me towards the anti-war movement and eventually towards socialist and Marxist ideas, hopefully this album will draw many more young people towards political activity with the Socialist Party.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Anglesey Aluminium - Nationalise to Save Jobs

THE RUNNING down of smelting facilities at Anglesey Aluminium is a devastating blow to the economy of Holyhead and the rest of the island of Anglesey, North Wales. The company (which at the beginning of the year employed over 500 and was estimated to account for a third of Anglesey's economy), will only retain around 80 workers.

Dylan Roberts and Iain Dalton

The immediate pretext for the closure of the plant is the ending of a discounted energy supply from Wylfa nuclear power station. The end of this deal had been on the cards for some time now - the closure of Wylfa, announced back in 2006, is expected in 2010. But the company has in the past stated that they would not be threatened by the closure of Wylfa. So what has changed now? The current crisis of capitalism and rising production costs are being used as a scapegoat, for attacks on pay and conditions and the switching of production to non-unionised plants in low wage economies, in order to drive up profit margins further.

In most cases, there is no pressing need to switch production; it is simply another case of profits coming before people. Such is the devastation that these job losses will cause to the island's economy that the Welsh Assembly and Westminster governments have been forced to intervene, offering £59 million in state subsidies over a four year period, which amounts to a massive £1 million a month.However, management at Anglesey Aluminium, Rio Tinto (which owns 51% of AA), and Kaiser Aluminium (49% ownership) rejected the deal, claiming that they would need at least double that figure in state subsidies to retain production on Anglesey. Yet Anglesey Aluminium has been extremely profitable in the 36 years it has been on the island.

Furthermore, both Rio Tinto and Kaiser Aluminium are multinationals turning huge profits. Rio Tinto posted record profits in 2008, delivering net profits in the first quarter of 2008 of an astronomical US $2.94 billion. They have not fared quite so well in the first quarter of 2009 but still made $1.6 billion in net profits in that period, or $177 million per day! Just like the banks, we see private enterprise demanding that the losses are nationalised while the profits remain private.

Despite redundancy notices being issued, the situation is not hopeless as the action at the Vestas Blades plant on the Isle of Wight shows. There, workers and their supporters have created huge pressure upon both the company and government to stop its closure. They are currently taking action to stop the remaining wind turbine blades and machinery being removed from the plant as part of their campaign to force the government to nationalise the plant.

In both cases the levels of profits of the multinational companies, and the continued profitability of these plants, demonstrates their viability. Both companies should be made to open their books to see where these profits have gone, and if necessary the plants should be nationalised, under democratic workers' control and management, to ensure future jobs and opportunities for skilled workers.

Aliwminiwm Môn – Cenedlaetholi er mwyn achub Swyddi

MAE CAU lawr yr hwylusudd mwyndoddwr yn Aliwminiwm Môn yn ergyd ddinistriol i economi Caergybi a gweddill Ynys Môn, Gogledd Cymru. Mae’r cwmni (oedd ar ddechrau’r flwyddyn yn cyflogi dros 500 o weithwyr, ac oedd yn amcangyfri am dros drydedd o economi Ynys Môn), nawr ond yn cadw oddeutu 80 o weithwyr.

Dylan Roberts ag Iain Dalton

Y rheswm dros gau’r safle yw diwedd cynhyrchu egni oddi ar gorsaf bwêr niwclear Wylfa. Mae diwedd y dosraniad yma wedi bod ar y cardiau am beth amser bellach – mae cau Wylfa, a gafodd ei gyhoeddi nôl yn 2006, i fod mewn grym erbyn 2010. Ond mae’r cwmni yn y gorffennol wedi dweud ni fuasai cau Wylfa yn fygythiad. Felly beth sydd wedi newid nawr?
Mae’r argyfwng cyfalafiaeth presennol a chynydd yn nghostau cynhyrchu yn cael eu defnyddio fel bwch diahangol, fel ymysodiad a’r dâl a amodau a’r newid o gynhyrchu i weithfeydd nad oes ganddynt undebm, mewn economi tâl isel, er mwyn cynyddu elw.
Yn y rhan fwyaf o sefyllfaoedd, nid oes yna angen mawr i newid cynhyrchiad, mae hyn yn achos arall lle mae elw yn dod cyn y bobl.Mor ddrwg yw’r sefyllfa a wneir y colledion yma i economi’r ynys, bod llywodraethau y Cynulliad a San Steffan wedi eu gorfodi i ymyrryd, gan gynnig £59 miliwn mewn cymhorthdal gwladol dros gyfnod o 4 mlynedd, sy’n gyfanswm enfawr o £1 miliwn y mis.
Beth bynnag, mae rheolwr Aliwminiwm Môn, Rio Tinto (sydd dal yn berchen a 51% o AM) a Aliwminiwm Kaiser (berchen ar 49%) wedi gwrthod y ddêl, yn datgan y byddent angen o leiaf dwbl y ffigwr mewn cymhorthdal gwladol er mwyn cadw cynhyrchu yn Ynys Môn.
Ond mae Aliwminiwm Môn wedi bod yn hynod o broffidol yn y 36 mlynedd y mae wedi bod ar yr ynys. Ymhellach i hyn, mae Rio Tinto a Aliwminiwm Kaiser yn gwmniau ryngwladol ac yn creu elw anfferth.
Mae Rio Tinto wedi cofnodi elw yn 2008, yn dychwelyd elw yn y chwarter cyntaf o 2008 y swm anferthol $2.94 biliwn (UDA). Nid ydynt wedi gwneud mor dda yn chwarter cyntaf o 2009 ond wedi parhau i wneud $1.6 biliwn o dychwelyd elw yn y cyfnod hwnw, neu $177 miliwn y diwrnod!
Yn union fel y banciau, rydym yn gweld mentrau preifat yn gofyn i eu colled gael ei genedlaetholi ond bod yr elw yn aros yn breifat. Er gwaethaf y nodiadau diswyddi yn cael eu rhannu allan, nid yw’r sefyllfa yn un hollol ddiobaith fel a welwyd gan weithredoedd yn safle Vestas Blades yn Ynys Wyth. Yno, mae’r gweithwyr a’u cefnogwyr wedi rhoi pwysau enfawr ar y cwmni a’r llywodraeth i rhwystro’r safle cael ei gau. Maent ar y funud yn cymryd gweithred i atal y twrbinau gwynt sydd ar ol a’r offer gael ei symud oddi ar y safle fel rhan o’u hymgyrch i orfodi’r llywodraeth i genedlaetholi’r safle.
Yn y ddau sefyllfa, mae lefelau elw o’r cwmniau rhyngwladaol, a’r parhad o elw o’r gweithfeydd, yn dangos eu hyfywedd. Dylai’r ddau gwmni cael eu gorfodi i agor eu llyfrau a gweld lle mae’r elw yma wedi mynd, ac os yn berthnasol dylai’r safleoedd eu cenedlaetholi, o dan reolaeth y gweithwyr democrataidd er mwyn sicrhau gwaith ar gyfer y dyfodol a cyfleon ar gyfer gweithwyr a sgiliau.

Friday, 18 September 2009

The BNP and Council Cuts

One thing that you don't often find out about the BNP is what the actually stand for. By this I don't mean that many of their more longstanding members are racists and neo-nazis, some members and ex-members have been convicted of bomb making and things like that. I'm sure most people will have seen something by Hope Not Hate or Unite Against Fascism telling them that and then subtly appearing to suggest the best thing to do about is to vote Labour.

What I mean is what the BNP think should be done about such things as the economy, the likelihood of job cuts and so forth. That is apart from booting out immigrants and saying that they're different to the 'Westminster elite'

Well an opportunity to see this has arisen with the news that Kirklees council will be making anywhere from £250m to £400m worth of cuts, which could mean 20% of the 11,000 string council workforce losing their jobs.

In a comment to the Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Thursday, 17th September), BNP councillor Roger Roberts said

"This is long overdue, it has to be done..."

"The good thing is that a lot of the silly posts can disappear. I’ve always advocated that you could get rid of 25% of council staff and no-one would notice..."

I would imagine very few council workers would vote for the BNP after reading those comments. A leaflet that disseminates this information will be worth a thousand leaflets telling people about Nick Griffins 1998 conviction for inciting racial hatred.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Socialist Party Organisers School

Having got back late yesterday from the Socialist Party's Organisers School near Buxton in the Peak District, it seems like a good time to gather my thoughts on the weekend.

After having a bit of a nightmare travelling there from Bangor, it was a good experience to spend the weekend with over 100 party activists from across the country. The attendees for the most part were members who have joined over the last year and have begun to help organise the work of their local branches. People like me who have been knocking around for a few years now were definitely in a minority and for the most part were confined to the younger party full-timers and a few of our leading members in certain areas of work. The vast majority of the people there I hadn't met before and I found it really good to meet so many people. To give a good illustration of this, of the delegation from Yorkshire, of which I used to be a member in when I first joined the party, I knew less than half of them, and most of them I'd met in the last year - and this in a region that I have always tried to keep quite effective contact with!

The weekend itself was a mix of commissions and plenary sessions. The two plenary sessions began and ended the weekend, with Peter Taaffe discussing perspectives and Hannah Sell discussing build the Socialist Party. I'm not going to comment much on these apart from note how I seem to get mentioned in everyone of Hannah's leadoffs on party building, obviously I've found favour somewhere!

The commissions were the focus of the weekend, giving more of an opportunity for newer activists to contribute (that said most of the Welsh delegation spoke in the first plenary session). The first day had political commissions on six different topics (which were repeated in the evening) - I went to the role of the State and to Sri Lanka and the national question - both of which were really good interactive sessions. The session on the State took a question and answer style, whereas the Sri Lanka session, featured video footage of the situation there in the camps and a discussion around the current political situation in Sri Lanka, as well as discussing the history of the national question there, which is intimately bound with the history of Trotskyism in the country, all of which deserves one (if not more) posts all to itself to do the subject justice.

On the second day we had two different sessions - one on recruitment to the party and the second set of sessions looking at different aspects of party work. I went along to the session on the role of a marxist in the workplace. The session had a wide range of participants, from those like Rob Williams where the party has a big influence in that particular workplace and has led the struggle to defend jobs and improve conditions at that factory, as well as recently defending Rob from victimisation, to workplaces where we have just one member and there is no trade union at all. It was really good being able to discuss, share and learn from each others experiences.

A few last things, in my opinion the weekend was an excellent experience with just two flaws. The first was the lateness of the reading lists for the political commissions, which no doubt meant that some members where less prepared than they could have been for the discussions and meant those discussions necessarily had to cover a little more ground than they needed (due to mny extensive reading I had already read the materials for the sessions I attended, but if I hadn't I wouldn't have had the time to do so if otherwise). And the second was the lack of preparation at the hostel for the weekend, which meant they didn't have enough staff on and the bar ran out of beer!

I for one thoroughly enjoyed the weekend, and really enjoyed discussing with our new activists from around the country, so much so that I was last up both nights we were at the hostel. And despite how useless I am a football, I even scored a goal in the saturday lunchtime game - a great result all round!

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Student or Worker?

One of the things that has frustrated me for the last few years has been that I get referred to as a student, especially within SP circles. Now it isn't that inaccurate a description, after all for two years I was an activist at Huddersfield Uni and was elected as the non-sabb Campaigns Officer for one of them.
And then I moved to Bangor. I stopped being a full time student and looked for full-time work - and then got offered a place on a masters course part-time with my tuition fees paid. So I decided to do that as well as work. But what, at least politically, came to the fore was the student part of my life, particularly when I became unemployed and using my spare time helped build up the signatures needed to force a referendum on the issue of tuition fees within Bangor Students Union. Couple that with then going on to win said referendum and on the back of that being the Socialist Students candidate for the NUS Block of Fifteen and you begin to see why people will think of me as a student.
My blogging has reinforced that too. I've found it far easier to write about student politics than about the places I've worked in. And to be honest I'd rather my bosses at work didn't know I was a member of the Socialist Party.
But I don't see myself as a student, in fact, I haven't ever since I left uni full time at Huddersfield. At the moment I only technically count as a student as I haven't finished my masters dissertation yet. And I work full time.
Its not that I see being a student as a bad thing, but there are certain things that I associate with students that just aren't me. For example - sleeping at silly hours, using words most people don't understand, forcing themselves to read books they aren't interested in etc. There's probably other stuff that I can't think of right now too, but the point is that although some people see that side of me as defining me, I feel the complete opposite.
But things are gonna change with this blog, as I'm probably not gonna be in my current job for all too much longer it doesn't particularly matter whether my bosses put two and two together any more. So hopefully in the next few weeks I'll be able to get off my chest some of the observations I've made at work and of my involvement with my trade union too.

Friday, 4 September 2009

A Statement of Sorts

Well I guess I should start with welcoming you, dear reader, to the blog. As it seems to be customary when starting a blog to say what you intend on doing with said blog, I shall do that. Following me so far?

For those who don't know me, I have another blog - - a blog I am very proud of, especially some of my posts exploring issues related to crime and criminal justice. The problem was I would only get round the writing those posts only so often, especially after I stopped being a full-time undergrad at uni, and so to bulk up the blog I started posting other stuff (actually that isn't quite right, I started with the filler too, but its become more prevalent since I finished by undergrad course at Hudds Uni). I liked writing about the other stuff, but often I didn't have the time or knowledge to write as good a post as I would do on some of the crime related issues. But for appearances sake they'd have a veneer that attempted to make them look like the were as polished as the crime related articles. Of course they failed miserably for the most part and were the blogging equivalent of a Rollex watch (yes I meant to spell it like that). So this blog is for me to write about stuff in a less formalised manner and covering other stuff apart from crime related issues.

And your probably wondering about the name? Well, obviously people will get the Monty Python reference - but the reference to sectarianism? Well, this is going to be a blog more about myself, and my opinions. I am a member of the Socialist Party, and I share the opinions of that party and this will probably come through in my posts. To my mind, that isn't full blown sectarianism - in fact, if we are going to ever get a united left/socialist/marxist party then people need to honestly and openly discuss their attitudes to questions. But this blog will certainly be more opinionated and, in that sense, sectarian than the new posting that will feature on Leftwing Criminologist.

Anyways, enough ramblings for now - I need sleep and hopefully when I go into work tomorrow the oven won't have caught fire again. See you!