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!