Kilroy-Silk to head the no2eu list.

April 1, 2009

In what at first appeared to be some kind of strange April fool joke, but no it’s apparently true, I’ve just learnt that Robert Kilroy-Silk has joined the no2eu platform and is heading up the East midlands list, and confirmed that via there website.

 

I thought it was bad that RESPECT had George Galloway fronting it, but this takes the piss.

re-instate the Glengate 2

September 19, 2008
The Glengate 2

The Glengate 2

In Solidarity with the Glengate 2. IMHO your better out then in, but….

SWP dumps John Rees

September 19, 2008

The leader with the greatest responsibility for the Respect disaster has been ousted. Peter Manson reports on the palace coup in the SWP

 

John Rees has been deposed as leader of the Socialist Workers Party. The assassination team was fronted by national secretary Martin Smith.

 

Meeting on August 27, the 14-strong central committee voted by 10 to four to remove comrade Rees as CC member responsible for election work, and instructed him, against his wishes, to resign from the Left Alternative national council. Rees has quite rightly been blamed for the Respect/Left List/Left Alternative fiasco, which culminated in the SWP-led slate being wiped out in May’s elections to the London assembly. This humiliation then saw the defection to Labour and the Liberal Democrats of Left List councillors and assembly candidates.

 

Then, on September 14, the larger national committee overwhelmingly endorsed the CC decision. According to the internal Party Notes, the 50-member, part-elected, part-appointed NC decided by 42 votes to none, with three abstentions, to approve the motion put forward by the new CC majority, which ratified “the decision of the central committee to remove John Rees from responsibility for electoral work” (September 15).

 

Martin Smith had been increasingly worried, as the Respect project began to crumble last year. It was Smith who had been behind the warning shot fired across Rees’s bows at the January 2008 SWP conference, when a motion criticising him for accepting a large donation from a Dubai businessman on behalf of Organising for Fighting Unions was overwhelmingly carried.

 

Comrade Smith was supported by Alex Callinicos, secretary of the SWP’s ‘international’, the International Socialist Tendency, who, it seems, was moved to take a firmer position against Rees, following the intensity of IST opposition to the SWP line on broad parties. The Greek, French and German sections in particular were opposed to SWP attempts to locate the collapse of Respect as part of some general European trend.

 

Smith was also supported in the move against comrade Rees by another senior leader, Chris Harman, and backed up strongly by Charlie Kimber, who now looks set to move up the SWP pecking order. Also voting against Rees were Colin Smith, Hannah Dee, Judith Orr, Michael Bradley, Viv Smith and Weyman Bennett.

 

For his part, comrade Rees was backed only by his partner and main collaborator, Lindsey German, along with long-time allies Chris Bambery and Chris Nineham – although it has to be said it is by no means certain that the latter two will not jump ship in the near future, now it is clear that the balance of forces is totally against Rees.

 

The August 27 CC meeting was extremely heated, with comrade German at one point threatening to resign not just from the leadership, but from the SWP itself. Although she herself was not affected by the ‘cabinet reshuffle’ that accompanied Rees’s demotion, she announced that she too would resign from the Left Alternative NC in solidarity with him.

 

When it came to the September 6 meeting of the LA NC, attended by around 20, mostly SWP, comrades, Rees dutifully announced his resignation – without, of course, stating that he was under instructions to do so. As a result, it was not at all clear why he was stepping down, although it would have been perfectly consistent, had there been no anti-Rees coup, for a key SWP figure to have moved on to pastures new rather than waste his time on the dead-end LA.

 

Following comrade Rees’s announcement, several speakers heaped praise upon him for his “valuable role” within LA, and its predecessors, Respect and Left List. For a taste of the hypocrisy on display, you need look no further than the Left Alternative members’ bulletin, which reported the resignation of Rees and comrade German in these terms:

 

“John and Lindsey have been tireless members of the officers group and national council since the inception of Respect. As national secretary, John has provided consistent judgment and direction in the most difficult political circumstances, while Lindsey has been our inspirational mayoral candidate in the GLA elections in both 2004 and 2008. The national council, at its meeting on September 6, agreed a unanimous vote of thanks to John and Lindsey for everything they have done for our organisation. We are proud to have them as members of the Left Alternative and look forward to continuing to work with them in campaigns from Stop the War to the People before Profit Charter” (September 10).

 

Apparently this statement was not intended to be ironic. No wonder comrade Rees, having listened to such fulsome declarations at the NC, commented that some of the praise he had just heard was perhaps “Shakespearean”.

 

However, not all LA members present were prepared to go along with the charade. Tansy Hoskins, a close fellow-traveller of the SWP and former London assembly election candidate, loudly complained that comrade Rees had been scapegoated for the failings of the SWP as a whole, following the disastrous results in May.

 

For her part, comrade German was unable to disguise her anger and frustration. She had given everything she could during the London assembly campaign, she said, as had John, yet some people had unfairly targeted him.

 

In the dark

It goes without saying that the SWP rank and file has been kept completely in the dark as to the nature of the furious row that has engulfed the whole leadership. This has not only been about allocating the blame for the Respect debacle, but over the future direction of the SWP and its immediate strategy.

 

Some SWPers are speculating that comrade Rees wanted the organisation to give more priority to LA than did the CC majority. If this is true, then the differences on this particular question must be very slight indeed. After all, nobody in their right mind thinks that LA is an organisation with any kind of serious role to play – electorally or otherwise.

 

Indeed, back in July, comrade Rees himself said at the SWP’s Marxism school that, while there would be electoral opportunities in the future, for now the conditions are such that “we have to take a step back”. It was important to understand that we will have to “engage in battles that are not electoral”. In response to a question from the floor, he advised: “Don’t rush into an electoral test” at this time – “Results are not good at the moment.”

 

Of course, it could be that comrade Rees had already been overruled by the Smith-Callinicos-Harman bloc on the CC before Marxism. Either way, the SWP membership is not being told.

 

For example, Rees’s sacking was originally reported in Party Notes as though the comrade just fancied a change of scenery: “Just to let comrades know, we have made some changes to the areas of work overseen by members of the CC ….

 

“As part of the process of adjustment the Left Alternative is currently undergoing, John R will cease to be responsible for the party’s electoral work. He will continue working inside the STWC and the Cairo Conference and will be working alongside Charlie K and Michael B on the Charter. Lindsey G has also decided to resign from the Left Alternative NC.

 

“Charlie K will head up our work in Public Services Not Private Profit and Martin S will be responsible for any potential electoral projects in the north west. They, along with Chris B, will for the time being share a watching brief for the Left Alternative” (September 8).

 

However, this passage carried a clue that all was not sweetness and light on the CC: “Lindsey G has also decided to resign from the Left Alternative NC.” Why should she do that? Shouldn’t the CC as a whole decide who does what job?

 

The rank and file were clearly adding two and two together – those, at any rate, who had heard about the LA NC meeting and rumours of a hotly disputed vote on the EC. So the next day an “addition to Party Notes” was sent out by SWP apparatchik Colin Wilson:

 

“There has been some confusion about the Left Alternative since its national council meeting on Saturday,” his note began. “To help clarify matters we are circulating the attached document, which was approved by the central committee prior to the Left Alternative meeting” (circular, September 9).

 

Headed ‘The Left Alternative’, the document was signed by Martin Smith and marked as having been “approved by central committee, August 27 2008”. But, if it really was intended to clear up the “confusion”, it failed dismally. The document did not mention comrades Rees and German at all, but said of the leading SWP personnel working in Left Alternative: “Chris B to remain on the steering committee until the October conference. Charlie K and Martin S to go onto the LA steering committee at the conference. In the run-up to October conference [the LA conference is actually to be held on November 8] the CC should discuss who should oversee the LA work after the conference. In the meantime, Chris, Charlie and Martin can both oversee the work and be the CC point of contact.”

 

So comrades Smith and Kimber are to be the SWP leaders in Left Alternative after November, while Chris Bambery has been allowed to remain until then. But why had Rees and German gone? The document ‘clarified’ nothing. It was, however, pretty blunt about the prospects for LA: “It does not have wide support outside the party …. It should be reduced to a minimal, but still existing, role …. LA cannot operate on anything like the level it has done previously.”

 

You could say that the bit about LA not having “wide support outside the party” is an understatement – not that it has much support inside “the party” either. As Party Notes puts it, “it is not a central part of our work” (September 15). Never mind. LA is to be kept just about ticking over in case circumstances dictate that it should be brought back to life. In the meantime, “The LA staff will be reduced to one full-time post” and “We should look into the possibility of finding smaller/cheaper premises.”

 

The tasks of the one full-timer (it is actually two comrades sharing the work) will be to put out “occasional propaganda” and keep up the pretence that LA actually exists in the real world by “regularly” updating the website. “The office must also play a role in clearing the debts that the Left List/Left Alternative has accumulated.”

 

No argument

Party Notes reports that the debate “about our electoral work” at the September 14 meeting of the SWP NC “centred on a motion submitted by 10 members of the CC (Alex C, Charlie K, Chris H, Colin S, Hannah D, Judith O, Martin S, Michael B, Viv S and Weyman B)” (September 15).

 

Comrade Callinicos proposed the motion, which was opposed by comrade German. I do not know whether comrade Rees decided to stay away, but Party Notes does not mention him as having taken part in the debate. There were no votes against, so we can assume that comrade German was one of the three who abstained (alongside comrades Bambery and Nineham?).

 

As well as calling on the NC to endorse the removal of Rees and his replacement by comrades Smith and Kimber, the successful motion also contained an additional bullet point: “If the political fall-out from the split in Respect had been more fully and openly debated in the party, then the argument over this particular issue may have been avoided. The lessons from this need to be learnt in how we operate in the future.”

 

Party Notes explains that this was an amendment “submitted from the floor, which was accepted by the mover of the motion”. On the one hand, it expresses the very real and widespread frustration among the rank and file over the secrecy and patronising lack of transparency that is part and parcel of SWP culture. On the other hand, however, the desire for the “argument” to be “avoided” is completely misplaced.

 

Think about it. Rees has been ditched because of his disastrous misleadership. The Left List London assembly debacle was too much even for the CC to stomach. In this context it is not just a ‘debate’ about the SWP’s future direction that needs to had. A whole “argument” about the politics that led the organisation into Respect is essential.

 

Although, according to one insider, Rees is widely “despised and hated” within the SWP for his arrogance and control-freakery, you get the feeling that most cadre are not unhappy with public statements about his “consistent judgment and direction in the most difficult political circumstances”. Grumbling in pubs about Rees over the last eight years, and then meekly following the lead of comrades Smith, Callinicos and Harman, is one thing. But organising a rebellion against the betrayals of working class principle instigated by John Rees, and holding him (and the other leaders who went along with it) to account, is quite another.

 

Hundreds of SWPers opposed the Respect turn from the start, refusing to abide by the three-line whip to join the ‘unity coalition’. Most of them voted with their feet and drifted into inactivity – a form of passive rebellion. However, another minority were taken with Respect. They went ‘native’, seeing it as a principled and worthwhile formation in itself, a way out of the sectarian ghetto and into the big time – not just another ‘united front’, designed to win sympathisers and recruits for ‘the revolutionary party’.

 

That was certainly the message that came from the mouth of the SWP’s then top leader. As Respect’s national secretary, John Rees claimed that he spoke for the millions excluded from politics, that principles counted for nothing. He clearly envisaged a distinct Respect stage on the long road to socialism. A cross-class Respect government – including SWP ministers presumably – would enact an old Labour programme of social democratic reforms. A progressive form of capitalism. Though he was never so foolish, or honest, to actually theorise it, his line was implicit.

 

At Respect’s January 24 2004 launch conference, it was John Rees who summed up the SWP’s behaviour in opposing principled amendments, proposed by the CPGB and others, to the launch declaration: “We … voted against the things we believed in, because, while the people here are important, they are not as important as the millions out there. We are reaching to the people locked out of politics. We voted for what they want.”

 

This was the opportunist rationalisation for ditching key working class principles – since we intend to stand in elections, we have to put forward policies that our prospective electors would approve of, don’t we? That is what the establishment parties do, after all (although, of course, in their case they also help set the agenda which determines those policies in the first place).

 

The SWP leaders – most notably Rees himself – really did believe they could ride into the council chambers on the coat-tails of the network of (mainly Muslim) businessmen and ‘community leaders’ in places like Tower Hamlets and Birmingham. Their votes were supposed to ensure the election of SWP comrades to local councils and thus increase the organisation’s profile and influence. And they could even dream of an MP or two. That was the way for the SWP to emerge from the small time and start to ‘make a difference’.

 

This scheme almost brought some success, with Rees himself winning just short of a thousand votes and failing by a few percentage points to get elected to Tower Hamlets council in 2006. And with the election of 18 councillors, plus the previous victory of Galloway in the 2005 general election, the SWP hoped that events would go their way in subsequent elections.

 

However, as the class contradictions came to the fore within the Respect popular front, things went from bad to worse. The SWP was unable to make headway in east London or Birmingham, as – surprise, surprise – the businessmen’s networks preferred to select their own candidates. Relations with Galloway deteriorated and some time in July 2007 the SWP decided to provoke a split. It had written off most of the 12 Tower Hamlets councillors and persuaded four to break away in October. Two of them had joined the SWP previously.

 

By November there were two Respects. Rees claimed that the SWP should have exclusive use of the name. But it was never to be. The Galloway wing was always going to win this one. Hence the SWP’s forced retreat to the Left List. Then one of the four breakaway Tower Hamlets councillors, Ahmed Hussain, an SWP member, defected straight to the Tories (!) in February. The remaining three, including another SWP member, went over to Labour in June. The latest loss is one Nuruzzaman ‘Mukul’ Hira, a Left List assembly candidate in May, who has joined the Liberal Democrats.

 

That leaves the SWP with just Michael Lavalette in Preston and Ray Holmes in Bolsover as its only two Left Alternative councillors. Comrade Lavalette is an SWP member who was originally elected as Socialist Alliance, while comrade Holmes (whose official party description is still listed as ‘Respect – People Not Profit’) is likely to leave the sinking ship any time.

 

However, it is not just the SWP’s new contacts, made through Respect, that have now mostly gone. The organisation has lost a whole swathe of its own members as a result of the Respect disaster. Worse, the SWP has succeeded in alienating ally after ally – to the extent that no serious left figure or group will now contemplate joining forces with it in any new electoral alliance.

 

Let us be clear. What I have described is not a series of unfortunate accidents, but an entirely predictable outcome of John Rees’s popular frontism.

 

He has deservedly been deposed (and may soon be removed from the CC too). But will the SWP learn the lessons? In order to do so the membership needs to have the “argument”. If their organisation does not provide them with the means to do so, they need look no further than the Weekly Worker.

 

BNP claim Christianity is a racist anti-White religion

August 6, 2008

BNP legal director Lee Barnes claims that Christianity is a non-White religion forced upon Britain and Europe in order to destroy the White race!

This article was submitted by one of our readers, Hexapla. We welcome any contributions from our supporters (as long as those contributions conform to the law and are in reasonably good taste). Please send your articles to us via email.

Christianity is dead!

Prima facie it seems that the BNP stands up for Christianity as an indelible aspect of British identity. But, nothing could be further from the truth. Writing on the BNP website, BNP candidate and Uruguayan immigrant Carlos Cortiglia (we exposed him as admitting to have fought against Britain during the Falklands war. See link) claims that:

“I welcome this wake up call of the Church of England and I hope that from now on the British National Party will be welcomed in every husting organized by the Church of England. We [the BNP] have been saying all along that Christianity is being eroded and we are fighting to keep Christian values alive and well in Britain”

But, several days ago, BNP legal director Lee Barnes published yet another rambling article attacking Christianity as responsible for the decline of the White race and Britain. In that article, Odin, Yggdrasil and the death of Christianity and Liberalism, BNP Lee Barnes condemns Christianity as a non-White religion responsible for all the ills of the White race:

“Christianity is a semitic religion, it is creature of the deserts of the Middle East not the forests of the Northern Europe and its symbol the cross is an instrument of torture not of living redemption.”

“the organic religion of the West was replaced with the theological dogma of the East. European Man at that moment became seperated from his roots, and the insane fratricidal wars that have destroyed the West in the name of the various christian cults began.”

“christianity could only be implanted in the West via force, the forces of chaos at war in the world are the way that the archaic spirituality of the West will return.”

“Christianity took power through violence in the West, and as it rotted away its shadow image of Liberalism unleashed through its toleration and promotion of evils such as Islamic extremism, crime, degeneracy and filth the same violence that once empowered christianity.”

“The religion of christianity that preached of peace conquered with war, blood and death. It had turned the natural, organic religions of Europe based on the symbolism of the tree, a living and growing symbol of perpetual life with the dead symbol of the cross – a symbol of horror, violence, torture, obedience and the brutality of Rome and the betrayal of the Jewish Pharisees.The symbolism of the cutting down of the tree of life is a symbol found throughout Europe wherever christianity killed its way to power.”

“Christianity despises the planet – and this is why we are facing the ecologicl crisis of today.”

One of Lee Barnes’ conclusions is that “Christianity is dead”. Can we really believe the BNP when it says that is ’fighting to keep Christian values alive and well in Britain’?

Only through violence can the West be revived pronounces Lee Barnes

In a recent article we noted that BNP legal director Lee Barnes previously condemned Britain as a “sick society” that must be destroyed by the god Odin to make way for a BNP order (see link). It is clear that Lee Barnes has not changed his views. Lee Barnes carries on his fascist-Odinist interpretation when he claims that:

“Today the violence we see in our society is the prelude to a rebirth of the West, a rebith based on ancestral cultures, values and an organic religion of nature.

The violence in our society is the unleashing of the chthonic forces of nature as represented by Nidhoggr, who exists beneath the world tree Yggdrasil. This is the dark side of mans unconscious released on the earth with no moral or social constraints, for with the fall of christianity and liberalism no moral order exists to control European Man.”

Lee Barnes carries on his previous themes advocating the replacement of Christianity with a fictitious pagan religion, Odinism, as the means to revive the White race:

“Odinism on the other hand offers European Man a way to spiritual wholeness in LIFE”.

“In Odinism the God Odin is crucified like Christ to a tree. Unlike Christ whose redemption is found only after his death, Odin SURVIVES his torment on the tree and gains the wisdom of the Runes and thereby unlocks the secrets of the universe …The roots represent our descent from the Gods and our connection to the Earth, the trunk represents our shared European racial heritage, the main branches of the tree our nations and tribes …

The death age of christianity and liberalism has led to the age that William Blake regarded as Ulro – the lowest stage of human life possible where mans innate value has been replaced by his utility value. Just as Christianity grafted itself upon the hewn oaks of our heathen past, the new religion that is starting to sprout upon the stumps left behind by christianity and its pimp sister liberalism is a return to an organic and natural religion.”

Conclusion

In light of racist and sectarian nonsense we read above, can anyone with an adult, rational and sane mind ever contemplate voting for the BNP? If people think that Lee Barnes’ anti-Christian madness is a one off occurrence, then they are sadly mistaken. Anti-Christianity is hardwired into the BNP’s ideology. We will be publishing further articles that demonstrate the BNP’s sheer ambiguity towards Christianity. But, we leave the reader with the following statement from the BNP’s founder and leader, John Tyndall in his September 2003 article, Some Definitions: A sample from the ‘Politically Aware Vocabulary’ series:

What passes for Christianity in this country today can only be described as superstitious sociology; a bland doctrine of welfare-mongering with guilt, humility and self-abasement as its cardinal principles. We can only have contempt for a Church which, in the name of Christianity, facilitates the Islamic occupation of whole neighbourhoods, condones homosexuality, promotes multi-racialism and will forgive everything.

Our race is our religion, and the nation is our church”.

NSFW White Supremacist video

July 31, 2008

more about "NSFW White Supremacist video", posted with vodpod

Manifestoon

July 30, 2008

Displaying a broad range of Golden Age Hollywood animation, Manifestoon is a homage to the latent subversiveness of cartoons. Though U.S. cartoons are usually thought of as conveyors of capitalist ideologies of consumerism and individualism, Drew observes: “Somehow as an avid childhood fan of cartoons, these ideas were secondary to a more important lesson—that of the ‘trickster’ nature of many characters as they mocked, outwitted and defeated their more powerful adversaries. In the classic cartoon, brute strength and heavy artillery are no match for wit and humor, and justice always prevails. For me, it was natural to link my own childhood concept of subversion with an established, more articulate version [Marx and Engels’ Communist Manifesto]. Mickey running over the globe has new meaning in today’s mediascape, in which Disney controls one of the largest concentrations of media ownership in the world.”

FIRE AT THE MORNING STAR

July 29, 2008

An electrical fire, which broke out at around 3 o’clock this morning, has gutted the Morning Star newsroom and had a knock-on effect on the
paper’s administration, circulation, advertising and finance departments.

It is vital that the labour and progressive movements offer their continued support for the Morning Star at this difficult time, and we do all we can to keep the paper coming out.

Tuesday’s edition, which has been produced from the front rooms of Morning Star staff in east London will be just eight pages, but it
has been achieved solely through the determination and sacrifice of editor and staff staff.

We don’t know how long the current crisis will last, but staff of the Star will endeavour to continue to publish the paper on daily basis, because, given the non-event at Warwick, the need for an alternative daily voice of the left has never been more pressing.

Below is tomorrow’s Morning Star editorial.

Star still coming out

APOLOGIES to all our readers for the truncated size of today’s
Morning Star, which is the result of an electrical fire at our east
London offices.

The fire, which broke out early yesterday morning, gutted about one-
third of our news room and caused smoke and water damage to both
floors of our offices.

Power has been cut off to the whole of William Rust House,
necessitating an emergency transfer of operations to private
accommodation in the area.

The response of Morning Star staff has been magnificent, turning up
before their shifts were due to start, salvaging essential equipment
and transferring to their temporary digs with good humour.

New journalists at our paper are always told that one of the joys of
the job is that no two days are the same.

However, as much as we all like variety, we could have done without
this latest addition to the spice of life.

It is a sad irony that, less than two days before the blaze, our
paper’s deputy editor and head of production Bill Benfield delivered
an upbeat technology report to the management committee of the
People’s Press Printing Society, the co-operative that owns the
Morning Star.

He told the committee that consistent investment in computer hardware
and software in recent years had resulted in our paper enjoying a
technological level on a par with the rest of the national print media.

It is too soon to say for sure how much of this has been destroyed or
damaged beyond repair.

We are, of course, insured for replacement of machinery, but these
things take time and we are not even sure when we will be able to
return to William Rust House.

Our offices will need drying out, repair, cleaning and refurbishment
before we can install replacement equipment and restart normal
operations.

This interruption of Morning Star business is not simply a problem of
producing the paper. Our telephone communications are down, making it
impossible for people to phone in with news stories, advertising,
circulation requests and vital donations to our monthly £16,000
Fighting Fund.

However, we are still reachable by post and we can contact you
through the pages of our Morning Star, so please don’t let up on your
support for our efforts.

Today’s paper has just eight pages, which recalls a period that we
felt confident of having left permanently behind us a decade ago.

The history of that decade has been of expansion, with more pages and
greater use of colour, providing a unique service to the labour
movement and all progressive campaigns. Earlier this year, we were
able to restore distribution on the day of publication to Scotland
northern England.

Our paper has, over the generations, faced many challenges to its
existence, including a wholesalers’ boycott, a government ban and
nazi bombing raids.

We are determined to overcome this latest setback and to get back on
the road to bigger and better things.

As always, we will depend on our readers for moral and material
support. Please write to the editor John Haylett to let us know that
you are with us during these trying times.

First video of Guantanamo Bay interrogation

July 18, 2008

For the first time, a video has been released of a prisoner being interrogated inside the Guantanamo Bay prison.

It shows Canadian detainee, Omar Khadr, being grilled by Canadian Security Intelligence agents in 2003, when he was 15.

The video, released by his lawyers, shows him weeping, his face buried in his hands.

Dan Nolan has more.

GAIL SHERIDAN REINSTATED – BRITISH AIRWAYS DROP ALL CHARGES

July 10, 2008

THE good name of air stewardess Gail Sheridan has been dragged through the mud in a vicious witchhunt.

 

After an eight-hour police raid, during which her underwear drawer was searched, she was charged by police over the alleged theft of alcohol miniatures found on display in a cabinet in her home.

 

Her reasonable explanation that she collects miniatures from different airlines and that family and friends often return from trips with additions to the collection was not accepted.

 

Her bosses at British Airways were told and she was suspended pending an inquiry.

 

It has taken a considerable time for Gail to clear her name. Now, after five long months – during which the initial police charge was dropped – she has been formally reinstated.

 

She can return to the job she loves and has excelled in for 23 years.

 

Popular with colleagues and passengers alike, Gail will soon be flying again in her role as senior purser.

 

She is understandably relieved but Gail is also angry.

 

She has suffered stress and felt shame as well as worry after being on the receiving end of the muck that was flung in her direction.

 

There are some who may say her reputation has been tarnished as a result of the investigation.

 

Nothing could be further from the truth. She has been proven innocent and her reputation remains intact.

 

The same cannot be said, however, for the reputations of those who sanctioned such a reprehensible search operation in the first place.

Spinning Survey Data

July 8, 2008

From  A Very Public Sociologist

As a short follow up to my recent review of the TUC’s interesting pamphlet on democratising public services, I took a look at the CBI’s press release demanding the pace of public service reform (i.e. the transformation of more services into money-making opportunities) be sped up. Usually they prefer fiscal arguments peppered with warnings about the credit crunch, economic slow down and the need to rein in public spending to try accelerate reform. But now the public are demanding it too, or so the CBI claims.

Richard Lambert, the CBI’s director-general claims a recent YouGov survey commissioned for the bosses’ organisation makes uncomfortable reading for the government and anyone opposed to the great public services sell off. In fact, the CBI boasts “both the unions and the ministers they are targeting need to recognise how out of kilter with public mood any anti-reform stance is.” And there’s more. Only a minority of the public think the government’s reform programme has improved public services over these last 11 years, and around 59% have no objection to the private sector delivering services. Attached to their release is an Excel spreadsheet with the results.

To be honest, if a student handed in these bold conclusions on the basis of the CBI’s data, any self-respecting sociologist would hand them a big fat fail. Let’s take a look at these claims more closely. Take the claim about private sector delivery. The question YouGov asked its sample of telephone respondents was “Currently public service providers include organisations from the public (i.e. state), private and voluntary (i.e. charitable). Assuming they are of equal quality does it matter to you who provide your public services?” Talk about a leading question! Of course, the truth is that on the whole, the intrusion of the private sector into public service provision costs more, produces more bureaucracy and offers no appreciable improvement in the service in question. The waste of PFI schemes, the internal market in the NHS; the targets cultures in schools, colleges and universities; the drip-drip privatisation of Royal Mail; the sell off of local council services – the evidence just keeps piling up. Small wonder the CBI neglected to include this in the question!

Then there is the pace of public services reform. YouGov invited respondents to give their opinions on the pace of reform, ranging from ’should be much faster’ to ’shouldn’t be any reform’. Why should we be surprised that 66% that the pace needed speeding up in the context of a question that says nothing about the content of the reforms taking place? It is a meaningless question that elicits an equally meaningless response. To add to the illiteracy YouGov reports only 32% think public services have gotten better since Labour have been in power (45% said worse). Hold on a moment, didn’t John Cridland, deputy director of the CBI note in their January report, The Market for Public Services in the UK that “over the last twenty years, private sector involvement in providing public services has been growing.” Has it not occurred to our captains of industry that there maybe be a link between this deepening involvement of capital and dissatisfaction with the outcomes of their increasing interference?

What the CBI has done is not commission a serious piece of research. This is ideological foil for their warmed over neoliberalism, nothing more. But allow me to put a more credible and positive spin on one piece of data the survey helpfully provided. YouGov asked “which if any of the following ways would you like to be involved in deciding how your local services … are delivered?” Only 15% said they wouldn’t be interested in the decision-making process, while (60%) indicated a preference for customer satisfaction surveys. However, the preferences were not mutually exclusive. 62% of respondents indicated a willingness to participate in some way – 32% favoured panels, 22% public meetings and 8% some kind of councillor/volunteer role, all of which is the lifeblood for the Public Value approach and poison to markets. It’s not surprising the CBI ignores this data, but despite themselves they have gifted us an argument that strengthens the socialist case for democratically accountable public services.

 


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