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The Ritchie Popular Front

Ritchie strikes at CiF!

“Imagine,” said PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka, “what a difference it would make if we didn’t only march together but took strike action together.”

Imagine all the people living for today… You may say I’m a dreamer… Nah, mate, I’d say you’re off your fucking rocker just as much as that unkempt-conceptual-artist-shagging-bed-inning-warbling-scouse-cunt was. Imagine “no possessions. It’s easy if you’re rich (or Ritch)…” I apologise to all Beatle’s fans – it must be fucking dreadful for you.

It gets better…

The cheer that resounded from the crowd in Hyde Park spoke for itself. This was 26 March, the day that half a million workers from across Britain turned out for the most significant manifestation of trade union strength in decades – although you may remember it as the day when some windows were broken.

Some windows were broken. Alas not enough. Paging Fred Bastiat I love the use of “manifestation” there. It’s like the Ghost of Winters of Discontent Past ambled by rattling his chains!

However inspiring 26 March was [was it?!], though, leaving it at a march from A to B – just in time for local elections – would be a terrible waste. Some union leaders may feel that the best use of this energy is to vote Labour in the May elections.

But of course they’d be wrong because despite the last Labour government pushing public spending to pretty much half of GDP and Mr Ed being brought-up a believing Trotter… Oh, give me fucking strength!

Do you want full on communism? Yes you do. Oh you do.

But Labour councils are also pushing through cuts, and it is obvious from local strike ballots that union members aren’t putting up with this.

Or, clearly, reality.

The next logical step is, exactly as Serwotka says, co-ordinated strike action. So, the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), National Union of Teachers (NUT), University and College Union (UCU) and Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) unions are moving towards balloting their members for a one-day national strike over pensions, job losses and wages.

To be paid for how exactly? Unless Ritchie has some magic beans of course.

What sticks out here is the participation of the ATL, which is a professional teaching union not given to militancy. Its last strike action was in 1979. Similarly, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) overwhelmingly passed a motion at its annual conference in Liverpool calling for an indicative ballot of members for national strike action. This is far from typical for the RCN, which, until a change in its policy in 1995, always ruled out industrial action. The “proletarianisation” of professionals in the public sector, with degraded conditions even for usually respected staff, is leading some of the traditionally conservative unions to be more militant than their larger counterparts.

Oh, wow! Ritchie is of course a Class-A commie with plenty of form. But just re-read that! One way of looking at that is that certain relatively cushy public-sector employees are getting the same sort of (probably lesser) cosh as the private sector at last and are calling, “No fair ‘coz we is special like!”. Another way of looking at that is that Ritchie now sees the middle classes joining the class war against… er, who’s left? Ah!… Uncle Penny Bags* which means Ritchie is seeing a grand coagulation of all state workers from the dustman to the (consultant) dermatologist against all private-sector workers which begs (to me, not to Ritchie, obviously) the question of where they expect the money to come from? Note his typical middle-class l(e/o)fty mixture of desire to be a prole and abhorrence at that actually happening to the middle classes like him.

Personally I’d prefer it if he had his own “Little Richard” tenderised in a Breville by repeated slamming before the actual grilling commenced. I would not want to dissapoint him (he’s eating it) and apparently cock (and bull) tends to be tough without appropriate treatment beforehand. That German cannibal a few years back found it so. Anyway that Krautulent sausage-sucker has a good many years in das große Haus to ponder the the virtue of a marinade. Any African dictator from the last sixty years (or Nigella) could tell you sautéing a penis is sheer culinary madness! It first needs to be hung, preferably well hung, anyway.

If the strike ballots are approved by the members, this could result in up to 800,000 people taking strike action. If other small unions join the strike, there could be over a million people taking industrial action on that day. However, the largest unions – such as Unison, which drew by far the biggest contingent on the march – have not agreed to take part.

Unison tends to represent lower paid workers than Ritchie’s now almost besainted RCN or ATL. Their members can’t afford to grandstand.

According to Paul Mason, this is because their “leaders believe they cannot deliver strike action until October, if at all”. In fact, I understand that Unison has indicated a willingness to strike in autumn, while the GMB have not. Unison’s logic is that if it strikes sooner, it will undermine negotiations with the government. Why should it be that Britain’s biggest unions are so hesitant in fighting the most devastating assault on their members pay, conditions and jobs in generations? With almost 7 million members situated in strategically important sectors of the economy, the TUC has immense potential power – but they’re reluctant to use it.

The TUC are crackers.

Please bring on the RMT! Please do! Let’s have a tube strike long enough that we can dispense with the the idea once and forever that the London Underground needs highly paid (and the perks are something as well!) drivers to merely clutch a dead-man’s handle. Bob Crow could be immolated on a stack of waste paper equal to all his pay-packets in fivers and the run-off of fat could be used for bio-diesel and they bitch about “fat cats” bleeding the country dry! The fucking cheek! I’d have the cheek – well, all four of them and just one of the southernmost cheeks would drive a Vauxhall Astra from here to Beijing.

Since the mid-1980s, the trade union leadership has mainly been steeped in the culture of the “new realism”.

Or perhaps, just “realism” as everyone else calls it.

Broadly speaking, this entailed accepting the policies of the government of the day, and negotiating the best deal for members within that framework.

Forgive me if I am wrong but isn’t that the entire point of a trade union? To get the best deal for their members and not drag us all to the sunlit Korean uplands north of the DMZ? The smarter union leaders have learned the lesson of the likes of the British Leyland strikes of the ’70s – the ultimate industrial-relations firing squad.

Sweetheart deals were in, and industrial militancy was out.

I was wrong. At least in Ritchie-land.

A series of defeats and a gradual erosion of union density strengthened the hold of such ideas. But if this strategy ever had any plausibility, it now looks masochistic.

Unite’s position is more nuanced. Len McCluskey spoke in favour for co-ordinated action on 26 March, and the union’s national health committee recently voted in favour of joining strike action on 30 June. In that sense, Unite forms a bridge between the smaller, more militant unions, and the big battalions allied to Labour. McCluskey has also advocated a model of political unionism (eg co-operating with anti-cuts campaigns) quite different from traditional “bread and butter” unionism. This offers a way forward redolent of Wisconsin, where trade union action was plugged into a much wider community response to Republican cuts.

I thought Len McCluskey was dead? Or is he just mummified like Lenin himself** so that they can wheel him out with a curtain rod up his arse for May Day parades and such?

So, what is the strategy here? Some will say that a one-day strike isn’t going to work. This government may be weak, but it won’t cave after 24 hours. But this would miss the point: 30 June would not be the end, but a good start. As with 26 March, the aim must be to build something big enough to give confidence to other trade unions to join the fightback. It must be to break the paralysis that seized the British labour movement since the recession began.

And who caused that?

If Unison did join national strike action in October, and Unite participated along with the smaller unions, it would constitute a sea change in the culture of industrial relations in this country. Such co-ordinated action would be as close to a general strike as we’ve seen in Britain since 1926.

And that worked brilliantly!

It would have a much bigger impact in the UK than in the continent, where general strikes are a more regular occurrence.

Let’s out Greek the Greeks. “At 12 noon on the appointed day the Red Flag shall be unfurled and all kebab-shop elephant-legs will stop turning” – People’s Commissar, Stavros Ritchie. And so the revolution shall start on a bit of an empty stomach.***

It would shock the government to its core. The alternative is surrender [note again the deliberately militaristic terminology], a weaker union movement and a much nastier society.

As opposed to a society where Ritchie wants reasonably well-paid professionals such as teachers and nurses to hold the nation to ransom on the off-chance of creating a socialist utopia which would be a really nice place to live…

…if you were a people’s commissar such as Ritchie, obviously…

…at least until the Maximum Leader felt it was time for a purge.

Truly the enema of the people!

H/T Harry.

*You ever noticed the bleating the left has contra “monopoly” “capitalists” with the only solution they propose being that they and their acolytes take control of everything? You ever noticed the irony failure there? They haven’t. (they usually lack in irony too – the self-righteous cunts). Who was Lenin or Castro but the ultimate monopoly capitalists? Ah, but they work for “the people”. Yeah, and I work for the twice fictional Goodgulf the wizard.
**When my wife lived in Moscow she visited the dapper little genocidal maniac muppet. She’d had a few too many the night before and almost puked in Lenin’s tomb (incidentally the name of Ritchie’s blog). This would have been a diplomatic incident.
***During an “anti-globalisation” shindig in London my wife saw (she sees everything – note to self – she knows why I’m planning on buying a microwave from a car-boot sale…) the protesters queuing for lattes at Starbucks…


  1. Hollando says:

    Are we getting our Ritchies in a twist?

    Richard Seymour =/= Richard Murphy

  2. Hollando says:

    You had a link to Worstall’s blog last time I looked!!!

    I call shenanigans and I claim my free taco

  3. NickM says:

    Oops, sorry! I have now deleted my Tim Worstall ref and the accountancy onw. It should all now work fine…

    Thanks Hollando!

  4. Matt says:

    Oh bollocks I’ve hurt myself laughing.
    That paragraph on cooking cock deserves a Nobel prize for literature.

  5. RAB says:

    A national strike by Civil Servants eh? Bring it on! And when nobody notices the difference, then what?

    I was a Civil Servant once upon a time, and the most hated person in each and every office was the Union representative, or Shop Steward as they used to be known. The reason they were hated was because they were a class of their own, in the Office, but not of the office. By that I mean they never did any fuckin work that related to the actual business the rest of us were sweating our bollocks off over.

    They were always on Union business, sat in a corner sorting motion papers for the next conference, or actually at the next conference and not there at all. True Cuckoos in the nest.

    The biggest laugh is that when the members go on strike for a day is that they just lose a days pay and have twice as much paper to shift from one side of the desk to the other the next day they come in. But the Union bosses still get their £100,000 plus and expenses straight off the top in the Union subs.

    You have to opt out of a Civil Service Union, rather than opt in, and opting out is a hassle, so most Civil Servants just let it ride and get fleeced blind.

  6. Sam Duncan says:

    “But Labour councils are also pushing through cuts”

    And what does that tell you? There is, to coin a phrase, no alternative.

    I said it at the time: it would have been better if Labour had won the last election and had to have its nose rubbed in its own shit. The fuckers wanted to lose: they had this pantomime planned years back. Spend like there’s no tomorrow; let the state-sector unions and their client vote think every day was Christmas, then act all innocent and outraged when the grown-ups* come along to clear up the mess.

    “a gradual erosion of union density”

    They still look as dense as ever to me.

    “Lenin’s tomb (incidentally the name of Ritchie’s blog)”

    Shit. They really don’t do irony, do they?

    “The biggest laugh is that when the members go on strike for a day is that they just lose a days pay and have twice as much paper to shift from one side of the desk to the other the next day they come in.”

    Good point, RAB. It’s almost worth it to the taxpayer: the same work gets done – although probably not quite as well, but since this is the Government who’s going to notice? – and you save a day’s wages. Result!

    “But the Union bosses still get their £100,000 plus and expenses straight off the top in the Union subs.”

    Socialism’s a scam. These dicks are laughing at the little people they purport to represent all the way to the bank.

    *These things being relative, of course.

  7. NickM says:

    Thank you Matt,

    I think though you mean the Nob-el prize?

    RAB, Sam,
    From my own personal experience when the paper stops being shifted they send for the temps! Which of course costs the tax-payer a lot more but then the job gets done. I have never met a salaried civil-service desk-jockey who actually did anything. Well, apart from filling out the time-sheets and then pissing off shopping whilst technically there ’till 7, making interminable phone calls of the Sibyl Fawlty, “Oh, I know…” variety to their sister in Melbourne long enough to hammer out a strategic arms treaty and the special one – drifting about aimlessly like the Flying Dutchman for hours on end. Occasionally the drifters come over to the temps and pretend to work by looking like they are offering advice on the data entry. It is invariably of the, “I remember when we did this before computers” variety which means they have actually been wandering aimlessly for decades.

  8. RAB says:

    I’ve said before Sam, that if iDave was as smart as we are all told he is by the Papers, he would have let New Labour and the Lib/Dems form a coalition, indeed should have forced it by telling the boy Clegg to fuck off on every point he wanted to bargain over.

    But this presupposes he is a Tory and wants the best for the country, when WE of course know he is neither a Tory or interested in anything else but himself.

    The Lab/Lib coalition would be left to kick the can of bankruptcy that we, as a Nation, now face, and would have had to face the same cutting decisions, and the same Public outrage, strikes and demonstrations. It would have finished both parties for decades, maybe forever.

    But Potato face can only see the short term, and I prophesy that he will not be Tory leader beyond the next General Election.

  9. RAB says:

    Gawd knows I’ll be the last to be an appologist for the Civil Service Nick, but there are departments and departments, so I think you are being a little unfair there.

    My department was the Lord Chancellor’s Office, it was Premiere division in my day, there is no way in hell a temp could walk in and shift the paperwork, it was way too complicated. This is the LAW we are talking about, serious business. If the T’s are not crossed and the I’s dotted, well the whole thing gets noticed real quick and people start screaming blue murder.

    Do you know what the majority of the staff of an average County Court (about 90/100 people) are doing from 8.30am till 12 noon each and every day? They are opening the post in pairs, to check on each other. The reason is because the County Court is more like a business than a bureauocracy, every other envelope and package contains money. Then, finally, you could actually get down to doing your job.

    Money paid in payments for judgements against defendents, usually in postal orders( the County Court is the Elephant’s graveyard of Postal orders) paying off the debt plus fees they didn’t pay for for the stuff they got from Mail order catalogues in the first place.

    Then there are the wads of paper that comes with issuing a Summons for debt (usually from the same catalogue companies, or firms that have bought their debt at a discount, and those bastards will follow you to the ends of the earth for £5.95!) This comes with a cheque for x thousand to cover the fees and issuing costs. This all has to be accounted for to the penny every single day. I had to balance the books (double entry) before I went home every day on my section, and everyone else had to too.

    Then there was all the rest of it. The Divorce Registry, the High Court civil actions… You had to know exactly how many copies of evidence and pleadings you needed, where to put the official seals, what statutory notification you needed to give, etc etc.

    Nope, no way could a temp off the street cope with that. It was high pressure stuff all day long.

    Now there are other Departments, the Revenue for example, which I temped for, for a couple of months, who don’t even start to work until overtime kicks in. They spent the day reading the papers, drinking tea, waiting for the tea trolley to come round (three times a day in those days, sarnies rolls and pastries) smoking (those were the days!) and didn’t do fuck all till 5.30. Then they started issuing threatening letters.

  10. NickM says:

    I was talking about my own experience. I think I made that clear. HMR NICO and the Rural Payments Agency (Beef Special Premium). The later looked like Fred Carno’s Circus.

  11. Paul Marks says:

    I was going to comment – but the above comments say everything I was going to say (and better than I was going to say it).

  12. freedom says:

    Unions exist for two reasons. The first one is the already-made point that the ‘leaders’ receive big fat wages and some of them even, for weird reasons, get holidays in Cuba.

    The second is that they are the joy of the Socialists, because the Unions will ensure the workers keep on working. This allows the elite of the Socialists to sit back and do nothing other than have left-wing thoughts, but more importantly the elite won’t get their hands dirty. It ensures they don’t have to do the filthy, menial jobs that the workers do.

    Once the intelligentsia are ‘at the top’ they can tell the workers how good they are, how wonderful, etc, from the comfort of their plush office and avoid having to clean out the sewers themselves.

  13. NickM says:

    You presuppose iDave had the option. A LibLab pact would still have been a minority government (I think). It just was never going to happen. If iDave hadn’t seized the throne he would have been stabbed in the back by those in his own party who would have formed a coalition with Satan himself to get out of the wilderness. Maybe the Tory party would have split over it. Maybe Ken Clarke would have led a Children’s Crusade to be by the side of the Millipedes*. It certainly would have been interesting times for the political blogosphere.

    *You can really imagine Ken in a NuLabour cabinet can’t you? Well you could if the role of fat bumptious old windbag hadn’t already been secured by Prescott.

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