Union-made column

Raising the stakes

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The sight of Gordon Brown greeting Margaret Thatcher warmly at the door of Number 10 must have left most Labour supporters aghast.

It highlighted the extent to which the hated priorities of the Tories have been adopted wholesale by the government. Sadly, criticism from within the Labour Party was muted.

But where mainstream politics, and its obsession with pro-market solutions, has failed, PCS is taking action. Our national dispute actively opposes the public sector pay freeze, job cuts and the consequences of privatisation.

Old fashioned values

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"The affairs of the world are ordered in accordance with orthodox opinions. Owen saw that in the world a small class of people were possessed of a great abundance.

"He saw also that a large number lived lives of semi-starvation from the cradle to the grave, while a yet smaller but still very great number actually died of hunger.

"Seeing all this, he thought that it was wrong, that the system, which had produced such results, was rotten and should be altered. And he sought out and eagerly read the writings of those who thought they knew how it might be done.

"It was because he was in the habit of speaking of these subjects that his fellow workmen came to the conclusion that there was probably something wrong with his mind."

Unity in action

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I was sorry that John McDonnell's campaign to stand as Labour Party leader came to a halt.

It was good that he stood. His campaign threw up issues of substance, by him openly opposing both the Iraq war and privatisation, for example. It is incredible that not even the requisite handful of Labour MPs could be found to nominate him.

Instead we have been offered a pale shadow of a contest - the deputy leadership race. Just how little of an alternative is on offer can be seen from looking at the material distributed to members of affiliated unions (of which my union, the PCS, is not one, I should point out).

"Everybody Out"

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Wayne Rooney and I share something in common: not the football team he supported as a child (Everton) - and certainly not the one he plays for now - but the school he attended, Gillmoss School in Croxteth, Liverpool.

It was a great school, as I recall. It was also the location of my first introduction to politics.

Mr Semple, our teacher, would roar about most things to us ten year olds, and when you had done something bad you would be whacked with a ruler on the back of your hand or cane on your backside.

The fact that it was permissible in those supposedly enlightened times for grown men and women to hit children for misbehaviour seems incredible now.

Make your vote count

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No doubt readers of Socialist Review are aware of the PCS dispute with the civil service and associated employers with the latest national strike which took place on 1 May.

We have been taking action over industrial matters - pay offers below inflation, job cuts, compulsory redundancies, attacks on conditions, the damaging effects of privatisation and outsourcing. But the problems public servants face (and not just PCS members, by any means) are the industrial relations consequences of decisions made by politicians.

They have decided that there must be a business case for everything. They consider that the pursuit of social benefit no longer justifies policy. There has to be a potential for profit to make any activity worthwhile to them.

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