Saturday 31 December 2016

A Lesson Learned

People are saying that this has been a bad year. But today is the day on which Durham County Council would have sacked its 2700 Teaching Assistants, in order to reappoint them on a 23 per cent pay cut. It is not, however, doing any such thing.

Happy New Year.

Tuesday 20 December 2016

And Mercy Mild

On the first day of Christmas, the Council gave to me
A pay cut, percentage twenty-three.

The Teaching Assistants will be singing carols outside County Hall from 3:45 until five o'clock on Thursday afternoon.

All welcome.

Things Can Only Get Better

It may have appeared elsewhere, but The Guardian has refused to print this, on the grounds that it is more than 250 words long. Have a check:

“We want Tony” chanted Labour MPs at Jeremy Corbyn in the Westminster Kitchen. They should put Blair up at the next by-election, no matter where it was. After all, he is supposed to have a unique appeal to the entire country. Why, under him, Labour would have won Richmond Park. And Labour would have won Sleaford and North Hykeham. No matter that it never won either of those under his previous Leadership, not even before the Iraq War cost Labour a hundred seats.

Unless George Galloway had already been returned at Glasgow East, then he has promised to contest any by-election at which Blair was a candidate. But what is to stop Blair from also contesting Glasgow East, which, the Grim Reaper’s interventions notwithstanding, is the seat most likely to become vacant in the near future?

If he were still unseated by 2020, then a return to County Durham would beckon right here in the new seat of Durham West and Teesdale. The MP for the predominant part of this intended constituency is retiring, and she looks likely to be succeeded by some girl out of whatever typing pool serves the Westminster Kitchen Chorus.

With no party affiliation, but with a consistent anti-austerity and anti-war record, and able to give a Yes-No answer to the question of whether Corbyn should become Prime Minister, I shall also be contesting this seat. But I cannot imagine that that would be of the slightest interest to Blair. Things Can Only Get Better, indeed.

To which I must add that Neil Fleming claims on social media that he still lives in Lanchester. Yet he is so frightened to put up against me at the local elections in May that he is leaving it to a man who will by then be 71 and who has just had a pulmonary embolism. I have had one of those, and it very nearly killed me (that was the closest to death that I have ever been), even though I was only in my early thirties at the time.

Oh, well, a photograph of Fleming giving whatever was then his current Labour Party job title might very well appear on my leaflets, with the purely factual statement that he had chickened out of a confrontation with me at the ballot box, preferring to burden a seriously ill, elderly person instead. Indicate your opinion of such elder abuse here, or via the PayPal button on this site.

Assuming that Blair is still out of Parliament three years later, then it will also be be a matter of “Tony Blair Didn’t Dare” as I fight and win this open seat here in what was once his political home county.

Friday 9 December 2016

Fake News

As seen here:

Fake news is of very real concern. There have been seven recessions in the United Kingdom since the Second World War. Five of them have been under Conservative Governments. That party has also presided over all four separate periods of Quarter on Quarter fall in growth during the 2010s. By contrast, there was no recession on the day of the 2010 General Election. And now, the Conservatives have more than doubled the National Debt. The Major Government also doubled the National Debt. Yet the Conservatives’ undeserved reputation for economic competence endures. They are subjected to absolutely no scrutiny by the fake news detractors of their opponents.

Other examples of fake news include the official versions of events in relation to Orgreave, Westland, and Hillsborough. All manner of claims made by, or in support of, the Clintons. The alleged murder of 100,000 military age males in Kosovo. The existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and their capacity for deployment within 45 minutes. Saddam Hussein’s feeding of people into a giant paper shredder, and his attempt to obtain uranium from Niger. An imminent genocide in Benghazi, Gaddafi’s feeding of Viagra to his soldiers in order to encourage mass rape, and his intention to flee to Venezuela. An Iranian nuclear weapons programme. And Assad’s gassing of Ghouta, as if that were an undisputed fact. In every case, that was fake news. Or, in plain English, lies. 

David Lindsay, 2017 council candidate and 2020 parliamentary candidate, Lanchester, County Durham; @davidaslindsay
George Galloway, former Member of Parliament for Glasgow Hillhead (1987-1997), Glasgow Kelvin (1997-2005), Bethnal Green and Bow (2005-2010), Bradford West (2012-2015); @georgegalloway
Alex Carre, South Wales; @alexcarre567
Neil Clark, journalist and broadcaster; @NeilClark66
Ronan Dodds, Newcastle upon Tyne; @RonanDodds
James Draper, Lanchester, County Durham
Krystyna Koseda, Essex; @kossy65
John Mooney, Lurgan, County Armagh; @FitzjamesHorse
Mietek Padowicz, Newcastle upon Tyne; @scurvytoon
Aren Pym, West Cornforth, County Durham; @arenpym
Adam Young, Burnopfield, County Durham; @JustALocalSerf

Thursday 8 December 2016

The Coming War on China

Along with I, Daniel Blake and The Killing$ of Tony Blair, this is one of the three most important films of 2016. It is John Pilger's sixtieth film for the much-mocked ITV. And yes, it certainly does criticise China, too.

Tuesday 6 December 2016

David Lindsay for Durham County Council 2017

“I have been brought back into active politics as a campaigner for justice for Durham County Council’s Teaching Assistants, as a campaigner against the proposed drastic cuts to hospital services in County Durham, and as a campaigner against the cuts to the public transport on which, as a disabled person, I am reliant.

“I was a member of Lanchester Parish Council from 1999 until I stood down voluntarily in 2013. I was a governor of Lanchester Endowed Parochial Primary School from 1999 to 2007. I was a governor of St Bede’s from 2000 to 2008.”

We need £1200. Please give whatever you can afford here.

Monday 5 December 2016

The People's Organiser

Tony Blair is planning "more than a think tank, but less than a political party".

And the traditional right-wingers of Labour First are crowdfunding £40,000 for an organiser to fight against Jeremy Corbyn.

But we are also crowdfunding £40,000 for an organiser, the People's Organiser:

One organiser for every £40,000 raised will provide platforms for those who:

- understand the lesson of the EU referendum result in the United Kingdom, and of the election of Donald Trump in the United Kingdom, which is that the workers, and not the liberal bourgeoisie, are the key swing voters;

- locate identity issues within the overarching and undergirding context of the struggle against economic inequality and in favour of international peace;

- welcome the fact that the EU referendum was decided by those areas which voted Leave while voting Labour, Liberal Democrat or Plaid Cymru for other purposes, and which have thus made themselves the centre of political attention;

- celebrate the leading role in the defence of universal public services of those who would otherwise lack basic amenities, and the leading role in the promotion of peace of those who would be the first to be called upon to die in wars;

- have opposed from the start the failed programme of economic austerity;

- have opposed every British military intervention since 1997; 

- opposed Tony Blair's privatisation of the NHS and other public services, his persecution of the disabled, and his assault on civil liberties, all of which have continued under every subsequent Government;

- oppose Britain's immoral and one-sided relationship with Saudi Arabia, and reject the demonisation of Russia;

- have the real eyes to realise real lies, seeing the truly fake news as propagated in support of the economic policies of neoliberal austerity and the foreign policies of neoconservative war;

- reject any approach to climate change which would threaten jobs, workers' rights, travel opportunities, or universal access to a full diet;

- seek to rescue issues such as male suicide, men's health, and fathers' rights from those whose economic and other policies caused the problems; and

- refuse to recognise racists, Fascists or opportunists as the authentic voices of the accepted need to control immigration.

Please give generously.

Thursday 1 December 2016

May To September

The next school year will start after the local elections in May. The only way to protect the Teaching Assistants is to take Durham County Council to No Overall Control.

Very large numbers of Labour Councillors have absented themselves from the votes on this issue. But enough of them have attended to ensure that the Teaching Assistants have been betrayed. The Councillors, all of them Labour, who have thus voted ought all to lose their seats to whoever was best placed to remove them, very preferably activists in the Teaching Assistants’ remarkable campaign.

The Liberal Democrats and the Independents have been, and remain, stalwart supporters of the Teaching Assistants. Therefore, they deserve to be re-elected. That leaves only the Labour absentees, plus a mere four Conservatives who all sit for two adjacent wards.

Whoever the new Leader and Deputy Leader of Durham County Council were to be, they must not be members of the Labour Party. The Teaching Assistants’ flag, which is now ubiquitous in County Durham, must remain so and it must fly from County Hall every day for the following four years, at least.

Strength and Solidarity

Statement by the County Durham Teaching Assistants' Action Committee (CDTAAC), posted on Facebook:  

We understand that people are disappointed with the wording of the Council's letter, but those are just words. They are not going to admit, in writing, that they were wrong and we were right however much we know that to be the case. But let's just ignore the words for a moment, and look at the facts.

We are NOT going to be sacked on New Year's Eve. We are NOT going to have a new contract imposed on us on New Year's Day. We are NOT going to have to work 37 hours a week from January.  We are NOT going to take a pay cut. We are NOT going to have to accept 'compensation'. We ARE going to have all of our roles and responsibilities reviewed and have new job descriptions drawn up that reflect the realities of our jobs (and TAs will be involved in that process).

Whichever way you look at the facts, that is a HUGE victory for us and a MASSIVE climbdown by Durham County Council. Is it over? Not by a long way. There are a lot of negotiations to come to ensure that there is a positive outcome for all TAs, and there is a lot of fighting still to do. Is our campaign over? Absolutely not. We will continue to keep public and political pressure on the Council through social media, events and PR. We will not be quiet and we will not go away until we have a permanent solution. 

But we are now in a position of strength. The Council knows that if we are not happy, or if it is stalling or delaying negotiations, then we will strike. Simple. It knows that that is not an idle threat, and it knows that we can absolutely deliver a rock solid strike with the backing of parents, the public and the Labour Party. 

So tonight, please celebrate knowing that it is your strength and solidarity that have achieved this, and we will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder until this is sorted.

Wednesday 30 November 2016

Dismissal and Re-engagement, Indeed

Durham County Council has suspended the notices of dismissal and re-engagement that it had issued to its Teaching Assistants. It will now be engaging in talks aimed at resolving the dispute. Tomorrow's strike has therefore been called off.

There is still a lot of fighting to do. But a victory march at next year's Miners' Gala ought to feature every re-elected Lib Dem and Independent, and everyone who had taken the seat of a Labour councillor who had voted against the TAs. Without wishing to speak out of turn, at least one of their remarkable organisers ought to speak from the platform, as their stalwart supporter, Jeremy Corbyn, has already promised to do for the third year running.

Tuesday 22 November 2016

The Most Important Industrial Dispute In Britain Today

Durham County Council’s Teaching Assistants will strike again this week, on Wednesday 23rd and Thursday 24th November. Theirs is the most important industrial dispute in Britain today. When was the last time that two thousand people in this country went on strike, and that twice in three weeks? They face being sacked at Christmas, and reappointed on a 23 per cent pay cut. Meanwhile, the Council has written off its loan to Durham County Cricket Club, which provides the most powerful Councillors and Officers with a private box.

Durham County Council was the first local authority of which Labour ever won Overall Control. That has never been lost, in more than 100 years. The Labour Group on that authority is the largest in local government. But that Council is now the Mike Ashley of the public sector, and the twenty-first century version of Margaret Thatcher’s National Coal Board. This coming May, it can be, and it should be, taken to No Overall Control.

Very large numbers of Labour Councillors have absented themselves from the votes on this issue. But enough of them have attended to ensure that the Teaching Assistants have been betrayed. The Councillors, all of them Labour, who have thus voted ought all to lose their seats to whoever was best placed to remove them, very preferably activists in the Teaching Assistants’ remarkable campaign. The Liberal Democrats and the Independents have been, and remain, stalwart supporters of the Teaching Assistants. Therefore, they deserve to be re-elected. That leaves only the Labour absentees, plus a mere four Conservatives who all sit for two adjacent wards. 

Whoever the new Leader and Deputy Leader of Durham County Council were to be, they must not be members of the Labour Party. The Teaching Assistants’ flag, which is now ubiquitous in County Durham, must fly from County Hall every day for the following four years, at least.

This victory will rank alongside the election of Ken Livingstone as Mayor of London in 2000, the election of George Galloway (a strong supporter of the Durham Teaching Assistants) as MP for Bethnal Green and Bow in 2005, Galloway’s election as MP for Bradford West in 2012, the election of Jeremy Corbyn (another strong supporter of the Durham Teaching Assistants) as Leader of the Labour Party in 2015, Corbyn’s re-election as Leader of the Labour Party in 2016, and his election as Prime Minister in 2020.

David Lindsay, 2017 council candidate and 2020 parliamentary candidate, Lanchester, County Durham; @davidaslindsay
George Galloway, former Member of Parliament for Glasgow Hillhead (1987-1997), Glasgow Kelvin (1997-2005), Bethnal Green and Bow (2005-2010), Bradford West (2012-2015); @georgegalloway 
James Draper, writer, broadcaster and activist, Lanchester, County Durham 
John Mooney, writer, broadcaster and activist, Lurgan, County Armagh; @FitzjamesHorse 
Adam Young, writer, broadcaster and activist, Burnopfield, County Durham; @JustALocalSerf

Wednesday 16 November 2016

In Tutela Nostra Limuria

Always apply the Chagos Test to anyone who professes to support the Falkland Islanders.

Unless they also support the Chagos Islanders, and with the same amount of vigour, then dismiss them with contempt and derision.

Rank Alongside

Durham County Council was the first local authority of which Labour ever won Overall Control. That has never been lost, in over 100 years. The Labour Group on that authority is the largest in local government, with a whopping 94 members, out of a total of 126. But this coming May, that council can be, should be, and, I believe, will be taken to No Overall Control.

Via certain institutions that had better not be named due to the involvement of Labour Party members, the Teaching Assistants, who are complete political novices, have established from scratch the connections on the wider Left necessary to bring that about.

If the immediate beneficiaries include Lib Dems, more or less Tory Independents, and even a few overt Conservatives, then so be it. The Hillary Clintons in County Hall will have been Trumped. The several former striking miners who have scabbed for them will have got what scabs have always got.

Whoever the new Leader and Deputy Leader of Durham County Council are going to be, they are not going to be members of the Labour Party. That council is no longer going to be the Mike Ashley of the public sector. It is no longer going to be the twenty-first century reincarnation of Margaret Thatcher's National Coal Board. The Teaching Assistants' flag will fly from County Hall every day for the following four years, at least.

This victory will rank alongside the election of Ken Livingstone as Mayor of London in 2000, the election of George Galloway (a strong supporter of the Durham Teaching Assistants) as MP for Bethnal Green and Bow in 2005, and his election as MP for Bradford West in 2012.

This victory will rank alongside the election of Jeremy Corbyn (a strong supporter of the Durham Teaching Assistants) as Leader of the Labour Party in 2015, his re-election as Leader of the Labour Party in 2016, and his election as Prime Minister in 2020.

Sunday 13 November 2016

A Basket of Deplorables

The American Democratic Party has been defeated in the person of the most economically neoliberal and internationally neoconservative nominee imaginable. From the victory of Donald Trump, to the Durham Teaching Assistants’ dispute, the lesson needs to be learned. The workers are not the easily ignored and routinely betrayed base, with the liberal bourgeoisie as the swing voters to whom tribute must be paid. The reality is the other way round. The EU referendum ought already to have placed that beyond doubt.

There is a need to move, as a matter of the utmost urgency, away from the excessive focus on identity issues, and towards the recognition that those existed only within the overarching and undergirding context of the struggle against economic inequality and in favour of international peace, including co-operation with Russia, not a new Cold War.

It is worth noting that working-class white areas that voted for Barack Obama did not vote for Hillary Clinton, that African-American turnout went down while the Republican share of that vote did not, and that Trump took 30 per cent of the Hispanic vote. Black Lives Matter meant remembering Libya, while Latino Lives Matter meant remembering Honduras. 

The defeat of the Clintons by a purported opponent of neoliberal economic policy and of neoconservative foreign policy, although time will tell, has secured the position of Jeremy Corbyn, who is undoubtedly such an opponent. It is also a challenge to Theresa May, to make good her rhetoric about One Nation, about a country that works for everyone, and about being a voice for working people.

David Lindsay, 2017 council candidate and 2020 parliamentary candidate, Lanchester, County Durham; @davidaslindsay
George Galloway, former Member of Parliament for Glasgow Hillhead (1987-1997), Glasgow Kelvin (1997-2005), Bethnal Green and Bow (2005-2010), Bradford West (2012-2015); @georgegalloway 
Neil Clark, journalist and broadcaster; @NeilClark66 
Ronan Dodds, writer, broadcaster and activist, Newcastle upon Tyne; @RonanDodds 
James Draper, writer, broadcaster and activist, Lanchester, County Durham 
John Mooney, writer, broadcaster and activist, Lurgan, County Armagh; @FitzjamesHorse 
Mietek Padowicz, writer, broadcaster and activist, Newcastle upon Tyne; @scurvytoon 
Aren Pym, writer, broadcaster and activist, West Cornforth, County Durham; @arenpym 
Adam Young, writer, broadcaster and activist, Burnopfield, County Durham; @JustALocalSerf

Thursday 10 November 2016

Equal Pay Day?

Not for the Durham Teaching Assistants, most of whom are women, it isn't. But there is, of course, money for a cricket club that furnishes senior Councillors and Officers with a private box. Councillor Simon Henig CBE? Clearly, CBE stands for Cricket Before Education.

Oh, well, Donald Trump won the Rust Belt. So kicking out enough triangulating Third Way throwbacks to take Durham County Council to No Overall Control should be a doddle. Call that Equal Payback Day.

Wednesday 9 November 2016

Swings and Roundabouts

From the Durham Teaching Assistants' dispute, to the victory of Donald Trump, the lesson needs to be learned, and learned the hard way.

The workers are not the easily ignored and routinely betrayed base, with the liberal bourgeoisie as the swing voters to whom tribute must be paid.

The reality is the other way round.

Tuesday 8 November 2016

Support The Teaching Assistants Tomorrow

Support the Teaching Assistants at County Hall from 9am tomorrow.

And then march to the Miners' Hall at Redhills for a rally at 12 noon, to be addressed by the President of the ATL and by the General Secretary of Unison.

Monday 7 November 2016

A Strategic Dispute With A Hostile Employer

Lanchester people, get yourselves to the EP School (if you're from round here, then you know) for 8am tomorrow, to join the Teaching Assistants' picket of the school of which Ossie Johnson is a governor. Media expected.

Everyone, get yourselves to County Hall for 9am on Wednesday, and then to the Miners' Hall at Redhills for a rally at 12 noon, to be addressed by the President of the ATL and by the General Secretary of Unison.

Unison has released £150,000 from its Industrial Action Fund to support the Durham TAs, describing this as "a strategic dispute with a hostile employer." The largest Labour Group in local government, massively dominating the longest-standing Labour council of them all. With the Leader of the Labour Party openly and publicly on the other side, the side of the workers.

As am I. And as I shall remain. Up to, through and beyond next May's elections.

Thursday 27 October 2016

The Nasty Party

There are two Labour Parties.

One is the party of Jeremy Corbyn, the party that stands in silent vigil outside Durham County Hall throughout working hours during this half term holiday week. The other is the party that skulks therein or in its private box at the Riverside, bailing out Durham County Cricket Club while sacking the Teaching Assistants in order to reappoint them on a 23 per cent pay cut.

One is the party of Jeremy Corbyn, the party that last night sought to halt arms sales to Saudi Arabia because of the war in Yemen. The other is the party of the 98 Labour MPs who abstained, so that the motion was defeated by 90 votes.

One is the party of Jeremy Corbyn, the party that will contest the Richmond Park by-election, one hopes in the person of Barnaby Marder. The other is the party that expels people for retweeting the Greens, while demanding that Labour give the Liberal Democrats a free run at Richmond Park.

Whereas the real cheering on of the Lib Dems ought to be with a view to the re-election of their members, and of the Independents, on Durham County Council. Together with the removal of the 57 Nasty Party members who are doing to the Teaching Assistants what Margaret Thatcher did to the miners.

In some places, their removal by Lib Dems. In rather more, their removal by Independents, including those of us who, as supporters of the Leader of the Labour Party, can reasonably claim to be the real Labour candidates. And their removal by Conservatives in a certain number. The four sitting Conservative Councillors did at least abstain. By all means let them defeat a few members of the Nasty Party.

The aim must be to take Durham County Council to No Overall Control, to put together an administration including everyone apart from the Nasty Party, and to fly the Teaching Assistants' flag from County Hall every day thereafter.

We are trying to persuade Ken Loach to make a film about the Teaching Assistants, of whom he is a firm supporter. What an ending that would be, a shot of their flag's triumphant fluttering over a County Hall liberated from the Nasty Party. Even if he did not make that film, then someone will. I guarantee it.

Look at the poor press and broadcasting coverage that the party of Jeremy Corbyn receives, and remember that the Labour Party's Acting Head of Press and Broadcasting is the very personification of the Nasty Party.

I was going to write a criticism of Clive Lewis for his absence last night, and for his having joined in the call for a "Progressive Alliance" at Richmond Park. But Lewis is, as I am, a "mulatto", that being the preferred word of the Labour Party's Acting Head of Press and Broadcasting, who has directed it at me throughout the present century. Indeed, he has a directed a good deal worse than that at me during the present century.

Now living in London, he is easily as racist as Zac Goldsmith, and he is a threat to the physical safety of a very high proportion, perhaps even the majority, of the population of that world city. Look out for him.

Thursday 20 October 2016

Snooping On The Snoopers

It is undeniably disappointing that Labour seems to have acquiesced to the Investigatory Powers Bill when Jeremy Corbyn is Leader, Tom Watson is Deputy Leader, Diane Abbott is Shadow Home Secretary, and Shami Chakrabarti is Shadow Attorney General.

The election of Yvette Cooper to chair the Home Affairs Select Committee is also most disappointing, although at least that can be blamed on the hangers and floggers on the benches opposite.

And at least she beat Chuka Umunna. What remaining potential use is there for Chuka Umunna? A BBC Four documentary on Sir Helenus Milmo, welcome enough in itself. But then, well, what, exactly?

Still, the next Parliamentary Labour Party will contain only the tiniest number of Coopers and Umunnas. Its will be as good as totally committed to the repeal of what will by then be 30 years of assaults on civil liberties.

There should, however, be the odd figure to the side, keeping Corbyn's Labour Party true to itself on this as on its roots in the anti-war and anti-austerity movements.

Please note the PayPal button on this site.

Wednesday 19 October 2016

Bowl Them Out

Durham County Council's Cabinet has unanimously agreed the ECB's bailout for Durham County Cricket Club, where the senior Councillors and Officers have a private box.

But they are still sacking the Teaching Assistants, in order to reappoint them on a 23 per cent pay cut.

Bring on May's elections.

Monday 17 October 2016

Of Rockets and Ballots

Instead of Trident (and, for that matter, instead of fracking), we need flood defences, we need civil nuclear power, we need a return to the exploitation of our vast deposits of coal, and we need properly paid and properly equipped Armed Forces.

You will be able to vote for that in this constituency, if nowhere else.

By voting for me.

Please note the PayPal button.

Why I Want To Be In Parliament

From my longstanding home and political base here in Lanchester, I shall be contesting the new seat of West Durham and Teesdale at the 2020 General Election.

Here are some of the reasons why.

I am active in the campaigns for justice for Durham County Council’s mistreated Teaching Assistants, against the proposed drastic cuts to hospital provision in County Durham and Teesside, and in defence of the public transport on which, as a disabled person, I am reliant.

I opposed from the start Tony Blair’s privatisation of England’s public services in general and NHS in particular, as well as Blair’s victimisation of the disabled, and Blair’s continuation of the previous Conservative Government’s assault on civil liberties.

I always opposed the abandoned austerity programme of the sacked George Osborne, unlike the Liberal Democrats until May 2015, unlike the Labour front bench until September 2015, unlike the Conservative Party until July 2016, and unlike 172 Labour MPs to this day.

I have opposed every military intervention of the last 20 years, unlike the Liberal Democrats on all but one occasion, unlike the Conservative front bench and almost all Conservative MPs on every occasion, unlike the Labour front bench on every occasion until Jeremy Corbyn became Leader, and unlike one third of Labour MPs even after that.

I campaigned successfully for traditional Labour areas such as the North East to decide the EU referendum in favour of Leave, and thus to make themselves the centre of political attention.

I am mixed race, I was born in the British Overseas Territory of St Helena, and I recognise the need for immigration controls in order to deliver public services.

I oppose any approach to climate change that threatens jobs or workers’ rights.

I would seek to rescue issues such as fathers’ rights and male suicide from the likes of Philip Davies and Milo Yiannopoulos, whose economic policies caused the problems.

I have long worked throughout the English-speaking world and beyond to bring together the opponents of neoliberal economic policy and neoconservative foreign policy among traditionalists and libertarians, conservatives and liberals, social democrats and democratic socialists.

Locally, I have co-operated for more than 20 years with Independents, Conservatives, Liberal Democrats, Labour Party members and supporters, activists on the wider Left, and entirely nonpartisan community stalwarts.

I remain banned from several leading political websites because I have been pointing out for at least 15 years the links between Harriet Harman and the Paedophile Information Exchange.

From outside any party since October 2006, I bring all of this to bear as a friendly critic and a critical friend of Jeremy Corbyn.

I am medically unable to drive, but I undertake that, if elected, I would spend one weekend per month in the parts of the constituency previously falling within each of Gateshead, Derwentside, Wear Valley, and Teesdale.

Sunday 9 October 2016

Overall Control

No one is a Labour parliamentary candidate until approved as such by that party's National Executive Committee. That Committee now has a pro-Corbyn majority, and ought therefore to resolve that it will never, under any circumstances, approve the parliamentary candidacy of Tony Blair.

Blair then needs to be asked live on air whether he would ever seek election as anything other than an official Labour Party candidate. That is a Yes-No question, and any answer other than No is automatically expulsionable from the party, with a five year ban from even so much as applying to re-join.

While the NEC was about it, then it ought to suspend the membership at least of those Durham County Councillors who presented themselves in order to vote against the Teaching Assistants. Based on that, Windlestone Hall, the Cricket Club, and the cuts to transport provision, the Leader of the Council, Simon Henig, ought to be expelled forthwith, and therefore made subject to the five year ban. The forfeiture of his CBE ought also to be explored most actively. Let's face it, that would save time.

Being suspended or expelled, those people could not be Labour candidates in May, thereby potentially saving the party dozens of seats that such candidates would certainly have lost. The Teaching Assistants, being council employees, cannot be council candidates. But their supporters include many people who not only could be, but in several cases should have been years ago.

The NEC can grant membership and candidacy on the spot in emergencies, and this is an emergency. Alternatively, it can watch the devastation of the largest Labour Group in local government, taking the authority to No Overall Control while at least depriving the Leader of his seat before he lost his liberty. Of course, as supporters of Jeremy Corbyn, the majority of the NEC's members may actively wish to see that outcome.

Friday 7 October 2016

The Stench of Incompetence and Cruelty

I was at a wonderful meeting last night, of which great things will come. But it was in Newcastle, meaning that, after the train back to Durham, I had to get a taxi back to Lanchester, because the last bus is now at nine o'clock between Mondays and Thursdays. On Sundays, it is at a scarcely credible twenty past six.

I am medically unable to drive. That I am forbidden to do so is printed on the packaging of my medication. But I used to live somewhere that was very much on the beaten track, as befitted a place only eight miles from Durham city centre. Thanks to the appalling Durham County Council, however, it has been turned into the middle of nowhere.

This. The Teaching Assistants. Windlestone Hall. The Cricket Club, with its private box for senior Councillors and Officers. The whiff of corruption hangs over Andrew Cunningham's old fiefdom, while the stench of incompetence and cruelty is overwhelming. Private Eye, of Poulson fame, is already on the case.

Nationwide, there is easily a half-hour current affairs documentary, a Panorama or a Dispatches, to be made on those semi-rural, almost suburban communities the very old, very young, or simply disabled residents of which have in recent years been sent to the dark side of the Moon by the withdrawal of public transport.

It is no wonder that Durham County Council has to pay its members what for some of them amounts to more than £500 per hour (£13,300 per year for two meetings per month, each of those meetings being ordinarily of one hour's duration), and more than many of its Teaching Assistants will soon enjoy, so that they can attend meetings that begin at nine o'clock in the morning. Even with their senior citizens' bus passes, how else would they ever get home?

Monday 3 October 2016

Gonna Lay Down My Sword and Shield?

Not a chance.

To no apparent effect, the insolvent Durham County Cricket Club is subsidised by the supposedly cash-strapped Durham County Council. Senior Councillors and Officers entertain in a private box at the Riverside, a venue that has today been forbidden to host Test matches.

Meanwhile, they are preparing to sack all 2700 of their Teaching Assistants, whom they already pay one quarter less than neighbouring authorities, and then re-engage them on a 23 per cent pay cut.

These people simply have to go. Bring on next May's elections.

Friday 30 September 2016

Under Attack From Both Extremes

Gosh, how some people spend their Friday afternoons. Oh, well, there's only one thing worse than being talked about. I have been forwarded the following charming missive, which was sent today to all Conservative and Independent members of Durham County Council, and which was copied to various local and national media:

Jeremy Corbyn and his allies are moving to install their friend and ally David Lindsay of Lanchester as the MP for the new seat of Durham West and Teesdale, with or without the official endorsement of the Labour Party that Lindsay was expelled from by Tony Blair and Hilary Armstrong for opposing the war in Iraq. Lindsay is a crippled, mixed race, foreign born Leftist and Romanist while that constituency is largely represented by Conservative and Independent councillors. Yet there are dark mutterings that Independent councillors might sign his nomination papers and campaign for him. All Conservatives and Independents must state immediately that they will campaign for a white, English, Protestant candidate whose body declared the truth of white excellence. Those who do not, be in no doubt: true Nationalists will be put up against you and will defeat you at next year’s county council elections.

I have no intention of engaging with the sender. But I have told the Councillors that the obvious way to indicate that, as of course we all knew, these were not in any way their views, was to undertake to sign my nomination papers and to campaign for my election.

But today has been a busy day in another corner of the Internet, too. The letters pages of the national and local papers have been graced with the following, copied to all Labour Councillors for wards that will fall within the new constituency, and duly passed on to me:

We are extremely concerned that the MP for the new seat of West Durham and Teesdale may well be the allegedly left-wing David Lindsay of Lanchester. He is a member of no political party, but he is a well-known and highly active ally of Jeremy Corbyn’s, and he is a close friend of several of Corbyn’s own closest friends in Durham and Newcastle.

David Lindsay advocates “balanced migration”, on the grounds that immigration controls are necessary in order to deliver public services. He opposes all of the usual measures against climate change, and it is not clear that he even believes in global warming caused by human activity. He supports nuclear power alongside coal. He has links to Fathers 4 Justice. He is a firm believer in “the national and parliamentary sovereignty of the United Kingdom”. He is a vicar’s son who became a Catholic during his Theology degree. He works closely with local Lib Dems, Tories and Tory “Independents”. His candidacy is supported by all “Independent” Durham County Councillors.

That David Lindsay seriously might be elected to Parliament raises grave questions about the toleration of him and of similar figures, such as Ronnie Campbell and George Galloway, by Jeremy Corbyn, Momentum, Red Labour, Unite Community, the Durham Miners’ Association, the County Durham Teaching Assistants Activists Committee, the Labour Representation Committee, the Socialist Campaign Group, the National Health Action Party, the Pirate Party, the Communist Party of Britain, the Morning Star, the Socialist Labour Party, Left Unity, the Socialist Party, the Socialist Workers Party, Counterfire, Spiked, the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty, Socialist Appeal, Socialist Action, FBU, ASLEF, RMT and TSSA. We serve notice that a truly left-wing, Socialist candidate will be fielded against David Lindsay. Not least, we serve that notice to all Labour Councillors in West Durham and Teesdale.

Alliance for Green Socialism, Anarchist Federation, Class War, Communist League, Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist), Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist), Communist Party of Great Britain (Provisional Central Committee), Communist Workers Organisation, Independent Working Class Association, International Socialist League, Labour Party Marxists, New Communist Party of Britain, Revolutionary Communist Group, Socialist Equality Party, Socialist Party of Great Britain, Socialist Resistance, Solidarity Federation, Spartacist League of Britain, Workers’ Fight, Workers Revolutionary Party, World Revolution.

Are all of those even real? Anyway, as I have explained to all of the recipients, as well to to all the organisations and publications named in the letter itself, my views are as set out here and here.

I positively look forward to beating an ultra-Left candidate in 2020. Come one, come all, to campaign for me and against that candidate, on the basis set out in those links.

As the sender, of whom I had never heard, put it, if you can cope with Ronnie Campbell or George Galloway, then you can cope with me.

Please note the PayPal button on this site.

Wednesday 28 September 2016

Give No Quarter

Congratulations to the BBC (yes, really) on having pointed out that Durham County Council already paid its Teaching Assistants a quarter less than neighbouring authorities.

Yet the Council proposes to cut that by a further 23 per cent.

Monday 26 September 2016

A Rocket Up The Racket

Even if the shale gas is really there, then the places that may or may not have it do not want to be fracked. It is not as if they need the money. Meanwhile, no one disputes that the coal is there. And the places that have it certainly do want it to be mined again, since we certainly do need the money, which we used to have.

John McDonnell announced policies that would already be taken as read in any Western country apart from this one and the only other one of which the media megaphones have ever heard. The principle of the Living Wage has already been conceded by the Government. The only question is as to the rate.

An industrial strategy is so controversial that there is already a Department of State with "Industrial Strategy" in its name. Expect Theresa May to pick up that idea of giving workers first refusal when a company is to be sold or wound up. It is very her. How can anyone not believe that tax-dodging companies ought to be ineligible for taxpayer-funded contracts?

And McDonnell brought out his inner Brexiteer when he promised "a renaissance of British manufacturing" after Brexit, while pledging to guarantee the funding currently provided by the EU, out of our own net contributions, to areas that largely voted Leave, anyway. He also called for access to the Single Market, but not for membership of it. "Brexit means Brexit," repeats May. "Brexit means this," replies McDonnell, challenging her to match it.

Some of us do not think that nuclear weapons and NATO membership were the only good things that the Attlee Government ever did. Indeed, some of us wonder why anyone, anywhere on the political spectrum, would wish to vote for a weapons system that by 2020 will be subject to either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. Or to vote for a military alliance that committed us to the defence of Erdogan's Turkey while presuming to demand two per cent of our GDP.

In this constituency, no one will have to vote for either of those things. From anywhere on the political spectrum, everyone here constituency will be able to vote for me instead.

Thursday 22 September 2016

The Mike Ashley of the Public Sector

Thus was the thoroughly obnoxious Simon Henig, the Leader of Durham County Council, described at last night's packed and uproarious rally by the Teaching Assistants.

Henig would dash across the street in front of an oncoming juggernaut for the chance to lick a penny piece off the opposite pavement and howl at the Moon in celebration. But he will happily reduce people to what amount to zero hours contracts. Well, of course.

He was one of very few Labour councillors with the gall to attend last week's Special Council on this subject. That meeting was effectively chaired by some law clerk, elected by absolutely nobody. Lie, after lie, after lie was poured out by the portfolio holder, Councillor Jane Brown.

She and Henig will doubtless continue to enjoy their private box at the Riverside. But Durham County Cricket Club is insolvent, and it is kept going by a loan from Durham County Council. In that box, they will doubtless be joined by the Deputy Leader, Alan Napier, who is an old NUM hand, and who is now a signatory to pro-Corbyn letters with which the other signatories would refuse to allow him to be associated if they knew what he was doing to the latter-day Grunwick women.

Yet Napier was one of two left-wing old miners, of whom the other was the late Albert Nugent, whom Henig arranged to have suspended unjustly from the Labour Party in order to overstep their superior claims to the Leadership of the new unitary county council. Just before the death of Davey Hopper, he and Napier almost came to blows when the latter called the TAs "parasites".

But those "parasites" are oddly unwilling to be "compensated" with their own money. A message of support was read out from Angela Rayner. In a sign of quite how different the world will be after Saturday, even the BBC turned up last night.

Saturday 10 September 2016

Footprints March for the NHS


Please join us on our march to save NHS services in County Durham and Teesside in October half-term (22nd-30th).

Under the new Sustainability and Transformation plan, NHS England and Wales has been divided into 44 ‘footprints’ which must make efficiency measures in order to access transformation funds.

Essentially, this is a bribe to implement cuts to our already struggling health service.

County Durham and Darlington trust has a £14.7m deficit which would have to be eliminated in order to access funds.

The effect on your public services could be so severe that only James Cook would retain an A&E department.

We vehemently oppose this dogmatic policy which will put lives at risk and therefore we are marching between hospitals in Northallerton, Darlington, Bishop Auckland, Shotley Bridge, Durham, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough and North Tees, in order to show just how large our footprint is and how dangerously isolated we will become as a result of these savage cuts.

Our intended itinerary for Footprints March for the NHS:

Saturday 22nd October, Friarage Hospital (Northallerton) - Darlington Memorial
Sunday 23rd October, Darlington Memorial - Bishop Auckland
Monday 24th October, Bishop Auckland - Shotley Bridge
Tuesday 25th October, Shotley Bridge - University Hospital of North Durham,
Wednesday 26th October, University Hospital of North Durham - Hartlepool
Thursday 27th October, Hartlepool - James Cook (Middlesbrough)
Friday 28th October, James Cook (Middlesbrough) - North Tees (Stockton)
Saturday 29th October, North Tees (Stockton) - Darlington Memorial

We will also be holding public meetings in each town or city.

Please join us on the march and attend our meetings.

Anti-PFI, pro-Reinstatement Bill, supported by 999 Call for the NHS and Momentum County Durham.

Inside Menwith Hill

Read this.

Have you read it?

Read it. All right, then. Read it again.

Tuesday 6 September 2016

The Teaching Assistants: The Lions of Durham

It is a pity that Aditya Chakrabortty detracts from this otherwise excellent article by the bizarre claim that Durham County Council's Teaching Assistants are paid £20,000. But still, at least he has written about this scandal at all. Many of the TAs will soon be paid less than the £12,000 that is the Council Chairman's clothing allowance.

Jeremy Corbyn openly supports this campaign (I organised the meeting between him and the TAs), but this very right-wing council is having none of that. The Labour Group is objectively worse than the tiny number of Conservatives, all four of whom abstained on this, and far worse than the Lib Dems and the Independents, who voted against it. When the TAs marched at the Miners' Gala, then the Council Leader literally ran inside and hid. Well, he will not be able to hide on polling day next year.

The 57 councillors who voted for this (a huge number did not turn up, just enough for it to pass by one vote) have brought the Labour Party into disrepute. It ought to expel them. Certainly, they ought all to lose their seats in May. With proper organisation, taking down 30 of them ought to be a doddle. Let's make sure that we take down the right 30, with any more as a bonus.

Ignore anyone who claims that there never used to be Teaching Assistants. Durham County Council's decision to pay the term-time wage over 12 months, in order to stop the TAs from signing on in the holidays, dates from the 1970s. So it was employing TAs at least 40 years ago.

They are not, and have never been, paid for the holidays. Their term-time wage is paid over 12 months purely for ease of administration, and because, say it again, they used to have to sign on in the holidays. But it is a term-time wage, and it always has been. Once again, though, they are going to have to sign on in the holidays. If, these days, they can. Can you get JSA for this? It is not the old dole.

Monday 5 September 2016

After Keith Vaz

George Osborne’s universally known penchants for cocaine and prostitutes were never deemed to disqualify him from political office. Indeed, he was for many years discussed as a potential Prime Minister.

There cannot be a “free” market in general, but not in drugs, or prostitution, or pornography, or unrestricted alcohol, or unrestricted gambling. That is an important part of why there must not be a “free” market in general, which is a political choice, not a mere law of nature. Enacting and enforcing laws against drugs, prostitution and pornography, and regulating alcohol, tobacco and gambling, are clear examples of State intervention in, and regulation of, the economy.

We need a single class of illegal drug, with a crackdown on the possession of drugs, including a mandatory sentence of three months for a second offence, six months for a third offence, one year for a fourth offence, and so on. It is also very high time for Parliament to tidy up the shambolic laws on sexual offences.

First, it ought to be made a criminal offence for anyone aged 21 or over to buy or sell sex, with equal sentencing on both sides. No persecution of girls and very young women whose lives had already been so bad that they had become prostitutes. No witch-hunting of boys and very young men who were desperate to lose their virginities. But the treatment of women and men as moral, intellectual and legal equals.

Secondly, the age of consent should effectively be raised to 18, by making it a criminal offence for anyone to commit any sexual act with or upon any person under that age who was more than two years younger than herself, or to incite any such person to commit any such act with or upon her or any third party anywhere in the world.

The maximum sentence would be twice the difference in age, to the month where that was less than three years, or a life sentence where that difference was at least five years. No different rules for “positions of trust”, which are being used against male, but not female, 18-year-olds looking after female, but not male, Sixth Formers visiting universities. And no provision, as at present, for boys to be prosecuted at any age, even if they are younger than the girls involved, whereas girls have to be 16.

The law on indecent images is also enforced in totally different ways in relation to boys and girls of the same age, and even to boys who are younger than the girls. That must end. Children under the age of consent can have abortion or contraception without parental permission. That is an argument for banning children under the age of consent from having abortion or contraception without parental permission. Unless they decided as adults to seek to make contact with their children, then the financial liability of male victims for pregnancies resulting from their sexual abuse ought also to be ruled out. Talk about victim-blaming.

Thirdly, the offences of rape, serious sexual assault, and sexual assault, ought to be replaced with aggravating circumstances to the general categories of offences against the person, enabling the sentences to be doubled. The sex of either party would be immaterial. There must be no anonymity either for adult defendants or for adult complainants. Either we have an open system of justice, or we do not.

In this or any other area, there must be no suggestion of any reversal of the burden of proof. That reversal has largely been brought to you already, by the people who in the same year brought you the Iraq War. The Parliament that was supine before Tony Blair was also supine before Harriet Harman. Adults who made false allegations ought to be prosecuted automatically.

Moreover, how can anyone be convicted of non-consensual sex, who could not lawfully have engaged in consensual sex? If there is an age of consent, then anyone below it can be an assailant. But a sexual assailant? How? Similarly, if driving while intoxicated is a criminal offence, then how can intoxication, in itself, be a bar to sexual consent? The law needs to specify that it was, only to such an extent as would constitute a bar to driving.

And fourthly, obscenity ought to be defined as material depicting acts that were themselves illegal, or which was reasonably likely to incite or encourage such acts. Sentencing would be the same as for the illegal act in question in each case.

American-style legislation for internally administered “balance of probabilities” or “preponderance of evidence” tests to sexual assault allegations at universities or elsewhere must be banned by Statute. It is incompatible with the Rule of Law to punish someone for a criminal offence of which she has not been convicted. It must be made impossible for anyone to be extradited to face charges that fell short of these standards, or for such convictions to have any legal standing in this country.

As for teaching things in schools, how is that curriculum time currently being filled? Apply the Eton Test. Would this be taught in a school that assumed its pupils to be future Prime Ministers or Nobel Laureates? If not, then instead fill the hours with something that was. Teach Latin. Someone will.

Convictions under laws predating these changes ought to be annulled along with those of men whose homosexual acts would not be criminal offences today. Labour should vote against that unless it also annulled, not only all convictions in the above categories, but also all convictions and other adverse court decisions arising out of Clay Cross, Shrewsbury, Wapping, and the three Miners’ Strikes since 1970.

This would set the pattern for all future feminist and LGBT legislation. Without a working-class quid pro quo, then Labour would vote against any such legislation. Alongside the DUP, the Conservative Right, or whoever. It is not Blair’s Labour Party now. Even if an MP or two from outside the party may be necessary in order to remind it of that fact.

Monday 29 August 2016

The End of TTIP

The end of TTIP would be a very significant vindication of Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell. They have been going on about it for years.

This issue was also central, both to the Labour Leave and Left Leave campaigns that were decisive of the referendum, and to the insistence of the Conservative Party that, even after the referendum, it could only ever be led by a Remainer.

Actually withdrawing from the EU, which will never be remotely likely under the Conservatives, would also be much harder to sell to Labour if TTIP were off the table.

But so long as there had been a refocusing of the political debate in general to the areas that had voted Leave while voting Labour, then our point would still have been made.

That was what really decided the referendum. Why do you think that no one much cares that we show absolutely no sign of ever leaving the EU? Least of all now that TTIP seems to be no more.

A happy fact that is itself not unconnected to the decision of the British referendum by the Labour-voting areas.

Thursday 25 August 2016

I Will Be Contesting The Lanchester Ward

Durham County Council has let it be known that, in express defiance of Jeremy Corbyn, it will not be giving justice to its Teaching Assistants. At best, they can expect a "compensation" payment that would not pay for a family holiday these days.

The 57 Labour councillors who passed this are objectively "worse than the Tories", who abstained, and far worse than the Independents and the Lib Dems, who voted against it. Their membership of the Labour Party is very literally bringing it into disrepute.

I do not want to join a party of which they are members. I believe that they ought all to lose their seats next year. I will be contesting the Lanchester Ward to that end.

This photograph will feature prominently in my campaign.

Friday 19 August 2016

The United Kingdom Should Leave NATO, And Tories Should Demand That It Does

No, of course we would not go to war with Russia. For anything, ever. We have not done so since 1856, so that's all right.

Owen Smith's suggestion that we would, should or could is as naïve as his suggestion that we should have a nice cup of tea and a chat with the Islamic State.

NATO already revolves around Erdogan's Turkey, while all and sundry are being let in. The next in the queue is the ghastly regime in Olympically corrupt, but strategically irrelevant, Montenegro.

With honourable, but very rare, exceptions, the Labour Right is hopeless on these matters. A kind of chest-beating international hawkishness was one of the ways in which it defined itself as a distinct faction or tendency.

In New Labour, that mixed with the anti-Soviet fanaticism of those who had very recently been Trotskyists or Eurocommunists.

Those were perhaps the only two factions or tendencies that ever truly believed that the Soviet Union had either the means or the will to invade Western Europe, as we now know for a fact that it did not.

Traditional Tories recognised that the USSR was a ramshackle operation waiting to collapse under the weight of its own contradictions.

Although they were also among those who recognised, when it and Yugoslavia disintegrated, that two geopolitical catastrophes had thus occurred, the unpleasant ramifications of which would be felt for generations, even for centuries.

Therefore, the heirs of Enoch Powell and Alan Clark ought to know better about NATO today. They have been as right as Jeremy Corbyn and the Morning Star in the past. They ought to be so again.

NATO membership causes us to give undertakings that we have no intention of honouring, and in reality could not honour even if we wanted to do so.

It causes us to give those undertakings to entities that do not deserve them, whether strategically, morally, or both.

And it subjects us to a supranational body that presumes to demand two per cent of our Gross Domestic Product. Not only that, but it really only expects a handful of states, including our own, to meet that in practice.

Imagine the reaction of the NATO zealots in Parliament and the Press, or at least of the Tory ones, if it were so much as suggested that the United Kingdom now accede to a body of that kind.

They ought to join those of us who demand that that body be dissolved, and that the United Kingdom begin that process by seceding from it unilaterally, unconditionally, and immediately.

Saturday 6 August 2016

Hiroshima Day

While the atom bomb has been used, nuclear weapons such as exist today never have been.

By anyone.

And look at the people who have had them, or who still have them.

Stalin never launched a nuclear attack. Stalin. Nor did Chairman Mao. Theresa May is many things. But she is no Chairman Mao.

It is all a bluff. Just get rid of these wretched things. 

We could pay the affected shipyard workers quite eye-watering sums in compensation, and still save amounts that there were scarcely the adjectives to describe.

Wednesday 3 August 2016

Letter in Support of the Teaching Assistants

This does not seem to have made the national papers (except perhaps the Morning Star, which I have yet to see today), but it is in today’s Northern Echo:

Dear Sir,

On 31st December, Labour-controlled Durham County Council will sack all 2700 of its Teaching Assistants.

On 1st January, it will reappoint them on a 23 per cent pay cut, even though they were already among the lowest paid in the country, and even though the councillors’ own allowances have recently been increased.

On 8th July, representatives of the Durham Teaching Assistants met Jeremy Corbyn and Angela Rayner, both of whom expressed the strongest possible support for their cause.

On 9th July, Mr Corbyn repeated that support in his speech from the platform of the Durham Miners’ Gala, at which, albeit briefly, Ms Rayner marched with the Teaching Assistants. Mr Corbyn also signed the Teaching Assistants’ petition.

This cause was supported very actively by the late Davey Hopper of the Durham Miners’ Association, right up until his recent, untimely death.

In the strongest possible terms, we implore Durham County Council to heed the words and deeds of Jeremy Corbyn by reversing this cruel and unnecessary attack on a loyal, low paid, invaluable, and overwhelmingly female workforce.

Yours faithfully,

David Lindsay, journalist and activist
Mary Bousted, General Secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers
Fiona Farmer, National Officer for Local Authorities, Unite the Union
Mark Serwotka, General Secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union

Friday 22 July 2016

On The Steps of County Hall

Here I am on the steps of County Hall yesterday, sending out a call for a County Councillor, who could not be denied entry, to take in the Teaching Assistants' petition and representatives, after the TAs themselves had been refused admission.

This Campaign's Patron, Alex Watson, stepped up, and the petition, with Jeremy Corbyn's signature on it, has been presented.

Tuesday 19 July 2016

Teaching Assistants' Solidarity Demonstration

On Thursday, from eight o'clock in the morning until 12 noon, there will be a solidarity demonstration with the Teaching Assistants at County Hall in Durham.

Sunday 17 July 2016

Party in the Park

This campaign's Patron, Councillor Alex Watson OBE, with another old stalwart of the former Derwentside District Council, Alderman Dave Llewellyn, fighting for the Teaching Assistants in the last few minutes.

I really must get back in touch with Dave Llewellyn, and with all of that lot, who are clearly still very active indeed in Consett and Blackhill. You only need to be the First Past The Post.

Friday 8 July 2016

Eve of Gala Rally

There was the strongest possible support for the Durham Teaching Assistants at the Eve of Gala Rally.

Angela Rayner told me that Grahame Morris has made her aware of this struggle within an hour of her having been made Shadow Secretary of State for Education.

Who's that standing in front of David Lindsay?

SATs: An Exercise in Cruelty and Spite

This week's SATs results were an exercise in cruelty and spite. A pass mark of 100 out of 120 is higher than the 70 per cent required for a First Class degree. The only point of this is that most children should fail, and should be told that they have failed. Just for the sake of it. Of course.

Challenging NATO and Trident

British troops are to be sent to Estonia and Poland. NATO promised Russia that it would not expand east by one inch. But remember, Russia is the bad guy.

If the EU, which we have not left, demanded two per cent of our GDP, then how would we react? Especially if it made no such demand of any other member-state. The Baltic States spend virtually nothing on defence. Anyone would think that they knew that the threat was not real.

If Finland and Sweden feel no need to be in NATO, then why do we? If Turkey is in NATO, then why are we? When is anyone going to say no to this madness? When Jeremy Corbyn is Prime Minister, that's when.

This week, the dear old Defence Select Committee has been doing what it does best. Lobbying for fat public contracts to be awarded to its members' past, present and future employers in the arms trade.

It has been 160 years since we were last at war with Russia. But we constantly have to pretend, both that we are teetering on the brink of such a war, and that the absence of it means that we are at peace.

Russia has been picked at random from among the nations of the earth, and we merrily go to war with any or all of the rest, just so long as we never do so with her, a possibility for which we must ever be on our guard. 

In reality, if NATO still has any military role, rather than merely organising top level weekend breaks in European capitals, then it is as the extension of Erdogan's Turkey. Compared to that, Putin's Russia is not an unattractive prospect. 

The eye-watering expense of Trident blinds us to the jaw-dropping increase in that cost every time that anyone bothers to check. Under any other circumstance, the Conservative Party would rightly go ballistic, so to speak, at a small proportion of any of those increases alone. Never mind at the whole bill, which is now completely out of control. 

Meanwhile, we now barely have a Navy. We had the mightiest that the world had ever seen, before nuclear weapons were ever even imagined.

A Commons vote on the national bankruptcy that is Trident "renewal" belongs in the same believe-it-when-you-see-it category as the invocation of Article 50, or a challenge to the Leadership of Jeremy Corbyn. But such a vote ought to be welcomed, and even forced.

Like the wannabe Shadow Defence Secretary, John Woodcock, the 64-year-old Michael Fallon has never worked outside politics. But the real Shadow Defence Secretary, the anti-Trident Clive Lewis, is a veteran of the war in Afghanistan.

Sunday 3 July 2016

The Government Now Has No Economic Policy Whatever

Never mind the Prime Minister, or the Leader of the Opposition. When is the Chancellor of the Exchequer going to resign?

Following the abandonment of the illiterate proposal to run a budget surplus as an end in itself, the Government now has no economic policy whatever. Imagine if John McDonnell had said that he intended to tax more than he spent, and that in perpetuity. 

But remember, the policy that has this week been abandoned is supported by every Labour MP who voted to express no confidence in Jeremy Corbyn.

Indeed, not that anyone could have been expected to have noticed, it was in fact the policy of the Labour Party in the twilight period between last year's General Election and the election of Corbyn as Labour Leader.

If Corbyn's enemies had their way, then it would be the policy of the Labour Party again. Even though it had been abandoned by the Government.

Thursday 23 June 2016

The Scandal of the Durham Teaching Assistants

On 31st December, Durham County Council intends to sack all 2700 of its Teaching Assistants, 94 per cent of whom are women.

On 1st January, it intends to rehire them all on a 25 per cent pay cut. It would then be paying its Teaching Assistants less than any other authority in the country.

There is no point blaming “the Tories”. There are only four of those on Durham County Council, and they abstained.

The Independents and the Liberal Democrats voted against this, while a huge number of Labour members absented themselves.

Just enough, in fact, for this measure to be passed by a majority of one.

Even those of us who grew up around such things can still be taken aback when we see the game played with quite that level of ruthlessness and cynicism.

No authority is doing this apart from one that has been massively Labour-dominated since before living memory. Something similar has been successfully averted in Conservative-controlled Barnet.

The blame and the shame are those of the shiny-suited, management-speaking throwbacks who still control the Labour Group at County Hall, Durham.

No, Teaching Assistants are not “paid for the holidays”. They never have been.

In relatively recent decades, they have been paid in the holidays, because before that they used to sign on outside the school terms. They were entirely within their rights.

The decision was then taken to divide their term-time wage by 12 and to pay it monthly. That, and that alone, remains the situation.

Cutting that rate of pay by 25 per cent, therefore, would take it below the national minimum wage.

Neil Kinnock once disowned a Labour council from the platform of a Labour Party Conference, in the presence of that council's leading figures.

When he addresses the Durham Miners’ Gala next month, Jeremy Corbyn needs to denounce the grotesque chaos of a Labour council – a Labour council – scuttling round a county, handing out redundancy notices to its own workers. 

The Teaching Assistants, whose cause is fully supported by the Durham Miners’ Association (which is still active in welfare and campaigning, as well as in organising the Gala), will march on that day, Saturday 9th July. I for one will march with them.

As should you, if you are at all able. 

Over any distance, I can barely walk. But I will be marching for two miles, and every local Labour grandee on the balcony of the Royal County Hotel can tell Corbyn why we are marching.

Assemble by 8:30am in the Market Place. 

Then, next May, every councillor who voted for this needs to lose his or her seat. And with it, the allowance that was increased in the same week as this vicious measure was approved.

At £13,300, even the basic allowance was already higher than many Teaching Assistants were paid even before this cut.

Many Teaching Assistants will soon be paid less than the £12,000 that is the Chairman’s clothing allowance.

The Chairman will open the formal proceedings on the platform of the Gala. Let us see what kind of reception he will receive from the crowd. 

I know many of the councillors who voted for this. I cast my first ever vote for one of them, and I have voted for him at every opportunity over the 20 years since.

I have known him and several of the others for decades, by no means only through politics. 

But politics is what this is, and none of them will lose their homes when they lose their allowances. Whereas many Teaching Assistants are indeed on the brink of losing their homes.

Please follow @ta_hltaUK on Twitter, and the #ValueUs hashtag. See you in Durham next month.

Tuesday 7 June 2016

Durham County Council, 2017

I am standing for Durham County Council here in the Lanchester Ward next May.

The idea has been in my mind for some time, and it has been solidified by the sacking of all 2700 Teaching Assistants in order to reappoint them on a 25 per cent pay cut.

In addition, I intend to identify the top five or so issues in each of Lanchester, Burnhope and Castleside, together with the community's preferred solutions, and to make those the basis of my campaign.

Between 2020 and 2021, it will be perfectly possible, and it is in fact perfectly normal, to serve one year both as a County Councillor and as a Member of Parliament.

In 2021, we shall see where things are.

Do get in touch:

Friday 20 May 2016

Campaign Patron

I am honoured and delighted, almost beyond words, to announce that the locally legendary and nationally well-respected Councillor Alex Watson OBE has today become the Patron of my campaigns for election to Durham County Council in 2017 and to the House of Commons in 2020.

Do get in touch:

Sunday 15 May 2016

My Mind Is Made Up

If I can raise £100,000 in the next year, then I will stand for the new seat here in 2020 after a solid three years of campaigning.

These days, it costs not much less than that to secure the nomination for a safe Labour seat (which this will not be), what with having to visit every party member at home at least once, send each of them a DVD about yourself, and so on, for many months and even years. 

I wonder how many people realise that.

Anyway, I am, as ever,

Thursday 28 April 2016

At This Moment

I had to pull out of standing for Parliament in 2010, following repeated hospitalisations. I am still not well. I never will be. And anyway, we got Pat Glass.

But, Pat or no Pat (that's politics), I will stand for the seat into which the boundary changes had placed Lanchester in 2020, no matter what, if the lackeys of Goldman Sachs and the House of Saud had removed Jeremy Corbyn as Leader of the Labour Party and replaced him with some Hillary Clinton in drag.

And, in that event, I will be the first past the post. The campaign itself starts the moment that Corbyn falls. The planning for it starts at this moment.

Entrenching Our Newfound Right

The achievements of the Blair and Brown Governments were fully supported by all members of the present Shadow Cabinet.

Some of them opposed other aspects of those Governments’ programmes. That opposition has been vindicated by events. For example, the Private Finance Initiative and Public-Private Partnership projects that are literally collapsing in Edinburgh. 

Jeremy Corbyn has brought world class economists into the British political debate for the first time in 35 years. He has ended the hegemony of neoconservative foreign policy.

He has forced the media to include the left-wing critique of the European Union, account of which will therefore have to be taken in the arrangements following either outcome to the forthcoming referendum. He has exposed this Prime Minister’s ties to Saudi Arabia, which is the centre of global terrorism. 

Corbyn has broken the silence around the “renewal” of Trident, which was not discussed in England at the 2015 General Election. In Scotland, it is deliberately mixed up with a Scottish independence question to which it is irrelevant.

That independence would not rid the world of even so much as a single nuclear weapon. The ones that are currently in Scotland would just be moved. In any case, by accepting NATO, the SNP has conceded the point. By very stark contrast, there is no evidence that Corbyn has conceded the slightest thing to, on or about NATO. That space will be very well worth watching.

Tom Watson’s Deputy Leadership makes Corbyn’s a balanced ticket. Corbyn’s Britain would be a significant counterweight to the America of Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Hillary Clinton or, although he is the best of the bunch, Bernie Sanders.

Under any of last year’s other Leadership candidates, Labour would not have opposed the cuts that have caused Iain Duncan Smith to resign. It would have had nothing to say about the crisis in the steel industry, having accepted global neoliberalism and neoliberal globalisation.

Therefore, it could not have had any response to the Panama Papers, since, in the teeth of the strongest possible opposition from Corbyn and from John McDonnell, the Blair Premiership and the Brown Chancellorship had actively encouraged, assisted and celebrated the activities to which those Papers referred. 

With the SNP expected to win most of the constituency seats at Holyrood, all opponents of any one or more of George Osborne’s failed austerity programme, of neoconservative wars, of the Saudi regime, and of Trident, ought to give their list votes to Labour.

The Labour lead in Wales is welcome, and a riposte to Lynton Crosby’s propaganda, both against the Principality, and against the principle of Bevan’s NHS.

At the English local elections, now that the Liberal Democrats have collapsed, Labour is the only way to vote against cuts to jobs, services and amenities.

George Galloway’s mainstream social democratic programme deserves Londoners’ first preference votes. Anyone else who became Mayor must owe that to Galloway’s second preferences. With Labour likely to do very well for the London Assembly’s constituencies, list votes need to be cast for Respect.

A Labour list vote in Scotland, at least one Labour vote in Wales, a Labour vote in England, a first preference vote for Galloway, and a Labour constituency vote with a Respect list vote for the London Assembly.

These are the means of entrenching our newfound right to debate the balance between the public and private sectors, to debate the balance between economic openness and economic patriotism, to debate tax avoidance, to debate the EU in terms of workers’ right and public services, to debate Trident, to debate NATO, and to debate this country’s relationship with terrorist Saudi Arabia.