Thursday 29 December 2011

A Year in Blog Posts

I have been writing this blog since January. In 2011 I have been; to China, opposing an opencast coal-mine, on strike four times, rallies, demos, looking back at industrial past of my local area, writing about change in the Labour party and the trade union movment, relfecting on my time in India, Campaigning for Labour both on local issues and against cuts especially to NHS and Education. its been a busy year. Here is my year in blog posts...

An opencast coal mine will prevent future generations from experiences that might shape their future. The woods are where we form our ideas about our place in our environment, It is wrong to deprive future generations of that opportunity, just as it is wrong to deprive future generations of a University place or a free hospital bed.

Manchester Disunited ... Pro Egyptian chants were common, I was relieved to demonstrating in Manchester rather than Suez or Cairo ... In Unity

I wouldn't ask an economist to decide whether a mole on my back was cancerous or not. Nor would I ask my doctor for help with my tax return ... The coalition NHS reforms are about making a first step in the wrong direction, towards the privatisation of a healthcare system which is (or was) the envy of the world.

Do not let multiculturalism fail. Don't let it fail in your school, college or university. Don't let it fail in your city, town, village or estate. If you do then racism and intolerance have won.

Charity begins at home, my home was India. We are global citizens, our home is the world.

Being in a union is about more than paying your 15 quid every month and complaining. It is about being united as a workforce, and campaigning for the rights of all workers whatever their role.

Met Chris Mullin, left the meeting with one foot firmly in the in the Yes to AV camp.

Every time Cameron repeats his lies about Labour causing the Global economic crisis, Clegg is there nodding like an insurance-selling dog and smiling like a the cat who's got the cream. I hope that rank and file at the Lib Dem conference let him know that he is supposed to be the leader of a struggling political party, not just another one of Camerons school chums.

My employer is making redundancies; a lot of them. Somewhere between 150 and 200 jobs are to go.

The Consett/Stanley 'thing' is a perceived, mild type of hostility between the people of the two towns. The thing may not exist. It is their perception of the 'thing' that can cloud the decision making process.

Are the government just going to keep upping the retirement age for those who cant afford early retirement..? Will we just all work until we die..? Chilling thoughts on chilly mornings.

That our children have a better life with more opportunity than we had is an aspiration of all parents. Grandparents make this aspiration a much more likely reality.

"...but the Scousers never buy the Sun"

For some the steelworks is a symbol of a bygone industrial age but for some it is a memory; of a time when hard work paid well,when earnings were enough to keep a family, and when plans could be made for the future because employment was not fixed term, it was permanent.

The banner carried by those steelworkers to London on the 9th of July 1980 could be loaned to Newcastle College staff almost 31 years later, it would need no modification; it simply read IN THE BLACK FACED WITH THE SACK

When people crossed the picket line I smiled, gave them a leaflet and politely told them that we were on strike over redundancies. Then they went to work. A picket line is easy to cross; physically and, it seems, emotionally. 

I am probably a bit more red than blue, purple is a mixture of the two. Definitely not yellow but maybe a bit green, if I add that to the the mix then I would just end up with a shade of muddy brown. Which is exactly what you get, on football pitches as well as in politics if you try too hard to occupy the crowded centre ground.

Anti cuts groups have been formed and they march alongside unions and politicians with a common purpose in protest against the disproportionate effect that cuts have on the most vulnerable in society.

The Telegraph are like the lower end of the tabloid press in their insistence to never miss an opportunity to bring up World War II?

Young, internationally educated graduates are returning to India determined to do their bit. The State education system is becoming globally competitive and improving in terms of access. I hope that this new generation can reform the political landscape and address some of the stark inequality in their beautiful and amazingly diverse country.

The riots were portrayed as "look what happens if you allow peaceful protests to get out of hand" which fits Chinas policy of tightly controlling protests and may not have been totally inaccurate; I don't know I wasn't here, but I missed Twitter that week.

The real news is not that school meals are going up by 25% but that there are many parents needlessly spending limited resources on buying a weeks worth of dairylea dunkables for their childs lunches.

Sexism combined with ineptitude; Cameron joked that she was 'clearly frustrated' and then laughed at his own joke as he refused to answer her question.

Coal is our heritage not our future.

The problem is that you can't always take the friends who helped you along for the ride, especially if that ride is in the 1st class cabin of a plane flying to meetings with heads of state.

It is good to hear my MP speaking up for the young people of Consett in Parliament. The government need to be reminded of the effect their policies (or lack of policy) has on the lives of people who exist outside of the claustrophobic 'Westminster bubble' … The Liberal Democrats, after 18 months in 'power' are still standing shoulder to shoulder with their Tory friends in pushing though policies that have a disproportionate effect on the lives of ordinary people who call towns like Consett home.

It will be easy for an employer to not make adjustments when someone returns to work after sickness and easy to dismiss them without a tribunal when they again become sick.

We don't go on strike for a laugh or a day off, we are fully aware that in striking we are in breach our contract and that our pay will be docked. And that the people we serve will have to do without. We are forced to withdraw our labour because of injustice.

Unions have always been catalysts for change in the workplace, so much has been achieved. The next big achievement must be to effect change within the trade union movement itself.

“Religion is the heart of a heartless world”

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