published - "David's West Ham slays Goliath as Conte concedes title," - Morning Star, 11/12/2017
Saturday, 9 December 2017
published - "David's West Ham slays Goliath as Conte concedes title," - Morning Star, 11/12/2017
Thursday, 7 December 2017
In the UK, the future of the car hire company has come under threat, as TFL refused to renew its license to operate in the capital. Uber were accused of a number of irregularities, including its approach to reporting serious criminal offences, its approach to how medical certificates are obtained and use of blocking software, stopping regulatory authorities getting full access to the app.
The company has begun an appeal in the courts.
Other towns are looking closely at what is happening in London and the operation of the company, with Brighton and Cambridge among those reviewing operations.
The company has also been seeking to defend its position as a main player in the gig economy. This has involved claiming that its drivers are self-employed, so not entitled to things like holidays and sick pay.
A tribunal ruled in favour of two drivers supported by the GMB, who claimed that they were effectively employees of the company. The company appealed the key tribunal ruling on worker’s rights but lost again in November at the high court. It is now looking to take its case Supreme Court.
There was more damaging news from the US, where Uber there have been revelations of a data breach and sexual harassment claims.
Uber admitted that it had failed to disclose a cyber-attack that exposed the data of some 57 million drivers and passengers. The breach affected 2.7 million individuals in the UK. The company then paid the hackers £75,000 not to release the stolen data.
The UK Information Commissioner’s Office said that Uber’s admission over the hack “raises huge concerns around its data protection policies and ethics.”
Also in the US, former Uber engineer, Susan Fowler alleged in a blog that she was sexually harassed at and experienced gender bias during her time at the company. She claimed that one manager propositioned her and asked for sex, but her complaints to HR were dismissed because the manager was a high performer. She said Uber continued to ignore her complaints to HR, and then her manager threatened to fire her for reporting things to HR
The New York Times then published further details of other abuses involving sexual harassment and drug use.
The company hired Eric Holder, former US attorney general, to lead an independent investigation, which saw more revelations and eventually 20 staff were fired.
In June, CEO and company founder Travis Kalanick stood down.
Further problems saw the Google self-driving-car group, now known as Waymo, accuse Uber of using stolen technology to advance its own autonomous-car development. The law suit, filed in the US District Court in San Francisco, claimed that a team of ex-Google engineers stole the company's design for the lidar laser sensor that allows self-driving cars to map the environment around them.
So it has truly been an “Annus Horribilis” for the car hire company, with its global reputation in the taters. The new management will certainly have their work cut out, not least the way it treats its workers, if next year doesn’t prove to be worse than this year.
Published by Unionline
Thursday, 30 November 2017
published - Wanstead and Woodford Guardian - 30/11/2017
Ilford Recorder - 7/12/2017
Monday, 27 November 2017
It's the magic of players like Payet, Di Canio and Brooking the fans want to see, not a record of how many miles players have run in a match
The drag backs, step overs and pull downs of the ball. The brilliant free kicks. The sense of anticipation as the ball looped over to Payet, what would he do with it next? It was the sort of exhileration that fans were happy to pay their money to see - the exciting, the unusual.
Payet ofcourse fell from grace and left the club, things have never been the same since.
We now have work rate continually discussed, have the players run far enough, are they fit enough. The result is all that matters, we must "grind out" some results is the regular cry. Avoid the drop, sack the manager. Hang on a minute is this not an entertainments business?
All a far cry from that final Upton Park season. Payet didn't tackle back but nor did Paulo di Canio or Trevor Brooking in their time. These players were the artists of football, not the journeymen putting in the miles. Players who lifted the game to a new level of entertainment beyond the attritional business of so much we see today. Players that the fans loved to see and be thrilled by week in week out - it's what makes the beautiful game beautiful.
Saturday, 25 November 2017
- published - morning star - 26/11/2017
Thursday, 23 November 2017
The Bishops Conference of England and Wales (BCEW) has confirmed that the Catholic Association for Racial Justice has been stripped of its (will no longer be an) status as a Church agency.
Founded in 1984, CARJ became an agency of the BCEW in 2002. A bishop always sat as president on the board of CARJ, with Migration Bishop Pat Lynch being the last such individual to occupy that role.
The organisation has been largely funded by the proceeds of a collections taken up on the national Racial Justice Sunday (second Sunday of September) each year. The collection began in 1995 and has been taken up every year since.
A statement from the BCEW confirmed that “CARJ is no longer an agency of the Bishops Conference.”
On the subject of Racial Justice Sunday, the BCEW confirmed that Racial Justice Sunday will continue, with a voluntary collection. “As agreed with the board (of CARJ), next year CARJ will receive some of the money from this collection,”said the BCEW spokesperson.
The BCEW were non-committal as to whether the removal of CARJ from agency status amounted to a downgrading of racial justice as a priority, suggesting instead that the focus had shifted to the area of human trafficking.
Yogi Sutton, chair of CARJ, said:”We in CARJ accept that the Bishops Conference wish to give priority to the issue of ‘migrants, refugees and trafficking.
Thursday, 16 November 2017
A recent report from the World Health Organisation declared that millions of people in the UK were inhaling air that is too dangerous to breath.
The lack of concern among so many people regarding pollution is amazing. There is now a pollution epidemic, whereby we are effectively poisoning ourselves and our children in order to live environmentally destructive lifestyles
published in the Universe - 17/11/2017
Tuesday, 14 November 2017
Tuesday, 7 November 2017
published 8/11/2017 Morning Star - "Moyes and West Ham could be the perfect fit"
Sunday, 5 November 2017
Wednesday, 1 November 2017
The Universal Basic Income (UBI) is an idea that has been picking up support over recent years but it is one over which the Left needs to assert ownership.
The UBI is a radical idea that has drawn supporters on the left like John Kenneth Galbraith and Milton Friedman on the right.
The idea appealed on the left on the grounds of redistribution of wealth for the good of all, equality and egalitarianism. The appeal to the right is in cutting the power of the coercive state, reducing welfare and “promoting freedom.”
The driving forces for the idea now come with the increasing levels of automation going on worldwide and the need to find solutions to welfare provision.
The idea resonates with the outlook in the 1970s, when it was predicted that in the future there would be shorter working weeks, more leisure time and earlier retirement ages. These predictions remember existed long before the internet came along.
Then came Margaret Thatcher with the neoliberal model, which promptly saw the opposite occur with longer working weeks, less pay and an ever more distant retirement age.
However, despite the damage caused over the past 30 years by the neoliberal model, the underlying motors of development foreseen in the 1970s have continued to grow.
Ironically, it has been some of the features of neoliberalism that have helped accelerate the demand for the UBI today.
So the neoliberal model has led to a very polarised society with “the 1 per cent” at the top, with fewer and fewer people coming to hold most of the wealth.
The wealthy don’t spend money in the same way that the poor do, they often store it away or place it offshore — so demand in the economy falters.
This problem will be exacerbated in a world where there is a growing population but fewer jobs due to automation.
In the future, many ask where will the money come from to create that demand to keep the wheels of market capitalism turning?
In Britain, the recognition of the crisis in capitalism has seen the tentative efforts to raise the minimum wage to a living level and extend personal tax allowances, taking many people out of tax.
Many questions remain of course. Such as what would be the motivation for people to work if they were receiving UBI?
The level would inevitably be low so many would want to work anyway. On this point there are concerns from unions that UBI could be set too low, thereby cutting welfare, while not providing adequate compensation via payment.
UBI though is gaining support.
The Finnish government is experimenting with the idea, making tax-free monthly payments of £300 to a random sample of 10,000 adults of working age, as part of a two-year experiment. Some 20 municipalities in the Netherlands are conducting similar experiments.
Ironically, it would seem the advance of capitalism in its present form seems likely to make UBI inevitable in the medium to long term. There simply will not be the jobs and subsequently demand for products.
Funding for the UBI is likely in the main to come from general taxation, with the sums no doubt taking some balancing.
However, the idea is an exciting one, brought about in many ways by the ongoing contradictions of the capitalist market system model. It is an idea of which that the left needs to take ownership. In that respect, it has been good to see Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell and several unions, including Unite, giving support to the idea Not all though are convinced with Labour MP Jon Cruddas a vehement critic.
There is though much to be resolved before a Labour government could adopt such an idea, which is why the debate needs to be taking place now.
Wednesday, 25 October 2017
A stalwart of the Greenham Common protest against the siting of US nuclear weapons on UK soil, Sarah has continued her struggle for nuclear disarmament across the world.
Most recently Sarah was part of a group of the women who handed over a Commemorative garden to the struggle against nuclear weapons to the people of Newbury.
For Sarah, the whole concept of nuclear weapons runs contrary to the word of God. “Nuclear weapons will finish off the planet through which God’s creation finds a way to live out the life given to it,” she said.
Sarah found Greenham Common a highly spiritual place, where she was able to channel her anger by getting involved.
Sarah will celebrate her 90th birthday at a party with family and friends in Wanstead.
*published Universe - 3/11/2017 Also Ilford Recorder and Wanstead & Woodford Guardian - 2/11/2017
Saturday, 21 October 2017
*published Morning Star - 21/10/2017
Friday, 13 October 2017
*Published in the Universe - 13/10/2017
Thursday, 5 October 2017
The use of a screen behind the stage to provide a commentary of the political events over the years is a good way to bring a background context to the narrative.
*Runs at the Noel Coward theatre until 2 December
*published in Morning Star - 17/10/2017 - "No love lost in this old v new labour slug fest"
Tuesday, 3 October 2017
Sad passing of Rodney Bickerstaffe, a man who always had a ready quip, no more so than when he confirmed that Thatcher and Blair were right about his being a bastard
I met Rodney at Bruce Kent's 85th birthday party a few years ago. We spent practically the whole afternoon talking about the Labour Party, trade unions, journalism and Catholics.
Then a couple of years ago Rodney came down to speak at Labour Party fundraiser at the Star of India for Leyton and Wanstead MP John Cryer.
It was then that he confirmed that the assertions of Thatcher and later Tony Blair that he was a bastard were actually factually correct, with the conceiving process having taken part in the local hospital, Whipps Cross, back in 1945- see full story below. It was a great night with Rodney on sparkling form. A great man, who will be much missed. RIP
Friday, 10 April 2015
Rodney Bickerstaffe confirms "bastard" jibe was correct
* see Independent - 10/4/2015
Saturday, 23 September 2017
Harry Kane lauded as "one of the best strikers in the world" as Spurs take all three points at the London Stadium
*"Kane able to be "one of the world's best strikers" - Morning Star - 25/9/2017