Who defended the RMT on the Greater London Assembly?

RTEmagicC_Val_on_the_Tube.jpgOn 10 June the Tories submitted a motion to a full meeting of the Greater London Assembly condemning the strike by the RMT then taking place.

Val shawcross, Labour member of the assembly for Lambeth and Southwark moved an amendment to this motion.

Not one which defended the strike, but one which criticised the Mayor, boris Johnson, for not being out there sufficiently and sharing the inconvience.

On the strike itself she was falling over herself to join the condemnation of it.

Even against a Tory mayor the Labour party cannot bring itself to back a strike. Strikes are bad, period. And those who still think that they might be useful to defend workers’ living standards, well they are should be treated like naughty children.

She compared favourably Ken Livingstone’s previous administration (still lauded by some as the acme of progressive politics) to Boris’s: “Ken Livingstone was always very clear to the unions, from early on, before there were any difficulties, that… he would never reward bad behaviour… offers were never improved after strike ballots begun”

So there you have it. Not only striking, just having a ballot is no longer acceptable to New Labour.

Just in case we may not have grasped their position on the strike she had to ram it home “We are extremely unhappy with this strike and we are extremely unhappy with the RMT”

This flow of denunciation was then joined by Caroline Pigeon, a Lib Dem assembly member and a councillor for Southwark’s Newington Ward.

Richard Barnbrook attacked the strike too, apparently “Crow has no allegiance to democracy”, which is rich coming from the BNP.

jonesj2So Jenny Jones, a Green Party member of the the assembly, and a councillor in Southwark, had the floor clear to be the left opposition. And this is what she said:

“I do come from an Old Labour family, I don’t know that I have confessed that before, so I do have a slight sympathy for unions, because I think they have had a bad press since the days of Thatchr.

My dad was a union member all his life, a loyal union member, but he was never called out on strike, he was never tested in that way, because unions do obviously have a role, they are expected to protect the rights of workers to protect pay and conditions, for working people.

But what I have actually realised from reading all the stuff I’ve been able to on this on this particular strike, I just don’t know what happened. I just don’t know.
I’m sure TFL worked really hard to prevent the strike. I’m even sure the Mayor did his bit, I disagree with John [Biggs, Labour member for City and East] that the Mayor hasn’t shown any leadership, this strike has made the Mayor look good.

And I really resent that. You know, that shouldn’t have happened. You know massive disruption for millions of Londoners, huge costs to the economy, and to people who had to find other more expensive ways of getting into work, and in addition the Mayor looks good.

He’s out and about, he’s taking river transport, he’s cycling, and he’s being tough on the radio, it’s a disaster, an absolute disaster.

It was probably right to bring this motion, but you know, its tacky, a political move, I just can’t be bothered with this sort of political move. You’re not really taking into account the fact that Mayor over the last year probably has not done his bit. And so I’m going to abstain on this.

I think you are possibly right to bring the motion [addressed to the Tory members], but if you had worded it in a different way, I would have supported it wholeheartedly, but I’m not going to support it as it is.”

Jenny Jones abstained in the vote.

The video of the whole session of the Asembly is available at the GLA webcast page here.

The debate on the Tory motion condemning the strike starts at 1 hour 52. It makes interesting viewing and tells you a lot about how total the political consensus is now.

Val Shacross’s speech starts at 1 hour 27 mins.

Jenny Jones speech starts at 2 hours 4 mins in.

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14 Comments

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14 responses to “Who defended the RMT on the Greater London Assembly?

  1. Neil Williams

    This is the reality of Green politics in power – not much different to New Labour or Lib Dems. Very much like the Greens supporting the closure of schools in Lewisham.

  2. Neil. The Greens in Lewisham are being criticised for wanting to build schools not close them down.

  3. Neil Williams

    Jim but what type of schools do they want to build and which schools are being closed for it to happen?

  4. Neil Williams

    Not sure how reliable this report is but it does give the background and confirms my origional post.

    Lewisham Council did want to shut the Lewisham Bridge Primary School and replace the school with an all through 3-16yr school run by the private company Leathersellers. The Coucil decision was supported by the Greens who appear to want the parents of thr protest at Bridge Primary Shool to give up their protest and acccpt the new 3- 16 school.

    Here is the link:
    http://www.permanentrevolution.net/entry/2738

  5. They want to build a state run community school to accomodate some of the 23% of kids who are having to go to school outside of the area at the current time.

    To do this a small school was to be redeveloped so the site could accomodate something like 800 more kids. The kids at that school had to temporarily go to a different site.

    Labour and the Lib Dems have insisted this new school is to be privately run, the Greens opposed this but lost. Contrary to some of the comments I’ve seen people making on the net the Greens have never voted for the new school to be private and have been very clear they are for it to be a community school.

  6. Some proper background info for you… there have been three motions on the school – these are the motions and how people voted.

    1. MOTION 2006
    “This Council wholeheartedly endorses the decision by Mayor and Cabinet to select Lewisham Bridge as its preferred site for the new school to create an all-through 3-16 integrated school. This Council therefore agrees to work constructively with Mayor and Cabinet to minimise the risks associated with this project and overcome any potential obstacles in order to ensure the new school is delivered by the target date of 2010. This Council also wishes to congratulate the long-standing and vigorous campaign run by the Save Ladywell Campaign and The School for New Cross/Local Education by Parents groups. In particular this council commends the significant roles played by both Max Calo and former Councillor Helen Le Fevre”.

    The motion was supported by Labour, Lib-Dems, Greens, Conservatives and Socialists and passed unanimously.

    2. MOTION 18 July 2007
    “This Council notes with disapointment the decision of the then Secretary of State for Education not to grant Lewisham exemption from the competition requirements of the Education Act for the purpose of establishing a new all-age school (with primary and secondary provision) on the Lewisham Bridge site. Given that the only legal possibility now for Lewisham to build a new community school for the north of the borough is for the Council to enter a competition process under the terms of the Education Act, we call upon the Mayor to apply to the new Secretary of State for the necessary approval to be given for the council to submit a proposal for a community school on the Lewisham Bridge site.”

    This motion was proposed by the Socialists and supported by the Lib-Dems and Greens. Sadly, the motion was opposed by Labour and the Conservatives and was defeated 26 votes to 20.

    3. MOTION 20 MAY 2009
    “This council reaffirms its commitment to addressing the need for additional secondary school places in the North of the borough and the growing demand for primary school places boroughwide; notes that a review of the decision by English Heritage to list Lewisham Bridge Primary School has been sought by the Council; understands the concerns of parents about the impact of the current decant upon their children’s education; therefore calls upon the Mayor to review these arrangements at the earliest possible opportunity; and further calls upon the Mayor to explore all options for building an all through school at Lewisham Bridge.”

    This motion was supported by Labour, Lib-Dems, Greens and Conservatives and opposed by the Socialists. In the debate, the Green councillors made clear their continued regret that neither the Government nor the Mayor were willing to pursue the community school option and Greens made clear that they expected the new school to be returned to local authority control by any genuinely progressive future government.

  7. antonio labriola

    I note that Jim Jay refers to the school dispute in Lewisham. I am unfamiliar with that one but how about Jenny Jones and the RMT then Jim? She reminds me of the Greens in Hackney when the cuts were taking place in 2001. Their councillor stood up at a public meeting of workers facing huge job losses and wage cuts and said ‘Look, there are two sides to everything’. He was roundly booed off thank god. Petit bourgeois to the core when it comes to it. They have more in common with the owners of the overpriced shops of stoke newington church street selling fat candle sticks and incense for twenty quid than the working people of Hackney which is why in the first mayoral election people voted for Paul Foot rather then the bloke who stood for the greens. It is the absence of a left party that allows petit bourgoeis and middle class organisations like the greens soak up left votes.

  8. Antonio, I’m happy to talk about Jenny if you like.

    Whilst I note that the Greens were the only ones who did not vote for this motion (which actually does not show they are the same as everyone else as they were alone in that position) I too would have like to have seen them vote against.

    Jenny’s speech, whilst not being anti-union per se, I think is mistaken when she says she doesn’t support this particular strike. It’s perfectly acceptible to my mind to think about things before supporting them, no one is owed automatic allegance – but in this case I think people should (and in many cases did) support the strikes.

    I’ve got no idea about the ins and outs of Hackney’s political past so can’t comment on it – but I can say that Paul Foot will be dearly missed and that I was proud to come down and help him campaign in that election.

    I’ll also be proud to help out Matt Sellwood, a socialist and anti-capitalist Green who is standing in Hackney at the General Election.

  9. antonio labriola

    In which case you will be standing against the rest of the left in hackney for petit bourgeois middle class organisation – well done. Re Jenny Jones, glad to see that you think ‘not being anti-union per se’ is a description of someone unable to take the side of the militant and effective trade unionin the country. Is that the best that the Green Party can do?

  10. jim jay “I’ll also be proud to help out Matt Sellwood, a socialist and anti-capitalist Green who is standing in Hackney at the General Election.”

    Will the Greens be standing against Respect in Bethnal Green and Bow (Abjol Miah), Poplar and Limehouse (George Galloway), Birmingham Hall Green (Salma Yaqoob), Bristol North West (Jerry Hicks), Manchester Blackley (Key Philips) and Southwark/Camberwell (Nick Wrack)?

    Are the Greens prepared to talk to others on the Left about the general election or are their plans once again set in concrete?

  11. Jim Jay is seeking to muddy the waters.

    If the Green Party are so pro-actively in support of the working class parents occupying a school in opposition to privatisation (though I have heard from local people the complete opposite that they have supported the sell-out and voted for it in council with the exception of one of their 6 councillors who abstained) then why does Lewisham Green Party mention nothing about the 6 week occupation on their website? Nor any messages of support for the parents on the blogs of the Green Party councillors? Only messages trying to smear the Socialist Party councillors in the borough who have supported the campaign to defend education from the privateers.

    Why did Green Left have a motion (that wasn’t passed) to censure the Green Party councillors in Lewisham?

    As Joseph Healey, from Green Left reports on his blog:

    ‘The issue of the Lewisham Bridge school campaign was raised, where the protesters are still on the roof after a campaign lasting many weeks but are about to be evicted. There were very strong views expressed about the actions of some Green councillors in Lewisham on this issue but a motion of censure was defeated and it was agreed to bring this to autumn conference instead.’

    People like Derek Wall come across as quite likeable and I found one of his books a stimulating and enjoyable read, but the actual record of the Green Party in power at local government level – as a whole – is no better than the mainstream parties.

    Talking of Jenny Jones, let us also never forget that she opposed the sacking of Sir Ian Blair over the public execution of Jean Charles De Menezes.

  12. Antonio “In which case you will be standing against the rest of the left in hackney” Really – is the ‘rest of the left’ standing at the elections? First I heard about it – tell me more. I wonder how well the ‘rest of the left’ will do? They sound really menacing and impressive.

    By the way I don’t think you know what the word “petit bourgeois” means.

    Neil, I don’t know about all those places but I do know that not only have the Greens made electoral arrangements with the left before (including Respect) Salma has a very good chance of being supported by us. I think Tower Hamlets Greens are in two camps re standing down for Respect and we’ll have to see which camp gets their way.

    I would suggest that if you wanted to help the side that advocates standing down petulant attacks on the Greens will actually undermine their arguments and make them standing down in Respect’s favour much less likely.

    The fact is we don’t respond well to be shouted at, and don’t automatically stand down in places just because a left organisation demands that we do. The left needs to understand it’s organisations are small and don’t carry much weight in the wider community so these postures of greatness often come across as a bit silly to those outside of the groupescules.

    Adamski: you’re seeking to muddy the waters by claiming something I’ve never said “If the Green Party are so pro-actively in support of the working class parents occupying a school in opposition to privatisation” I didn’t say that – I said we’re opposed to privatisation and have been from the start and are still.

    I was being very clear and backed my statements up with facts – you on the other hand pretended I said something I clearly had not said.

    The Socialist Party smeer us by saying we’re for privatisation – it isn’t true. We have very little to say about them because, frankly, they’re small beer and – take note – not the enemy.

    I never claimed the Greens were pro-actively in support of the occupation. But then again the parents of the school aren’t pro-actively in support of the occupation either. They are notable by their absence in the occupation and on the demo.

    Why did an organisation I’m not a member of put a motion and not pass it? Ummm… who cares? If this is the sort of thing you think is relevant then you are all out of whack.

    Re Jenny Jones. Yep. She’s done and said some terrible things. I agree. This current thing is not the worst by a long, long chalk.

    • antonio labriola

      I think, Jim, you need to realise that the Green Party in Hackney is not of the left – it is a replacement for the liberal democrats in the borough – a petit bourgeois opposition based on the small shop keepers of Stoke Newington Church Street. As you know, there is a strong left in Hackney, that is why Paul Foot smashed the Greens in the mayoral election (thanks for your help in doing that by the way). The Green Party went a funny colour that night. It is the Hackney left’s problem that they have not challenged since but the signs are very promising for 2010.

      Your ignorance of Hackney poltics is quite surprising so perhaps you need to get in contact with Micha or Mark to get a sense of the middle class nature of the vote in the borough which is why the Green Party in Hackney has never publicly blocked with the left.

  13. Pingback: Are the Greens an alterantive? « The Junius Blog

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