Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Pride of Lions

In itself, this can be seen as the taking of three minutes to say nothing. 

Nevertheless, “I can today announce that we are now extremely close to confirming new grading proposals which will mark a sea change from where we were previously. Watch for an update on the review being carried out of roles, responsibilities and job descriptions of teaching assistants from Leader of the Council, Cllr Simon Henig.”

We shall, Simon. We shall, indeed.

It is the Teaching Assistants themselves who have fought so very, very hard for this. The rest of us have been the ancillaries here, and proud to be so. I, for example, secured the endorsement of their cause by several national trade union leaders in the Northern Echo on 3rd August 2016. I secured their landmark meeting with Jeremy Corbyn on the eve of last year’s Miners’ Gala. And I secured the support that George Galloway expresses for them regularly on his radio programme, and routinely to his quarter of a million followers on Twitter, as well as at least once in a letter to the Northern Echo.

All credit, though, is the TAs’ own. I could not have been more privileged to have played even so small a part in their justly legendary campaign.

As we approach the County Council election on 4th May, we must all continue to provide powerful criticism of the treatment of the Teaching Assistants, of the closure of the DLI Museum, of the amassing of vast reserves while services have been and are being cut, of the bailing out of Durham County Cricket Club despite those cuts, of the mismanagement of relations with the Regional Assembly, of the selling off of care homes at discounted value, of the scandal of Windlestone Hall, of the circumstances that necessitated the award of enormous compensation to a teacher, of the substantial additional cost of the failure to pay that compensation promptly, and of the lavish expense of entertainment by senior Councillors and Officers.

Some of us are also working on an enormous proposal that will unite the trade unions with the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Independents in very stark contrast to the last third of a century, during which, even while the then Labour MP for Sedgefield was the Prime Minister for 10 years, Labour in County Durham has merely managed the poverty that its own leading figures have so conspicuously evaded.

Everything now hinges on who will be the new Leader of Durham County Council.

The Traditions In Which We Stand

Although, despite several assurances, this does not seem to have made it into print anywhere, it is a matter of record, and it will be pursued:

Dear Sir,

As the proprietor of the whole of Sky, Rupert Murdoch might do some good. We represent positions that the BBC simply ignores. 

The workers, and not the liberal bourgeoisie, as the key swing voters. Identity issues located within the struggle for economic equality and for international peace. The leading role in the defence of universal public services of those who would otherwise lack basic amenities, and in the promotion of peace of those who would be the first to be called upon to die in wars. The decision of the EU referendum by areas that vote Labour, Liberal Democrat or Plaid Cymru. 

Opposition from the start to the failed programme of economic austerity. Against all Governments since 1997, opposition to the privatisation of the NHS and other public services, to the persecution of the disabled, to the assault on civil liberties, to every British military intervention during that period, to Britain’s immoral and one-sided relationship with Saudi Arabia, and to the demonisation of Russia.

Rejection of any approach to climate change which would threaten jobs, workers’ rights, the right to have children, travel opportunities, or universal access to a full diet. Rescue of issues such as male suicide, men’s health, and fathers’ rights from those whose economic and other policies have caused the problems. And refusal to recognise racists, Fascists or opportunists as the authentic voices of the accepted need to control immigration. 

We respectfully request that Mr Murdoch identify and include representatives of the traditions in which we stand.

Yours faithfully,
David Lindsay, 2017 council candidate and 2020 parliamentary candidate, Lanchester, County Durham; @davidaslindsay
Sean Caden, Leeds; @HUNSLETWHITE
Ronan Dodds, Newcastle upon Tyne, @RonanDodds
James Draper, Lanchester, County Durham
Nicholas Hayes, Durham; @Nicholas_Sho
Connor Hodgson-Brunniche, Cramlington, Northumberland; @Randomaited
Krystyna Koseda, Essex; @kossy65
John Mooney, Lurgan, County Armagh
Aren Pym, West Cornforth, County Durham; @arenpym
Gavin Thompson, Newcastle upon Tyne; @GavinLThompson
Matt Turner, Nottingham; @MattTurner4L
Adam Young, Burnopfield, County Durham; @JustALocalSerf

I Challenge Tony Blair

This letter of mine appears in today’s Northern Echo, and may well turn up elsewhere over the next couple of days:

Dear Sir,

At 11 o’clock this morning, Tuesday 21st March 2017, listeners to Radio Four were treated to the latest of Tony Blair’s increasingly frequent political interventions, this time bewailing the disarray of the political “centrism” that is in fact nothing more than his own collection of opinions.

In 2020, I shall be contesting the new seat of Durham West and Teesdale, most of which is where Pat Glass MP will be retiring. I shall be doing so without any party designation, not even the word “Independent”. I am not a member of any political party, but I am part of numerous partially overlapping networks of political interdependence locally, nationally and internationally. 

Since he has taken to reasserting himself in British politics, I challenge Tony Blair to declare that he is the Labour candidate for this open seat here in his old County Durham stomping ground. Either that, or to shut up and go away. 

Yours faithfully,

David Lindsay

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Summer Lightning

There are three elections to win this summer.

They are the removal of Labour from Durham County Council (including for a very specific post-Brexit reason; watch this space), the return of George Galloway to Parliament at Manchester Gorton, and the re-election of Len McCluskey as General Secretary of Unite.

All within the context of supporting Jeremy Corbyn and of securing the People's Brexit.

At a rally at the Durham Miners' Hall last night, it was confirmed that Len would be joining Jeremy as a platform speaker at this year's Durham Miners' Gala.

Those of us who will by then have taken control of the Council will also march at that, and, if I may, I hope that at least one of the triumphant Teaching Assistants will also speak.

And, while hoping for him on the platform might be a bit much, one very much hopes to see George, one of the two strongest supporters of the Durham Teaching Assistants among national politicians (with Grahame Morris), and the strongest of all those without constituencies in County Durham, at this year's Big Meeting.

In the meantime, see you all on Saturday at the Teaching Assistants' march, which will begin outside the Gala Theatre at 12 noon, and end in what promises to be a fabulous rally at the Miners' Hall.

Friday, 10 March 2017

We Are Many

Come along to the Durham Miners' Hall on Monday at 7pm, and see this, introduced by your humble candidate. Apparently, I am that important. News to me, but there we are. There is talk of asking for £2:50 on the door, so be prepared. But don't worry, none of that will be going to me.

Morally and Politically Obligatory

Although I am sorry that the names of the other signatories have been omitted, this letter of mine appears in today’s Northern Echo

There are five groups on Durham County Council, plus two completely independent independents.

But only Labour members voted against the teaching assistants.

None voted in support of the campaign that has electrified the trade union movement and the Left throughout the country, thereby earning international attention.

Yet that campaign has been endorsed by the Leader of the Labour Party, at the largest working-class and left-wing event in Europe, the Durham Miners’ Gala, in front of at least 150,000 people and the television cameras. Only the Conservatives abstained, although that does make the Labour Group objectively “worse than the Tories”.

It is therefore not only reasonable, but morally and politically obligatory, to call for the election of no Labour candidate whatever to that Council on May 4.

And then, what? A Cabinet position for every non-Labour Group and for those of no group, with the numbers made up based on their relative size. The same for scrutiny chairs, obviously never mirroring the portfolios of their respective partisans. And representation on each committee and subcommittee in proportion to their numbers on the authority as a whole.

Such is the support that has been attracted by the Durham teaching assistants, the Lions of Durham as once there were Lions of Grunwick, that Labour’s loss of overall control, and indeed its loss of every seat, will be heard from the souks to the favelas, from the Dalit colonies to the Rohingya camps, and from Crimea, to Kashmir, to the scattered outposts of Diego Garcia.

David Lindsay, 2017 council candidate and 2020 parliamentary candidate, Lanchester, County Durham