17 January 2006

When anyone sticks their neck out and challenges conventional wisdom on a number of subjects they have to be prepared for a torrent of abuse. I'm not really that surprised by the abuse I have received. In fact it is probably a sign that I am doing something right. Look back at those who challenged the accepted wisdom of their time and how they were ridiculued and personally attacked, only for their ideas to eventually become accepted wisdom itself, the list is endless.

I am an amateur just voicing an opinion, I'm not the cleverest in debate I'll admit and some of my arguments have been clumsily put to say the least. I'm also plainly not brains of Britain, I sometimes get things wrong and even perhaps contradict myself, (though in my defence I would say that is relatively rare).

But saying all that, I have been open and honest and I think there are a lot of opinions here, on this site, that needed to be said.

There are very few people out there pointing out the absurdity of religion (A lot of people think it but won't speak up). Dawkins's Channel 4 show that concluded yesterday, is probably the first time that direct criticism of religion has been shown on peaktime television. Why is that?

A massive number of those people that oppose abortion and homosexuality or stem cell research, oppose these things because of their religious views. I don't think this is right, religion is not a sensible reason for making a judgement on anything. This needs to be pointed out, and I'm not going to be held back by consensus or some strange respect for religion that is totally undeserved. There is this view amongst a lot of people (not just religious people) that religion is beyond criticism. This view is not good for our democracy.

Then there are the civil liberties intelligentsia. They ridicule anyone who questions their holier than though principles. There is in particular a very lazy blanket criticism of New Labour and Tony Blair that misses the crucial point that the other parties are worse.

Innocent until proven guilty is of the upmost importance. This is a principle that should always be aimed towards. But saying that, it has to be recognised with any principle that there are practical considerations.

When it comes to dealing with low level anti-social behaviour, the expensive inefficient criminal justice system is failing us.

The obvious answer is that it is the inefficiency and expensive nature of this system that needs fixing. And this is part of the answer but not all. The proper due legal process is necessarily expensive and time consuming. It is also debatable whether this added expense makes all that much difference in getting the judgement right. But I would defend vigorously the need for this due process in making sure the innocent are protected as much as possible in serious cases. But there are always going to be errors, no system is perfect and for low level prosecution the practical considerations of cost and time need to be taken into account. This to me seems obvious.

25 comments:

  1. When anyone sticks their neck out and challenges conventional wisdom on a number of subjects they have to be prepared for a torrent of abuse. I'm not really that surprised by the abuse I have received.

    That would be perfectly fair, if you did challenge the conventional wisdom. But you don't. You lazily parrot the New Labour populist authoritarian viewpoint on every issue. You embody the conventional wisdom. That, and your total lack of respect for the opinions and arguments of those who cordially disagree with you, is why you get a lot of flak.

    You moan a lot about the right-wing press, but you're lined up with them squarely on the particular issue of summary justice. You've practically written a Daily Mail leader column...

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  2. The obvious answer is that it is the inefficiency and expensive nature of this system that needs fixing.

    Well, you've correctly identified the problem; but you've not looked at why it's expensive or inefficient, why now rather than in the past, and so on - you've just gone for the Daily Mail solution of indiscriminantly dishing out punishments until things improve. Have you, for example, read http://coppersblog.blogspot.com/ , a police officer who describes the trouble that "targets" and spurious paperwork have wrought in the police force?

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  3. Peter: I have read coppersblog on a number of occasions. Much as he is right to point out the ridiculousness of some of the police's procedures, he is quite a reactionary. He lives up to the racist, sexist unthinking stereotype that a lot of think about the police.

    There is undoubtedly horrific bureaucracy in all areas of the public sphere including the police.

    You also have to remember that this is not always down to government dictats. The police are largely inefficient because it is easier FOR THEM.

    Why get involved in difficult tasks or put yourself in danger when you can get away with parking in a layby having a cosy chat with your workmate or stay in drinking coffee in the police station pretending to do paperwork?

    This is of course the fault of lazy management, which is of course the result of government's getting things wrong. But what is the alternative? Privatise the police force?

    Andrew: I'd imagine that most of the criticism you have thrown at me in the past is for being too left wing, now you accuse me of writing a Daily Mail column.

    Much as I hate the Daily Mail, I would imagine they occasionally get something right (though I imagine it's for different reasons than me that they support Tony's respect agenda).

    In this case I believe the conventional wisdom of the civil liberties intelligentsia (backed by the criminal justice system's self interest at maintaining their high salaries) is gullty of lazy criticism of Tony and New Labour.

    As I have stated many times before, there are plenty of policies I have criticised this government for on this blog - reneging on its promise of a referendum on electoral reform chief amongst them.

    I have also criticised the govt for not joining the Euro, a massive mistake in my opinion, not having a complete smoking ban in public places (although we might still get this), not going far enough in reducing congestion, for locking up more people than any other country in Europe when restorative justice is better and not going far enough with redistribution.

    I do however recognise the problems they face in implementing these policies when faced with such a hostile media.

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  4. When anyone sticks their neck out and challenges conventional wisdom on a number of subjects they have to be prepared for a torrent of abuse. I'm not really that surprised by the abuse I have received. In fact it is probably a sign that I am doing something right. Look back at those who challenged the accepted wisdom of their time and how they were ridiculued and personally attacked, only for their ideas to eventually become accepted wisdom itself, the list is endless.


    -- Neil Harding


    But the fact that some geniuses were laughed at does not imply that all who are laughed at are geniuses. They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright Brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown.


    -- Carl Sagan

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  5. Eben Upton17/1/06 1:42 pm

    I have also criticised the govt for not joining the Euro, a massive mistake in my opinion

    Why?

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  6. I'd imagine that most of the criticism you have thrown at me in the past is for being too left wing

    Not at all. Once again, you misunderstand the point of political debate. Any time I have criticised you, it is because I believe you are just wrong, not because I believe you are too left wing.

    Incidentally, it says a lot that you seem to judge policy and political argument on the basis of which group the proponent belongs to. If David Cameron had proposed the Respect agenda before Tony Blair, my guess is that you wouldn't have supported it.

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  7. Neil there's as strong an argument from evolutionary biology for religion as there is for democracy. You, merely because you are a liberal left wing educated person, think that with a touch of socialism and a touch of authoritarianism you can do better than either the organised church or that which the current judicary has to offer.

    They want to ban abortion in order to increase their control over women making their relationships easier, and growing their numbers.

    You want to "streamline" the justice system to ensure people respect the goverment, making their project easier, their budget balenced and their majority larger.

    They invoke a greater God, you invoke a greater social good that is inalienable.

    You haven't yet come to the conclusion that the best solution for the criminal classes is to keep them happy by removing their free will if the police think they are up to something dodgy, or forcing them to confess all on pain of immolation, but your "what do the innocent have to fear from the state" gets close. But now we have blurred the line of innocence and guilt from a morral absolute to some post-modern conceptual view. You are innocent only if the particular plod you get thinks you're respectable and or doing things which don't look suspicious or anti social (such as ringing a bell at the cenotaph), if you disagree you are wasting taxpayers money and will be fined costs, which your civil insurance company will refuse to pay on the grounds it would be cheaper for all concerened if you just confessed you were guilty - just for the file.

    A system more open to abuse I cannot immagine, but that's ok because I'm rich and respectable. I'd hate to be ethnic and poor and in the wrong place when PC Plod realises that he needs to buck up to get his performance related pay bonus in time for christmas.

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  8. peter clay17/1/06 4:14 pm

    Another one for consideration:
    http://randomreality.blogware.com/blog/_archives/2006/1/16/1677259.html

    EMT assisting a drunk who's collapsed in the street gets punched by him, in the presence of two police officers. Nothing is done about it. This sort of thing seems to be routine. It's clearly not just "anti-social behaviour" but actual assault, which is a crime. There are no complex evidence issues. But nothing is done.

    There are already enough powers to do something about the situation. The requirements of due process - a few witness statements - are easy enough. But nothing is done. Why? And would giving the police more powers help, if they are not willing to use the ones they have?

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  9. Neil, does it not concern you that every time you come out with a new idea, there ensues the intellectual equivalent of a snuff movie?

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  10. Pete: Maybe I am bozo the clown.

    Eben: It would have been tough initially (like Ireland, we might have had serious problems with inflation) but joining the Euro would have secured long term foreign investment and made us sort out the distabilising effect of variable lending.

    I think the risks of the Euro collapsing are very very remote so the risks were miniscule. Joining the Euro would have helped cut our ridiculously large trade deficit by freeing up the European market even more and expanding trade there (most of our deficit is with Asian countries, our balance of trade with Europe is closer to surplus). By not doing this our companies are missing out on the expansion opportunities of having no exchange rate costs in the European market. I also think our financial market is in jeopardy.

    I happen to think the economy is in a very ropey state in the longterm. I'm amazed we haven't had a recession yet. In fact the longer it goes on, the more convinced I am that we are heading for a huge crash. Saying that, with the stock market suddenly shooting up and house prices going up as well, it looks like it can't end, but it surely can't last forever...not with the massive levels of personal debt.

    Peter: "It's clearly not just "anti-social behaviour" but actual assault, which is a crime. There are no complex evidence issues. But nothing is done."

    This is exactly why we need summary justice. Assault is actually very common (largely drunken brawls), it would be impossible for the police to put together proper cases for all of them let alone the huge expense of putting it through the courts. In most of the minor cases a summary fine would be more effective.

    Policemen are like all of us, they are sometimes lazy and they also correctly realise that small offenses take their time away from more serious stuff. Putting together a proper case is necessarily difficult and time consuming. Even a conscientious policeman probably thinks I can't waste my time on this trivial assault when I have could be working on something more serious.

    And before you say we need more police, we already have more than we have ever had. To give ALL minor crime due process would need an infinite amount of resources, it just isn't practical.

    Andrew: "Any time I have criticised you, it is because I believe you are just wrong, not because I believe you are too left wing."

    I suppose that is why you constantly barrack me as NuLabour.

    I would hope that there are plenty of this govt's policies that you would agree with, but just like you focus on everything they do wrong, I focus on what's bad about Cameron and the Tories.

    That doesn't mean that I disagree with everything they do. I was really hoping that Cameron would stick to his position of legalising all drugs, but of course as Tory leader he has had to drop one of the few things I agreed with him about.

    I think the Tories are probably better at curtailing union powers, but apart from that there isn't much I like about them. They are a pretty nasty party, working on a purely selfish ideology and only interested in remunerating their wealthy constituency of voters through tax cuts. I prefer to err on the side of those from lower socio-economic backgrounds, which is why I vote and support Labour. Labour and Conservative are the only likely governments we are ever likely to get under this crap electoral system. It's a pretty shit choice.

    As it happens I care little for the Labour party. It is just a vehicle to get the policies I want. It would only take 2 policies to make me vote Tory, a promise of a referendum on electoral reform and a decent citizen's income. But I might as well wait for hell to freeze over before the Tories come off with those policies. When it comes to redistribution and electoral reform, Labour are the only party that might deliver that.

    Martin: So I should shut up should I, just because a lot of people don't agree with me. That tells me a lot Mr Keegan. You are far closer to fascism than I will ever be.

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  11. Neil, I don't think martin wants you to shut up, I think he wants to enter in a sane and sensible discussion of the issues.

    I fail completely to see how summary judgement will improve matters. It's arbitary and open to the exact sort of predudice that the progressive left has been trying to rid our society of since its inception.

    But then I don't think you're interesting in discussing rationally, or indeed if summary justice is a good or bad idea. You do know that you don't have to embrace everything The Dear Leader says. Rejecting his policies doesn't make you a bad person. It's OK.

    For the 2 months or so I've read your weblog, your modus operandi seems to be: find contravesial labour policy that sounds quite authoritarian, come up with pseudo intellectual justification and post on web log, be roundly condemmed, repeat. I think it's this that martin is commenting on. Specifically that you don't seem to be able to advance the cause for any of the ideas you espouse - to the point that you launched an ad hominem attack on him, usually the last refuge of the unjustifyable position.

    The intellectual debate here is as follows:

    1) We have a closed shop union, protected by statue, of lawyers. They have a monopoly on justice.

    2) In order to save time and money we have introduced a local community court to deal with the day to day crimes and filter work for the actual court, the magistrates.

    3) The courts take a dim view, gained by experience and various miscarriages of justice, of uncooberrated police evidence, and the police have to spend a large quantity of time making sure there is sufficient evidence to secure a guilty verdict or plea.


    4) The system is costing too much, and not working very well.


    5) The Dear Leader proposes to fix this problem by allowing the police to convict people on the spot acting as legislator, judge, prossecutor and jury.

    This raises the points

    6) What effect will this have on the respect for the police and the respect for law.

    7) What effect will this have on misscariages of justice, given that the legal training of the police is scant at best.

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  12. Eben Upton17/1/06 7:22 pm

    joining the Euro would have secured long term foreign investment

    Can you elaborate on this point a little? Is there actual evidence that we're losing out on FDI because we are outside the Eurozone?

    and made us sort out the distabilising effect of variable lending

    I assume you're talking about variable rate mortgage lending. This is an issue, but surely if there was a real appetite for change we could sort this out without joining the Euro.

    I also think our financial market is in jeopardy.

    Again, please elaborate? This isn't the old chestnut about the City losing business to Frankfurt is it?

    I think the risks of the Euro collapsing are very very remote so the risks were miniscule.

    So you think that giving up the BoE's ability to set interest rates in response to local economic conditions (one of Brown's few genuine policy triumphs) is risk free? Especially when the ECB seems to feel that the stability of interest rates is more important than the stability of the Eurozone economy itself.

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  13. Neil, those who don't know history are CONDEMNED to repeat it.
    (I will give you 5 points if you can tell me who first said that.)

    You should study history before you spout off about history.

    It is painfully obvious that you don't even know a grade school synopsis of the past 100 years.

    You can lead a man to knowledge, but you can't make him think.

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  14. Thank god someone is doing something about jury trial! What's so special about 12 people so stupid they couldn't work out how to get out of it? Juries are full of layabouts who are ignorant of the law. Michael Howard had a shot at this but the lilly-livered clot failed miserably.

    No respectible middle class person can afford justice in the country, only the very rich and those supported by the much abused legal aid system can. The endless beauocracy of the legal system slows the procedure down and, with the excessive fees charged by lawyers, put it completely out of the reach of the normal citizen. It's not suprising the police can't find the energy to prosecute people for anti-social behaviour.

    We happily accept the rule of barely trained magistrates in these offences, why should we denigrate our well respected and trained police. During the miner's strike they provided, in the face of much provokation, a fair a balanced approach helping both sides freely express their views, and only arresting those who steped well outside the law.

    Jury trial has always had a history of being only for the rich and priveledged in this country. Originally introduced as part of the Wantage Code by Ethelred, it was reserved for nobles, so that they wouldn't have to suffer the indignity and torture of the usual system but could be tried by a group of their friends, leaving the common man to fend for himself against the power of the state.

    It's high time the balance between the citizens and the criminals was re-established in this country. Far too much is said about the rights of the criminals. What about the right to life of the murdered? The property rights of the victims of theft? If the lawyers and civil rights activists have priced justice beyond the reach of the middle classes, then it is for them to replace it with a more direct fair and efficent method, and to hell with those left wing whingers who perpetually complain about errosion of basic liberties. If the right to trail by jury is such a basic right, how come its universality in America had to be established through ammendments to the consitution?

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  15. Anon: I've had discussions on here with Martin over the last few months. The discussion about ID cards and later PR went into around a hundred of fairly well mannered comments between the two of us, before it broke down into acrimony.

    Martin now claims that I changed my position on the practicality of biometrics and the govt's proposals for the NIR because ALL of my argument was ripped to pieces and that they had only just touched on the issues involved. Notice how this last comment of his is to just remind people of his superior intellect and that the only reason it took so long to explain the mere 'basics' of the issue was that I was unbelievably thick. Well I did change my mind and I believe that I asked a number of pertinent questions over the two months that elicited some very good responses.

    I had a number of people (who were opposed to ID cards) thank me for my robust defence of the govt's scheme because they learned a lot about different aspects of the scheme and its pluses and minuses.

    There are very few people giving the positive liberal argument in favour of ID cards (in fact a lot of people didn't know there was one). Martin (at the time but not now) acknowledged himself how much he appreciated hearing a liberal argument for ID.

    Because there was such a consensus against ID cards on the net, it was difficult for people to get in depth into the arguments.

    I think it is difficult not to fall out with people eventually when you come to the conclusion that they are deliberately misunderstanding your position and especially if they start getting obviously disingenuos.

    Martin and others would accuse me of this and I would accuse them of the same. Obviously I am correct and they are wrong (lol).

    I will acknowledge that handing more powers to the police is not ideal, I assure you a rational debate IS what I want. Thank you for your comments. I will post a detailed reply in a few hours. watch this space.

    Eben: FDI has fallen significantly since the Euro has started, a lot of this has gone to France, Germany and Ireland.

    This site tells you some more.

    "Foreign direct investment (FDI) into the eurozone has risen since the start of EMU, at the UK’s expense. Having gained the lion’s share of FDI to Europe for years, Britain now receives proportionately less recently than other EU countries, even though it is still the main recipient overall. But if the UK’s 90% decline since 2000 gives an indication of what is to come, then there really is some cause for concern. From a high of £80 billion in 2000, the amount of FDI has fallen dramatically to £35 billion in 2001, to £18 billion in 2002, to £8 billion in 2003."

    Dave: I totally agree with you, but history is highly selectively used. Like everything, we need to know who wrote the history and why. Apparently according to google is was a George Santanya, never heard of him!

    Anon no. 2: Like the spoof!

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  16. Neil - it might look like a spoof to you but all except paragraphs #1 and #3 have been heard from speaches and articles written by Tony Blair's Labour party. I remember choking on my breakfast hearing that the labour party thought jury trial was a hated privalege of the rich.

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  17. Anon1: "find contravesial labour policy that sounds quite authoritarian, come up with pseudo intellectual justification and post on web log, be roundly condemmed, repeat."

    I've looked through my archives for the last two months and only 2 subjects have garnered this authoritarian accusation, one is the ID cards scheme which clearly is dependent on how it is implemented (as there are lots of countries accepted as more liberal than us that have ID cards) and the other is the respect agenda.

    There are posts arguing against religion, in favour of PR, the new pub licensing hours, the EU budget deal.

    I've also written about all women shortlists, the duplicitous Lib Dems, the prevalence of racism in the suburbs, political correctness, the olympic stadium, corruption in football, john peel, David Cameron's policy history, a total public place smoking ban, nuclear power versus renewables, the ban on handguns, against arming the police, Ken Livingstone and his Jewish roots, and some local issues. None of which have I been accused of arguing an authoritarian position. So to say what you said just doesn't make sense.

    I agree with your points 1-4 completely. Point 5 misses out the low level of the punishment and the chance of appeal. Point 6, I think there will be little change. And 7, I would suspect miscarriages of justice might increase slightly which is not a good thing but we are not talking about prison sentences here and there would be a right of appeal. The lastest proposal puts forward the idea of skipping trial for those who plead guilty. This sounds like an excellent idea to me. I was speaking to a few people who have been on juries tonight and they were uniform in their condemnation of the wastefulness of time and money and the sheer pointlessness of being there for the cases they witnessed.

    I also heard from a PCSO (Police Community Support Officer) tonight. We asked her about her shift paterns and what her job entailed etc. It came out that in the busiest periods - Friday and Saturday nights, there was a reduced number of police and PCSOs on duty. The only reason I could accertain from this (she was asked a reason and pointed out that it wasn't her who did the rosters) was that 'they' didn't like working weekends. Who does eh? I suppose I can't blame them. But it sums up why the police are shit and it aint all govt dictats that are the problem.

    Picture the scene: Copper in nice warm police station drinking coffee on a Saturday night, PC1: 'oh this bloody paperwork'
    PC2: 'terrible isn't it, all the govt's fault'
    PC1: 'yeah, I could be out there now fighting with a drunk, instead of being here in this nice warm statuion drinking coffee'.
    BOTH LAUGH (at our expense)

    As you lot accuse me of never praising David Cameron, this (sacking poor police) is one area where he has hit the nail on the head. It is good to hear the Tories talking about inefficient police for a change instead of their usual cheap targets of social workers, teachers etc

    I would like to believe that DC is sincere but his past history is not a good omen, but at least the Tories have moved the debate into the 20th Century, it is good for democracy if the Tories actually start coming up with some good suggestions for a change.

    Anon2: I don't know about some of the history of it all, but I agreed with the bits about the criminal justice system being overly-bureaucratic and too expensive for anyone but the wealthy. This sounds like the truth to me. I think what TB is proposing is more 'fair and efficient' than the current system that doesn't help anyone.

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  18. The Blue Foxxx19/1/06 11:03 pm

    "I think the Tories are probably better at curtailing union powers, but apart from that there isn't much I like about them."

    You are indeed too left-wing!

    Once again a basic knowledge of history, for example where the Labour Party came from and where its ideology was formed, would be helpful.

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  19. On union power I am probably right of centre. I see little difference between self interested groups like unions and the power of solicitors, accountants and business leaders. The current tube strike is an example of unjustifed union action threatening our efficiency. This strike has been strongly condemned by Ken Livingstone. Nobody would say this prevents him from being left wing. For the same reasons I was aginst the Fire Unions strike for more pay. They have a good job that is well paid, there power was being used exorbitantly.

    I am too left wing for Andrew because I want to see redistribution of wealth through a citizen's income and progressive taxation and also decent levels of spending on health, education, transport and other infrastructure (to match Europe).

    Of course I recognise the enormous debt the Labour party has to the Unions, who did a fantastic job in advancing workers rights and were essential pre-war, but less so after the war. It should be government that ensures equality and health and safety not unions.

    I remember the 1970s and how the ridiculous rules of the unions crippled efficiency in our society making us all worse off. Was it really for the benefit of workers for the unions to have this much power and to make companies so inefficient our quality of life was reduced?

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  20. The Blue Foxxx21/1/06 5:13 pm

    " I see little difference between self interested groups like unions and the power of solicitors, accountants and business leaders."

    Have you actually thought about this? What is the difference between countries where union action is legal and those where it is not, in which are income inequalities greater? Why is on of the first targets of fascist and neo-liberal governments everywhere the unions and organised labour? This is simple to think through as owners of capital and the juridicial and technocratic forms represented by accountants and lawyers operate everywhere, whilst organised labour only exists where it has fought for its existence.

    " It should be government that ensures equality"

    Indeed, but whilst we wait for this to happen.... Is such a government likely to come about in which the interests of capital/business leaders is unopposed?

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  21. The Blue Foxxx21/1/06 5:15 pm

    - in a country in which ...unopposed-

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  22. Union power can be counter-productive to egalitarian aims.

    In the developing world, more unionisation is needed, and more union power is definitely needed in low wage sectors like hotels, restaurants etc in this country, but as the examples of the tube strike, the firefighters strike and the crippling effect on British industry in the 1970s demonstrated, union power can go too far.

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  23. The Blue Foxxx23/1/06 10:39 pm

    Union power is generally exerted (what's left of it anyway) against the further erosion of workers's rights and pay. The tibe strike was ob=ver the failure of management to maintain safety, the fire strike over the breaking of a pay deal. These strikes may appear to be against 'our' interests asw it is only within the public sector that the unions generally remain powerful enough to exert influence.

    However, business has a rweal interestg in degrading the conditions of public workers to meet those in the private sector (and therefore directly exposed to the discipline of capital) as this naturalises such concepts as personal, private pensions. Why else has the CBI expressed such a keen interest in public sector pension negotiations?

    The betrayal of the unions is one of the blackest marks against new Labour and should serve to remind all those of us still within the movement with some conception of a truly egalitarian society, what we are up against.

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  24. I don't blame unions for trying to get the best for their workers and sometimes they do a valuable job, especially in low wage jobs or in developing countries, but the fireworkers and tube workers are abusing their power.

    There is a waiting list of people wanting to become fireworkers, it is a high status, reasonably safe and well paid job.

    Do you believe Ken Livingstone is on the side of the bosses when he condemns the tube strikers for making unreasonable claims about safety. The staff being moved (they are not being sacked) is as a result of efficiency gains from the increased use of the oyster card. This strike is the same as the wildcat strikes to 'protect' job descriptions that crippled british industry in the 1970s and 80s. Union power is not always good and their cause is not always just.

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  25. The Blue Foxxx24/1/06 5:55 pm

    On the tube strike:

    “The rosters that LUL intend to impose would reduce the number of station staff on duty at any one time, in many cases by more than half. We believe that that would leave stations with insufficient cover, especially in emergencies.

    “Those new rosters were not a part of the 35-hour week agreement we signed in good faith last year, and we do not seek to re-negotiate that deal. The number of staff being displaced is many times the 200 we were told would be the case during negotiations.

    “Having misled our members London Underground is now misleading members of the public who, like us, want to see a safe and efficient Tube system."

    And on the new dispute:

    "After strenuous attempts to stop LUL imposing new procedures and ignoring existing agreements, and after discussions with Keith Norman, the general secretary of our sister union Aslef, the RMT executive has agreed to ballot Tube train operators for strike action," RMT general secretary Bob Crow said today.

    "There are laid-down procedures existing to deal with all the issues and we are ready to talk, but once again Tube management have jumped the gun and are trying to impose policies without agreement."

    These issues being:

    Policy on signals passed at danger (Spads), health and safety, bargaining arrangements, harassment, discipline, denial of representation rights and imposition of excessive punishments.

    All from RMT.

    In this Ken is on the side of the bosses. This is a typical case of safety corners being cut.

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