A triple alliance of police, prison officers, and fire-fighters?

From the front page of today’s Morning Star:

Prison Officers Association general secretary Brian Caton lent his support to the Police Federation, saying: “We’ve never altered our view that the actions of the government in 1918 were wrong,” in reference to the run-up to the 1919 strike ban.

“We support the right of the police to withdraw their labour, as those in Europe have, but there should never be the need for them to do so,” Mr Caton pointed out.

“The Police Federation is absolutely fed up with this government.”

Mr Caton revealed that the POA, Police Federation and Fire Brigades Union would hold tripartite talks in early January to decide a unified response to government attacks on their members’ rights and jobs.

“The government’s so-called modernisation programme is of common interest to the Police Federation, POA and FBU,” he said.

“It is deskilling and cheapening the high standards of public service in this country.

“It says a lot about the new Labour experiment. From the top to the bottom of the Cabinet, they have forgotten the Labour principles of public services.

“If a triple alliance is what is needed, that is what we’ll have.”

Here’s the editorial:

TU rights for police
(Monday 10 December 2007)

TRADE unionists who have been at the receiving end of police violence on their picket lines may be indifferent or even hostile to Police Federation complaints of poor treatment by the government.

For those such as printworkers or miners who suffered particularly at the hands, horses and clubs of what were dubbed “Thatcher’s bootboys,” such hostility is understandable, but it is still wrong.

Anything that brings the experience of police officers closer to that of the organised labour movement is likely to lead to a mirroring of attitudes also.

And, as has been shown in the letters column of this paper, with contributions from a small number of former police officers, it is wrong to tar all coppers with a right-wing brush.

As with the army, many working-class youngsters sign up to the police for a variety of reasons, including relatively good starting pay, housing assistance and – don’t discount it – the belief that they are contributing to the safety and well-being of society.

Rank-and-file police officers are realising that, as far as Gordon “Labour means business” Brown is concerned, police, prison officers and firefighters are on a par with civil servants, teachers and nurses.

In other words, their salaries come out of the public purse and, therefore, they are prime targets for pay cuts and diminished living standards.

When Tory prime minister Margaret Thatcher was leading the neoliberal charge against the public sector and trade unionism, politicising the police force and using it to literally beat down all opposition to her policies, she saw the sense of keeping the police onside by safeguarding pay and conditions.

Mr Brown has no problem with handing over upwards of £25 billion of public money to bale out a bank that’s been brought to its knees by an avaricious and feckless management.

But, when it comes to working people’s pay and pensions – to say nothing of defence of Britain’s manufacturing capacity – his hands are clenched tight.

To condemn essential workers to what is effectively a 1.9 per cent rise – in reality, a pay cut – is either stupid or provocative.

Mr Brown clearly hopes that this government’s denial of effective trade union rights to its own employees is sufficient to win the day.

But police and prison officers can see that, elsewhere in the world, full trade union rights for the forces of law and order is not regarded as something out of the ordinary.

In South Africa, police and prison officers are organised in the same union POPCRU, just as they used to be in this country until 1919 when the government banned trade unionism and militarised the police.

And in France too, all the trade union federations, from the most class-confrontational to most collaborationist, have a police section.

Any development of police trade unionism is a positive return to civilian status and a rejection of militarisation.

The Fire Brigades Union and Prison Officers Association have extended the hand of friendship to the Police Federation.

The rest of the labour movement should do likewise.

The only way to defeat new Labour’s big business agenda is by mobilising all those who suffer under it to unite in support of peace and social justice.

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Is Northern Rock’s nationalisation now inevitable?

All parties are insisting that it wouldn’t be for “ideological reasons” – that is to say, it would not be because they believe that there should be “common ownership of the means of production, distribution, and exchange, and the best obtainable system of popular administration and control of each industry or service”.

Rather, the nationalisation of Northern Rock would be a quick way of ending the crisis and allow the bank to be sold on with ease – though the government would face legal challenges from shareholders, this is thought less damaging than the continuation of the crisis.

The Economist, the Liberal Democrats, and now, the Bank of England itself?

Over to Faisal Islam of Channel Four News

The Northern Rock board does have two takeover bids on the table – but questions remain about the funding for both.

The Financial Services Authority has to monitor the Rock to ensure it remains solvent. Mervyn King at the Bank of England has underpinned the Rock’s liquidity with over £25bn of public money. Alistair Darling is left seeking a solution that protects the taxpayer… and the reputation of the government.

Senior sources within the tripartite negotiations say that the Bank of England now believes that nationalisation is the best option for the Northern Rock. One senior figure raising serious doubt that any bidder would be able to raise the billions of pounds required, in current market conditions. The government would have to make the final decision, but as it stands, there appears to be a growing momentum towards nationalisation.

Today the credit crisis crunched harder than it ever has amongst big European banks – a remarkable $10bn writeoff from UBS, one of the world’s biggest. And those banks remaining reluctant to lend to one another.

The model being pointed to at the highest levels of the financial system is the rescue of the Johnson Matthey Bank in 1984. It started as a gold dealer but got into trouble because of imprudent lending.

After failing to organise a City bailout, the Bank of England took control of JMB for £1, held on to it for three years and then sold it for a healthy profit.

Six decades ago a Labour nationalisation was a cause for celebration in the north east. It’s unlikely that a northern rock nationalisation would be quite such a vote winner.

Depositors would be rapidly refunded under a draft nationalisation bill being prepared by authorities. But it’s resistant shareholders who could lose out the most from nationalisation, and their legal team is ready for a fight.

The queues of savers from September, have not been replaced by queues of viable bidders. One strong contender dropped out on Friday saying that it could not repay repay the Bank of England’s loan, compensate shareholders, and turn in a profit.

The threat of nationalisation has been a useful tool in bargaining shareholders down, but enduring financial market misery means that it may well happen.

Don’t worry, says David Cameron, I’m not a democrat

Dave’s been to Scotland to pour cold water over suggestions he’s going to play the English card:

Conservative leader David Cameron has strongly defended the Union, pledging to fight the “ugly stain of separatism seeping through the Union flag”.

Speaking in Edinburgh, Mr Cameron said he believed the Union between Scotland and England was more fragile than ever.

He said there were those in England who wanted to see the Scottish Government succeed in its independence goal.

The purpose of his visit was to see Annabel Goldie, the leader of the Scottish Tories (yes, they do exist) and support her decision to join with the Liberals and Labour to vote through proposals for a constitutional commission to rival that of the SNP’s “national conversation”.

The difference with the Lib-Lab-Con commission is that it will not consider independence as an option for Scotland’s future.

Responding to the speech, SNP Depute Leader Nicola Sturgeon MSP pointed out that Mr Cameron had stated before the Holyrood poll that Scotland could be a successful independent country.

She added: “The Tories are facing both ways on Scotland. Just last week, the Tories north of the Border signed up to a commission to boost the financial powers of the parliament which would make us wealthier.

“Whereas the Tory drive at Westminster is about appealing to a south of England agenda and cutting Scottish spending.

“Instead of coming to sell a negative message about Scotland in negative language, David Cameron should support the right of the Scottish people to choose their future in a democratic referendum.”

Cameron’s message was also “blame Labour”, but that was rather drowned out by the bulk of what he had to say on Scotland.

Scottish Labour is mired in a party funding scandal and the SNP are sucking up to an American billionaire…

Instead of jumping on these examples of corruption, he’s spouting off on “narrow English nationalism”, implying as always that people in England can never be permitted to have devolution lest it threaten the imperial British state.

You’ve shown you have no democratic credentials, Dave. Just the kind of guy the British ruling class is after, you’re hired!