The Barons: An Everyday Story of the Struggle for Workers’ Rights in Merrie England


By Jonathan Hoffman
September 16, 2010
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TUC General Secretary Brenda Barking paced the floor of her suite in her 5 star hotel in Manchester. Her nails were bitten down to the quick. “Comrades” she began “we have a problem. Our membership is down to 6 million from over 13 million at its peak; our friends in the Labour Party are out of government and our friends in the LibDem Party have sold out to the Tories; we face thousands of job cuts in the public sector; and the proletariat is too busy watching Coronation Street to have time for any serious revolting. As Karl Marx said “The Philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is, to change it.” Do any of you have any ideas as to what we can do to change the world and (more importantly) save face with the Comrades at the Congress this week? I booked Bank of England Governor Merv King to do the Wednesday night Cabaret but maybe the punters need something more than quantitative easing and jokes about Aston Villa.”

Bob Crowbar jumped in. “Innit Brenda! ….I’ll announce a five year programme of strikes on the London Underground …..” he said. Dave Apprentice nearly fell off his chair with laughter. “Come off it Bob, when you tried that last week the drivers from the other unions just worked twice as hard”.

Derek Simpleton spoke next. “Why not do a Trivia quiz for the Brothers and Sisters? First prize could be a signed copy of Tony Blair’s book. Second prize, we throw in Alastair Campbell's book as well”.

Tony Woodenhead gritted his teeth. “No, we said goodbye to Bliar and New Labour when Gordon took over. And anyway, we made sure that Bliar was stopped from signing any books.”

Sally Sadd of the University Agitprop Union pouted, winking knowingly at Barking (they were comrades from way back). She knew that she had the killer suggestion. Never mind that within the next six months, she would lose half her members through redundancy. She knew the magic word. She waited until all the Barons were quiet then said the word in a magisterial tone of voice: “Israel”.

It was as if a ten ton weight had been lifted from the Barons’ shoulders! “Brilliant, Sally” said Barking. “We’ll get the Fire Brigade Union to write the motion. They are the experts on the Middle East. They will do us proud – colonialism, boycott, occupation, religion, white phosphorus, BDS, apartheid, IDF, killing peace activists, settlements, the prison of Gaza, nationalism – all those buzz words which get the Guardianista Left so excited that it clean forgets the boring old UK economy. All lies of course, but what does the truth matter between Comrades? We can even get the South African Comrades like Ronnie Kasrils to tell the punters how much Israel is like apartheid South Africa. We’ll get Huw Linen and his PSC (or do I mean PCS, they’re the same thing aren’t they….) to give out free badges and flags for them to wear, it will only cost us a few hundred quid. Maybe we can even run to “Free Palestine” T-shirts.

Viva la Revolucion! Viva the lies about Israel which glue the Left together! And we have nothing to fear from the British Jews – they never fight back, in fact they will probably thank us for being so restrained. In the unlikely event that they do fight back we will just say that they use the charge of “antisemitism” to deflect legitimate criticism of Israel.

“And so what if we lie to the Comrades, they have "nothing to lose but their brains!"

“And Ed Millipede will be onside, that’s why we pay him.”

“Comrades, let’s all sing ‘The Red Flag’ to celebrate Sally’s great idea” whooped Brenda. And the Barons linked arms:

The people's flag is deepest red,
It shrouded oft our martyr'd dead
And ere their limbs grew stiff and cold,
The lies ‘bout Israel will be told.

Then raise the scarlet standard high.
Within its shade we live and die,
Though cowards flinch and traitors sneer,
If we tell lies we needn’t fear.

COMMENTS

Clap Hammer

Thu, 09/16/2010 - 18:20

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1 point

I did have a good laugh there Jonathan.

But then, somehow, I guessed what was coming at the end before I read it.

You forgot to mention how this lot 'dumped' Tony Blair, falling into the trap set for them by the Conservatives.

What a shower they are.


Joshua18

Thu, 09/16/2010 - 20:21

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In the land of the British working-class moron does composite still rhyme with shite?


Yvetta

Thu, 09/16/2010 - 21:02

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Not arf bad, guv'ner - but Derek's a bit of a poofy name for yer honest working class, innit?


Jonathan Hoffman

Thu, 09/16/2010 - 21:08

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Derek Simpson is Joint General Secretary of the UK's biggest private-sector trade union, 'Unite'.


Yvetta

Thu, 09/16/2010 - 21:15

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Yeah, I thought he must have come already named! Did seem a tad familiar.


mattpryor

Fri, 09/17/2010 - 09:38

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I have to say I'm getting tired of Joshua's attacks against the British, which border on racism.


Joshua18

Fri, 09/17/2010 - 13:20

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"I have to say I'm getting tired of Joshua's attacks against the British, which border on racism."

There is absolutely nothing racist about it:

1) The British are not a race. There is nothing fixed or immutable about being British.

2) My criticism has been based on nothing but the truth. Sorry but I don't deal in myths.


DLeigh-Ellis

Sat, 09/18/2010 - 21:16

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-1 points

Can't say I appreciated your references to 'odious welsh midgets,' either Josh... You never apologised for that..

Maybe in your own mind you are not a racist, however, like matt implied, it is getting a tad repetitive.

Apologies for interrupting your thread Jonathan.


DLeigh-Ellis

Sun, 09/19/2010 - 13:19

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definition:

Racism is the belief that the genetic factors which constitute race are a primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.[1] Racism's effects are called "racial discrimination."

Racial discrimination typically points out taxonomic differences between different groups of people, although anyone may be discriminated against on an ethnic or cultural basis, independently of their somatic differences.

____________

He was Welsh, but that is as correct as you get... the other two words - are - Im sorry to tell you in this context - racist.

How old are you Josh?


Rabbi Zvi

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 00:40

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Nice one Jonathan - keep telling it like it is.


Jonathan Hoffman

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 04:25

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http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Op-EdContributors/Article.aspx?id=188590

Thanks Rabbi Zvi.

Here is Eric Lee in yesterday's JP.


mattpryor

Mon, 09/20/2010 - 09:56

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Interesting comment on the JPost article linked by Jonathan above:

The developments in the British Trade Union movement vis a vis Israel are also a result of tha weakening of the Israeli Labour movement, the lack of almost any presence of Israeli left wing and labour speakers in the UK, the practical non-existence of a serious work of the once powerful Histadrut International Department. Nobody to blamed but ourselves...

I think it also says much about the sorry state of the British left.

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