Oddly the BBC aren't showing this. Here's what they say instead:
 "There are many people who support [the army] as a stabilising force during this difficult period of political transition."
Imagine the BBC coverage if they had been Syrian troops.  YouTube and 'Google Videos' have been mysteriously spammed with hundreds of false links to the video.

Original Russia Today story here

'The only part of Britain over which Parliament has no authority'

Corporation of the City of London
By George Mobiot, taken from The Guardian.
It's the dark heart of Britain, the place where democracy goes to die, immensely powerful, equally unaccountable. But I doubt that one in 10 British people has any idea of what the Corporation of the City of London is and how it works. This could be about to change. Alongside the Church of England, the Corporation is seeking to evict the protesters camped outside St Paul's cathedral. The protesters, in turn, have demanded that it submit to national oversight and control.
[Motto: 'Domine Dirige Nos' - 'Dominates Our Heads' or 'Master Guide Us']

What is this thing? Ostensibly it's the equivalent of a local council, responsible for a small area of London known as the Square Mile. But, as its website boasts, "among local authorities the City of London is unique". You bet it is. There are 25 electoral wards in the Square Mile. In four of them, the 9,000 people who live within its boundaries are permitted to vote. In the remaining 21, the votes are controlled by corporations, mostly banks and other financial companies. The bigger the business, the bigger the vote: a company with 10 workers gets two votes, the biggest employers, 79. It's not the workers who decide how the votes are cast, but the bosses, who "appoint" the voters. Plutocracy, pure and simple.

There are four layers of elected representatives in the Corporation: common councilmen, aldermen, sheriffs and the Lord Mayor. To qualify for any of these offices, you must be a freeman of the City of London. To become a freeman you must be approved by the aldermen. You're most likely to qualify if you belong to one of the City livery companies: medieval guilds such as the worshipful company of costermongers, cutpurses and safecrackers. To become a sheriff, you must be elected from among the aldermen by the Livery. How do you join a livery company? Don't even ask.  Full story here.

The GMB Letters

We publish today all the lettters from the GMB union about the Unite leadership's attempts to de-recognise the GMB for Unite emplotyees.

4th August, click here
"I am writing to make clear that any attempt to derecognise the GMB will be fiercely resisted by this Union and our members working for Unite. We believe that the [proposals are a direct attack on the GMB and we will not take part in any ballot or give any credibility to proposals which are a blatant attempt to derecognise the GMB."

18th August, click, here

22nd August, click here

8th September, click here 
"The GMB is not going to take part in a beauty contest with a staff association over representation rights.  This goes against core trade union principles and our members are rightly outraged that you are proposing such a contest."

Taking Out Seven Countries in Five Years

In 2007 US General Wesley Clark reads out the list of countries the US plans to 'take out' in the next 5 years:


Unite to De-Recognise the GMB Union exclusive!

The bloated Unite bureaucracy is attempting to de-recognise the GMB union for its own employees. The GMB have complained and have obtained all the correspondence.  So Unite thinks unions are good for employees except when they are their own employees.  You couldn't make this stuff up.

Actually what McCluskey is up to is slightly cuter than simple de-recognition. Unite's proposal begins with:
"The General Secretary has previously indicated that the Union will provide facilities for one Staff Committee to represent all employees designated as Staff" 
It continues:
"All Staff employees will receive a communication from the Union outlining

Golden Wheelchairgate Continues

Simpson: Wads and Wads of it
We have now obtained the documents referred to in Fraser's irate email below, they are all union publications so read with a pinch of salt or even better re-read Fraser's email.

Below is the letter to union bodies telling them how to present this problem:

We can anticipate that this will give rise to disquiet among the membership

Here is the official union statement

Here are the Union prepared Q&A

It seems that the age old cycle of the new bureaucracy getting revenge on the old is in play. What is becoming evident is how little the lay parts of the union (mostly the small General Secretary supporters clubs) knew. At the Executive debate on this, which lasted about 4 hours, it was decided to investigate the possibility of launching a legal challenge with a view to claiming the money back. Yeah sure, just like last time, when it took an ordinary member to get rid of GS Lyons. confidently predict this cycle will be happening again when McCluskey goes. Unless a grass roots candidate wins in which case maybe we'll actually get some funds back and it'll all come to an end.

Scandal over Simpson's Golden Wheelchair exclusive!
Salaries up, Subs up, members down have obtained an extraordinary email to the Union's General Secretary from a member of the General Purposes and Finance Committee (GPFC), the most powerful lay body in the union. We reproduce it below and it speaks for itself.

Meantime, while the scandal over Simpson's £1/2 million payoff and pension continues,  we have also learnt of secret plans for  the union  to increase subscriptions to ordinary members by almost 5% from September.

From: Alastair Fraser
Sent: 22 July 2011 21:27
Subject: RE: AR21

Dear Len

I am in receipt of the statements concerning the severance payment for former Joint General Secretary (JGS) Simpson. As a member of the Amicus GPFC meeting, I take exception to any suggestion that I was party to an agreement for severance payments for JGS Simpson.

The facts are these:
At the time of the merger between MSF and AEEU, Roger Lyons was awarded a pay increase by the MSF Executive. JGS Simpson made a public point of refusing to accept a similar increase for himself.
AGS Ed Sweeney met the Amicus GPFC some time (years) later arguing that GS Simpson’s pension should be based on this higher, notional salary and not on his actual salary. GS Simpson was said to be unconcerned whether this was approved or not. The GPFC did not approve the proposal.

At a later date Assistant General Secretary (AGS) Bayliss met the GPFC and reopened the argument for GS Simpson’s pension to be based on this higher amount. It now appeared that GS Simpson was more favourably disposed to accepting this benefit. We had a discussion, at some points heated, with AGS Bayliss. He presented no new facts to the GPFC and there was no reason for the GPFC to change its position. I recall Mr Bayliss making the point that we had looked after our “enemies” meaning severance payments to officers not sympathetic to GS Simpson, who had been forced out of the union. Mr Bayliss said we should be generous to our friends. The GPFC DID NOT approve the proposed changed to GS Simpson’s pension entitlement.

Severance payments to GS Simpson WERE NOT DISCUSSED at this meeting, or any other I attended.

AGS was the only officer or staff member at this meeting and I do not accept that it was a formally constituted meeting of the GPFC capable of making decisions. I challenge anyone to produce the minutes of this meeting.

For your information, details of the severance packages available to officers and staff in Amicus were never reported to the GPFC or EC. These were dealt with purely as a matter of negotiation between Bro Simpson and the officers’ and staff committees.

I had no reason to believe that GS Simpson would not retire normally at Age 65.

The merger with the T&G resulted, as you know, with agreement that GS Simpson would remain employed for an additional year until he was 66. The GPFC asked questions about the implications for his pension if such a proposal was agreed. I do not recall getting any satisfactory answers about any potential pension, or other, liabilities arising from this extension to GS Simpson’s normal retirement date.

I do not recall, at any meeting, any discussion about a severance package for GS Simpson.

Regardless of any affidavits you may have from individual GPFC members I would like to make it clear that I was not party to any severance arrangements for GS Simpson nor was I aware of any such arrangements being in existence.


Alastair Fraser

Simpson's Golden Wheelchair

Simpson - Ermine wheelchair
It's just been revealed than ex General Secretary Simpson was paid £510,659 last year.  This was made up of £361,347 in severance pay, £97,677 in gross salary, and more than £51,000 in housing benefit and car allowances.

Unite's executive, who are meant to run the union, requested a legal opinion on the payoff at their meeting on Monday.

Full story in the Guardian, Telegraph and Huffington Post.

Previous story Simpson Tops Union Rich List.

Simpson Tops Union Rich List

Simpson before raising 2 fingers
In a parting gesture to members former Unite joint general secretary Derek Simpson has topped a list of the highest paid union bosses for the 2009/10 financial year, with a package of £186,626, according to PrintWeek.

That's a whole £56,520 ahead of the next highest, Dave Prentis of Unison.

Unite's Plunging Membership

members went thataway
Ex General Secretary (but still on the payroll on his old salary) Tony Woodley has written a presentation.  The six-page document shows the union lost 262,740 of its 1.44million members between 2007 and 2010. He concludes that such losses are unsustainable.  The article was 'leaked' to the Times and written up for free by the Daily Mail.

A Full Time Officer Wrote

A short-lived web site, apparently set up by a Unite full time officer, appeared last month with great promise.  However it disapeared shortly after 11th May.  It seems discipline is tight.   Fortunately we have saved an exact copy here, for ever. If the owner would like to retrieve it please contact

AV - Which Side Are You On?

If you're wondering how to vote on Thursday, below is a short list of how people or organisations you may like or dislike are going to vote:

For AV Against AV
Tony Benn Norman Tebbit
Ken Livingstone David Cameron
John McDonnell MP Pretty well the entire Tory party
Jeremy Corbyn MP Nick Griffin BNP
Caroline Lucas MP Caroline Flint MP
George Monbiot Hazel Blears MP
Mark Thomas Lord Prescott
Peter Tatchell The Sun
Billy Bragg The Daily Mail
Charlie Brooker Peter Stringfellow Unite the union

Lessons from the past: Why Tories oppose AV.

'Vote no to AV' group accused of being 'a Tory front organisation'.

Or, if you prefer, an impartial

Official election results

We have the official Unite Executive election results a day early:  Click here or here (pdf file)

"This intervention must stop"

It's almost unprecedented for to publish as a main story an article by a General Secretary, but credit to McCluskey.  Whether the more bloodthirsty rightwingers in his small supporters' club will back him or break iron UL discipline is yet to be seen.  Already UL member Jim Denham (the 'Shitarsed Socialist') has bizarrely described it as 'scabbing' and declared "Len has no mandate whatsoever for his comment".

New! John Pilger on Libya

"This Libyan intervention must stop
By Len McCluskey (General Secretary of Unite)

Rather than pumping up a civil war, our government should be pushing for a ceasefire and international mediation

Libyan insurgents 'rebels' in Brega
The attack on Libya by British, French and US forces is wrong and should be halted without any further delay or futile loss of life. While holding no brief for Colonel Gaddafi and his regime, and strongly supporting the movements now developing for democracy and freedom across the Arab world, I believe the present military intervention is a mistake which shows the lessons of Iraq have still not been learned.

Unite Election - still time to vote

'Vote Early Vote Often' - Al Capone
If you didn't receive a ballot paper (or have lost it) you can get another, just call the union's freephone number 0800 783 3856 (0818 333 155 from the Republic of Ireland).

You have until Friday 15th April to get the ballot form back

Here are our recommended grass roots candidates.

LONDON AND EASTERN (BAEM)  Mohammed Golam Bhuiyan

SOUTHWEST  Doreen (Kelly) Roberts
WEST MIDLANDS  Martin Hartnett

Cost of War - £7 million per day (just Libya)

The cost to the UK of the war on Libya is estimated at £3 million a day according to the Daily Mirror.  The slightly more authoritative Daily Telegraph estimate £7 million a day, for the first 4 days.  That's about 1 UK hospital, fully equipped, each month.
"The cost of the four–day operation to date is £28.5million, The Daily Telegraph has learnt. The cost of putting four Tornado GR4 bombers, three Eurofighter Typhoons plus support aircraft into action is an estimated £3,216,000 a day. The Tornado costs £33,000 an hour to operate, including fuel, capital costs and crew training and the Typhoon costs £80,000 an hour."

Storm Shadow: Before, £1.1million
Storm Shadow: After, £2.50
One storm shadow cruise missile (left and right), used to destroy individual buildings, costs £1.1 million.  How many buildings in Libya cost £1.1 million you might wonder. 

To keep 10,000 troops in Afghanistan the Government is paying almost £5 billion a year, according to the Telegraph. That's about £13 million a day.  So Libya is half price.  BOGOF as they say.

New! Unite official statement on Libya.  Good for them.

Unite election is on!

Visit to see the best candidates the union has allowed to stand.

LONDON AND EASTERN (BAEM)  Mohammed Golam Bhuiyan

SOUTHWEST  Doreen (Kelly) Roberts
WEST MIDLANDS  Martin Hartnett

Libya - UN SCR Resolution 1973 (2011)

List of countries the US has bombed/oil reserves by country.
Libya is number 18,21,23, 35 and 10th respectively.

For information we publish a link to the full UN Security Council Resolution number 1973 and a brief explanation of what it does not authorise, courtesy of ex British Ambassador Craig Murray


Operative Paragraph 4
4. Authorizes Member States that have notified the Secretary-General, acting nationally or through regional organizations or arrangements, and acting in cooperation with the Secretary-General, to take all necessary measures, notwithstanding paragraph 9 of resolution 1970 (2011), to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, including Benghazi, while excluding a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory, and requests

Saudi Invades Bahrain

Saudi M113 (made in USA)
United States Defense Secretary Robert Gates visits Bahrain to meet King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa on Saturday. Saudi Arabia invades Bahrain on Monday. This has got to be just a coincidence; Gates and the king were obviously discussing the fortunes of Ferrari and MacLaren in the (postponed) Formula 1 Grand Prix in Bahrain.

Moreover, this walks like an invasion, talks like an invasion, but it's not really an invasion, as White House spokesman Jay Carney confidently reassured world public opinion. It helps that 
said opinion happened to be conveniently narcotized, transfixed by the heartbreaking post-tsunami drama in Japan to the point of ignoring some distant rumblings in a tiny Gulf kingdom.
Full article Asian Times
"1,000 Saudi Arabian soldiers 'enter Bahrain' " Telegraph

Libya. Been Here Before.

If you remember the lead up to the invasion of Yugoslavia, Iraq and Afghanistan, you'll know exactly what NATO (or maybe just us and the USA) have in mind for Libya.  You can sense it in the news reports.  Here, by contrast, is an excellent article in today's Guardian on Libya.
"The same western leaders who happily armed and did business with the Gaddafi regime until a fortnight ago have now slapped sanctions on the discarded autocrat and blithely referred him to the international criminal court the United States won't recognise.
While American and British politicians have ramped up talk of a no-fly zone, US warships have been sent to the Mediterranean, a stockpile of chemical weapons has been duly discovered, special forces have been in action, Italy has ditched a non-aggression treaty with Tripoli and a full-scale western military intervention in yet another Arab country is suddenly a serious prospect".
'Evacuation ship' USS Kearsarge on its way
Incidentally you may have noticed that the official Libyan news agency site, listed along with many other unusual sources in our excellent Indy News section, has mysteriously died.  Read about that here.

Also from the Indy News page, what's the best type of ship to evacuate people?  A ferry or liner? No of course not.  Canadian warship sails towards Libya

Libya: Media manipulation
Incisive article on war preparations - US Intensifies Military Operations In Libya

The Empire Strikes Back

McCluskey moves to the right exclusive! The union's executive have banned two of the Grass Roots Left candidates from standing for the executive in this year's election.

Ray Smith, secretary of Newcastle Central 1901 branch, and David Beaumont, secretary of Hounslow and Feltham 1404M branch have both been prevented from standing. They received a personal message from General Secretary Len McCluskey:
"The Executive Council decided that you were not eligible to stand for election at its meeting on 29 to 31 January 2011. The minutes of its meeting are not yet available."

Ray wrote back:
"Dear Len,

Thank you very much for this. This matter is in the hands of the Certification Officer. For the avoidance of any doubt I assert for the reasons given in my complaint to the Certification Officer that you have, maybe personally, broken the rules of the union.

Let me say also that you are beginning to be reminiscent of Derek Simpson and the employers in the shipyards and the building sites where I used to work.

Why can you not honour your election pledges and return the union to the democracy that previous incumbents have stolen?"
The two have been banned under rule 6.2 and 6.3:
6.2 In order to be eligible to be a candidate for election to, or hold office on, the Executive Council and/or any committee, council, or other body of the Union provided for by these rules, the member in question must be an accountable representative of workers.
6.3 The definition of the term “accountable representative of workers” shall be in the exclusive power of the Executive Council, which is empowered to take into account changing industrial realities and the unique nature of some industries (, contracting, leisure, rural etc) in formulating such a definition. It must nevertheless include Branch office-holders who are in employment, shop stewards, health & safety and equalities representatives.
Undeniably David and Ray are branch office holders but McCluskey claims they are not 'in employment'.  Ray is a self employed engineer and David a self employed IT consultant. The union had previously taken the extraordinary step of demanding (and receiving), their tax returns, to establish that they were really self employed, which they are.

Just to rub in that this really is a vindictive and selective move against the two, and against Grass Roots Left,  the union added "This should not be taken as meaning that self-employed members are automatically ineligible to stand for lay office." In fact there are already self employed members of the union's executive.  Read David's complaint of breach of the union's rules here.

Both candidates have already received more than enough branch nominations to stand.

The Slimiest Media Organisation in the UK

Wikileaks editor Assanage
Guardian editor Rusbridger

Not the most right wing, by far. But definitely the slimiest. And the most disappointing e.g. where was the Guardian on the Iraq invasion while the Independent actually got stuck in?

So it is little surprise that they have stitched up Julian Assange (and made themselves some more money) by publishing a book about him. This follows on from the Guardian sharing all the Wikileaks cables with the New York Times, against Wikileak's wishes.

Wikileaks branded the Guardian "the slimiest media organisation in the UK".

Sarah Tisdall - 6 months in jail
Guardian ex-editor Preston
The Guardian has such a shameful history on on leaking that it is a wonder that Wikileaks ever choose to deal with them. In 1983 courageous Sarah Tisdall, a junior civil servant, blew the whistle on Michael Hestletine's plans for the deployment of Cruise nuclear missiles in the UK. She got a six months sentence, thanks to the Guardian's then editor Peter Preston handing over the leaked documents to the state.  Preston, presumably out of guilt, eventually wrote a slimy and self serving confession about it.

Watch the latest interview with Julian Assanage here.

The Guardian can continue to squirm about in its own mud, meanwhile Wikileaks has today been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

The Chicken and the Tiger

Tunisia - the first 'WikiLeaks' revolution

Just as you will not have heard of the Tunisian revolution until a week ago, (although it began on 18th December) you will also likely not have heard of WikiLeaks' vital role in it.

On 14th December WikiLeaks began publishing 17 exchanges between the U.S. Embassy in Tunisia and the U.S. State Department. All the documents were marked SECRET with the additional classification 'NOFORN' (not for foreigners)

20% of Tunisians have access to the Internet, a high proportion, which is higher still amongst activists, trade unionists and urban dwellers. the WikiLeaks cables were spread rapidly, helped by specialist sites such as 'tunileaks'.

The cables outlined the outrageous corruption and extravagance rife within the ruling regime. We only provide a short selection.  The US ambassador writes: 

"One of the standard jokes about President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali (usually delivered only half in jest) is that he has three goals for his presidency: to stay in power; to stay in power; and to stay in power. Ample evidence supports this view.. President Ben Ali's extended family is often cited as the nexus of Tunisian corruption. Often referred to as a quasi-mafia, an oblique mention of "the Family" is enough to indicate which family you mean.
Yacht Wanted
Imed and Moaz Trabelsi, Ben Ali's nephews, are reported to have stolen the yacht of a well-connected French businessman, Bruno Roger, Chairman of Lazard Paris. The theft, widely reported in the French press, came to light when the yacht, freshly painted to cover distinguishing characteristics, appeared in the Sidi Bou Said harbor.

El Materi [Presidential son-in-law] has a large tiger (“Pasha”) on his compound, living in a cage.
Short race
He acquired it when it was a few weeks old. The tiger consumes four chickens a day. (Comment: The situation reminded the Ambassador of Uday Hussein’s lion cage in Baghdad.) El Materi had staff everywhere. There were at least a dozen people, including a butler from Bangladesh and a nanny from South Africa. (NB. This is extraordinarily rare in Tunisia, and very expensive.)"

"El-Materi’s house is spacious, and directly above and along the Hammamet public beach. The compound is large and well guarded by government security. The house was recently renovated and includes an infinity
An 'infinity pool'
pool and a terrace of perhaps 50 meters. While the house is done in a modern style (and largely white), there are ancient artifacts everywhere: Roman columns, frescoes and even a lion’s head from which water pours into the pool. El Materi insisted the pieces are real. He hopes to move into his new (and palatial) house in Sidi Bou Said in eight to ten months. 
After dinner, he served ice cream and frozen yoghurt he brought in by plane from Saint Tropez, along with blueberries and raspberries and fresh fruit and chocolate cake.

He would be pleased to assist McDonald’s to enter Tunisia, suggesting they begin at the new cruise port in La Goulette. He complained about the unhealthy food served by McDonald’s, however, adding it is making Americans fat. 

Throughout the evening, El Materi often struck the Ambassador as demanding, vain and difficult. He is clearly aware of his wealth and power, and his actions reflected little finesse. He repeatedly pointed out the lovely view from his home and frequently corrected his staff, issued orders and barked reprimands.

The opulence with which El Materi and Nesrine live and their behavior make clear why they and other members of Ben Ali’s family are disliked and even hated by some Tunisians. The excesses of the Ben Ali family are growing.

The GOT's strong censorship of the press ensures that stories of familial corruption are not published. The Family's corruption remains a red line that the press cross at their own peril.

Although the February imprisonment of comedian Hedi Oula Baballah was ostensibly drug-related, human rights groups speculate his arrest was punishment for a 30 minute stand-up routine spoofing the President and his in-laws...Corruption remains a topic relegated to hushed voices with quick glances over the shoulder."

It is ironic that the sources of the information which helped finally topple the corrupt regime were the very US officials who supported it.  They just wanted the corruption to be less obvious and the regime more stable.  

We're calling Tunisia as the first 'Wikileaks' revolution, Wikileaks not being the cause but a crucial catalyst. You won't read that in the mainstream press.

Len and Les - separated at birth

Plus Easter and Royal Weddings
Bayliss was the right wing candidate for General Secretary, McCluskey the 'left' winger who won.  Bayliss you recall said such nonsense as

'If I am General Secretary of Unite there will NEVER be any strikes called over Christmas'. added, very presciently it now transpires, "Or Easter, or school holidays, or Ramadan, or bank holidays, or weekends (you get the drift)."

McCluskey of course is different.  He is of the Left.  He wouldn't say something like:

Would he?

Not just the Unions then

"each undercover spy cost £250,000 a year"
Do read this amazing disclosure, also on BBC Newsnight tonight: Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station trial collapses  - where an undercover police officer spent 7 years as a leading green and anti-facist activist.

Compare it with an old favourite of ours:  Former NUM chief was police informer.

Mind you it's not just States that were at it:
"At some London Greenpeace meetings there were as many spies as campaigners present and, as McDonald's didn't tell each agency about the other, the spies were busily spying on each other (the court later heard how Allan Claire, had noted the behaviour of Brian Bishop, another spy, as 'suspicious')."
Kennedy - 'more joy in heaven
over one sinner who repents, 
than over ninety-nine righteous 
people who need no repentance'
Of course that sort of thing doesn't go on nowadays.... But if it did it'd be much easier with a centralised undemocratic and tightly controlled union.

Grass Roots Left

Just in time for the Executive elections (and only just, nominations begin tomorrow) the people who campaigned for Jerry Hicks  have set up a loose organisation called 'Grass Roots Left' to field candidates for the Executive.  See their candidates and policies here:

So far 11 candidates for 8 sectors/regions are on the Grass Roots Left list.

Jerry Hicks, who came second in the recent General Secretary election, said:
"Our principles, policies and message was fundamentally different to any of the other general secretary candidates and we offered members a real alternative. Now we must do the same in the election for the new Unite NEC. I am asking you to support candidates standing under the banner of 'Grass Roots Left'"