Sunday, 29 June 2008

Towards a carers' movement ?

Just how close to getting organised to fight back against their oppression are carers ? What degree of political awareness actually exists among them?

Perhaps I am not best placed to answer these questions myself. As a long-time political activist I am perhaps too impatient to move towards an activism which may be beyond the capacity of many carers, particularly given the day-to-day situation in which they struggle to survive.

I doubt if it is any coincidence that 24/7 carers, such as myself, whilst probably having the least spare time, are among the most conscious of the disempowerment of their situation. They experience caring in its most oppressive form.

Carers' organisations vary from the bland, but sometimes useful, charities, which serve to provide tea and sympathy, information and advice, as well as a degree of social control, which is most instrumental for government, to the carer-led organisations. These latter vary in their idiosyncrasy, but are generally not very democratically accountable to their members. They are rather, vanity groups, led by ersatz charismatic personalities, whilst being more representative of carers than charities, most of them are still in a state of infantile disorder. I jest, of course I do. How could you possibly imagine anything else ! I think that Carer Watch, so far, has come closest to a democratic ideal, but it still has some way to go, in my opinion.

I imagine a fully democratic mutual carers' movement whose leadership is elected and accountable. Yes, and dismissable. Such a movement could embrace the campaign for a Carers' Charter, the campaign for a Carers' Trade Union and the Campaign for a Carers' Wage.

Speed the day !

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

A new start is needed for Europe

This is certainly worth looking at. Thanks Mick.

A new start is needed for Europe: The European Left chart a way forward

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

A campaign against class discrimination

Campaigning against race discrimination, gender discrimination, sexuality discrimination, even age discrimination, is an accepted part of politics now, even if the progress made is limited. However, class discrimination is in a different category, somehow. We are aware of it, but it is accepted as a routine part of political conflict between Left and Right. A very unequal conflict, of course. This conflict is inevitable, but somehow the human consequences of class discrimination seem lost in this transcendental political struggle. It is like capitalism itself, seen as a natural phenomenon by most and, therefore, a routine part of life. We have, the assumption is, to achieve a fundamental change in society, before we can go much beyond ameliorating its worst effects.
Why should this be so ? Why shouldn't we campaign specifically against particular forms of class discrimination ? There are some people who seem condemned, in many cases, to low standards of living by their particular circumstances. People with disabilities of all kinds, for example. Not that they don't sometimes prosper, but the odds against them in a competitive society are frequently much greater than the norm. Can this be regarded as a form of class discrimination ? Are carers a class, or a category of the working class, and should their particular situation condemn them to economic degradation ? The low paid are an economic category and, in some circumstances, are thought to be deserving of a minimum wage, although not necessarily a living wage. They are the deserving poor, unlike the disabled and carers who, although thought to be 'wonderful' when hypocritically convenient, are somehow considered undeserving. Do we need to win a class war, the existence of which is not even noticed in passing by many people, before we can seriously confront issues of class inequality ? Perhaps by campaigning on particular class issues we can raise awareness of the general class nature of society, nationally and internationally. That may just facilitate its replacement by something better.

Monday, 23 June 2008

Saying good bye to the Labour Party, again ?

The truth is that I have left the Labour Party, which I joined in 1950, twice before. The first time was in the heady sixties, when I joined the Independent Labour Party, only to immediately find myself in the middle of a debate about whether the ILP should return to affiliation with the Labour Party. The second was just a few years ago, when I became utterly sick of what New Labour were doing to the Party. I wandered around in the wilderness for a while and then thought how futile, I can't fight the bastards from here. I had written an angry resignation letter to the General Secretary, which I posted on 'What Next for Labour ?', but I received no reply. I cancelled my DD payment. A few months later I had a letter from HQ saying that there must be a fault at my bank as my subs had stopped coming through. Despite the angry letter, nobody had noticed my leaving. That puts both the importance the Labour Party attaches to its members and my own sense of self-importance, into some perspective.
Now I am going through a green period and looking at the Green Party as a possible new home. Difficult to imagine myself among them somehow, except that the analysis of the Green Left, particularly that of Derek Wall, who paid a visit here recently, is very, very, interesting and seemingly relevant to our times. Why stay among the neo-Tories of New Labour, when I could be with decent enthusiastic, ecosocialists ? I ask myself. 

Sunday, 22 June 2008

The 24/7 carer

Caring situations vary considerably, as do the attitudes of carers and carees to the situations in which they find themselves. I am concerned here with the particular situation of the full-time carer.

I have heard many stories from 24/7 carers over the years, which I am able to relate to strongly, being one myself.

Much praise is heaped on the heads of those struggling to cope heroically with impossibly demanding situations, with little, or even no, effective support. We are wonderful, as was confirmed recently in the government's Carers' Review, which offered carers generally sweet bugger all, of any consequence.

I want to get just a little controversial about 24/7 caring. I know why we do it. However, the question of whether we should do it remains.

For me, and I speak exclusively for myself, 24/7 caring is a largely unmitigated evil, ultimately destructive of the personalities of carer and caree alike. I fully acknowledge the potential for disagreement, but I believe that somebody had to say it.

Saturday, 14 June 2008

The Campaign for a Carers' Trade Union

If you are a carer and interested in the formation of a carers' trade union, please register your interest on the Carer Watch forum on the following thread:-

Have a look around the Carer Watch site and forum at the same time. You will be very welcome to join this campaigning group run by carers for carers.

Friday, 13 June 2008

Dangerous Davis-The last libertarian

David Davis is undoubtedly, a populist Tory of the Right who feels uneasy and unloved in a Conservative Party which has rejected him, a working class lad, for a resurgent Tory Toff Tendendency, which affects a certain spurious liberalism. He appears to have an ego the size of a planet. There is, I think, something a bit odd about all of this, a contradiction which needs to be resolved. If DD is a maverick who sprung his decision to resign his seat on Cameron, without prior consultation, and then force a by-election, so that he could fight it again, in the incredible name of civil liberties, why is he standing again as an official Conservative Party candidate, rather than as an independent ? The speed with which the Tories accepted his decision and attempted to depict him as a brave individualist, a St George riding out the slay the dragon of state oppression, is deeply suspicious. And yet we are told by the media that his Party are really furious with him. That their apparent embracing of his 'cause' is a damage limitation exercise. That they are trying to turn disaster into triumph. I suspect collusion.

Now the Sun is shining on Kelvin. How seriously weird. Two shining knights of right-wing libertarianism in mortal combat. I ought to be delighted. I can't lose ! It's a long time since I've been in that situation.

Of course, I opposed 42 days myself and stand with the Labour Left dissidents. Neither DD nor Kelvin are one of us.I will watch future developments with great interest.

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

        Labour MPs voting against the 42-day limit (copied from BBC news website)

  Diane Abbott

Richard Burden

Katy Clark

Harry Cohen

Frank Cook

Jeremy Corbyn

Jim Cousins

Andrew Dismore

Frank Dobson

David Drew

Paul Farrelly

Mark Fisher

Paul Flynn

Neil Gerrard

Ian Gibson

Roger Godsiff

John Grogan

Dai Havard

    Kate Hoey

Kelvin Hopkins

Glenda Jackson

Lynne Jones

Peter Kilfoyle

Andrew MacKinlay

Bob Marshall-Andrews

John McDonnell

Michael Meacher

Julie Morgan

Chris Mullin

Douglas Naysmith

Gordon Prentice

Linda Riordan

Alan Simpson

Emily Thornberry

David Winnick

Mike Wood

Silent health suffering of carers

** Silent health suffering of carers **

The health of carers is deteriorating because they do not have time to see a doctor, a survey finds. >

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Jokes are us

Carers at the heart of 21st century families and communities: a caring system on your side, a life of your own

It's a joke, right ?

Visit Parsifal

Visit Parsifal and read the dramatic saga of the garages.

The Campaign for a Carers' Trade Union

I am pleased to say that the Campaign for a Carers' Trade Union has now been established on the Carer Watch forum.

You can join this discussion in the carerwatch discussion group at

To join the carerwatch discussion group go to and click to join

Sunday, 8 June 2008

Is this the time ?

I have been arguing for some time now that we need a carers' trade union to negotiate wages and conditions of service on our behalf.

Is this the time to establish a campaign for the establishment of a carers' trade union ?

A Carers' Charter

A Carers' Charter could be the basis of a campaign to establish human rights for carers. At the centre must be the right to a reasonable life. So a recognition of the work carers do must come first. Carers are workers who need and are entitled to a wage. If they did not undertake this work, the state would have to take responsibility for it and it would cost far more. Carers also need an organisation to fight for a wage and improved conditions of service, an embryonic carers trade union.Its right to organise and negotiate on behalf of carers should be recognised by the TUC and the trade union movement generally. The above applies to all carers, regardless of their age or whether they are full-time or part-time.

If caring is to be a form of community provision, then the home must be seen as a workplace for carers, with proper conditions to meet carees situations. Carers' conditions of service should include a full medical and social assessment of their carees needs and of their own capacity to care for them. Carers who are incapacitated themselves should receive their own assessment and all necessary support.The same regulations which apply to other work places are also relevant to domestic houses in which caring takes place. All necessary equipment for therapy need to be provided. Health and safety regulations should be observed. Carers need and are entitled to annual leave, sick pay, the availability of relief workers for their own health appointments,shopping and recreation, etc. They should be fully consulted about their conditions of service and of any changes to them, before implementation.

The Carers' Charter asks for no more and no less than the same right to life which others already take for granted.

Saturday, 7 June 2008

Is it time for ecosocialism ?

Globalisation dominates the planet and global warming threatens the continuation of complex life forms on earth. Should we now consider alternative forms of social organisation ? An international system based on production for use rather than for profit ? 

Join the multi-party discussion which has just been launched on Red Pepper for members of the Green Party, the Labour Party, any other party, or no party at all. Just type Red Pepper- Green Socialism into Google.

Friday, 6 June 2008

The Carers' Charter again.

If only I had Windows Explorer instead of Safari, I would probably be able to post the Carers' Charter here, but it can be read on Carer Watch now.

The Charter seems impossibilist, because it asks for something which is ostensibly not achievable, but who knows what may be achieved after a protracted period of struggle ?  More importantly, for me, it invites carers to think about themselves in a different way. Not as kindly souls who are doing the decent thing in looking after their nearest and dearest, but as people who have rights. As people, indeed, whose rights may be denied to them and who are vulnerable to exploitation. As workers who are doing a very important job in adverse circumstances. As workers, moreover, who are entitled to organise and negotiate for their rights. Not as passive objects in a situation over which they have no control, but as active change agents, able to interact with their situation. Consciousness is not static, it can be raised.

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

The Carers' Charter

The latest version may be viewed on Carer Watch- on the forum.

Sunday, 1 June 2008

Greetings to Parsifal

Dear Parsifal

I miss your blog very much. Do please let us know what is going on.

Times are hard, there is no doubt. Gardens have to be tended, but friendship needs tending too. Some of us are thinking of you. I just thought that you might like to know that.