The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain
Week commencing 21st December 1979

One lies, the other twists

Employment Secretary James Prior this week came from behind and, with only a few days to go before 1980, seized the lead in the race to be New Worker Liar of The Year. This tremendous achievement came with his Commons' claim on Monday that his anti-union Bill is 'not designed to clobber the unions'!

Prior had, of course, to pit himself against some truly outstanding competition: there were Thatcher's promises on checking inflation. not to mention Sir Keith Joseph's talk of 'revitalizing' British industry. Yet even against this kind of high-calibre competition, the judges had not a doubt but that victory should go to 'Farmer Jim'.

And the same debate saw another coveted prize snatched by an outsider. Eric Varley, shadow employment spokesman, roared past the favourite, Terry Duffy, to be Bosses' Chum of 1979.

Eric, racing in the Callaghan colours (pinkish with a deep blue stripe), receives his prize for making it clear that the Shadow Cabinet is not going to put up any real fight against the Prior plans, looking at them in the calm of a Commons' Committee, opposing some parts, supporting others.

'The most damaging parts will be repealed', pledged Varley. Other 'less contentious' elements 'may be allowed to survive the next Labour government'. Trade unionists, recalling the way in which the Callaghan government roped the unions round with a picketing 'code', may be permitted to wonder what there is in the Prior package which is 'less contentious'.

Could it be so-called 'secondary picketing'? In light of some of the Labour leaders' past remarks, they may well consider its banning to be more virtuous than contentious.

Could it be government money to pay for secret ballots in union elections and other union affairs? Once more, schemes with that end in mind have been aired by right-wing Labour almost as often as by the Tories.

The answer is, of course, that it could be any of these things or even the closed shop. Which parts the Shadow Cabinet thinks it can deem 'less contentious' and therefore not oppose will depend solely on which parts are actually contended outside the Palace of Westminister in the weeks and months ahead.

The current talk of solidarity action between coal miners and steelworkers may well prove to lead to the kind of solidarity action which the proposals on 'secondary picketing' are designed to end.

Battles around sacked shop stewards - and Derek Robinson is by no means the only steward to have been sacked in recent weeks - are very likely to see employers' threats to existing closed shops.

As for media-manipulated secret ballots, the results of the votes held in the last two months amongst BL workers and amongst coalminers show both the dangers of these parodies of democracy, and their importance to the capitalist class.

No, Mr Varley, there are no good bits and bad bits. This package is poison through and through.

No, Mr Prior, we do not believe your shameless fable and neither do our readers.

And yes, readers all, now is the time to lift the battle against this latest instance of Tory union-bashing far, far, above its present level.

We do need a recall of the TUC, we do need definite plans for industrial action against the Prior plans, we do need the fight against those plans on the agenda of every shop stewards' and union branch meeting in the land.


With enough determination it is possible to turn anything to anti-Soviet purposes, even the centenary of the birth of Joseph Stalin which falls today (Friday).

We haven't, of course, seen this morning's papers, these words being written on Tuesday. We haven't seen 'heavyweight' Sundays.

We don't have to; we are prepared to take a bet on their content and we don't expect to lose our money. It will be all the old stuff about 'Stalin The Monster Who Betrayed the Revolution' etc., etc.,etc. You'd think they'd ever cared about the Revolution; you'd even think that there'd been a shortage of real 'monsters' on the bosses' side of the fence.

Giving a Soviet view of the centenary, Novosti political commentator Gennady Gerasimov states that 'it isn't easy to form a well-balanced and unbiased View on this subject'. Fair enough, the difference between the Soviet people and the professional anti-Soviets is that in the Soviet Union they are trying to be 'balanced' and 'unbiased'.

If in the next few days you see plenty of stories, playing up the problems, playing down the successes - and there were plenty of successes - take care to tell all you meet where the bias and the imbalance in those stories is leading.

It's leading to longer dole queues, weaker unions and, above all, to the horrors of war. Believe it or not, when it came to war Joseph Stalin knew what he was doing - and that's why we're all still here today. The imperialists' war of Pershings and Cruises won't, however, last long enough for anyone to be a great war leader.