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

This is cross posted by Jonathan Hoffman at The JC

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.

Categories: Guardian

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12 replies »

  1. Jonathan
    now I know why you get the vitriol up in “them”
    you are way above the level of what “they” can come up with
    great piece and a great relief to me

    yesterday I heard part of that “it was our fault not yours” speech by Mervyn King which made me feel all that old solidarity when he went on “that’s why you’ll have to pay the bill and we go on cashing in”
    But if all they can come up with is to go after other vulnerables then they deserve any pain the robber barons may chose to inflict on them and may continue to get squeezed for any penny they may come up with.

  2. First prize could be a signed copy of Tony Blair’s book. Second prize, we throw in Alastair Campbell’s book as well

    Tee hee.

  3. Do not jest comrades, this may well have happened.

    In other news:
    Cop a load of this:

    A star billing for Labour Party Conference fringe meeting organised by the Labour Friends of Palestine and Middle East on 26 September:

    Michael White in conversation with Sir Gerald Kaufman MP
    LFPME and MEMO will host Michael White (Guardian newspaper) in conversation with Sir Gerald Kaufman MP (Gorton, Manchester)
    (We can guess what these two will talk about)


    Palestine: Ending the siege on Gaza: Next Steps
    Speakers: Tony Woodley, Joint General Secretary UNITE, Andy Slaughter MP; Hanin Zoabi, Palestinian member of Israeli Knesset;; Richard Burden MP Host Organization Unite together with Palestine Solidarity Campaign & Labour Friends of Palestine

  4. bellamack:……………..on Twitter….

    “Amazing moving story:Israeli and West Bank women risk jail for a day at the beach”

    Bella was promoting Rachel Shabi’s article in the Guardian…..

    Imagine Rachel Shabi taking a group of Israeli’s to swim in the beaches of Gaza,she could take Bella Mack with her.

  5. Benorr,
    Has keeping a low profile served British Jews well? Does it make them more British? Coming from a different background and set of attitudes, I am not being sarcastic, I am seeking to understand the mindset.

  6. pretzelberg

    Tee hee.

    Goodness. I always thought that you were devoid of humor..

    Is that the real Pretzelberg?

  7. The mindset of British Jews is that they don’t like to wander too far from their comfort zone.Keeping a low profile suits them well.

    They prefer to leave it to Israel and Israeli’s to counter the Left and palestinian propaganda.

  8. But it seems that things are not going too well for them right now maintaining this mindset or have I miscomprehended some of the events I’ve been reading about(on this site and elsewhere)?

    A PBS program about the History of Jews in America, I remember one of the commentators interviewed had an interesting take about the difference between British and American Jews(her first cousins are from England and she visited them often growing up)

    Being born in the UK allowed a Jew be British, being born a Jew in the US allowed a Jew to be Jewish. I can only identify with the US half of the statement and that from the Northeast(family history 160 years), if you are from the UK what do you think?

    On another note, just received my copy of Time Magazine, in Letters to Editor all against Time article, 75% of reader response against.