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Arguments for socialism :: Democracy
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Britain's leading apologist for the government's divisive 'anti-terrorist' Prevent strategy, Will Baldet, once again showed his contempt for democracy when he recently mangled the truth on Channel 4's evening news programme.
Mr Baldet chose to misrepresent the truth, in order to belittle the validity of two democratic votes that had led to both education workers and students opposing the Prevent strategy.
Baldet said: "The NUT (National Union of Teachers - now the National Education Union) had to redo their votes, recount their votes because it was so close.
"The NUS (National Union of Students) did not even vote, they just passed the motion because they ran out of time..."
So, let's set a few matters straight.First of all, in 2016, the NUT did undertake a democratic vote at its national conference, and did decide to oppose the Prevent strategy.
There was, however, no recount. Baldet was probably thinking of a similar vote that was passed by the University and College Union (UCU) at its 2016 annual conference.
In that instance there was a recount, but exactly what is Baldet implying? Does he think that for a democratic decision to be meaningful it has to be backed by a super-majority of delegates? This is complete nonsense.
A vote was taken, and a motion was passed in the best traditions of trade union democracy.
Baldet then added that the NUS "did not even vote" when it came to opposing the Prevent strategy. But to date, neither he nor any of his friends in government has presented any public evidence that backs up this strange claim. This is because he is wrong.
In the privatised railways, failure is absolutely thriving. Punctuality is at its lowest level in 13 years, and 2017-18 saw the first annual fall in passenger numbers in eight years.
The decline in passenger numbers has led to a decline in the net premiums paid by the privateers to the government, dropping from £700 million in 2016-17 to £400 million in 2017-18.
Moreover, last year the government paid these companies £3.8 billion in direct support - a rise of 8% in 12 months!
An analysis by the Times confirmed over 35,000 train services were cancelled last year due to the lack of available crew, a fivefold increase in six years.
Mick Whelan, leader of the train drivers' union Aslef, stated: "These figures show just how bad some of the services would have been if Aslef members hadn't gone above and beyond by working overtime".
Apart from his members having to work excessive shift patterns, what an opportunity - an overtime ban - thrown away by the Aslef leadership which could have provided vital support to the RMT union's safety campaign to retain guards on trains!
The busy Gospel Oak to Barking railway line in north east London is a byword for commuter misery.
Passengers are literally hard-pressed; having to squeeze into two-carriage diesel trains running four an hour - down from five after the private leasing company took two trains back.
The line was meant to have introduced last spring new four-carriage overhead electric trains but the manufacturer Bombardier has failed to deliver on time due to 'software problems'. Drivers have yet to start training.
Meanwhile the leasing company is set to withdraw all its trains by April 2019, which will collapse the entire line.
Transport for London, which took over running the line in 2005, has no idea when the electric trains will be introduced and now is scrambling around for trains to plug the gap.
Yet another example of the utter failure of rail privatisation which ensures that there is no integrated rail network but only travelling misery.
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Article dated 13 February 2019
The Socialist, weekly newspaper of the Socialist Party
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