Welcome to my website. I am a trade unionist and a socialist who has been active in working class politics for around forty-three years. I represented my union, the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) at all levels, up to national vice-president. I have played a key role in, and directly led, numerous campaigns and strikes over that period and have been active in building the left in the union and in our wider movement.
I was born in Glasgow in 1954 and developed an early interest in politics that stemmed from a deep-rooted hatred of oppression. In 1977 I joined the Militant Tendency, part of the Committee for a Workers’ International. I was active in the Labour Party Young Socialists, and until 1984 (when the first witch-hunts began), I held a position as Education Officer in what was then Provan Labour party. I also organised with Unemployed Workers’ groups and in various other campaigns.
In 1981 I joined the Civil Service, working for the Unemployment Benefit Service (UBS), which later became part of the Employment Service (ES), which itself became part of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). I remained there until my retirement in December 2019.
Working at Easterhouse Benefit Office, I became a union representative for the Civil and Public Services Association (CPSA) within three months of joining. Over the following years I led several one-day strikes on various issues. In 1988 I led the successful three-month Easterhouse Staffing Dispute and played a leading role in organising the campaign in the West of Scotland against the introduction of the Youth Training Scheme (YTS) into the civil service.
I moved to Bristol in 1989 and played a key role in establishing the Anti-Poll Tax Federation there. I was on strike for six months of the year-long Bristol Health & Safety Dispute. Although not initially working in a striking office, management deliberately transferred me into one of the strike-bound offices, upon which I joined the strike. I then played a key role in organising the strike. Following the strike, management tried – but failed – to have me sacked; and for many years after I was subjected to regular victimisation and had to fight off five separate attempts to sack me.
In 1993 Employment Service (ES) management sacked union activists Amanda lane and Steve Goldfinch, after workers at Bedminster Jobcentre had, in solidarity, refused to service job adverts by the Arrowsmith Print company which had locked out their workforce. A major two-year long campaign for reinstatement, including strike action, followed; but the union’s right-wing leadership collaborated with management to prevent reinstatement. The betrayal of the dispute and the campaign was a principal factor, along with right-wing witch-hunts against activists (including an attack on activists in Newcastle Central Office branch) that led to the eventual defeat of the state-backed right-wing “Moderate faction” of the union.
In the 1995-96 Employment Service pay dispute, as a member of the Employment Service group executive, I organised strike action in Cardiff and Merthyr Tydfil.
Throughout these years I was a member of the CPSA Broad Left National Committee. And following the formation of the Public and Commercial Services union, I was a member of the Left Unity National Committee, until my retirement (with the exception of one year).
I was elected to the PCS National Executive Committee (NEC) in 2002 and became vice-president from 2007 until 2017. I played a major organising role in the successful election of the left each year. During this period I worked closely with general secretary, Mark Serwotka, and presidents Janice Godrich and Fran Heathcote, playing a significant role in the development of policy, especially on welfare and privatisation, organising campaigns and speaking at innumerable meetings throughout the United Kingdom. I was very proud to serve at various points as Liaison Officer for each of the devolved areas of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and I ensured the voices of members in these areas were always heard. I also played a principal role in developing and delivering the union’s highly regarded work in the Scottish Independence Referendum.
In 2018, along with other leading rank and file PCS activists, I was expelled from the Socialist Party of England and Wales. We had opposed the party’s “descent into sectarianism, opportunism and the embrace of prestige politics” and its abandonment of core principles on which the Committee for a Workers’ International was formed, most particularly the United Front strategy.
Early blog posts have dealt with the lessons of events in PCS, but in the context of how Marxists orientate to the mass organisations of the working class like the trade unions and the Labour Party. Future posts will cover these and other issues.