Tonight I have written a story for Byline Times disclosing that lawyers have decided to seek permission to appeal the Judicial review which rejected all the discrimination claims for the 1950s born women who face a six year delay in getting their pension. The story ishere.
BackTo60 have also launched a £72,000 crowdfunding site to raise money for this action. The crowdfunder site is here. Already at time of writing it has raised over £10,000.
Senior Labour figures are preparing to improve their offer
to compensate 3.8 million women born in the 1950s who are facing hardship by
having to wait up to six years for their pensions.
John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, indicated that the
party is now looking at a new offer as the general election approaches.
He made the comment
after a private meeting at Labour’s annual conference this week organised by his
office which enabled leading figures from campaigning organisations fighting
the women’s cause to pitch their case to senior people from the Labour Party.
The meeting came as the two largest trade unions affiliated
to Labour, Unison and Unite, backed the case for full restitution for the
women. Len McCluskey, leader of Unite, personally endorsed full restitution, in
a tweet. The party is also discussing putting the offer in its general election
Among the leading figures at the meeting were Laura Alvarez, the wife of Jeremy Corbyn: Andy Whitaker and Rory Macqueen respectively head of strategic communications and chief economic adviser at John McDonnell’s office; Mike Amesbury, shadow employment minister, and Fran Springfield, co chair of Labour’s disability organisation and one of the people drawing up the party’s manifesto. Mr McDonnell came to the end of the meeting.
The organisations represented included BackTo60, Waspi
Scotland, Waspi Ltd and Waspi 2018.
They were backed up
by two women from Unison in Wales, Lianne Dallimore and Mac Hawkins who also
addressed the meeting.
Jackie Jones, Labour MEP for Wales, also pressed the case
for full restitution and explained how it come done by a special temporary measure
through Parliament using the UN Convention on the elimination of all forms of
discrimination against women (CEDAW) which was ratified by Margaret t5hatcher
in 1986. This allows the money to be paid without amending the present pension
age of 66 for men and women.
At present Labour’s offer is confined to backdating payments
for two years from 66 to 64 for 1950s
born women but no further compensation.
Labour is also waiting the result of the judicial review held in June where Michael Mansfield, QWC put the case for full restitution for all 50s women. It has now been announced it will report on October 3 – next Thursday.
Among other people who attended the meeting were Christine Blower, former general secretary of the National union of Teachers, who is about to be ennobled as Baroness Blower; Labour MP for Ipswich Sandy Martin; Labour MEPs Jude Kirton-Darling and Richard Corbett. Moira Ramage, prospective Labour candidate for Paisley and Renfrewshire South.
At the TUC I was commissioned to write an article for Union News, the website that reports on all trade union action, about Unison’s decision to back the 1950s born women for the full restitution of their pension from the age of 60.
Unison were keen enough to support the BackTo60 campaign to come to Downing Street to hand in a letter to Boris Johnson, supporting their case which has been backed by a Parliamentary motion, started by Anna McMorrin, Labour MP for Cardiff, North and now signed by 190 MPs from all parties.
Next week Unison will be backing the campaign at a fringe meeting supporting the cause of the 3.8 million women at the Labour Party conference on Tuesday in the Metropole Hotel, Brighton.
You can read my article on the Union News website here.
There are no deep coal mines in the UK. There are no coal
miners. There are no brass bands attached to a living colliery and there no new
union banners for new pits. And soon, under new environmental rules, the sale
of domestic coal, except for smokeless fuel, may be banned.
So one would think that an event called the Durham Miners
Gala would be consigned to our nostalgic past with a few old men having a pint
down the local working men’s club.
But the facts contradict this. A new film released on Friday The Big Meeting by director and producer Daniel Draper two years after the last pit closed in the UK in 2016, shows the very opposite with a thriving modern festival in the City of Durham attracting over 200,000 people. It is a tribute to the almost eternal traditions of community, solidarity and fraternity that lives on long after the last mine closed.
It is warm almost affectionate appreciation of one of Labour’s
major festivals seen partly through the eyes of a diverse group of individual
participants, including a 19 year old Oxford undergraduate who runs a local
left wing bookshop in her vacations; a Waspi group of middle aged women
campaigning for their pensions and a woman who plays in a brass band.
The film itself interweaves the past and present with split
screen and colour and black and white clips contrasts the old celebrations with
the new. It has clips of Prime Ministers like Clement Atlee and Harold Wilson
addressing the meeting from the balcony of the Durham County Hotel when the
National Union of Mineworkers was a major force in the land to today’s
political participants including a video from presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders
in the States to Jeremy Corbyn, the current Labour leader.
It shows how the country has changed. One black and white
sequence shows young lads and lassies (well before the contraceptive pill)
cavorting in the fields and woods round Durham – as the festival was the place
where young miners could meet people of the opposite sex. This is contrasted
with today’s festival highlighting gay rights.
There is very raw emotional coverage of the music of brass bands – which, if anything, have expanded – with bands from places like Bristol which never had a pit to the US band players– participating with bands that have survived their pit closures. And there is in an interview with a woman who still makes these huge union colliery banners and is both reviving old lost ones and making new ones.
There is also clips of current pop artists who attend the
event including Billy Bragg.
The climax of the festival is a service inside Durham
Cathedral with the brass bands that have marched through the streets converging
on the city’s huge place of worship.
This is the film that both tells the history of a 135 year
old event and captures the spirit of it today.
As the director said: “I don’t think words can do justice to
such an occasion – I feel like the Gala is a living and breathing organism,
something not static, but immovable – a celebration of working-class life, not
just today, but almost as if it takes place in the past and future
simultaneously. I suppose this film is an elaborate explanation of something
wonderful and beyond words.”
The BIG MEETING. On release from September 6 and shown first in South Shields, Newcastle, Glasgow, Durham and Halifax. It is produced by the independent Shut Out The Light company
Contributers: Jeremy Corbyn, Dennis Skinner, Ian Lavery, Richard Burgon, Angela Rayner, DBC Pierre, John Irvin, Paul Mason, Margaret Aspinall, Selina Todd, Robert Colls, Ross Forbes, George Robson, Heather Wood, Heather Ward, Stephen Guy, Charlotte Austin, Laura Daly, Lynn Gibson, Mike Jackson & Brett Haran (LGSM), Ben Sellers, Liam Young, Emma Shankland, Robert McManners, Jake Campbell-Morris.
A group of leading BackTo60 campaigners and top people from Unison, the public service union, today delivered a personal letter to Boris Johnson calling on him to act to pay out the money owed to 3.8 million women whose pensions have been delayed by up to six years.
The delegation went direct to Downing Street preceded by Larry the Cat to press Boris Johnson to fulfill a pledge that he would look again at the problem for this particular group of women, many of whom have driven to poverty by the decision enacted by successive governments.
They are backed by a petition signed by 177 MPs of all parties calling for a Special temporary measure to grant the money owed without reversing the existing pensions legislation by returning the pension age to 60 for women.
The full delegation were Prof Jackie Jones, Barrister, MEP, Wales; Gloria Mills CBE, National Secretary, UNISON, Equalities, Sian Stockham, Senior Vice-President, UNISON, Alan Fox. National Pensions Officer, UNISON, Joanne Welch, Campaign Director,BackTo60.com and Callum Jones, Undergraduate.
Prof Jones said “It’s beyond time for women to have equal rights and equal financial entitlements for years of service. Equal pension is part of this. No way are women going to settle for anything less.”
Gloria Mills said”1950s women deserve their full state pension now and the government should act by using the Temporary Special Measure contained to right this wrong. UNISON the UK’s largest trade union with 1 million women members will continue to fight for pension justice for the 3.8 million women born in the 1950s many of whom are UNISON members.”.
She added: ” The recent idea that people may have to work to 75 is a disgrace to all working people. All these women have been discriminated against all their life by not being able to claim a pension while they are working part time or bringing up a family. Their pensions pots are miniscule compared to many men.”
Sian Stockham said : ” Some women who just paid the married woman’s pension have been left with the disgraceful sum of just 10p a month which is a disgrace.
Callum Jones, an undergraduate student who joined the delegation said : “It is clear to see that the government is trying to take advantage of vulnerable members of society and if we don’t look after the most vulnerable members of our society what kind of society would we have.”
Earlier petitions, one of which reached 728,000, were delivered to former Prime Minister, Theresa May on 3 separate occasions: It was ignored and this led BackTo60 to succeed in getting o a Judicial Review, held on 5th and 6th June was hthe Royal Courts of Justice,t and the Reserved Judgment is due soon.
In a rather bizarre move this May WASPI Ltd, which also represents some of the women, tried to urge MPs not to sign the motion calling for the restitution of the money to the 3.8 million. They believe the women should only get a bridging loan which will have to be paid back by having reduced pensions for life.
But this action is rather late as 177 MPs have already signed and the motion was delivered to Number Ten demanding full restitution today.
Chris Mullin, the former Labour minister and MP, last night told an audience of MPs and peers that he did not believe that the Establishment would seek to undermine a future Labour government led by ” saintly” Jeremy Corbyn .
His riposte came a month after Sir Richard Dearlove, the former head of MI6, expressed worries that Corbyn had not ditched his left wing views, had met people who were not friends of Britain and said he was worried about him becoming PM. The charge has been made also by Sajid Javid, the home secretary who describes Jeremy Corbyn as ” a threat to our national security.”
Chris Mullin was giving a talk as part of John Bercow’s Speaker’s Lectures series after the publication of his autobiography Hinterland, which describes his life as a war journalist. Mp and minister and a chair of the influential home affairs committee.
He is most famous for his novel written in 1982 ” A Very British Coup” which became a BBC TV series describing how a left wing Labour MP with strong views on disarmament and an ally of the trade unions wins a general election with a landslide victory only to be undermined by the security services, the Establishment and the Murdoch Empire.
Although written some 33 years before the sudden rise of Jeremy Corbyn the novel is now seen as prescient of events that did change the direction of the Labour Party. At the time it was written Tony Benn not Jeremy Corbyn was seen as the great danger.
But despite the novel’s gloomy prognosis Mr Mullin does not see this happening should Jeremy Corbyn win the next election.
” I think MI5 has been cleaned up in the last 30 years “, he said. He was not so certain about MI6 after the comments of Sir Richard Dearlove.
Mr Mullin himself was branded as part of the ” loony left ” by the right wing media particularly as he championed the cause of the six Birmingham bombers who were found guilty of blowing up two pubs killing 21 people and injuring 182 others but had their convictions quashed 16 years later. This was one of the greatest miscarriages of justice.
He disclosed that although he was on the left of the party he had not voted for him as party leader as he did not agree with all his policies. He described Jeremy as a ” saintly person” who has always stood by his beliefs.
He also had a surprise for his audience. He is a writing a sequel to A very British Coup which covers the current Brexit crisis. It is to be published on March 29 next year – the day Britain is due to leave the European Union.