Springingtiger's Blog

The Eight Hour Day – reflections on Party Conference season.

The Eight Hour Day

There is a slogan (originated by Robert Owen in 1817) from the campaign to secure the eight hour working day which said, “We require Eight hours for work, Eight hours for our own instruction and Eight hours for repose.” The idea was that eight hours each day should provide a worker (I almost typed workman because back then it was largely men working to provide for their wives and families, this is relevent.) with an adequate income to pay for all their needs: accommodation, food, clothes, and other charges, hopefully with a little over for saving or enjoyment.

Karl Marx recognised that the extension of the working day was counter-productive because it produced a “deterioration of human labour power by robbing it of its normal moral and physical conditions of development and activity, but also produces the premature exhaustion and death of this labour power itself.” (Capital). Thus even in capitalist society overworking employees is wasteful. In 1866 the International Workingmen’s Association proposed “eight hours as the legal limit of the working day”. In 1884 Tom Mann of the Social Democratic Federation set up the ‘Eight Hour League’ and persuaded the TUC to adopt the eight hour day as a goal. In the UK today the European Working Time Directives give us the right to limit our working week to forty-eight hours, but any worker can opt out and is too often under pressure to do so.

Working Tax Credits were designed to top up workers’ wages when they fell short of the amount needed to provide for a worker’s needs. If a worker receives enough upon which to live they have a reduced incentive to work extra hours. The abolition of Working Tax Credits as Priti Patel alleged on Question Time is to give the poor the flexibility to work more hours to meet their needs. The truth is that cutting families’ income below what they need actually forces them to work excess hours regardless of the detrimental effects on their health and the quality of their work.

The undermining of the eight hour day began long ago by changing the perception of a worker’s needs. Capitalists often refer to the cost of bread and other staples as a proportion of wages to show that workers’ wages are better now than in previous generations. However these same capitalists have re-engineered the perception of what is necessary to render wages inadequate and force working families to work more hours. True we don’t need television or internet to fill our bellies, but we do need them to function fully in today’s society. Do we need cars? Perhaps not in London and other cities with good public transport, but in many places the services provided by privatised public transport are so inadequate that a car is no longer a luxury, but essential. When I was a boy foreign holidays were a rarity, but the capitalist media have generated a perception that they are a necessity and people will work long hours to pay off the cost of them sooner than take a bus for a week in a caravan in Burnt Island or a tent on Lomond’s side.

Now in these days of political austerity the definition of poverty, and the expectations of the workers have become a problem to the government. In order to remove families from poverty without improving the conditions under which they live the Tories are going to redefine poverty so that fewer people will fall under the definition. Having a job is, indeed, better than benefits, but not when it does not provide sufficient income on which to live. In the Job Centres (which no longer provide assistance to find work) there are banners that say “Work more hours, earn more money” (we are not talking overtime here!). The principle of a ‘fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay is oot the windae (as we say in Republican Scotland). Few working families can manage on one wage, the figures that say employment is up disguise how many of those jobs are part time, second jobs, zero hours contracts, enforced self employment, all inadequate to meet the workers’ needs.

Margaret Thatcher sought to make Britain an island of home owners and now a third of the publically owned houses she enabled tennants to buy are in the hands of landlords to be rented out for profit. Why then do the Tories want to, once again, push people into home ownership? Because it increases indebtedness while restricting mobility, and so binds people to employers. A worker who rents his home is free to move on whenever an opportunity presents itself, but once a person has a mortgage his mobility is made more difficult. To support the home owning economy banks lend against the purchased property, it’s a low risk strategy homes can be repossessed and should profligate lending expose a bank to possible collapse they know they will be rescued at the taxpayers’ expense. Worse still any assets bought by the taxpayer will later be sold back at a discount to the class responsible for the policies and mismanagement that caused the problem. Everyone wins apart from the workers and the poor.

It is true that the poverty of today looks different from that of the turn of the last century and to base it entirely on a relationship to a median wage may be over simplistic, but to redefine it to include things like access to free education is to fail to take into account our changed society. However while we we are on the subject of education perhaps we should look at the purpose of education. While the Tory school’s like Eton (subsidised as charities with taxpayers’ money) exist to train the next generation of rulers, unsubsidised state education has two primary purposes. The first is to provide, at the expense of taxpayers, child care to free parents, particularly women to work during the six hours of the school day. The second is to educate workers’ children sufficiently to work in employment and serve society. However should those workers’ children seek to enter the upper echelons of Society by furthering their education in University they come up against the barrier of tuition fees and, instead of the (means tested) grant we enjoyed in my youth, they are compelled to run up debts in order to feed and clothe themselves. An employee with a burden of debt is a compliant worker and a partially educated worker to a state curriculum is unlikely to be aware of the dangerous ideas that lead to demands for workers’ rights.

Where does the ordinary worker get his ideas? From the television and the papers, owned and run by capitalists, who feed him a constant diet of propaganda. The socialists at the turn of the last century had to set up their own papers like the IRSP’s ‘The Worker’s Republic’, the ILP’s ‘Labour Leader or Keir Hardie’s ‘The Miner’ to counter the lies of the mainstream media. These workers’ papers faced all sorts of problems from violence and legal suppression to distribution difficulties and just making ends meet. Much of the distribution took place at public meetings and rallies, not dissimilar from thos of the Corbyn campaign and equally villified by the establishment. What Corbyn had that Connolly did not was supporters with access to the internet and social media. Today the internet enables ordinary people to research the truth of the stories propagated by the establishment media. It also enables activists to reach out to people with an alternative version of events. This is why the establishment is so desperate to seize control of the internet, ISIL exists as an excuse to censor the communications of all the opponents of the capitalist establishment. The problem the Tories have is that anything they put on the internet is merely more of the same, adds nothing to their conventional organs of propaganda and is easily refuted by a few minutes research, whereas it provides an opportunity for ordinary people to counter their arguments greater than (but not instead of) meetings and print.

Today the lies of the capitalist establishment stand exposed and in the countries of the UK more people than ever are awake to the injustices being perpetrated upon the people by a small elite and their dupes. It is four years until this government with its majority of just twelve must put itself up for election, in the meantime we should be doing what we can to render that small majority useless and making it impossible for them to enact any laws they manage to pass. Their cuts mean that they do not have the resources to handle a population determined to resist. To quell the miners they deployed police and soldiers, today they have fewer of both than they had of either then. We may not have a mass socialist party in Britain as such, however in Scotland we have the SNP, not a socialist party, but a party hoaching with socialists that may yet become one and a focus for opposition to rule by England. South of the border we have Corbyn’s revivified Labour Party, like the SNP not a socialist party, but again, a party hoaching with socialists and backed by its social movement Momentum. The opportunity has arisen, as never before in the last half century, of rebuilding the political institutions of the British isles on popular democratic foundations, but it means we must put our doctrinal quarrels behind us and join together to break the hold of capitalism on the structures and institutions of these islands.

To The Child I Used To Be


There is a tradition of people in their maturity addressing, in writing,  their childhood selves;  turning sixty seems a good time.
I think the first thing I would say to my younger self is, “There is nothing wrong with you.  You may find the world confusing  and feel out of place, you may be aware you are different and don’t fit in; your brain is wired differently from other people,  not wrongly,  just differently. You will eventually learn you have Asperger’s syndrome,  high functioning autism,  it’s no big deal. However it’s something you share with some of the great people of history, they are great because they walked their own way. I wasted time trying to be normal and fit in, you are normal for you,  you will never fit in with the norm, but those who matter will include you. You may feel now that you will never have friends you can trust,  you will,  but they will be few,  their lack of numbers offset by the quality of their friendship.


You may feel alone now,  it will not be forever so. You find girls confusing and think you will never understand them, I am sorry but you never will,  that’s nothing to do with the Asperger’s its the curse,  or blessing, of all men; don’t worry,  it is just what’s so. The best you can hope for is that you will find a girl who understands you and accepts you as you are; you will,  I did.  When you find her,  love her and tell her often that you love her, women like that sort of thing.  Love is another thing you will never understand,  but there will come a time when you know you are loved,  and you love so much it brings tears of joy to your eyes. You will learn that tears are not always bad, but often beautiful.  You will never understand romance,  I’m still trying,  I have worked out that it’s something to do with flowers. On the subject of love I should mention sex; apparently it is not just a bodily function,  but women have it as a way of expressing love, take your cue from her. Oh, and you can learn a lot about the mechanics of sex from books, you probably won’t get much practice before marriage and when it comes to sex, practice may cause problems.


Sex tends, eventually, to lead to children. There are books on the practical aspects of parenthood,  but  nothing can prepare you for the emotional chaos children bring. The best advice I can give is love them and do your very best,  whatever you do they will turn out as they will, and all you can do is love them and be their for them. Parenthood is an emotional maelstrom,  yours and theirs,  whatever happens hold on to them, but let them go their own way and make their own mistakes. Not all your tears will be the good sort. Grandchildren make it all worthwhile.


You are intelligent and have lots of potential,  however other people’s expectations of you are just that,  other people’s expectations. Walk your own way. I have used my intelligence to get into management,  in all honesty it did not make me happy and caused a lot of stress. There is nothing wrong with ambition and realising your potential,  but it is more important to be happy and to go to bed looking forward to waking up in the morning. One thing you should know is that there is help available for you with employment and studies.  I dropped out of university,  had my Asperger’s been known perhaps I might not. Would my life have been better with a degree I neither know nor care;  I can only live this life in this moment, speculation on what may have been is futile.  Remember follow your happiness, what does not make you truly happy is unlikely to be right for you.  Walk your own way, follow your happiness and work at your pace.


Change is inevitable,  sorry.  As you go through life you change schools,  change jobs, meet new people and worse lose them.  Pets and people die and when you love them it hurts so badly you want to go to bed and never wake up again. Life goes on and the pain somehow changes into a sort of bitter sweet wistfulness that adds a richness to living. The only way is through,  you will come through,  I have many times.


Keep an open mind.  It is too easy to see things digitally.  In fact nothing is entirely good or bad,  black or white, there may always be factors of which you are unaware. By all means hold firm to your values,  but don’t judge others by your standards,  what matters is that they meet their own.  By all means avoid those who make you uncomfortable,  but first examine your reasons; prejudice is a very poor basis for decision making. Try and be tolerant, other people may not be perfect, but that doesn’t mean they are not worthwhile. Be open to experience and be prepared to put up with some discomfort.  Push your boundaries,  get out of your comfort zone. Pursue knowledge insatiably and don’t discount anything just file away the stupid stuff,  further information may make it sensible.  Finally, for now,  read and read and read widely,  about anything and everything you live in an amazing universe immerse yourself in it and enjoy it. Walk your own path, in your own way, with an open mind, be open to experience,  but above all follow your happiness.


The SNP should not attack Jeremy Corbyn
September 30, 2015, 17:17
Filed under: disability, Justice, Politics, Scotland, Yes Scotland | Tags: , , , ,

I am very disappointed by the number of SNP supporters who seem desperate to join the Tory media in attacking Jeremy Corbyn. We have many points of agreement with Corbyn and where we agree we should work together. Together we can fight the Tories, when we attack Corbyn we are serving the interests of the Tory party.

Corbyn is a unionist true, but just as he hopes to persuade his party to unilateral disarmament, we should seek to make him understand the justice of self determination. I don’t think it will be that difficult, I believe in his passion for justice. Of course if independence is just going to make Scotland another tool of international capital it will be a complete waste of effort. However I believe he would support a Scotland committed to social democratic principles as a good thing.

It was not Corbyn’s decision to not discuss Trident at conference and all the papers discussed were drafted before he became leader. The next Labour conference in 2016 well be a better indicator of the direction of travel of the Labour Movement. Until that conference we might best employ a position of cautious, but not uncritical, support for any Labour action with which we agree while maintaining a commitment to independence.

Jeremy Corbyn has benefited from his refusal to stoop to gutter politics and personal attacks. The attacks on him have made him stronger. I suspect that the surest way to revivify Scottish Labour is to drive them to rally around a socialist leader. Far better to give them nothing to push against by following Corbyn’s example and confining our attacks to policy and making the Tories (or the Westminster government) the primary focus of those attacks. Far better to win support for Scottish freedom than provoke resistance to it.

Corbyn’s victory, like the rise of the YES movement, indicates the need and desire for a new type of politics based on positivity and hope. If we aren’t seen to be fair and reasonable, rising above the divisive hate politics of the past, we will suffer by comparison with the new politics Corbyn embodies and we will lose ground to Labour (assuming they follow Corbyn’s lead). There will be plenty of people attacking Corbyn, many from his own party, if we avoid personal attacks the Labour Party will be left to fight itself and the Tories. We must take note of Corbyn’s example and ensure we occupy the moral high ground.

Fuck Off Depression!
June 25, 2015, 15:17
Filed under: disability, Gardening | Tags:

Yesterday I said to a friend that that the first depression is never as bad as the second, because the second shows you that no matter how often you come through it, it can come back. I joked that I sometimes envy the bi-polar because at least they get highs in between the lows, but perhaps they would argue that the higher you soar the greater the crash. The bottom line is that staring an oncoming depression in the face is almost as bad as being hit by it.

I woke yesterday with that depression that always lurks on the periphery of my consciousness reminding me it hadn’t deserted me. It is rarely a big thing that brings on my depression, but rather, an accumulation of little things accompanied by a voice telling me that all this is pointless. So there were the aches as I pulled myself out of bed and the increasingly noticeable veins in my legs reminding me that in any realistic chronology, I am securely into the second half of my life. And the voice asking what I have to show for my years. Outside my window the midsummer sky was grey and the garden wet with rain, and I found myself wondering if I will make any real progress with getting my garden into shape before the winter comes. Experts tell us not to cut mow our lawns when the grass is wet, but the day before I could wait no longer and mowed the damp grass, now it didn’t look as if I would ever get to mow dry grass; the weedkiller washes off the weeds before they get a chance to absorb it and so I hand weed, knowing the roots I leave behind will furnish more of the same within weeks, if not days, and again the little voice reminds me how pointless it all is.

I look at my writing projects with depression reading over my shoulder and whispering that I am not a writer, that no one will ever read what I write and if they do they won’t like it. And so the flow is gone and typing is a struggle, a slow struggle as my fingers type a word order my brain knows is wrong, very wrong. I keep backspacing and retyping, it’s so slow and tedious and the voices tell me I am wasting my time. Voices? Yes, now there’s more than one and they are discussing me without having the decency to go out of earshot of my mind’s ear. All the time I stare at my keyboard another voice is urging me to catch up on tidying that I know will never be complete until the day I just give up trying to sort things and ruthlessly dump roomfuls of accumulated history and knowledge. I ask myself why am I carrying on?

I carry on because the alternative is too horrible to contemplate, I’ve been there. The call of the pit may have a horrible fascination, but just as previous depressions have told me I am not immune from further depression they also remind me of why I will not return willingly into hell. Familiarity warns me when depression is bracing itself to swallow me, I know what to look for and I know when to fight. Yesterday I had a Skype call prearranged with a friend, isolation is depression’s ally so connection is essential, my daughter visited for a little while as well. No amount of social media can replace another’s face to fill the emptiness. All day long I kept busy, studying, reading, writing, housework, getting into the air between showers. Today is not great, but it’s better than yesterday. One thing I have learnt is to be grateful for even small things, everyday I record my gratitude in my journal, some days that awareness, that there is always something for which to be grateful, is the only thing that stops me going under, a life belt against a ‘sea of troubles’. Every day, one day at a time.

I do not know what tomorrow may bring. I know that there will be challenges, I am aware I need to find some solidity beneath me, I know I will not sink willingly however tired I get of struggling. Depression may want to embrace me, but I’m not fucking giving in! I had hoped this blog would be more upbeat and positive, affirming that depression can be overcome; it can, I’ve done it, again and again and I will not give in now. I suppose my message is depression can be beaten, but be ready to fight, don’t be afraid to cry for help and don’t leave it too late. Today is the day to fight, I shall not sit and weep at the grey sky, I shall go out in the rain, so there! Fuck you depression, fuck you sideways, just fuck right off, go directly to fuck, do not pass fucking ‘Go’ do not collect two hundred fucking pounds, I am not fucking playing! I can do this!

Beheaded (NaPoWriMo Day 17)
April 17, 2015, 21:25
Filed under: autism, disability, Poetry, Writing | Tags: , , ,

Today I’m not recording, not up to it. This is the explanation.

Awoke this morning thumping in my head,
Hammering, hammering held me in bed.
“Do not try to get up!” The voices said.
At least the pain tells me I am not dead.
Through the day body sore and my eyes red,
Drumming in my head and my legs like lead,
I wanted to work, I suffered instead.
I faced the day with a head full of dread,
Discomfort and discord before me spread.
Painkillers taken, but still hurts my head.
The day shall soon be done, and back in bed
Shall I be with nothing done, nothing read,
Nothing written, I can’t follow my thread.
Tomorrow recovered, I’ll push ahead,
But for now I’ll take my head back to bed!

TTIP and the SNP
April 14, 2015, 14:14
Filed under: disability, Justice, Politics, Scotland | Tags: , , ,

Concerned about the impending Transatlantic Trade agreement, I asked my local SNP candidate what his party’s attitude is. His anger confirms me further in my decision to vote SNP.

“ Dear Rory

Thanks for getting in touch about the SNP and Scottish Government
position on TTIP, and particularly the proposed Investor State Dispute
Settlement process.

The SNP Scottish Government is not convinced that Investor State
Dispute Settlement is needed. Disputes between investors and the state
should be settled in domestic courts.

I agree with the SNP’s view that TTIP must not include anything which
enables companies to sue because they disagree with democratic public
policy. Governments must be free to act and regulate in the public

The First Minister and SNP Leader Nicola Sturgeon has stated that she
strongly opposes the inclusion of public services in TTIP, that she
has big concerns about the rights of corporations to sue governments
(ISDS), and that she opposes any agreement that has terms like that
included in it. At First Minister’s Questions on 4th December, Nicola
Sturgeon said: “I will fight tooth and nail against any moves to
privatise the NHS in Scotland by the back door, and if the TTIP
agreement ever put that threat, it would be opposed strongly by this

The SNP are concerned by the lack of transparency of the negotiations
process on TTIP.  The Scottish Government has made several
representations to the UK Government and the European Commission on
TTIP to make concerns about the national health service and public
services very clear. While both have responded saying that TTIP does
not pose any threat to the NHS, the public and the Scottish Government
must see the final legal text of any agreement to be fully assured
that this is true.

I hope this helps and if you’d like any further information, please
don’t hesitate to get in touch.”

Get in touch? I’ll get out and canvas!

An Aspie Contemplates The Summer (NaPoWriMo Day 12)
April 12, 2015, 22:26
Filed under: disability, Poetry, Travel, Writing | Tags: , , , , ,

I have been packing, not for me, but it made me think of summer holidays. I approach them with a combination of dread and excitement. Without preparation they would be intolerable.

An Aspie Contemplates The Summer (NaPoWriMo Day 12) on YouTube

An Aspie Contemplates The Summer (NaPoWriMo Day 12)
There is still much work to be done before
On my holiday, I can go away.
There’s washing and ironing and shopping
For all kinds of stuff so I have enough
Respectable clothes to wear, and my hair
Could bear a cut. I need a lock to keep
My suitcase shut. Traveller’s cheques I must buy
And currency too I must obtain for
Taxis and tips on my arrival day,
By which time I shall be tired and dropping.
Preparedness shall stop me feeling rough
And planning will free me from irksome care
Into the sky my plane will me sweep.
I shall send you a postcard bye and bye.


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