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.



Writer’s Block – Commitment and Context.

As I left the cinema this lunchtime, I bumped into my friend Charlie Russell and walked him along to his work. As we walked we talked and the conversation turned to writing. Charlie told me that when faced with writer’s block Dan Brown hands upside down, it led me to the contemplation of writer’s block.

As you may know, I have committed to posting to my blog every day this year, so the subject of writer’s block is of some interest to me. There were days at the start when writing was a real struggle and for those writing something specific like a book or commissioned article, I can appreciate writer’s block is a real problem. I have the freedom to write what I choose and after a while it occurred to me that every day something happens, all that remains is to write about it. If one pays attention there is always something about which to write, all that one has to do is notice it. Of course what draws one’s attention may not be the subject about which one writes, it is sufficient that it calls one’s attention to something about which one can write. Unfortunately the events of one’s daily life may be irrelevant to that about which a writer needs to write, but at least they will be writing, and writing, any writing, may be sufficient to start the ideas flowing again. It goes without saying that any writing will require editing, if that editing is to remove irrelevant content that stimulated a flow of ideas, so much the better. Anyone who has a commitment to something will, on occasion, face obstacles, sometimes the obstacle is called “writer’s block”, but everyone has their blocks.

My commitment is to post to my blog every day, it is not to post rubbish,although there are days when I am not entirely satisfied with my output. There is no point in my writing something that is of no use to readers, so contained in my commitment is the further commitment to provide value. I write primarily for myself, but there is no satisfaction in worthless content; time constraints may prevent me fully editing what I write, but at least the content should have value, my values will not allow it to be otherwise. I believe I may have said in a previous post that a commitment that does not have one’s values as its foundation will not be compelling. My commitment is to write, someone else’s may be to feed school children in Africa or, perhaps, to educate their own children. A person’s real commitment creates the context in which they live and act. I have said it before, and it remains true that commitment is not something one has, it is who one is. Commitment will always bring obstructions, but it will also provide the power to get past the obstruction.



At Last.

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After some swithering, I have, at last, decided to bathe. I had thought just to crawl into my welcome bed, but the effort of dragging myself upstairs, awoke me sufficiently to draw my bath. And so now my aching body is soaking in a solution of Arnica salts.

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Today has been the only day of this break  in which dry weather was assured. Needless to say, I, as so often in such circumstances, attacked my garden with injudicious gusto. I am happy to say this has been a day of accomplishment. I weeded my patio pots and replanted very many bulbs. I have moved those many pots, increased in number, from the lower, to the upper patio. I have swept and pressure washed the lower patio. I have done all this while supervising my granddaughters and their friends. I am, not only tired, but sore.

I had thought today that I had paced myself well. I stopped for my lunch and another short break, I varied my movements to engage different muscles; however, it seems I have merely succeeded in guaranteeing that my efforts have earned a reward of generalised myalgia and of exhaustion. It is a good tiredness, I wear it as a badge of honour.

I could have slept, I could have bathed and slept, but no. I have committed myself, for this year, to post to my blog every day, thus even had the warm water was doing its work, I was typing on my phone. I had good reason not to post, perhaps even, valid reason, but commitment is unreasonable. Commitment is a force that has us do that which we might, hitherto, have believed impossible, because we have spoken, or, in my case written. I have said every day I will post, so every day I shall. And now I go, at last, to my sleep, wrapped in a warm blanket of accomplishment…okay, yes it does look a lot like a cloak of unbearable smugness, but I assure you it’s no more than well earned satisfaction. Does that sound smug? Oh, I do hope not, actually I think I’m beyond caring. Good night

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At Last.

After some swithering, I have, at last, decided to bathe. I had thought just to crawl into my welcome bed, but the effort of dragging myself upstairs, awoke me sufficiently to draw my bath. And so now my aching body is soaking in a solution of Arnica salts.

Today has been the only day of this break  in which dry weather was assured. Needless to say, I, as so often in such circumstances, attacked my garden with injudicious gusto. I am happy to say this has been a day of accomplishment. I weeded my patio pots and replanted very many bulbs. I have moved those many pots, increased in number, from the lower, to the upper patio. I have swept and pressure washed the lower patio. I have done all this while supervising my granddaughters and their friends. I am, not only tired, but sore.

I had thought today that I had paced myself well. I stopped for my lunch and another short break, I varied my movements to engage different muscles; however, it seems I have merely succeeded in guaranteeing that my efforts have earned a reward of generalised myalgia and of exhaustion. It is a good tiredness, I wear it as a badge of honour.

I could have slept, I could have bathed and slept, but no. I have committed myself, for this year, to post to my blog every day, thus even had the warm water was doing its work, I was typing on my phone. I had good reason not to post, perhaps even, valid reason, but commitment is unreasonable. Commitment is a force that has us do that which we might, hitherto, have believed impossible, because we have spoken, or, in my case written. I have said every day I will post, so every day I shall. And now I go, at last, to my sleep, wrapped in a warm blanket of accomplishment…okay, yes it does look a lot like a cloak of unbearable smugness, but I assure you it’s no more than well earned satisfaction. Does that sound smug? Oh, I do hope not, actually I think I’m beyond carrying. Good night



Trust Issues

That I have Asperger’s is no secret. That I have trust issues is not as readily apparent because I am always prepared to trust someone once, but once betrayed by them it may take years before I am even prepared to consider extending trust again. I have been betrayed, my personal space, my privacy has been invaded. I conceal little about myself, but I like to be the one who reveals myself. Generally I am not very worried about privacy because I have nothing to hide, but when someone else takes it upon themselves to snoop into my affairs I take exception, largely because it offends my sense of etiquette, it is grossly ill-mannered. I resent having nosey young people snooping in my personal accounts.

On the request of my manager I allowed another member of staff access to my login so that they could answer emails in the company’s inbox, it was not an entirely unreasonable request assuming, as I did, that my colleague was reasonable. Unfortunately she is not particularly bright and managed to delete all the contents of my “Sent” folder, leaving me with no record of emails sent to HR or Wages. I could let that go, people make mistakes, but then she pretended my manager had asked her to try and find the missing emails, I allowed hat back into my account. She had lied, rather than fixing her stupid mistake she went into my Facebook and posted updates. She thought she was being funny, she has not the wit to be funny. I do not consider it a joke when someone trespasses in my personal space and violated my privacy. What is totally unforgivable is her trying to pass off her banal and immature remarks as mine. Needless to say that is the last time I allow someone else to use my login. I am not always quick to forgive a hurt but I am slower to forget one.

Last night was not good, on top of having my personal space violated, my sense of order was assaulted by yet more staff changes. A company had a right to change shift patterns to meet demand, it has a right to allocate those shifts, but I do get upset when that entails moving people to whose presence I am used, particularly when they make my workplace more enjoyable. If they had asked me I could have given them a list of people to move off my shift, headed by the idiot who abused my Facebook!



Desperate Measures

On Saturday night my hopes of publishing to my my blog every day were almost dashed. Neelam had organised an Access Consciousness Bars class with May Johnstone of Delicious Healing in Bridge of Allan after which we were to go and join her family in Cumbernauld for dinner.

We had an early start to the day and a drive to Bridge of Allan under a dull grey sky. May’s house was, like her, warm and welcoming and we had a good day. She is a very well informed andsensitive trainer and we learned a lot, despite having already done one Bars class. However, I had had to make use of my phone’s satnav and I was aware it had eaten into my battery’s reserves.

I used my satnav again in the evening as we left Bridge of Allan for Cumbernauld. Two of Neelam’s sisters had come up from England so, unusually, all the sisters were together with their Mum. It was a pleasant evening except that I was not feeling good and fell asleep, sitting on a hard wooden bench, in the middle of dinner.
We left two hours later than I expected and so I lost most of the time I had allocated for writing. My only option was to write my blog on my phone, as I wrote I was very aware that I was rapidly approaching both my deadline and the demise of my battery. I wrote quickly with little editing and then all hope of getting home in time to post from my PC was lost as we hit a closed motorway and confusing diversions. In the end it mattered little as the internet was down at home. However with minutes to spare I posted what I had written under the title “Incomplete Draft”. In the morning once my phone was recharged – we still had no internet – I expanded the piece,edited it and retitled it, “Thou Shalt Not eat Bull!” (I giggled, neigh laughed myself horse at that title!)

What I realise I am going to have to do is write two blogs one day so that in future I always have a blog in hand to cope with emergencies, just as the BBC trots out saved programs to fill the gaps left by the National Union of Journalist’s industrial action. The question is whether I keep a blog saved that can be used any time or whether I keep a blog in hand on a rolling basis, if I can find the time, I suspect it will be a combination of both.



The Disappearing Blog
February 4, 2013, 05:27
Filed under: social media | Tags: , , ,

As some of you are aware I am writing every day and have committed to posting to my blog everyday, and I have already commented on some of the challenges with which I have been presented. I have discovered a new challenge, the disappearing blog.

Last night I finished my blog for posting this morning – this post I am currently writing will actually be published the day after tomorrow, that’s how my schedule works – and used WordPress’ scheduling tools to publish it this morning. I went to bed happy to be on schedule. This afternoon I thought to check my blog only to discover my post missing. Now I know not whether the scheduling tools had failed, or, more probably, I had made a mistake, but the post was not there and time was moving on. Fortunately my post and my links were on Google Docs so I was delayed, not defeated.

Scheduling tools are useful, I have used the WordPress tool before, successfully, and it is useful. Of course there are other blog scheduling tools; were it not for the free tool I have on WordPress, I would by now be using SocialOomph Professional https://www.socialoomph.com/ . If I was blogging for business reasons, I would not hesitate to use SocialOomph Professional, for less than six pounds a week as well as the Twitter scheduling it allows one to operate several accounts, schedule blogs, schedule shares on several social networks. However I am not blogging for business purposes and so WordPress is enough for me. Blogger also has a facility for scheduling posts, so check to see what facilities are available to you on your service.

What this incident has taught me is that it is essential to know and understand the tools one is using. Use them before you need to, so that when you do need them, you’ll know what you are doing. If you can, check as soon as you can after the scheduled time to make sure the post has been published. Keep a copy of your post so that if it isn’t published on schedule you can publish it manually; even if you missed the scheduled time, in most cases the blog will still be usable. Oh, and make sure when you set up the schedule, you have correctly set up your time zone, it does make a difference!