Socialist Worker

Councillors who don’t know a flaming thing

SOCIALIST WORKER reported last week that two of the Labour councillors bussed in to wreck a deal to end the dispute were Ian Corbett and Andrew Baikie from Newham, east London. Duncan Milligan, who works for the FBU firefighters’ union, contact

Issue No. 1914

Duncan Milligan (DM): I’m Duncan Milligan. I’m writing a story for Firefighter. I want to talk about Monday’s vote.

Ian Corbett (IC): You’re not a reporter. You’re one of those firefighters.

DM: No, I’m writing a report for Firefighter, which is published by the FBU. I’m an NUJ member. How did you vote?

IC: I voted against.

DM: Can I ask you a few things about the fire service?

IC: You’re just one of those firefighters phoning to tell me I don’t know anything about the fire service.

DM: No, I’m trying to help you show that’s not true. I’m giving you a chance. Do you know what an AFA is?

IC: No. [It’s an automatic fire alarm]

DM: Do you know what an IRMP is?

IC: God, no. [It’s central to the government’s modernisation drive across the fire service]

DM: Well, just tell me three things about the fire service, just any simple things. Anything? (Silence.) Anything? Do you know what the National Framework document is?

IC: I don’t know what it’s to do with. You’re trying to make it look as if we don’t know anything.

Andrew Baikie also didn’t know the answers to questions about issues that would be common knowledge for anyone familiar with the fire service.

He was absolutely sure there was a national strike in 1997, which he could “remember well”.

In fact, the last national strike before the current two year old dispute was in 1977.

He didn’t know what hours firefighters work but was very proud that he knew the name of the FBU’s chief negotiator. “Dave Fordham,” he said confidently. In fact, it’s Mike Fordham.

Staggering ignorance did not stop Baikie and Corbett voting on the futures of 50,000 workers.

They were joined by New Labour’s Jaimie Carswell from Hackney council, also in east London.

Carswell parroted the myth that firefighters are asking for special privileges for working bank holidays. If you’d like to set him straight, make sure you don’t do it on a bank holiday—he is, apparently, unavailable on those days.


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News
Sat 14 Aug 2004, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1914
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