Wednesday 23 December 2015

Is John Burgess a left wing looney?

Yesterday Aditya Chakrabotty wrote a blog about Barnet Unison branch seretary John Burgess
(My hero in 2015? The man with the plan to beat the cuts) detailing just why he admires John Burgess so much. It seems to me that John, who I consider to be a top man, is a bit of a Marmite character. People either love him or hate him. I've been copied in a couple of email chains of people congratulating John on being recognised in a national paper. The comments of local campaigners and residents of Barnet, have been glowing with pride that "our man" has been picked out as man of the year. There are however a group of people who seem to have a radically different view. 

There is a recording doing the rounds, which has an official of Johns own union implying that John is a dangerous left wing looney. As John is a bit of a thorn in the side of the local Conservatives, you may have expected them to be in the "loathe" camp as well. In actual fact, I've yet to meet a Barnet Tory who has a bad word to say about John. Even John Hart, who is an old school right wing Tory, recently told me that he thinks John is an excellent chap, even if they disagree on how the council should conduct its business. No Barnet Tory has ever called John a Left wing looney. The reason is that they have seen how he works for the members of his Union. John doesn't do shouty sloganeering. He makes his case in reasonable terms and tries to engage with those he is seeking to convince. The Union official alleged that his campaign is run by the SWP. In all of the campaigns I've been involved with alongside John, I've never seen the SWP directing anything. I've no idea if any of the people I've campaigned with are SWP, but if they are, they've been very quiet about it. What I have seen is ordinary people such as John Sullivan, who has a disabled daughter supporting John, as he seems to be the voice of reason for disabled people in Barnet. I've seen local traders such as Helen Michael, who runs Cafe Buzz and is the chair of North Finchley traders working with John to improve parking policies. I've seen John working with the CPZ campaign to ensure ordinary people don't get ripped off. I've seen John working with the library campaign to keep our local librarys open. Is this left wing looneyism? I don't think so.

I do wonder if the people who are in the "I hate John Burgess" camp actually know him? I suspect that they are more driven by self interest, preserving comfy jobs and not having to work too hard for their members than by anything else? Is John a left wing looney? Well he certainly isn't a right winger, but as far as I am concerned he is one of the sanest, most hard working and decent people I've ever met. I'm not a member of a trades union and I run my own business. I think I am pretty objective about the matter. Barnet workers have not got a history of pointless wildcat strikes. They simply have fought for their jobs and for a good deal for Barnet. I doubt any reasonable person considers that looney, do you?

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