GMB – a Cockney Clique


Somehow a wholly unnecessary strike turned into an elevation of Rhea Wolfson

The GMB union held a two day strike in Glasgow on behalf of equal pay for women. It is valuable to look at its motivation and what it achieved. They were paid up to £3 an hour less than council staff in male-dominated but broadly equivalent roles such as bin collecting and street sweeping. Some estimate they’re owed hundreds of millions of pounds in back pay.

There is nothing as bewildering than a union that holds to a tenuous belief in anarcho-syndicalism and yet regularly settles for a great deal less faced with employers it is affiliated to, such as the British Labour Party, the party that governed Glasgow for over twenty years.

You don’t demonstrate greater theatrical grandstanding than continuing to shout for equal pay long after it’s promised, scheduled for implementation. That’s essentially the cockamamie position of the anti-Scottish GMB, the General Municipal Boilermakers, whose officials command vast salaries and expenses while advocating equal pay for all.

What is the GMB?

It comes as no surprise to learn the GMB was born in East London late in the nineteenth century, an offshoot of the early Socialist Party. It has no historical association with Scotland, no record of intervention in any of Scotland’s great social-political upheavals or events, from the Clearances to Glasgow’s slum tenements.

The GMB is a Cockney clique that thinks Scotland should be North England in every respect, from its education system to the NHS and on to government. In that, the GMB is antagonistic to Scotland’s democratic ambitions. Readers will remember the GMB is often aided by UNISON. Both unions canvassed ruthlessly against Scottish independence in the 2014 referendum. Neither is a friend to Scotland’s constitutional or civil rights.

You cannot be a worker’s union and simultaneously campaign against full democratic rights. Both are cornerstones of democracy.  Simply put, the GMB is another wing of the campaign to Bring Back the Great British Empire.


The Glasgow women’s two-day strike was, in most part, organised by the GMB’s Scottish organiser Rhea Wolfson. She’s a budding demagogue. The former miner’s leader Arthur Scargill will recognise her style.

The hallmarks are classic, first cast yourself as the victim of abuse, either racist or political, garner press attention for yourself, then assume a messianic resolve to emerge unscathed, and after making the appearance of having achieved exactly that, portray yourself as a latter-day Joan of Arc. Press attention is paramount.

Wolfson is no stranger to political controversy. In 2016, she replaced Ken Livingstone on the Momentum slate for the NEC after he was suspended from the party. However, she experienced difficulties after failing to secure the nomination of her home CLP, as required by the rulebook. Wolfson blamed her former Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy for orchestrating her defeat. Ultimately, as reported by Labour List at the time, she changed her party membership from Eastwood to Almond Valley CLP (Livingston) and got onto the ballot paper.

The GMB shifts the blame

If the strike should have been about anything, it ought to have been about usurping the executive of the GMB for dereliction of duty and false representation.

In all her ranting and raving about equal pay in Glasgow not once did Wolfson remind the women losing two days wages that the GMB had sold them down the river on that very goal. Whenever equal pay is raised the GMB gets it wrong. The union is suing its former lawyers, Digby Brown, over the firm’s advice in North Lanarkshire’s equal pay dispute. That claim will drag on for many months placing claimants at a disadvantage.

Wolfson did her best to give the impression that Glasgow’s SNP run-council is obstructing a manifesto promise to settle 12,000 outstanding pay claims. “There had been 21 meetings this year but no meaningful progress” is a personal opinion, and an odd one set against a guaranteed resolution by the end of this year, 2018. You wonder how easy the GMB made agreement of complicated detail in discussions reassessing grades.

Wolfson failed to make clear to the public, as did the GMB, the fact that the previous Labour administration in Glasgow had spent an estimated £2,5 million in legal fees fighting against the implementation of equal rights for its council works. Labour burdened the incoming administration with huge debts. Wolfson’s entire motivation is embarrass the new SNP administration, as if it was the SNP who caused the strike. Wolfson’s idea of equality is decidedly lop-sided.

Raiding parties to the rescue

There is a strong rumour her GMB male colleagues advised against striking. It rings true. They almost certainly foresaw how it would backfire on the union because the public are so much better informed of the rights and wrongs of the dispute than before. Wolfson threw caution to the wind. She announced the strike in the following terms on the GMB website, and in so doing showed how little she cared about the school children and vulnerable adults affected:

“The strike will involve more than 2,000 GMB members who provide round the clock home care for 87,000 service users, as well as cleaning and catering services for schools and amenities across the city.”

In the event, an estimated 8,000 thousand people attended the rally, mostly woman, which sounds a success until the public learned a large number were sent from England.

Groups from ‘darn sarf’ were paid to attend with expenses paid. Expensive placards were handed out to all  who attended, money that could have helped subsidise some of the women struggling to make ends meet. How many of the indigenous women were single mothers, and how many were married with working husbands is not known.

Hitler’s view

Fascist ideology hates unions. Fascists know unions are the very bedrock of democracy. Right-wing governments employ fascist language to undermine union representation, or quash it altogether.

A labour union is the chief mechanism by which a democracy guides the distribution of wealth at a local level. Its function is to organise collective bargaining. Elected governments are meant to do the same job at a national level, but for wider social benefits such as sustaining infrastructure and institutions.

Trade unions are a source of cooperation and community. They exist to achieve wage equality. Their function is to protect workers against economic vicissitude. According to fascist policy – which we see arising everywhere in the UK and abroad – unions must be smashed to render workers isolated, prepared to accept whatever is offered.

In Part 1 of Mein Kampf Hitler attacks unions over an over again. Unions are fascism’s Public Enemy Number 1. He went further. He accused ‘The Jew’ of gradually assuming leadership of the trade union movement. Hitler wanted a blindly obedient fighting force loyal only to the national leader of government.

Whether or not Wolfson is intellectually aware of Hitler’s outlook is unknown but she is certainly commendably assiduous in condemning anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, however, Labour’s travails over its alleged anti-Semitism isn’t for this essay.

The current attack on unions

In the western society we see very successful attacks on unions by the power elite. We saw it in the Hollywood movie On the Waterfront, the loner beating the crooked union.

In the UK Thatcher squandered thousands of millions of pounds of Scotland’s North Sea oil on eradicating union influence, vastly reduced the scale of union activity, (aided by the right-wing British press) destroying worker’s livelihoods, breaking up families and communities, paying those made unemployed social security and unemployment benefits for the rest of their days … until now, that is. The Labour Party has no plans to roll back draconian union law.

We do not ostracise unions in Scotland, we encourage their participation, but note I am talking about indigenous unions not English orientated unions carrying the flag of  British nationalism and its agenda.

In Scotland, the SNP government, and the SNP council in Glasgow did not attack the GMB once. Indeed, they supported the women to the hilt rendering a strike unnecessary.

As the leader of the council said, “The women won their case the minute the SNP were elected.” Susan Aitken, the patient SNP leader of Glasgow city council, said her administration “remained committed to agreeing a settlement with staff by the end of the year … and not any sort of lowball offer.”

You cannot get more committed to a cause or precise than that, and that is in the face of many millions of pounds – some say a billion, needed to finance equal pay.

Tammany Hall politics

The GMB’s response was to come clean about their private intentions. They didn’t want SNP support. “Glasgow council has no money, therefore the Scottish Government will have to pay up”, said one callous official.

This is the British nationalist way of thinking. Impose Tory economic policies on Scotland with the full support of the Labour Party, reduce Scotland’s annual grant to squeeze the SNP’s choice of how to spend it, and then demand the SNP government supply the difference from thin air. It is no better than the Mafia demanding money with menaces.

Wolfson stands accused of exploiting the women in the strike. She did not rail against the British state that undermines Scotland’s sovereignty, nor demand Scotland be allowed to keep what it earns to spend as it sees fit, or ask the UK Treasury to pay up. Those ideals are furthest from her thoughts. She made no mention that Richard Leonard Labour’s branch manager was a GMB official when the women were denied equal pay. That’s called rank dishonesty. She is part of a Labour Party that deleted Clause 4 in its Manifesto and in one fell swoop practically outlawed unions.

Equality of wages was already agreed. Wolfson created division when she should have created cohesion and a collaborative partnership. The women need better leadership. Wolfson turned an honourable goal into a giant hen party.

Without a conscience, she left many young and old vulnerable for the length of the strike. She lied when she and her colleagues said they had no choice, two months away from the first payments to the women involved. I am sad to say, in her contorted way, Wolfson’s voice is the stuff of fascist demagoguery.

Betraying the people of Glasgow

The people of Glasgow voted for independence without caveat. They did not invite fifth column English unionists to come to their city to divert that just ambition. The GMB betrays that clarion call with every utterance they make. The Labour Party and their affiliated unions show they a force against social progress.

In essence we’re dealing with a union that correctly demands equality of pay but not equality of civil rights in a sovereign nation. That is a preposterous stance to take.

What we saw in George Square, Glasgow, was Tammany Hall politics of Labour graft and union corruption, the legacy of a Labour administration.




The content of this essay was brazenly exploited by those it criticises, namely Rhea Wolfson and the heavy-handed GMB boss, Tim Roache, a man who admitted he had not read the article but thinks it ‘shit’ and ‘disgusting’.

A fulsome defence of the thesis here:


My sister essay on fascist-speak in society here:


Grouse Beater discusses Nazis, Hitler and ‘The Jew’ here:


This entry was posted in Scottish Politics. Bookmark the permalink.

80 Responses to GMB – a Cockney Clique

  1. Grouse Beater says:

    Rather a pity I had to say anything, but we have a union that continually gets its members pay confused with Scotland’s constitutional rights.

  2. pd0930 says:

    My thoughts precisely

  3. Hugh Wallace says:

    Between you & Wings I’ve successfully been put off joining a union in my new workplace. And me a lifelong believer in trade unions…

  4. Grouse Beater says:

    Unions are worth supporting, Hugh, but their political affiliation needs careful scrutiny. I’m of the opinion unions should not be part of a political party, but rather strictly impartial.

  5. grumpydubai says:

    Superb article and comments, Grousebeater.

    Thank you

  6. Great read! Fifth column English unionists wreaking havoc in Scottish democracy, is inevitable as it is relentless. Tories are about to give UK expats, over 5 million, the right to vote for life, in their UK they have left and contribute nothing. Look at how their numbers shot up in Scotland 2014. Its not a coincidence. They’re learning from Scots indyref1.

    “Until 2015, registration levels for overseas electors were in fact extremely low, largely due to bureaucratic obstacles. But the introduction of online registration in 2014 triggered a massive increase in registration, which was further magnified by the 2016 EU referendum and 2017 snap election, when the number rose to over 285,000.”

    Keep it coming!

  7. xsticks says:

    The fact that they’re stirring up the unions *now* to try and damage the SG and the SNP suggests they fear a referendum or election is on the cards. That they are resorting to this now would indicate that their media propaganda is not working as effectively as it was in 2014.

    The british msm anti-independence anti SNP propaganda has been ramped up to 11.

    They are running scared and I think this is going to be a very close run thing with the brexit catastrophe looming. I’d accept a delay in indy if it means stopping brexit. But only IF we can stop brexit. Our next safest option is indyref2 before 29 Mar 2019. After that and we’re into Tory dictatorship territory where we’ll be treated like Catalonia is by Madrid. Worrying times.

  8. Hugh Taylor says:

    Did not realise that the B in GMB was Boilermakers. Back in the day men claiming to be from this union travelled Central Scotland seeking work, mostly as welders, wherever they went they left a trail of chaos with there rabble rousing strike causing antics, other unions would not support or entertain them I worked in one such factory where we just ignored them until they got fed up and left to go elsewhere. I believe the Boilermakers Union were thrown out of the TUC at one point.

  9. trispw says:

    That’s what I call journalism.

  10. Grouse Beater says:

    Welcome, Hugh, as are your accurate comments. 🙂

  11. Marconatrix says:

    Thank you for going to the trouble of explaining this whole unsavoury stitch-up. To an outsider it could otherwise be entirely misconstrued.

  12. broadbield says:

    Another incisive piece. Others have, quite rightly, focussed on the hypocrisy and opportunism of the unions and Labour, especially Corbyn and Leonard, but your analysis gives a much needed broader perspective. Many thanks.

  13. Grouse Beater says:

    I notice the main character is doing her very best to represent the essay as an attack on Jewishness and not what it is, an attack on fascism and how it has no place in unions. Can’t see how that tack will do her any good if people read the essay and not just nod like car shelf ornaments.

  14. helenarmet says:

    Thank you for taking the time to write this, it is a great, one place information zone for what has happened in Glasgow this week. Hate to see you being trashed though.

  15. Grouse Beater says:

    Thank you, much appreciated. It was bound to happen as my blog gained influence and as we neared another plebiscite. Those doing the trashing verify my point about the fascism of some political language and actions. Anyhow, I hope you will still read what I write, and feel free to disagree when you do.

  16. helenarmet says:

    I most certainly shall on both counts. Keep them coming. Hx

  17. Grouse Beater says:

    Thank you again. I hope we meet one day, and I hope it is to raise a glass to Scotland’s new-found liberty.

  18. helenarmet says:

    I’ll drink to that.

  19. Alan Gordon says:

    Well said, enjoyed the read.
    You may have seen this from Ian Smart, I found it a surprising tweet from him;

  20. Merkin Scot says:

    I represented GMB members in a number of cases and saw just what a shower their contributions went to :

  21. Hugh Wallace says:

    You & me both, GB.

  22. Grouse Beater says:

    I see the right-wing press trying to stir things up? I’m shocked!

  23. greig12 says:

    Very good article GB, I’ve encouraged one or two people I know to read it because in my opinion they needed to.

  24. Grouse Beater says:

    Thanks, Grieg. It’s going to stay as it is, because of the fascist chatter to make it sound sinister.

  25. Justin Fayre says:

    Great article but I have just the one rather large reservation and that’s the role of the lawyer/ambulance chaser representing the women in this.
    To misquote the rather famous Debbie McGee interview with Mrs Merton.
    “What was it about all these women that attracted you
    Could it be the £20 million in commission”
    Depends how you feel about the US Mass Tort system.
    But is this not a rather dangerous precedent to set?

  26. Grouse Beater says:

    Hi Justin – I have to admit I am not altogether familiar with the history of the man, or why the GMB ignored him and the women he represented for so long. (I assume that’s who you refer to.) Not having any background to is case other than what is published, I take him at face value without adding any of my notions to his declarations.

  27. Justin Fayre says:

    Hmm. I could be doing the man a disservice and have to admit to some personal bias.
    But whenever I see the phrase
    No win no fee
    I get an involuntary shudder.
    Off topic have you been made aware of the Jonathan Pye you tube phenomenon that’s about to land in the USA.
    Now that’s an idea
    How about reviewing new stand up comedians.

  28. Grouse Beater says:

    Not heard of Jonathan Pye – I’ll search him out on YouTube. Watch this space! 🙂

  29. Pingback: Crying Wolfson – Peter A Bell

  30. Grouse Beater says:

    Damn fine piece! Wish I’d thought of ‘Calling Wolfson’. I’ll put it on my site. Much appreciated.

  31. Conan the Librarian says:

    I was a GMB shop steward for five years. This leaves a bad taste in my mouth,

    On a brighter note, are you going to sue the Daily Record?

  32. Pingback: GMB – a Cockney Clique – Peter A Bell

  33. Peter A Bell says:

    Reblogged this on Peter A Bell and commented:
    The allegation of anti-Semitism being hurled at the author of this blog are entirely malicious. It is time to take a stand against the lying British media.

  34. Hugh Wallace says:

    So,GB, you are an anti-Semite now? FFS! Every time the British political movements (including the trade unions) in Scotland open their mouths they sink lower in my estimations and I didn’t think that was possible. And is it true that the SNP have suspended your membership? That action is the sort of thing that might very well bring me to the point of ‘suspending’ my membership indefinitely as well. The party needs to grow a pair and start pushing back against the unionists.

  35. I find it utterly distasteful that Wolfson has used the situation between the Glasgow women seeking equal pay and Labour’s effort to stop it, as a weapon. In also using the affiliated GMB Union to pursue what is effectively a false strike on an already agreed and finalised deal between SNP run Glasgow council and the victims of the Labour Council’s decades long action against them. It is clearly a Labour spun tactic to use the Union in such a way. It will have consequences for the Union and future disagreements. It already has had an impact on Labour clearly.

    I also hear that many women are suing the Union for poor advice given during this stand off. Other Labour commentators/members have revealed to real ruse behind the GMB tactics. It was Richard Leonard, as a GMB executive, who was part of the agreement to not take on the women’s cause, because they feared they would lose the support of the men, also paid by Glasgow Council. To protect men’s wages, they ignored the women!

    Funny that religion suddenly is thrust into the situation with complaints being made after Grouse Beater made reference to Hitler, Mein Kampf and a quotation within. Sorry to hear that SNP have reacted without actually examining what was written and how it was so written. Perfectly acceptable to make reference to situations which mirror tactics now in use by many large organisations, not least of which being those who see Unions as the enemy. Sometimes the enemy is the Union itself, although they would deny that of course.

  36. I completely agree with all you say, GB, on this matter and do not believe that there is anything anti-Semitic in your essay. If there was I would be one of the first to call it out – I would also be shocked as it would be so far out of keeping with anything I have ever read from you that I would have been driven to believe that somebody had hijacked your website and posted fraudulently in your name!
    Ms Wolfson is clearly an opportunist and manipulator like most of the rest of the chancers in the Labour/Trade Union leadership. However, perhaps their behaviour is not a surprise – they have form after all. What is unexpected and very disappointing is the SNP leadership response. Clearly the high command of the party have not read your article or, if they have, they are panicked into this pathetic PC/right-on reaction. My view, for what it’s worth, is that you must be doing something right to evoke this kind of response from the stalwarts of British rule in the British Labour movement.
    Chin up!

  37. Craig Dempsey says:

    An excellent article, well written & to the point. Thank you & well done

  38. Grouse Beater says:

    Thank you. Much appreciated. Bit of a, kill the writer, happening at the moment! 🙂

  39. David Graham says:

    The article is in no way anti-semitic, and Peter Bell’s response is spot on.
    Yours is one of the best written blogs around, and I enjoy the film & car stuff also, please don’t be disheartened by this, we’ll need you over the next wee while.
    Disappointed SNP have suspended your membership they ought to have been right behind you on this one.
    If you are taking action against Daily Record, happy to support costs.

  40. Grouse Beater says:

    SNP membership is not an anxiety, I’ve been a member of the Self-Determination Club all my life. and will continue being so. I mean, it’s not as if the SNP have ever called upon my skills for anything. I joined them just before the referendum to show solidarity, but been an armchair supporter ever since. What I do is voluntary, my choice, and when I have the time. It might be that I should disconnect in order to exercise free will. However, as you say, the Daily Record crap is ominous.

  41. Sooz says:

    Another fine piece from you, GB. Sickened to see your words being deliberately misconstrued, and just increases my deep dislike for those calling themselves Scottish Labour politicians and union reps. The whole affair stinks of hypocrisy.

  42. Jock Haggis says:

    I am appalled at these developments now reported by BBC. I am one of many with the greatest of respect for Grouse Beater and the quality of this particular article. There has been much discussion on the FB page which I accept responsibility for:- I can organise the deletion of the article from that page and a few other FB pages if that would be helpful.

  43. ArtyHetty says:

    Not just hypocrisy, it’s from higher up. The SNP have made a mistake imo. Who is advising them I would like to know, bcs the response does not seem at all reasoned from them.

  44. ArtyHetty says:

    Thy are going full out to demonise those who are vocal about the Labour party hypocrisy and how they kept Scotland poor and begging for a very very long time, while taking Scotland’s resources and revenues, and then, seats in the HOL’s.

    Labour said 100 years ago they would scrap the HOL’s yet many, for services to the Britnat state, sit in it, & are paid £300 a day to do so! The media is 100% anti SNP, the tactics now being used against them re councils and government, are classic tactics. You just have to look at Latin America to see what they ( the US) do to take down socially democratic governments. Divide and rule, twist facts, controll the narrative. It’s old hat, but it works and it’s very dangerous to democracy. THings will get much worse with Brexit, especially if Scotland decides to try another independence referendum. Take care Grouse.

  45. Grouse Beater says:

    Much appreciated, Hetty. 🙂

  46. Conan the Librarian says:

    Very disappointed in the SNP’s pusillanimous conduct over this.

  47. Grouse Beater says:

    I think their concern for getting their narrative derailed by anything has caused them to assume a brutal stance. I only joined prior to the referendum to show solidarity, and send a few quid a year. Not actually participated and only once been asked to take part in anything. Might be a liberation to say I’m not a member but rather free to join in all discourse.

  48. Peter A Bell says:

    I have two questions for those accusing @Grouse_Beater of anti-Semitism. What recognised definition of anti-Semitism are you using? What part of his article meets this definition?

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