TUC 2012: Greetings to all those busy eating and drinking on behalf of the working class down there at TUC Brighton 2012.
I've never actually attended TUC myself as either delegate or visitor, apart from attending some fringe meetings about 20 years ago when it was in Glasgow and I was a bag carrier - aka researcher - for the late great Campbell Christie, at that time general secretary of the Scottish TUC.
Now, not a lot of people know this, but the Scottish TUC and what we sometimes refer to up here as the "British" TUC are separate and independent bodies - so independent that they don't even officially send each other their general secretaries as fraternal speakers.
For many years the received wisdom in Scotland was that the STUC acted like a kind of advance guard for the TUC, first to debate issues especially on hard international issues like Palestine and frequently fixing a line at its Congress in April which then gave the left something to build towards for the TUC later in the year.
So it is with a wry smile that I've been watching the big delegations get behind the POA's motion number five arguing for consideration of the practicalities of a general strike.
As far as I can recall, a general strike was nowhere near the agenda at the STUC in Inverness earlier this year.
Could the years of cosying up to Scottish government in Holyrood have blunted the STUC's sharper class edge?
Could the TUC have become more left wing that the STUC?
They'll be electing a woman general secretary next.
The TUC is way ahead of the STUC in its LGBT structure, having set up its LGBT conference in 1998.
I was reporting for the Star at the first ever STUC LGBT workers conference over the weekend - ironically enough coinciding with the inauguration of the new and deeply homophobic Archbishop of Glasgow Philip Tartaglia just down the road in the local cathedral on the Clyde.
SNP deputy leader Nicola Sturgeon with her equalities minister hat on was due to have spoken at the STUC LBGT event, before being reshuffled suddenly last week to lead the referendum campaign.
She would have been able to point at the Scottish government's new legislative programme which includes the Bill to establish same-sex marriage on the basis of full equality - which has so distressed the new archbishop.
The SNP government has not been falling over itself to introduce progressive legislation - contrary to what many of our comrades down south sometimes seem to believe. But this is one excellent thing it has committed to.
So I am a little surprised that equal marriage is not on the TUC's agenda today.
I know the TUC already has policy supporting it. But the item on equal marriage in the general council report simply notes that David Cameron's announcement last October of a plan for equal marriage rights to same-sex couples by 2015 would "not actually bring equal treatment" as his proposals would "deny civil partnership to opposite-sex couples and ceremonies on willing religious premises to same-sex couples."
Will Cameron deliver even a second rate version of equal marriage by 2015?
I'd not trust a Tory as far as the end of this sentence.
The TUC and other equalities campaigners will need to apply a good deal more pressure if Westminster is to catch up with Holyrood in delivering on equal marriage.
On the Congress fringe, my disappointment at missing the Cuba Solidarity Campaign's Havana Club Rum Reception at the TUC in Brighton yesterday evening is tempered by the knowledge that the star guest Dr Aleida Guevara - daughter of Che - will be heading north on a series of visits culminating in a vigil at the Scottish Parliament on Thursday lunchtime and a public meeting at the STUC Centre in Glasgow on Friday night.
I'd like to meet her of course, but in the meantime there's a decent interview in Saturday's Guardian - "Why Che's daughter fights to preserve his image as idealistic revolutionary" by Tracy McVeigh, which is linked from www.cuba-solidarity.org.uk, the Cuba Solidarity Campaign website.
Aleida and the Guevara family have been trying to tackle inappropriate use of the iconic 1960 Alberto Korda photo of Che, including getting it removed from vodka branding on the grounds that Che was a teetotaller.
I am sure neither father nor daughter would mind if we toast them with revolutionary Havana Club rum on their visit.
The other fringe meeting I'd be heading for tonight is at 6pm in Brighthelm Community Centre on the People's Charter and building for the TUC's Future that Works demo on October 20.
The chairman is the brilliant John Hendy QC and Len McCluskey and Bob Crow are on the bill, so fireworks are guaranteed.
Rest assured, southern comrades, that Scotland is mobilising around these also.
The People's Charter is launching a new Scottish e-petition next week - see peoplescharterscotland.org for details.
And check out www.stuc.org.uk/20-oct for details of our STUC October 20 demo in Glasgow for A Future That Works. Workers of all lands, unite!
I was glad to see an early forthright Scottish intervention at Brighton - from my Unison colleague Gordon McKay.
"Beecroft and Burley can bugger off," he said, seconding Unite general secretary Len McCluskey on the employment rights composite.
I'm sure McKay's admonition to venture capitalist Adrian Beecroft and right-wing Tory MP Aidan Burley, the government attack dogs on workers' rights, was key to securing unanimous support for fairer industrial action laws, the repeal of current anti-union legislation and "a new approach to trade union and employment rights in the UK, based on ILO and European standards."
It's the bit about securing a "full commitment to this programme from a future Labour government" that's let us down before.
I hope Ed Balls - who's due to speak to Congress today - and Ed Miliband are listening.
Remember Eds, Gordon knows where you live.
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