Tag Archives: satire

Accommodation for lunatics at UCU National Congress 2013 in Brighton – an asylum, or individual padded cells?

Dear Fellow Lunatics in UCU

(Apologies if you’re not a lunatic – I may as well email this query to all the Union’s mailinglists, given that it turns out our Union is absolutely riddled with lunatics.)

Does anyone know what the Union’s accommodation arrangements are for lunatics at UCU National Congress in Brighton this May? Will there be arrangements made for us to be securely housed in a Brighton asylum, or will the Union arrange for us to be put in individual padded cells within our own Regional Delegations’ hotels?

Do we need to bring our own straightjackets? Or will they be included in our delegate packs?

I’m just wondering, ‘cos I’ve been elected the National Congress delegate for my branch (I know! I TOLD them I was a lunatic and therefore not fit to hold elected office but they WOULDN’T listen!) and I’ve just been filling in the Delegate Registration Form.

I got a bit unstuck in the section asking whether I needed any special requirements in relation to the hotel… I realised that there are some obvious difficulties that arise.

So I gave a rather lengthy explanation in the little box, which I reproduce below. So I’m just wondering if the Union’s made any special arrangements for where it wants us lunatics (other than a police cell?)

Many thanks,


What I wrote in the Delegate Registration Form box thingy:

Please could I be put in the same hotel as the Leeds University delegation, and NOT with the Wales Region delegation.

My comrades in UCU Wales would find it most distressing to have to share a hotel with me: as an unfortunate unavoidable consequence of having a mental health condition, I am an unhinged lunatic prone to physical violence and am a serious fire hazard.

My comrades in UCU Wales therefore had to be complicit in PCS setting the police on me a while back. This no doubt caused them immense distress, and I am therefore keen to avoid putting them in a position, by imposing my presence upon them, of them having to experience the distress of having to set the police on a fellow trade unionist again.

So it would be better all round if I were to not impose my combustible self upon my Wales comrades. (And, more to the point, I would have a better chance of sleeping through the night without having the police set on me).

Fortunately the Leeds lot are somewhat less medieval in their views on mental health, and are quite welcoming toward lunatics.

Or perhaps they’re just equipped with better fire extinguishers.

Or possibly they’re of the view that, however great my risk of physical violence may be as a self-evident consequence of having a mental health condition, they are not (unlike our strong, manly UCU and PCS comrades in Wales) particularly concerned about the physical-violence threat posed by a short, fat, forty-ish woman who has the physique of a person who’s spent a lifetime in academia and whose most strenuous sporting activity is a daily game of sudoku.

Many thanks.

Oh, and, for the same reasons as given above, it would probably also be best to not put me in the same hotel as the General Secretary.



Colleagues, the elected leadership structures of our trade union are absolutely RIDDLED with lunatics!!!

Oh. My. God. Colleagues, the elected leadership structures of our trade union are absolutely RIDDLED with lunatics!!!


After I emailed the Trade Union Lunatics Association newsletter (https://loonylefty.wordpress.com/2013/03/22/newsletter-of-the-trade-union-lunatics-association-issue-1/) to the UCU Activists List and to every NEC member and rep for whom I have an email address, I received the most extraordinary response. I got the most wonderful, moving replies – some from some of the really terrifying Independent Broad Left people who I thought really hated me! – telling me that they too have mental health conditions, and agreeing that there is a real problem in the trade union movement with regards stigma and discriminatory attitudes toward us.


There was also an extraordinary response to the newsletter’s Call for Consultation re lunatics being required to carry leper bells so as to warn Congress delegates not to accidentally elect them to trade union office. Several high profile NEC members who I would never have guessed had mental health conditions have said that they’ll carry a leper bell at National Congress in Brighton and dress entirely in rhubarb. Just goes to show how easy it is to mistake lunatics for normal people – I can’t imagine why no-one never thought of the leper bell initiative before!!


One issue for debate appears to be whether lunatics at Congress should also be required to shout “unclean! Unclean!” while ringing their leper bells whenever they go up to the podium to speak. Or alternately “fire hazard! fire hazard!”


Perhaps we could ask PCS to advise? They must have a very effective system indeed for purging their union of lunatics, given that the position being put out by PCS delegates at TUC Women’s Conference last week (or possibly only by their SWP contingent, it’s not clear) was that PCS had set the police on me for campaigning against the Welfare reforms because “they’d had no experience of activists with mental health conditions before and they didn’t know what to do. They just panicked.”


There has been much discussion on the dark side of the internet and in the bourgeois media recently about the SWP’s outstanding contribution to the field of gender equality. They’ve made quite an outstanding contribution to the field of disability equality in Cardiff too (which I shall blog about soon – I have more time on my hands now that I’m no longer deemed fit to hold trade union office on grounds of having a mental health condition).


What is rather odd though, is that while the SWP has no faith in the bourgeois police and the bourgeois justice system with regards people making rape allegations against their senior leadership, they’re strong advocates of setting the bourgeois police on disabled activists who advocate positions democratically-decided-upon by legitimate grassroots disabled-people’s movements when they don’t approve of those positions (the SWP knows what’s best for us and get a bit miffed if we’re too stubborn to listen).


The General Secretary and the SWP have much common ground with regards their concern about the dangers of lunatics in trade union office (https://loonylefty.wordpress.com/2013/01/28/ucus-sally-hunt-sides-with-the-trots/). The endless dispute between the GS and the SWP is immensely trying for all those of us caught up in the crossfire of it who simply want to try to progress our members’ interests as best we can. Perhaps the GS and the SWP can unite to fight a greater enemy (lunatics in elected office) and herald a new era of peace and co-operation in the Union from which everyone in UCU (except the lunatics of course) can benefit.


I made a Data Protection Act Subject Access Request to the Union recently. And finally learned, for the first time, 5 months after PCS had set the police on me with UCU’s collusion, that I had threatened physical violence against two PCS members and intended to set myself alight outside Wales TUC and PCS HQ Transport House in Cardiff. This came as a considerable surprise to me. I had absolutely no idea I’d done these things.


Colleagues, the General Secretary is going to have purple kittens when she learns just how widespread lunacy is in UCU elected office.


In the pile of emails I got through the DPA SAR, there’s an email from the Gen Sec that mentions that at a TUC Executive meeting Mark Serwotka mentioned that PCS members were saying that people going to Jobcentres were threatening them with physical violence and threatening to set themselves alight. She writes, “No names but I think [this] may well have been a reference to [Liza]. My issue is whether this has brought the union into disrepute and whether Liza has any responsibility for that?”


The answer, had anyone ever bothered to put the question to me, is No. And as it happens, through a quirk of circumstance, I was actually in a position to prove this conclusively. A disabled activist had recorded the entirety of a meeting at which it was alleged I made the threats attributed to me. Er, or rather, attributed to my mental health condition. Er, or rather, attributed to my UCU and PCS trade union comrades’ ignorant discriminatory offensive and utterly ludicrous stereotypes of people with mental health conditions.


Dr Liza van Zyl





Newsletter of the Trade Union Lunatics Association issue #1


1. NOTED: the following proposal to postpone the next meeting of the UCU Commission on Union Democracy to the Rhubarb Season: https://loonylefty.wordpress.com/2013/03/22/a-proposal-to-hold-the-next-meeting-of-ucus-commission-on-trade-union-democracy-to-rhubarb-season/

2. NOTED: We are forming a Facebook group for Lunatics and other disabled people in the trade union movement and wider Left. If you are a lunatic or other disabled person, please join by following the link in the post here: http://grumpyoldtrot.wordpress.com/2013/03/22/disabled-lefties/

3. NOTED: We have still not received a response from Mark Serwotka with regards how PCS would like lunatics to campaign against the Welfare reforms in such a way that PCS feels confident that we do not pose a fire hazard: https://loonylefty.wordpress.com/2013/03/12/a-disabled-persons-plea-to-pcs-general-secretary-mark-serwotka/

4. NOTED: that members of the UCU delegation to the TUC Women’s Conference at Congress House last week did receive an explanation from members of the PCS delegation for the events described in point 3 above, along the lines that PCS set the police on me for campaigning against the Welfare reforms on grounds that “they’d never experienced activism from a person with a mental health condition before and they didn’t know what to do. They just panicked.”


4.1. that based on feedback already received from within “disabled people are human beings” extremist groups, this explanation above be officially adopted as the single most hilarious example of disability discrimination yet to have come out of the trade union movement and wider Left;

4.2. a clarification be requested from PCS as to whether the above is the official PCS position on the matters described in point 3 above, or whether this is simply the position of the SWP within PCS.

5. CALL FOR CONSULTATION: given the confusion that can arise when lunatics are accidentally elected to trade union office by bodies such as UCU National Congress and UCU Wales Congress, it has been proposed that a motion be submitted to UCU National Congress 2013 in Brighton that lunatics be required to carry a bell at all times, like medieval lepers used to have to do, so that they are never again accidentally elected to trade union office by unsuspecting delegates. Lunatics are invited to participate in a consultation process with regards the colour, size, musical tone of the bell.

Please circulate this email to all disabled people in the trade union movement or wider Left, and particularly to lunatics and suspected lunatics.


Dr Liza van Zyl, convenor

Update: https://loonylefty.wordpress.com/2013/03/23/colleagues-the-elected-leadership-structures-of-our-trade-union-are-absolutely-riddled-with-lunatics/comment-page-1/#comment-45

A proposal to postpone the next meeting of UCU’s Commission on Trade Union Democracy until the Rhubarb Season

Dear Fellow Commissioners,

I’d like to move that we postpone the next meeting of the Commission to when rhubarb is in season. For two reasons.

Firstly because there have been a number of objections from Women Members Standing Committee members to a proposed Commission meeting on the 12th April clashing with the Equality Standing Committee meetings on the 12th April.

Secondly, because it was pointed out by UCU NEC members from Rhubarb Triangle constituencies following the post and picture that I circulated on Facebook earlier, below, that horticultural constraints would make it impossible for them to prepare me the outfit I propose to wear to the next meeting of the Commission:

rhubarb pic

Awesome! WHERE can I find a splendid full-length rhubarb outfit like the one shown here for the next meeting of UCU’s Commission on Trade Union Democracy on 12th April?? In one of life’s great ironies I’m a member of this 10-person body, given that as it turns out trade union democracy does not apply to trade unionists with mental health conditions. (The Union was rather remiss in not informing Congress of this fact when I was elected to the Commission – or perhaps Congress this year should legislate that those of us with mental health conditions should in future at all times carry a warning bell, like medieval lepers had to to?)

As a notorious public lunatic (cheers PCS!), I’m always looking for ways to live up to my rather extraordinary reputation and I feel the rhubarb outfit would make an interesting variation on the theme of lunacy in trade union office.

Who’s up for starting an organisation where we all randomly pose as parts of the landscape in public places, or attend trade union meetings, dressed like this?

The discussion following the Facebook post raises some interesting points which the Commission may wish to add to the Agenda for debate at the next meeting.

Firstly there appears to be an issue of conflicting approach between Union Committees to the to the issue of lunatics elected to membership of Union Committees.

From the number of objections from members of the Women Members Standing Committee that arose in relation to the Facebook post above that implied I would not be attending the scheduled meeting of the WMSC on 12th April, it would appear that some Union Committees are quite adamant that lunatics elected to them be available to fulfil their elected remit and participate in the meetings and work, and that when the dates of Equality Subcommittee meetings have been published in the Union’s Calendar of Constitutional Meetings for months, other bodies of the Union should respect these dates.

For other Union Committees however, notably UCU Wales Council, it does appear to be strongly felt that lunatics should not hold Union office nor be involved in the work of that Committee even if they have been elected to that Committee by the sovereign body governing that Committee, in this case UCU Wales National Congress, see https://loonylefty.wordpress.com/2013/02/27/which-trade-union-is-more-atrocious-at-disability-equality-pcs-or-ucu/ , which does raise some rather interesting Constitutional paradoxes with regards the practical remit of trade union democracy.

These are clearly Constitutional matters and are therefore within the remit of the Commission. And given UCU’s outstanding good practice when it comes to the matter of dealing with lunacy in elected trade union office, it would make sense for the Commission’s work to encompass an investigation of these interesting Constitutional anomalies between committees.

Finally, given that the Commission’s work has focused very strongly on the matters of equality and gender representation in relation to trade union democracy, it may be of interest to the Commission to note that there also appears to be an issue of gender that we may need to consider with regards the issue of lunacy and trade union democracy. The national Women Members’ Standing Committee (perhaps unsurprisingly) has the highest representation of women of all the Union’s Committees, while UCU Wales Council has the lowest (an achievement it holds jointly with the NEC’s Recruitment, Organising and Campaigning Committee).

Whether this apparent marked difference in Union Committees’ approach to lunatics elected to trade union office, on the basis of Committees’ gender representation, is a casual or causal correlation, is a fascinating question. But it cannot be answered on the basis of the data currently available to the Commission.


Loony Lefty

*picture credit: http://www.sadanduseless.com/2013/03/old-people-wearing-vegetation/