Monday, 25 July 2016

Confessions of an NHS whistle-blower!

ALTHOUGH this book by Milton Peña Vásquez is not without its faults, mainly in the editing, it ought to be compulsory reading for any young person intent on embarking upon a career in the medical profession. Not only does it give a revealing and honest account of the internal workings of Tameside hospital, but it also exposes the incompetence of NHS managers and their attempts to cover up their failings by threats and intimidation. READ MORE:

Appeal for Funding of a British Film Noir!

MY name is Diogo Salgado and I’m currently studying Digital Media Production at Sheffield Hallam University going into my 3rd year.   

I hope that you don’t mind my getting in touch with you but we have been talking to Cinema for All about a particular opportunity that we would like to offer up to community cinemas, film clubs and societies. 

I’m currently helping with the release of a new British Independent Film, THE INCIDENT.  In preparation for the film’s UK release in the Autumn we are working hard to raise the profile of the film, by reaching out to those we think the film maybe of interest to.

The film has very strong links to Yorkshire; the film was shot in West Yorkshire, our Director Jane Linfoot is from York, our Producer Caroline Cooper Charles is based in Sheffield, and our actress Tasha Connor is from Leeds.   

British independent films are increasingly difficult to get made, and distributed; the challenge is multiplied for female filmmakers – only 11.9% of British films are made by female directors, this is one of those rare films!   

THE INCIDENT is a modern British Noir -  a tense, atmospheric emotionally haunting, thought-provoking film.  We are reaching out to film clubs who are interested in supporting British independent films through their clubs and membership.  

We are currently in the midst of crowd funding to help us release our film in a small selection of independent cinemas and on Video on Demand in the Autumn.  The below link gives you all the details on our film, and our campaign.   

Campaign Link: -  

We are offering a specific PERK to Film clubs, whereby for a £100 donation you would be purchasing the license to screen this British film at your club (after the film’s official release), with a signed poster included, and the name of your Film Club would appear in our film credits as a SUPPORTER of this film. 

In addition, should you be interested in having the Director: Jane Linfoot attend the screening for a Q&A this could be arranged if travel / overnight costs are covered where necessary.  

The attached E-Flyer has all the relevant information - if it is at all possible for you to share some of our posts regarding our campaign they can be found on our Facebook page and Twitter feed - it would be a tremendous help to us to have these shared.   

Thank you so much for your time. 

Kindest regards, 

Diogo Salgado. 


by Christopher Draper
This is the first of a two-part-update on the management of Freedom Press.
Part Two will appear in early August 2016.
ON the 22nd June 2016, a 75-year-old pensioner invited to address a small political meeting in London was dragged from the building by a couple of ruffians and deposited, bleeding on the pavement outside.  An accomplice egged on the bullies, snatched the pensioner’s mobile and outside on the pavement grabbed and rifled through the victim’s brief case, whilst he was restrained by his attackers.

After receiving medical attention the victim was advised to provide a comprehensive report of his assault to the Metropolitan Police.  I have a copy of that report before me and it identifies the assailants as Andy Meinke and Simon Saunders, who claim to be anarchists occupying the FREEDOM building in Whitechapel High Street.  This dramatic development demands an effective response from the body, “FRIENDS of FREEDOM PRESS” (FFP), which not only owns the building but is legally obliged to ensure it is properly used for the continued publication of FREEDOM journal.  Instead the self-proclaimed “FREEDOM COLLECTIVE (FC)” in occupation closed down the journal in 2014 with the triumphant declaration by Andy Meinke, “Kropotkin might have started it but we fucking finished it!”

This occupation of FREEDOM HQ is illegitimate.  The victim proposed a scheme to reclaim the building and restart publication so he was vindictively attacked and ejected by Saunders and Meinke.  I detailed the narrative background to this occupation at length elsewhere (“Who Killed FREEDOM?”) and here present an updated précis-analysis underlining the key roles of Meinke and Saunders.  This article concludes with the revival of FFP in June 2015.  Part two, “A YEAR IN THE DEATH of FREEDOM” (to be published here on August 1st,) will describe and analyse events at FREEDOM and FFP from June 2015 up to, and including, the violent assault of 22 June 2016.

 An Illegitimate Occupation

The FREEDOM building is owned by FFP, a legally constituted company with “Articles of Association (AoA)” and “Memorandum of Association (MoA)” registered at Companies House.  These documents commit the Friends of Freedom Press Board to 3 crucial legal obligations (nb my emphasis);

  • FFP exists to facilitate, “the printing and publication of the anarchist journal FREEDOM and books, pamphlets and journals published by FREEDOM PRESS (MoA 3(A)1)
  • FFP owns “the Freehold premises at 84b Whitechapel High Street, London, E1 and the fixtures and fittings and machinery situated therein for the purposes of making the same available to FREEDOM Press for the printing, publishing and disseminating of the journal FREEDOM and other literature” (MoA 3(A)2)
  • In the event of FREEDOM PRESS ceasing to exist or for any reason being unable to continue the publication of FREEDOM and other anarchist literature, to assist financially and promote the publication of anarchist journals, books and pamphlets by such persons, firms or bodies as the Company shall approve of” (MoA 3(A)3)
    As the 'Freedom Collective' ('FC') are demonstrably not engaged in “the printing and publication of the anarchist journal FREEDOM” they have no legitimate reason to remain. The FFP Board is therefore obliged “to assist financially and promote the publication of anarchist journals, books and pamphlets by such persons, firms or bodies as the Company shall approve of”. As the building is the Board’s only asset it must therefore be sold to finance the resumption of publication of FREEDOM by persons deemed suitable by Friends of Freedom Press.  As I will demonstrate presently, FFP formally agree with both this analysis and the need for action.  I will explain in Part Two why this has not yet come to pass.
  • The Aldgate Cuckoos
    The 'FC' have been allowed to get away with it for too long and have developed a misplaced sense of entitlement.  They NEVER believed in FREEDOM.  They only ever intended to exploit the legacy for their own ends.  Despite claiming allegiance to anarchism the 'Freedom Collective' have little understanding, appreciation or respect for the long-established ethics and values of FREEDOM.  In so far as they represent any form of anarchism it is a crude, self-proclaimed commitment to “class-struggle” and an alignment to the moribund “BLACK FLAG” politics of Albert Meltzer. Both Saunders and Meinke, claim allegiance to BLACK FLAG and exploited their base at FREEDOM to republish BLACK FLAG magazine.
    Whilst FREEDOM promoted tolerant, civilised, constructive open-minded anarchism, BLACK FLAG (as a faction and magazine) celebrated confrontation and destruction, dismissing critics with insults and intolerance. FREEDOM’s Aldgate HQ was bought half-a-century ago by veteran anarchist Vernon Richards to provide a publishing home for FREEDOM journal (founded 1886 by Peter Kropotkin and associates). Throughout much of his life Vernon Richards and FREEDOM were reviled by Meltzer and BLACK FLAG.  The Friends of Freedom Press Board Member and Socialist Historian, David Goodway, in his “Anarchist Seeds Beneath the Snow”, outlined Meltzer’s BLACK FLAG approach, he romanticised anarchist violence, imagined the existence of a significant historic anarchist working-class movement in the British Isles and altogether indulged in much fantasy.”
    Despite his prejudices, it was typical of FREEDOM’s inclusive politics that Meltzer was invited to contribute an article to the journal’s commemorative centenary edition. Instead Meltzer devoted a special BLACK FLAG supplement, “LIARS AND LIBERALS – THE OTHER ANARCHISM” to trashing the FREEDOM tradition.  FREEDOM stalwart, Nicolas Walter maintained that, “In a sense, anarchists always remain liberals and socialists, and whenever they reject what is good, in either they betray anarchism itself.”  Meltzer and BLACK FLAG derided liberal values and Saunders and Meinke energetically maintain that tradition.  In 2006, Saunders as newly arrived FREEDOM editor, belittled stalwarts of the Vernon Richards era as, “reeking of allotments, of forgetting class, of irrelevance and reformism”, whilst Meinke arrogantly dismissed Vero as “someone of a rather liberal bent”.
    In 2007, a relaunched BLACK FLAG announced; “BLACK FLAG has returned…we are working closely with the editors of FREEDOM…Now we are sure that is something that Albert Meltzer would never have expected”!
    In the Summer 2009, BLACK FLAG exemplifies just how closely Black Flag was working with the Freedom Collective as it featured a lengthy interview with Andy Meinke written by Simon Saunders (under the guise of “Rob Ray”).  Despite exploiting FREEDOM’s assets the 'Freedom Collective' ultimately achieved no more success with BLACK FLAG than they have with FREEDOM.
    Meinke and Saunders aren’t alone in their quest to eradicate all trace of liberal, open-mindedness from FREEDOM.  In January 1985, class-war warrior Nick Heath, then proclaiming Libertarian Communism, now leading the misleadingly named “Anarchist Federation (AF)”, wrote to FREEDOM rejecting its liberal editorial policy: “Why devote so much space to right-wing libertarians and anarcho-capitalists… I’m sure most of the readership…don’t want to read such trashAs Donald Rooum observed in an email to me of 6.3.2015:  “Nick Heath wanted the paper to stick to an anarchist communist workerist line, while the editors, when I was one of them, wanted the paper to be open to genuine anarchists of other persuasions and to arguments against anarchism.”   Rooum helpfully contrasts the open forum tradition of FREEDOM with the narrow “class-struggle”, party-line politics favoured by both Heath and Meltzer.  Rejecting the option of arguing out his opinions in FREEDOM, as Rooum explains, Heath, like Meltzer before him, “went off to found a paper and an organised group more to his liking.”  Rooum here, as elsewhere, is being disingenuous, for Heath and the “workerist…organised group more to his liking” is now headquartered alongside BLACK FLAGGERS Meinke and Saunders at FREEDOM HQ!  With no suggestion of a Damascene conversion it’s evident that FREEDOM HQ is now occupied by individuals opposed to the politics it was bought to promote. 
  • Regime Change
    To be fair to the class-war warriors, they didn’t force their way in.  They sneaked in through a gap opened up by Donald Rooum.  I’ve described elsewhere (“Who Killed FREEDOM?”)   how Rooum shoved out both FREEDOM’s existing editor and bookshop manager as Vernon Richards relaxed oversight and died (2002).  For the key role of FREEDOM editor Rooum imported a Marxist former General Secretary of the Socialist Party of Great Britain.  Rooum claims it was a modernising move designed to save money and spruce up the paper.  I agreed the paper needed a facelift but argued at the time that the unique politics of FREEDOM were being destroyed.  Slogans and depictions of petrol-bomb-throwing predominated and thoughtful analysis of alternative ways of organising society were rejected. Where eminent sociologists Laurie Taylor and Jock Young once offered insightful social analysis we now had an editor content to describe society as, “the fucking steaming pile of horseshit we live in”. Thus was established “New FREEDOM’s” literary house-style.
    The innovation of a “WHAT WE SAY” editorial column would have been risible were it not so ominously indicative of the arrival of authoritarian, sub-Marxist group-think. My correspondence with “New FREEDOM” charts the immediate and profound consequences of this regime change. Spurning Nick Walter’s advice, after 2001 FREEDOM not only rejected what is good in liberalism, it positively spat in its face.
    Lest sceptics fear I exaggerate, I offer a couple of observations of bookshop manager Meinke who relishes the change and welcomes the, “shift in the people attracted to FREEDOM.  Until 2002 it was virtually owned by someone who was of a rather liberal bent and that has shifted”. Meinke recognises the opportunistic nature of the takeover: “When Vernon Richards died he handed FREEDOM over to the movement on a plate but it was too surprised to notice. It was comrades coming out of the anarchist youth network who saw the opportunity with the paper and reclaimed it for class struggle.”
    From the outset, editors, in their own words, “enforced a strict class-first line”.  The unique FREEDOM ecosystem was shredded.  Meinke’s fellow assailant, Simon Saunders, admits the new regime, “broke with much of the old support network…severely weakened the structure of the paper…readers have been alienated, writers have stormed out”.
     The New Regime in Action
    The new regime systematically alienated FREEDOM’s readers, writers and subscribers. There’s some truth in the FC’s claim that the FREEDOM journal became unviable but they were the cause.  Inappropriate policies pursued by incompetent individuals.  When Saunders assumed editorship in 2005, he boasted of his ignorance of anarchism so why on earth was he gifted such responsibility?  The answer is helpfully supplied by Meinke:  "Within the FREEDOM Collective only a small minority were involved in producing the paper, not so much lack of commitment as not seeing it as central to what FREEDOM as a building was for”!  (nb This amounts to a total negation of the Friends of Freedom Press’s legal obligations)
  • Originally the Freedom Collective agreed to publish “Anarchists in Social Work” produced by FREEDOM traditionalist, Martin Gilbert, but then “lost the manuscript” so Gilbert, had it successfully published elsewhere.  When I sent a review of the book to FREEDOM, editor Simon Saunders eventually admitted, “The review was then lost, found, lost again, re-found and finally disappeared altogether.”
  • Perhaps Saunder’s incompetence rather than censorship was to blame but after elderly anarchist Barry Woodling was bundled out of Manchester Anarchist Bookfair in 2012, the FC simply refused to publish a letter signed by over 150 anarchists and socialists deploring this action. Although Donald Rooum revealed that the editor had received “threats” from Nick Heath he in any case justified the censorship by claiming “Any fracas within the movement should stay within the movement”.  It is just such collusion with censorship, bans, intimidation and violence that provides carte blanche for this most recent assault.  
    After publishing a very un-FREEDOM celebration of political violence entitled, “Beating the Fascists”, Andy Meinke had to hand £4000 of FREEDOM’s money to David Hoffman, a press photographer whose pictures had been stolen and printed without permission.  Hoffman said he would have settled for less but, “From the start Meinke refused to accept any need to apologise, let alone negotiate.  He didn’t actually say 'Fuck off, we don’t give a toss and there’s nothing you can do because we’re holy anarchists and can beat the shit out of you' but that was the subtext.”
    At that point Meinke & Co hadn’t yet entirely burnt through the last of a £70,000 legacy bequeathed by an old-school FREEDOM anarchist.  That went after Meinke forgot to renew the Buildings Insurance before the 2012 fire.
    Abusing and intimidating critics is de rigeur at FREEDOM.  Revolted by the FC’s continued, crude celebration of profanity and violence, in 2010, Ian Pirie, who had subscribed for 30 years (and his father before him) wrote, in sadness and disgust, to cancel, questioning, “What has this thuggery got to do with anarchism?...I will continue to do my best to propagate the positive and constructive aspects of anarchist politics where we I can. But FREEDOM is no longer any help in doing this.”  FREEDOM responded with a diatribe delivered by “Gawain the cunt Williams” (his self-chosen moniker) that concluded:  “Finally, Mr Pirie, maybe you should realise that if the word cunt offends you so much it might be because you are in fact…a cunt. FREEDOM’s been doing a cracking job.”
  • Donald Rooum popped up again at this point to defend “Gawain the Cunt” and accuse Pirie “of yielding to prudery…and sliding into intellectual snobbery”.  No one would accuse Meinke of prudery after reading his “Bookfair Song” (FREEDOM 24.10.2009);
     “Cos our scene is not a playground,
    For wankers to hang out,
    And pose at revolution,
    Whilst fucking us about”
    (plus 4 more similar verses and chorus)
    The failure to publish FREEDOM is sufficient ground to prove the illegitimacy of the FC, but for more than a decade successive, self-appointed “Collectives” revelled in their rejection of both the ideology and ethics of FREEDOM.  In their behaviour and propaganda they dance on the graves of FREEDOM stalwarts Vernon Richards, Colin Ward, Nicolas Walter, Philip Sansom whose legacy they so shamelessly exploit.
    A Sleeping Giant?
    For a decade or so decent anarchists hoped FREEDOM would reform but it proved impossible to shift the London clique from afar. Determined not to allow the FREEDOM heritage to be extirpated, in 2012, after collecting opinions and information from comrades around the country I initiated a campaign to reclaim the legacy (see “Who Killed FREEDOM?”).  As it was evident that FC was beyond redemption our immediate goal was to revive the FFP Board.  Originally constituted by Vernon Richards to hold FREEDOM assets and maintain publication, the Friends of Freedom Press Board retains full legal powers to liquidate the assets and resume publication.  The problem was that although FFP existed on paper it hadn’t convened for years and in recent times its Secretary had improperly conducted its affairs.  Could I shame the few surviving members to reconstitute the Board on a proper, legal basis and then encourage the Friends of Freedom Press to take action against the illegitimate occupants?
    Victory for Common Sense!
    The Freedom Collective was incensed as the light of publicity was shone upon its shameful activities.  The rabble couldn’t decide when to respond and when to keep quiet and the ill-judged outbursts of Saunders and Meinke encouraged anarchists around the country to provide us with further information and encouragement.  Having initially improperly insisted our nominated candidates for Board Membership, Peace Campaigner Ernest Rodker and Socialist Historian David Goodway, first gain the approval of the 'FC', the FFP Secretary realised the error of his ways. Following further intellectual jousting with an improperly appointed Board Member, sanity prevailed and the FFP finally reconstituted itself on June 24th 2015 to include Ernest and David our two nominated candidates.
    In proposing Goodway and Rodker we didn’t ask them to do anything other than act in accordance with their Friends of Freedom Press legal obligations to revive FREEDOM. Significantly, one of the FC’s favoured candidates was none other than “Gawain the cunt Williams”. When Gawain’s candidature was rejected by the Board and the full list of appointments revealed it appeared a “Victory for Common Sense”.  The confirmed new Friends of Freedom Press Board consisted of the following 9 members;

  • Jayne Clementson – graphic artist, long-time layout artist for Freedom Press
  • David Goodway – historian, author and admirer of the anarchism of Colin Ward
  • Martin Howard - Solfed member, writer of “Svartfrost” column in Freedom
  • Sonia Markham – anarchist, retire TV make-up artist and daughter of founding FFP member, pioneering feminist-anarchist and children’s author Olive Dehn
  • Richard Parry – solicitor and author of “The Bonnot Gang”
  • Martin Peacock – founder of the London Anarchist Bookfair
  • Ernest Rodker – veteran peace campaigner
  • Stephen Charles Sorba – FFP Company Secretary, printer with Aldgate Press
  • Donald Rooum – Stirnerite anarchist and cartoonist

 A Prospect of FREEDOM?

It was impossible to predict how this new cookie would crumble.  First the Friends of Freedom Press had to apprise and agree an analysis of the Aldgate occupation.  We trusted that the facts would speak for themselves, and that any fair-minded observer would recognise the accuracy of our analysis.  Unfortunately, we couldn’t be entirely sure whether the personal and political allegiances of each and every Board Member would not interfere with their rational assessment of the behaviour of the 'FC'.

Even if FFP agreed that there was no proper publishing going on at FREEDOM would FFP have the courage to act appropriately?  Would the FFP Board survive intact the predictable slings and arrows the 'FC' would likely employ to resist eviction?

We felt the FFP deserved a decent opportunity to build up mutual trust and offered to abstain from publishing a blow-by-blow commentary BUT promised that at the end of the Friends of Freedom Press’s first year we would publish a comprehensive analysis of both the 'FC' and FFP's recent activites.  This will be published under the title, “A Year in the Death of FREEDOM” on this site on August 1st 2016.


Christopher Draper (Llandudno)


Considering a Labour Party Split

by Les May
THE stories about an imminent split in the Labour party are brought to us by the same people who have been busy telling us that Jeremy Corbyn was half hearted in his support of the Remain campaign in the EU referendum, that Corbyn inspired thugs smashed the windows of Angela Eagle's constituency office and that found themselves accused of bias by an LSE investigation into media coverage of Corbyn in the period 1 September to 1 November 2015... need I go on?  These are the people for whom the 'story' matters more than the truth.

I've briefly dissected some of these stories in Northern Voices during the past couple of weeks and Tim Fenton dissects the latest one from Dan Hodges on the Zelo blog.

Media talk of a split pre-dates the events leading to the current leadership contest.  The same Dan Hodges had been promoting a Labour split with an article in the Mail on Sunday on 8 May.  Read this carefully and you'll spot his reference to a four week 'window of of opportunity' to challenge Corbyn between the EU referendum and the summer recess.  Notice also the reference to 'planning for Labour’s long-awaited leadership coup'.

Some of the stories implying there will be a split are more subtle.  Who 'owns' the name 'Labour' is a question which is suddenly being asked.  Why? If not to implant the idea of an imminent collapse of the party.

Whilst I think it is right to talk of a coup being planned within the Parliamentary Labour Party I think the attempts to infiltrate into the discussion the notion of a Labour party split was and is just a ploy to egg on the plotters and encourage the uncommitted to join them.  Presenting the present contest as a fight for the 'soul' of the party is an attempt to promote an apocalyptic message by people who have anything but the best interests of the Labour party at heart.  

There's one excellent reason why the Labour party will not split.  It's called 'follow the money'.

Labour receives a significant amount of funding from unions affiliated to the Labour party.  Speaking to a group of peers about the then 'Trades Union Bill', in March Labour's general secretary Iain McNicol revealed that, out of the £22m ($30m) which Labour-affiliated unions raised in political funds in 2014, £10m was handed to the party.

Now ask yourself a simple question. Will unions like Unite and Unison be more likely to spend their political funds with a party led by supporters of Corbyn or one led by supporters of those Blairites whose sense of entitlement that they, and they alone, have the right to determine party policy makes them incandescent with fury that they have been denied?  

If you object to the notion that in the end pragmatism will rule and the outcome will be decided by where the unions are prepared to put their money, ask yourself whether you prefer Labour to be funded by the pennies of a lot of ordinary people or the millions of a few of the very rich.

Interested readers might like to follow the link to the 'Labour Leaders Office Fund'.

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Low-life scum batter Ashton mum with metal bars - police appeal for information!

Ashton mum left with fractured skull after brutal attack

Police are appealing for information following an horrifick attack that left a 65-year-old Ashton-under-Lyne, mother (unnamed) with a fractured skull.

In the early hours of last Tuesday morning, two men wearing balaclavas, broke into her home on Neal Avenue, Ashton, and battered her with metal bars after demanding money. She suffered multiple facial fractures, arm injuries and a fractured skull. She is recovering in hospital and is said to be in a stable condition.

Detective Inspector David Loughlin, of GMP's Tameside Borough, said:

"This was a vile attack on a vulnerable woman who was alone at home. She has been left in hospital  being treated for some nasty injuries which could have been much worse."

Anyone with information about the attack is asked to call police on 101 or Crime-stoppers, anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Is the Labour Party in its Death Throws?

Sent to Northern Voices by Trevor Hoyle:

The Stench of Death hangs over The Guardian – not Labour.

Submitted by on July 20, 2016 – 11:53 am2 Comments
The Haze was amused to read a recent slew of articles in The Guardian,  insisting that the Labour Party has been afflicted by some terrible disease and is close to death. Voters are getting involved in politics it seems and this has got The Guardian terribly upset.
In this vitriolic piece Nick Cohen smears colleague Seamus Milne as being part of a Corbyn “insurgency” and Paul Mason for “taking braggart swagger and cocksure certainties of newspaper punditry into politics”. The article drips with anger and bile – but after reading it (and many others) it strikes us that it is not The Labour Party that is in danger of expiring – but The Guardian.
Rewind to December of last year and  we see The Guardian Media Group losing money – losses so serious that GMG proposed axing 250 jobs (13% of its workforce) including 100 posts in editorial.  Look at this chart of losses since 2008.
For more go to

Friday, 22 July 2016

The New European?

by Les May
ONE of the unexpected outcomes of the vote to leave the EU has been the creation of a 'popup' newspaper, The New European.  It describes itself as the 'paper for the 48%' that being the proportion of referendum voters who voted to remain in the EU.

The lead story of the first, 8-14 July, edition featured a letter which had been sent to the Financial Times by a lecturer at Imperial College, Dr Robert Gross.

Like Dr Gross I was very unhappy with the vote to leave the EU.  But after reading his letter I concluded that we inhabit different worlds and that my world is probably nearer to that inhabited by many of the people who voted to leave the EU.

So in 'Letter to the Editor' fashion I e-mailed what appears below.

“I'm 74, my wife is 70.  We both voted 'Remain' in the EU referendum, so count us in the 48%.  Ours was the only house we saw with 'Remain' posters in the windows and it took almost a fortnight of phoning and personal visits to get these.  So much for organisational abilities of the 'Britain Stronger in Europe' campaign.  Facebook and Twitter are not good persuaders for our generation.

"Had I read the first issue of 'The New European' before I put my X I'd have been sorely tempted to vote 'Out'.

"You just don't 'get it' do you?

"Robert Gross' letter reads like one long whinge.  Small house, big mortgage:  Don't blame our generation.  My wife and I last intervened in the housing market in 1984.  For some of our immediate neighbours it's even further back.  

"There's a huge sense of entitlement here which we don't share, even though until we retired we too were part of the 'backbone of the country'.  If you've got a steady job think yourself lucky.  If it's well paid, think yourself damn lucky.  If it's got a decent pension attached you've hit the jackpot.  You're doing very nicely really and Brexit, if it happens, will just be a blip, albeit a big one.  Is an 'electable' opposition one that will maintain the status quo for you or one that will build more social housing which you and I will have to contribute to through our taxes, but which will spread the economic benefits of the EU?

"I voted 'Remain' because I think the EU is about creating a 'level playing field', even for football clubs, and preventing a 'race to the bottom' which would impinge most heavily on the poorer sections of society.  I embraced immigration because since I had my kids in the 1960s the UK birth rate has steadily fallen and for the past thirty years we have not been having enough children to replace ourselves.  So whose going to be working to pay the pensions of today's 48 year olds when they start to retire in the 2030s? The latest crop of young immigrants of course. Incidentally low birth rates are a problem throughout Europe.

"Clever idea to start the first editorial with 'Walking in London... ' and following it with 'Lambeth dweller' Miranda Saunders was the icing on the cake.  And was it really such a good idea to have a couple of venture capitalists writing articles promoting the EU? What better way to tell the world that it's just another rich man's club? We don't all view the world through the lens of how much money we have. As I said earlier, 'You just don't get it'.

"Jonathan Freedland would have done well to mention that 40% of the people who voted 'Remain' had voted Labour in the 2015 election and 40% of those who voted 'Leave' had voted Conservative.  Put another way 60% of Labour voters supported 'Remain' and 60% of Conservative voters supported 'Leave'. Dumping the blame for Brexit on a few northern towns and ignoring the great swathes of country which were solidly Conservative in the election and solidly for 'Leave' in the referendum, won't wash.  Check it out on the appropriate maps if you doubt it.

"This played to the mantra that Corbyn hadn't done enough to promote the benefits of staying in the EU, though he appeared in the media 123 times during the campaign compared with 15 appearances by Angela Eagle.

"But Corbyn's qualified support was a view I shared.  Although I knew that I would vote 'Remain' from the day that it was announced that there would be a referendum during the next Parliament I did it in full knowledge that I was choosing the least bad option.  Labour party members also seem to have accepted this as 90% of them are reported to have voted 'Remain'.

"Unsurprisingly I thought the three articles from 'foreigners' were by far the best. Presumably this is because they were free of the sort of partisanship which blights the English media.

"The basic problem, that the economic benefits of being in the EU are very unequally spread both geographically and individually, can be summed up within the experiences of our own family.  We've a son and a daughter who are both 49.  Our daughter, another 'backbone of the country', lives in the South-East of England in a house in the £500K bracket.  Our son lives in Cornwall, works every hour God sends to maintain his family and will never own a house.  Should we really be surprised if, in a scene reminiscent of 'The Life of Brian', our son asks, 'What has the EU ever done for us?'

"Nonetheless I wish your new venture well and will buy the next copy.  Drop the London bias, we see far too much of it already.  Drop the phoney attempt at, 'We're all Europeans now' and recognise that for many of us staying in the EU meant more than a boozy night out in Prague, Budapest or Amsterdam.   Spell out what the EU is really about.  Follow the 'negotiations' as the new government tries, and fails, to square the circle of having access to the single market and not having free movement of people."   

Was I surprised that the editor decided he didn't have space for my letter in today's edition? Not really.  After all it might have driven out 'Why We Need European Fashion More Than Ever' or 'WHAT'S ON IN EUROPE?'. Serious stuff eh?

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Annual Report of the Friends of Freedom Press

Editorial Note:
WE are happy to publish below the Annual Report of the Friends of Freedom Press for the last year, which was sent to Northern Voices yesterday.  This itself is something of an achievement because it clearly lays out the difficulties encountered by the 'Friends' in their management of the company over the last year. 
In the past things have been allowed to drift, and there are now considerable complications regarding the condition of the building structurally, and certain sociological dilemmas with regard to some of the occupants of the building.
The Friends of Freedom Press Annual Report for 2015-16:

THIS is the first year of the resurrected Friends of Freedom Press (FFP), and this report is intended to look back on what we have achieved in the last year.   
Firstly, we have met regularly and discussed the situation facing Freedom as a publisher, as a building and as something approaching a social centre. That situation remains stark -  the building is in a poor condition. The Friends own the building, the Collective occupy it and try to maintain it and there is not any money. The remit of the Friends, “to facilitate anarchist publishing” (Editor's emphasis), is very barely being continued. 
The issues as FFP see them are the lack of publishing, both a paper and books; the condition of the building (including fire certificates and lack of disabled access/toilets); and the inability to insure the building.  Richard (Parry), Donald (Rooum) and Ernest (Rodker) each paid £200 for a comprehensive survey of the building, from which came the figure of £50,000 for repairs. 
With this background, and the only asset available being the building, the Friends decided to see how much it might raise. While there was never any intention to sell it without consultation, poor communication compounded by wild rumours saw this attempt to move forward shut down by the building’s users and their allies in a meeting originally billed as a “social”. The buildings users’ agenda was one of defining the role of FFP as merely fundraisers, accusing FFP of being a stalking horse for Northern Voices and failing to consult. The last of these points is the only one we are prepared to concede. The meeting did not address whether it would be in Freedom’s best interests to stay or move and how any activities would be financed. 
There has been some talk that the purpose of the Memorandum of Association should be amended to change the purpose of the Friends to suit how the building is currently run. Legal advice appears to indicate this is not possible. This is one area that the Friends will need to address with the Collective in the coming year.  
We understand that the Collective has set up working groups to address both fundraising and the repairs required. We look forward to hearing more from both these initiatives. 
At this AGM, the three longest serving directors will be standing down, though they may stand for re-election. 
Finally, we would like to pay tribute to Sonia Markham, a Friend until ill health forced her to resign in 2015, who sadly died earlier this year.
(Annual Report presented to the Friends of Freedom Press AGM: 
22nd, June 2016)

Freedom Collective Statement!

THE Statement from the Freedom Collective, which because we believe
in transparency we publish below in full, was posted on the Freedom web-site
on Thursday the 23rd, June 2016.  We have reason to disagree with much of the
contents as expressed by the author(s), and will in due course give a full account of
what happened on the premises of 84B, Whitechapel High Street, and later in Angel
Alley on the 22nd, June 2016.  But for now we just say that several persons within
the building behaved badly in so far as their actions were ultra vires: 
that is they breached their powers under the law.  The Collective Statement is
seriously flawed and may confuse the uninitiated reader, and for this reason I offer
my own response to this 'Statement' at the end of the text.

Freedom Collective Statement

on Brian Bamford

We’re sad to report an incident which occurred today(June 22) at the Freedom building, in which a member of the Freedom Press collective and one of the nominees for the Friends of Freedom were attacked by Brian Bamford, a former contributor to Freedom newspaper who has been excluded from involvement for the last four years due to his unreasonable behaviour. Bamford and his three pals had previously been engaged in a lengthy campaign of online harassment against both the collective and its individual members*, following a dispute at the 2012 London Anarchist Bookfair in which he felt we had failed to back his grievance against another organization**. From 230 miles away he took it upon himself to punish a collective he had mostly never met for not pushing what he wanted. He and his chum Chris Draper called this smear job an “expose.” This campaign culminated at the Friends AGM at which he appeared, unannounced***, despite having been told he was not welcome in the building, in order to criticise the collective**** and attempt to have Freedom, sold to fund a website more in line with his own philosophy. After he refused to leave, the Friends allowed him to speak then asked him to wait outside. Having walked down the stairs he then refused to leave the building, attempting to push over the woman who was in his way. Two collective members subsequently took him by the arms and dragged him out.*****  He followed this by charging at a collective member who was blocking the front door, bouncing off and falling over. He got up, and failing to push past, put them in a headlock and stamped on their feet until restrained from doing so.  This was a 72-year-old man repeatedly attacking a 35-year-old who refused to be drawn into a fight. Bamford’s conduct has repeatedly been disgraceful for most of the last four years. He has sneered at, defamed, doxxed and impugned anyone who disagreed with him, and dragged respected comrades and organisations’ names through the mud in his quest to pull down Freedom Press.  As a collective we have, until now, not commented publicly on his appalling behaviour as we felt that it served no purpose to give him the oxygen of publicity. However following his bizarre physical attacks on members of Freedom Press and the Friends, we feel we should make it clear that Brian, and his three pals who have enabled him throughout, have no place in the anarchist movement.  Their brand of disruptive, bullying, self-aggrandising tantrum-throwing is unacceptable and should not be given any support by anarchist or progressive organisations. In our view they should not be welcome in anarchist spaces nor published in the anarchist outlets – they are persona non grata in our eyes. We hope other organisations will support us in rejecting their toxic approach.
* The author of the above diatribe, believed to be Simon Saunders, says:   ‘Bamford and his three pals had previously been engaged in a lengthy campaign of online harassment against both the collective and individual members’ but he does not explain that this was based on a careful critique last year by Christopher Draper about the death of Freedom newspaper:  although
he does dismiss something he calls ‘a smear job’.

** Simon writes that this all derives from ‘a dispute at the 2012 London Anarchist Bookfair in which he felt we had failed to back his grievance against another organisation’. 
This demonstrates a degree of disingenuousness in so far as the 'dispute' he refers to was in reality a physical attack on the Northern Anarchist Network bookstall, and Freedom has never reported what happened at the 2012 bookfair, this contrasts with the website ‘Five Leaves’ which gave a detailed account at    
This lapse by Freedom is perhaps not surprising because the Freedom website has yet to even give an account of the recent Annual Report of the Friends of Freedom Press for 2016:  see this annual report in full on this blog.
*** Simon adds:  ‘This campaign culminated at the Friends AGM at which he (Bamford) appeared, unannounced…’. 
The fact is that Donald Rooum, Dr. David Goodway and Jayne Clementson, all of them Friends of Freedom Press, knew beforehand that I had indicated my intention to attend their meeting and to present some well-publicised proposals.   On the day other Friends present at the meeting were more than happy to hear what I had to say.  The only people objecting to my presence and attendance at the meeting were members of the unofficial body known as ‘The Freedom Collective’, in particular Simon Saunders and Andy Meinke.
****  Simon continues further:  ‘This campaign culminated at the Friends AGM at which he (Bamford) appeared, unannounced  despite having been told he was not welcome in the building, in order to criticise the collective’
Indeed, the 'Collective' has been criticized by me and others, but also inherent in the Annual Report of the Friends of Freedom Press is clear criticism of the 'Collective' exactly along the lines laid out by 'Our Friends in the North' for all to see.  And, is it now prohibited to even 'criticise' the so-called 'Collective'?
***** Ultimately, Mr Saunders writes:  'Two collective members subsequently took him by the arms and dragged him out.'   Why?  was it because the 'Collective' members found it too difficult to cope with the criticism?  Other people must make their own judgement on this episode, but even based on their own account the evidence hardly suggests a well balanced approach to challenges to the dominance of the Freedom Collective.

Owen Smith - Corbyn-lite?

by Les May
AT first sight it looks as if the decision by Angela Eagle to pull out of the contest for the Labour leadership is, from the 'plotters' perspective a good one, because it ensures that the anti-Corbyn vote will not be split.  But in the interval between now and the leadership vote there is enough time for things to turn sour, not because of anything Corbyn says or does, but from what Owen Smith himself says.

Now I was not an Eagle fan as I showed in some recent articles for Northern Voices.  There were two reasons for this. The first was that if she was as left wing as was proclaimed in the media, why should I settle for voting for a Labour party led by an ersatz version of Corbyn, when I could have the real thing?

The second developed more slowly.  I began to see that her supporters, and especially her supporters in the media, were going to fight her leadership campaign on the basis of 'intimidation' by Corbyn supporters, 'sexism' and 'homophobia', and that she was not going to set the record straight.

In fairness I should point out that it is possible to generate claims of 'homophobia' from the most innoccuous of statements as happened to Owen Smith after he talked about his family life as a married father with children and describing himself as 'normal' and there is no suggestion that Angela Eagle would endorse such nonsense.

But one thing I would not accuse her of is being someone who makes rash statements just to get elected.  Appearing to make vague promises and then not being able to deliver on them has a habit of coming back to haunt you.

Two days ago Owen Smith was quoted as saying 'I would renationalise our railways tomorrow'.  Sounds radical, but it's just playing to the gallery and telling Labour people what he thinks they want to here.  As I pointed out in this extract from an NV article in August 2015 ownership isn't the issue.  The problem is to make the system work for the benefit of the public.  

So why do I care?  Why do I, and people like me, find Corbyn by far the most appealing of all the leadership candidates? I'm not hung up on renationalisation of the railways.  But I do want them to work.  I want to be able to go into any station and book the cheapest ticket to anywhere in the country using any train.  I don't want to be crammed onto a train with too few coaches every day. I don't want to surcharged if I find myself paying the conductor.  If it takes nationalisation to make the system work so be it. If you object to nationalisation just make the system work.  Or would doing that not be 'business friendly'?

Yesterday, we were told that Smith has 'promised a second referendum on EU membership or a general election to influence how Brexit goes,' and 'it would be “tempting” to stop withdrawal from the EU if he became Prime Minister.'

Again this is just telling people what he thinks they want to hear.  If he really believes it then he clearly does not understand what is going to happen once a UK government triggers Article 50.

As I wrote in a NV article two weeks ago:

What is clear even now, and becomes clearer every day, is that try as it might, no UK government, whether Tory or Labour, is going to get access to the so called 'single market' unless it accepts free movement of workers, a.k.a. immigration. This is why: 'The internal market, or single market, of the European Union (EU), also known as the European single market, is a single market that seeks to guarantee the free movement of goods, capital, services, and people – the "four freedoms" – between the EU's 28 member states.'

There is not going to be any 'pre triggering' negotiation designed to give the UK a relationship with the EU more privileged than any of the remaining 27 members enjoy.  The choice is stark, leave the EU and maintain access to the single market by allowing free movement or negotiate with the rest of the world and pay the tariffs imposed by the EU on external trade. a.k.a increase the cost of British exports to the EU.

Owen Smith is a 'loose cannon' liable to say things he is not going to be able to deliver on.  The media love him at the moment because he's not Corbyn.  But if he keeps on making rash half promises it won't take long for someone to spot that he's just playing the game of being 'Corbyn lite' to garner votes for the leadership election.  How long before some wag asks if promising a second referendum isn't just a bit like the whole leadership challenge: keep them voting until they come up with the right answer!

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Jeremy Corbyn: Misrepresentaion in the Media?

by Les May
A STUDY by the Media and Communications Department at London School of Economics and Political Science analyses articles about Jeremy Corbyn that were published in eight national newspapers between 1 September and 1 November 2015, and included both right and left wing press. It found three areas where Corbyn has not been treated fairly:
through lack of voice or misrepresentation
through scorn, ridicule and personal attacks
through association
You can get the general drift of the findings from the title of the report detailing the study, 'Journalistic Representations of Jeremy Corbyn in the Mainstream Press: From Watchdog to Attackdog'
An anti-Corbyn bias is not something peculiar to papers like the Sun, Express or Mail. The so called 'quality' papers share the same approach.
The most insidious aspect of the treatment of Corbyn has been the fact that the media just do not report what he does say on important matters. This was especially apparent in the way that when Corbyn addressed packed meetings in the Referendum campaign they were not reported.  
Denying Corbyn a voice is even worse than misrepresenting what he says. Simply misrepresenting him at least allows people the opportunity to 'filter out' the most obvious bias.

Angela Eagle: the Brick & the Coup!

by Les May
I HESITATE to say that Angela Eagle lied about having a brick thrown through her constituency office window, but she is certainly guilty of of not having done anything to correct the impression given in some sections of the press that it was done by a Corbyn supporter and had been done to 'bully' her after she announced she was challenging Corbyn for Labour leader.

But as is clear from a statement made by an Eagle supporter and reported in The Guardian, Eagle's office just happens to be in the same building.  The accompanying image shows that the window was at the foot of a stairwell and not in an office.

According to a local councillor, Bernie Mooney:
'Someone put a brick through the window last night. At the side of Angela’s office there is a massive window from the floor to the top with six or seven panes and it’s broken one of them. They had come up the side of the building. There are three or four businesses in here as well as Angela’s office.'

It seems that for Angela the brick through the window has been much the same as the failed coup in Turkey for Erdogan; something to be taken advantage of.

Even his enemies agree that Corbyn is a decent man.  How about Angela showing she's a decent woman by setting the record straight?

Mr. Dale's Diary

EXTRACTS from a diary that have been sent to Northern Voices.  This is the tenth extract.
This is the diary of a man of our times. 
Any resemblance to anyone living is, of course, purely coincidental.

Wednesday 20th July 2016

The management seem to be falling out with each other. Gives me chance to get away with all sorts of things. They appear to be ignoring my little problems. Not problems for ME of course, just for them. This I like.
Same old problems for me, not enough pounds coming in for my ‘hobbies’, too much going to ex’s needs. The media are not coming knocking at my door, I need something to attract them. Nasty people threatening me, maybe my man will lob a brick through the office window, or ‘horrible’ comments on social media. I’m sure my man will be happy to oblige!
As a significant part of my income is from expenses, quite right too as I should not have to pay anything out of my own pocket, I have got my man looking at fresh claims. If I claim for the services of others no payment actually needs to be made, depending of course who is providing the service. A man like ME needs to be in the best of health, physical and emotional to provide wise counsel, mop up tears etc etc. I need a counsellor to look after my emotional needs, who can that be? A young lady perhaps, someone I can come to agreement on regarding payment?
Product placement could be another option. I could wear designer clothes supplied free in return for me displaying them, maybe swimwear, nice and snug! I could ensure the media takes pictures as well (and charge them also). Now what other products and services could I endorse? Urm, now let me think. Now where is my man to get on with this? All this thought is making me thirsty, now endorsing drinks, that’s a interesting thought

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Performance Figures in the Referendum

Les May
IN an article in yesterday's “i” Angela Eagle showed where she gets her information about Jeremy Corbyn.  It's the media.  Referring to Corbyn's ability to 'hold Boris Johnson's feet to the fire', amongst other things, she wrote 'The tepid words and lip service he paid to the Remain campaign showed this past month.' 

According to the media it's received wisdom that Corbyn's performance in the referendum was poor.  And Angela Eagle has swallowed that story without bothering to check the facts. 

According to an analysis of media coverage by Loughborough University for the period 6 May to 22 June, Corbyn scored 123 media appearances.  Eagle scored 15, one less than Angela Merkel who is Chancellor of Germany!  Alan Johnson who was supposed to be running the Labour party's Referendum campaign scored slightly better with 19. 

So how did Corbyn do in mobilising the Labour vote for Remain? You can check out the exact figures on the link below, but in round figures, 40% of the people who voted 'Remain' had voted Labour in the 2015 election and 40% of those who voted 'Leave' had voted Conservative.  Put another way 60% of Labour voters supported 'Remain' and 60% of Conservative voters supported 'Leave'. 

Dumping the blame for Brexit on a few northern towns where Labour had performed well in past elections and ignoring the vast swathes of the country which were solidly Conservative in the election and solidly for 'Leave' in the referendum, won't wash.  Check it out on the appropriate maps if you doubt it. 

The witless bunch of plotters who have tried to launch a coup against Corbyn  missed a glorious opportunity to dump the responsibility for the vote to leave the EU fairly and squarely where it belongs on David Cameron and his Tory party.   

Had they pointed out how well Corbyn had mobilised the Labour vote for Remain whilst David Cameron had pointedly failed to do so, it would have been difficult for anyone in the media to argue differently because that is what the facts point to.  On this matter Corbyn showed far more leadership than Cameron whose troops ignored his pleas. 

Angela Eagles' leadership style would certainly be different from Corbyn's.  We'd be back to a world where Labour's policies would be determined by what suited the media. 

Incidentally, Angela just what did that sentence you mangled actually mean?