Sunday, 21 April 2019


To see full image click on image


IT is a sad reflection on the state of local politics in our town - especially in my ward.  Any reasonable person would agree that the postal vote fraud councillor isn’t fit to serve our town, and neither are any councillors who have supported him.  Such is the low standard of councillors in our town,  that some appear to think that he’s the greatest thing since the invention of  microwaveable chapatis.  It’s quite bizarre.
THE FRAUD WARD in Spotland & Falinge:  The Story So Far:
  • 2012 - A permanent police presence is required at Spoland Road polling station after claims of voter intimidaton.
  • 2016 - Crucial anti-fraud documentation 'disappears' from Spotland Road polling station.  Spotland Labour councillors remain silent.
  • 2017 - A complaint is made to the police about a Labour activist spoted with multiple postal votes in his van just off Spotland Road.
  • 2018 - A Spotland Labour councillor admits postal vote fraud after being caught using a bogus Spotland Road home addressto fraudulently obtain an extra postal vote.
  • 2019 - A Postal Vote Fraud councillor is now the Election Agent for the Spotland Labour candidate at the 2019 local elections and as such is responsible for ensuring that the candidate complies with electoral law.   
Votes lost and gained by Rochdale Labour Party for the wards it won in 2016 & retained in 2018.



Spotland & Falinge______________ ► Labour GAINED 272 votes
◄  Labour LOST -475 votes____________________  Balderstone 

◄  Labour LOST -705 votes ______________________Castleton

◄  Labour LOST -414 votes ___________________ Central

◄  Labour LOST -166 votes ________  East Middleton

◄  Labour LOST -41 votes __ Healy

◄  Labour LOST -138 votes _______ Hopwood Hall

◄  Labour LOST -187 votes ________ Kingsway

◄  Labour LOST -184 votes _______ Littleborough Lakeside

Milkstone & Deeplish __ ► Labour GAINED 45 votes 

Labour LOST -346 VOTES ______________  North Heywood

◄  Labour LOST - 250 votes ____________ North Middleton

 Smallbridge ________► Labour GAINED 116 votes 
Labour LOST - 179 votes __________________ South Middleton 

Labour LOST - 378 votes ___________________ West Heywood

Labour LOST - 256 votes ___________________ West Middleton


Thursday, 18 April 2019

Election statement by MICK COATS

'MAKE A DIFFERENCE' VOTE Mick Coats: Spotland and Falinge ward Green candidate:

THANK YOU for reading this.  I am standing as the local candidate for this ward.  This is an election about what we can do locally and why it is important to vote.  We do not need another party hack elected in Spotland, who will be more concerned with obeying orders sent down from their party leader than addressing the issues in the ward.
First, a word from Carl Faulkner who has stood as an independent in the ward over several elections.We have fought together on a number of issues, both believing that Rochdale has had a poor deal from the main political parties and their politicians. We have tried to make sense of local politics.

Carl says:  
'Locally I have been very concerned with issues that affect us – particularly the pitiful standard of our local councillors.  We cannot rely on them to represent us in the way that they should. They have done nothing to protect our open spaces, done nothing to deal with the old, highly toxic Turner Brothers site or even to tackle the problem of speeding.  I have worked with Mick on these and other issues.  Unlike the other candidates, he actually attends meetings and questions councillors.  He is the only candidate worth your vote.'

We have fought to resolve the problem of the old Turner Brothers Site.  It is a 72 acre wasteland of toxic material, mainly asbestos.   It is too dangerous for housing and the safest solution is to turn it into a country park.  What does the Labour Party candidate say about it?   Nothing!

Another problem is cars speeding.  It is a problem for us all.  But what is Labour's solution to deal with cars speeding on Rooley Moor Road?   It is to remove cars parked on the road (which act as a natural restraint on speeding cars), allowing cars to go even faster.  It makes no sense.

Until now we have had the opportunity to question councillors at the local Forum. This was held four times a year in a central location with good public transport where the public could question councillors.  Now the local Labour Party have unilaterally decided to hold these Forums in the middle of Falinge Park.  Why?  Few people live near the park, it is mainly populated by various animals and birds with only a few people living nearby.  Is the Labour Party going to 'talk to the animals' like some latterday Doctor Dolittle?  (An all too appropriate name perhaps).

Locally we should be ensuring local work is done by local companies with local people.  In the past we even had consultants coming into the town (from Yorkshire!) to tell us what we need to do to improve the town.  Other towns (for example Preston) have kept services local and reaped the benefits.

Locally, and nationally we should not be building on Green Belt land.  Nor should we be building anything other than affordable houses to buy or rent.   There is enough land available for housing that has previously been used in other ways.  (Where there was once factories and shops for instance).
These derelict sites could also be given over to local groups to use prior to being used.  There is a lot of land all over Rochdale that has lain unused for years.  Let people use it for recreational purposes until it is needed.

I do not understand why there is a threat to demolish some of the 'seven sisters' against the wishes of residents, and I fully support there cause.  Another issue that does not make sense.
These are local elections, but national Green Party policies are relevant locally.  The council should clearly and openly oppose fracking.  Integrated publically owned railways and buses are common sense. These should also be electrically powered.  Building laws should insist that all new buildings incorporate environmentally sound measures such as solar panels.  Policies to improve the environment are of particular concern to me.   Having experienced pollution elsewhere I know how important it is to stop choking the planet.  These measures should be in the minds of the local council and opportunities should be taken to further them where possible.

Our policies are vital and we would encourage main stream parties to adopt them.  We can take credit for some policies already but the important thing is to get them introduced, not to look important.
This election is important as local democracy is being abused .  People are being ignored and worse. At the last election a candidate actually voted twice; a criminal offence that resulted in a police caution. His election as one of our councillors was allowed to stand.  But why did he think it was ok to vote more than once?  Why did his fellow councillors accept that he did not know that he was not allowed to vote twice?  What does it say about their view of what standards a councillor should aspire to?  Now he is the agent for the current Labour Party candidate. (The agent is responsible for the right procedures to be followed by the candidate!  No further comment needed)
We have also had recent examples of other councillors failing to reach the standards that we have a right to expect from them, including the council leader.  The main opposition are also failing to hold the current council leaders to account.   We need to reclaim local democracy.

Just a personal note; I live in Spotland and am married with three sons, two of which ran the Manchester marathon.  I am a season ticket holder at Rochdale football Club (Up the Dale!), play in Rochdale quiz league and am a supporter of several local drinking establishments.

Make a change, give me a chance to shake up the local political establishment and hold them to account.  We have been labelled a 'rotten borough' for far too long.  Just complaining is not enough, you have a vote, use it.

Mick Coats 

66, Rooley Moor Road,
Tel. 07590595473

Commemoration, Conflict & Conscience festival

THE full programme of events for the national Commemoration, Conflict & Conscience festival at M Shed (Saturday 27th - Sunday 28th April) and other venues in Bristol has been announced and can be viewed here. Highlights include Cyril Pearce, one of the foremost researchers into WW1 conscientious objectors, Janet Booth who has campaigned to clear the name of her grandfather who was shot for desertion, Piet Chielens of the 'In Flanders Field' museum and many others. On the evening of Saturday 27 April at the Southbank Club, Paul McGann will be in conversation about his appearance in the classic BBC TV series 'The Monocled Mutineer'. Two events happening over the next few days as part of the festival are:

Play: This Evil Thing 
Date: Sunday 21st April, 2019
Time: P
erformances, 3.30pm and 7.30pm
Crypt at St John the Baptist Church, Broad St, Bristol BS1 2EZ
£11/£9, but need to book here. Note: spaces are left for the evening performance.
With: Michael Mears
This acclaimed solo play tells the compelling and inspiring story of Britain’s WW1 conscientious objectors. January 1916: Bert Brocklesby is a schoolteacher and preacher at his Methodist chapel; Bertrand Russell is one of the greatest philosophers of his time. With the advent of military conscription their worlds are about to be turned upside down. More details here.

Film showings: These Dangerous Women: Women who stood up for peace during and after the First World War

Date: Tuesday 23rd April, 2019
Time: 8.00pm

The Cube, Dove Street South, [off top-left of King Square], Kingsdown, Bristol BS2 8JD
£5/£4, booking here
With: Michele Ryan, June Hannam
Thursday’s Child:
Best remembered as a suffragette, Sylvia Pankhurst was also a passionate supporter of the Russian revolution, a founder of the British Communist Party and a talented visual artist. Narrated by Marxist historian Gwyn Williams.
These Dangerous Women: A drama-documentary on the women who tried to stop WW1. In 1915, 1,300 women from 12 warring and neutral nations got together in the Hague to find a way towards peace. More details here.


Sunday, 14 April 2019

This Sporting Life

by Les May

ACCORDING to the teachings of the Roman Catholic church my wife and I are adulterers.
According to an Australian rugby player called Israel Folau the doors of Hell await us, along with ‘Drunks, homosexuals, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolators’.  As that covers most of the human race I assume the place is going to be a bit crowded when I get there.

Personally I don’t take this sort of stuff very seriously so as to avoid encouraging them.

Unfortunately some people do take it seriously including rugby player Billy Vunipola who ‘liked’ it on Instagram, the English Rugby Football Union who have ‘summoned’ Vunipola, his club Saracens, and Channel 4, which has decided not to employ him again as a contributor to its match coverage.

Now I don’t think that the decision by these organisations to pillory England’s number 8 is an attempt to pledge their undying support for we adulterers, atheists, drunks, fornicators, idolators, liars and thieves. It’s more likely to do with a Times headline of ‘England rugby star defends post telling gay people hell awaits’.

Which rather prompts a question about why homosexuals are thought more worthy of protection from comments like this than than the rest of us.  And please don’t tell me that homosexuals are a persecuted minority.  Forty odd years ago my wife lost her job because the life she had chosen did not meet with the approval of her church.

Will the English Rugby Football Union and Saracens behave like the Roman Catholic Church did all that time ago, and how Channel 4 have behaved just recently?  Quite likely, but what strange bedfellows they make.

As far as I am concerned those who feel offended by this kind of thing are what my Dad would have called ‘mard-arses’.   It’s a pity they’ve nowt better to do with their time.


Saturday, 13 April 2019

The arrest of Julian Assange

AUTHOR Jerome Corsi, who was questioned by the Mueller probe about his relationship with Wikileaks, reacts to the arrest of Julian Assange on FBN's "Trish Regan Primetime," saying the Wikileaks founder is being unjustly prosecuted.

"This is another attack on journalism," Corsi said about Assange's arrest. "in 2013 the Obama Justice Department decided not to indict Julian Assange over these Chelsea Manning issues because they said it would be tantamount to indicting the New York Times of the Washington Post. As a journalist, Julian Assange has a right to publish even stolen materials."

"The New York Times and Washington Post, in 1971, worked hand in glove with Daniel Ellsberg to get the Pentagon Papers in print. That is not a collaboration that is criminal, that is journalism, and Julian Assange is being unjustly prosecuted."

"I would recommend to Julian Assange that he fight back just like I did,"
Corsi said. "Julian Assange can come back and prove the second shoe dropping, the double whammy. Robert Mueller says there was no Russian collusion. Julian Assange can come back and prove that Russia was not involved in stealing the Democrats' emails. Julian Assange can come back and open up the Seth Rich case, where he has suggested time and again that there was this DNC employee who was murdered in Washington during the 2016 campaign who supplied him the emails."

"Julian Assange should do what I've done and write a book," he also said. "If Julian Assange wants to write a book and get it published we'll get it published for him. If he wants a co-author or a ghostwriter call on me. Fight back! Because Assange has information that can absolutely destroy the Russian collusion hoax. He said it from the beginning. I never talked to him, all I had to do was listen to his press conferences. He said the Russians were not involved in stealing the emails."

Posted By Tim Hains
on 'Real Clear Politics' (Date April 12, 2019)

Quien es el último?:

 The last shall be first. A saying of Jesus; in the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus declares that in the world to come, “The last shall be first and the first last.”

by Brian Bamford
A MONTH ago I was Bavaria with some women discussing the English art of queueing and I introduced the Spanish solution to the problem by saying that the Spaniards avoid queueing in an orderly way by standing in a crowd and when someone new turns up they simply ask:  'Quien es el ultimo?'  To which the Germans said:  'No German would ever admit to being the last one!'

I was put in mind of this discussion when I recently had occasion to point out to a lady councillor from Crewe involved with the International Brigade Memorial Trust that the International Brigades had left Spain on the 28th, October 1938 not 1939 as she had proposed on an inscription to commemorate two local volunteers.  Perhaps with justification she quickly argued:  'I would suggest that there were those who remained fighting alongside their Spanish comrades right up to the end after the IB had marched out of Barcelona.'

On their official departure the in October 1939 the International Brigaders had left behind 9,934 dead, 7,686 missing and had suffered 37,541 wounded.  But more than that it was later discovered by the international commission of the League of Nations overseeing the withdrawal of foreign volunteers, were to find about 400 International Brigaders in prisons in and around Barcelona, including Montjuich and the 'Carlos Marx' prison'.  Colonel Ribbing. the Swedish member of the international commission reported:  'As regards the international volunteers, they had sometimes been convicted for pure trifles, sometimes for definite and serious undisciplined behaviour.  Many stated they were accused of espionage and sabotage; most of them protested their complete innocence.'

To any decent person it must have seemed quite shocking that even though the Negrin republican government had agreed to the repatriation of the International Brigade prisoners, the international commission was to find some 400 had been left behind as late as January 1939 just as the nationalist troops were advancing on Barcelona.  

Wednesday, 10 April 2019

The Fall of Madrid: March 1939

by Brian Bamford (Sec. of Taneside TUC)
IN SPAIN on this day 80 years ago, the Republican defenders of Madrid raised the white flag over the city, bringing to an end the bloody three-year Spanish conflict entitled the Spanish Civil War  (30th, March 1939).

In his reflective commemoration of this event Tom Sibley in the Morning Star (Thursday, March 21, 2019) wrote: ‘Until the end of February 1939 Prime Minister Juan Negrin and his only reliable allies, the Communists, were determined to fight on despite a series of crushing military defeats in Catalonia.’

Tom Sibley entitles his column 'The betrayal of Madrid & the triumph of fascism in Spain' but much of his argument seems to be rooted in an earlier article by Paul Preston attacking Orwell's Homage to Catalonia as 'bad history' published in The Observer (7th, May 2017).  

Yet what are we to make of the Spanish Prime Minister Negrin, who while urging the Spanish republicans to stand firm, moves to live close to the port of Alicante and make preparations for evacuation and exile?  No wonder people were puzzled, and even his generals were not convinced complaining of the lack of arms and supplies, and with Admiral Buiza, commander of the fleet, suggesting that without an immediate solution the fleet would have to abandon Spanish waters.

The distinguished military historian, Antony Beevor, in his book The Battle for Spain [2006] wrote: ‘Despite his calls for resistance, Negrin did not install his government in either Madrid or Valencia. He went to live in a villa near Elda, close to the port of Alicante, guarded by 300 communist commandos from XIV Corps. From there, by telephone and teleprinter, he sent a frenetic series of instructions, on the one hand attempting to invigorate the defence of the republican zone, and on the other making preparations for evacuation and exile.’

The International Brigades had already been removed from Spain in October 1938; although the International Brigades are often presented by some as a kind of cavalry saving the Spaniards from Fascism, by September 1938  only 7,102 foreigners were left in the International Brigades.   Antony Beevor in his observation of this decision to withdraw writes:   'It [the withdrawal] was an astute propaganda move, because both the Republic and the nationalists had greatly exaggerated their role'.

All this will have escaped Tom Sibley's attention because in his Morning Star diatribe he is all too anxious to deploy his scatter-gun approach to target George Orwell and his book Homage to Catalonia claiming Orwell 'knowingly misleads his readers to this day'


Tuesday, 9 April 2019

Our Buses in Greater Manchester Aren’t Working

Better Buses for GM

Article written for GMPA by Pascale Robinson
Pascale Robinson

Right now, bus operators can’t be forced to run any service, and they set the fares, but in the next year, we have a huge opportunity to change this wild west scenario.
Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham is deciding now whether to pick a better way of running the bus network, re-regulating it, which puts buses back into public control.
37% of Greater Manchester’s job seekers said that lack of access to transport is a key barrier to getting work, backed up by JRF research in low-income neighbourhoods in Manchester. This is in one of the UK’s biggest and best city regions.
People from the poorest fifth of households catch nearly 10 times as many buses as trains. For lots of us, without a bus we’re stuck. Across Greater Manchester, many reported that cars and trains are simply out the question in terms of price. However, with buses their last option, they highlighted how expensive fares and unreliable services prevent them from taking up positions, and how the un-joined network can mean commutes of over three hours a day (over Jobcentre Plus’ limit for reasonable travel).
Our bus network is not serving us. Instead people are being locked out of opportunities for work. With re-regulation, or franchising as it’s known, a fully integrated and planned network across GM’s 10 local authorities could connect us to our work places, our loved ones and the services we need at affordable fares, as we see in London.
What does this mean? Re-regulation means companies are told by local authorities what services to run, when, and how to set the fares. It also means local authorities can:
  • Plan and expand the network – Profits from busy routes could subsidise less busy but needed services. Right  now, bus companies cherry pick only profitable routes and make a killing, but local authorities could use profits to give everyone a better service.
  • Make buses affordable – Income could be used to lower fares, which have increased 55% above inflation in the last ten years.
  • Make buses reliable – Bus companies would have to share data – meaning buses don’t disappear from the time table or app.
  • Make buses frequent – Income could also be used to provide evening and weekend services, like we had before.

This would transform buses for a lot of us. Re-regulating in GM would set a precedent across the UK for a bus network that serves people, not profit. We’ve launched a petition calling for re-regulation and it already has over 5,000 signatures, but we want twice as many so please sign and share the petition to join the call for better buses.
Right now, we have a postcode lottery and a poverty premium, with richer areas often getting the better routes and cheaper fares, at least during commuter hours. Public money is used wherever possible, to plug gaps where there is need, however this is an inefficient use of public money. Better Buses for Greater Manchester found that on average £18 million a year is going to shareholder pay outs in the North West region.
Re-regulating our bus network would mean that Greater Manchester could have publicly controlled buses which connect communities to where they need to be.
Join the campaign by signing the petition now:
We’d also love to hear from you. We need organisations, businesses and groups to pledge their support for the campaign. Whether you can offer your logo to show support, as GMPA have, or your time, or both, we need as many people speaking out for better buses as possible.
To find out more about the campaign, please say hello at

Saturday, 6 April 2019

Review: Di and Viv and Rose

by Asclepias

IF the Director has to put notes on the back of the programme it is usually not a good sign, so I thought it might be ‘early doors’ for me when I went to see in Rochdale The Curtain Theatre’s current production of Amelia Bullmore’s play Di and Viv and RoseStrictly speaking I should say ‘we’ because there were four of us in the party.  With three in their 70s and the fourth a mere 55 we were a reasonable sample of a typical CT audience.

It’s 1983; three young women go to university and share a flat.  We follow snippets of their life for three years.   Rose is a pleasant young woman who cannot just say she likes sex, but seems to want to endow it with some sort of transient spirituality.   Di is a sport loving lesbian who cannot get round to asking the object of her affection for a date.  Viv is a sociology student who makes clear she is at uni to work not play.

The memorable things are that Rose forgets to take the dirty clothes to the launderette so they nearly run out of clean bra and knickers, Di is raped in her bed by an intruder and a dream comes true for Viv when she is offered a chance to study with an American professor.  Oh, and Rose gets pregnant.

If this sounds flippant it’s because to this point both story and dialogue seemed shallow.   Three of us could not work up the enthusiasm to find out what became of the characters in the following thirty years.  This was to be revealed in the second act. The fourth stayed having left a coat in the theatre.

As one of our party said, ‘It’s old hat’.  We’ve heard it all before.  The rape of Di isn’t one of those ambiguous ‘she said, he said’ affairs, which made the response from the sympathetic lady at the Rape Crisis Centre of ‘Its not your fault’, a bit lame to say the least.

Perhaps in the end this playing up of the nature of friendship between women is a belated response to too many TV outings for Das Boot, The Cruel Sea or Band of Brothers.   If it is then it is misplaced. Comradeship and friendship are not the same thing.

The thinness of the play was more than compensated by the quality of the acting. The original Viv had been forced to drop out of the role and it had been taken by the director Jessica Wiehler who made a superb Viv reminiscent of a younger Marina Warner during her ‘broomsticks are a symbol of women’s drudgery’ witchcraft phase.   Ellaney Hayden was a well cast and utterly believable Rose.  Molly Stedman as Di had by far the most difficult role in coping with a poorly sketched character, some weak dialogue and a couple of not altogether convincing plot lines.

The Curtain Theatre is fortunate in having so many talented performers to choose from and I have watched many excellent productions. But oh how I wish the annual programme paid less attention to plays which win praise from the critics and more to the catalogue of older plays. When Harold Brighouse’s 1914 play The Game was staged a year or so ago by the CT it made for a very enjoyable evening out, though it had languished in near oblivion for nearly a century.

The art of theatre is to persuade the audience to suspend their disbelief. Di and Viv and Rose failed to do this.

Monday, 1 April 2019

When Brexit Really Does Mean Brexit

by Les May

IT is well known that Donald Trump offered Theresa May advice about how to handle Brexit. What has been a mystery until now has been what he actually said in the private discussions.

Thanks to a recent intercept made today 31 March between 01.00 GMT and 02.00 BST by the Australian administered repeater station where the Tera-bit Trans-Pacific Optical Fibre Link (TTPOFL) comes ashore on the island of Rabaul, we now know much more about what Trump had to say when she told him ‘Brexit means Brexit’.

After his success in the November 2016 presidential election his shadow administration had set up a small group charged with coming up with policies which would bring about a seismic shift in geopolitical alignments and in so doing promote his America First policy.

This group contacted two Southern Baptist University engineers, Professor Sellers Strange and Dr Peter Lurve, who in 2001 had written a paper published in the Journal of Terraforming advocating nuclear mining. They proposed that Great Britain should detach itself physically from the continental shelf and set itself adrift from the European tectonic plate.

This would have required the drilling of several hundred holes deep enough to reach the Mohorovic Discontinuity, lowering into each one a low yield nuclear bomb and triggering these simultaneously. The shock wave would shatter the rock and Great Britain really would be free from Europe.

Trump put this proposal to Theresa May and offered the use of the newly commissioned Glomar Explorer to undertake the drilling. (The original Explorer had been used to recover part of a Soviet submarine K-129 in 1974 and was scrapped in 2015). He also agreed to supply up to 970 low yield nuclear devices. These had originally been designed in the 1950s and 60s as battlefield or tactical weapons to be used to halt Russian tanks crossing the German Plain en masse if the Cold War suddenly turned hot, but were now redundant and unstable. It was also a convenient way of disposing of fissile material away from US soil in line with Trump’s America First policies.

Initially the Cabinet was sceptical and dismissed it as just another of Trump’s daft ideas. But according to a Japanese website it gained traction after May’s disastrous election gamble in 2017 when she found herself having to bribe the DUP for their support. Seemingly Arlene Foster’s intransigence caused May to lose patience and she proposed that Strange and Lurve’s original scheme be modified so that only England, Wales plus the Scottish mainland and nearer islands be detached. Ulster would be left to negotiate with the Irish republic and Shetland would be ceded to its original owners in Oslo having. This became known as the Norway Option.

If you’ve been to the seaside recently and spotted a large vessel with what looks like a pylon on top of it a long way offshore it may have been the Glomar Explorer.

For more details of May’s reworked proposal excluding Northern Ireland and Shetland see and the links therein.

I’d like to thank MIT educated engineer Howard Wolowitz M. Eng. for his help with this piece.

Tuesday, 26 March 2019

BREXIT CONSIDERED by Vernon Bogdanor

ON June 23, 2016, British voters decided by a margin of 52 percent to 48 percent that the United Kingdom should leave the European Union.  Since then, British politics has been convulsed by the referendum’s repercussions. Some Remainers do not accept the finality of the vote.  The margin, they argue, was too narrow to provide a mandate for fundamental change, while some of the arguments that persuaded voters to support Leave were mendacious.  The hope that Britain could, in the words of then-Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, have its cake and eat it has proved misplaced.
The hope that Britain could, in the words of then-Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, have its cake and eat it has proved misplaced.
If, to alter the metaphor, one leaves a tennis club because one does not wish to pay the subscription and does not like the rules, one will not be able to continue to use the tennis courts on the same basis as the members. Therefore, some Remainers conclude, there should be a second referendum, to discover whether the British people still wish to leave the European Union.

The European issue is difficult for Parliament to resolve for two reasons. The first is that May’s government holds only a minority of seats—317 out of the 650—in the House of Commons, meaning it must rely for its narrow majority on the 10 members of parliament from the vehemently pro-Brexit Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) of Northern Ireland. But, perhaps even more important, both the Conservatives and the opposition Labour Party are internally divided between Remainers and Brexiteers. That division reflects a geographical and cultural division in the country.

The large cities, together with Scotland and Northern Ireland, welcome globalization and are relaxed about the EU’s principle of freedom of movement. They voted to remain. But smaller towns and older manufacturing areas, in which many feel left behind, are hostile to globalization and freedom of movement, which, they argue, have kept wages down and put undue pressure on public services. These areas supported the Leave campaign.

Parliament has enacted that Britain will leave the EU on March 29. After long and tortuous negotiations, Prime Minister Theresa May in November 2018 secured a deal with the EU. That deal comprises a legally binding withdrawal agreement providing for a transition period until December 2020, during which Britain will remain bound by EU rules while negotiating the final relationship. The pattern of that relationship is outlined in a nonbinding political declaration that hints at an outcome in which Britain could negotiate independent trade agreements, while also providing it with some degree of frictionless trade with the EU.

May’s cabinet, despite internal tensions between Remainers and Brexiteers, accepted the deal. But the Tories’ DUP allies were fiercely opposed to it, as they claimed that it might separate Northern Ireland from the rest of the United Kingdom by preventing a hard border with the Irish Republic and potentially creating a customs border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom. The deal was also opposed both by Brexiteers in the Conservative Party, who claimed that it tied Britain too closely to the EU, and by Remainers—primarily Labour, but also Liberal Democrats and Scottish Nationalists—who argued that it allowed for too many barriers to the export of goods and services to the EU. This coalition of incompatibles imposed a crushing defeat on the government motion to accept the deal on Jan. 15. Just 202 MPs supported it, while 432 rejected it.

A defeat of this magnitude is unparalleled in Britain’s parliamentary history. No fewer than 118 Conservatives, mostly hard Brexiteers, voted against the deal, with just 196 Conservatives supporting it. And many of those who voted for it had no choice.  (Because approximately 100 Conservative MPs are ministers or on the government payroll, they were duty-bound to support May or resign.  This means that a majority of Conservative backbenchers were opposed to the deal.) May’s defeat, in what was arguably the most important parliamentary vote in Britain since World War II, creates a moment of acute danger for the prime minister, the government, the Conservative Party, and the country.

A harder Brexit to placate Conservative rebels would alienate Conservative Remainers. Conversely, a softer Brexit to win support from the opposition parties would increase the number of Conservative rebels.

The hope was that the deal could unite Brexiteers and Remainers. Instead it has driven them further apart. A harder Brexit to placate Conservative rebels would alienate Conservative Remainers. Conversely, a softer Brexit to win support from the opposition parties would increase the number of Conservative rebels. Indeed, there may be no deal that could hold the Conservative Party together; an alternative could end the cabinet truce and possibly lead to the disintegration of the minority government, with a general election to follow.

It has happened before. In 1979, the Labour minority government led by James Callaghan disintegrated in this way, in part because Labour was internally divided on the issue of devolving power to Scotland. Then, in 1951, Clement Attlee’s Labour government, which enjoyed a majority of only five, disintegrated because the party was internally divided between left and right. In both cases, long periods in the opposition followed.

The vote also creates a moment of danger for the country. Since Parliament has already approved a bill stating Brexit will occur on March 29, that is the default position. The exit date can, admittedly, be extended with the agreement of the other 27 members of the European Union. But those countries may be unwilling to agree if the only reason for extension is that MPs, 30 months after the referendum, still cannot make up their minds. In any case, an extension would only postpone the dilemma. It would not resolve it.

Unless Parliament passes new legislation—and there are now fewer than 40 sitting days before March 29—Britain will leave the EU without a deal.  That is regarded by most commentators as disastrous, since it would mean that EU customs duties and, even more disadvantageously, an intimidating host of EU regulations would be imposed on British exports.  It would no longer be as easy to send goods from London to Paris or Frankfurt as it is to send goods from London to Edinburgh.

The Jan. 15 vote showed what MPs are against. But there seems to be little agreement on what they are for. Theresa May is now seeking consensus through all-party talks, although she has not yet budged on her so-called red lines, namely that Britain should leave both the European customs union (in order to pursue an independent trade policy) and the single market (to avoid allowing free movement of people and the jurisdiction of EU courts).   And the opposition parties see no reason to help her. Labour is unwilling to allow its deep internal divisions to be publicly exposed by articulating a clear alternative policy. It seeks not consensus but a general election to remove the Conservatives from power.   The Liberal Democrats seek a second referendum, while the Scottish nationalists seek to exploit the government’s difficulties to further the case for independence.
There is no obvious resolution of the problem that could secure majority support.

There is no obvious resolution of the problem that could secure majority support.  Were Britain to remain in the EU’s customs union, it would be unable to sign independent trade agreements.  Were it to remain in the EU’s internal market, it would have to accept freedom of movement.  Yet control of immigration from the European Union was one of the main motivations behind the Brexit vote.
At this point, there seem to be just three alternatives. The first is May’s deal, perhaps in a slightly modified form.  The second is for Britain to leave the EU without a deal; even though most MPs are against a no-deal Brexit, they find themselves unable to agree on an alternative.  The third is for Parliament throw the issue back to the people in a second referendum, even though the prime minister has so far opposed such a move, and its advocates cannot agree on the question to be asked.  Finally, given that the country remains almost evenly divided, a second referendum would not necessarily resolve the conflict.

The issue of Britain’s place in (or out of) Europe has arguably destroyed five of the last six Conservative prime ministers—Harold Macmillan, Edward Heath, Margaret Thatcher, John Major, and David Cameron.  It may be about to bring down another.

Vernon Bogdanor is a professor of government at King’s College, London. His book Brexit and the Constitution will be published next year. In 2019, he will be giving the Stimson lecture at Yale University on the consequences of Brexit for Britain and the European Union.

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Secret police document on Blacklisting

A SECRET police document has revealed how the Metropolitan Police's Special Branch helped the illegal blacklisting of trade unionists - preventing them from getting jobs because of their political views. 

In one case, detectives suggested one individual was a terrorist, despite the claim being wrong.
The illegal practice - exposed ten years ago - involved major construction firms accessing secret files on 3,000 workers and their union activities.

But until now, little has been known about the police's role, other than a Scotland Yard admission it had been involved.

Part of the secret report underpinning that admission has now been disclosed, after initially being classified as so secret it was for the Metropolitan Police Commissioner's eyes only.  The report - codenamed Operation Reuben - found "numerous areas of concern" with "inappropriate contact of Special Branch officers with private organisations", including with one of the two blacklisting groups, the Economic League and the Consulting Association.

Blacklisting: How it worked

  • Blacklisting began with the Economic League in 1919 which shared records on left-wing activists with industry to keep them out of the workplace
  • It was closed in 1993 after a Parliamentary inquiry. The Consulting Association sprang up to replace it
  • The Information Commissioner's Office raided The Consulting Association in 2009, revealing for the first time the scale of the operation - triggering legal action that continues to this day
  • In 2016 eight major construction firms offered settlements to end legal action: Balfour Beatty, Carillion, Costain, Keir, Lang O'Rourke, Sir Robert McAlpine, Skanska and Vinci 
  • The Reuben investigators found no systematic records of the relationships - but one sharing incident from 1978 had been recorded after a senior officer intervened.
    On that occasion, a trade union activist had applied for a job making educational videos with a company linked to the construction industry.  
    The company passed the individual's name to the Economic League to be checked - which in turn contacted the police for any further intelligence "due to the perceived risk of involvement in education".
    "The receiving officer's initial inquiries revealed a potential link to [redacted] which in his opinion had not been resolved satisfactorily... he returned to EL asking for any further information, stressing the matter's importance due to the possible link to terrorism.
    "This was recorded as fact by the EL representative."

    EL then passed this on to the prospective employer - ending the candidate's chance of getting a job.

    The applicant appears to have learned that they had been "blacked by the security people".
    One of their relatives was a retired senior police officer who demanded an investigation - and that appears to explain why the incident remained recorded.
    One major blacklisting allegation is that an officer called Mark Jenner collected information after he infiltrated the construction union UCATT between 1995 and 2000.
    The report says that Jenner, who used the alias Cassidy, provided information on 300 people - and 16 of those appeared in the illegal blacklist database.
    Operation Reuben said it found no evidence to prove that Jenner directly provided that intelligence - but it added it could not rule out other officers doing so.
    Roy Bentham, joint secretary of Blacklist Support Group, said that many questions remain unanswered.
    "The police are supposed to uphold law and order, not spy on perfectly democratic organisations such as trade unions," said Mr Bentham.
    "Blacklisting is a national scandal and confirmation that the police colluded with this shameful and unlawful activity is beyond the pale."
  • Police admit role in blacklisting workers
  • New action over construction 'blacklist'
Imran Khan QC, lawyer for the Blacklist Support Group, said that the onus was now on the undercover policing inquiry to dig deep.
A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said that the internal report into blacklisting had established that "certain conduct" amounted to improper sharing of information under the law as it stands today.
"Allegations about police involvement with the 'blacklist' will be fully explored during the Undercover Policing Public Inquiry (UCPI)," said the spokesman.
"The Metropolitan Police Service will await the conclusions of the UCPI before considering any appropriate next steps."


Tuesday, 19 March 2019

HOBSON'S CHOICE at Royal Exchange

THE Royal Exchange is thrilled to announce the full cast for their brand-new version of HOBSON’S CHOICE by award-winning writer Tanika Gupta. A comedy full of wit and humour this new adaptation explores family relationships and patriarchy versus a young woman's determination to change the status quo. Tony Jayawardena who takes on the role of Hari Hobson is joined by Shalini Peiris as Durga Hobson, Maimuna Memon as Sunita Hobson and Safiyya Ingar as Ruby Hobson. HOBSON’S CHOICE runs in the Theatre from 31 May – 6 July.
IN this sharp and witty retelling of Harold Brighouse’s classic Hari Hobson has fled Uganda to make a new life for his family in Manchester’s ever-changing Northern Quarter of the 1980s. Unimpressed by her father’s old-fashioned patriarchy the ambitious Durga, a modern feminist living and dreaming in a city fuelled by innovation and revolution, refuses to let herself and her sisters be held back by her father’s stubbornness and out-dated ideals.
The cast is completed by Esh Alladi (Ali Mossop) who returns to the Royal Exchange following her role in WIT, Raj Bajaj (Steve Prosser), Tony Hirst (Jim Heeler), Gurjeet Singh (Robbie Singh), Avin Shah (Tubby Mohammed) and Yasmin Wilde (Dr Bannerji/Pinky Khan).
Stage and screen actor Tony Jayawardena plays the disgruntled Hari Hobson. Tony’s theatre credits have included WHITE TEETH (Kiln Theatre); YOUNG MARX (The Bridge Theatre); LIONS AND TIGERS (The Globe); TWELFTH NIGHT (The Globe) and THE TEMPEST (The RSC). His television credits include: ACKLEY BRIDGE, THE TUNNEL, HOLBY CITY, THE WINDSORS; STRIKEBACK and CUCKOO.
Shalini Peiris is recognised for her stage and screen work. Her recent stage credits include LIONS AND TIGERS, Shakespeare's Globe and THE HOUSE OF IN BETWEEN (Theatre Royal Stratford East) both directed by Pooja Ghai. Maimuna Memon returns to the Exchange following her role in INTO THE WOODS, other theatre credits include ELECTROLYTE (Wildcard/ Pleasance Dome), THE ASSASSINATION OF KATIE HOPKINS (Theatr Clwyd/ Paines Plough) and JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR (Regent's Park Open Air Theatre). Safiyya Ingar makes her Royal Exchange debut, her theatre credits include THE BOX OF DELIGHTS (Wilton's Music Hall), ABI (Derby Theatre/Queens Theatre Hornchurch), LAVA (World Premiere at Nottingham Playhouse) and HOLES (Nottingham Playhouse).
Directed by Pooja Ghai this story cuts through generational divides reflecting the hopes, aspirations and disappointments of families everywhere who are trying to build a new life.

Monday, 18 March 2019

Venue of Local Forum in Rochdale at risk?

A CHANGE of venue for the Spotland and Falinge Forum in an area of Rochdale is raising concerns that it will create problems for residents to participate safely.  Formerly the original venue was in a Methodist Hall close to a main road and easily accessible.

The new move into a building in the middle of Falinge Park is a curious choice for a meeting place.  It will make it more difficult to attend the Forum with transport links less easy, and some suspect that the move is part of a plan to phase out the practice of local Forums in which the local councillors become exposed to criticism and scrutiny.

It also seems that the change was pushed through without a full debate in the Forum.   Also the more remote site of the venue may place those with problems of mobility at risk, as well as creating a greater peril to those having to travel through the park in the late evening.

Mick Coats, a local resident, has asked for a 'risk assessment for people attending at the new venue, both for council employees and members of the public. (Under the Health and Safety at work Act sections 2, 3, 7 and 8, The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations, etc.)'.

Mr. Coats is now awaiting a reply.

BREXIT – Another Anarchist’s Guide

                                                                      by Green Swiper

ANARCHISTS come in all shapes and sizes.   I for one salute Chris Draper for posting our alternative view.

I agree with everything in his section one: 'The EU is a bad thing'.  That title is correct but Chris is pulling his punches.  Free Movement just allows Big Business to use foreign-scab-labour.  Those scabs drive down wages and push up prices.  Anybody who objects gets called a racist.  That’s a neat trick: good old capitalism!  Send them all back: the dirty scabs. That’s what I say.

I agree with everything in Chris’ section two:  'BREXIT or BETRAYAL?'.   The answer is BETRAYAL!  A better title for this section might have been: 'BREXIT or BULLSHIT?'  Chris makes many pertinent points here.  Theresa May has spent over two years dragging her feet. She has pretended to be incompetent while her state sponsored broadcaster, the BBC, has slavishly relayed her laid down message:  'You idiot plebs have made a big mistake because you didn’t know what you were doing'.  We should reply to this by sending the police around to number ten to arrest May for treason. We haven’t been able to hang traitors since the Crime and Disorder Act of 1998 so we’ll have to settle for life imprisonment. Take her away.

I suppose I agree with everything in Chris’ section three:  'Fooling all the People all the Time?'. They don’t fool all the people.  We know that all the main political parties, which sadly includes the Green Party led by Labour Party stooge Caroline Lucas, are in the conspiracy.  They think that British people are as witless as sheep and that they will accept anything.  It’s not true.  British people just lack leadership.  It’s a pity that the Green Party is unable to provide it.

Anonymous said: 'A bit of an oversimplification to say the least'.  Anonymous then goes off on one and starts talking about 'imaginary nation states' and racists.  Anonymous, please could you be more patronizing, condescending and insulting?   Your dismissive slap-down wasn’t offensive enough.


Sunday, 17 March 2019

BREXIT – an anarchist guide

 by Christopher Draper

1 THE EU is a bad thing
  • Only Guardian readers regard the EU as a kindly club linking the lives of European citizens. In reality the EU is a profoundly undemocratic instrument of multinational corporations organised to overwhelm the defences of local communities against predation by untrammelled capitalism.
  • Like all advanced capitalist enterprises the EU offers an array of “incentives” to complicit politicians, lecturers, news agencies and other assorted pipers who play their tune.
  • It is not a federation as EU laws do not pass UPWARDS to Brussels from local or national assemblies but DOWN from Brussels to be rubber-stamped into UK law.
  • EU policies redeploy workers around Europe in service of a single multinational market with no concern to create or maintain sustainable local communities. Post-Communist Romanian industry and agriculture was considered “overmanned” by the EU so Romania was invited in and a third of its workforce lured abroad, driving down local wages elsewhere and leaving behind “lean” farms and factories as rich pickings for EU “investors”.
  • Politics shouldn’t be run by remote bodies and individuals living lives far removed from those they adversely affect. The EU is anathema to anyone who values localism. “EU Regional Policy” is a fig leaf, a distraction from the glaring effects of EU economics – cash galore for capitalist hubs like London, Paris, Brussels, Frankfurt etc and the transport links between – whilst most of our local economies and communities are devastated.

  • Parliament claims to represents the people. Anarchists believe Parliament is a mere distraction device, diverting fundamental opposition down harmless channels.
  • To contain increasing opposition to the EU, on 9th June 2015 Parliament voted by 544 to 53 to hold a National Referendum.
  • Government spent £9,300,000 publishing a glossy 16-page pro-EU propaganda booklet delivered to every household in the UK. This gave dire warnings against voting for Brexit; “Voting to leave the EU would create years of uncertainty and potential economic disruption. This would reduce investment and cost jobs. The Government judges it could result in 10 years or more of uncertainty…” (pg. 8).
  • The booklet advised voters, “The EU referendum is a once in a generation decision” (pg.16) and assured us, “This is your decision. The Government will implement what you decide” (pg.14).
  • The referendum held on 23rd June 2016 offered a simple, stark alternative, either – “Remain a member of the European Union” ( ) or “Leave the European Union” ( )
  • Thirty-three and a half million people took part, the largest ever vote and more than double the usual turnout for UK Euro elections. Most voted “Leave the European Union” (16m stay, 17.5m leave).
  • On the 29th March 2017 Parliament voted by 498 to 114 to trigger “Article 50” and exit the EU by 29th March 2019. It was a dishonest act of utter hypocrisy.
  • MP’s are almost without exception wedded to the Corporate Capitalist system of which the EU is a cornerstone, a system rejected by voters yet most MP’s are determined to subvert the referendum result and continue business as usual.
  • It truly is the “Hotel California” syndrome. At best, Theresa May’s pitiful “Agreement” means we nominally check out but can never leave without the permission of the EU!

3 Fooling all the People all the Time?
  • Back in 1884 William Morris and his anarchist chums parted company with erstwhile comrades who insisted there really is a Parliamentary road to socialism. Morris and his newly founded Socialist League warned that Parliament offers nothing more than a career ladder for fake socialists and a smokescreen for the rich and powerful. Plus ca change.