Thursday, 16 January 2020

Pimp groomer allowed access to Victoria Agoglia

Report reveals culture of gangland entitlement and intimidation!
YESTERDAY Joan Agoglia, the grandmother of Victoria Agoglia whose death triggered the now discredited police Operation Augusta probe into child sexual exploitation in Manchester, told a press conference how the young girl was systematically beaten, bruised and drugged by her groomers.

According to the Manchester Evening News [16th, January 2020]:
'Victoria, who was living in a home under the responsibility of Manchester City Council, died aged 15 after she was injected with heroin by a man then aged 50.'

A report issued this week found:  'Two months prior to her death, Victoria had disclosed to both her social worker and substance misuse worker that an older man was injecting her with heroin.'

It was her death in 2003, that led to the launch by the Greater Manchester Police of their probe and it emerged that she had repeated reported her abuse at the hands of much older Asian men, who according to the report seemed to 'operate in plain sight' in and around care homes often parking their cars outside.

The current report found Victoria had endured 'severe abuse and exploitation' for two years prior to her death.  Sometimes she was taken back to her residential home 'intoxicated'

Nazir Afzal was the former Chief Prosecutor for North West England.  He is a British Pakistani Muslim.  He was interviewed very briefly on the Radio 4 PM program on 19th, October 2019.

In the interview he made a quite astonishing claim which does not seem to have received the publicity it deserves so we thought it worth publicizing here.  He said (@34minutes): 'You may not know this, but back in 2008 the Labour government (under Gordon Brown and home secretary Jacqui Smith) sent a circular to all police forces in the country saying:  'as far as these young girls who are being exploited in towns and cities, we believe they have made an informed choice about their sexual behaviour and therefore it is not for you police officers to get involved in.'

In the Manchester case Andy Burnham, the mayor of Manchester, has who had commissioned the current report, has said that he will write to the Attorney General to ask that her inquest be reopened.

This case and others more recently, reflect a troubling trend in some areas of this country of a gang culture in which a kind of organised criminality prevails to which some in authority turn a blind eye.

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Wednesday, 15 January 2020

DOPE: An Anarchist 'Big Issue'?

by Brian Bamford
ON 'START the WEEK', on Radio 4 this week, Tom Sutcliffe discussed a world without work with Daniel Susskind, Suzi Gage, Anoosh Chakelian and Sir John Strang.

Journalist Anoosh Chakelian of the New Statesman, had gone behind the scenes at a new magazines set up to rival the Big Issue, as she explored Britain's homelessness crisis.

The journal called DOPE is run voluntarily as a radical publishing 'affinity group', and all the money they make from sales and subscriptions goes back into the cooperative’s efforts, in particular printing more solidarity copies of the DOPE Magazine for street-vendors.

Following the pattern of The Big Issue, these new journals enable rough sleepers to earn money rather than beg, and creates respectable employment opportunities.  But also Chakelian troubled about the way in which a country with growing numbers of homeless people is now evolving these  industries based upon their suffering.

On a daily basis the homeless vendors turn up keen to sell for more copies, to the point where affinity group has had to limit the number they give to individuals to ensure there are enough to share around. Starting out printing 1000 copies per issue back in 2016, the last issue (Autumn 2019) went up to 5000 copies.  Next they want to print 10,000.

The Whitechapel premises has in the past been describe as 'an anarchist hangout', and it has long been used as a premise for all sorts of odds and sods to shack-up.  Historically it was the base of British anarchism in times when it was run by traditional anarchists to publish Freedom, perhaps one of the oldest anarchist publications in the world, which was first established in 1884.


DOPE is funded by people buying a copy online, or taking out a subscription, or supporting them on Patreon.  It is a direct way of contributing to autonomous and political support of homeless and imprisoned people.

 The affinity group claim:
'We’ve reached the point in the economies of scale now where it only costs £75 to print an extra 1000 copies. The cover price is £3, so that equates to £3000 to the people selling it on the street. To us that seems like a pretty good (and cheap!) win-win – anarchist propaganda in the hands of people who might not otherwise have read it, and money in the pocket of people who need it most.'

In 1987, in the town of La Línea de la Concepción at the anarchist branch of the CNT trade union in the Bay of Gibraltar in Andalucia, Spain, a similar attempt was made to help the locals find homes, as I recall the venture was egged-on by the La Línea Social Democratic Party [PSOE]; it turned out to be a bit of a con and the local CNT suffered in consequence.  

The new publication, DOPE Magazine is a quarterly newspaper called, is produced by an anarchist publisher called Dog Section Press in London since spring 2018, and is now being sold by homeless people in cities around the country, from Bristol to Edinburgh.


Stylishly designed with edgy cover illustrations, its contributors include the poet Benjamin Zephaniah, musicians Sleaford Mods and Drillminister, and artists Laura Grace Ford, Cat Sims and Liv Wynter.  It already has a circulation of over 5,000.

DOPE is not the only new publication to rival the Big Issue.  Another non-profit underground paper called Nervemeter started up in 2011 under the coalition government, for 'people who may have found that their benefits have been cut: they are skint, they may be sick, they desperately need to make some cash', according to the introduction of its first issue.

Still running, this is a bit different because the vendors ask for donations from recipients for the magazine, with a suggestion of £3 minimum.  Yet part of its appeal is also as a Big Issue alternative. 'Nervemeter is not a registered charity,' reads its website'We don’t trust registered charities and you shouldn’t either. We are a charitable organisation and are 100 per cent transparent, which means every penny you give us goes on printing and nothing else.' 

There have always been grassroots responses to homelessness, but trends like this reflect its scale in the country.  The latest count for the whole of England, in January last year, showed a 165 per cent increase in rough sleeping overall since 2010.

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Monday, 13 January 2020

Heritage Sector & Bigots!

 BLANCMANGE or NEUTRALITY in the Heritage Sector?

NEXT Friday, the 17th, January 2020, Tristram Hunt, the director of the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, will begin a series of talks on Radio 4 about Museums in the 21st Century and their relevance.  In the blurb the BBC announces this forthcoming event thus: 
'Museums have never been more popular around the world or faced such sustained criticism. While the Louvre enjoys record-breaking visitor numbers, Abu Dhabi's Saadiyat Island builds a new museum campus for the Middle East and blockbusters from Leonardo to Van Gogh to David Bowie circle the globe, museums are also under challenge. Critics questions historic claims to neutrality, call for the repatriation of colonial-era artefacts and protest over the origins of sponsors' money.'

In May 2018, the director of the Victoria & Albert Museum, Tristram Hunt, had caused a bit of a stir when he announced: ‘I see the role of the museum not as a political force but as a civic exchange.’  Adding that he ‘was not so sure [that museums] have a duty to be vehicles for social justice’.

On July 5th, 2019, in an article on the Red Pepper website Siobhan McGuirk wrote a passionate piece entitled 'Museums are socially vital precisely because of their political nature' in which it was declared:
"We are in the midst of a momentous self-regarding public debate over what it means to be British. From the shadows of referendum campaigning until now, misrepresentations, half-truths and outright lies have proliferated, recasting the past to demonise the other. The phrase ‘fake news’ has been co-opted to the point of meaninglessness, while flagship media outlets grant platforms to bigots, justified as promoting ‘neutrality’ – as if facts were up for debate, or ‘civic exchange’."

Indeed, Red Pepper's mention of  'flagship media outlets grant platforms to bigots', naturally reminds one of an incident in April 2010 in which the Rochdalian lass,Gillian Duffy, 65, heckled the prime minister [Gordon Brown} as he was interviewed live on TV in Rochdale.  Brown initially ignored her but was then asked by senior aides in his entourage to meet her.

Later the Prime Minister was then famously caught on tape as, unknown to him, the microphone was still turned on:
Brown: 'That was a disaster. Well I just ... should never have put me in with that woman.  Whose idea was that?'

Aide: 'I don't know, I didn't see.....'

Aide: 'What did she say?'

Brown: 'Oh everything, she was just a sort of bigoted woman.  She said she used be Labour. I mean it's just ridiculous.

 'Just a sort of bigoted women'.  Which is precisely the attitude someone on the self righteous left of politics would take, is it not?

Brown then followed with more painfully patronising talk from:

Brown'Very good to meet you, and you're wearing the right colour today. Ha, ha, ha: How many grandchildren do you have?'
Duffy'Two. They've just got back from Australia where they got stuck for 10 days. They couldn't get back with this ash crisis.'
Brown: 'We've been trying to get people back quickly.  Are they going to university.  Is that the plan?
Duffy: 'I hope so. They're only 12 and 10.'
Brown: 'Are they're doing well at school?  [pats Duffy on the back]  A good family, good to see you. It's very nice to see you.'

How pompous and smarmy can you get?  And is it any wonder that Labour is failing to gel with the northern working class?

Red Pepper itself has previously distinguished itself by finding space to argue the case for 'no platforming' people they don't like or people they may regard as being 'bigots'.  .   

For more on Museums go to: 


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Saturday, 11 January 2020

Construction must change to end modern slavery


 forwarded to NV by Joe Bailey
THE construction union Unite is calling for fundamental changes in the way that the construction industry is organised and for the introduction of licensing of gangmasters.  The union call came in response to an investigation conducted jointly by Construction News and BBC Three, who used undercover journalists from the UK and Romania to reveal the extent of modern day slavery in construction.

Unite said it believes the way that the industry operates means that there is a real potential for exploitative practices occurring on even the largest projects.  The union repeated its all for the gangmasters licencing regime to be extended to construction. The licensing requirement currently only covers agriculture, food processing and shellfish collection.
Companies which operate in the sectors where licensing exists are also required to ensure that they are only working with licensed gangmasters.

Unite national officer for construction Jerry Swain said: “The revelations about the extent of modern day slavery and how it operates in construction must be a wake-up call to the industry and government. This is not simply a problem on smaller sites, even the largest sites have the potential for modern day slavery.  Major contractors simply don’t know who is supplying labour on their sites, how they have been recruited and if they are being coerced.”
He added: “Until the unnecessarily long labour supply chains are tackled the potential of modern day slavery will exist in every area of our industry. One major way to help tackle the problem is to extend gangmasters licencing to construction and to force the rogue employers out of the industry. The industry needs to be honest, if a labour supply company needs to get a third party to supply the labour, they are not really a labour supply company.”
Unite news release. Construction News. BBC Three.

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Wednesday, 8 January 2020

Health and Safety Executive (HSE):

 Company pleads guilty!
A COMPANY and its director have been fined after failing to comply with health and safety regulations and an enforcement notice.
Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard that, between May 2018 and February 2019, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) carried out a series of inspections at a construction site at Chelmsford Road, South Woodford, London following health and safety concerns raised at the site. During the inspections, the site manager and company director Mr Tahir Ahmed was served with two Prohibition Notices and his company, All Type Electrical and Building Limited, were served with two Prohibition Notices and two Improvement Notices. All Type Electrical and Building Limited’s Improvement Notice for competent advice was not complied with.
   


ALL Type Electrical and Building Limited pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 15(2) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015; and Section 21 of The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company was ordered to pay a fine of £60,000 plus a surcharge of £170 and full costs of £5216.46
Mr Ahmed of Sutlej Road, London, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 21 of The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. He was sentenced to 18 weeks’ imprisonment suspended for 12 months, 180 hours of unpaid work, and was ordered to pay a surcharge of £115, and full costs of £5060.69.
After the hearing, HSE inspector David King commented: “This case highlights the need for suitable and sufficient planning, managing and monitoring, using the appropriate work at height equipment and having a competent site manager.
“Dutyholders should be aware that HSE will hold to account those who do not comply with health and safety legislation, or who do not comply with enforcement notices served on them.”
Notes to editors 
  1. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. We prevent work-related death, injury and ill health through regulatory actions that range from influencing behaviours across whole industry sectors through to targeted interventions on individual businesses. These activities are supported by globally recognised scientific expertise. www.hse.gov.uk
  2. More about the legislation referred to in this case can be found at: www.legislation.gov.uk/
  3. HSE news releases are available at http://press.hse.gov.u

BRING BACK KROPOTKIN!

by Christopher Draper




MANCHESTER’s People’s History Museum aims to depict all political strands that comprise Britain’s rich labour tradition but one aspect is notably absent. There’s more to politics than voting and the anti-Parliamentary ideas and artifacts of the hugely influential anarchist Peter Kropotkin (1842-1921) have been exiled to the museum’s storeroom. 

When the institution opened in London in 1975 Kropotkin’s desk and chair were prominently displayed and visitors learnt from attached brass plaques that they’d previously belonged to radical campaigner Richard Cobden but when the collection moved to Manchester these exhibits were curiously removed.  Curiously because Cobden is strongly associated with Manchester, where he founded the 'Anti Corn Law League', was MP for Stockport then for Rochdale, lived for years at nearby 19, Quay Street, has a statue erected to his memory in St Anne’s Square and a bust on view in the Town Hall.  As activists have successfully campaigned for blue plaques memorialising Kropotkin’s former homes in Bromley and Brighton, so now with the approaching centenary of his death on 8th, February 1921, what better time to restore these key exhibits to public view?

                                  WHOSE HERITAGE?

'HERITAGE' in Britain generally promotes a ruling class perspective with stately homes, art galleries and statues of the “Great and Good” predominant.  Since the 1893 foundation of the Independent Labour Party Britain’s official labour movement directed most its time, money and energy into getting Labour governments elected and few resources were spared for independent working class education and preserving, recording and presenting the artifacts and history of workers’ struggles.

To secure adequate resources the Manchester museum treads a perilous path between faithfully recording campaigns for freedom and equality whilst not upsetting establishment sources of funding. From its roots in the labour movement the museum has over the years moved into the heritage industry, successfully widening its popular appeal and funding-base but along the way it’s quietly succumbed to 'ideological cleansing', gently edging anarchism out of the picture in order to
represent Parliamentary power as the ultimate goal of past struggles. 


There’s no denying that Parliamentary politics dominate the labour movement but revolutionary ideas and movements were and remain a vital thread in the tapestry.  There’s more to labour history than campaigns for the franchise and it’s essential that displays also reflect the continuing battle for ideas within the movement.  With the Cobden connection and the fast approaching centenary (Feb 2021), it’s time Kropotkin’s artifacts along with an explanation of anarchism’s political significance were restored to the museum’s public galleries.

                Slippery Slope from Limehouse to Manchester

THE collection was begun in the 1960’s by enthusiastic members of the 'Trade Union, Labour and Co-operative History Society' who eventually secured exhibition space at Limehouse Town Hall.  The museum’s moving spirit and founding curator was Harold Fry who’d started work in a brush factory at the tender age of eleven before campaigning for years to persuade the Labour movement to value its own history, 'because it is not yet history conscious.  The movement must know where it has been to know where it is going… we want to educate the public, to balance the history of the ruling classes, which they are taught, with the people’s history'.

On 19th Monday 1975 Prime Minister Harold Wilson officially opened the 'National Museum of Labour History', accompanied by Michael Foot, Barbara Castle, Hugh Scanlon and Clive Jenkins, and in an ominous gesture of vacuous popularism donated his pipe for exhibition, 'but not the famous clogs in which he is said in some speeches to have trudged as a ragged urchin to Milnsbridge Council School' (Clement Attlee’s pipe is on reverent display in the current museum). 

The museum remained in Limehouse until 1985 when it was promised a new, larger home at the
redundant Mile End Baths. In the course of conversion it was discovered that the baths was contaminated with asbestos and on so the collection was packed away and remained in storage until a funding offer was made by Greater Manchester authorities.  A new trust was formed and in 1990 the collection went on display again, initially occupying part of the old 'Manchester Mechanics Institute' in Princess Street, in 1868 the first meeting place of the Trade Union Congress. In 1994 the collection moved into its present home in a beautifully restored hydraulic pumping station on the banks of Manchester’s river Irwell.


Still officially registered as the 'National Museum of Labour History' on moving north the institution re-opened under the new, establishment-friendly title of the 'People’s History Museum'.  In an apparently continuing quest for ever greater de-politicisation and vacuity, the collection now bills itself as the 'National Museum of Democracy'.  If this trend continues perhaps Clement Attlee’s pipe will soon be confined to storage lest it be viewed as an incitement to revolution!


                                      The Anarchist Prince

IRONICALLY, throughout the three decades Kropotkin lived in England he was welcomed rather than feared by 'civilised society'.  As an internationally respected geographer and scientist as well as an acknowledged, if alienated, member of Russia’s aristocracy his ideas and activities were even sympathetically reported by the London Times 'Mutual Aid', Kropotkin’s classic rejoinder to T. H. Huxley’s interpretation of the social consequences of Darwinism will forever serve as eloquent testimony to the cooperative impulse that underlies anarchism and indeed all progressive politics.
Sadly for Kropotkin’s last years in England he alienated former anarchist comrades by supporting the war against Germany but retained friendships with local members of the Brighton labour movement. When he departed for Russia in 1917 he took with him seventy tea chests of books and papers but presented his desk to Brighton Trades Council (who subsequently donated it to the museum). 


This episode in itself  offers any museum worth its salt an ideal opportunity to pose important questions of political loyalty to interested visitors.  Finally returning to Russia on 12th June 1917 Kropotkin’s support for the revolution but opposition to the Bolsheviks might similarly raise critical questions in the mind of anyone viewing Kropotkin exhibits, and reading interpretive boards about his life.  
       
                        - 'Labour History Museum'  –  
             - Lively Debating Chamber or Necropolis? -

Despite my reservations about the some of the innovations, the museum’s administrators have worked wonders keeping the collection together, conserving the artefacts, providing imaginative attractive displays and continuing to offer free admission.   Everyone involved deserves to be heartily congratulated.  This year (2019) the “Manchester & Salford Anarchist Bookfair” returned to the museum increasing the impetus to restore anarchist content to the galleries.  'People’s History' isn’t a
lost world of clog dancing,  Hovis adverts and chimney sweeps, it should stimulate
political questions about the past, present and future.  It is a vital debate that recognises Parliament may be a political preoccupation for many but it’s not the realisation of labour’s 'New Jerusalem'.  The return to public view of Kropotkin’s furniture won’t change the world or frighten the horses but it might stimulate debate and attract the interest of a younger generation turned off by traditional politics. 

Why not visit the museum yourself, hand in a card (or email - Katy.Ashton@phm.org.uk) requesting the return of Kropotkin’s desk before the 8
th, February 2021 centenary of his death?  Refusing to vote isn’t anarchy in action if you do nothing to promote positive alternatives - Stand up for Kropotkin’s chair!

                                                                                                       Christopher Draper (Dec 2019)

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