Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Falling over Five Leaves

The Doghouse is the spiritual home of Northern Voices!
Malcolm Muggeridge once described the job of an editor as that of 'a blind man with a stick'.  In other words an editor ought not to be a single-minded campaigner who knows everything, because monomania is not a luxury he can afford if he or she is to do the job properly.  On Northern Voices our editorial approach is to stumble forward as best we can nervously deciding how to deal with such tricky problems as that presented by the interview with Sophie Lancaster's mother, Sylvia Lancaster, and deciding on a sincere attitude in our leading article in NV13 to her call for an extension of the Hate Laws to deal with horrendous crimes like the murder of her daughter for being a 'New Romantic' or a 'Goth'.  I was much less anxious about Northern Voices' criticising someone I knew like Bob Miller, than I was at challenging the views of a stranger like Sylvia Lancaster, because I thought that someone who was within the libertarian and anarchist tradition would appreciate the need for criticism, and while accepting that there would be those who would spring to his defence I expected them to employ reasoned arguments.  How wrong can one be!  Sylvia Lancaster thanked Northern Voices for airing the issues surrounding her daughter's death and she said that she was in no way offended by our obvious differences over the matter of our opposition to her Hate Law campaign, while the friends and family of Bob Miller employed methods more commonly associated with right-wing organisations in this country:  the people involved would appear to have been associated with the national organisation called the Anarchist Federation (formerly the Anarchist Communist Federation), although it is understood that Nick Heath has described the attack as an 'unofficial action' by members of the Anarchist Federation.

Perhaps, if Northern Voices is to engage in the investigative and independent journalism commonly associated with Private Eye down South, we must expect that our spiritual home may come to be the Doghouse.  Last Saturday, at the London Anarchist Bookfair an incident occurred in which we were certainly were placed in the Doghouse and for the moment we leave it to a report on the Five Leaves Blog fiveleavespublications.blogspot.com/ (dated 28th, October 2012) below to describe what happened:

'Congratulations to the organisers for another great Bookfair.  But there was an unpleasant incident. Five Leaves stall was next to that of Northern Voices. Early in the day a small group from Manchester asked the one person at NV to leave. It was not clear to me at that moment why. It turned out that the magazine had some time ago written a rather unfavourable and, indeed, rather unpleasant obituary of the Manchester anarchist Bob Miller. Some time later in the morning a large group of people, from Manchester and elsewhere, returned to the stall, and when the stall holder refused to leave, wrecked it, stealing most of the material on display and covering the stall-holder and the stall (and one unrelated stall-holder behind NV) with salad cream. Though the stall-holder was uninjured, save for a bruised face when he fell and some irritation from the cream getting into his eyes, he was pretty shocked, as was anyone seeing the incident. I have no doubt that his original article was unwise and should not have been published - the best critique of it appears on NV's own rather good blog, October 4th at www.northernvoicesmag.blogspot.com  - but a dozen or so people attacking one person and his stall (with little heed for collateral damage) was bullying.  I've mentioned in a previous posting (about David Hoffman vs. Freedom magazine) that when negotiations between injured parties break down that people must find a way of resolving their difficulties without going to law or, in this case, force of numbers and salad cream - ideally by arbitration. Fortunately this incident took place at a quiet time, in a quiet corner of the Bookfair.'


Anonymous said...

Sounds like we're talking theft, assault and criminal damage here, which has been witnessed and that's just for starters. I gather the leader of this outrage a school mistress, has been offered the right of reply to the offending Northern Voices article, but for some unkown reason, chooses not to exercise it. What sort of example does this set the school children of today? These are the actions of fascist thugs!

Durruti said...

Is there a link to obituary? Can't seem to find it. If the account of events is correct, AF need to take a look at themselves.

N.V. said...

Alas, at present there is no electronic copy of this obituary & therefore no link. A few copies of NV13 (52-pages A5) are still available by order from our Burnley address - a handful will include the salad cream copies that Sally Hyman coated with the substance before depositing them in the bin at the bookfair. Hence, you can have a copy with or without salad cream (state which you like): the price is £3 [post included] or £5 [post included] for the NV13(with obit) and NV14 out next year.

Anonymous said...

Find it hard to believe there's no electronic copy - surely the editor has a copy of everything in the issue and can just copy & paste from a document? If not, why not type it out, it can't be that long

N.V. said...

Is 'Anonymous' asking that we put the Bob Miller obituary from NV13 on the Blog? There was a reprint of NV13 in September because of the high demand for the Sylvia Lancaster interview about her daughter Sophie. We led with that interview in NV13 & it has been highly praised by the feminists among others. Sally Hyman, in her wisdom, splashed salad cream over Sophie's photo.