Tuesday, 6 November 2012

An Appeal to Responsible Anarchists

Applying a 'Duty of Care' to stall-holders at Anarchist Bookfairs

Martin Gilbert in his post that precedes this one, has given a factual account of his experiences at last month's Anarchist Bookfair and at Freedom Bookshop at Whitechapple the night before.  I was at Freedom Bookshop that evening to supply stock of Northern Voices No.13 (NV13), and I was told by Andy, the bookshop manager, that NV13 with a leading interview with the murdered 'Goth' girl's mother Sylvia,  had been banned because of the 'Bob Miller obituary' in the same issue.  Andy said that he regarded the obituary as being 'in bad taste' and told me that future issues would be accepted and sold.   Andy added that 'some people who knew Bob Miller' and worked at the Bookshop had objected to the to the obituary.  At that moment in walks Nick Heath, and treated me to a Cockney rendition of 'You can f**k off, mate!'  Nick Heath, a leader of the Anarchist Federation to which Bob Miller was affiliated, apparently works at Freedom Bookshop on Wednesday afternoons.  (see Martin Gilbert's reflections on the post below this one).

Being a Lancashire lad, I was naturally taken aback by this incident but recovered my composure with the help of Martin.  It was more of a comic opera at the Anarchist Bookfair the next day when Sally Hyman/ Miller, Mike Ballard and a party of Anarchist Federation supporters used threats and intimidation to try to get me to vacate the Northern Voice (NV) stall:  both Sally and Mike uttered threats but the rest of the group assembled before the NV stall with arms folded over their pigeon chests and shoulders squared.  Sally Hyman continued to repeat the phrase:  'You are invading my space and we want you to leave (the bookfair)!' and 'what's in there (pointing to NV13) is shit!'; Mike Ballard uttered the comment:  'You are the persecutor Brian, and what's in there (pointing to NV13) is all lies and half-truths'.  Ms Hyman/ Miller concluded by saying that 'you must leave by 11am' and 'we'll be back then'.  Trevor Bark on the next bookstall witnessed the incident as did the stall-holder on the Five Leaves stall to my left.

Without wishing to exaggerate this episode I would say that it represents the nasty face of affiliated anarchism at its worst:  it has more in common with the Third Reich in the 1930s than anything I experienced while working with the FIJL (Young Iberian libertarians) in Franco's Spain in the 1960s.  Worse indeed, than the treatment I received from the Spanish Civil Guards in the province of Segovia in the summer of 1963, when I was held for failing to carry proper papers.  This kind of behaviour ought to have no place in an anarchist movement which should be setting a better example.  We will keep updated on developments.
Below is the text of an E-mail sent to Anarchist Bookfair organisers on the 1st, November 2012:
Dear Tony, David and other London Anarchist Bookfair organisers, 
I am disappointed that you have not been in touch with me since last Saturday's Bookfair. I presume that you did not recover any of the stolen stock or get anywhere with those who attacked the Northern Voices stall and stole various publications shortly after 11.00am on the morning of the Bookfair. You are probably aware that a factual report of the incident appeared on the Five Leaves Blog last Sunday, Five Leaves occupied the adjoining stall to mine, I have had no previous contact with Five Leaves and that account of what happened is accurate. 
As you are aware we had a contract with you and in these circumstances you had a duty of care to us. Hence, it is clearly inappropriate that as organisers of the bookfair that you should ignore what happened on this occasion, and was a matter brought to your attention of the day of the event: the title of the offences perpetrated on this occasion in English law would amount to 'assault', 'criminal damage', and 'theft' at the very least, not to mention 'threatening behaviour' and 'joint enterprise', when Sally Miller nee Hyman from Oldham and Mike Ballard from Manchester used threatening behaviour to demand that I vacate the Northern Voices stall on their first visit at approximately 10.30am, these two individuals were accompanied by others (according to the Five Leaves account 10 others) including, according to another witness - Claire from the Nottingham Anarchist Federation and Andy from the London Anarchist Federation. Sally repeatable told me 'You are invading my space, and I want you to leave (the bookfair)'. I was then told by Sally that I had until 11.00am to leave my stall, when they would return to ensure that I did. Shortly after 11.00am the group returned as they had promised to do and after a brief exchange in which Sally Miller nee Hyman asked me 'Do you know why I am doing this?', Ms. Miller nee Hyman took out a plastic bottle of what appeared to be Salad Cream and began to squirt the substance in roughly my direction - I was seated at the time but tried to move out of range as the attack continued relentlessly - Trevor Bark on the next stall got caught in the cross-fire and became collateral damage as did the property of a another stall beyond him. Having satisfied herself using the Salad Cream, Ms. Miller then turned her attention to the contents of the stall itself and snatched ten copies of Northern Voices No.13 and took off with them, other members of the group that she was clearly leading then began to help themselves to other items including the Spanish Civil War commemorative booklet with an introduction by Stuart Christie originally produced by Tameside TUC, the James Keogh Blue Plaque commemorative booklet produced by Tameside TUC, the 'Worker's Next Step' booklet and some ten more copies of Northern Voices No.12 and No.11. The ringleader and her chief conspirators all belonged to the Anarchist Federation. The total of the stock taken amounts to £65.76p and is itemised below:
8 copies of the Spanish Civil War commemorative booklet 3rd Edition (Tameside TUC) priced £4.98 = £39.84
10 copies of James Keogh Blue Plaque commemorative booklet (Tameside TUC) value £1 =  £10.00
8 copies of 'The Worker's Next Step', a Northern Anarchist Network booklet price £1.99 =   £15.92
                                                                                                                         Total cost:        £65.76

As organisers of the Bookfair you owe all stall-holders a 'contractual duty of care', and can't allow one stall-holder to attempt to bully another to vacate their stall, and you have a contractual responsibility to safeguard stall-holders from these kind of acts. In this case we on the Northern Voices' stall suffered intimidation which resulted in material loss with physical consequences, and we seek the following: 
A) Compensation for loss of stock from the stall-holders on the Anarchist Federation stall. 
B) That the Anarchist Federation publicly disassociate their organisation from the violent actions taken by their members, and that this be put in writing and that a copy of this be sent to me. 
C) That the Anarchist Federation circulate their members informing them not to indulge in such actions in future, and that the Anarchist Federation guarantee that there will be no re occurrence of these aggressive acts to other stall-holders by their members. 
I appreciate that you as organisers didn't have foreknowledge of these attacks, however as this matter has now been brought to your attention I expect you to approach the Anarchist Federation with our list of requirements above. If you fail to secure these three objectives then clearly it falls upon you to:
a)   Compensate us for our financial loss. 
b) to not offer future stalls to the Anarchist Federation as stall-holders until they can guarantee that their members will refrain from intimidating other stall-holders. 
As anarchists we always try to resolve things in a comradely manner, but if this fails we will pursue the matter through the County Courts.  I expect a reply and some serious suggestions for resolving this matter by the 15th, November 2012, otherwise I will have to take the matter further. 
Yours sincerely,

Brian Bamford: Editor of Northern Voices
For an independent account of what happened at the London Bookfair in Oct. 2012, readers should go to:


Anonymous said...

putting aside the subject matter of your posts, exactly how is it responsible to publish the real name's of anarchists on the internet? this outing of can have real, serious consequences from the state, the far right and from HR vetting when seeking employment.

they need to be taken out forthwith.

Martin Gilbert said...

On occasions Brian (Bamford) has offered Anarchist Federation supporters and others a right to reply on this blog with their criticisms and comments. But for whatever reason, they hate & despise the forum that is offered, such an offer is not acceptable. Comparison can be made with our anarchist comrades who when in Court, for the political beliefs, refuse to enter a plea or recognise the Court. This has been done at risk of being prosecuted for contempt. I am not crediting AF with any such noble action only saying they have some right to free speech or remain silent.

Anonymous said...

What fucking planet is clueless 'anonymous' living on? Is it responsible to assault an editor of a magazine, steal his publications, cause criminal damage and threaten and intimidate him, because you don't like what he wrote in a magazine?

When this sort of thuggery and criminality is perpetrated by so-called anarchists, then it is bound to attract the attention of the press and be in the public interest, to write about it. If people don't like their names being mentioned, then don't engage in authoritarian actions more associated with the far right.

The person who led this violent assault on the editor of Northern Voices magazine, does have the right of reply, but she and her cohorts, prefer to engage in bullying and intimidation and censorship and blacklists. They are a disgrace to the anarchist movement.

bammy said...

Yes Martin, the Anarchist Fed. do have a right to 'remain silent'. But, all we have had from them is noise: the incoherent noise of the farmyard! You witnessed the eloquent expletives from the cheeky Cockney chappy at Freedom bookshop on Friday the 26th, Oct. and Mr. Heath is supposed to be one of the officer class in the Anarchist Fed. Then we had the bleatings of slapstick Sally, as she embarked on 'a silly half-hour' at the bookfair and the squawks of Mike Ballard enunciating: 'Lies, half-truths and innuendos'. What a crew?

John said...

Anonymous said...
'putting aside the subject matter of your posts, exactly how is it responsible to publish the real name's of anarchists on the internet? this outing of can have real, serious consequences from the state, the far right and from HR vetting when seeking employment.'

Do they think that anonymity extends to public actions, crimes in fact, and that the comradely niceties respect this? What is their reasoning for such a peremptory demand? Are they likely to argue that since the matter has not been reported to the police, it does not exist, and therefore should not be discussed. Crazy. Is there any indication that the AF is looking into the behaviour of its members that have brought it into disrepute?

Protecting Jobs & Pensions said...

The people who carried out this attack on Bamford are a sick joke. The last thing these people should be worried about is 'HR vetting'. A visit from the police is more than likely. Also sounds like a good story for the regional and national press. These people need exposing for the thugs they are.