Friday, 18 January 2013

Letter to Bob Miller; dated 8th, Oct. 2010.

THIS week, we at Northern Voices have had several appeals that we should tone down our criticism of the Anarchist Federation (AF), Nick Heath and those who have gone out of their way to attack both the N.V. journal and individuals associated with the forum entitled the Northern Anarchist Network. Yesterday, someone I respect close to the Freedom Collective wrote:
'... hope you can now drop the campaign against the AF loonies. It only adds to the damage.' 

Last night, both John Simpkin (Lancashire) and John Walker (London), new members on the Northern Voices' editorial panel, urged that we should not give such a small group as the Anarchist Federation too much credibility by giving them too much attention, either on the Blog or in our publication. The distinguished libertarian intellectual, David Goodway, earlier this week told me he felt that the Burnley Declaration was a bit strong and could do to be toned down

The reason that we can't oblige is based on empirical knowledge and the painful experience of the last few years in dealing with some of our most violent critics: as evidence of the kind of burden we've carried in silence since about 2005 I produce a letter I wrote to Bob Miller, a member of the AF, in October 2010 complaining of an attack on a stall at the Manchester Anarch. Bookfair by his wife, Sally Hymen who took away several copies of N.V.  Mr. Miller, who has since died, never replied, but since then things have got considerably worse and more violent particularly at the London and Manchester Bookfairs, as has already been reported in posts on this Blog.
Brian Bamford:  Editor of Northern Voices, e-mail:
Manchester Anarchist Federation, 
Robert Miller,
8th, Oct. 2010. 
Dear Bob,
I am writing to you about an incident that happened at the Anarchist Bookfair at the Dance House in Manchester last Saturday involving one of your members. The person concerned made several abusive attacks on supporters on the Northern Anarchist Network stall and briefly purloined (meaning took away) a number of copies of the publication Northern Voices No.10 from the stall. Because this person's actions and her utterances were committed in public it is necessary for us to take this matter seriously. You will recall that a similar incident involving the same person took place last year at one of your meetings and you briefly placed a 'ban' of my attendances. But since this latest incident was committed in public it will be necessary for us to deal with it in the same way. We propose to cover this incident and the background to it in an appropriate way by referring it to the next NAN meeting and publishing the story its background. I mention the background to last Saturday because it involves a history of uncomradely behaviour which the person concerned Sally has sought to excuse: I refer, of course, to Ron Marsden's conduct during the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the Spanish Civil War in 2006 and issues stemming from that occasion. Ron sided at the time with people who were opposing reference to the CNT and other aspects of that war that would have given, to use the constitutional requirement: 'a balanced history of the Spanish Civil War'. His name later appeared in public alongside members of that breakaway pro-communist group at an exhibition commemorating the local volunteers [largely communist] who went to Spain at the time of the Civil War. Up to now Ron's role in those events has not been mentioned in any publication, but last Saturday's events and the circulation of a letter by Ron in which he admits to allowing the Working Class Movement Library to 'make copies of the photos' of the Spanish Republican prisoners taken by Vernon Richards compañera after the Civil War. He does not say in the letter if he made any conditions regarding accrediting the reproduction of these photos in event of the publication by the Library or a third party and a booklet 'From Manchester to Spain' containing one of these photos has already used one such photo. I mention all this because you ought to better understand the background, but also because Sally's outburst last Saturday coincides with offensive remarks contained in this letter from Ron to another party; reference to 'animal abuse', 'Anti-Semitism' and 'sexism', 'which can be proved' are claimed. I understand that Sally made other unsubstantiated allegations at last Saturday's Bookfair. In the circumstances it is now necessary for me to approach you, as the principle member of AF in the Manchester area, to ask if your organisation is supporting these allegations being made against me by Sally and Ron? Both by their actions have now placed this matter in the public domain. We will await your reply on this matter but I urge you not to delay as we are shortly to go to press.
Yours fraternally,
Brian Bamford.
Not only did Bob Miller not reply to my letter above, but I didn't follow up on my promise to make the whole matter public.  Consequently, in December 2011 both the Northern Anarchists and Northern Voices were banned from the Manchester Anarchist Bookfair; when we later took this up with the organisers they dismissed our complaint.  The organisers of the Bookfair that year included 'David-under-the-pavement'; 'Veg'; Sally Hyman; Mike Ballard and Ron Marsden.  At that Bookfair more than 20 copies of Northern Voices were sold under the counter, and Charles Jepson sold our Spanish Civil War booklet on his International Brigade Memorial Trust stall. Martin Gilbert later tried to arrange a meeting between the conflicting parties but Sally Hymen, 'David-under-the-pavement' and Mike Ballard refused to meet with the Northern Anarchist Network.  What then happened at the London and Manchester Bookfairs in 2012 is well documented, but not so well known is that Andy at the Freedom Bookshop in Whitechapple High Street, took Northern Voices off the shelf at the request of Nick Heath of the Anarchist Federation siting the claim that N.V.13 was in poor taste.

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