Saturday, 30 March 2013

Rochdale CPS: Another Legal Let Down?

Perverts on the Loose in Town where some Police say 'Law is just a Game'
NOT for the first time have questions been raised about the handling of cases by the Rochdale Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).  When last year, nine men were sent down for a grand total of 77 years for grooming and sexually abusing young girls at two local takeaways in Rochdale, a serving police office was concerned that the police and CPS had fallen down on the job by not prosecuting others involved.  This week, on the Radio Four program File on Four a former Detective Constable, Margaret Oliver, spoke out: 
'Men are still walking round the streets of Rochdale that these girls named as offenders.  They told me they are still meeting men in Rochdale town centre they named as abusers.'

Having now left her job because of how the Greater Manchester Police handled this case, Margaret Oliver told the BBC's program File on Four:  
'I've walked away from a career that I loved because I believe so strongly that 10 years down the line when somebody turns around and says why did nobody speak out about this, I can look myself in the mirror and know I have done the right thing.'

Apparently, when she complained about how the case was being handled, one police officer took her on one side and told her to understand that the way the law was processed was 'just a game!'

Margaret Oliver told File on Four
'I convinced these girls that we needed them as witnesses to protect other victims in that area from these same men.  They put their trust in me and I put my trust in GMP (Greater Manchester Police) to honour those obligations.'

This week, Sir Peter Fahy, the Greater Manchester Chief Constable, said of former Detective Constable, Margaret Oliver: 
'It is unfortunate that the officer lost that sense of objectivity, and became intensely embroiled with the victims and their families.'

David Miliband, MP for South Sheilds

David Miliband's Register of Members' Interests 

Vice-Chairman and non-executive director, Sunderland AFC, from 1 February 2011, 12-15 days a year, �75,000. Address: Sunderland AFC, Stadium of Light, Sunderland SR5 1SU

Received £25,000 on 23 June 2011. Hours: 3 days. (Registered 13 April 2012)

Received £25,000 on 23 October 2011. Hours: 3 days. (Registered 13 April 2012)

Received £25,000 on 23 February 2012. Hours: 4 days. (Registered 29 March 2012)

Received £25,000 on 23 July 2012. Hours: 3 days. (Registered 3 August 2012)

Received £25,000. Hours: 2 days. (Registered 25 October 2012)

2. Remunerated employment, office, profession etc

Payments for speeches from London Speaker Bureau. Address: Elsinore House, 77 Fulham Palace Road, London W6 8JA:

Payment of £15,000 for speaking at the Simonsen annual dinner, Simonsen Advokatfirma DA, Filipstad Brygge 1, PO Box 2043, Vika, 0125, Oslo, Norway on 26 April 2012. Travel and accommodation also paid, value �1,711. Hours: 1 day. (Registered 16 May 2012)

Fee of £14,000 for speaking at Global Arc event at the Landmark Hotel, London, on 23 May 2012. Hours: 3 hrs. (Registered 29 June 2012)

Fee of £14,000 for speaking at Cameron McKenna LLP Partner Dinner at Claridges Hotel, London on 14 June 2012. Hours: 2 hrs. (Registered 29 June 2012)

Fee of £12,750 for speaking at St James� Place Wealth Management annual meeting event at The O2, London on 25 January 2013. Hours: 4 hrs. (Registered 1 February 2013)

Senior Global Advisor, Oxford Analytica; from 10 March 2011; payment on project basis. Address: 5 Alfred Street, Oxford OX1 4EH.

Payment of £6,000 Hours: 1 day. (Registered 14 May 2012)

Payment of £12,000. Hours: 1 day. (Registered 25 October 2012)

Senior Advisor to VantagePoint CleanTech Advisory Council, from 1 August 2011. Address: VantagePoint Capital Partners, 1001 Bayhill Drive, Suite 300, San Bruno, CA 94066. Payment on a quarterly basis. (£90,001-£95,000) (Registered 22 July 2011)

Quarterly payment of £23,210. Hours: 1 day. (Registered 9 May 2012)

Quarterly payment of £23,210. Hours: 1 day. (Registered 3 August 2012)

Quarterly payment of £23,210. Hours: 1 day. (Registered 25 October 2012)

Quarterly payment of £23,210. Hours: 1 day. (Registered 1 February 2013)

Member of the Advisory Board to the Sir Bani Yas Forum hosted by the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Chatham House. (£60,001-£65,000)

Payment of £64,475 from the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs, PO Box 1, Abu Dhabi, UAE. (Registered 29 November 2012)

Transport and accommodation to Sir Bani Yas Forum on Future of Middle East, 15-18 November 2012, provided by Foreign Ministry of UAE; cost £4,935. Hours: 3 days work. (Registered 29 November 2012)

Senior Advisor to Indus Basin Holdings, from 30 January 2012. Address: No 5, Street 15, Sector F-7/2, Islamabad, Pakistan. Payment on a quarterly basis. (Registered 16 February 2012)

Quarterly payment of £7,560.85 from Indus Basin Holdings. Hours: half a day. (Registered 19 May 2012)

Quarterly payment of £7,560.85 from Indus Basin Holdings. Hours: half a day. (Registered 3 August 2012)

Received travel (valued at £4,650.63) and accommodation for a week�s teaching from 2 to 7 April 2012 at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, 79 John F. Kennedy St, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA. No fee paid. Hours: 6 days. (Registered 9 May 2012)

Fee of £12,500 for speaking to the Bridgepoint annual meeting of investors on 9 May 2012. Address of payer: Bridgepoint, 30 Warwick Street, London W1B 5AL. Hours: 4 hrs. (Registered 25 May 2012)

Payment of £450 for article in Evening Standard published 22 October 2012. Address: 2 Derry Street, London W8 5EE. Hours: 2 hrs. (Registered 29 November 2012)

Fee of £2,250 for attending roundtable discussion at Danish Media Festival on 12 November 2012. Travel and accommodation also paid; value �2,923. Address of payer: Dansk Journalistforbund, Gammel Strand 42, 1202 Kobenhaven K, Denmark. Hours: 1 day. (Registered 13 December 2012)

Payment of £2,000 for article published in the Daily Mail on 3 December 2012. Address: Associated Newspapers Limited, Northcliffe House, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TT. Hours: 2 hrs. (Registered 1 February 2013). 

Donations Received: 

Name of donor: Pew Environment Group

Address of donor: 901 E Street, NW, 9th Floor, Washington, USA

Amount of donation (or estimate of the probable value): travel and accommodation for me and one member of staff; estimated cost �8,717.22

Destination of visit: Singapore

Date of visit: 20-24 February 2012

Purpose of visit: attend the Economist World Oceans Summit

(Registered 14 March 2012)

Name of donor: Government of Jordan

Address of donor: The Royal Hashemite Court, PO Box 5166 11183 Amman, Jordan

Amount of donation (or estimate of the probable value): travel and accommodation; estimated at £2,043

Destination of visit: Aqaba, Jordan

Date of visit: 3-5 May 2012

Purpose of visit: to attend the Aqaba foreign policy forum, organised by the Government of Jordan

(Registered 25 May 2012)

Name of donor: Africa Governance Initiative (Tony Blair Office)

Address of donor: P.O. Box 60519, London W2 7JU

Amount of donation (or estimate of the probable value): travel and accommodation; estimated cost £4,995

Destination of visit: South Sudan

Date of visit: 28-31 May 2012

Purpose of visit: pro bono advice on organization of government

(Registered 29 June 2012)

Address of donor: Embassy of the State of Qatar, 1 South Audley Street, London W1K 1NB

Amount of donation (or estimate of the probable value): approx �4,000 for air travel and accommodation

Destination of visit: Doha, Qatar

Date of visit: 20 -22 May 2012

Purpose of visit: to attend and speak at the 12th Doha Forum conference on Middle East Security, on a panel with another Member.

(Registered 15 August 2012)

Name of donor: Chief Executives Organisation

Address of donor: L7920 Norfolk Avenue, Suite 400, Bethesda, Maryland 20814-2507, USA

Amount of donation (or estimate of the probable value): approx �5,895.64 for air travel and accommodation

Destination of visit: Washington DC

Date of visit: 1-5 October 2012

Purpose of visit: to attend and speak at the CEO Global Leaders Forum

(Registered 25 October 2012)

Name of donor: Indus Basin Holdings

Address of donor: No 5, Street 15, Sector F-7/2, Islamabad, Pakistan

Amount of donation (or estimate of the probable value): travel and accommodation; estimated at £4,942

Destination of visit: Lahore, Pakistan

Date of visit: 8-11 October 2012

Purpose of visit: to meet with businesses and politicians

(Registered 25 October 2012)

End of the Line in Ashton-under-Lyne?

Universal Credit: Duncan Smith's master plan is grinding to a halt ....

WHEN a government department sneaks out a press release the night before the start of the Easter weekend, it's a sure sign that it's trying to bury bad news. The news, in this instance, is that Universal Credit, Iain Duncan Smith's master plan to reform welfare, has all but ground to a halt. After previously planning to trial the scheme - which will replace six of the main benefits with a single payment - in four areas this April, the Department for Work and Pensions announced that it now would do so in just one: (Ashton-under-Lyne).

The New Statesman Blog reported yesterday:
'A single jobcentre, Ashton-under-Lyne, will accept claims for Universal Credit from 29 April, with the other three pilot areas, Wigan, Warrington and Oldham, not doing so until July. The national rollout is finally due to begin in October but ministers have yet to say when existing claimants will be moved over.'

George Eton, a journalist on the New Statesman, claimed that it was 'concerns over Universal Credit that prompted David Cameron to try and move Duncan Smith during last year's cabinet reshuffle' but Duncan Smith stubbornly resisted Cameron's efforts to remove him.  He may yet have cause to regret this.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Bacup Goes Barmy on Easter Saturday!

COMPETING with the Seville's Semana Santa in Andalucian Spain, Bacup in Lancashire this Easter Saturday will have its usual good turn out for the annual 'Nutters' Dance around the town.  Or, as one web-site describes it:
'Another peculiarly English traditional dance performed at this time of year is the appropriately named Nutters dance in the town of Bacup in Lancashire, where the dedicated Nutters dance their way down the streets of this small town performing a variety of local traditional dances.'

A program of action has been agreed so that when the Britiannia Coconut Dancers parade through the town there will be a host of attractions to entertain and keep visitors in the area.  The Coconutters will be on stage at the Royal Court Theatre on Rochdale Road at 12 noon approx, and there'll be an Open Day there between 10am until 1pm with coffee and refreshments.   The Nutters will be at the Rose & Bowl pub from 5pm, despite a complaint from the police that they disrupt the traffic in the town.

A Bacup Traditional Market, craft stalls and local produce stalls will be open in the town centre from 10am until 4pm.  Bacup Natural History Museum on Yorkshire Street, will have an Open Day from 10am to 3pm and Bacup Consortium Trust on Burnley Road will be opening a Community Cafe, and having an Easter Egg Hunt and Owd Bacup Quiz.      

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Merryn Somerset Webb's Look-alike News

LAST Saturday in the Financial Times, Merryn Somerset Webb argued that the there was little to chose between the crisis in Cyprus over 'a shock tax on bank deposits' and the British Budget with 'its sad admissions of failure (on budget deficit and growth) and its slightly bonkers-sounding solutions (looser monetary policy and more buying and selling houses).'  She wrote:  'these weren't different stories, just different aspects of the defining story of the decade'.  What's happening now is that big debts have been run up by sovereign states and now they're all trying to 'scam voters into paying them off.'

Clearly, Cyprus is in a bad way, but because our politicians are more subtle they can cover-up what's happening in a British way by simply depriciating our currency and going in for 'quantitive easing'.  Ms. Somerset Webb writes that this is not much better than the brutal Cypriot method threatened last week; merely more smooth. 

At has been calculated that if you'd put your money on deposit in the UK for the last 4-years that you would be worse off than if you'd kept it in Cyprus and endured the tax loss threatened last week.  Of course, this Cyprus tax of last week has now been modified, and will only impact on deposits of over 100,000 euros (£85,000) when the banks eventually open there.

Ultra low interest rates and inflation which is relatively high compared to the interst rates, means that it is impossible for savers in this country to make any return on savings that is real when allowing for inflation.  Cash is certainly not King at the moment, and judging by the Chancellor's recent utterances, he seems determined to drive up house prices in anticipation that the feel-good factor that this produces among middle-class voters will help the Tories in the 2015 General Election.  Some pundits are now talking of a kind of growing 'apartheid' in British society between those who own their own houses, and a younger generation who stand no chance of buying a home until prices come down.

Blacklist Support Group Backs Steve Acheson

LAST Saturday, the Blacklist Support Group AGM unanimously agreed to support the financial appeal launched in defence of Steve Acheson, the leading campaigner against blacklisting over the past decade.
Despite winning successive Employment Tribunals against blacklisting firms; repeated dismissals and periods of unemployment means that Steve has only drawn 16 pay packets in the past 4 years. Steve's mortgage is due later this year and there is a chance that he could lose his house. We are not going to allow that to happen.
An appeal has been launched supported by Bob Crow and John McDonnell MP.
We appeal to all our supporters to take this attached flyer to your union branch and donate to the fund
Send cheques payable to 'Fiddlers Ferry Hardship Fund' c/o Warrington Trade Union Council, 6 Red Gables, Pepper Street, Warrington WA4 4SB
in solidarity
Blacklist Support Group

'The Spirit of 45': Critical review of the new Ken Loach Film

Ken Loachs new film The Spirit of  45 has been showing this week at the Moston Small Cinema at the Miners Arts and Music Centre.    The latter is an impressive small cinema entirely furbished by volunteers.   The film however is a great disappointment compared to some of his earlier works such as "Land and Freedom " and "Bread and Roses".    It  is a curious mishmash of newsreel material, reminiscences of elderly activists and a whole gamut of Trotskyists including John Rees, Alan Thornet, Karen Reisman and Tony Mulhearn as well as a few fellow travellers of the orthodox Communist left.

It is an exercise in nostalgia for the supposedly golden age of socialism under Clement Attlee and wallows in sentimentality and eulogises this era without any genuine analysis of the nature and structures of fabian socialism with its top down bureaucratic ethos and lack of genuine participatory democracy from the bottom up.   State socialists and their supporters on the authoritarian left will undoubtedly wax lyrically about this film but libertarians and anarchists will pose the question why scarcely any reference in the film to grass roots movements such as Occupy and the anti-capitalist movements based on consensual decision making.

In conclusion, this film and its director  represent a partial and tendentious effort to rehabilate state socialism with its welfarist component and keynesian economics at a time of economic austerity.   Unfortunately this model of socialism so enthusiastically endorsed by Loach has been tried and failed in post war Britain .   Bureaucratic and hierachical theories of socialism should be relegated to "the dustbin of history".   Ken Loach presumably a student of the Spanish Civil War has manifestly learnt nothing from the substantial achievements of the Confederacion de Nacional Trabajo (CNT) which is living proof that workers and peasants can develop and organise forms of collective action from the base upwards which offer a vision of how society could managed in a post capitalist world.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Manchester Instituto Cervantes Workshops:


01/05/2013 - 29/05/2013

Wednesday - 18:00 - 20:00


Where There's a Film There's a Way

La letra con cine entra

Series of 5 sessions of 2 hours workshops reveiling tips of how to use and uderstand cultural references that are refected in Spanish speaking films. (+) 
Fee: £65 / -10% concessions

(10h over 5 weeks) 

05/06/2013 - 10/07/2013

Wednesday - 18:00 - 20:00 


Lost and Found in Translation

Lo perdido y lo hallado en la traducción literaria 
Series of 6 sessions of 2 hours work exploring the fascinating art of literary translation. (+) 
Fee: £75 / -10% concessions

(12h over 6 weeks)   

Information and bookings: Tel. 0161 6614201 /06


326 Deansgate. Manchester. M3 4FN

Tel.: 0161 6614200 / 01
© Instituto Cervantes, 2013. Reservados todos los derechos 

Spanish Civil War for Infants

Book Review:  'From Manchester to Spain' by Bernard Barry. Price £5: A5 – 57 pages. Published in 2009 by the Working Class Movement Library, Jubilee House, 51, The Crescent, Salford M5 4WX. 
The Strange Entries in Mr. Barry's 'Roll of Honour'
WHEN it was first published in 2009, Mr. Barry's book was intended 'to mark the 70th anniversary of the stand down of the International Brigade in Spain in October 1938' and he says 'it was felt that a new pamphlet incorporating such [new] research' in the Working Class Movement Library's 'ever-expanding archive on the subject' of the Spanish Civil War should be brought up to date with a new pamphlet to replace one published in1983 by the Greater Manchester International Brigade Memorial Committee entitled 'Greater Manchester Men who fought in Spain'.  He asks us to note that 'Manchester' covers an area now known as Greater Manchester which did not exist in the 1930s and now includes ten Metropolitan Boroughs: Central Manchester, Salford, Bury, Bolton, Oldham, Rochdale, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford, and Wigan.  The book contains no bibliography and we are asked to check Mr Barry's 'facts' by 'reference to the Spain archive held by the Working Class Movement Library in Salford': the website lists 19 boxes of relevant material and a computer list of volunteers. 

The pamphlet describes the historical background of the 1930s in brief, referring to Oswald Mosley, the rise of right wing governments in Europe, the depression and the non-intervention agreement by several European powers including Germany, Italy, USSR, Britain and France, and there are some good thumb nail sketches of some of the Greater Manchester volunteers such as Syd Booth, Ralph Cantor, Maurice Levene, George Brown, Sam Wild, and Clem Beckett from Oldham. One sub-heading is entitled 'The Franco Revolt' and goes on to say 'General Franco [on July 18th, 1936] launched a revolt against the constitutionally elected government of the Spanish Republic'.  Franco, based in the Canarias, was not the leader of the rebel Spanish Generals at the time of the rebellion on July 18th; 1936; General Mola (code name 'Director') in Pamplona was 'the main organiser of the conspiracy' (see Antony Beevor's 'The Battle for Spain') .  Mola led the rebel nationalists until his death in an air crash on June 3rd, 1937. By personalising the rebellion Mr Barry lends a comic book quality to his account.  He gives no serious description of the level of opposition of the Spanish people themselves to the Generals' revolt nor does he analyse why it was that the Spaniards and the Catalans became the first people to seriously resist Fascism in July 1936: what was the special quality in Spanish society that blocked the march of reaction in Europe in the 1930s?  Presumably it must have something to do with the historical development of the Spanish working classes, their trade unions, and their culture that set them on a level that made them more capable of resistance than the more organised, highly educated and disciplined German workers, whose big left-wing parties and trade unions collapsed before the rise of Hitler and the Nazis. 

The most troubling and controversial aspect of Bernard Barry's account is his production of a 'Roll of Honour' at the end of his pamphlet.  He gives us 187 names of individuals from Greater Manchester and he writes: 'The Roll of Honour given at the end of this pamphlet includes the names of those from Manchester known to have served in the International Brigade.' He warns that: 'Unfortunately for some no more than the name is known but for a large majority there are varying amounts of detail.' This represents a rather weak health warning that doesn't distinguish between which names are reliable and which are dodgy or at least who are deserters. In 2010, as Secretary of Tameside Trade Union Council, I was in correspondence with James Carmody, the archivist of the International Brigade Memorial Trust (IBMT), who asked me to look for evidence that a man named Greenwood from Ashton-under-Lyne had gone to serve in Spain during the Spanish Civil War. On the 16th, June 2010, I and Barry Woodling of Northern Voices editorial panel went to the Working Class Movement Library and were shown a computer coded list of international brigade volunteers dated 1981 (page 199 to 209) entitled 'Records Office, Kew 1981' research by Jimmy Moon and placed on the records at the Working Class Movement Library by International Brigader, Syd Booth. These official records listed an 'F. Greenwood' of 9, Gerard Street, Ashton-under-Lyne as a 'deserter' (the Ashton-u-Lyne electoral register in the early 1930s shows a James Greenwood living with Lily Greenwood at this address; in the later 1930s the register shows Mr. Greenwood is no longer listed at this address), yet Mr Barry lists 'F. Greenwood', categorised on the Records Office document as a 'deserter', on his own International Brigade 'Roll of Honour' in this pamphlet. Of another Ashton man included on Mr Barry's 'Roll of Honour', Daniel Albert Boon of Taunton Road, it is reported in a note on the Records Office file that while in San Pedro prison in Burgos, he offered to join Franco's forces and we could go on showing other perverse entries on the 'Roll of Honour' in Mr. Barry's pamphlet. 

A couple of years ago at a meeting on the Spanish Civil War, addressed by local historian Chris Carson at the Working Class History Library, Carson was asked about a 'Peter Grimshaw', now deceased, an ex-communist and later a councillor for the Labour Party in Salford who, it was claimed at the meeting, had definitely served in the International Brigade in Spain. Mr Carson, a friend of Eddie Frow the communist founder of the Working Class Movement Library in Salford and a rigorous researcher, told the meeting that he had no evidence Grimshaw had ever served in Spain. Our examination of the list, which we assume Mr Barry must have used, showed that a 'Peter Grimshaw' had gone to Spain but had been rejected at the Catalan town of Figueras and had been repatriated on the 10th, February 1938, his record shows 'NO SERVICE'. Yet, Mr Barry does not hesitate to place 'Peter Grimshaw' on his 'Roll of Honour' as having 'served in Spain' in the International Brigade. Another name given on Mr Barry's list is Ivor Hickman as being from Ashton-u-Lyne. Ivor Hickman did serve in the Spanish Civil War and was killed in action, but he didn't come from Ashton-under-Lyne in Greater Manchester, as he is commemorated on a memorial in Southampton. Our research, despite some who have told us he never came up North, suggests that he may have lived in Stretford, South Manchester, and have worked at Vickers for a time – this is perhaps the least serious of Bernard Barry's errors so far but it could have caused problems for Tameside TUC, where the local Trades' Council applied for a blue plaque for an Ashton lad, James Keogh, who fought and died in the Spanish Civil War in Aragón. If Hickman had been in Ashton-u-Lyne, as Mr Barry claimed, the Keogh application would not have been 'unique' and the Tameside Council Arts & Events Panel could probably have used it to reject the Keogh application. Arthur Clinton from Swinton in Salford, is on Barry's Roll and he certainly fought in Spain, but Clinton didn't serve with the International Brigade as Barry claims, as he was with George Orwell in the Independent Labour Party contingent of the POUM. Interestingly, there is no reference to the POUM or the Independent Labour Party in Bernard Barry's pamphlet, let alone the CNT (National Confederation of Labour) or the anarchist militias. Clinton is mentioned in George Orwell's 'Homage to Catalonia'; in a letter from Orwell's wife, Eileen, to her own brother* and a sketch of his involvement in the ILP contingent is to be found in a recent book by Christopher Hall on the Independent Labour Party volunteers and the Spanish Civil War entitled 'Not just Orwell' [2009]. Reading some of the parochial accounts like Bernard Barry's and others, one wouldn't think that the CNT and the anarchists were the most influential forces in Catalonia, Aragon and Andalucia and sometimes one could easily conclude from these kind of narrow histories that the Spanish people themselves played a bit part in the Civil War on the Republican side. Some of these accounts (not Mr Barry's) are patronising to the Spaniards, and imply that it was the International Brigades that were crucial in saving Madrid. In truth they did not arrive in time to affect the Madrid fighting on November 8th, 1936 and they represented only 5% of the republican forces (see Antony Beevor's 'The Battle for Spain'). 

Mr Barry's short pamphlet contains list inflation, double counting and bias: our investigations show a man called Greenwood from Gerrard Street, Ashton-under-Lyne, went to Spain yet is listed as a 'deserter' on the Kew official list, and Mr Peter Grimshaw before crossing into Spain was found to be too unfit to fight, never-the-less Mr Barry has no difficulty placing them both on his 'Roll of Honour' in 'From Manchester to Spain'; Ivor Hickman's link to Ashton-under-Lyne is dubious; Arthur Clinton from Salford, referred in George Orwell's book 'Homage to Catalonia',  was with the ILP contingent of the POUM not the International Brigade and so on.  A problem with misleading and exaggerated claims, however well meaning, is that they undermine genuine material and in a way Bernard Barry's pamphlet casts a shadow on the Working Class Movement Library that has published and endorsed this document. When the poet, Steven Spender, who was associated with the Communist Party in the 1930s, returned from his last visit to Spain after the Writer's Congress in the summer of 1937, he was visited by another poet and communist sympathiser W.H. Auden, who he reported in his book 'World Within World' as saying that 'political exigence was never a justification for lies.'  Auden and Spencer were concerned about the nature of the cynical communist and Soviet propaganda put out at that time; Mr Barry's booklet is not guilty of lies but rather of over enthusiasm: a desire to make claims that are not substantiated by documentary evidence.  On our count 21 people on Bernard Barry's 'Roll of Honour', either are 'officially' listed as 'deserters' or as 'not serving' according to the list provided to us by the Working Class Movement Library.  A scientific approach or just doing research methods generally, involves a clearly defined system of classifications by the author not just an uncritical list of names cobbled together without regard for distinctive features such 'desertion' or being 'rejected' for being unfit to serve in the International Brigade on health grounds. Mr Barry has not done this properly, but as Mr Barry is an old man without an obvious academic background one would have thought that the publishers or someone should have had the responsibility for sub-editing this booklet. With something so glaringly flawed it ought not to be left to a reviewer to do the detective work. 

*Writing to a relative from Barcelona on 1st, May 1937, Eileen says: 'There is a chance Arthur Clinton, who was wounded, may go & recuperate in the cottage. He is perhaps the nicest man in the world...' 
I am grateful to the Working Class Movement Library for all their help in allowing us to examine their records. According to one Library assistant interviewed, it seems, Mr Barry used his own sources and is no longer able to answer questions about his sources, yet his book refers to the Library resources.  I didn't publish this review earlier because Mr. Barry is an old man and I was reluctant to offend him or his family, but as the International Brigade Memorial Trust is still promoting Mr. Barry's booklet I thought I ought to draw their attention to the errors and oversights in it. 

E.P. Thompson & 'The Making of "The Making of the English Working Class".'

The 4th Northern Radical History Network meeting to be held on Saturday 20 April 2013, in Bradford at the The Equity Centre, 1 Longlands Street, Bradford
THIS year marks 50 years since the publication of E. P. Thompson’s 'The Making of the English Working Class', and the book, its author and the book’s impact and legacy will be the focus of our meeting.

We are delighted to be joined by David Goodway, a social and cultural historian who has become increasingly known as an authority on anarchism. Between 1969 and 2005, David worked in Continuing Education at the University of Leeds, and he was Helen Cam Visiting Fellow in History at Girton College, Cambridge, for 2006- 07.

His publications include London Chartism, 1838-1848 (1982), Talking Anarchy (with Colin Ward) (2003) and 'Anarchist Seeds beneath the Snow: Left-Libertarian Thought and British Writers from William Morris to Colin Ward' (2006). David will present a paper entitled 'The Making of "The Making of the English Working Class".'

The meeting will take place at The Equity Centre, 1 Longlands Street, Bradford, on Saturday 20th April 2013 from 11am – 3pm. ALL WELCOME. Hope to see you there!

For further details, please see

The Northern Radical History Network (NRHN) is a network of individuals across the north of England who are enthusiastic about the value of history as a radical activity in its own right. We welcome anyone who shares this basic belief. For more information about NRHN and to get involved, please see , or email nrhnet2012 [AT]

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Cornerhouse Film Review: Long Holidays of 1936 – 'LAS LARGAS VACACIONES DEL 36'

ON Wednesday at the Manchester Cornerhouse cinema, during a discussion following the screening of 'Long Holidays of 1936' - a Spanish film made a year after the death of General Franco – 'El Cauldillo', it became clear that there is still much interest in the Spanish Civil War among a section of the general public. The film was shot, still under a degree of censorship in 1976, in Catalonia and represented a rural village summer retreat for the middle classes of Barcelona. It opened with a shot of a local town crier on the day of the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War on the 18th, July 1936 and ended with the conquest of Barcelona by General Franco's Nationalists in January 1939.  The well attended discussion party was chaired by Carmen Herrero from the Manchester Metropolitan University, and it was made up of mostly middle-class ladies and a sprinkling of men.

The questions ranged from why the film's the dialogue in Catalan? to what was the Moorish involvement in the Spanish Civil War? Catalan, of course, was still a prohibited language in 1976 when the film was made.

There was some consternation caused when one woman, probably not so academic as some of the others, said that she had lived in Spain during the Franco era and said that the level of crime had been lower then, and that she felt safer as a woman to go out alone on the streets late at night. This of course ran counter to the tone of the gathering which was lightly-boiled liberal leftist and with lower middle-class ladies probably from south Manchester and beyond into Cheshire. Even Carmen Herrero came down on her, trying to claim that much of the crime was hidden at that time and that there were 'banditos' in the countryside and that the regime was severe in it's treatment of its opponents. 

The truth is that low level anti-social behaviour in Franco's Spain in the 1960s was probably much lower than it is today, and one probably has much more chance of getting your bag snatched in the streets now. But there were forms of crime in Spain then that were more exotic. Occasionally while I was working delivering Gas Butaño to the villages of the Cabo San Antonio in 1963-4, I learned of women being accosted but it was rare; perhaps more seriously I found out the the Municipal police had shot and wounded an English tourist in a bar in Javier on the Costa Blanca in a dispute about drinking after hours; then when we were moving to a city we were warned of dangers such as the possibility that the Gipsies may kidnap our young son if they thought we had money; meanwhile a strange ancient belief prevailed well into the 20th Century among some of the Spanish wealthy that if they bathed in the blood of a young child that it would keep them young and they were willing to pay the Gipsies to get it.

It is not easy to convince someone who is English, the extent that the fear of the Moor or 'El Moro' has in the mind of the Spaniard or Catalan. El Moro represents the bogeyman and at the beginning of the film on the 18th, July 1936, at the start of the Spanish Civil War someone shouts 'The Moors are coming!' and at the end of the film as the conquest of Franco's Nationalists of Catalonia takes place in January 1939, the screen fades with the blurred images of the turbaned Moorish horsemen riding through the Catalan countryside. To a Spaniard and a Catalan, the message would be clear that modern civilisation had taken a step backwards to something more medieval and ancient with the fall of the Spanish republic. It is because with Franco it is not the same as anticipating an efficient and disciplined modern regime as one might in Germany with Hitler and the Nazis, or in Italy with the Futurists, in Spain, with Franco, it was rather more like a return to the Dark Ages.

Chomsky's Speech: !0th Anniversary of Iraq War

IN the early days of the Bush administration, Robert Jervis, then president of the American Political Science Association, observed that �In the eyes of much of the world, in fact, the prime rogue state today is the United States,� reiterating a similar warning by Samuel Huntington shortly before. As if to prove the point, Bush and associates soon joined with Britain to invade Iraq, a textbook case of aggression, �the supreme international crime� in the familiar words of the Nuremberg Tribunal, �differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.� The conclusion would hold even if the fanciful pretexts had not quickly collapsed.

Iraq had already been devastated by the US-UK sanctions, administered via the UN, condemned as �genocidal� by the two distinguished international diplomats, Denis Halliday and Hans von Sponeck, who directed their �humanitarian� components, and successively resigned in protest. Von Sponeck�s valuable study, A Different Kind of War, provides extensive details. He writes that �the per capita value/day of humanitarian goods actually benefitting Iraqis amounted to 51 US cents - a shameful reality for which the US & UK Governments were largely responsible.� The sanctions strengthened the tyrant and compelled the population to rely on him for survival, perhaps saving him from the fate of others like him who were overthrown from within.

Then came the war, and the �accumulated evil� that followed: hundreds of thousands of corpses, millions of refugees, torture and humiliation, murderous ethnic conflict that has since inflamed the region, destruction of cultural treasures and of the intellectual and professional classes so severe that many Iraqis compare the outcome to the Mongol invasions. In 2005, the UN determined that 84% of Iraq�s education institutions had been looted, burnt or destroyed. Before the sanctions were imposed, Iraq had the highest educational standards in the Arab world, approaching the developed societies. Today, its illiteracy rates are some of the highest in the region, reflecting the devastation of the culture and the society by sanctions and war.

Iraq's Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs (2011) reports that some 4.5 million Iraqi children have lost their parents, 70% of them since the invasion, many living in the streets or the few orphanages, something new in Iraq.

Intelligence agencies had predicted that the invasion would increase terror. So it did, far beyond what had been anticipated. A study by Peter Bergen and Paul Cruickshank on the �Iraq effect� found that war �generated a stunning sevenfold increase in the yearly rate of fatal jihadist attacks.� The head of Britain�s MI5 informed the Chilcot Commission investigating the war that �the invasion radicalised part of a generation of Muslims and increased terrorist threat to Britain.� Much the same has happened elsewhere.

Correspondents who have kept a close eye on developments throughout have summarized the �Iraq effect� on the tenth anniversary. In the London Independent, Patrick Cockburn writes that �The US and the UK have sought to play down overwhelming evidence that their invasion and occupation has produced one of the most dysfunctional and crooked governments in the world.� David Gardner extends the observation in the Financial Times: �The bigger impact of the invasion was to catapult the Shia minority within Islam (a majority in Iraq) to power in an Arab heartland nation for the first time since the fall of the Fatimid caliphate in 1171. As well as leading to a sectarian bloodbath in Iraq, this reignited with a millenarian spin the simmering conflict between Sunni and Shia, from the Levant to the Gulf and across to the Indian subcontinent.�

The United States suffered a major defeat, not only because of the enormous cost of the war and the abandonment of all war aims. The defeat for Iraq and much of the region is far worse. But there have been some victors. The main one of course is Iran � and another, at least temporarily, is Syria�s Bashar al-Assad.

A fitting tribute to the brilliance of those who instructed the world that �we create our own reality� while lesser mortals can only observe in wonder. So they did.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Thousands threatened with eviction in UK by Tory 'Bedroom Tax'!

Opposition to the Tories iniquitous bedroom tax is increasing daily. Although there have been no riots as of yet, parallels have never the less been drawn with the campaign against Thatcher's dreaded poll tax, which was ultimately defeated because of mass opposition to it by people who took to the streets in their thousands to protest.

In the North West 43% of people living in council or housing association homes who receive housing benefit will be affected. Around 110,000 will be worse off by £728 a year when the bedroom tax comes into effect in April. Hundreds of thousands face the threat of eviction if they cannot pay the tax which applies to all people of working age in receipt of housing benefit who live in social housing and who are deemed to have spare bedrooms.

Although the Tory-led government say this measure is necessary to free-up social housing that is under-occupied i.e. spare bedrooms so that people can move to smaller dwellings and to save money, the current demand for housing is such that there are not enough one or two bedroom properties for people to move to. Critics of the bedroom tax, say this severe shortage of social rented housing, will drive people into the private rented sector and will increase the housing benefit bill.

In Tameside, the Registered Social Landlord (RSL), New Charter Housing Trust Ltd, own around 14,500 properties and it is expected that the bedroom tax will have a direct impact on 1,700 New Charter tenants. New Charter boss, Ian Munro, believes that the tax is 'unfair and incompetent' and he has written to the Prime Minister calling on him to axe the bedroom tax. In his letter which was published in the New Charter owned Tameside Reporter, he pleaded on behalf of his tenants:

"Tenants are telling us that they are very worried not only about being able to meet household bills, but also the prospect of being forced out of what is more than a house - it is their home....Equally (the changes) are incompetent as they will not achieve the Government's objective of better use of social housing, and in forcing a migration to the private sector will increase rather than reduce the Housing Benefit bill."

Some time ago, New Charter which was formed in 2000, to own and manage former council homes in Tameside, set up a 'Specialist Welfare Reform Advice Team' (SWAT) to advise tenants about their available options concerning the bedroom tax. Although neither Munro or the SWAT 'sink or swim' team, have given assurances that tenants who fail pay their bedroom tax will not be evicted, it is known that the team who have carried out 1,800 tenant interviews since last August, have advised tenants to eat less to economise in order to pay their Tory bedroom tax. In Manchester, Eastlands Homes another RSL, have written to their tenants asking them if they can afford to smoke, drink, play bingo and afford Sky TV, as well as pay their bedroom tax.

While it is understandable that New Charter and Eastlands Homes tenants should feel affronted by being asked to eat less food or to forgo fags and booze to pay their Tory bedroom tax, it should be clear that despite what boy George says about us all being in it together, it is people on benefits, public expenditure cuts and job losses in local government that are paying off the budget deficit brought about by the incompetence and greed of bankers and governments. Despite cuts in benefits and public services, the government last year cut  taxes for their rich chums by £3bn-a-year. In April, 8,000 millionaires are due to receive an average tax cut of over £107,000. It  also estimated that tax evasion in this country costs the exchequer around £70bn-a-year in lost revenue.

One New Charter tenant affected by the Tory bedroom tax, is 56-year-old Steve Fisher, from Dukinfield, who has lived at his two bedroom home since 1984. As a self-employed person who currently receives £52 pw in Working Tax Credit (WTC), he has been told by Tameside Council that he must pay £12 pw bedroom tax because he has a bedroom extra to his needs and £13 pw council tax, out of his £52 pw income. Mr. Fisher who is campaigning against the bedroom tax, told NV blog:

"Under the Council Tax Benefit scheme (CTB), which has now been abolished, I received full council tax and housing benefit because I am on a low income. Some years ago, I chose to go self-employed rather than claim unemployment benefit, but am now penalised by changes to council tax and the introduction of the bedroom tax. Tameside Council have replaced CTB with their very own 'Council Tax Support Scheme' (CTSS) which presumes that as a self-employed person, I am receiving a far greater income that I do and therefore, they expect me to pay full council tax. As from April, everyone with exception of pensioners, who is in receipt of a council tax discount, will have pay at least 20% of council tax. This measure introduced by a Labour council, attacks some of the weakest and poorest members of the community.  Although the Labour council in Tameside are cutting jobs and services and increasing the council tax this year by 3.5%, the council refuses to reduce the number of Tameside councillors or to cut its own allowances and perks. What this council and government are seeking to do, is nothing short of daylight robbery."

Anyone interested in joining Mr. Fisher's campaign against the bedroom tax, can contact him at

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

IDS takes action to stop claimants reclaiming dole money who were illegally sanctioned!

The following report was sent to NV by 'Boycott Workfare'.

Last week Iain Duncan Smith laid legislation to rewrite history to stop the 225,000 people who were sanctioned on his unlawful workfare schemes being able to reclaim what they are due.

To make matters worse, the bill is being rushed through parliament; the second reading; committee stage; and third reading are all scheduled for one day: this Tuesday.

As if this wasn't outrageous enough, Labour have indicated that they will support the Bill.

Tell your MP to vote against these outrageous attempts to rewrite history and rob people of £130 million in benefit repayments with this one minute online form:

The government are getting desperate. This latest move to rush through legislation smacks of desperation and it's little surprise. In the last month, your action means eight more organisations will no longer take part in workfare: Sense, PDSA, Shoe Zone, Wilkinson's, Capability Scotland, Sue Ryder and the Red Cross have all pulled out. The Children’s Society has pledged “All volunteering at The Children’s Society should be done by choice and under no obligation from any other agency.”

It seems that the DWP is upset that organisations keep pulling out of its forced work schemes. So upset that it has decided to lie to the Guardian about the campaign against workfare:

Now is the time to keep pushing. Workfare is being pushed back as exploiter after exploiter pull out, but there are still many organisations profiting from forced unpaid work.

Salvation Army and YMCA are stridently defending their involvement. Other charities including RSPCA, The Conservation Volunteers, British Heart Foundation and Papworth Trust have yet to catch up on the sector's newly found ethical consensus.

Debenhams, Argos, Poundland, Asda, Superdrug and others are still profiting from unpaid workfare in their stores.

There's loads of actions coming up this week, and there's still time to plan more! Read more here:

With even one or two people, you can organise an effective action. Check out these for inspiration:

Investigating workfare on your high street:

'You've been served' notices:

Plus check back daily to our website to support the Week of Action online.

Together, we are having a massive impact! Let's make the week of action count.

Boycott Workfare

PCS Strike Tomorrow

THIS Wednesday, 250,000 civil service workers in the PCS union will strike back against government cuts. Below is a list of picket lines in and around Manchester. Show your support by visiting the picket lines this Wednesday morning. 
Ministry of Justice: 
* Manchester Civil Justice Centre, 1 Bridge Street West

* Manchester Crown Court, across road from Civil Justice Centre

* Manchester City Magistrates Court, Crown Square, Wood St, back from Deansgate

* Crown Court, Minshull Street, off Aytoun Street, M1 3FS

* Salford National Business Centre, Prince William House, Eccles New Road, M5 4RR 

Equality & Human Rights Commission, Young People's Learning Agency, Skills Funding Agency:
* Arndale Centre, Corporation Street, opposite Big Wheel, M2 1NP

Highways Agency, Ofsted, TDA, MOD
* Piccadilly Gate, Store Street M1 2WD

Department for Communities and Local Government, Tenant Services Authority
* One Piccadilly Gardens, Manchester M1 1RG 

British Council
* Bridgewater House, 58 Whitworth Street, M1 6BB 

* Trinity Bridge House, 2 Dearmans Place, Salford, M3 5BG

* Stone Cross House,Churchgate, Bolton BL1 1YA

* Styal, Styal Road, Wilmslow, SK9 4HR 

Dept of Work & Pensions
* Alexandra Park Jobcentre, Moss Lane East M15 5JB

* Altrincham Jobcentre, Roberts Rd, Altrincham WA14 4PU

* Cheetham Hill Jobcentre, Crescent Rd M8 9DQ

* Chorlton Benefit Delivery Centre, Graeme House, Chorlton Square, Chorlton, M21 9BU

* Didsbury Jobcentre, Palatine Rd M20 3JQ

* Longsight Jobcentre, Clarence Rd M13 0ZL

* Newton Heath Jobcentre, Oldham Rd M40 2EP

* Rusholme Job Centre, Wilmslow Road, M14 5BJ

* Salford Jobcentre, Baskerville House, Browncross St M3

* Stretford Jobcentre, Arndale House, Chester Road M32 9ED

* Wythenshawe Jobcentre, Wavell Rd M22 5RA 
In Solidarity, 
Richard Lighten:  Secretary, Manchester Trades Union Council 

Leveson & the Price of Press Freedom

RECENTLY the editor of 'The Oldie', Richard Ingrams, responding to the Leveson report, said that in order to get to the truth a journalist ought to be always willing 'to break the law!' Years ago, Bernard Levin wrote that a journalist to do a proper job must be prepared to be 'irresponsible'. Conversely, on the 1st, March, 2013, Peter Good, on the libcom web site wrote: 'Hiding behind the shield of “Free Speech” to exclude acts of licence fits well with the age of the Levenson (sic) report.... Freedom (as opposed to license) carries a degree of responsibility.'

Richard Ingrams is a Tory and High Anglican who used to edit Private Eye, and Bernard Levin was a Jewish journalist on The Times and The Spectator, and both are arguing for freedom of the press and media. Oddly, Peter Good, that curious thing an English 'anarchist', seems to be happily trying to place restraints on freedom of the media.

Is it possible for the press and media to have too much freedom? Peter Good clearly thinks so, and he writes '(t)he reptiles of the Murdoch press ruthlessly hacked into peoples' private lives and publicly re-shaped the most lurid details.'

We don't have to condone the methods of the Murdoch press and media to worry about the placing of further statutory laws on press freedom.  Our laws on defamation, and to some extent our Contempt of Court laws, are already regarded as Draconian. The problem of the Murdoch media has more to do with the problem of ownership than with that of freedom or licence.

Professor Mick Temple in a chapter in the book 'After Leveson' writes:
'Senior politicians have for too long responded like Pavlov's dogs to the temporary obsessions of newspapers like The Sun and Daily Mail, and are so afraid of powerful press barons like Rupert Murdoch that they openly court their approval and support in return for policy pay-offs.' 

The thing is that governments, institutions, parties, 'anarchists' and any other political tendency, must at all times be ready to have what the northern anarchist Jimmy Pinkerton called 'the floodlight of publicity' thrust upon them. And when that happens, as in the case of Bob Miller and his obituary, we should all remember what George Orwell wrote: 'If liberty means anything at all it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.'

I do hope that I am not misrepresenting Peter Good's position. Hitherto, I had always understood him to be a civil libertarian on matters of press freedom, but it could well be, as Jimmy Pinkerton also said, 'That in the same way that Christianity doesn't depend upon the Christians; so anarchism doesn't depend upon the anarchists'.  In England, it may well depend more on the likes of High Tories like Richard Ingrams and Private Eye.  Certainly, judging by the recent conduct of socalled 'anarchists' in this country at bookfairs in both Manchester and London, and the shyness of publications like Freedom in dealing with the these issues, we must conclude that they are as frighten as the politicians in dealing with Murdoch when it comes to the bully boy in London who is behaving like a latter-day Arturo Ui.

Salford Against the Cuts: A Damp Squib!

THE Salford Against the Cuts Group which is virtually a mouthpiece of the Socialist Party and a few trade union bureaucrats has completely failed to step up to the plate with regard to organising any sort of effective opposition  to the draconian cuts being imposed by Salfords Labour Council.    With the notable exception of the mental health users group it has organised a lack lustre campaign which has failed to connect with the people of Salford.  At times the organisers seem more concerned with promoting the Socialist Party and its newspaper.   In this context the Socialist Party has backed Trade Union  boss Len McCluskey rather than rank and file candidate Jerry Hicks for Unite General Secretary.   In a broader context the whole trade union movement has failed to offer any effective opposition to  the Coalitions austerity programme.   The Socialist Party has continually called for a 24 hour General Strike together with its front  organisation the National Shop Stewards Network.   Such a demand flies in the face of reality and is just whistling in the dark.  It seems that vanguardist parties will never learn that social movements have to grow from the base up like Occupy and cannot be hierarchically controlled from above.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Chinese Whispers & Unite the Union Election

Jerry Hicks Cries Foul in Statement to Supporters:
'I did not call this election. All I have done is stand for the position of General Secretary so that Len MCluskey would not be unopposed, for that would have marked an historic low point in the history of our union and it’s predecessors. I have pointed out that Len McCluskey’s strategy with the Labour Party is bankrupt politically, of massive cost to us financially and worthless in returns as Labour fails to promise to reverse the Con-Dem cuts. And I stand to offer Unite members an alternative.

'And for that, myself and many of those who support me are pilloried

'We knew that we were the outsider in this two horse race. We knew we would not match Len McCluskey’s machine or his spending power. But we did not know just how vile his campaign would become in his and his supporters increasingly desperate bid to cling on to power.

'Over the last few days I have been made aware of unsolicited correspondence to members all over the country, quite possibly in every region and every sector. More often than not, it appears to have been paid out of members pockets by using the union’s resources, in clear contravention of the election guidelines. If you have been sent such a thing please send it to me [Jerry Hicks 10 York Road, Montpelier, Bristol BS6 5QE]

'These letters and emails promote one candidate and make scandalous remarks about the other. Can you guess which way round it is?

'The attacks upon myself are without foundation and completely unwarranted, while the level of abuse is unprecedented.

'One of the rabid remarks is that I am a political opportunist? That’s rich given that it was McCluskey who called the election 3 years before it was due. Having planned it all during the summer of 2012, sprung it on 1.5 million members last December and fast tracked the process. All in an attempt to remain in power and extend his time in office to beyond his normal retirement age.

'Another claim is that I would ‘wreck’ the union? If, as I suspect, he means that I would support unofficial action where necessary, isn’t it ironic then that as General Secretary, Len McCluskey made a speech in Hyde Park calling for a General Strike, which would in its execution be illegal. As General Secretary Len McCluskey echoed the TUC calls for ‘civil disobedience’. Therefore, either McCluskey did not mean a word of what he said or he would be prepared to ‘wreck the union’ as they see it, in some illegal action.

'It wasn’t me who invited political "left" groups including the Socialist Workers Party [SWP], to meetings to offer cash support for their causes in return for support in the General Secretary election. The SWP only became an enemy when they refused the offer.

'If any of the statements against me were true, the easiest [and cheapest] way to make members aware would be for Unite to hold a ‘Husting’ where both candidates could be subjected to full scrutiny on all matters and televised and published on Unite’s web site, so that every member can make their own minds up. So why is it Len McCluskey embarks on his ‘Grand Tour’ yet fails to reply to every request for a ‘Hustings’. While I am willing to meet anytime, any where, any place.

'It’s not me that as I write is spending pot loads of members’ money directly contacting them to promote Len McCluskey whilst besmirching my good name. Never mentioning that I, when an elected convener was unlawfully sacked by Rolls Royce in 2005 for ‘trade union activities’. Or that I am illegally blacklisted by the employers [blacklist file obtained in 2012]

'Nor that I have twice stood for General Secretary both times coming runner up. “2009 with 40,000 votes and again in 2010 with 52,527 votes

'It isn’t me that has overseen as General Secretary £millions of members money spent on ‘paying off’ officials to leave the union, nearly a quarter of a million to a failed candidate in the last election.

'It wasn’t me who has offered jobs to people and promoted others. Indeed I could not, nor ever would do, as I believe in members electing their officials.

'Let’s see how many appointments are made and to whom after this election?! Should I not win.

'I make one prediction, that should Len McCluskey win the election, up to £10 million will be funnelled into the coffers of the Labour Party before the 2015 General Election.

'So there alone is £10 million reasons to vote for me. Along with the chance to have not less - not the same – but more. More democracy, more say and more member control.

'After all it’s only the little clique who presently control the union who have anything to lose! While the majority, currently disconnected have everything to gain.

'Ballot papers will begin arriving at the homes of 1.5 million members on Monday 18th [last date to be returned by 12th April] Two candidates: One vote: Our chance:

'To quote the Queen [not Liz] “ We will rock you”!'

Solidarity, Jerry Hicks [078 178 279 12]

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Rochdale's Cyril Smith Tried To Bully Police

REPORTS today suggest that in 1970, when Cyril Smith was contemplating standing as a parliamentary candidate in the forthcoming General Election, that he tried to bully the police into handing over the names of his accusers, who had made allegations that he had beaten and abused them while they were residents in a hostel for boys in Rochdale.  Documents now released show that Smith, the late Liberal MP, went into a Rochdale police station and asked to interview officers dealing with his case.  At the time Smith was a well know and influential councillor in Rochdale.  The police were investigating claims that he had interfered with young boys while he was secretary of Cambridge House hostel which had closed in 1964. 

The police transcript of the meeting with Cyril Smith in which he asked about the case against him runs as follows:
Police Officer'Well, very briefly the allegations concerning that, are that you went along there and examined these boys by taking their pants down.  Whether that's right or not, I don't know.'
Smith:  'I understand that that's the subject of the investigation.'
Police Officer'Which, pending on what explanation you put forward, would seem improper.'
Police Officer 'If my information is right, you spoke to one of the boys, who has been interviewed.'
Police Officer'What was that about?'
Smith'He told me what you had been asking him.  He told me he had made a statement to you.  I've seen two of them and the third came to see me.  I've asked them if they have made statements.'
Police Officer'I must warn you about interfering with witnesses.  The only reason I'm here this morning is because you wanted to see me.  I did not want to see you.  You must have some suspicion about you and them, about what's in the statements or you would not be here, would you?'
Smith:  'Well-er-I'm hesitating, not because I'm frightened, but I've seen a solicitor obviously, and he says I must make no statement or answer no questions....'
When police finally forwarded their evidence they included a covering note in which the police wrote: 'He has used his unique position to indulge in a sordid series of indecent episodes with young boys to whom he had a special responsibility.. he appears guilty of numerous offences of indecent assault.'
The police submitted the file to prosecutors on the 11th, March 1970, but it was decided not to proceed with the case against Smith.  Smith stood for election in the General Election later that year, but lost to the sitting Labour MP for Rochdale, Jack McCann.  At the time this caused some bitterness, because Jack McCann had been friends and closely associated politically with Cyril while they were both in the Labour Party throughout most of the 1960s.  Cyril Smith, two years later, won the Rochdale seat in a by-election for the Liberal Party following the death of Jack McCann.  Smith held the seat in Rochdale until 1992.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Nick Clegg, Nick Heath, SWP: Crisis Cover-ups!

The Strange Death of the English Liberal-Left
THE news of the travails of Nick Clegg, as he tries to explain how got into mess of 'knowing', but not being 'aware of specific complaints' of inappropriate behaviour by a senior Liberal Democrat, Lord Rennard, towards a number of women dating back to 2008, comes on the back of the other problems and allegations regarding the late Liberal MP for Rochdale, Sir Cyril Smith.  The scandals of a sexual nature have tended to attach themselves to the Liberals and Tories over the years (one thinks of the Profumo Affair in 1963), while it has been pointed out that the Labour Party has more in the way of financial scandals.

Now the Metropolitan police are to interview Lib Dem officials to talk about if a crime has been committed in connection with the claims of sexual harassment against the ex-party chief executive Lord Rennard.  The Daily Telegraph has reported that one of the accusers of Lord Rennard, Helen Jardine-Brown, a former boss of fund raising in the party, who made an complaint 4-years ago, was paid a £50,000 settlement by her employers accompanied with a gagging clause conditional on her silence.  Recently, Lib Dem peer Baroness Hussein-Ece told the Daily Mail, that there were similarities to the Jimmy Savile situation. 'There aren't sufficient checks and balances in place,' she said.

In The Guardian, 27th, Feb. 2013, Simon Danczuk, the Labour MP for Rochdale, who first raised concerns in parliament in November about Cyril Smith's activities, said that there is a pattern whenever allegations of sexual abuse emerge inside the Lib Dems.   He added:  'They bury their heads in the sand and claim to know nothing,' he said.  'For the sake of Rochdale victims, Clegg has to stop stonewalling and now come clean on what his party knew about the sexual abuse carried out by Cyril Smith.'   Now there is further evidence from the police files that Cyril Smith tried to meddle with the police probe according to Simon Danczuk.
In January, another left of centre party, the Socialist Workers Party (SWP), was engulfed in allegations of rape and sought to resolve the matter through what some of their media critics have described as a 'socialist sharia court' cover-up to investigate rape accusations against a senior member instead of reporting them to the police.  The reasoning of the SWP leadership, outline by a member, was that as they had 'no faith in the bourgeois court system to deliver justice' they would engage in a bit of do-it-yourself proceedings in the spirit of the quasi-judicial.  The result seems to have been a bit of a judicial circus in the forensic investigation of the facts of the case. 

Andy Newman, a Swindon-based Labour Party member described the SWP's conduct thus: 
'It's quite clear reading their account of what's going on that they sort of see themselves as an alternative group in society that is not part of mainstream society... they think someone couldn't or shouldn't go to the police because it would damage the party.' 
Mr. Newman, it seems, likens the SWP's disciplinary hearing to an extrajudicial 'Sharia' system or the much criticised investigations by the Roman Catholic Church into clerical abuse that by-passed reporting allegations to the authorities. 

The minutes of the SWP's disciplinary committee show that allegations were put against a 'Comrade Delta', a senior member on the party's central committee.  These accusations were made by an unnamed female member of the party, who says she was assaulted over a 6-month period between 2008 and 2009.  The minutes show that she did not want to go to the police.  The disciplinary committee cleared 'Comrade Delta', with six out of seven members of the committee supporting his story of what happened.  But when the case was later put to party members, the disciplinary committee's decision was only accepted by 231 votes to 209 votes. 

In his resignation letter, the SWP journalist Tim Walker wrote: 
'I thought that they took the case seriously, this was not a jury of his peers, but a jury of his mates.' 
A friend of the female complainant, who was not allowed to attend the disciplinary hearing, said that she felt betrayed by the party, and another said that the woman thought, naively, that 'if she put in a complaint to the party it would be dealt with in line with the party's politics and our proud tradition on women's liberation... sadly her experiences were quite the opposite.'

The Independent newspaper has contacted the SWP's head office for a comment on the allegations but got no reply.  The SWP was formed in 1977 out of the International Socialists, it considers itself a 'revolutionary party' in the tradition of the Russian politician Leon Trotsky.

Beyond the realms of the Lib Dems and the SWP, another left-wing tendency is now dealing with a dilemma of a more political nature.  On the anarchist left censorship and restraints of freedom of expression are considered an even greater sin than sexual deviation.  Recently a major row has brewed up among anarchists and their fellow-travellers about attempts to censor the northern anarchists in the Northern Anarchist Network and to put the publication Northern Voices out of business.  Bookshop managers who stock Northern Voices have been approached  menacingly, book-stalls at Bookfairs have been overturned, and the printers of Northern Voices have been telephoned, and on one occasion a couple of years ago threatened with a solicitor.  The leftist group that is now embroiled in this embarrassing political dilemma is the British Anarchist Federation (AF), some of whose members have been involved in political bullying, blacklisting and feeble-minded violence aimed at the censorship and control of the publication Northern Voices, that culminated last December in Barry Woodling being herded out of a Manchester bookfair and forced to climb down a fire-escape. In the 20th Century, the two social movements that harassed shopkeepers to distraction were the mafia in the USA and the German national socialists, but now the perverse anarchists of the AF seem to have taken a leaf out of their book.

Interestingly, Rudolf Rocker and Noam Chomsky, both distinguish libertarian/ anarchist social thinkers, have defined the intellectual origins of anarchism as lying in the two strands of progressive thinking coming out of the Enlightenment: a socialist strand on the one hand and a liberal strand on the other. The historian David Goodway in his book 'Anarchist Seeds Beneath the Snow' (First published 2006 and now revised & expanded by PM Press in paperback in 2012 and to be reviewed by Derek Pattison in the forthcoming issue of Northern Voices) argued:
'A fruitful approach to understanding anarchism is to recognize its thoroughly socialist critique of capitalism, while emphasizing that this has been combined with a liberal critique of socialism, anarchists being united with liberals in their advocacy of autonomous associations and the freedom of the individual and even exceeding them in their opposition to statism.' 
This split personality of anarchism allows in certain shallow personalities who operate a form of secretive and conspiratorial politics; it is hard for example to decide if the political body that describes itself as the Anarchist Federation has an authentic voice or face. The only AF individual I'm aware of connected with it for sure, is one of its founders Nick Heath, a retired London librarian, who now works in the bookshop of Freedom Press on Wednesday afternoons and successful got the bookshop manager to take NV13 off the shelf last August.  It was Heath, who like Cyril Smith with the police, successfully sought to bully the independent anarchist publication Freedom not to publish material about the attacks involving his AF organisation on Northern Voices and others.  Others in AF are most often known only by their first-names or pseudo-names such 'Sally', 'Andy of London AF', 'Claire of Nottingham AF' and 'Alex the National Secretary of AF', there are also a number of strange miscellaneous AF groupies such as the shy one who calls himself 'Spikymike' and another called Ron Marsden from Didsbury. But no-one from the Anarchist Federation has yet made any official statement or justification for the crazy conduct of their members: indeed one must doubt the existence of the AF as a serious political entity.

The silliness with which these AF people and  the way this rag-tag-and-bobtail 'anarchist' army have performed, has been such that some respectable anarchists have sought to try to pretend that nothing has happened. But to ignore these acts, or just to dismiss these people as 'fools', or to play the Pontius Pilate is to risk falling into the trap that the Liberal Nick Clegg and the socialist SWP is now facing.  All these cases suggest is that the 'left' in British politics, whether Liberal, Socialist or anarchist, is suffering from a deep-seated corruption and lack of serious purpose; Simon Danczuk from Rochdale with his Cyril Smith revelations, Andy Newman from Swindon in highlighting the SWP's misdemeanours, and Barry Woodling in affirming the rights of a free press, are all fighting on the side of political decency.  As Simon Danczuk says of the Lib Dems  and Cyril Smith; burying 'their heads in the sand' may be a pattern but it is certainly not a solution.

There are still a few copies of the printed version of NORTHERN VOICES No.13, available for sale it can be obtained as follows:

Postal subscription: £5 for the next two issues (post included). Cheques payable to 'Northern Voices' at c/o 52, Todmorden Road, Burnley, Lancashire BB10 4AH. 

Tel.: 0161 793 5122.


Thursday, 14 March 2013

Steve Acheson Remedies' Result Against BMS

STEVE Acheson got a result on Tuesday at his Remedies Hearing against the agency British Management Services (BMS) at the Manchester Employment Tribunal.  This case relates to the campaign he has been involved in at the Fiddlers Ferry power station for over five years.  It involved a period between 2008 and December 2009, when electricians were working on the site and Mr. Acheson claims he was a victim of blacklisting owing to his history of trade union activities.  For the greater part of this period, it was argued by the claimant's barrister, that because of the extent of his work experience Steve would have been promoted to a Grade 6 position. 

The award was as follows:
£3,000.00 for injury to feelings.
£3,689.25 for the first period of Mr. Acheson's employment as a Grade 5 electrician.
£8,539.20 for the second period of employment as a Grade 6 electrician (chargehand)
Total =  £15,228.45 - £3,500 already paid to Mr. Acheson by the company Lindhurst.
Thus leaving Steve with the grand total of £11,728.45.

The barrister for Mr. Acheson, Nick Tongue, said that under the circumstances he considered it a better than expected settlement.  However, Mr Acheson told Northern Voices that he was disappointed and claimed he could have earned £28,000 had he not been 'victimised' at Fiddlers Ferry.  Steve Acheson told the 'Voices' he now feared that his home may now be at risk of 'repossesion'.  The Blacklist Support Group in a recent notice has announced that a benefit will be held on Friday 22nd March at 7pm at

The Saffron Eastern cuisine,
The Old Town Hall,
107 Cheetham Hill Road,
M8 8PY

Tickets £20.00 or £12 concessionaires
Food included
Entertainment and speeches
Bring own beer.

Firms Implicated in the Consulting Association

Below is the full list of the company Directors that chaired the Consulting Association: 
1993-96 Cullum McAlpine - Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd

1997-99 Tony Jennings - Laing O'Rourke

2000-01 Danny O'Sullivan - Kier

2002-03 Stephen Quant - Skanska

2004-05 Trevor Watchman - Balfour Beatty

2006-09 David Cochrane - Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd

Below is the full list of Human Resources & Industrial Relations Directors who were the "main contact" between the construction companies and the Consulting Association and were therefore the most active in blacklisting trade union members and workers who raised health & safety concerns.

Sir Robert McAlpine: David Cochrane

Costain: Trevor Spice, Geoff Hughes, Ken Ward

Carillion: Liz Keates

Tarmac: Liz Keates

Crown House: Liz Keates, Roy Hay, Dianne Hughes

Skanska: Stephen Quart, John Dickinson

Balfour Kilpatrick: Gerry Harvey, Elaine Galagher, Paul Raby, Arma Johnston

Balfour Beatty Major Projects: Trevor Watchman

Balfour Beatty Construction: Ann Cowrie

Balfour Beatty Scottish & Southern: Vince James

Haden Young: Carolyn Williams

Morgan Estate: Steve McGuire

Amec: Arnold Nestler

Balfour Beatty Infrastructure Services: John Dangerfield

HBG Construction: Richard Bull, Paul McCreath

Kier: Danny O’Sullivan, Kathy Aimansoor:

Vinci: Alan Audley

Nuttall: Bridget May

Bam Nuttall: Pat Swift

Cleveland Bridge UK: Lynne Day

Shepherd Engineering Services: Lisa Stevenson

NG Bailey: Murray Reid

CB & I: Ron Barron

Encor: Iain Coates

SIAS Building Services: John Stoddart

Laing O’Rourke: Liz Keates, Sylvia Smith, Lisa O’Mahoney

Rosser & Russell: Harry Pooley

Mowlem: Alf Lucas

Whessoe: Roy Knight 

Information supplied by Blacklist Support Group

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Balfour Beatty admit to 'blacklisting'. CEO says he had "no concerns about the morality of blacklisting."

The following report has been sent to NV by the Blacklisting Support Group (BSG):

"Workers blacklisted by Balfour Beatty for raising safety concerns have compared the company to the mafia following evidence to MPs by Mike Peasland, Chief Executive Officer, Balfour Beatty today. Peasland was giving evidence to the Scottish Affairs Select Committee investigation into blacklisting and openly admitted to MPs that he knew about the Consulting Association but had "no concerns about the morality of blacklisting"

Peasland refused to provide the MPs with a copy of their internal report into blacklisting but admitted that not a single employee was ever disciplined. He told the Select Committee that Balfour Beatty only stopped using the blacklist because of the ICO raid and that the company had no plans to stop using it.

Ian Davidson MP, chair of the Select Committee accused Peasland of: "Hiding behind the lawyer" to avoid answering questions.

Davidson said that the company position is that no individual employee should be disciplined because "they were only obeying orders" and asked "Don't you believe in such a thing as collective guilt?"

"I have real qualms about the validity of any apology you make. You don't really regret it; you only regret being caught"

Steve Acheson - Blacklist Support Group said:

"Peasland admitted that building workers who raised genuine safety concerns would end up blacklisted by Balfour Beatty.

I was an elected union safety rep who raised concerns on behalf of my fellow workers.

Balfour Beatty had no moral qualms about blacklisting me. They had no morals about sentencing my family to financial hardship.

Mike Peasland's performance was like watching an unrepentant mafia godfather: Don Corleone had a similar moral code."

Highlights of Peaslands evidence as follows:

We were heavy users and leading lights in the Consulting Association

We chaired the Consulting Association for 3 years

We averaged 15,000 blacklist name checks a year

We checked the names of staff employed by sub-contractors

No one could have been employed by Balfour Beatty without being blacklist checked by the Consulting Association.

If workers were hiding behind health & safety, that would get them blacklisted.

If workers raised concerns that they felt were genuine but the site manager felt it was not genuine, that would be enough to get them blacklisted.

If there was a consistent complaint about H&S but a manager considered it not bona-fide, this would get someone blacklisted

We were happy with the services we received from the Consulting Association.

We regret that we got caught

I knew what the Consulting Association was all about when I became head of Balfour Beatty but felt it was a fine.

I was concerned about the methodology of the Consulting Association.

I was not concerned about the morality of blacklisting.

Not a single person within Balfour Beatty was disciplined after the blacklist was exposed or following their own internal investigation.

BB refused to give MPs a copy of their internal report on their involvement in blacklisting."

NV says: The list of local authority's who are refusing to provide contracts to companies who are known to have been involved in blacklisting, is growing by theweek. In a recent report sent to us by the BSG, it was reported that Dundee City Council were being urged to veto blacklisting companies and not to award them contracts and Rother District Council in Sussex, recently supported a motion that construction companies known to have been involved in blacklisting will not be offered public contracts.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Former Miner and Distinguished Trade Unionist, Dave Douglass, Answers His Critics!

NO doubt many of the readers of this Northern Voices Blog will find this debate difficult to follow, but what follows here is a comment on the post 'Trade Union Activist Condemns libcom website' (Dated 27th, Feb. 2013) to which one of the individuals criticised, Dave Douglass, then counters with his own response.
Anonymous said...  'Barry-You lip off about a dead mate and I will stick one you... not all suvners are soft... and what the donald was Dave Douglas (a little bully himself) on about? He has had a downer on anarchist communist politics since Virus- he despises theoretical consistency (from DAM to Class War was a classic development from the wonder man) and is he calling himself anarchist these days?- that is not what he has always said.  Yeah you aint liked for your gob Barry- try not being a cock and maybe you wont be treated like one.  Enjoy your small world.  You are havin a giraffe!'

Dave Douglass responds below:
'I don't normally respond to anonymous comments, for the most obvious of reasons, anyone on earth in or out of the movement, some from from an entirely different movement, the police, or EDL or Legion of Mary could be making them. As a result you just end up chasing a shadow thinking your having some meaningful debate when its just some one pissing up our backs. However, in the case of 'rich' whoever that is, let me just say for the sake of historic accuracity, I became and anarchist and direct actionist when I was 15, secretary of Tyneside committee of 100 at 16, I was a member of Syndicalist Workers Federation (SWF) at that time and anyone who looks up Direct Action, the SWF paper of the 60's will see I am the distributer for the North region. Anyone who reads the stuff I wrote up to 72 will see I describe myself as an anarchist, Its true that for a period of 72-9 I took a diversion through the woods of Trotskyism, but the foothills of the great miners strike from 1981 took me back toward anarchism, and I joined Class War at its inception and spoke at their 2nd national conference and others. I worked with the Direct Action Movement throughout the strike of 84/5 and spoke at their regional and national assembles in support of the miners, they published two pamphlets by me, one on the media and one on the cops. I find no contradiction in remaining essentially a Marxist, and an anarchist, in fact Anarchist Communist is probably the nearest slot you could slide my politics into. I have had and continue to have strong theoretical disagreements with the former ACF, and currently AF but have shared countless  events, and campaigns with them over the last fifteen years and have many many comrades in the AF, who are also personal friends. This disagreement is not about theory. It is about conduct within the working class and revolutionary movement and basic principles of liberty and freedom of speech and thought and publication. I have never tried to censor or ban other anarchist views from anything I have ever organised, and our northern based events always have AF members and publications present (I am talking about anarcho bookfares, and working class movement commemorations and themes ) I have always defended the right of all political tendencies within the broad revolutionary working class movement and always will. To call upon AF to do the  same I would have thought was a fairly basic demand to make. The fact that 'rich' responds with insults and threats speaks for itself really although I am sure he doesn't speak for AF, certainly not the many members I know who are appalled by the current situation.'

North West TUC Call Upon Councils to Shun Blacklisters

LAST Saturday's North West TUC Conference at the Mechanics' Institute in Manchester called upon the TUC nationally to urge local Councils not to employ or award contracts to companies that have histories of involvement with the Consulting Association, a band of blacklister in the construction industry that were hitherto affiliated to this organisation run by the late Ian Kerr.  The motion put before the Conference was drafted by Tameside TUC and accepted by the Greater Manchester County Association of TUCs as a motion before being presented and voted through as a resolution by the delegates at the NW TUC Conference.

The decisions agreed were worded as follows:
i. To support demands for a full investigation/ public inquiry into blacklisting, both past and present, and into the intimate involvement of both the police and security services in these iniquitous practices.

ii. To draw up a list of local authorities who are awarding contracts to blacklisters like Carillion, and to try to get them to award publicly funded contracts to companies that are not among the 44 companies that were affiliated to the Consulting Association.

This motion was accepted by the Conference as being formerly moved and seconded without any debate, owing to lack of time for a full discussion.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Manchester Royal Exchange: CANNIBALS


Directed by Michael Longhurst.  Designed by Chloe Lamford 
The Royal Exchange Theatre,
St Ann’s Square, Manchester. 
Wednesday 3 April – Saturday 27 April 2013

Rising young director Michael Longhurst is set to direct the Royal Exchange Theatre’s world premiere of Rory Mullarkey’s bold and thrilling new play CANNIBALS which runs from Wednesday 3 April to Saturday 27 April.  The play tackles big themes of love, death and consumerism in the 21st century. It sees its central character Lizaveta carried on a nightmare journey from a war-torn ex-Soviet state to the streets of Manchester.   Her simple farm life is ripped apart and she has to run. Her quest to start again leads her through mud and blood, past holy fools and icon painters, to things she has never imagined.

CANNIBALS is Manchester playwright Rory Mullarkey’s first full-length play. It was written while he was Pearson Playwright in Residence at the Royal Exchange in 2011.  Director Michael Longhurst has recent credits which include Jake Gyllenhaal’s American stage debut in New York and the award-winning CONSTELLATIONS at the Royal Court and in the West End.
The cast includes Ony Uhiara, as Lizaveta¸ whose previous theatre credits include work for the RSC, The Royal Court and The Tricycle and whose TV credits include LAW AND ORDER, STOLEN, WHITE VAN MAN and CRIMINAL JUSTICE.

The cast also includes Simon Armstrong, last seen at the Exchange as CSM Rivers in THE ACCRINGTON PALS; Ricky Champ, whose TV credits include hit BBC comedy HIM AND HER; Tricia Kelly, whose previous RET credits include THE GATEKEEPER and Laurence Spellman, last seen at the Exchange in ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA
Appearing alongside the cast is a 24-strong team of supernumeraries comprising local drama students and members of the theatre’s Friends Organisation.  The production is designed by Chloe Lamford and the creative team is completed by David Holmes (lighting), Peter Rice (sound), Simon Slater (composer) and Imogen Knight (movement).

More information available about this production at
Box Office: 0161 833 9833.