Friday, 31 May 2013

Syndicalist Action support for Bradley Manning


Free Bradley Manning !!!

We Support The International Call for Solidarity Action

During The First Week Of June 2013 ...

An Interview with Ciaron O'Reilly :
'Bradley Manning is in jail for us;
We're on the streets for him!'

Mobilize for Saturday, 1 June 2013 ...
From Afghanistan :
A Statement by Kathy Kelly;
'Thanking Bradley Manning!' ...
Yours for workers' freedom,
The Syndicalist Action Network ...

TUC Conference Blacklist Motion & Mr. Tapp

GEORGE Tapp, injured two weeks ago on a picket when a car ran into him, spoke yesterday to Northern Voices in the trauma ward at the Salford Royal Hospital about the incident which took place on the 15th, May, outside the Manchester City ground.  The electrician Mr. Tapp, though shaken-up by the event, talked calmly for an hour to two local journalists from Northern Voices without bitterness or animosity about the events leading up to the car driving into him on a picket that had been called to challenge the companies involved in blacklisting:  BAM the company presently doing work on Manchester City's Etihad Stadium is alleged to have been affiliated to the now defunct Consulting Association, that was managed up until March 2009 in the Midlands by the notorious blacklist coordinator; the now late Ian Kerr.  After that, it was closed down following a raid by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), and Mr. Kerr was found guilty of operating an illegal data base (blacklist) containing the names of over 3,000 building workers; it was also later claimed by the ICO that Mr. Kerr had other files relating to other industries and professions. 

Last night, George Tapp complained from his hospital bed of sloppy reporting in some local newspapers, and expressed his concern at some of the reports in the press which seemed to imply that the workers and protesters had brought the suffering upon themselves.

Meanwhile Mr. Tapp told us that he much appreciated the support he had received from well-wishers, fellow trade unionists, and members of Salford Council.  He particularly mentioned Len McClusky, Jerry Hicks, Ian Stewart, the Mayor of Salford, and Alec McFadden, the North West representative of the TUC-JCC, who has an office at the Salford Unemployed Resource Centre.

Tomorrow, the Greater Manchester County Association of Trade Union Councils (TUCs) will be joining others in moving a composite motion at the National Conference of TUCs in London condemning blacklisting.  The composite motion states: 
'We express disgust that 44 construction companies, exposed as blacklisters by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) escaped without penalty.  Conference notes that the police and security services may have been complicit in the Consulting Association's activities and that blacklist records have also been kept on academics and journalists.'

The motion further states that:
'(i)  The regulations need to be strengthened and that it should be a criminal offence to supply, compile, solicit or use information in connection with a prohibited list;
(ii)  No public contracts should be awarded to any company that has used blacklisting unless they apologise for their action, pay appropriate compensation and where possible, provide employment.
(iii)  Any companies which use blacklisting or do not abide by national collective agreements and/or victimise union reps are not welcome in England and Wales.'

The motion asks Conference, among other things, to call upon the TUC to:
'Consider how to have full input into influencing the way that public procurement works in England and Wales to protect workers' rights... ' and 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.' and to 'Draw up a list of local authorities that are awarding contracts to blacklisters like Carillion, and try to get them to award publicly funded contracts to companies that are not among the 44 firms that were affiliated to the Consulting Association.'  and to 'Demand that the ICO notifies all persons listed on the Consulting Association's blacklist files in the same way that victims were notified in the phone hacking scandal.'

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Eviction threats increase after launch of 'Bedroom Tax'. It's the poor that's paying for the financial crisis!

Just weeks after the introduction of the Tory 'bedroom tax', many tenants are struggling to pay the increase in their rent and are being threatened with eviction. Thousands are at risk of losing their homes as councils and housing associations have started to take action for rent arrears.

According to a report in the 'Independent' newspaper, nearly a thousand people have received notice of arrears letters in Bradford. In Nottingham, more than a third of the housing association's tenants, now owe money for rent. Tenants in Barnsley and Leeds have been told by their housing authority that their homes are at risk and in Glasgow, Queens Cross Housing Association, have reported that 226 of the 291 tenants affected by the bedroom tax, have been unable to pay.

While many people in Britain are stuggling to make ends meet as the coalition government austerity policies continue to bite, it remains a boom time for those at the top. At a time when they've introduced the 'bedroom tax' and are squeezing the poor, the government are giving tax cuts to the rich. As from April, anyone earning over £1 million-a-year, will now get an annual tax cut of at least £42,295.  And where is the money coming from to pay for these tax cuts, you may ask? What is paying for these tax cuts, in part, are cuts in State benefits and public services. As Michael Meacher MP, pointed out in a letter to the Guardian last May, 77% of the budget deficit is being recouped by public expenditure cuts and benefit cuts and only 23% is being repaid by tax increases. More than half of that tax increase, is accounted for by the rise in VAT to 20%.

Other eminent figures have also pointed out how the rich have off-loaded the cost of the financial crisis onto the backs of the poor. In March 2011, the governor of the Bank of England, Mervyn King, told a Treasury Select Committee : "The price of this financial crisis is being borne by people who absolutely did not cause it." In his BBC Today programme lecture in 2012, he blamed the banks for causing the financial crisis and "expressed surprise that the British people are not more angry with them." Michael Forster, senior analyst at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), has said that the UK government have chosen policies that were likely to fall on the backs of poor population groups.

Even though 10,000 families have been pushed into homelessness in the UK following housing benefit cuts and we are seeing 'austerity suicides', the government say that changes to the tax and benefit system will make people better off.  Since the Tory government came into office in May 2010, there has been a five-fold increase in food banks which dispense free food to the needy. This year, some 350,000 people, accessed emergency food aid in Britain.

Its not just people on benefits who are being hit by the Tories slash and burn policies. Far from targeting 'shirkers', the three-year benefit and tax credit cap doesn't mainly target the unemployed. More than 60%  of those who will lose out, are in work. Many people who are in work, are also being scandalously exploited. Pay packets of the average worker continue to fall in real terms, down by 8.5% since 2009. The lowest wage rises on record, were recorded for first three months to March. Full-time British workers also work  longer hours than anywhere else in Europe and often do unpaid overtime. However, the 'think-tank' The High Pay Centre, have pointed out that the typical salary of the chief executive of a FTSE 100 company was now 185 times greater than the average, while the share of income going to the wealthiest one-percent of the popualtion, now stands at 14% compared with 6% in 1979. There are more bankers at Barclays earning more than £1million, than there are executives at public companies across the whole of Japan. Britain is less equal in wages, wealth and life chances, than at any time since the 1920s,

In their book 'The Body Economic: Why Austerity Kills', David Stuckler and Sanjay Basu, have looked at how different countries have managed the recession and how this has impacted on public health. In the book, Stuckler says: "If austerity had been run like a clinical trial, it would have been discontinued". The authors also point out that poorer public health is not a consequence of economic downturns, but a choice by the government of the country, and they note:

"Countries that slashed health and social protection budgets, like Greece, Italy and Spain, have seen starkley worse health outcomes than nations like Germany, Iceland and Sweden, which maintained their social safety nets and opted for stimulus over austerity." They also point out that there are enormous variations in suicide rates across countries.

The authors of this book say that the UK is "one of the clearest expressions of how austerity kills" with 'austerity suicides' on the increase. Yet they also point out that in Iceland, which suffered the worst banking crisis in history when all three of its biggest banks failed and total debt jumped to 800% of GDP, - "far worse than what any European country faces today, relative to the size of its economy" - had voted against paying for the recklessness of the bankers with large cuts in health and social protection systems and had took the decision to pay off its foreign creditors gradually instead of all at once through austerity. The authors also assert:

"Neither Iceland nor any other country that 'protected its people when they needed it most' did so at the cost of economic recovery. Iceland is now booming; unemployment is back below 4% and GDP growth is above 4% - far exceeding any of the other European countries that suffered major recessions."

Although Britain has a financial deficit brought about by the banking crisis, those who have criticised the government and its austerity policies, have suggested that the financial crisis has presented the Tories with the opportunity to dismantle the post-war British welfare state which is anathema to them and to marketise and covertly privatise what remains of public services. It is suggested that a core aim of the Cameron government, has been to hive off public services to their business buddies whose income will be sustained by public contracts and captive markets for essential services.

It is of interest to note that Britain's debt during the post-second world war period, was more than 200% of GDP, (far higher than any European country's today, bar Iceland) and the country's leaders responded by founding the welfare state - "paving the way for decades of prosperity and within ten years debt had halved."


George Orwell writes on 'unofficial history' in an essay entitled 'Arthur Koestler' (1944)

'One striking fact about English literature during the present century is the extent to which it has been dominated by foreigners - for example, Conrad, Henry James, Shaw, Joyce, Yeats, Pound and Elliot.  Still, if you chose to make this a matter of national prestige and examine our achievement in various branches of literature, you would find that England made a fairly good showing until you came to what may be roughly described as political writing, or pamphleteering.  I mean by this the special class of literature that has arisen out of the European political struggle since the rise of Fascism.  Under this heading novels, autobiographies, books of "reportage", sociological treatises and plain pamphlets can all be lumped together, all of them having a common origin and to a great extent the same emotional atmosphere.

'Some of the outstanding figures in this school of writers are Silone, Malraux, Salvemini, Borkenau, Victor Serge and Koestler himself.  Some of these are imaginative writers, some not, but they are all alike in that they are trying to write contemporary history, but unofficial history, the kind that is ignored in the text-books and lied about in the newspapers.  Also they are all alike in being continental Europeans.  It may be an exaggeration, but it cannot be a very great one, to say that whenever a book dealing with totalitarianism appears in this country, and still seems worth reading six months after publication, it is a book translated from some foreign language.  English writers, over the past dozen years, have poured forth an enormous spate of political literature, but they have produced almost nothing of aesthetic value, and very little of historical value either.  The Left Book Club, for instance, has been running ever since 1936.  How many of its chosen volumes can you even remember the names of?  Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, Spain, Abyssina, Austria, Czechoslovakia - all that these and kindred subjects have produced, in England, are slick books of reportage, dishonest pamphlets in which propaganda is swallowed whole and spewed up again, half digested, and a very few reliable guide books and text-books.  There has been nothing resembling, for instance, Fontamara or Darkness at Noon, because there is almost no English writer to whom it has happened to see totalitarianism from the inside.  In Europe, during the past decade and more, things have been happening to middle-class people which in England do not even happen to the working class.  Most of the writers I mentioned above, and scores of others like them, have been obliged to break the law in order to engage in politics at all; some of them have thrown bombs and fought in street battles, many have been in prison or concentration camp, or fled across frontiers with false names and forged passports.  One cannot imagine, say, Professor Laski indulging in activities of that kind.  England is lacking, therefore, in what one might call concentration-camp literature....  To understand such things one has to be able to image oneself as a victim, and for an Englishman to write Darkness at Noon would be as unlikely an accident as for a slave-trader to write Uncle Tom's Cabin.'  (Written 1944; published Focus 2 1946)

Saturday 15th June & Sunday 16th June 2013 - Manchester, UK

A public conference to discuss how society produces, presents, and consumes history beyond official and elite versions of the past.

THE Unofficial Histories conference seeks to bring together those who wish to consider the value and purpose of historical engagements and understandings that take place within, on the edges of, or outside “official” sites that produce and transmit historical knowledge and ideas. 

After a successful first conference at Bishopsgate Institute in London in May 2012, Unofficial Histories moves north to Manchester, and this time we’re making a weekend of it:
* Saturday 15th June 2013 will be a day of papers, presentations and debate at Manchester Metropolitan University, Oxford Road, Manchester.

* Sunday 16th June 2013 will be a relaxed day of informal activities in Manchester exploring the theme of ’Unofficial Histories’ (details TBC).

Taking its cue from the assumption that history is, as Raphael Samuel put it, 'social form of knowledge; the work, in any given instance of a thousand different hands' the conference aims to open up to examination the ways in which historians, curators, writers, journalists, artists, film makers, activists and others, seek to represent the past in the public realm, spheres of popular culture and everyday life.

What subjects, ideas and themes are presented? What styles and mediums are used? How is this history produced, transmitted and consumed? Who is producing and consuming it, and why?

We hope to sharpen the awareness of the different sites and forms of historical production and consider how they impact public perceptions and consciousness of history. We are also concerned to understand the interactions between competing and corresponding impulses in history-making: the scholarly and the political; the academic and the everyday; the imperatives of funding, sustainability, ethics and access.
Finally, we would like to consider whether or not such 'unofficial histories' have political effects that might serve democratic and emancipatory goals, and/or can be seen as sources of dissent and resistance against conventional, privileged models of historical knowledge.
Presentations of 20 minutes (different approaches to communication are encouraged) on any aspect of the above, which may include:

* People’s History & the History of Everyday Life 

* TV, Radio and Internet

* Literature, Poetry, Music and Folksong

* Museums, Heritage and Archives
* Feminist, Women’s and Gender History

* Historical Re-enactment and Living History

* Memory, Myth and Folklore

* Class, Culture and Ethnicities

* Art, Drama and Theatre
* Family History and Genealogy
* Oral History, Testimony and Biography

* Local, Regional and Community History
* The Role of the Historian

* History Education, Teaching and Curricula

* Uses and Abuses of History

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Woolwich: Notions of 'Necessary Murder'

LAST week, the gruesome murder of the soldier Drummer Lee Rigby from Middleton in Greater Manchester took place on a street in Woolwich in South-East London, meanwhile Laurie Penny in the New Statesman pondered a question below that appeared on an exam paper for Eton boys: 
'(c)  The year is 2040.  There have been riots in the streets of London after Britain has run out of petrol because of an oil crisis in the Middle East.  Protestors have attacked public buildings.  Several policemen have died.  Consequently, the Government has deployed the army to curb protests.  After two days the protests have been stopped but twenty-five protestors have been killed by the Army.  You are the Prime Minister.  Write the script for a speech to be broadcast to the nation in which you explain why employing the army against violent protesters was the only option available to you and one which was necessary and moral.'

Commenting on the above question, Laurie Penny, in the current New Statesman, says: 
'The headmaster of Eton, responding to the furore on Twitter, claimed that this was an intellectual exercise, based on Machiavelli’s The Prince, and was taken out of context. It was nothing of the kind. In fact, questions like this - topics for debate designed to reward pupils for defending the morally indefensible in the name of maintaining "order" - crop up throughout the British elite education system, from prep schools to public schools like Eton to public speaking competitions right up to debating societies like the Oxford and Cambridge Unions, which are modelled on parliament for a reason.' 

Ms. Penny concludes her New Statesman article last week, thus:
'Eton trains rich young men for power. The all-boys school has produced nineteen Prime Ministers, including the current one. The Mayor of London and a significant chunk of the cabinet also attended the school. Nearly all of our most powerful politicians, in short, went to Eton, and were trained in its values. Values that include responding to a question about shooting protesters dead with clever rhetoric rather than a long, hard look at your own conscience, as well as reading Machiavelli as an instruction manual rather than a satire. Whoever set this exam question, one that obliges thirteen-year-old boys to defend the murder of protesters as Prime Minister, knew of the likelihood that one of those boys might well actually be Prime Minister one day, and be in the position to order protesters killed for real.'

The poet W.H. Auden, who didn't go to Eton but grew up in a professional middle-class family and read English literature at Christ Church, Oxford, before becoming a Communist Party fellow-traveller and writing a poem in 1937 entitled 'Spain' on the Spanish Civil War in which he invoked the notion of the 'necessary murder':
'To-morrow for young poets exploding like bombs,
the walks by the lake, the weeks of perfect communion;
       To-morrow the bicycle races
Through the suburbs on summer evenings.  But to-day the struggle.

To-day the deliberate increase in the chances of death,
The conscious acceptance of guilt in the necessary murder;
        To-day the expending of powers
On the flat ephemeral pamphlet and the boring meeting.'

George Orwell, in his essay 'Inside the Whale' (1940), criticised this second stanza saying that it 'is intended as a sort of thumbnail sketch of a day in the life of a "good party man".'  As Orwell cruely put it:  'In the morning a couple of political murders, a ten-minutes' interlude to stifle "bourgeois" remorse, and then a hurried luncheon and busy afternoon and evening chalking walls and distributiong leaflets.'   That's what happens when you get exam questions like the one above by folk who will never be around when the trigger is pulled, and as Orwell concludes:  'But notice the phrase "necessary murder"... [i]t could only have been written by a person to whom murder is at most a word.' 

The fact is that people doing things like attacking Mosques and chalking on war memorials, or even justifying murder is not new because politics is made up of people who believe in double-crossing each other.  This is demonstrated in the background to the current crime in Woolwich.  Evidently both of the men now accused of the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby, from Middleton in Greater Manchester, believed what they did was 'necessary', and perhaps even 'moral' in terms of their interpretaion of Islam.  Yet yesterday's Daily Telegraph reports: 
'Both of the men accused of hacking the soldier to death had been monitored by the security services for years, and one of them was allegedly approached with a view to acting as an informant.' 

The realm of Machiavelli and his concept of power politics, as expressed in his book The Prince, places us in a strange world indeed: with MI5 allegedly trying to seduce the murder suspect Michael Adebolajo, and asking him if he wanted to work for them about six months before the killing of Drummer Rigby.  That at least is the claim of a childhood friend Abu Nusaybah, who was arrested at the BBC shortly after giving an interview on Newsnight last Friday, and hasn't been denied by MI5.  Machiavelli is perhaps more relevant than Marx in contemporary politics, although I doubt that anyone will admit as much.

Motion submitted to Scottish Parliament

MOTION S4M-06732: Neil Findlay, Lothian, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 23/05/2013

Wishing Anti-blacklisting Campaigner George Tapp a Speedy Recovery.

'That the Parliament is both shocked and appalled by the news that the anti-blacklisting campaigner, George Tapp, was allegedly run-over deliberately during a demonstration against blacklisting outside a Manchester building site; notes George’s lifelong work in labour and trade union movement and wishes him a speedy recovery; hopes that he can fulfil his commitment to see justice delivered for blacklisted construction workers, and looks forward to the perpetrator of the alleged hit-and-run incident being brought to justice.'

Supported by: Drew Smith, John Finnie, Jackie Baillie, Mary Fee, Patricia Ferguson, Richard Lyle, Elaine Smith, Hugh Henry, Margaret McDougall, Jean Urquhart

Get well soon cards to:
George Tapp
Ward B4
Salford Royal Hospital,
Stott Lane,
M6 8HD

Friday, 24 May 2013

Post Office strike Tuesday

 A fifth round of strike action will be taken by Crown post office workers on Tuesday 28th May as the dispute over jobs, closures and pay continues. Talks held in the past week have made no progress on the major issues leaving CWU with little option other than to serve notice for more strike action. 

CWU managed to secure an outstanding £100 payment for staff at a meeting last week, but no progress was made on the bigger issues of pay and the Post Office’s plans to close or franchise 76 Crown offices affecting over 800 jobs. 

Dave Ward, CWU deputy general secretary, said; “There’s growing unrest within the Post Office and it’s time that management responded to workers’ concerns. There is massive public opposition to the closure and franchise plans and Post Office management have had to admit that their figures on our pay claim were wrong. They cannot continue to plough blindly ahead with deeply unpopular and unnecessary plans.

'We’re really pleased that we managed to secure £100 for each of our members at last week’s meeting, but the big issues of pay, closures, franchising and jobs remain unresolved. We have been given little choice than to press ahead with a further full day of strike action.  The support for strike action has increased with every day we’ve taken and we’re grateful for the fantastic support from customers, politicians and local communities also. We’re fighting to protect post office jobs and services which are clearly valued. We still believe a common way forward can be found, but it needs Post Office management to focus on a joint resolution, rather than sticking blindly to their flawed plans and throwing money at sending managers out to cover strike days.'

Strike action will take place all day on Tuesday May 28 and will affect up to 4,000 staff working in 373 Crown (main) post offices. Post Office staff voted by nine to one (88%) in favour of strike action and have already taken strike action on Easter Saturday , April 19, April 29 and May 7.

This full day of strike action is over closures and franchising which would cut 20% of the Crown network and affect over 800 jobs, and also outstanding pay issues. Management have not yet changed their position, despite their financial arguments on pay being proved wrong with their calculations out by more than £6 million. The closure and franchising plans are meeting stiff opposition across the country with tens of thousands signing petitions, and public meetings rejecting the plans.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

George Tapp: 'Man questioned under caution'

A spokesman for the Greater Manchester Police told Northern Voices last night, that a man had been questioned under caution about the incident outside a building site near the Manchester City Etihad Stadium on Wednesday the 15th, May, involving a vehicle in which the veteran trade unionist, George Tapp,  received injuries from which he is still recovering.  The police said that their investigation into the case, which followed a demonstration by dozens of workers from the Unite union against blacklisting in the British building trade, was still 'on going'

The demo, part of a nationwide action called by the Blacklist Support Group and others in the campaign against the British blacklist, took place outside a building site operated by construction firm BAM which is alleged to have been affiliated to the Consulting Association (a body closed by the Information Commissioner's Office) in the now notorious blacklisting scandal that afflicts the UK construction industry.  According to the Manchester Evening News, last Friday, it was claimed by police that 'CCTV shows campaigners climbed on the bonnet of a car'.  But some of the campaigners present have disputed the police version of events.

A report in the Morning Star claims:
'The driver of a car which rammed anti-blacklist demonstrators in Manchester was laughing as he accelerated through them.  George Tapp, a 64-year-old electrician whose legs were broken as the car struck him, told from his hospital bed of how he clung to the car's windscreen wipers as he was carried for over 100 yards on the vehicle's bonnet - and that the driver, still laughing, switched the wipers on to dislodge him.'

George Tapp was then thrown off the bonnet, injuring his head on the kerb.  Mr. Tapp is a former Labour councillor from Salford who now has both his legs are plastered to the hip, and he is awaiting reconstructive surgery on his knees.  It is believed that no charges have yet been brought against the driver, but police are still taking witness statements. 

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

The Art of Stanley Spencer.

ONE of the better things to have been shown on TV recently, was the BBC Four programme, 'British Masters' introduced by the art historian James Fox.

Just before and after the First World War, a radical generation of painters determined to eject Victorian sentimentality and nostalgia from their art and pioneered a new style of painting that would capture and make sense of the modern experience.

Drawing upon the work of Paul Nash, Graham Sutherland, Francis Bacon, Stanley Spencer, Walter Sickert, Wyndham Lewis and others, Fox explores why, during the 20th century, British painters were often dismissed for being old-fashioned. He reveals how these artists carefully reconciled tradition and modernity, providing a unique creative tension that now makes the period seem so exciting.

Fox argues that British painting from 1910 to 1975 was an extraordinary flowering of genius that ranked alongside the Golden Ages of Renaissance Italy and Impressionist France.

"Walter Sickert shocked the public by making the low-lives of Camden Town and a brutal murder the subject of his gaze. Wyndham Lewis and David Bomberg broke with centuries of realist tradition, reducing humanity to cold geometric forms. But as the country descended into war, three painters - Christopher Nevinson, Paul Nash and Stanley Spencer - reconciled what was best of the avant-garde with Britain's rich painterly tradition to create powerful images of war that would speak to us all."

For me, what was of great interest, was the art of Stanley Spencer and in particular, his murals at Sandham Memorial Chapel. Watch the video and see for yourself.

Manchester Peoples Assembly- A Stage Managed Spectacle.

LAST night a packed Central Methodist Hall Manchester was subjected to a centrally controlled politi cal rally and manifestly failed to live up to its billing as a Peoples Assembly.    It was completely regimented by an authoritarian chair on a raised platform and sttod in stark contrast to all the popular assemblies organised by Occupy Manchester.    The so  called open mike was little more than a charade with some speakers cut short by the chair and others not given an oppurtunity to speak.    The Assembly was esssentially an anti-Tory rally in which 2 warm up speakers preceded the  celebrity turns Mark Steel, the comedian and Owen Jones, author and Labour Party Member.    Marks performance was a typical comedic rant which went down well but was short on any real analysis and alternatve vision.    Jones on the other hand played the straight man and delivered a script which would not have been out of place at a Labour Party Conference.    A plethora of Tory bashing but bereft of any critique of Miliband's Labour policies and in my view a disappointing speech.    What was lacking throughout the night was a virtual complete absence of any internationalist perspective and an obsession with national politics.    This failure to recognise the significance of the global and transnational nature of capitalism was glaringly obvious.   All an all a missed oportunity to build a genuine alternative to austerity and global capital.    But what else could one expect from such a gathering in which Counterfire the Trotskyist split from the Socialist Workers Party seemed to have a preponderant influence with their popular front policies of building alliances with the Labour left. 

George Tapp's Campaign Against the Blacklist

LAST night, Northern Voices was told by a spokeswoman at the Manchester Royal Infirmary (MRI) that George Tapp, who was injured last Wednesday during a demo against a company 'BAM' believed to be involved in the blacklisting of construction workers in this country,  is about to be moved from the Emergency Trauma Unit at the MRI to the Salford Royal Hospital (the old Hope Hospital).  We were told that Mr. Tapp is now stable, but an officer in the Greater Manchester County Association of Trade Union Councils (TUCs) said that 'George (aged 64) will never work again'.

George Tapp, is a member of the Greater Manchester Construction Branch of Unite (EPIU NW 1400/7 branch), and was present at the last branch meeting when I attended on the 13th, May.  George was instrumental in getting a motion condemning local authorities and other public bodies, such as Tameside MBC, that are still awarding contracts to companies that were affiliated to the now defunct Consulting Association.  This motion was formerly moved at the conference of the North West TUC held in March, and George told me after the conference that he was disgusted that the motion which had been produced by the Manchester electrician's branch of Unite for the Greater Manchester Assoc. of TUCs, had not been discussed by the delegates at the conference.  His view he told the branch was that this emergency motion ought to have been fully discussed after the actor, Ricky Tomlinson, had spoken to the conference on the issue of the Shrewsbury pickets:  Ricky Tomlinson had addressed the North West TUC conference to call for justice for the Shrewsbury 24, who had been arrested in 1972 during a building workers strike and put through a conspiracy trial at Shrewsbury.

Sources close to the North West TUC suggested at the time that there was some opposition within the trade union movement to moves to expose the blacklist, and to the attempt to get local councils to avoid awarding contracts to building companies that had affiliated to the blacklisting body the Consulting Association.  This would embarrass some Labour Councils such as Tameside MBC, led by Kieran Quinn and the Labour Party, that have blatantly given contracts to Carillion a company known to have had membership.  There
has also been allegations that some union officials have been implicated in the blacklisting of union members.

Unite Activist George Tapp

YOU may have heard of the incident involving UNITE activists at a demonstration in Manchester which lead to George being seriously injured. Details of the incident can be found here:
The Morning Star will include a full account of the incident, including an interview with George this Thursday, and I would encourage you to make sure that all reps and activists are made aware of this . George is in hospital in Manchester, and is unlikely to be able to work again due to the severity of his injuries.

George’s union UNITE are ensuring that George is given every support , and Mick Whitley , Regional secretary of UNITE is dealing directly with George’s case, as are UNITE solicitors.

Salford Trades Council have established an appeal fund for George, and donations and messages of support should be sent to Salford TUC George Tapp Appeal, 84 Liverpool Road , Eccles, Salford M30 0WZ.

Please make branches , activists and reps aware of this.

Report from Kara Stevens of UNITE the Union.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Government told to reveal names of workfare exploiters!

The following report which we are publishing in full, has been taken from the website 'Boycott Workfare'.

"Some great news: The government has lost its appeal and must reveal the organisations that have used Mandatory Work Activity, Work Experience, and Work Programme placements. That means we’re going to be able to show those organisations what we think of them profiting from free labour!

The evidence the government submitted reveals what a huge impact your actions have had. They argued:

“The activities of campaign groups and the results of negative publicity meant that… “a great many placement organisations” had ceased to offer placements. That in turn reduced the numbers of opportunities available across both programmes with a loss of many placements and prospective new placements being at risk.” (Point 109)

This adds to the evidence that emerged earlier in the week that numbers of people on “Government employment schemes” (read ‘workfare’) have dropped by 16,000 this quarter. We also heard that Seetec were complaining at an industry conference last week how difficult it is to find placements nowadays because employers are worried about protest. The DWP’s appeal revealed that one subcontractor has complained about a loss of 100 placements per week in its area alone (point 93).

That is your actions – whether building pressure online, spreading the word, withholding donations, boycotting shops, joining a picket or staging an occupation – helping push back forced unpaid work in the UK.

The government feared that “Put simply, disclosure [of names] would have been likely to have led to the collapse of the MWA [Mandatory Work Activity] scheme”. Let’s do our best to make sure it does! Keep your eyes peeled for the release of the names and get ready to step up the pressure on those profiting from forced labour.

Special congratulations go to Frank Zola for pursuing this to the Information Tribunal. The full decision can be enjoyed here. (Of particular note are points 28, 29, 67, 70-75, 93, 94, 96, 99, 100, 103, 109, 127, 133, 176, 196)

Since the Salvation Army gets a special mention from the DWP for ‘holding the line’ (point 196), you may like to take this opportunity to remind them why this position is just so inconsistent with their Christian values. The Salvation Army UK can be contacted on facebook, by phone (020 7367 4500), by email ( More background on their involvement and contact details can be found here, or you can tweet at them:"

Yesterday the Guardian reported that the Department for Work and Pensions, were considering an appeal to the high court or deploying a ministerial veto to ban publication. This is not surprising given the government's track record.

When the Jobseeker's Allowance Regulations 2011, were quashed by three Appeal Court judges in February, for being unlawful, the government simply changed the regulations and applied them retrospectively, so that people who had been unlawfully sanctioned, could not claim the money back. Ali Baba and his forty thieves, have got nothing on these bastards.

Orwell Prize for breaking Rotherham Grooming Scandal

LAST week, Andrew Norfolk in The Times journalist instrumental in breaking the Rotherham grooming scandal won the Orwell Prize for journalism jointly with Tom Bergin of Reuters press agency. He recently won the Paul Foot Award for investigative journalism.
His submitted articles:
Police files reveal vast child protection scandal

Care home children sent North to save cash

A nations shame: hundreds of girls sexually abused by networks of men.

‘Asians pick me up. They get me drunk, they give me drugs and have sex with me. I want to move’.

Children’s homes ‘powerless’ to protect the vulnerable from predatory sex gangs.

Sir Cyril Smith's & his victims at Knowl View

DESPITE last week's suggestions by the police that they had 'only ever had one complaint to the Greater Manchester Police' about the late Sir Cyril Smith and his abuse of boys, the police are now saying that ten people are being investigated over historical allegations of sexual abuse at Knowl View, a residential school in Rochdale, where it is claimed Cyril Smith abused lads.  Today's Manchester Evening News, says:  'Three complaints of physical and sexual abuse of pupils at a school linked to the late Sir Cyril Smith are now being investigated by police.'

Detective Inspector Caroline Ward has said:
'Following the publicity surrounding Sir Cyril Smith last year, a small number of people came forward to report physical and sexual abuse which occurred at Knowl View from the 1970s onwards....  The allegations we have received are building up a picture of the regime that was in place at Knowl View at that time, and I would encourage anyone who was a victim of either sexual or physical abuse to come forward and speak to the police as the more evidence we have the better the chances of bringing abusers to justice.'

Knowl View was residential school, for pupils with behavioural difficulties, and was shut down in 1994 after a dossier detailing abuse was handed to the police.  These files do not name Smith specifically, but a whistleblower and former head of care at Knowl View, Martin Digan, has said that he believed Sir Cyril was among those abusing the lads at the home.  The Manchester Evening News has recently claimed that the files show that at least a quarter of the 48 lads at the school had been victims of horrific sexual abuse - including lads as young as eight.

The Rochdale MP, Simon Danczuk has said:
'I am pleased that the police are putting more effort into investigating these horrific crimes.  I wrote to Sir Peter Fahy, the chief constable, some months ago urging him to look at this case.  There are not many crimes worse than taking away a child's childhood...  There is no doubt about it.  There was organised abuse at Knowl View.  It should have been investigated.  Some people raised concerns about it many years ago and for whatever reason, no action was taken.'

It seems that a week is a long time in the realm of police investigations into sexual abuse.


1pm Saturday 1st, June – College Green

BADACA Open Meeting – Tuesday 28th May – 7.30pm – Tony Benn House

Bedroom Tax campaign
BADACA have called a second Bristol Bedroom Tax protest for 1pm College Green on Saturday 1st June. Axe the Tax! No Evictions!

Tragically, last week saw the first suicide directly attributed to the Bedroom Tax – more here.

Ujima Radio had a discussion on the Bedroom Tax recently. (FF to 31:00)

Leafleting for the 1st June protest will be taking place in Southmead this Saturday.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Europhobia to the left and the right

IN the Morning Star earlier this month, Robert Griffiths, the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Britain wrote an article calling for 'A people's policy for Europe':  in it he argued that '(the basic treaties and structures of the EU (European Union) cannot be reformed as part of a strategy for a progressive or socialist Europe - and it is fundamentally deluded or dishonest to pretend otherwise.'  In it he dismissed the 'Tories, Ukip, the EU, the US and Nato', and argued that the 'British, Scottish and Welsh governments should take back powers to intervene in the economy in the interests of working people.'

This policy would seem to be the latest version of what used to be called 'The British Road to Socialism'.  Mr. Griffiths is concern that the labour movement is adopting an aloofness and allowing the Tories and Ukip to dominate the Europe debate:  'the Labour Party continues to flounder on the touchline, too timid to don its own jersey and join the fray.'  A similar approach against Europe is taken by the Socialist Party, Bob Crow and the TUSC (Trade Union Socialist Coalition), a party that rarely gets many votes when it fields candidates.

Writing his essay 'Toward European Unity' in the July-August edition of Partisan Review, George Orwell wrote:  'A socialist today is in the position of a doctor treating an all but hopeless case.'  Judging by the situation that presents itself today the prospects are no better, and may be worse, for democratic socialism than they were in 1947. 

In 1947, Orwell wrote: 
'Only in those countries (such as those in western Europe) are there still large numbers of people to whom the word "Socialism" has some appeal and for whom it is bound up with liberty, equality, and internationalism.' 

'Elsewhere,' Orwell argued, 'it either has no foothold or it means something different' and 'in North America the masses are content with capitalism... in the U.S.S.R. there prevails a sort of oligarchical collectivism which could only develop into democratic Socialism against the will of the ruling minority... the Asiatic nationalist movements are either Fascist in character, or look towards Moscow, or manage to combine both attitudes:  at present all movements among the coloured peoples (sic) are tinged by racial mysticism... in most of South America the position is essentially similar...'

Curiously, Robert Griffiths, the Communist Party of Britain, Bob Crow, the Trade Union Socialist Coalition, and much of the British left beyond the Labour Party, are essentially psychologically similar to Ukip and the Euro-sceptic wing of the Conservative Party:  that is they are basically little-Englanders with archaic attitudes that hark back to a time in the 20th century when either the Soviet Union or the Empire was alive and kicking. 

Moreover Orwell, in his essay on 'Toward European Unity', wrote:
'Of course, Socialism cannot properly be said to be established until it is world-wide, but the process must begin somewhere, and I cannot imagine it beginning except through the federation of the western European states, transformed into Socialist republics without colonial dependencies... a Socialist United States of Europe seems to me the only worth-while political objective today... such a federation would contain about 250 million people, including perhaps half the skilled industrial workers of the world.'

Dealing with the difficulties of bring this European ideal about Orwell wrote:
'The greatest difficulty of all is the apathy and conservatism of people everywhere, their unawareness of danger, their inability to imagine anything new - in general, as Bertrand Russell put it recently, the unwillingness of the human race to acquiesce in its own survival.' 

Quite what Mr. Griffiths, and the Communist Party of Britain, hope to achieve is not clear; to be fair he urges the labour movement to campaign for the policies in the People's Charter but not many people in this country would know what that was all about:  more public ownership or what used to be called nationalisation no doubt.  The fact is that outside of Europe this country would very likely become even more dependent on the USA and its economic ideas.  Historically of course the old Communist Party was hostile to Europe because they wanted as Orwell put it to get the peoples of Europe to 'continue to believe in the Russian myth'.  Orwell, for his part, insisted that 'Britain can only get free of America by dropping the attempt to be an extra-European power.' 

At the moment many people in this country blame immigrants and Europe for all their present difficulties, in the same way in the 1930s German families may have blamed the jews.  To sustain a realistic radical tradition of progressive politics that is at the same time part of a liberal culture, it seems to me now, as it did to Orwell in the 1940s, that the best bet is to stick with Europe.

George Tapp update and other blacklisting news

GEORGE Tapp is currently still in Manchester Royal Infirmary in the Medical Emergency Trauma Unit, having undergone reconstructive surgery on two broken legs and multiple fractures after being hit by a car that drove through the blacklist protest dragging him 100 yards along the road in Manchester on Wednesday evening. Steve, Kevin and Jason among others have been with George and say he is is good spirits and sends a message that we should carry on our fight til we win.

The Blacklist Support Group wish George a speedy recovery.

some press:

2. Blacklist - Chris Tymkow
a folk song about the blacklist scandal with a youtube video about the campaign - are you in the video?
Please share and post, blog etc.

3. There were a number of blacklist protests this week including Vince Cable at BIS, Manchester, Portsmouth, Hendon, Norwich, Waltham Forest, Hendersons Global Investments in the City, Big Lottery in Birmigham, Standard Life in Edinburgh, Guardian Awards, Homes for Scotland Awards and Heineken Cup Final in Dublin. Some were more successful than others; some were very polite affairs, others involved large scale civil disobedience but collectively they are having an impact.

some press:
Next week

*Tuesday 21st May 9am - London*
Frank Morris v Crossrail Employment Tribunal

Kingsway Employment Tribunal,

*Saturday 25th May 11am - Glasgow *

March and Rally against Blacklisting,
Holland Street,

Friday, 17 May 2013

Manchester Police Warn Child Sex Suspects

WITHIN days of worries being expressed by Simon Danczuk, MP for Rochdale, about the delays in Rochdale town council publishing a report into child sex abuse, and disputed concerns on a website about the investigations of Greater Manchester Police (GMP) into the former Rochdale MP, Cyril Smith; the Greater Manchester Assistant Chief Constable Steve Heywood this week gave a warning to child sex abusers at a conference in Middleton to mark the first anniversary of the jailing of a Rochdale grooming ring.  Last May, nine Asian men got jail sentences of between four and 19 years for offences against five girls, aged between 13 and 15, during 2008 and 2009 in the Rochdale area.

The Greater Manchester Police Assistant Chief Constable Heywood, said:
'Our number one priority at the moment is CSE (child sex exploitation).  It is now ahead of gun crime.  Expect a lot more convictions.  I have got more detectives working on CSE than I have on gun crime.' 

A report of the conference in tomorrow's Rochdale Observer states:
'Police are now working to construct cases against other potential offenders in the town (Rochdale) going back to 2003...  We are dealing with an avalance of child sex cases'

Recently local social workers, the police and the Crown Prosecution Services have all been criticised as a consequence of both last year's horrific case of sexual grooming, and the earlier historic cases relating to the former powerful politician Sir Cyril Smith, for not treating the allegations of victims sufficiently seriously. 

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Latest on last night's attack on George Tapp

GEORGE Tapp, (pictured) a member of Unite the Union, and veteran anti-blacklist campaigner, has been hospitalized after being deliberately knocked down by a car as he took part in a protest against blacklisting at Manchester City football ground last night. The 64-year-old sustained two broken legs and a fractured knee cap, and is now recovering at MRI hospital in Manchester. 

Witnesses say the car drove deliberately and at speed into a crowd of protesters who were leafletting at the BAM construction site. BAM paid £38,371.85 to the Consulting Agency, a firm that ran anti-union blacklists, between 1996 and 2009. Unite General Secretary Len McCluskey said: 'blacklisting ruins lives and we believe it is continuing today on Crossrail because of contractors like BAM.'
Dave Smith, Secretary of the Blacklist Support Group, said: 
'George is a blacklist hero who has been campaigning with Steve Acheson for many years. He recently attended the Blacklist Support Group AGM and led a delegation of blacklisted workers who encouraged the Mayor of Salford to ban blacklisting firms from publicly funded contracts. We wish him a speedy recovery.'

Messages of support should be sent to George via 07949 335 390.

Blacklist Campaign latest:

Friday 17th May - London: 
Demonstrate to Vince Cable blacklisting still exists


Business Innovation & Skills,
1 Victoria Street, (next to parliament square)

Saturday 18th May - Liverpool

Construction National rank n file meeting
12noon - 4pm

The Casa Bar, Hope Street, Liverpool,
All building workers welcome

Tuesday 21st May - London

Frank Morris v Crossrail & BFK Employment Tribunal
9am demo - court case all day

Central London Employment Tribunal,
Saturday 25th May - Glasgow

March & Rally - No Public Contracts for Blacklisters
Holland Street,
Please get along to this event and share as widely as possible.

THE BIRTHDAY PARTY at Royal Exchange

By Harold Pinter
Directed by Blanche McIntyre

Designed by Dick Bird
The Royal Exchange Theatre

St Ann’s Square, Manchester

Wednesday 5 June – Saturday 6 July

Press Night: Monday 10 June at 7.30pm

Classic Harold Pinter play THE BIRTHDAY PARTY continues the current season at Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre from Wednesday 5 June to Saturday 6 July.

A surreal celebration where nothing is certain, the drama centres on Stanley Webber. He is possibly a pianist. He is lodging at Meg and Petey Boles’ seedy boarding house in an English Seaside town – which is possibly on the South Coast.

It is also possibly Stanley’s birthday, although he’s adamant it’s not. When two sinister strangers, Goldberg and McCann, arrive to stay and demand a celebration, his birthday party turns into a nightmare. 
THE BIRTHDAY PARTY is Nobel Prize winner Pinter’s first produced full length play that went on to become one of his best-known and most popular.

This powerful, absurd and unsettling story is directed by Blanche McIntyre (winner of the Critics Circle Most Promising Newcomer 2011 for the critically acclaimed ACCOLADE and FOXFINDER).

The cast includes Maggie Steed as Meg. She is best known on television for PIE IN THE SKY, SHINE ON HARVEY MOON, BORN AND BRED and JAM AND JERUSALEM. Film work includes Terry Gilliam's THE IMAGINARIUM OF DR PARNASSUS with Heath Ledger (she was working on the film when he died) and her extensive theatre credits include the Broadway production of Alan Bennett's THE HISTORY BOYS.
Ed Gaughan plays Stanley in this new production. He was last seen at the Royal Exchange in the Lyric Hammersmith and Filter Theatre’s critically-acclaimed version of A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM.

Also appearing are Desmond Barrit as Goldberg; Keith Dunphy as McCann; Paul McCleary as Petey and Danusia Samai as Lulu.  The creative team is completed by Dick Bird (design), Malcolm Rippeth (lighting) and Gregory Clarke (sound).
The PRESS NIGHT for THE BIRTHDAY PARTY is on Monday 10 June 2013 at 7.30pm.

For further information, images, or for interview / press review ticket requests, please contact JOHN GOODFELLOW (Press & Communications Manager) on 0161 615 6783 /
Production photos for THE BIRTHDAY PARTY will be available for download from the Royal Exchange Theatre Online Press Office from Friday 7 June 2013 at

More information available about this production at 

THE BIRTHDAY PARTY - Listings Information
The Royal Exchange Theatre
Evening Performance Times: Monday – Friday, 7.30pm (except Tuesday 18 June, no evening performance), Saturday, 8pm

Matinee Performance Times: Wednesday, 2.30pm, Saturday, 3.30pm. Extra matinee performance on

Tuesday 18 June, 2.30pm

Press Night: Monday 10 June, 7.30pm

Half Price Previews: Wednesday 5, Thursday 6 & Friday 7 June

Ticket Prices: £10.00 – £35.00 (Concessions Available)

Happy Mondays: Tickets £5.00 for 25-year-olds and under, Mondays Only

Audio-described Performance: Saturday 29 June, 3.30pm

BSL Interpreted Performance: Friday 5 July, 7.30pm

Captioned Performance: Thursday 27 June, 7.30pm

Backstage tours: Wednesday 12 June, 11am (this tour is BSL interpreted)

After-show Discussion: Thursday 20 June after 7.30pm performance

Box Office: 0161 833 9833.


Blacklist Campaign Veteran Knocked Down at Manchester City Ground

LAST night, 64-year-old UNITE member, and leading blacklist campaigner, George Tapp (who recently moved a motion supporting Northern Voices), is in Manchester Royal Infirmary hospital last night, and has been reported to have broken both his legs and to have a fractured knee cap after a car drove through a crowd of protesters at full speed outside Manchester City FC.

George was at the Blacklist Support Group AGM and alongside Steve Acheson negotiated a blacklist ban at Salford Council last month. Two other blacklisted workers protesting against blacklisting company 'Bam' were reported to have also been hit by the 'hit and run' driver but they only suffered minor injuries.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Film Night - Manchester and Saint Petersburg Friendship Society.

The Manchester and Petersburg Friendship Society have organised a showing of the classic film 'Ivan the Terrible' (part 1 1943), which will be shown at the Cheadle Hulme Methodist Church, Ramillies Ave, Cheadle Hulme, on Saturday 1st June 2013, at 6.30 pm.

As well as the film, there will be musical entertainment by the Kalina Balalaika Ensemble and Russian refreshments. An introduction to the film and disucussion afterwards, will lead by historian Catherine Danks.

Tickets (£6) can be obtained from the church (0161 485 1605), or reserved through

The evenings entertainment is in aid of the 'Silver Strings Project', who are sending the Kalinka Youth Balalaika Orchestra on a study trip to St. Petersburg.

The Bedroom Tax & 'Austerity Kills'

SINCE the suicide of the English lady in Solihull concerned about her 'bedroom tax', reported by Blanco on this Blog last Sunday, David Stucker and Sanjay Basu have written an article in the Global Edition of the New York Times (yesterday) entitled 'How austerity kills'.  It seems that early last month a triple suicide was reported in the seaside town of Civitanova Marche in Italy, where a married couple, Anna Sopranzi aged 68, and Romero Dionisi aged 62, had been struggling to live of her monthly pension of 500 euros (£590), and had fallen behind with their rent.  Their problem was that the Italian government had suddenly raised the retirement age and MR. Dionisi, a former building workers had become one of Italy's esodati (exiled ones) - older workers plunged into poverty without a safety net.  On the 5th, April, he and his wife left a note on a neighbour's car asking for forgiveness, then hanged themselves in a storage closet at home.  Then when Ms. Sopranzi's brother, Giuseppe Sopranzi, aged 73, heard the news, he drowned himself in the Adriatic.

 Mr Stuckler and Mr. Basu claim:
'The correlation between unemployment and suicide has been observed since the 19th century.  People looking for work are about twice as likely to end their lives as those who have jobs.'

They maintain that this is not just a story of suicides being an 'unavoidable consequence of economic downturns', but that in 'countries that slashed health and social protection budgets, like Greece, Italy and Spain, have seen starkly worse health outcomes than nations like Germany, Iceland and Sweden, which maintained their social safety nets and opted for stimulus over austerity.  Mr Stucker and Basu note:  'Germany preaches the virtues of austerity - for others'.

Stucker and Basu argue:
'What we have found is that austerity - severe, immediate, indiscriminate cuts to social and health spending - is not only self-defeating, but fatal.'

If Stucker (senior researcher in sociology at Oxford) and Basu (an assistant professor of medicine at Stanford) are right, then this may raise problems for anarchists, like Chris Draper, who insist that to be consistent the anarchist movement must detach itself from the andencies of the state through a program of cuts in state spending.  Chris Draper opened up a valueable debate for anarchists which must be confronted if an alternative vision for society is to be presented.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Sexual Grooming: Yesterday & Today

Man Abused by Cyril Smith says Manchester police 'have let the victims down'
JUST as tomorrow's Rochdale Observer carries a front-page story on the recent scandal of the 'nine men [who] were jailed for rape and sexual abuse of a number of vulnerable young girls in a horrific case which shocked the nation', a report on the Exaro website yesterday suggesting that the Greater Manchester Police (GMP) were winding down their investigation into Cyril Smith historic crimes has now been vigorously challenged by Chief Superintendent Mary Doyle of the GMP as 'misleading and inaccurate'

Last week, on behalf of Northern Voices, I asked Stefan Jarmolowicz of the Greater Manchester Police Press Office as to what progress the police had made with regard to their investigations into the allegations against Cyril Smith and he told me that they 'had only ever had one complaint to the Greater Manchester Police'

And yet, DCS Doyle on behalf of GMP, said yesterday: 
'To say that we have abandoned our investigation into allegations concerning the late Sir Cyril Smith is misleading and inaccurate'
and that
'From the outset, we have always stressed that if anybody wished to come forward and make a complaint, GMP would record this to recognise the abuse that victim has suffered.  We have publicly said just how important it is for victims that any such abuse is recognised because as Sir Cyril Smith is deceased, no criminal prosecution can be brought against him.  Since last year, we have only had a very small number of people come forward to report any abuse by Sir Cyril Smith, and we have had no new reports since then.  We are still actively investigating the incidents reported to us.'  

All of this contrasts somewhat with the tenor of the statements put out by the GMP Press Department last week about their investigation into the Cyril Smith scandal, and someone in that department giving his name as 'Mark' told me:
'I think from what I know we're not looking into it'
and when I asked Mark if the GMP had looked into the allegations of Eddie Shorrock made in relation to Smith when he went on TV last November, Mark even suggested: 
'If this guy went on TV we might not have seen it.' 

Mr Ronald Alan Neal, now a baker from Whitworth, who has made statements to GMP and who was abused by Smith at Cambridge House in the 1960s, has told me today that he has made precise complaints to the police that raise concerns about the way this investigation has been conducted into Smith's activities.  Mr Neal has also questioned the conduct of the police in relation to Smith in the 1960s.  When I spoke to Ronald Alan Neal today and asked him how he felt about how the police had handled his case he told me:
'The Greater Manchester Police have been less than helpful, and once again they have let the victims down.'
But Mr Neal was anxious to praise both the Lancashire police and Tony Lloyd's Police & Crime Commissioner's Office: 
'The Lancashire police have less of a budget than the Greater Manchester Police, but they have done far more'
'Tony Lloyd's Office have been far more helpful than the GMP'

As the Savile case is now being pursued with a passion it is strange to encounter so much apparent passivity by the Greater Manchester force over the issues surrounding the now disgraced former Rochdale politician, Sir Cyril Smith.

Iberia, the CGT & Unite: Fighting Redundancies

THREE years ago members of the Spanish ('anarcho-syndicalist') CGT trade union at Iberia in Madrid contacted Northern Voices, and through us got the Bury branch secretary of Unite to fix up a meeting with the regional officers of Unite at their office at Salford Quays and with the Unite union's representatives at Manchester Airport.  At that time the CGT (General Confederation of Labour) and its members were concerned about the consequences of the then forthcoming merger between British Airways and Iberia:  the desire was to exchange information over wages and conditions etc. in the hope of co-operation between labour in both countries.  In the end two representatives of the CGT from Madrid came over and held talks with representatives of Unite the Union, and later representatives from Manchester went to Spain.

Recently the secretary of Bury Unite Branch was contacted by Carlos Figueroa from the Spanish CGT asking for information regarding any developments or signs of activity with regard to British Airways because the situation for the workers at Iberia had deteriorated somewhat of late.  Last Saturday, the Financial Times reported that 'International Airlines Group's [IAG] pre-tax loss widened to 670 million euros in the first quarter, as more restructuring costs were revealed yesterday (last Friday) at Iberia, its Spanish unit'.  IAG was formed in 2011 from the merger of British Airways and Iberia: it is now reporting 'operating losses at both its subsidiaries', and the group's results fell below analysts expectations.  Yet, Willie Walsh, the group's chief executive, described IAG's first-quarter performance as 'encouraging'.

Mr. Walsh said:
'These results are encouraging, with underlying revenue strength in strategic markets' but he added 'while the first step towards restructuring Iberia has been taken, there is more work to be done.'

The Financial Times reports:
'IAG recorded 311 million euro exceptional items in the first quarter relating to the restructuring of Iberia, which had been running up losses as it struggled to compete with more nimble competitors.'

This means that the group has accepted a Spanish government mediator's proposal that Iberia cut 3,300 instead of 4,500 that the bosses had originally planned to make redundant in November.  IAG's plan to cut the workforce by 22% had run into strong opposition from the Spanish trade unions, which had launched 10 days of strikes in the first quarter of the year.  Never-the-less, Mr Walsh said that he intended to pay shareholders a dividend in the future.

Monday, 13 May 2013

Bristol Radical History Group Events

BRH Mob,
Two events you might like?
The Great Housing Rip Off
Monday 13th May 8.00pm
The Cube, Dove Street, Bristol.
Entry £3/£4 (But nobody turned away due to lack of funds)
As part of co-ordinated action by the International Workers' Association across several countries, Indymedia and Bristol Solidarity Federation are hosting an evening of film and discussion on housing matters. Using film footage from the 1930s and 1970s, the struggles of ordinary people to live in a decent, affordable and secure home will be remembered. The talks and discussions will focus on the present day, providing: an overview of current national and local housing issues; an analysis of the expanding private rented sector; an insight into the tenants movement in Bristol; and a first hand account of DIY housing in the form of a local co-operative.
Related Link:

Presented by PCN, Bristol Indymedia & Bristol Solidarity Federation (this event is not organised by Bristol Radical History Group)

A Marxist History of the World in 45 Minutes
Tuesday 21st May 7.00pm  
Hydra Bookshop, 34 Old Market St., Bristol, BS2 0EZ
with Neil Faulkner

We face the greatest crisis in the history of humanity. Economic depression, imperialist war, climate catastrophe, and grotesque social inequalities threaten to tear the world apart. What is to be done? The lesson of history is that human beings make their own history.

Launching his new book, A Marxist History of the World: from Neanderthals to Neoliberals, archaeologist and historian Neil Faulkner argues that history is open and contested. It is an active process of creation in which different futures are possible. It depends on what we do.
Powered by the interaction of technological change, wars between rulers, and class struggle from below, history is a constant struggle for control over society’s wealth. For 5,000 years, that wealth has served greed and war. Now, in the great crisis of the early 21st century, we must act to create a different future.

The meeting will include plenty of time for questions and discussion. All welcome. Join us.

Described by The Guardian as ‘enlightening and apocalyptic in equal measure’, Dr Neil Faulkner is a research fellow at Bristol University, a revolutionary socialist activist, and the author of numerous books, including Rome: Empire of the eagles (2008). He was a lead consultant and contributor to Sky Atlantic’s The British.

_______________________________________________ Brhmob mailing list 

Dates With Blacklist Campaign

Tuesday 14th May - 11am - Birmingham

Dianne Hughes - Deputy Director of Human Resources at The Big Lottery Fund - is listed as the main contact for blacklisting at Costain.
Big Lottery offices:
Apex House,
Embassy Drive,
Calthorpe Road,
B15 1TP

'You've more chance of being blacklisted than winning the Lottery'

Wed 15th May - 5.30pm - Manchester

Man City FC Academy construction project - being built by proven blacklisters Royal BAM
Ethihad campus (next to the stadium)
Man City season ticket holders are on the blacklist
Date for the diary:

Saturday 25th May - 11:30am Glasgow

Anti-Blacklist March & Rally

Holland Street

Some press from last week:

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Solihull single mother commits suicide over 'bedroom tax". She could not afford to live!

Amid all the brouhaha about Sir Alex Ferguson's retirement and Michael Gove's call for a referendum on Britain's continuing membership of the European Community, the tragic suicide of 53-year-old Stephanie Bottril from Solihull, was squeezed into a three minute slot on Sky TV.

Last Saturday, Stephanie left her home on Meriden Drive - Solihull, where she had lived for the past eighteen years - and walked to Junction 4 of the M6 motorway, where she threw herself under a lorry. Before killing herself she told neighbour's that she "simply couldn't afford to live anymore" and posted her keys and a suicide note through a neighbour's door, blaming the government's 'bedroom tax' for her death. "I don't blame anyone for me death expect (sic) the government" she wrote.

Under 'bedroom tax' rules, Stephanie was facing a welfare cut in her housing benefit because she had two spare rooms and she could not afford the extra £20 per week she was required to pay in order to retain her home. She told neighbours that she was 'tortured' about how she could afford the extra £20 per week and knew that she would have leave the home she loved, after losing a quarter of her £320-a-month housing benefit when her 23-year-old daughter, left home to live with her partner. Shortly before her death, a neighbour had taken her some barbecue food because she had not eaten for three days.

Mrs Bottril suffered from an auto-immune system deficiency condition known as Myasthenia gravis, which impacted on her ability to work but she was not receiving disability benefit. In a letter to her 27-year-old son, Steven, she said:

"Don't blame yourself for me ending my life, it is my life, the only people to blame are the government."

Although Mrs Bottril had been offered another property, she felt this was unsuitable because of poor transport links and she felt this would have isolated her from her family. Following Stephanie's death, the family issued a statement. Her son Steven told the Sunday People:

"She was fine before this bedroom tax. It was dreamt up by people living in offices and big houses. They have no idea the effect it has on people like my mum."

At a time when this verminous Tory government are taxing poor people for having so-called spare bedrooms, they have cut taxes for the rich and corporation tax for their business chums. As from April, anyone earning over £1 million-a-year will get an annual tax cut of at least £42,295.00. Yet there has been a five-fold increase in food banks since this government came into power in May 2010. The Labour MP Luciana Berger, recently told Parliament that 350,000 people had accessed emergency food aid this year in Britain.

While the government pursues its billionaires agenda of less tax for the rich, less regulation for business, less spending by the State and no cap on bankers bonuses, children are going hungry in Manchester. It is estimated that 91,000 children are living in severe poverty throughout Greater Manchester.

In the local authority area of Tameside, which according to figures published by the trade union UNISON, is one of the hardest places to find work in the North West, the registered social landlord New Charter Housing Trust Ltd, has already started to send out letters to their tenants who are in arrears with their 'bedroom tax', threatening legal action. These 'recovery proceedings' are being made in spite of comments made by New Charter boss, Ian Munro, that the tax should 'axed' and that it is both 'unfair and incompetent'. The housing boss has also stated that the housing company is in no position to rehouse many of its tenants, who are being forced to downsize. It is estimated that two-thirds of people affected by the bedroom tax nationally, are disabled.

In Solihull, the council Labour group leader, David Jamieson, said he was 'appalled' by the death of Stephanie Bottril and he urged the government to reconsider its 'bedroom tax' policy. Figures released earlier this year, show that UK suicide rates have markedly increased since the Tory government came into office. Just how many suicides it will take, before this government scraps this vile and iniquitous tax, remains to be seen.

Friday, 10 May 2013

Savile: West Yorkshire Police Clear Themselves

IN a report into themselves the West Yorkshire Police said that they found 'no evidence' that Jimmy Savile was protected from arrest or prosecution by his pally relations with the force.  However, it admitted that there had been an 'over-reliance on personal friendships' between Savile and some officers, and that 'mistakes were made' in the handling of intelligence.  Tons of allegations of abuse had come to light after his death in October 2011.

Speaking after publication of the report, Assistant Chief Constable Ingrid Lee said:
'They didn't know, the people engaged with Jimmy Savile, that actually there were these allegations against him...  There clearly was information available that we should have tied together and we did fail victims in relation to tying that evidence together and we should have done.  If he were alive today, there's absolutely no doubt that he would have had a number of questions to answer.'

The West Yorkshire Police report reveals Savile was used to front a number of the force's campaigns, including one called Talking Signs, where a recording of his voice was broadcast from lamp posts offering crime prevention advice.  The report claimed that at the time he was 'seen by most of the public as a man who did good work' and it concluded there were concerns about what it described as 'the over-reliance on personal friendships that developed between Savile and some officers over a number of years':  furthermore it stated - 'He (Savile) was able to manage his public persona in such a way that he deceived most people he met' and that 'he was a manipulative man who exploited to the worst possible degree the trust people placed in him.'

A lawyer,  Alan Collins, who is a specialist in child abuse, and who is representing 40 of Savile's victims together with a number who claim to have been violated by the former Rochdale Liberal - Democrat MP, Sir Cyril Smith who died in 2010, said today:
'It's protection by inadvertence. It's all about failing to join up the dots. There was intelligence, but that intelligence wasn't shared or used, so Savile was able to run rings around police forces.  I think if that relationship [with Savile] wasn't there, and the police officers were not blinkered in who they were dealing with because of his celebrity, then maybe the evidence that was available would have been looked at with a sharper eye.'

This report does not inspire much confidence in the ability of the West Yorkshire Police to manage their records.  In the recent past Northern Voices has had experience in a minor case of assault of certain slip-ups with regard to the storage and exchange of evidence between the police and the CPS.  The solicitor Alan Collins says 'maybe the evidence that was available would have been looked at with a sharper eye' if some of the West Yorkshire police had not been so cosy in their local relationship with Savile; this may have been so but the documentary sloppiness that has been demonstrated in the Savile case also prevailed in some of the other cases including that of Sir Cyril Smith which now seems to have slipped off the radar. 

Jerry Hicks, Unite the Union & the Awkward Squad

FROM Jerry Hicks:
 Please forward to all your contacts / Facebook / Blogs / Twitter /all other stuff. Contact me about what's happening where you are email
Tel: 07817827912 Ta Jerry.

'80,000 votes [for Jerry as Unite General Sec.] are not going away & will not be ignored'

Our 'mini tour' round the country continues a pace, to discuss how to organise and build on the magnificent 80,000 votes and continue the fight to make Unite a better union for the members. So far already taking in Birmingham, London and Plymouth.

The accute need for something better has for this has been brought home to us with a 'BANG'........................ [See attached leaflet for full explanation]. London & Eastern Regional Council at its April meeting has decided to close 100’s of branches throughout the region with effect from May 15th. There has been NO consultation in advance of this sudden move. No one has even been informed which branch they will become a member of.

A meeting about the Branch closures in London & Eastern Region has been called [by supporters of Jerry Hicks] for next Thursday 16th May 7-30pm to 9-30pm at the Friends Meeting House Rainsford Road, Chelmsford; CM1 2QL. All Unite members welcome to attend.

Don't agonise, organise!

Here on details of other Post-election meetings please try to get to one near you:
Saturday 11th May: 2-4pm, Methodist Central Buildings, Oldham Street, Manchester, M1 1JQ (near Piccadilly Gardens and station). Download a leaflet. Facebook.

Saturday 18th May: 6pm, Cambridge

Monday 20th May: 7:30pm, The Old Fighting Cocks, 48 Market Street, Oakengates, Telford, TF2 6DU

Tuesday 21st May: 6pm, function room, O'Neills, 26 Great George Street, Leeds, LS1 3DL

Wednesday 22nd May: 7:30pm, Belle Vue Club, Kedal Road, Hartlepool, TS25 1QU

Thursday 23rd May: 7pm, upstairs room, The Piper on the Square, 57 Cochrane Street, Glasgow, G1 1HL (by George Square).

The discussions at the regional meetings will be followed by a national meeting to take decisions on next steps:
London National Meeting: Saturday 25th May, 1pm, Somers Town Community Centre, 150 Ossulston Street, London NW1 1EE (nearest tubes Euston and Kings Cross). Leaflet. Facebook.

Info: I am in the process of making a number of complaints regarding abuses during the General Secretary election, as soon as there are any major developments I will let you know.

Finally [for now] some brilliant news- Unite member and Grass Roots left Chair Gerry Downing, a bus driver in London for Metroline at the Wilsden garage, has won his reinstatement following his successful appeal against his sacking today [Tuesday 30th April]. Massive congratulations to Gerry Downing and those who joined showed their solidarity support at the picket of his appeal hearing.
Keep on keeping on, Jerry.

For more information go to 

Thursday, 9 May 2013

How the NCCL lobbied for Paedophiles!

Athough many of the early novels of the English writer Evelyn Waugh, are  exquisitely funny, many people have also found them rude and in bad taste. Had he been writing today, it is doubtful whether a modern-day publisher would  have printed some of his works because of their overtly racist nature. Even in his own day, Waugh was considered a risk in certain quarters. When he offered his first novel 'Decline and Fall' to the publishers 'Duckworth', they rejected it on the grounds of 'indelicacy'. The book was eventually published in 1928, by 'Chapman and Hall' whose Managing Director,  Arthur Waugh, was the author's father.

Although in the first edition of the novel, Waugh wrote: "Please bear in mind throughout that IT IS MEANT TO BE FUNNY", anyone who has read 'Decline and Fall', would have no difficulty in recognising why some people considered this book 'indelicate' at the time of its publication. The novel is replete with such terms as 'nigger', 'chink', and makes rather unflattering remarks and observations about the Welsh. Take this, as an example:

"I think it's an insult bringing niggers here" said Mrs Clutterbuck, "It's an insult to our own women."

"Niggers are all right" said Philbrick, "where I draw the line is a Chink, nasty inhuman things. I had a pal bumped off by a Chink once. Throat cut horrible, it was, from ear to ear."

"Good gracious!" said Mrs Clutterbuck the governess. "Was that in the Boxer rising"?

"No", said Philbrick cheerfully. "Saturday night in the Edgware Road. Might have happened to any of us."

In the early novels, this sort of racism coupled with anti-Semitism, is fairly typical stuff from the pen of the author of Brideshead Revisited. But what some people find particularly objectionable about 'Decline and Fall', are the themes of 'pederasty' and 'prostitution' and the way in which, Waugh deals with these issues, throughout the novel. Although the writer, Christopher Hitchens, consider the novel " a miniature masterpiece", in an essay that he wrote on Waugh,  he said of the novel:

"I remember being quite astounded when I was first introduced to the novel at the age of twelve, by a boarding-school master who later had to be hastily taken away."

The novel tells the story of Paul Pennyfeather, a theological student and 'innocent abroad', who is sent down from Oxford for indecent behaviour, when he's found without his trousers in the quad of Scone College after being debagged by members of the 'Bollinger Club'. Disinherited by his guardian, Pennyfeather is forced to look for work as a school teacher. He's interviewed by Mr. Levy, of the Church and Gargoyle scholastic agents, who says to him:

"Sent down for indecent behaviour eh? Well, I don't think we'll say anything about that. In fact officially, mind, you haven't told me. We call that sort of thing 'Education discontinued for personal reasons'."

At Llanabba Castle school in Wales, Paul is interviewed by Dr. Fagin, who says to him: "I understand, too, that you left university rather suddenly. Now, why was that?" Paul replies: "I was sent down, Sir, for indecent behaviour." "Indeed, indeed?" replies Dr. Fagin. "Well, I shall not ask for details. I have been in the scholastic profession long enough to know that nobody enters it unless he has some good reason which he is anxious to conceal. But again to be practical Mr. Pennyfeather, I can hardly pay £120 to anyone who has been sent down for indecent behaviour. Suppose we fix your salary at £90 a year to begin with."

A character in the novel, Captain Grimes, is a one legged tutor at the school, who is also a pederast and a drunk. In his diaries, Waugh says that Grime's 'monotonously pederastic' prototype, was one William R.B. Young - 'Dick Young', a tutor who worked with Waugh. In the diaries, Waugh explains that Young had been "expelled from Wellington, sent down from Oxford and forced to resign his commission in the army. He had left four schools precipitately, three in the middle of the term through being taken in sodomy and one through his being drunk six nights in succession. And yet he goes on getting better and better jobs without difficulty."

Nowadays, people might find it quite astonishing that the subject of child sex abuse could be treated so lightly and humorously by an English novelist writing in the late 1920s or that a pederastic teacher, could move from one job after another, after being dismissed for sexual abuse. Yet social attitudes and perceptions do change over time and many people reading the novel for the first time, may not have batted an eyelid about the racism or the awful underlying themes of pederasty and prostitution. Certainly, racism was commonplace at the time and both the novelist Graham Greene and John Buchan, have been accused of anti-Semitism. Nevertheless, the physical or sexual abuse of children can never be justified no matter how long ago it took place, on the grounds of historical relativism, or that it furthers some discourse on sexual liberation.

Yet at a time when the police are conducting the Jimmy Savile inquiry and there are investigations taking place into child sex abuse in children's homes throughout the country, it may seem shocking that as recently as 1976, the National Council for Civil Liberties (NCCL), now known as Liberty, petitioned Parliament's criminal law revision committee and argued for incest to be decriminalised and that sexually explicit photographs of children, should be legal unless it could be shown that the subject had suffered harm. Harriet Harman (pictured), the then legal officer of the NCCL (and now Deputy Leader of the Labour Party), argued that it would "increase censorship".  In their petition the NCCL stated that the 'Protection of Children Bill', would lead to "damaging and absurd prosecutions" and stated:

"Childhood sexual experiences, willingly engaged in with an adult, result in no identifiable damage...The real need is a change in attitude which assumes that all cases of paedophilia result in lasting damage."

At the time the NCCL made its petition to Parliament that "caused barely a ripple", both the 'Paedophile Information Exchange'(PIE), and the 'Paedophile Action for Liberation' (PAL), were active members of the NCCL. In the 1970s, when there were campaigns around the theme of 'sexual liberation', both organisations campaigned to have 'paedophilia' (defined as a person who has a primary or exclusive sexual interest in pre-pubescent children) classified as a sexual orientation in much the same way as homosexuality is accepted today. Yet, many professionals working within the field of child protection, regard paedophilia as acquired behaviour rather than innate behaviour - something which is learned and can be unlearned. Chris Wilson, of 'Circles UK', who works with released offenders, is dismissive of the idea that paedophilia is a sexual orientation: In a Guardian article about paedophilia, which was published earlier this year, he told the newspaper:

"The roots of desire for sex with a child lie in dysfunctional psychological issues to do with power, control, anger, emotional loneliness, isolation."

Although there are considerable differences of opinion regarding clinical definitions of paedophilia or what causes it,  The 'American Psychological Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders', classifies it as "a sexual deviation, a sociopathic condition and a non-psychotic mental disorder." However, sociological studies that have looked at paedophilia, do suggest that not all paedophiles are child molesters and vice versa and that not all paedophiles, act on their impulses. Likewise, many people who do sexually abuse children are not exclusively or primarily sexually attracted to them. It is also known that the vast majority of sexual violence, is committed by people known to the victim.

Sarah Goode, who has written two major sociological studies on paedophilia, says that "1-in-5 adult men are, to some degree, capable of being sexually aroused by children." She also adds: "Even less is known about female paedophiles, thought to be responsible for maybe 5% of abuse against pre-pubescent children in the UK."