Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Cyril Smith Our Answer to Silvio Berlusconi!

Former RAP Editor, John Walker, joins NORTHERN VOICES

IN the current edition of Northern Voices (No.14) a former Editor of the Rochdale Alternative Paper (RAP), John Walker, leads with a report on 'Sir Cyril Smith: Our Role in His Downfall!' This account documents those parts of the minority media and independent press that have struggled over the years to put facts of what was really going on into the public domain. Even now it is believed that not everything has been revealed and the nature of a cover-up and those involved in it to protect Cyril Smith has yet to come out. In the end Sir Cyril Smith in his political and sexual appetites begins look like Rochdale's answer to Italy's Silvio Berlusconi.

John Walker founded RAP in the early 1970s together with his friend and colleague David Bartlet. RAP was published on Spotland Road in Rochdale for over 10 years and in the end had a print order of 7,500 copies. John later worked for the Labour Research Department in London and has occasionally written for Private Eye. He is now an author on the Northern Voices' Blog and researched the nine-pages that composes 'Cyril Smith's Spanking Memoirs' in NV14.  Interestingly, unlike some on the NV Editorial Panel, he has history of being associated with political anarchism and has rather been more main stream politically while being journalistically close to the Private Eye school.  Though there have over the years Northern Voices has had many writers who would not identify with anarchism, and a few such as Paul Arnold and Jason Addy have been on the editorial panel, they have mainly been political campaigners while John's journalistic roots in alternative reporting go back decades.

Also in NV14 there is an interview with blacklist protester George Tapp, conducted in May by Barry Woodling at the Salford Royal Infirmary, after he was injured in a road rage incident on a picket at the Manchester City ground on the 15th, May. Tameside Eye breaks with a story about the blacklist and Harold Walker, the ex-President of Ashton Trades Council and a former member of the Trotskyist Socialist Labour, who rose to become Baron Walker of Doncaster and Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons. More news from Salford, Burnley, Manchester and Tameside.

Today, as the Tate Gallery in London has an exhibition that finally gives recognition to Salford artist Laurence Stephen Lowry, Northern Voices cultural correspondent Chris Draper selects his 'Six O' the Best Northern Artists', quoting John Ruskin famous retort to Whistler:
'I have seen and heard much of Cockney impudence before now; but never expected to hear a coxcomb ask two hundred guineas for flinging a pot of paint in the public's face!'

Debbie Firth quotes from Rochdale author Trevor Hoyle's book 'Rule of Night' (1975) to begin her comment on the local Council's attempts to restore Rochdale town centre. The now disgraced Rochdale politician, Cyril Smith wrote in his autobiography 'Big Cyril' (1977)'They call Rochdale the town with the clean face and the dirty neck. The clean face is W.H. Crossland's magnificent Victorian Gothic town hall ...' and 'the dirty neck is the surrounding ring of slums now thankfully being cleared'; in last Sunday's London Observer at the culmination of her review of the book 'Modernity Britain: Opening the Box, 1957-59' Catherine Bennett wrote:
' “Though the centre of Rochdale is rather fine,” this champion of the working man (Richard Crossman) wrote on a byelection visit, “the rest of it is the usual ghastly Lancashire town, with its slummy streets running up and down the hills.” They would soon be wiped out.'

Here too in NV14 is the long awaited review of the northern historian David Goodway's book 'Anarchist Seeds Beneath the Snow: Left-Libertarian thinking and writing from William Morris to Colin Ward' by Derek Pattison considers the degraded nature of the term 'anarchist' in the English political lexicon which according to Mr. Goodway always 'attracted scorn...' in England, and yet mysteriously it still exists in society, like the seed in Ignazio Silone's original novel 'The Seed Beneath the Snow' still survives perhaps secreted (by the peasants) in the intestines of a mule were the police can't find it.  In England it is hard to be grown-up and an anarchist at the same time but Mr. Goodway points to some decent and sensible figures, like Colin Ward and William Morris, who managed to achieve this.
The current printed issue of NORTHERN VOICES No.14, is now available for sale with a review by Derek Pattison of Dave Goodway's book 'The Anarchist Seeds Beneath the Snow: from William Morris to Colin Ward', Northern Voices can be obtained as follows:

Postal subscription: £5 for the next two issues (post included). Cheques made payable to 'Northern Voices' should be sent c/o 52, Todmorden Road, Burnley, Lancashire BB10 4AH.
Tel.: 0161 793 5122.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

John Walker joins NV! No doubt he will be anxiously awaiting his first salary cheque!