Monday, 30 June 2014

DWP in court: challenged to reveal list it fears could make workfare “collapse!"

Update 13/6/14: Read about what happened at the hearing here

Media release, 11 June 2014

Tomorrow, 12 June, the Information Commissioner will challenge the DWP to reveal a list of organisations which have used Mandatory Work Activity (MWA) placements for jobseekers at an Upper Tribunal hearing

[1]. The DWP will argue that due to widespread public opposition, the controversial workfare scheme could collapse if the names are revealed [2]. If it loses the appeal, the decision could become a landmark ruling on the obligation of the DWP to reveal details of the private companies delivering government contracts [3].
It is thirty months since the original Freedom of Information request was made, and the second time that the DWP has appealed the Information Commissioner’s decision that it must reveal the names of MWA workfare placement providers [1].

Despite the government’s own evidence showing that one month MWA placements have “zero effect” on helping people into work [4], the government launched an extended six month version on 28 April, “Community Work Placements”. Like MWA, these placements rely on the participation of public and voluntary sector “host organisations” to deliver placements for “community benefit” [5].

Judgement is expected in 4-8 weeks.

Friday, 27 June 2014

Iraq & Western Intervention


A Media Lens reader quipped recently that he had discovered a solution to the climate crisis.  Simply harnessing the energy produced by Orwell turning in his grave would provide a limitless source of cheap, clean energy.  The comment was prompted by the decidedly Orwellian news that the Guardian's Jonathan Freedland had been awarded the Orwell Prize for political writing. Orwell must have been spinning like a top to have his name linked with a journalist who works so hard to sell Western 'intervention'.
 In March 1999, Freedland wrote: 
'How did the British left get so lost? How have its leading lights ended up as the voices of isolationism? How did it come to this...? Why is it the hard left - rather than the isolationist right - who have become the champions of moral indifference? For, make no mistake, that's what opposition to Nato's attempt to Clobba Slobba (as the Sun puts it) amounts to... either the West could try to halt the greatest campaign of barbarism in Europe since 1945 - or it could do nothing.' (Jonathan Freedland, 'The left needs to wake up to the real world. This war is a just one,' The Guardian, March 26, 1999)
In a 2005 article on Iraq titled, 'The war's silver lining', Freedland commented:
'Tony Blair is not gloating. He could - but he prefers to appear magnanimous in what he hopes is victory. In our Guardian interview yesterday, he was handed a perfect opportunity to crow. He was talking about what he called 'the ripple of change' now spreading through the Middle East, the slow, but noticeable movement towards democracy in a region where that commodity has long been in short supply. I asked him whether the stone in the water that had caused this ripple was the regime change in Iraq.
'He could have said yes...'
On March 22, 2011, with Nato bombing underway in Libya, Freedland focused on how 'in a global, interdependent world we have a "responsibility to protect" each other'. The article was titled:
'Though the risks are very real, the case for intervention remains strong - Not to respond to Gaddafi's chilling threats would leave us morally culpable, but action in Libya is fraught with danger.'
Ignoring the resultant chaos, Freedland wheeled out the same arguments in response to the Syrian crisis in 2012:
'The 2003 invasion of Iraq has tainted for a generation the idea once known as "liberal interventionism".... We have new problems now. Fail to see that and we make the people of Homs pay the price for the mistake we made in Baghdad.'
Despite this continuous warmongering, Freedland is deemed a sober, restrained commentator by his corporate peers. Ostensibly at the opposite end of the media 'spectrum' from the Guardian, David Aaronovitch of The Times responded to Freedland's winning of the Orwell Prize: 'Congratulations, J. My favourite award!'
Aaronovitch featured in many of our early alerts after we started Media Lens in July 2001. Like Freedland, he is a militant advocate for Western 'intervention', including the 'Clobba Slobba' war, famously declaring his willingness to join the fight himself (Aaronovitch, 'My country needs me,' The Independent, April 6, 1999). Aaronovitch also supported the case for Western attacks on Iraq, Libya and Syria. This month, he once again called on 'us' to bomb Iraq:
'We must do everything short of putting boots on the ground to help the Kurds to defend themselves against Isis and similar groups.' (Aaronovitch, 'Forget the past. Iraqi Kurds need our help now; The 2003 invasion is irrelevant to what is happening in Mosul now. What matters is preventing the advance of Isis,' The Times, June 12, 2014)
Despite their enthusiasm for 'intervention', neither Freedland nor Aaronovitch has ever proposed bombing Israel for its enormous crimes against the captive Palestinian population - a fine example of Orwellian 'doublethink'. Freedland merely shakes his head sadly and asks if Israelis and Palestinians will be 'locked in a battle that drags on and on, perhaps till the end of time?' 

Yes, We're Still At It

That warmongers like Aaronovitch and Freedland can still hold down senior positions in the media means there is a desperate need for analysis that punctures the façade of liberal journalism.
A key problem is that corporate journalists cannot or will not criticise either their own employers or potential future employers. Like all corporate employees, journalists who criticise their industry are unlikely to be embraced by any media corporation. This is why Freedland, Aaronovitch, the Guardian and the Independent are almost never subjected to honest criticism from a left perspective. On the contrary, aspirant left writers bend over backwards to praise corporate journalists and media, as do ambitious executives in every industry.

Supplied by Trevor Hoyle.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Rotten Boroughs given a tip by the Voices

TODAY's Private Eye runs an item in a story entitled 'FAROOQ, MAN' in its Rotten Boroughs column, which was purloin from something our arts and culture correspondent Chris Draper dug-up about Rochdale's Knowl View school and the 'Statanic Panic' in the 1990s.  'Purloined' is probably too strong a word because it was knowingly handed to the Eye by one of own corresponmndents knowing that the Eye would use it.

The point of the story is that the new leader of Rochdale Council, Richard Farnell, is still claiming that he knew nowt about what was going on at Knowl View in the 1980s and 1990s when he last led the council.   Yet some of the lads wrongly taken away from their working-class parents on Langley in Middleton, when it was claimed by wild-eyed social workers that they were subject to Satanic rituals, were it seems moved to Knowl View where, it now seems, they would have been more vulnerable to the attentions of middle-class perverts.  The now dead former Rochdale Tory councillor Harry Wild appears to have been accused of being up to no good at the residential school in a recent book about Knowl View and Cyril Smith.

The story in the Eye goes on about the 'fraticidal but entertaining war within Rochdale council's Labour group... has worsened following the replacement of council leader Colin Lambert with rival Richard Farnell', and ends up on  a lighter note saying at least Councillor Karen Danczuk, the MP's wife, 'remains above the fray... (giving) an interview to the Daily Mail about her habit of posting "eye-popping" tout le monde sur le balcon selfies on Twitter'.

Terroristic Transgressions in Art & Literature

Warning the public before cultural consumption of film, literature & theatre
LAST year this Northern Voices' Blog produced a major rumpus over a question we asked about a warning issued by young man about a scene towards the end of the Spanish Civil War film 'Libertarias' in which a nun is raped by a 'Moro', one of General Franco's mercenary soldiers from Morocco.  This was perhaps of more consequence because it was being shown as a radical film at a Manchester Film Co-operative gathering in a Salford pub, and I think we pointed out at the time this was a Spanish film in which the significance of the rape to Spanish viewers was that it is who is doing the raping and to who, that is important.  One reason is the deep fear of the 'Moro' in Spanish and Catalan culture, and the implied blasphemy (for which the Spaniards are famous) of a scene in which an 'islamico' forces himself onto a Christian nun.  The everyday Spanish language is full of rich blaspheming utterances which are used on a regular basis and the ironic idea of a 'Moro' acting as an instrument of Franco Fascism whose goal was to defend Christianity, would not be lost on most Spaniards as it appeared to be on the more shallow members of the English audience in Salford.  
So a scene that in the Spanish mind may produce one set of excited responses in almost the finale of the film when the 'Moro' rapes the Christian nun, became in a Salford pub last year something that required a special health or trigger warning so that the comfort of Anglo-Saxon lefties in the audience brought up in a welfare state may not be disturbed  or offended by the content of the film in which the Spanish people went through the jaws of hell.   The whole idea of this film was to inflict transgressions on the audience so that they would understand what it's like to suffer in wartime.  To indulge in warnings is merely to blunt the impact of the film.
Why do the squeamish Anglo-Saxon peoples require these kind of health warnings in films like 'Liberterias' about what are perceived to be disturbing scenes in films, or theatre or even literature?  
This question is now even more relevant, because this year colleges across the USA are wrestling with student requests for explicit alerts that the material they are about to read or see in the classroom that might upset them, or as some students assert, cause symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder in victims of rape or in war veterans.  
The International New York Times journalist Jennifer Medina writes: 
'These trigger warnings, which have their roots in feminist thought, have gained the most traction at the University of Califonia, Santa Barbara, where the student government called for them.  But there have been similar requests from students at Oberlin College, Rutgers University, the University of Michigan, George Washington University and others.'   

Some academics have challenged these fragility claims arguing that being provocative is part of their job.  They say that 'trigger warnings' suggest 'a certain fragility of mind that higher learning is meant to challenge not embrace.'   

Some of the literature being suggested for these 'trigger warnings' are Shakespeare's 'The Merchant of Venice' (contains anti-Semitism), Virginia Woolf's 'Mrs. Dalloway' (addresses suicide), and 'The Great Gatsby' for its scenes that reference gory, abusive and misogynistic violence.   

There is something profoundly sterile in all this seeking to be protected from the unpleasant.  Perhaps the spread of this poisonous attitude seeking to comfort the reader or student is responsible for the lack of any really talented literature being produced in England these days.  Bertolt Brecht wrote in his essay 'Three Cheers for Shaw' that Bernard Shaw is a terrorist and that his brand of terrorism is that  'he uses an extraordinary weapon, that of humour'.  And Brecht adds:
'Shaw's terrorism consists in this:  that he claims a right for every man to act in all circumstances with decency, logic and humour, and sees it as his duty to do so even when it creates opposition.' 

Furthermore Brecht writes: 
'He (Shaw) gives the theatre as much fun as it can stand.  Strictly speaking what makes people go to the theatre is nothing but stuff that acts as a vast incubus to the quite real business which really interests the dramatist and constitutes the true value of his plays.  The logic must be such that he can bury them beneath the most wanton transgressions, and it is the transgressions that people most want to have.'   

It may have been true once that film and theatregoers wanted 'transgressions', but not now it seems among the righteous non-blasphemers of the anarchist-left and beyond..  Whereas once the likes of Brecht, Shaw, Orwell, and other writers may have been wallowing in transgressions today we have the triumph of the bumpkins and the shallow minded on what is represented as the progressive left. 

Royal Exchange: EGGs COLLECTIVE

The Studio at the Royal Exchange Theatre
St Ann’s Square, Manchester
Saturday 5 July – 9pm  

GET A ROUND – a wickedly funny new show from all female performance trio Eggs Collective - comes to The Studio at Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre for one night only on Saturday 5 July.   

Manchester-based Eggs Collective peddle a shambolic, anarchic style of comedy. GET A ROUND will be their first full length show. Audiences are promised an ambitious, godforsaken soap opera storyline and are told to expect visions of dark cabaret theatrics, lovingly raucous interactions and a satirical eye cast over popular culture.   

The show has been commissioned by Contact, developed by Camden People's Theatre as part of the Passing the Baton series - and supported by The Royal Exchange.

For further information please contact JOHN GOODFELLOW (Press & Communications Manager) on 0161 615 6783 /

More information on EGGS COLLECTIVE at

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

The Tony Blair Trial

The trial of Tony Blair

Essay of the week by Neil Mackay

Sunday 22 June 2014

The charge:

That Tony Blair, former UK prime minister, in lock-step with US policy, deliberately misled Britain, its parliament and people, into the catastrophe of the illegal invasion of Iraq in March 2003 that resulted in the deaths of at least 100,000 people - a crime against peace and humanity - and in doing so created the circumstances that have brought Iraq to the brink of ruination today.

The defence: Last week, the accused issued a statement in his defence, claiming that the capture of large swathes of Iraq by the Islamic terrorist group Isis - an organisation too extreme for al Qaeda - had nothing to do with the invasion he and then US president George W Bush executed upon the lie that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction (WMD) that threatened the West. Blair said: "We have to liberate ourselves from the notion that 'we' have caused this. We haven't."

Exhibit A: Rebuilding America's Defences, the founding document of The Project for the New American Century (PNAC) . The PNAC was effectively the Bush cabinet-in-waiting prior to the 2000 election. It included Dick Cheney, who went on to become vice-president; Donald Rumsfeld, defence secretary; Bush's brother, Jeb; Lewis Libby, Cheney's chief of staff; Paul Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld's deputy; and other key members of the Bush administration. This was the "brain" of the neo-conservative movement hell-bent on regime change in Iraq. Blair was fully signed up to the neo-con vision, their ideology providing a key motive for the crime in question.

Rebuilding America's Defences was the foundation for the Bush-Blair doctrine of pre-emption. Written in September 2000, just months before the Bush election, it said: "The United States has for decades fought to play a more permanent role in Gulf regional security. While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein."

In other words, even if Saddam were removed from power, America would still want troops in the Gulf. Rebuilding America's Defences talks of "a blueprint for maintaining global US pre-eminence" and a "Pax Americana", which would require the US and its allies to "fight and decisively win multiple, simultaneous major theatre wars as a 'core mission'."

Exhibit B: The receipts from Iraq for the sale of weapons of mass destruction from Britain and America. Details of sales of WMD to Saddam up to 1989 are contained in a Senate report into US exports, called the Riegle Report. Saddam is known to have used WMD in 1988 against the Kurds - in the town of Halabja, up to 5,000 were gassed. The attack took place when Saddam was engaged in the Iran-Iraq war against Ayatollah Khomeini and was, in the language of US-UK diplomacy, "a son of a b###h, but our son of a b###h". This was prior to the first Gulf War in 1990 when Saddam invaded Kuwait, seized its oil and became the West's enemy.

However, the Riegle Report shows America sold Saddam the following germ warfare capabilities: anthrax; botulism; histoplasma capsulatuma, a germ similar to TB; and clostridium perfringens, which causes gas gangrene. Some 16 UK companies also sold weaponry to Saddam.

The West was aware Saddam had begun a series of banned weapons programmes in the 1980s. In December 1983, Donald Rumsfeld, then president Ronald Reagan's special envoy to the Middle East, met Saddam, shook his hand and discussed the curtailment of Iran. A 1984 US state department memo shows America knew it was selling "dual use" technology to Iraq - material that could be used for civilian purposes or to create nuclear, biological or chemical weapons. The CIA estimates Iran took more than 50,000 casualties from Iraqi chemical weapons. British politicians were equally aware.

Exhibit C: Statements from key UN weapons inspectors. Scott Ritter was the United Nations' former chief weapons inspector in Iraq, a former US Marine intelligence officer and a Republican who voted for Bush, as well as being a Gulf War veteran. Ritter told me in 2003 he knew "categorically" that weapons inspections imposed on Saddam in the wake of his defeat in the first Gulf War destroyed 90% to 95% of Iraq's WMD stockpiles - built up with British and American material. The remaining stockpiles were unusable by 2003. Ritter was clear that any invasion of Iraq on the grounds of WMD capabilities would be based on lies. Hans von Sponek, the UN's former co-ordinator in Iraq and UN under-secretary general, also told me he had visited alleged chemical and biological weapons sites as recently as September 2002 and found them "comprehensively trashed". Dennis Halliday, former UN assistant general-secretary and UN humanitarian co-ordinator in Iraq, told me that at least one million Iraqis died as a result of sanctions imposed to remove WMD from Saddam: WMD that the world's experts in WMD said no longer existed.

Exhibit D: Strategic Energy Policy Challenges For The 21st Century. This paper, prepared for Dick Cheney, helped the Bush cabinet agree before September 11, 2001 that Iraq was a risk to world oil markets and therefore a risk to America. It has been said this may point to the true motive for invading Iraq.

The document stated that "the United States remains a prisoner of its energy dilemma" and "Iraq remains a destabilising influence � to the flow of oil to international markets from the Middle East � Saddam Hussein has also demonstrated a willingness to threaten to use the oil weapon and to use his own export programme to manipulate oil markets". As a result, the US "should conduct an

immediate policy review toward Iraq, including military, energy, economic and political/diplomatic assessments".

Exhibit E: Operation Rockingham, a British spying operation established by the Defence Intelligence Staff within the Ministry of Defence in 1991. Scott Ritter knew members of Rockingham and said the spying outfit was "dangerous" and authorised at "the very highest levels". He added: "Rockingham was spinning reports, and emphasising reports that showed non-compliance [by Iraq with UN inspections] and quashing those reports which showed compliance. It was cherry-picking." It became "part of an effort to maintain a public mindset that Iraq was not in compliance � They had to sustain the allegation that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, even though [UN inspections were] showing the opposite.

"Rockingham received hard data but had a pre-ordained outcome in mind. It only put forward a small percentage of the facts when most were ambiguous or noted no WMD."

Dr David Kelly - the British weapons expert who took his own life after being exposed as the source behind a BBC claim that the Blair government had "sexed up" a dossier claiming Iraq had WMD - worked with Rockingham. Ritter said Kelly was the "go-to person" for translating the often confusing data from weapons inspections "into concise reporting that could be forwarded to analysts in the British intelligence community as well as political decision-makers". Ritter added that, thanks to Rockingham, "there existed a seamless flow of data from Iraq, though New York to London, carefully shaped from beginning to end by people working not for the UN Security Council but for the British government. Iraq's guilt, pre-ordained by the government, became a self-fulfilling prophecy."

Exhibit F: The Office of Special Plans (OSP). In effect, this was America's version of the Rockingham cell. It was set up when the Iraq desk of the Near East and South Asia affairs (NESA) office in the Pentagon was transformed into the OSP. Lieutenant Colonel Karen Kwiatkowski worked inside NESA up to the outbreak of the war. "At the OSP," she told me, "what they were doing was looking at all the intelligence they could find on WMD."

She added: "That was the focal point, picking bits and pieces that were the most inflammatory, removing any context that might have been provided in the original intelligence report, that would have caused you to have some pause in believing it.

"They would take items that had occurred many years ago and put them in the present tense � The other thing they would do would be to take unrelated events that were reported in totally unrelated ways and make connections that the intelligence community had not made."

One story that made the British papers shortly before the invasion claimed Saddam had a team of beautiful female assassins in deep cover in the UK as sleeper agents, posing as belly dancers. This myth has been connected to the work of Rockingham and the OSP. OSP intelligence was the kind of bogus material also used to support erroneous claims presented to the world that secular Saddam was working with the religious fundamentalists of al Qaeda.

Exhibit G: Dodgy dossiers. The Joint �Intelligence Committee under the chairmanship of MI6's John Scarlett was meant to have full control over the contents of dossiers outlining Iraqi WMD - in effect, Blair's case for war. However, it became fully politicised. A special adviser to Alastair Campbell, Blair's spin doctor, wrote of one early draft: "Very long way to go � Think we're in a lot of trouble with this as it stands now." Campbell later admitted he was involved from a "presentational point of view".

Here's how the most contentious claim was handled in draft form: "Chemical and biological munitions could be � ready for firing within 45 minutes." This claim was already based on cherry-picked OSP/Rockingham reports, but when it was published it had become much more firm - the key section now read that the warheads "are deployable within 45 minutes". Campbell told Scarlett - who he described as his "mate" - that there were weak passages in the draft. Scarlett wrote back: "We have been able to amend the text in most cases as you proposed."

Tony Blair eventually wrote in a final dossier foreword: "The assessed intelligence has established beyond doubt that Saddam Hussein has continued to produce chemical and biological weapons." The case for war was made, put to Parliament and voted for overwhelmingly.

Exhibit H: Copious warnings from within �British intelligence against any invasion of Iraq. Intelligence sources confirmed to me that many spies had been openly sceptical about WMD in Iraq for years. They concurred with the notion of cherry-picking and pressure to find evidence against Saddam. This newspaper published these allegations on our front page at the time. In a July 2002 secret Downing Street memo, it is noted that Bush wants to "remove Saddam through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy." In January 2004, David Kay, the CIA-appointed head of the Iraq Survey Group with the task of finding Saddam's WMD, resigned, saying there were no stockpiles.

Exhibit I: Intelligence leaks confirming Blair was warned the invasion would lead to chaos in Iraq and terrorism on the streets of Britain. One report from the Defence Academy, an MoD think tank, written by a naval commander, said: "The war in Iraq � has acted as a recruiting sergeant for extremists across the Muslim world � al Qaeda ideology has taken root within the Muslim world and Muslim populations within Western countries. Iraq has served to radicalise � disillusioned youth and al Qaeda has given them the will, intent, purpose and ideology etc."

In the US, a declassified National Intelligence Estimate found that the "Iraq conflict has become the cause celebre for jihadists � cultivating supporters of the global jihad movement."

Exhibit J: The launch of the war. Blair �committed himself to waging war against Iraq whether or not the UN supported military action. In the end, no UN support was forthcoming. In 2002, inter-departmental advice for UK Government ministers stated that the objectives towards Iraq were "the reintegration of a law-abiding Iraq, which does not possess WMD � into the international community. Implicitly, this cannot occur with Saddam in power � the use of overriding force in a ground campaign is the only option that we can be confident will remove Saddam."

Later in 2002, Blair met Bush in Crawford, Texas, where they discussed the "need for effective presentational activity". The die was cast. War was coming. Former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan later said the invasion was "illegal".

Exhibit K: The conduct of the Iraq War. �Western business followed US-UK forces into Iraq, �carving up the nation and profiteering from war. The policy was one of exploitation, not nation-�building. British and American troops were allowed to behave appallingly - from the atrocities of Abu Ghraib to the detention, torture and even death of Iraqi civilians at the hands of British soldiers. One corporal, Donald Payne, remains the only British soldier to be convicted of a war crime following the death of an Iraqi citizen who was hooded and beaten - he was found to have 93 injuries on his body.

The occupation brought chaos to Iraq. Al Qaeda moved in to a country where it had not been before, and laid down deep roots. As far back as August 2003, al Qaeda in Iraq blew up the UN HQ in Baghdad. Soon its leader, Abu Musab al-Zaraqwi, had the nation in the grip of fear, and sprung to international attention with the televised beheadings of captives including Nick Berg and Ken Bigley.

The behaviour of allied troops further alienated the population, with horrors such as the wedding party massacre at the town of Makaradeeb in which 42 civilians, including 13 children, were killed. Al Qaeda, made up of Sunni Muslim extremists, used the chaos to bring terror to the Iraqi Shia Muslims they hated.

Shrines were bombed, holy days targeted. The predominantly Shia armed forces and government replied with death squads and extra-judicial executions against often innocent Sunnis. Torture became routine. Bodies were found with acid burns and drill marks and still wearing police handcuffs. Divisions deepened.

The country split along ethno-religious lines. Over the border in Syria - a country some believe might have remained at peace without the seismic shock of the invasion of Iraq - the �fundamentalist and brutal Isis movement saw its chance and began making inroads within Iraq's borders. Town after town fell. Fallujah, Samarra, Mosul, Tikrit. Isis now threatens Baghdad.

Verdict: Guilty.

Neither Blair nor Bush will ever face punishment for taking the US and UK into an illegal war they knew was based on lies, and killing countless innocent people. Western statesmen do not end up in The Hague facing war crimes charges. The punishment is on us and the Iraqi people.

The standing of Britain has been degraded abroad, trust in politics destroyed at home. Our morality is so drained that the very concept of military intervention to save Iraq from Isis is rendered absurd. We brought that nation to ruin and now we watch as it falls, with echoes of the Khmer Rouge taking Cambodia back to Year Zero. Where there was no terrorism, we created a terrorist homeland.

Chief among Blair's crimes is that while he may have blood on his hands, he has spread the blood on to us, because in a democracy we must carry some of the blame for our elected leaders, even if they try to blind us to the truth through a web of deceit, chicanery, bullying and sin.

Neil Mackay is the Sunday Herald's Head of News.

He is the author of The War On Truth, which investigated the roots of the invasion of Iraq; and of the novel All The Little Guns Went Bang Bang Bang 

Britannia Waves the Rules Returns

By Gareth Farr
Designed by Ashley Martin-Davis
The Studio at the Royal Exchange Theatre
St Ann’s Square, Manchester
Tuesday 22 July – Saturday 26 July
Royal Exchange audiences are to get a second chance to see Gareth Farr’s Bruntwood Prize winning play BRITANNIA WAVES THE RULES when it returns for a short run in The Studio from Tuesday 22 July to Saturday 26 July 
The play was first seen last month when it received its world premiere in The Theatre, playing in repertoire with THE LAST DAYS OF TROY. It will also be seen at Latitude Festival (17 – 20 July) and will play at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival (Northern Stage’s King’s Hall 3 – 10 August) following its latest run at the Exchange.
A scream of protest at the state of the world, BRITANNIA WAVES THE RULES is fast, furious and filled with rage.
It tells the story of Carl. He doesn’t fit in at home. He doesn’t fit in anywhere. He signs up for the army, seeing a chance to escape the grim reality of life in his hometown Blackpool. But it doesn’t matter where he runs to, or how hard or how fast, there are just too may battles for him to win them all. He comes home, not as a war hero, but as a changed man.
The play picked up a Judges Award in the 2011 Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting. Writer Gareth Farr said: “I want to grab the audience by the scruff of the neck, drag them through the journey and have them leave feeling something strong about the world they’ve just witnessed.”
The central role of Carl is played by talented young actor Dan Parr. His previous theatre credits include PAGES FROM MY SONGBOOK (The Alligator Club at The Studio, Royal Exchange), WANTED! ROBIN HOOD (Manchester Library Theatre Company), and DNA (The Lowry Theatre). Television credits include CASUALTY (BBC), THE CRIMSON FIELD (BBC), and THE VILLAGE (BBC). Film credits include: Halcyon Heights (Plug it In Productions).
The production is directed by Nick Bagnall who recently directed THE LAST DAYS OF TROY at the Royal Exchange. His previous credits include directing three HENRY VI plays at venues across the UK, including four open-air battlefield performances. Other work includes BETRAYAL (Crucible Theatre, Sheffield) and ENTERTAINING MR SLOANE (Trafalgar Studios).  
The production is designed by Ashley Martin-Davis and the creative team is completed by Chris Davey (lighting), Peter Rice (sound), Alex Baranowski (composer) and Kevin McCurdy (movement and fights
For further information, images, or for interview / press review ticket requests, please contact JOHN GOODFELLOW (Press & Communications Manager) on 0161 615 6783 /
BRITANNIA WAVES THE RULES – Listings Information
The Royal Exchange Theatre presents
By Gareth Farr
Designed by Ashley Martin-Davis
The Studio, Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester
Tuesday 22 July – Saturday 26 July
Performance Times: Tuesday – Friday, 7.30pm, Saturday, 8pm
Matinees: Saturday, 3.30pm
Ticket Prices: £12 / £10 concessions
Box Office: 0161 833 9833.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Simon Danczuk to name another paedophile?

TOM Porter a journalist on the International Business Times has written that the Rochdale MP Simon Danczuk 'who alleged that the late parliamentarian Sir Cyril Smith was a paedophile said he is prepared to name a second, living, politician who he believes is guilty of child abuse.'

On 1 July, Simon Danczuk, Labour MP for Rochdale, is scheduled to give evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee on historic child sexual exploitation concerning allegations in his recent book authored by Danczuk and Matthew Baker that Smith abused children at the Elm Guest House in south-west London in the 1970s and the 1980s.

An MP on the committee has confirmed to the Independent on Sunday that Danczuk will be asked about other visitors to the guest house when he appears before them.
'If asked any question, I will feel obliged to answer that question,' Danczuk told the paper.

Danczuk has previously claimed that an 'influential' politician who is still in parliament, was a visitor at the guest house, where a paedophile ring that included Smith allegedly groomed and abused boys.

'I'm confident there are questions to answer. I base that on quite extensive conversations I've had with the police,' Danczuk said.

Police launched an investigation into the alleged child abuse ring at Elm Guest House after claims by Labour MP Tom Watson.

Earlier this month Conservative MP for Richmond Zac Goldsmith called for the UK Home Secretary Theresa May to launch a parliamentary inquiry into the conclusions of an investigation into child abuse at Knowl View School in Rochdale, where Smith was a governor.

The committee will ask Danczuk and campaigner Matthew Baker what they believe happened at Elm Guest House.

Protected by parliamentary privilege, they will be able to give evidence without fear of litigation.
Danczuk told the Independent that if asked, he will also name another living politican who he believes is implicated in a separate child abuse scandal.

So far, police have made no charges in connection with the investigation.

Officers are also investigating claims that a VIP paedophile ring abused boys at Grafton Close Children's Home in Richmond, south-west London.

Bristol & the Old Market Riots of 1932

Bread or Batons? The Old Market 'Riots' of February 1932
Date: Tuesday 24th June, 2014
Time: 7:30 pm to 9:30 pm
Venue: Trinity Centre, Trinity Road, Bristol BS2 0NW
Price: Suggested Donation £2
Note: This event is not organised by BRHG.

SINCE the 'Wall Street Crash' of 1929 joblessness in Bristol had risen to unprecedented levels; by February 1932 the situation was critical with whole districts blighted by the effects of mass unemployment.

Jobless Bristolians rallied round the National Unemployed Workers’ Movement (NUWM), the main organisation opposing mass unemployment and Government 'means test'. The NUWM responded to the proposed austerity measures by organising a series of pickets, mass meetings and marches of thousands. February 1932 saw several violent confrontations on Old Market St between unemployed demonstrators and Bristol Police which became known as the Old Market 'Riots'.

This talk will examine both the context and anatomy of these serious incidents, and in the process expose the tactics and strategies of the NUWM and the Police.

Dr Roger Ball is an independent scholar specialising in the analysis of urban 'riot' and protest. He is the author of several works on labour unrest in Bristol and is currently researching strikes, mutinies and combat refusals in the British Armed forces during World War I.

Part of a series of free talks at Trinity - Vice & Virtue: Discovering the History of Old Market 1900-2005 - invites you to a series of talks by local and national experts on the many aspects of Old Market's History. We will be looking beneath the area's reputation and exploring the many cultures that have lived here, its national significance as an area of architectural conservation and key moments of historical interest.

There is a full list of events at:

For more information about the talks or the project contact Edson:

 Brhmob mailing list

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Morning Star report of George Tapp case

Morning Star report by Peter Lazenby on Thursday 19th, June 2014:
GRAPHIC video evidence of anti-blacklisting campaigners being carried on the bonnet of an accelerating car was shown to a jury in Manchester crown court yesterday.
It was filmed during a protest against blacklisting outside Manchester City football club’s training ground on the evening of May 15 last year.
Michael Collins, 20, was driving the car involved in the incident which left 64-year-old Unite activist and anti-blacklisting campaigner George Tapp with severe leg injuries and a fractured skull.
He has pleaded not guilty to a charge of dangerous driving.
Mr Tapp, who suffered leg injuries which the jury heard had needed metal pins inserting and specialist treatment, gave evidence.
Still not fully recovered from his injuries, he walked to the witness stand with the aid of a stick and was allowed to sit while giving evidence.
The video showed a Ford Ka driven by the defendant drive up to demonstrators handing out anti-blacklisting leaflets, then edge forward, and suddenly accelerate, carrying three protesters trapped on his bonnet.
One fell off almost immediately. Mr Tapp and a second were carried between 100 and 150 metres before the car broke when Mr Tapp was hurled onto the concrete road.
The car reversed, pulled around him, and drove off.
Mr Tapp told the court that he had his back to the vehicle but heard a car revving up and felt it strike the back of his calf.
He remembered he 'went forward onto the bonnet” as it began to move then “and grabbed hold of the windscreen central pivot.'
'I could feel the air being sucked into the engine,' he told the court.
'My chest was on the bonnet. I looked up and the driver and passenger were laughing at that stage.'
Unite organiser Laura Gleeson said demonstrators were handing leaflets to car drivers when she heard a car revving and turned around.
She remembered:  'The car was pushing against the guy standing in front of it and there were people shouting ‘stop, stop, stop. What are you doing'.'
Unite organiser Nick Cairns added:  'My impression was that George Tapp had no opportunity to get out of the way.'
The case is proceeding.

Defendant in George Tapp case Not Guilty!

1. George Tapp - NOT GUILTY VERDICT:
Michael Collins the driver who drove through a blacklisting protest outside the Manchester City Training ground fracturing both knee caps of ex-Salford Labour councillor George Tapp has been found not guilty in Manchester Crown Court
2. High Court halts firms insulting compensation scheme:
The firms insulting compensation scheme that would see the vast majority of blacklisted workers receiving little more than a weeks wages in compensation, so long as we agreed to withdraw all our court claims has been temporarily kicked into touch by the High Court. The firms announced the scheme last year but 9 months later have still not made any real movement on their insulting offer. The entire scheme is a cheap publicity stunt intended to divert attention away from the High Court case.
The firms had intended to launch the scheme unilaterally without the support of any of the unions, the Blacklist Support Group or any of the lawyers involved in the High Court case. They were even granted a secret court order which meant that the ICO could supply them with the current addresses of the people they blacklisted. The High Court has thrown this nonsense out and said that it should all be dealt with on the same date in the High Court hearings and not as some stand alone PR trick.
Even if some people on the blacklist are only interested in financial compensation, the current scheme as it stands is nowhere near adequate. people will end up receiving considerably more than the pittance currently being suggested by the firms. 
BSG positions is:
Everyone on the Consulting Association blacklist should be entitled to compensation regardless of how much is written on the files or the dates.
Widows or children should be compensated if the blacklisted worker has passed away.
Compensation should be set at a level that genuinely compensates for the human rights violations carried out by the firms.
Any scheme should provide jobs or retraining for blacklisted workers - a few quid means nothing if people still cant find gainful employment because of blacklisting.
3. Blacklisting High Court claim - 10th July
The postponed High Court case is back on track in 3 weeks time.
Blacklist Support Group protest
9:30am Thursday 10th July 2014
Royal Courts of Justice
The Strand
(nearest tube: Holborn or Temple)
When the court case is finished for the day, there will be an update on the progress of the campaign for all those present.
Guney Clark & Ryan solicitors, UNITE, GMB and UCATT are all part of the joint court case with their own legal representation.
4. Human Rights:
Last week, lawyers on behalf of the UK government intervened in the Smith v Carillion court case. In the original Employment Tribunal, the company admitted that their managers were responsible for adding information to his blacklist file due to his union activities. Smith lost because he was an agency worker and therefore not protected by UK law.
John Hendy QC, David Renton and Declan Owens from the Free Representation Unit are now appealing to the Court of Appeal arguing that blacklisting is a breach of human rights and should protect everyone not just direct employees. They are asking for a "Declaration of non-compatibility" which is a legal way of saying that UK law doesn't comply with human rights. Lawyers for the UK government admit that Smith's human rights have been breached but will be arguing against him in court.
This week, a complaint was submitted to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasburg in the case of Smith v Schal International (a wholly owned subsidiary of Carillion) relating to blacklisting the UCATT safety rep on a building site in Brentwood in 1999. This is the 2nd blacklisting case that has been sent to the ECHR, the first was for Terry Brough, a UCATT bricklayer from the North West.
5. Blacklisting speakers this week:
RMT Conference in Bristol
Mon 23rd - Shrewsbury Pickets
Tues 24th - Blacklist Support Group. 
Speakers Forum Stage, Green Futures at Glastonbury Festival
Thur 26th 6pm-8pm - Blacklisting Special with Reel News with Shaun Dey & Dave Smith
Sat 3:15pm - "A flavour of the Green Futures Field" with Merrick Badger.  

Friday, 20 June 2014

Hypocrisy in Rochdale!

BOTH the main parties on Rochdale Council have expressed their anger that the two councillors, Farooq Ahmed and his wife Shefali, who left the Labour Party last weekend have now set up their own party; the Rochdale First Party.  At the same time Simon Danczuk the Rochdale MP has had to defend his misspent youth as a mature student at Lancaster University for having used Class A drugs:  in his Talking Politics column in the tomorrow's Rochdale Observer Mr Danczuk said:
'It's well known by now that my first wife spoke to the tabloids to say I'd taken recreational drugs in my past...  This was all many years ago and has no bearing on my duties as Member of Parliament now'

Curiously Farooq Ahmed was planning to resign from the Labour Party back in January 2012, when a Labour MP accused him of smoking cannabis and he had been suspended from the Labour Party after a film appeared to show him smoking something dodgy at Manchester Airport.  And guess who the Labour MP was that had it in for Councillor Ahmed at that time, and went so far as to report him?

None other than sober Simon Danczuk, the clean-living MP for Rochdale would you believe it? 

At that time Mr. Danczuk told the Rochdale Observer that 'I supplied a letter to the council leader on December 18, about a variety of issues relating to Coun. Ahmed's behaviour.'  And Danczuk added:
'When serious concerns about a councillor's conduct are brought to my attention, no matter what party they belong to, it is my duty to ensure that action is taken.  I am disappointed the council leader (Colin Lambert) has dithered and has been indecisive but I am pleased the group nationally has acted.'

The difference between Danczuk and Ahmed was that Councillor Ahmed has always denied that he had smoked cannabis on that occasion, and he was later reinstated by the Labour Party.  Meanwhile, Simon's ex-wife has given information to The Sun of their drug fuelled nights on the town.  Now Mr. Danczuk appears to excuse his drug taking by saying:  'I've not spent my whole life trying to be a politician... I'm an ordinary person who believes in the power of politics.'

And yet, knowing of his own history as a consumer of 'recreational drugs' Simon Danczuk had no hesitation in reporting on a Labour colleague to the party hierarchy.  Could it have had anything to do with the fact that Councillor Farooq Ahmed was then a senior member of the cabinet in Rochdale which was then led by Colin Lambert, whose administration Mr. Danczuk now documents as having been guilty of 'a frustrating sense of drift'.

Balkanisation in the international sphere

Balkanisation is the name of the game
Posted by SueC on June 17, 2014, 4:04 pm, in reply to "Re: Iraq crisis: US urgently deploys hundreds of armed troops to Baghdad "
Or at least it is in my opinion. Everything but everything that's happening today in which the West has a hand is attributable to the becoming-really-desperate need to gain control over the world's remaining - and rapidly depleting - resources. Does the West really want to deal with strong, democratic nations in the Middle East, Africa, Latin and South America and Eurasia? Of course not - such nations tend to have peculiar ideas about wanting their natural resources to benefit their own people first and foremost. Look at the demonisation of Chavez and Putin as an indication of how welcome that approach is.

So, if you're sitting in Washington, London or Brussels, what to do? Well, a tried and tested method of controlling resources is encouraging the break-up of nation states into mutually hostile enclaves predicated on nationality, religion, or ethnicity. The smaller the fragments, the better. So, in Iraq, there's the basic Sunni/Shia/Kurd divide. But there's lots of opportunity to forment conflict within those groups. If the Kurds seize too much territory for the West's liking and prove to be too independent over the oil resources they'd then have, you can always work on the grievances other minorities living within the areas the Kurds control such as the Turkmen, And so it goes on. The groups that are left as a result of Operation Break-Up are usually too small and too divided to mount serious opposition to outside corporate interests. Look at Sudan - the US and others relentlessly proposed a split of the country and so South Sudan was born - where the oilfields are - and now that is consumed by internal conflict between different groups.

This is not madness at all - it's deliberate strategy to get and control resources. Look at Libya - what's the result of the coup that removed Gaddafi? The country's oil production has fallen dramatically, the oil is still is the ground and can be harvested later by the 'right' people and pretty much the entire nation has been or will be pauperised. Just like the Iraqis. This is another important and desired consequence for western elites. Eliminating the 'threat of a good example' has always been key. If any people anywhere manage to harness their resources to improve their lot, then others elsewhere - even those living in the West - might well ask the question, why can't we do this? And that wouldn't be good.

None of this is an 'accident', or an 'unforeseen consequence', or an 'error of judgement' or 'western naivety' as the MSM likes to call it. It's deliberate, the desired outcome. And they'll do it in country after country.
From Trevor Hoyle

'UNION' from Cobble Haze Club


Written and Directed by Joshua Val Martin
Belinda Scandal’s Show Bar

33 Sackville Street
M1 3LZ
Monday 30 June - Saturday 5 July 2014
Press Night: Monday 30 June at 7pm

THE Cobbled Haze Club are excited to introduce

UNION for its world premiere from 30th June to the 5th July 2014 - a radical, ambitious in-promenade theatrical experience!

The Union pub drag queen, Gloria, is off her face. She is talking to a hallucinated Cilla Black when she notices a dead body floating in the canal. The face is familiar - but who is it? A series of interconnecting monologues follow, exploring the dark lives of the regulars and workers of The Union pub, helping Gloria gradually uncover the identity of the body.

Already described as ‘passionate, lyrical and angry’ by 24:7 Theatre Festival,

UNION is brought to you by the same team behind STRANGEWAYS (‘witty and genuinely innovative’ - Broadway Baby, **** RemoteGoat, **** The Mancunion, **** Public Reviews, **** Manchester4Women, **** ThreeWeeks, **** EdFringe Review: Pick of the Fringe).

Fronting the cast as Gloria is professional drag artist Belinda Scandal, who recently made an appearance in BBC 3’s
PEOPLE LIKE US. Alongside her is Jo Dakin, who starred in PESTS at the Royal Exchange and Everyman Theatre; Andrew Husband joins following his appearance as Widow Twankey in ALADDIN at the Academy Theatre in Barnsley; the cast is also joined by Robin Lyons, Rebecca Riley and Lucy Ross-Elliott.

For further information, images or for interview/ press review ticket requests, please contact GEORG

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Around the World in 80 Days at Royal Exchange

A Royal Exchange Theatre and New Vic Theatre,
Newcastle under Lyme co-production  

By Laura Eason
Adapted from the novel by Jules Verne
Directed by Theresa Heskins  
The Royal Exchange Theatre
St Ann’s Square, Manchester
Thursday 17 July – Saturday 16 August, 2014   
AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS is kindly supported by Manchester Airport.  

PRESS NIGHT: Tuesday 22 July 7.30pm

AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYSJules Verne’s epic tale of Victorian eccentricity, romance and adventure – bursts on to the stage of Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre from Thursday 17 July to Saturday 16 August.   

Adapted from the original novel by Laura Eason, the show is an incredible tale of adventure to be enjoyed by all the family.   

A cast of eight transports the audience around the world, playing over a hundred characters and creating 33 rapid-fire scenes in a thrillingly imaginative physical theatre style.   

The story races its way across the globe, taking in continents, intrigue, love and even an elephant – all in the name of a bet. The eccentric Phileas Fogg wagers his life’s fortune that he can circumnavigate the globe in just eighty days with his hapless valet Passepartout.  

The show is the first collaboration between the Royal Exchange and the New Vic Theatre, Newcastle under Lyne - both theatres-in-the-round. The production is kindly supported by Manchester Airport (see Notes for Editors).

It was originally seen at the New Vic last year where it played to packed houses and critical acclaim. The same creative team are re-staging it again at the New Vic from Friday 20 June to Saturday 5 July before bringing it to the Exchange.


Andrew Pollard and Michael Hugo are set to reprise their roles as Phileas Fogg and Passepartout and the cast also includes Pushpinder Chani, Okorie Chukwu, Rebecca Grant, Susan Hingley, Dennis Herdman and Matthew Rixon.


The production is directed by New Vic Artistic Director Theresa Heskins, who said:
'It feels momentous, to be directing this first meeting between two distinctive theatres in-the-round. I hope that our very physical, low-on-tech, high-on-ingenuity house style will be well received on its first ever trip away from home, and that this will be the start of a beautiful friendship.'


The creative team is completed by Lis Evans (designer), James Atherton (composer), Beverly Edmunds (movement director), Alexandra Stafford (lighting) and James Earls-Davis (sound).

More online information available at