Thursday, 27 November 2014


We are publishing below a recent briefing from Boycott Workfare:
"It’s been a bad month for workfare: anti-workfare protests and campaigns in various parts of the country have been gaining ground at the expense of the DWP’s schemes. Campaigners are causing myriad problems for the Department for Work and Pensions: it is increasingly difficult for them find and keep placement providers for their Community Work Placements(CWP) scheme.
As Shiv Malik reported in the Guardian earlier this month, even the DWP admits that our actions are working. At the Information Commission tribunal hearing – where the DWP are challenging court orders telling them to release the list of organisations that are involved in workfare schemes – they argued, “that if the public knew exactly where people were being sent on placements political protests would increase, which was likely to lead to the collapse of several employment schemes”. Well, it would be a shame not to prove them right.
Successful attempts to get charities and other organisations to stop their involvement in workfare this month have taken many forms. There have been online actions; the work of the campaign urging charities to Keep Volunteering Voluntary (KVV); persistent one-man protests outside placement providers; and actions which didn’t even have to take place to get Bulky Bob’s to stop using workfare!
By some accounts, it was merely the threat of Liverpool IWW arriving at local household waste recycling firm Bulky Bob’s for the protest they had planned for the 12th of November that moved them to withdraw from workfare – although online actions by Liverpool IWW and others helped to pile pressure on the company’s management. Bulky Bob’s have also agreed to sign the KVV pledge, promising not to get involved in further unpaid work schemes. You can see their statement on their website here.
John MacArthur protested on his own for 2 hours a day outside the Motherwell (Scotland) charity ‘LAMH’ (Lanarkshire Association for Mental Health). He had been employed by the association at minimum wage in 2010-11, but recently was referred to them for unpaid work as part of the 6 month Community Work Placement programme. He was sanctioned in August – his Jobseeker’s Allowance was stopped until January for refusing to work for no wages at LAMH, leaving him “living on 16p tins of spaghetti”. But John made sure his former employers were aware of his situation and the negative publicity LAMH received induced them to drop out of the CWP scheme.
Sustained campaigning against workfare schemes has been destabilising the DWP’s schemes at every level this month, and clearly they’ve been feeling it. Let’s all support each other to keep up the good work going forward.
If you have any actions planned you’d like us to publicise, or any recent actions you’d like us to mention, get in touch at"

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

McDonald's Sacks Korean Activist

Gahyun Lee (pictured)
worked for McDonald's
in South Korea, spoke
out about workplace issues
such as unsafe workplace
practices, and lost her job.

The company fired her after
she travelled to Los Angeles
to support the national action
by US fast food workers.

The International Union of
Food Workers has just
launched an online campaign
demanding that McDonald's
hire her back.

Please take a moment to sign up --

And please spread the word.

And if you have an Android phone,
please check out the brand new LabourStart app --
now with 4.9 stars (out of 5) in the Google Play Store.

Eric Lee

Copyright © 2014 LabourStart, All rights reserved.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Clash Over Blacklisting at Industrial Relations Society

THE Chair of ACAS, Sir Brendan Barber has publicly clashed with Mike Emmott from the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development (CIPD) over the issue of blacklisting. The very public disagreement was in front of 200 of the UK's leading industrial relations academics, HR professionals and union officials when both men addressed a conference to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Manchester Industrial Relations Society. 

Emmott, a former senior civil servant and the CIPD 'employee relations expert' was a keynote speaker on behalf of the HR body, a central theme of his speech was the need for HR managers to embed a 'culture of trust, fairness and respect'

During the Q&A session he was questioned about trust and fairness by GMB union political officer Neil Smith over the lack of response by the CIPD to blacklisting.  In response Emmot first claimed he did not know a great deal about the issue but then went on to describe the blacklisting scandal as a 'big fuss about very little' and stated that he found 'union moral outrage over blacklisting, rather distasteful'

There were audible gasps and an immediate rash of tweets from the audience. The conference then loudly applauded follow up questions that identified a number CIPD Fellows personally involved in blacklisting union members. A flustered Emmott again responded by claiming to not know about the matter, even though the issue has been front page news in the media, including the CIPD's own journal. He concluded by saying he would be happy to have the CIPD members accused of wrong doing as his neighbours. 

ACAS chief, Sir Brendan Barber (former TUC General Secretary) followed Emmott and publicly stated that he totally 'disagreed' with the CIPD spokesperson stating that 'blacklisting is a major injustice that has not been resolved' adding that it 'raises huge issues about corporate culture and responsibility'.

The comments by Emmott were even more shocking as blacklisted workers and Shrewsbury Pickets were in the audience and Manchester Royal Infirmary was the scene of the two year dispute which finally exposed the Consulting Association blacklisting conspiracy.

Tony Jones, Manchester electrician & MRI picket, blacklisted for many years after raising concerns about electrical safety commented:
'Yes, it is a big fuss about nothing when you cannot feed and cloth your kids and don't know why. To me that's a form of child abuse'

Steve Acheson, Blacklist Support Group (BSG) chair and Manchester electrician added:
'BSG has submitted a complaint to the CIPD for breaches of the code of ethical conduct but 2 years later not a single member of the professional body has faced any sanction. Nor has any senior manager involved in blacklisting been disciplined by their employer, most remain in post or have even been promoted to the Board. The firms and CIPD have cried crocodile tears about blacklisting but the mask of hypocrisy worn by the HR profession has finally slipped. Blacklisting breaches our human rights. It is morally wrong. For any individual to face every day of his life, with no prospect of securing a legal right to employment because of a conspiracy is a complete crime.' 

Neil Smith, GMB political officer whose question sparked the row, said: 
'GMB will continue to campaign to name and shame those guilty of blacklisting and will work with other groups to get justice for those that were wronged. CIPD and others involved will be took to task no matter how long it takes.'

This latest attack on the CIPD over their woeful response on the issue of blacklisting follows criticism by MPs when chief executive Peter Cheese gave evidence to the Select Committee investigation and an open letter sent in October by dozens of CIPD members in academia (many of whom were in the audience in Manchester).

Three Little Pigs at Royal Exchange

Stuff and Nonsense Theatre Company presents


Created in association with Salisbury Playhouse, with additional support from The Merlin Theatre and the Tobacco Factory 

The Studio at the Royal Exchange Theatre

St Ann’s Square, Manchester

Saturday 20 December 2014Saturday 3 January 2015

Stuff and Nonsense Theatre Company presents an ingenious adaptation of classic children’s story 3 LITTLE PIGS at Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre this Christmas. 

This madcap show - packed with puppetry, comedy, wonderfully cheesy music and rather loud wallpaper - takes its inspiration from 70s children's TV programmes such as VISION ON, PIPKINS, RAINBOW and BOD. It has been created by Stuff and Nonsense in association with Salisbury Playhouse, with additional support from The Merlin Theatre and the Tobacco Factory. 

Billed as a treat for everyone aged 3 to 70, 3 LITTLE PIGS runs in The Studio at the Royal Exchange from Saturday 20 December 2014 to Saturday 3 January 2015. 

This famous tale shows that building a new home is not as easy as it looks. What's the best material to use? Will it keep out the rain? Will it be Wolf Proof??!!!  

Stuff and Nonsense Theatre Company makes energetic, thought-provoking and playfully mischievous theatre productions for children and their families – working with young people to create ideas, using the power of great imagination, fantastic puppetry and lots of physical action. 

3 LITTLE PIGS – Listings Information
Stuff and Nonsense Theatre Company presents


Created in association with Salisbury Playhouse, with additional support from The Merlin Theatre and the Tobacco Factory

The Studio, Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester

Saturday 20 December 2014 - Saturday 3 January 2015

Saturday 20 December 11am & 1.30pm

Sunday 21 December 12 noon & 2.30pm

Monday 22 December 11am & 1.30pm
Tuesday 23 December 11am & 1.30pm
Wednesday 24 Dec 11am 

Friday 26 December 3.30pm

Saturday 27 December 11am & 1.30pm

Sunday 28 December 12 noon & 2.30pm

Monday 29 December 11am & 1.30pm
Tuesday 30 December 11am & 1.30pm
Wednesday 31 December 11am 

Friday 2 January 3.30pm

Saturday 3 January 11am & 1.30pm

TICKET PRICES: Adults £12, Concessions £10, Under 13s £5

BOOK TICKETS: Box Office 0161 833 9833 / online 
Box Office: 0161 833 9833.

Blacklist update!

1. 17th December 2014 - High Court & Blacklist Support Group meeting 

9:30 am - 3pm (approx)
High Court Blacklisting trial continues 
Royal Courts of Justice
The Strand
(nearest tube Holborn or Temple) 

4:30pm - 6:30pm 
Blacklist Support Group national meeting
Central London venue 
invited speakers include: John McDonnell MP, John Hendy QC, Guney Clark & Ryan solicitors 

2. Mike Emmott, CIPD expert tells conference that blacklisting is "a big fuss about very little" and that "union moral outrage is rather distasteful" 

3. Workers walk out at Carrington Power station over blacklisting 

4. Police collusion
Video: This is what police collusion in blacklisting is all about (and why those in authority don't want a public inquiry)

Mark Metcalf on police spying: 

Blacklisted activist & journalist Mark Thomas sues the police for spying on him in peaceful & legal campaigns (a few of us might be doing this sometime in the near future)  

5. Upcoming:

Wed 26th Nov
Umbrella Scam Day of Action - across the UK
Westminster Lobby  
10:45 demo
12:45 Lobby - committee room 14
speakers: Steve Murphy (UCATT), Mick Cash (RMT), Gail Cartmail (UNITE), Steve Rotheram MP (flyer attached) 
Holyrood Lobby - 10:30am 

Construction Safety Campaign AGM
Sat 13th December 2014.
11.00am to 3.00pm.
Friends Meeting House, 6 Mount Street, Manchester, M2 5NS 
Speakers include: Steve Acheson - Blacklist Support Group & Hilda Palmer, Greater Manchester Hazards Campaign


Sunday, 23 November 2014

Protesting jobseeker threatened with benefit sanction in Ashton-under-Lyne!

A 32-year-old jobseeker from Ashton-under-Lyne, Greater Manchester, has been told by staff at Ashton Jobcentre, that his benefit will be stopped if he continues to support a regular Thursday protest taking place outside the Jobcentre against unfair and illegal sanctions and the abuse of power by staff. He was also told by his advisor that she objected to him wearing a badge against sanctions and asked him, if he understood what he was getting himself involved with.

The English like to brag a lot about Freedom, but it seems that if your unemployed in Tory Britain today, your freedom to protest, certainly outside your own Jobcentre, is seriously being curtailed and makes you a prime target for unfair and illegal benefit sanctions. But this kind of draconian action and control, is not just confined to jobseekers.

In Britain today, students who have protested against such things as the high cost of tuition fees, have been threatened with expulsion from educational institutions. Bolshie workers who insist on safe working practices or.who take employers to an employment tribunal, are labelled 'troublemakers' and sacked and put on employers' blacklists. In the NHS, health workers who have identified deficiences in the standards of patient care, have been sacked and blacklisted from getting further work within the NHS. Most of this would have been unthinkable forty years ago before the advent of Thatcherism and political regimes that objectively favour private capital.

However, the lump-heads who work for the DWP at Ashton-under-Lyne Jobcentre, may very well have handed the protestors on a plate, the ammunition they need by their bullying of a young jobseeker. Initially, the protest was sparked in August this year, when the Jobcentre was found to have sanctioned a 19-year-old jobseeker for having the temerity to tell a local retailer, B&Q, during an interview for unpaid work, that she was 23-weeks pregnant. Now protesters outside Ashton Jobcentre, are telling the public that jobseeker's are being threatened with sanctions for exercising their legimate right to peacefully protest. There is also talk of a complaint being made to the police about the actions of Jobcentre staff who are causing  jobseeker's, harassment, distress and alarm, on a daily basis, which is a statutory offence in England and Wales.

The ancient Greeks recognised only too well that eternal vigilance was the price of freedom. The nineteenth-century historian, Lord Acton, was well aware that "power corrupts and and absolute power corrupts absolutely." But for me, it is the romantic poet Shelley, who puts it most succinctly in his poem Queen Mab, where he wrote: 

Power, like a desolating pestilence,
Pollutes whate'er it touches; and obedience,
Bane of all genius, virtue, freedom, truth,
Makes slaves of men, and of the human frame
A mechanized automaton.

Friday, 21 November 2014

Sneer As We Go!

Emily Thornberry Quits Shadow Cabinet
EMILY Thornberry, who until yesterday was the Labour Shadow Attorney General, packed in the job after a snobbish tweet of a photo of a terraced home with a white van outside and windows draped with the cross of St George flags.  She said that she had 'never seen anything like it' after tweeting a photo of the terraced home with a white van outside.
Ms. Thornberry was born in Surrey to Cedric Thornberry, a Visiting Professor of War Studies at Kings College London.  Educated at the University of Kent, she went on to practice as a barrister specialising in human rights law under Michael Mansfield at Tooks Chambers.  Interestingly, she joined the Transport & General Workers Union at the same time she began practicing as a barrister in 1985.
She was nominated for Stonewall Politician of the Year in 2008, after she spoke up to defend the right of lesbian mothers to have access to IVF treatment.  In the same year 2008, Ms. Thornberry claimed, according to her Wikapedia entry, that almost every child in Islington had been mugged at some stage.  This was denied by the Metropolitan Police as 'speculation', pointing out that out of a population 180,000 only 750 people under 18 had reported being victims of mugging in 2007.  These comments by Thornberry were seen as a hinderance to the Labour London mayor Ken Livingstone's re-election campaign.
Thornberry was appointed  Shadow Attorney General in October 2011, and she has won praise for being 'very sensible and pertinent'.   

'No Royalties' from book on Cyril Smith

EARLIER this month Simon Danczuk declared that he had 'recieved no royalties for our book on Cyril Smith...'  He was reacting after a complaint was sent to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards claiming that the Rochdale MP had failed to fully record fees and royalties for the book he wrote with his aid Matthew Baker.  It is not clear if the absence of royalties means that the hardback book about Cyril is not selling well, or simply because of the way the administration of royalties for the book is conducted by  the publisher. 

Mr. Danczuk defensively admitted;
'...I have recieved serialisation fees from DMGT (the Daily Mail and General Trust) plc and this has been duly declared.'

He also went on to say:
'I have made donations to a number of charities since receiving this fee.'

He did not name any of the charities to which he had contributed, but it is known that in April he failed to respond when asked to contribute to a children's charity in West Africa.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014


Phil Chamberlain and Dave Smith issued the following statement:

'We regret to announce that our contract with Pluto Press to publish the book: Blacklisted: The secret war between big business and union activists, has been terminated by mutual agreement with no ongoing liabilities remaining on either side.

Six years of investigative journalism has produced a finished manuscript that names and shames those who orchestrated and colluded with the blacklisting human rights scandal. 

We are currently looking at a number publishing options and are 100% confident that Blacklisted will be published before next year's general election.'

The co-authors also sent the following tweet via the Twitter account @blacklistedbook:
'Regretfully, contract with Pluto for "Blacklisted" ended by mutual consent.  Options being considered to ensure publication before Gen Election.'

Newcastle Rank & File Conference

LAST Saturday, the rank and file construction workers held their conference in Newcastle.  It was attended by some 80 workers in the British building trade from Scotland, Yorkshire, Liverpool, Manchester and London, as well as Newcastle.  Topics under discussion included 'Umbrella Companies'; the JIB; the blacklist; and the by-election for the position on Unite's National Executive Council, a position left vacant by the surprise resignation of John Sheridan.  Media representatives from Channel Four's Dispatches program were present and conducted interviews after the conference.   

Tameside TUC's book 'Boys on the Blacklist' was promoted and supported by many of the electricians and building workers present.  Concern was expressed by the delegate from Tameside TUC about revelations that Pluto Press, the intended publishers of the forthcoming book about blacklist by the journalist, Phil Chamberlain and the activist Dave Smith, had indicated that they were no longer willing to publish it.  This came as the Tameside TUC delegate to the conference told of a secret e-mail from a senior Unite official to the Unite legal department, in which it was stated that 'Boys on the Blacklist' had 'material in it that had not been approved (by Unite)' and effectively dismissing the book as an 'amatuer effort'.   

We were told well over a month ago by sources close to the Blacklist Support Group that at least one solicitor's letter had been sent to threaten the forthcoming book on blacklisting.   If it turns out that both the employers and some trade senior union officers are trying to hinder publication and distribution of literature about the history of blacklisting in the British building trade it is a sad day for democracy in this country.   

Meanwhile, the Rank & File conference agreed to support the forthcoming strike action in November; to promote a campaign against Laing O'Rourke; and to back Frank Morris for the vacant position on the National Executive Council.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

In search of dental treatment in Tameside!

I’ve recently become aware of how difficult it is to obtain dental treatment if you’re not already registered with a dentist. My dentist struck me off his books some years ago, when I failed to attend a six-monthly appointment.

In Tameside, Greater Manchester, I have found that it can be almost impossible to obtain adequate dental treatment if you’re a NHS patient, but easy enough, if you’re prepared to pay up front.

Take as an example, my own recent experience. Last week, I started to get severe pain in my mouth and face because a tooth cavity needed a filling. For people who are registered with a dentist, getting a filling would be no problem. However, if you’re not registered with a dentist, it is necessary to ring what is called the ‘Emergency Dental Helpline’, a call-centre that tries to fix you up with an appointment with a local dentist.

On Monday, I got through to the Helpline but was told in spite of my pain, that nothing was available. I was then advised to ring the following morning at 8.00 am.  The next day, I managed to get through after a 15 minutes wait and was given an appointment at a dentist in Hyde. On arriving at the Clarendon Dental Practice, I registered and was asked for £18.50. For this I was given a temporary filling by a surly young Irishman who told me that I needed to register with a dentist to get urgent dental treatment as the filling he’d given me, wouldn’t last long. How right he was!

After being fleeced of £18.50 for very little effective treatment that still left me in pain, I made some inquiries about how to register with a dentist in Tameside. Tameside Hospital told me to contact the ‘Dental Department’ at the Ashton Primary Care Centre. When I phoned them, the young lady who took my call, told me quite emphatically, that the hospital shouldn’t have referred me to them as they only dealt with patients by referral. When I asked how one went about registering with a dentist in Tameside, I was told to ask friends and relatives or contact a dentist direct.

Having been compelled to pound the streets of Tameside in search of urgent dental treatment, I called in at two dental practices in Dukinfield, both of which, claimed to offer NHS dentistry. The first told me that they were not taking on NHS patients but they’d take me as a private patient and I was given a leaflet – “Welcome to access, a new approach to affordable dental care.” The leaflet claims: “Once you are registered as an access patient, you and every family member won’t have the hassle of searching for a dentist again.”

I encountered a similar response from the second dentist that I visited. A pleasant and attractive young woman on reception politely told me that they’d take me on as a private patient but not as an NHS patient, because “the government won’t pay us for treating NHS patients.”

What I have experienced over these past few days makes it perfectly clear to me that the state of dental services in Tameside is an utter shambles. What kind of dental service have we got when you’re compelled to knock on a dentist’s door to see if he will take you on, or you’re advised by a NHS Primary Care Centre, to ask friends and relatives if they know of a dentist who is taking people on as NHS patients? When I later  called at the NHS Ashton Primary Care Centre,  in Old Street, to inquire which dentists in Tameside were taking on NHS patients, the staff on reception abruptly told me: “We don’t do dental”, even though they have a dental department.  What is even more curious is that I was told this by people working for an organisation, that claims: “The NHS is committed to providing NHS dentistry for anyone who seeks help in accessing services.”

In her article ‘Bad teeth – the new British disease’, published in the Daily Telegraph in January 2008, Alice Thomson wrote:

“In Britain today, you can stuff yourself on deep-fried mars bars, drink 20 pints a night, inject yourself with heroin, smoke 60 cigarettes a day or decide to change sex, and the NHS has an obligation to treat you. But if you’ve got bad teeth, forget it. You may be rolling on the bathroom floor in agony with an abscess, your gums riddled with disease…but the NHS doesn’t have to help you.”

According to a survey by Mori, conducted on behalf of the Citizen Advice Bureau, seven and a half million Britons have failed to gain access to an NHS dentist in the past two-years.  Despite the NHS claim that it is committed to providing NHS dentistry for anyone seeking it, Thomson says that it is now virtually impossible for many people to find an NHS dentist, and if they do manage to squeeze on to a list, they could be charged 80% of treatment costs unless they are a child, pregnant or on benefits.

In 1990, only 6% of dentist’s income came from private patients. Today, it is around 58%. And yet, while many NHS patients struggle to find a dentist, the NHS trains most dentists at a cost of around £175, 000. A spokesman for NHS England told me that only so much government funding, was being made to available to treat NHS patients for dental treatment, and this had run out in some areas.

Blacklist News:

1. Police collusion with blacklisting
Undercover cops and the secret state workshop
Defend the Right to Protest Conference
Sunday 16th Nov
Conference speakers include: John McDonnell MP, Rob Evans (author Undercover), Helen Steel, Merrick Badger, Dave Smith
2. GMB Crocodile Tears tour
Councillor Sandy Palmer a former Tarmac / Carillion / NCS manager implicated in blacklisting of 36 workers was targeted this week (pix attached)
Kenny Newton, Lee Fowler and Joanne Folwer represented (pix attached)
3. Upcoming events
Construction national rank & file meeting
Saturday 15th November
Newcastle Labour Club
Speakers include: Frank Morris, Steve Acheson, Steve Kelly
Construction Safety Campaign AGM
Saturday 13th December 2014.
11.00am to 3.00pm.
Friends Meeting House, 6 Mount Street, Manchester, M2 5NS
Speakers include: Steve Acheson - Blacklist Support Group & Hilda Palmer, Greater Manchester Hazards Campaign

Friday, 14 November 2014

Russell Brand's 'Revolution' Part 2.

12 November 2014

Russell Brand's 'Revolution'

- Part 2,

The Backlash

 From Messiah

To Monty Python

If Julian Assange was initially perceived by many as a
controversial but respected, even heroic, figure challenging
power, the corporate media worked hard to change that
perception in the summer of 2012.  After Assange requested
political asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy
in London, the faux-feminists and corporate leftists of the
'quality' liberal press waged war on his reputation.
This comment from the Guardian's Deborah Orr summed up
the press zeitgeist: 
'It's hard to believe that, until fairly recently, Julian Assange
was hailed not just as a radical thinker, but as a radical achiever,
A sentiment echoed by Christina Patterson of the Independent
'Quite a feat to move from Messiah to Monty Python, but good old
Julian Assange seems to have managed it.'
The Guardian's Suzanne Moore expressed what many implied: 
'He really is the most massive turd.'
The attacks did more than just criticise Assange; they presented
him as a ridiculous, shameful figure.  Readers were to understand
that he was now completely and permanently discredited.
We are all, to some extent, herd animals. When we witness an
individual being subjected to relentless mockery of this kind from
just about everyone across the media 'spectrum', it becomes a real
challenge to continue taking that person seriously, let alone to
continue supporting them. We know that doing so risks attracting
the same abuse.
Below, we will see how many of the same corporate journalists
are now directing a comparable campaign of abuse at Russell Brand
in response to the publication of his book, 'Revolution'. The impact
is perhaps indicated by the mild trepidation one of us experienced in
tweeting this very reasonable comment from the book: 
'Today humanity faces a stark choice: save the planet and ditch
capitalism, or save capitalism and ditch the planet.' (p.345)
Sure enough, we immediately received this tweet in response: 
'As a big supporter of your newsletters and books, I'm embarrassed
by your promotion of Brand as some sort of visionary.'
Mark Steel explained in the Independent
'This week, by law, I have to deride Russell Brand as a self-obsessed,
annoying idiot. No article or comment on Twitter can legally be written
now unless it does this...'
Or as Boris Johnson noted, gleefully, in the Telegraph
'Oh dear, what a fusillade of hatred against poor old Brandy Wandy.
I have before me a slew of Sunday papers and in almost all there is a
broadside against Russell Brand...'
Once again, the Guardian gatekeepers have poured scorn. Suzanne
Moore lampooned 'the winklepickered Jesus Clown who preaches
revolution', repeating 'Jesus Clown' four times. Moore mocked: 
'To see him being brought to heel by an ancient Sex Pistol definitely
adds to the gaiety of the nation.'
After all: 'A lot of what he says is sub-Chomskyian [sic] woo.'
An earlier version of Moore's article was even more damning: 'A lot
of what he says is ghostwritten sub-Chomskyian woo.'
This was corrected by the Guardian after Moore received a letter from
Brand's lawyers.
The Guardian's Hadley Freeman imperiously dismissed Brand's highly
rational analysis of corporate psychopathology: 
'I'm not entirely sure where he thinks he's going to go with this revolution
idea because [SPOILER!] revolution is not going to happen. But all credit
to the man for making politics seem sexy to teenagers.  What he lacks,
though - aside from specifics and an ability to listen to people other than              
himself - is  judgment.'
Tanya Gold commented in the Guardian
'His narcissism is not strange: he is a comic by trade, and is used to
drooling rooms of strangers.'
In the Independent, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown's patronising judgement
was clear from the title:  'Russell Brand might seem like a sexy revolutionary
worth getting behind, but he will only fail his fans - Politics needs to be
cleaned up, not thrown into disarray by irresponsible populists'
Alibhai-Brown commented: 
'It is heartening to see him mobbed by teenagers and young people... Brand,
I fear, will only fail them.'
Grace Dent of the Independent perceived little point in throwing yet more
'with the lack of a political colossus on the horizon like Tony Benn, we
can make do with that guy from Get Him To The Greek who was once wed
to Katy Perry. I shall resist pillorying Brand any further. He looks exhausted.
I'm not entirely evil'.
Sarah Ditum sneered from the New Statesman
'Russell Brand, clown that he is, is taken seriously by an awful lot of young
men who see any criticism of the cartoon messiah's misogyny as a derail from
"the real issues" (whatever they are).'
Brand fared little better among the male commentators of the liberal press.
The title
of David Runciman's Guardian review read: 
'His manifesto is heavy going, light on politics and, in places, beyond parody.
Has the leader of the rebellion missed his moment?'
Runciman wrote: 
'This book is an uncomfortable mashup of the cosmic and the prosaic.
Brand seems to believe they bolster each other. But really they just get
in each other's way. He borrows ideas from various radical or progressive
thinkers like David Graeber and Thomas Piketty but undercuts them with
talk about yogic meditation.'
As we saw in the first part of this alert, there is a strong case for arguing that
mindfulness – awareness of how we actually feel, as opposed to how corporate
advertising tells us we should feel – can help deliver us from the shiny cage of
 passive consumerism to progressive activism.
Alas, 'too often he sounds like Gwyneth Paltrow without, er, the humour or
the self-awareness. The worst of it is beyond parody... his revolution reads
like soft-soap therapy where what's needed is something with a harder edge'.
Also in the Guardian, Martin Kettle dismissed 'the juvenile culture of Russell
Brand's narcissistic anti-politics'.
Hard-right 'leftist' warmonger Nick Cohen of the 'left-of-centre' hard-right
Observer was appalled. Having accumulated 28,000 followers on Twitter
(we have 18,000) after decades in the national press spotlight, Cohen mocked
the communication skills of a writer with 8 million followers: 
'His writing is atrocious: long-winded, confused and smug; filled with
references to books Brand alas half read and thinkers he has half understood.'
This is completely false, as we saw; Brand has an extremely astute grasp of
many of the key issues of our time.
As ever – think Assange, Greenwald, Snowden – dissidents are exposed as
egoists by corporate media altruists:  'Brand is a religious narcissist, and if the
British left falls for him, it will show itself to be beyond saving.'
Cohen strained so hard to cover Brand in ordure he splashed some on himself,
'Brand says that he is qualified to lead a global transformation...'
Not quite. Brand writes in his book: 
'We don't want to replace Cameron with another leader: the position of
leader elevates a particular set of behaviours.' (p.216)
'There is no heroic revolutionary figure in whom we can invest hope, except
for ourselves as individuals together.' (p.515)
Similarly, Cohen took the cheap shot of casually lampooning Brand's 'cranky'
focus on meditation: 
'Comrades, I am sure I do not need to tell you that no figure in the history
of the left has seen Buddhism as a force for human emancipation.'
We tweeted in reply
'@NickCohen4 "no figure in the history of the left has seen Buddhism as a force for
human emancipation". Erich Fromm, for one.'
Cohen was so unimpressed by this response that he immediately blocked us
on Twitter.  Writing from that other powerhouse of corporate dissent, the
oligarch-owned Independent, Steve Richards praised Brand's style and decried
the right-wing conformity of journalism, before providing an example of his own.
He lamented Brand's 'vague banalities' and 'witty banalities'
'He is part of a disturbing phenomenon - the worship of unaccountable comedians
who are not especially funny and who are limited in their perceptions... We await
revolutionary who plots what should happen as well as what is wrong.'

In the same newspaper, Howard Jacobson effortlessly won the prize for intellectual
snobbery:  'When Russell Brand uses the word "hegemony" something dies in my
Oh dear, does he drop the 'haitch'?  For Jacobson, who studied English at
Cambridge under the renowned literary critic F.R. Leavis, it was 'a matter of
regret' that Brand didn't 'stick to clowning'

Why? Because it detracts from the enjoyment of a comedian's efforts 'to discover
they are fools in earnest'. Brand, alas, has not 'the first idea what serious thought is'.
read the book is to know just how utterly self-damning that last comment is. 

James Bloodworth of the hard-right Left Foot Forward blog, commented in the
'Russell Brand is one of those people who talks a lot without ever really saying
Bloodworth clumsily sought to mock Brand's clumsiness: 
'Well-intentioned, he can often come across like the precocious student we
all know who talks in the way they think an educated person ought to talk -
all clever-sounding adjectives and look-at-me vocabulary.'
Words like 'hegemony', perhaps. Or as Nick Cohen wrote in 2013: 'He writes
as if he is a precocious prepubescent rather than an adolescent...'
Bloodworth's damning conclusion: 
'Millions of people may be fed up of the racket that is free market capitalism,
but this really is Revolution as play, and in indulging it the left risks becoming
a parody of itself.'

The Tory Press – 'A Snort Of Derisive Laughter'

If we dare turn to the more overtly right-wing press, in the Sunday Times, Camilla
Long lamented
'Brand's mincing tintinnabulations, his squawking convulsions, his constant garbling
of  words such as "autodidact" and "hegemony".'
That word again! Could the real problem be that a working class author has
appropriated words reserved for his classically-educated betters? Wikipedia records
of Long: 
'Descended from the aristocratic Clinton family (Henry Pelham-Clinton, 4th Duke of
Newcastle... is an ancestor through her paternal grandmother), she was educated at              
Oxford High School and Corpus Christi College, Oxford.'
Again, any thought of discussion had to make way for mockery:  'And what a
mediocre, hypocritical, dancing, prancing and arrogant perm on a stick he is...
I would be more comfortable with the former Spice Girl Geri Halliwell as a public
From the moral summit of Murdoch's media Mount Doom, Perpetual Warmonger
David Aaronovitch of The Times of course declared Brand's book 'uniquely worthless
both as an exercise in writing and as a manifesto for social change - I feel able to            
dismiss Brand's new self-ascriptions, both as self-taught man and revolutionary'.
(Aaronovitch, 'A unique Brand of dozy drivel,' The Times, November 1, 2014) 

Again, as we saw in Part 1, this is just false. There may be much to debate, but in
identifying the fundamental disaster of a corporate system subordinating people and
planet to profit, Brand is exactly right.
Aaronovitch heard only 'a wall of sound and words designed to drown out the
possibility of thought'

But the wall of sound was coming from Aaronovitch's own head, from the
psychological investments that prevent him perceiving words that would make
it impossible for him to continue the role he is playing.
For Aaronovitch, like Cohen, it was all 'sub-Yoko mysticana that [has] been the
"it's really all about me" staple of pop stars, actors and princesses since the days
of the Maharishi'.
So Brand just produces 'sub-Yoko mysticana', 'sub-Chomskyian woo' and, as
Robert Colvile noted in his review for the Daily Telegraph, 'sub-undergraduate

Reviewing the book in the Sunday Times, Christopher Hart wrote
'There's no doubt that Brand can sometimes articulate what a lot of people
are feeling...'
As if panicked by the possibility that this might be thought to signify approval,
Hart erupted: 
'But when the cry comes from someone who seems the epitome of a vapid,
ill-informed, coke-frazzled, self-adoring and grossly hypocritical celeb,
preaching to us from the back of his chauffeur-driven Merc, then the only
response it deserves is a snort of derisive laughter.'
Parklife! The bottom line:
'Some of this stuff does indeed need saying, but Russell Brand is not the man
to say it.'
Again, less a review, more a Soviet-style 'personality disorder' smear.
The Daily Mail really loathes Brand. For the journalist who for some odd
reason describes himself as 'The Hated Peter Hitchens', Brand is a 'Pied
piper who peddles poison'. It seems clear that some of the hatred directed
at Brand by both male and female critics is rooted in something other than
politics.  In a telling passage that reads like an outtake from a Carry On film,
Hitchens observed:  'But there's also no doubt he has a potent effect on
women - I watched him, in less than a minute, charm two pretty young Olympic
medal winners into taking off their medals and draping them over his scrawny,
naked chest.  The sad thing was that they acted as if they were the ones being
honoured by the encounter.'
We can imagine that Hitchens would have been only too 'honoured' to meet
the 'two pretty young' women and to admire the medals on their chests where
they belonged.  In the same paper, Stephen Glover also snorted derisively: 
'Why does anyone take this clown of a poseur seriously?... Russell Brand is a
ludicrous charlatan.' 

Glover, who had either not read, or not understood a word of the book,
'Revolution is one of the worst books I have ever read. It is repetitive,
structureless, poorly argued (if it can be said to be argued at all) and
boring... [from] our narcissistic hero... Why should we listen to this            
Another Daily Mail altruist, Max Hastings, also perceived gross egotism
at play: 
'Mr Brand is a strutting narcissist, who, despite having no idea what he
is talking about...'
For the now thoroughly corporatised Piers Morgan in the Mail, Brand was
a 'bogus revolutionary... this whole "revolution" he's trying to wage is a load
of old sanctimonious hog-wash'. Morgan was happy to sign-off with a lazy
dismissal:  'Like most great revolutionaries, he's quite happy wallowing in
his own hypocrisy.'
The Mail quoted James Cleverly, Conservative London Assembly Member
for Bexley and Bromley: 
'Why do the BBC give so much airtime to the vacuous, narcissistic drivel
of Russell Brand?'
We tweeted Cleverly: 'Exactly how often do you see a Brand-style,
anti-corporate perspective on the BBC? Every day?'
Cleverly did not respond.

The Mail also noted that Conservative MP Philip Davies, a member of
the Culture, Media and Sport select committee, had demanded that the
corporation look again at its public service remit: 'Why on earth are BBC
giving so much air time to such an idiot is beyond me. Especially on such              
supposedly serious programmes.  I just don't think that's what the BBC is
there for. It is not there to give idiots like Russell Brand time to promote
his book.'
Boris Johnson wrote in the Daily Telegraph
'Of course his manifesto is nonsense - as I am sure he would be only too
happy, in private, to admit... Yes, it is bilge; but that is not the point.
Who cares what he really means or what he really thinks?'
For this was 'semi-religious pseudoeconomic mumbo-jumbo'.
Again, another busy individual who had surely not troubled to seriously
read the book.  As with Assange, the intent and effect of all this is to portray
Brand as so ridiculous, so pitiable, that the public will feel ashamed to be
associated with him and his cause. 

The corporate media system, with its fraudulent 'spectrum' of opinion, is a
hammer that falls with a unified, resounding crash on anyone who dares to
challenge elite interests. It works relentlessly to beat down human imagination,
creativity and hope, to smash the awareness, love and compassion that might
otherwise terminate the 'nightmare of history'. Is resistance futile? Will they
always win?
Well, for once, we will give the corporate press the last word. On November 7,
the Daily Mail reported that Brand's new book 'has enjoyed monumental sales
- earning the star and his publishers a staggering £230,000 in just 11 days'.
The Mail, no doubt reluctantly, cited a publishing expert:  'It's an awful lot
of money to turnaround in such a short period.'
Unmentioned by the Mail, Brand has said that profits from the book will
go towards a non-hierarchical, not-for-profit café and production company
managed by the workforce 'where recovering addicts like me can run a
business based on the ideas in this book'. (p.593)
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Sent to Northern Voices by Trevor Hoyle.