Thursday, 28 May 2015

Welfare Action Gathering - 30 May.

We are publishing below a recent briefing from Boycott Workfare:
Saturday 30th May, 10.30am-5.30pm (arrive from 10.15am for a cup of tea), London Welsh Centre (10 minutes’ walk from King’s Cross station)
"We’ve just added a couple more workshops – and now there’s a timetable as well!
We're really looking forward to seeing you at the Welfare Action Gathering this Saturday.  Here's a little more information about what's happening when on the day.  
And if you're free on Saturday but not sure whether you're coming or not, have a look at the programme, and maybe our website too, for longer descriptions of the workshops. 
p.s. If you're coming, it would be great if you could make sure you're at the Welsh Centre before 10.30!
Here's the programme:
10.00Tea / coffee / welcome 
10.30Opening session 

What will cuts and reforms to welfare and housing mean? How can we fight against them? We’ll hear from everyone about what the biggest challenges facing us at the moment are.  We’ll find out what all the different groups and individuals want to get out of the day.
To get a snapshot of who’s come along, each group will have 2 minutes to say who they are and what they do.  Hopefully this way, everyone will be able to make links with the people they especially want to speak to throughout the day. We’ll hear about successes that we might like to explore in more depth later. Everyone will be able to share the priorities and interests that bring them to the gathering, and say what they’d like to work together on and what issues they’d like to discuss.  
We’ll start using the materials around the room to record what people would like to discuss in the open space, to signpost others to useful resources, and to advertise upcoming dates for actions/events/workshops. 
We want this to be a day for making concrete links between groups and between people. We want there to be more effective collaboration by the end of it – not just another committee or a manifesto. And we hope these discussions can get going from the start.  
11.40Tea / coffee / snacks 
12.00Workshop session 1
Organising against workfare in your town or cityChallenging sanctions and mandationStaying strong: Supporting each other through the emotional impact of punitive welfare reformsKnowing your right to Access to Work support, before going on Work Placements (DPAC) 
1.20Lunch (provided, vegetarian and vegan friendly) 
2.20Workshop session 2
Universal Credit: time for welfare and housing campaigners to come togetherTaking on workfareTactics to resist and navigate the Work ProgrammeKeeping Volunteering Voluntary: workfare stops when there’s nowhere to send people (KVV)Title TBC (WinVisible)
3.40Tea / coffee / snacks 
4.00Open space session to make stuff happen!Workshop
This session is for organising and information sharing.  People can plan how the ideas for action from the workshops will happen; or spend time exploring important questions we’ve all brought to the day. People can move between discussions, and between discussion and the workshop. 
We’d like each discussion group to be able to feed back with information about: who to contact; what is going to happen; how can people get involved. 
Dealing with energy companies and energy debt (FPA)
5.00After today?
We’ll hear about the plans from the open space, who is taking them forward and how we can stay in touch beyond the day. We’ll maybe arrange dates or targets for UK-wide action and ways we can build capacity and share resources to support each other. 
5.30Finish and pub!
Join the Facebook event and invite others to come too!
Organised by Boycott Workfare with Haringey Solidarity Group, with workshops and contributions from other groups. 
Please let us know if you’d like to come, if you haven't already:
We can help with travel costs. If you are in a local group where people support each other and take action on welfare or housing (or plan to start one), we should be able to help with your travel costs. Please help by booking travel early and accessing other sources of funding if you can. Get in touchas soon as you can to sort travel costs out.
If you’d like access info please get in touch and let us know if there are ways we can help make the event accessible. We’ll make sure the venue is wheelchair accessible on the day, but unfortunately one workshop room is not.  If you’re a wheelchair user and would like to contact us in advance to let us know what workshops you’d like to attend, we’ll make sure they’re scheduled on the ground floor.  But either way, room allocations are flexible and will be decided on the day."

Community Union imposes restrictions on freedom of speech!

Northern Voices Editor - Brian Bamford

JUDGING from recent reports that we have received from sources within Unite the Union, it appears that union bureaucrats are cracking down on dissenting and awkward voices within the union in order to exert discipline and control over their members.

At a meeting of the Greater Manchester Community Union Branch, on Tuesday, which was attended by ten members, there was a recommendation from branch officer’s that branch policy in relation to postings on the branch’s Facebook page, should be changed with immediate effect to allow only content that reflected UNITE policy at either branch, regional, or national level, to be posted on Facebook. It was also recommended that only UNITE members should be allowed to comment, even though the function of the branch, is to carry out community campaigning work.

We understand that this motion to restrict free speech within the branch was opposed by Chris McBride, the branch communications and media officer, who hitherto had been posting articles of general community interest. He told the meeting that other UNITE branch’s Facebook pages were 'open, inclusive, and vibrant' and that this was what was needed, to build a branch of the union that was rooted in the community. Another member pointed out during the discussion, that even without these restrictions, some items being posted on the branch’s Facebook page, were being censored and blocked.

When put to the vote, the officers’ recommendations were defeated with three in favour, four against and three abstentions. The Branch Secretary, John Clegg, then immediately questioned the accuracy of the vote and Branch Chair, Communist Party member, Evan Pritchard, called for a fresh vote to be taken. The decision was then reversed and the officers’ recommendations were adopted.

Among those who attended Tuesday’s meeting, was the septuagenarian, veteran Manchester anarcho-syndicalist, Ronny (gall and wormwood) Marsden. This self-proclaimed libertarian evidently voted against the motion on the first vote but did a volte-face on the second vote - after being seen to exchange glances with the Branch Secretary – and voted for tighter controls over branch freedom of expression. 
The branch also unanimously agreed that officer's of the branch produce a newsletter.

Over the Pennines in Rochdale, another septuagenarian veteran anarchist is facing possible expulsion from Unite the Union, for allegedly bringing the union into disrepute after publishing a report on Northern Voices about a union meeting in Liverpool and blacklisting. Brian Bamford, Editor of Northern Voices magazine and Branch Secretary of Bury UNITE branch, has been summoned before a union inquiry to investigate whether he has broken union rules. 

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Is Simon Danczuk M.P. playing with fire?

THE letter below was sent to the editor of the Rochdale Observer last February, and was inspired by some comments Simon Danczuk, the MP for Rochdale, made about his political opponents in his column in the Rochdale Observer.  The letter was never published.  In the light of Mr Danczuk's increased majority in the General Election in Rochdale, somewhat against the national trend, perhaps these thoughts expressed in my letter below, ought now to require some further scrutiny.

To the Editor of
the Rochdale Observer,  

Dear Sir,   

IN his 'Talking Politics' column (Observer, 31/ 01/ 15) Mr Simon Danczuk attacked the Green Party and UKIP in the  manner in which he has  formerly used to attack the Liberals; that [is] by the use of smear tactics.   He writes 'that the Greens believe it's not a crime to belong to terrorist organisations like Islamic State, Al Qaida or Islamic State.'  

Now, we know that, since he became a M.P., Mr. Danczuk has dabbled in the politics of the Middle East, but what most of your readers will not realise is that he has also built up a relationship with certain members of the Kashmiri community locally, and nationally, concerning himself with the affairs of the Indian sub-continent.  This is not extraordinary because politicians are supposed to have a world-view.  Yet, when I was at the book-launch of Danczuk's book on child abuse at Danczuk's Deli on the 15th, April, 2014, I was surprised to see a contingent of Kashmires, some who I knew from working at Arrow Mill in the 1970s, and who had been historic supporters in the 1980s and 1990s of an organisation called Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front that had fought the Indian army in the cause of an independent Kashmir.   

Because, as well as being an anarchist who went to Spain to challenge General Franco's dictatorship in the 1960s, ... I had some links with these Kashmires during the 1980s and 90s, and once even organised a press conference for them at the Mitre Hotel in Manchester in the 1980s.  It was a treat then to meet with old friends, some from as far away as Luton and Glodwich in Oldham, but why were they there at Mr. Danczuk's book-launch?  What had child abuse and the former Cyril Smith to do with the politics of Kashmir? 

Whilst I was cheerfully chatting with a Kashmiri lad from Oldham we were interrupted for photo calls, so that Mr. Danczuk could pose with the former supporters of an independent Kashmir; a cause which had involved violence, arrests and kidnappings and which some might call 'terrorism'.  Why were they there at such a unique event coming from so far and wide?  Could it be that the lad from Burnley and the politics of the Mr.Danczuk's Labour Party in Rochdale, requires that he be seen playing footsie with some foreign causes that he probably knows very little about?   

I don't suggest for a moment that Mr. Danczuk is knowingly supporting terrorists or, indeed, that my Kashmiri friends participated in anything illegal that happened in their cause either in this country or abroad.  But I do think Mr. Danczuk is playing with foreign fires in order to obtain certain ethnic votes, not to mention his two-faced hypocrisy in describing the Greens as favouring the terrorists. 

Yours faithfully,

Brian Bamford.

Salford University Strike


UCU members at the University of Salford will be taking four days of strike action this week as part of their dispute over the sacking of two union members by the management.  

You can find more details of the dispute on the link below:

Be sure to get down to their picket lines and show your support for the dispute.  

In Solidarity,


Alex Davidson
Secretary - Manchester Trades Union Council

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Chosing a Labour Leader!

AS Blair and Mandelson tell Labour MPs to choose yet another leader drawn from the same sort of background as the people who are unlikely ever to vote Labour, perhaps our two Labour MPs, Liz McInnes and Simon Danczuk, should remind them that it may be time to choose a leader with the same sort of background as the people in the North of England who turned out last Thursday and gave Labour many of the seats it still holds.

But if Mr Danczuk has any pretensions to ever holding office he will eventually have to answer the questions about his recent book which have repeatedly been put to him. It isn't just the marked difference between what Mr Danczuk claims for his major witness at Knowl View and what that
witness is on record as saying in newspaper interviews in 1995, 2012 and 2013. It is also the fact that in his book he hints that he knew about Cyril Smith's activities at Cambridge House before his death in 2010. If this is indeed the case it raises the question of why he attended the unveiling of the 'Blue Plaque' in 2011.

If criticism is going to be made of Clegg, Steel and Thatcher with regard to what they knew about Cyril, then perhaps similar criticism should be directed at Mr Daczuk and for the same reason.

Les May.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Ken Loach presents 'It's a Free World'

“It’s a Free World”
Thursday June 11th: Ken Loach to visit Burnham-on-Sea for film screening.
ACCLAIMED British film director Ken Loach will present a special screening of his film ‘It’s a Free World’ at the Princess Theatre, Burnham-on-Sea on Thursday June 11th 2015.  Doors open 6pm for 6.30pm start.  The screening will be followed by a question and answer session with the director.
Ken Loach is a prolific and world-renowned filmmaker, noted for his social realism style and for ground breaking films such as ‘Kes’ and ‘Cathy Come Home’ and more recently 'The Wind that Shakes the Barley', ‘Spirit of ’45’  and ‘Jimmy’s Hall’

‘It’s a Free World’ (cert 15, 2007) won Best Screenplay at the 2007 Venice Film Festival.
The film follows Angie, played by Kirsten Wareing and nominated for a BAFTA for this role, who having been unjustly sacked from her job in an employment agency, sets up on her own. But this is no conventional tale of plucky entrepreneurs building their business through sheer determination to win well-earned prosperity.  While Angie and her partner see their new business as a way out of economic hardship, it soon becomes clear that it will shape them more than they shape it.

'The result is a reminder that the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and is a layered and complex character study of Angie, with Wareing on career-making form.'   Empire Magazine

The film screening has been organized by Somerset Film and Bridgwater & District Trades Union Council.  Organiser Phil Shepherd said 'Ken Loach has always been at the forefront of socially-engaging cinema, not afraid to put his political arguments at the heart of his films.'   With 'It's A Free World' he does much more than highlight the scandal of how migrant workers are exploited, he challenges the prevailing wisdom that  'ruthless entrepreneurship is the way that this society should develop – that everything is a deal, everything is competitive, acquisitive, market-orientated and that’s the way we should live.' 

Tickets cost £5 or £3 for those receiving jobseekers allowance. These are available from the Princess Theatre box office on 01278 784464.

For further information please contact Deb Richardson on 01278 433187.
Somerset Film
is a registered charity dedicated to empowering individuals and communities through film and creative technology.
Bridgwater and District Trades Union Council works and campaigns around issues affecting working people in their local workplaces and communities: bringing together activists at a grassroots level, it represents the trade union movement to the broader community. 

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Media Lens on the Election

THE famous physicist Albert Einstein was fond of Gedankenexperimenten – thought experiments – which tested his understanding of physics problems and stimulated solutions to them. For example, when he was a teenager, Einstein asked himself, 'What would the world look like if I rode on a beam of light?' Pursuing this question, he eventually came up with the Special Theory of Relativity and the most famous equation in science, E=mc2.
Imagine, then, this thought experiment. Consider how a general election might turn out if the media spectrum ran the whole gamut from the right - the BBC, Guardian and Independent, for example - to the hard right (the Mail, Sun, Express and so on). Some readers might object that the BBC, Guardian and the Independent are not right-wing at all, but centre or even left-liberal. But, as we have shown in numerous books and media alerts, these media organisations are embedded in powerful networks of big business, finance and establishment elites. Naturally, these are the one per cent - or even narrower - interests that corporate media largely serve and support. Such media do not even deserve to be called 'centre', if the term is to retain any meaning.
In this case, of course, a thought experiment is not required because reality carried out the experiment for us, with the results being all too obvious last Friday. The Tories were returned to Westminster with a 12-seat majority. Notably, they only had 37% support from a turnout of 66%. That means only 24% of the eligible electorate actually voted for a Tory government. Such is the undemocratic nature of the electoral system in the UK. The establishment wins every time.
As Neil Clark observes in an article for RT, there is a long history of British press scaremongering to prevent any threat to corporate and financial interests come election time. As usual, the Murdoch press led the way, with the Sun warning on April 30:
'A week today, Britain could be plunged into the abyss. A fragile left-wing Labour minority, led by Ed Miliband and his union paymasters and supported by the wreckers of the Scottish National Party, could take power... You can stop this. But only by voting Tory.'

The ludicrous warning about 'left-wing' Labour - a pro-business, pro-austerity party that has cut its roots from working people - was repeated across much of the press. Even the ostensible 'liberal' Independent, owned by the Russian billionaire Alexander Lebedev, came out in support of the Tories.
After weeks of debate about the likelihood of a hung Parliament and permutations of possible coalitions, opinion pollsters and professional pundits expressed surprise at the relatively comfortable Tory win. But for investigative reporter Nafeez Ahmed, the outcome was predictable. In a piece titled 'How Big Money and Big Brother won the British Elections', published the day after the election, Ahmed noted:
'The ultimate determinant of which party won the elections was the money behind their political campaigns.'

The Tory party was the biggest recipient of donations, 'the bulk of which came from financiers associated with banks, the hedge fund industry, and big business.'
In summary:
'the most important precondition for victory in Britain's broken democracy is the party's subservience to corporate power.'

Steve Barley Sacked!

STEVE Barley - one of the leading figures in the Blacklist Support Group and the construction rank and file has been sacked along with 5 other workers for refusing to work weekends at basic rate plus £1. The national collective agreement states that workers should be paid time & a half for the first 4 hours and then double time, the workers were all told this would be paid but the companies involved, on a Wates, Briggs & Forrester and employment agency Pier  withdrew the offer on Wednesday. For standing up for their rights, these workers have now been sacked!

7am Monday 18th May 
Unit 4 
Vantage Point Business Village, 
GL17 0DD

Spread the word - lets make this a big one 

Message from Steve Barley: 

This week, Tuesday I started with Pier Agency of Cardiff, Working on a site in Micheldean, Glos. Main Contractor Wates, Briggs&Forrester M+E. After the induction, we were informed, Weekends are on, Time and a half first 4 hours on Saturday, Double time after that, though you're not expected to work all hours, its your choice. At 11 hours a day Monday to Friday ( though no overtime premium) and the reduced rate of £15, even through the crooked Umbrella seemed ok. Wednesday Pier Agency, states the premiums they pay are only £1 and £2 on the weekends. On site are 2 cardies Blue book rates, and 6 of us, 2 sparks, 2 mates, 2 plumbers, under cut, supplying our services on the cheap. We responded to the offer by rejecting to work weekends as the original offer has been withdrawn, though we would work Mon to Friday as normal, was our choice. SACKED !!
Today around 10 the agency calls and states if you dont work the weekend, you ain't wanted on site, take it or leave it. This instruction passed by Wates and Briggs to Piers. SACKED !! I cannot express my feelings to this, surely even Temporary Workers have rights ?? I have left voice messages hoping to gather support, to arrange a protest at the gates. I am washed out, my emphasis on this is weak, as is my faith in my trade and industry. This cannot be allowed to happen, or continue and some sort of action is required to show this to those pursuing the erosion of employment rights.
As I say, I feel demoralised, losing belief. and deserted these days. HELP !!

Under the Black Flag!

IN an e-mail extract below Iain McKay questions the concern of some of us on the Northern Voices Blog have about the plight of Freedom Press in particular and the left press in general, saying:

'All in all, I'm not sure why you are doing this Brian – all you seem to be doing is alienating people. ....  Given what you have written about me all I can say is that I would suggest your readers take everything you write with a very large pinch of salt.  All in all, I really do have better things to do that (sic) to reply to obvious distortions and insults.  If you want to help build the anarchist movement in the UK, well, that would be good but, to be honest, it does not look like you want to do that – if you did, you would not be writing such nonsense....  if you want to do something constructive then please consider getting involved with Black Flag – like the “Freedom” Kropotkin helped create, it is a communist-anarchist journal...' 

Comrade McKay then patronises me suggesting:

'If that (Black Flag) is not your version of anarchism, get involved with something more suitable for you (apparently “Anarchist Voices” is still going).' 

The fact is that, as I have already pointed out, I have never to my mind ever written anything about Iain McKay.  So far as I know I have never set eyes on him, and though I know the name I cannot recall having read anything he has written much beyond his recent e-mails to me.  Other people have remarked upon him and what he has written, but I have no pre-conceived ideas about him. 

As an alternative to the historic publication Freedom (first published 1886), which was put to death last year, Mr. McKay proffers Black Flag (circa 1970).  It is hard to take Iain McKay seriously here if only because, it seems to me, that Black Flag had its historical origins in a failed projected that I was involved in, in the 1960s.  Black Flag evolved out of a charitable venture called Black Cross which was set-up by Albert Meltzer and Stuart Christie.  In the early 1960s, both Stuart Christie and I took part in a campaign organised by the young Spanish anarchists of the F.I.J.L. to discourage tourism in Spain as part of the general struggle against the Franco regime. In the end, we clearly failed to discourage tourism to Spain; and in August 1964, Stuart Christie was arrested in Spain and served three years of a 20-year sentence.  For my part and that of my then wife, we were involved in research and propaganda, which involved us in providing photographs of shanty towns around Barcelona and Barcelonetta.  We sent reports of working and living conditions in Spain and later Gibraltar to our contacts in Paris for publication in the F.I.J.L. the Spanish underground periodical Nueva Senda as well as providing reports for 'World Labour News', 'Worker's Voice' and 'Direct Action' in the UK.  

When he came out of prison, Stuart Christie was taken care of by Albert Meltzer and, as I understand it, they first formed the Black Cross and later the journal Black Flag.  It may well be that the Black Cross did its job in providing assistance for prisoners held in the jails of General Franco,  but Black Flag was never a publication which had any significant status in the British labour movement.  I joined a trade union in 1957 – the ETU as an apprentice electrician; but, in all my years on the shop-floor I have never known a working man or woman who had ever heard of a publication called Black Flag.  Certainly none of the blacklisted electricians that I'm involved campaigning with today will have heard of such an obscure journal.   Its exotic and melodramatic contents and title may well appeal to young students but not to the working people and trade unionists, I know.   

Stuart Christie knows my views on what happened in the 1960s, and he knows that I am critical of his historic aloofness with regard to the British labour movement to which I belong as a lay trade union official, and his literary failure to seriously re-examine what transpired at the time of our involvement with the Spanish resistance to Franco.  However, having said all that, when Tameside Trade Union Council published its tribute to the 70th anniversary of the Spanish Civil War in 2006, Stuart had no hesitation, when at my request, it came to him writing an introduction in our booklet (see 'Other publications' on this Blog).    
If Iain McKay had owt about him he would know that I already edit the regional political and cultural publication Northern Voices, perhaps he unaware of this because he lives in London and works at a University.  Because it is so well publicised he ought, however, to be aware of my involvement in the campaign against the blacklist in the British building trade if only because since 2009, when the Blacklist Support Group was set up, there has been a London aspect to this struggle.

Destruction is a Creative Urge?

THERE was stunned silence followed by audible gasps in the High Court when Matthew Nicklin QC read out documentary evidence indicating that the blacklisting firms had deliberately set out to destroy evidence of their illegal conspiracy. The unions UNITE, UCATT & GMB plus solicitors Guney, Clark & Ryan (working in association with the Blacklist Support Group) are representing 581 blacklisted union members in 'group litigation' against 40 of the UK's largest construction firms, including Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd, Balfour Beatty, Carillion, Kier, Costain, Laing O'Rourke, Vinci, Skanska, Bam.

The procedural hearing yesterday was deciding on case management issues to be put in place before the full trial which is now confirmed to take place on 16th May 2016 and set to last 10 weeks. With directors of multinational firms and former undercover police officers set to give evidence, this will turn into a show trial for the construction industry. 

The major issue to be decided in this week's hearing was one of disclosure of documents to be used in the trial. The firms have repeatedly denied holding documents relating to the illegal Consulting association blacklist, despite invoices proving that directors of the companies attending quarterly meetings from 1993-2009. The firms told the court that to search for the relevant documentation would cost them £27million and that they had already provided a list of documents that they have found on their computers. 

But Matthew Nicklin QC, representing the blacklisted workers from UCATT, told the court that the pitiful disclosure by the firms was "worse than useless" and that the firms were being deliberately obstructive. Nickiln QC then read out documentary evidence that showed that David Cochrane, director of Human Resources at Sir Robert McAlpine & chairman of The Consulting Association (TCA) when it was raided in 2009 instructed Ian Kerr (chief executive of TCA) to destroy blacklisting documents and to ring round others to tell them to do the same. The document was a hand written record made by Ian Kerr of a series of conversations he had with various industry grandees immediately after the Information Commissioners Office served its warrant. The relevant part of the note read to the High Court states that David Cochrane told Ian Kerr: 

"Ring everyone – Cease trading – Close down – We don’t exist anymore – Destroy data – Stop Processing" 
Later sections of the same note record conversations with other senior managers who say they have already destroyed the documents they held. 
(full note attached)

Roy Bentham, blacklisted joiner from Liverpool & Blacklist Support Group said:
"The wheels of justice turn painfully slow but we now have a date for the full trial. In 12 months from today, I look forward to seeing those captains of industry being questioned about their illegal blacklist with ruined so many lives".

Dave Smith, BSG secretary added,
"We have repeatedly called for jail sentences for these wretches who violated our human rights. If the destruction of documentary evidence is proved in court, those responsible should be prosecuted for perverting the course of justice and be sent to prison. That would be real justice".

Other issues decided by Judge Supperstone

20 lead cases decided upon. Application by defendants for further information regarding DWP and  HMRC records for lead cases regarding schedules of loss. 
Length of trial - 10 weeks
2 further hearings scheduled. Next on the 14th July and two to be set in October including a costs hearing. 
Expert evidence. Professor to give overview and detailed analysis of earnings and specifically loss of earnings of the claimants. 
Defamation, data protection, libel, slander, conspiracy cases are all in the mix for which criteria that will be selected.
Blacklist Support Group

Thursday, 14 May 2015


Charlotte Hughes stood for the  Green Party as their Parliamentary candidate for the seat of Ashton-under-Lyne, in the May 2015 General Election. A local community campaigner and social activist, Charlotte runs a blog called 'The Poor Side of  Life'. The following article which we are publishing in full, is taken from her blog:

"Shocked could be a word that I could use, but I won’t. Thatcher got voted in for a second and third term in Parliament despite much opposition. So then the Tory party got re elected it wasn’t so much of a shock, it felt like something had died in our country. Yes the Tories have regained their power and will no doubt use this power, unopposed by anyone to inflict the worst damage that has ever been known to the poorest in society. 

I was interviewed by a local paper whilst at the election count and the reporter said to me “How would you feel if the conservatives won the election?” I said that I would feel sick, I would cry. I would not be crying for myself  I would be crying for the people of this country. A country that will be systematicically destroyed and taken apart by the Tory party for the benefit of the rich. I don’t use the name that the Tory party have rebranded themselves with. The very name conservative does not suit them. The definition of the word conservative is to not like change, to be quiet. Well they are going to do exactly the opposite. We know this. They plan to dismantle this country as we know it bit by bit, piece by piece. Every single safety net that we have relied on will soon be gone. If it doesn’t benefit the rich then it will no longer exist. Make no mistake they don’t care for anyone who isn’t one of them.

My first experience of the Tory party began when Mrs thatcher came into power. Even as a child I knew that this would be bad. For the first time in my life I felt what it was like to be poor. We had holes in our shoes, filled by cardboard and had no money for anything other than to exist. If it wasn’t for my grandparents we wouldn’t have had new clothes. My father was an engineer, a trade he didn’t really like but it was a job and we depended on it. Back then we had local industry, and we depended on that industry. I was told that the Tory party were bad, they only looked out for themselves and he was right. As a result there was strikes, but as a child I knew that what they were fighting for was right. I remember arguing with my parents about this. But I always had this belief that we must stand up for what is right.

So what now? Do the people who have voted in this government again realise exactly what they have voted for? I doubt that they do. Many I suspect have read and believed the mainstream news and voted as a result of the innacurate stories in the newspapers. Here’s a list of what will most likely happen, now there is no one to stand in their way.

The snoopers charter will be passed. Say goodbye to your privacy.
The NHS will be sold. There is opposition to this and Caroline Lucas is the head of this opposition. I hope that she gets enough backing to prevent the sale of our precious NHS.
TTIP will happen. This will have vast implications on our country as a whole.
Zero hour contracts will increase. More likely they will become the norm.
The benfit sanctioning regime will become worse, if it possibly can.
Homelessness will increase massively.
No social housing will be built. 
The human rights act will be scrapped.
Climate change investments will be slashed.
The BBC TV license will be scrapped and a subscription based service introduced.
Employment regulations will be slashed, they will merge regulators and cut costs.
The Tory party want to reduce seats in parliament to 600 from 650. This will be pushed through as a priority, making it difficult for another party to get into power in 2020.
There will be a referendum in Europe.
Fracking plans will go ahead. 

Cameron’s majority is wafer thin and he now only has a majority of 10 very rebellious back benchers to whip. Maybe this will work in our favour….
What can we do now? 

All anti austerity parties need to now join together in solidarity. We need to put aside any differences and work together. By doing this we will form a very powerful opposition indeed. We didn’t quite get it right before the election but we can do now. And the Labour Party needs to become the left wing party that it used to be. They will gain more support if they stop cosying up to austerity ideas and plans. They need to start saying no. By supporting all people again not just working people. We also need to look at the SNP and learn from them. They started as a small minority party but have grown massively. 

We can survive this, and we will by joining together. If you work join a union, if you don’t join unite in the community. The Tory party will try and attack the unions as much as possible now. And whilst they haven’t acted as strongly as they should have done in the past I feel that they will start to act more strongly now. There’s strength in numbers and we need to remember that. 

Always remember that a compliant society is easy to control, a non compliant society isn’t easy to control. So let’s not make this easy for them. "

Dave Smith Concerned About Council Contracts

LAST night, Dave Smith, at a book launch fringe meeting at the Fire Brigades Union Conference in Blackpool, expressed his concern about the way local authorities continue to award public contract to companies that were affiliated to the Consulting Association.  In 2009, the Consulting Association was discovered to be operating an illegal data-base following a raid by the Information Commissioner and its manager Ian Kerr was fined.  The illegal data or 'blacklist' included a list of 3,213 names of workers who had been employed in the British building trade.

At present many local councils are still awarding contracts to the companies who were affiliated to the Consulting Association without requiring serious safeguards that they are no-longer blacklisting workers.  Tameside Trade Union Council and the Blacklist Support Group which Dave Smith leads are seeking to get local authorities to enforce ethical procurement policies when they award public contracts.

Monday, 11 May 2015

Letter to the Rochdale Observer:

Dear Editor of the Rochdale Observer,

The now delayed report by Dame Janet Smith was compiled after the
investigation interviewed 375 witnesses in connection with the activities of Jimmy Savile and more than a 100 in connection with Stuart Hall. And how many men who claimed to have been abused by Cyril Smith after the closure of Cambridge House did Matthew Baker and Simon Danczuk
interview before publishing their book 'Smile for the Camera'? We don't know, because Mr Danczuk refuses to tell us.

If Dame Janet Smith had chosen to adopt the same tactic how much faith would the press and public have in the impartiality and accuracy of her report? Is it not time that we held Mr Baker and Mr Danczuk to the same standard?

Les May

The Green Blacklist!

ENVIRONMENTAL activists who were on a construction industry blacklist have spoken out in support of a High Court case against companies involved. 

This coming Thursday 14th May 2015, the blacklisting group litigation (equivalent to a US style class-action) returns to the High Court with 500 blacklisted workers taking on over 40 of the UK's largest construction companies. 

The illegal system run by the Consulting Association was used by most of the big names in construction until it was exposed in 2009. More than 3,200 people had files detailing their instances of political activity, raising of health and safety concerns or trade union involvement. Information in the files was provided by the companies themselves as well as police. Whilst most were actual construction workers, with some having dossiers running to nearly 50 pages of personal details, over 200 environmental activists – known as the ‘greenlist’ – also had files. 

When the Information Commissioners Office raided the Consulting Association in 2009 they only seized an index list of greenlist files, the files themselves were destroyed. This meant there is no evidence of what was in the files or which ones had been used to deny work to any individual, and so greenlisters’ lawyers advised against continuing the legal case. 

Recently several of the companies who used the list set up a compensation scheme. It gives £4,000 to anyone who was on the list, more if they can show their files were used. It is capped at £100,000. With some workers denied a living for a decade or more, the maximum payout doesn’t even cover loss of earnings for many, let alone any interest of damages. Many of them, co-ordinated by the Blacklist Support Group, are boycotting the derisory compensation offer and are fighting on in the courts. 

But for the greenlisters, the legal fight seems over. A number of them are accepting the money and made donations to the Blacklist Support Group’s cause. 

Greenlist activists statement said: 
“Thanks to the incompetence of the Information Commissioners Office, only a fraction of the files were seized. Greenlisters only have a list of whose files existed. Had ours not been among those lost, we would have the chance to fight our legal case properly and to seek more answers. It was a breach of our right to privacy, to freedom of association, and our right to a unionised, safe workplace. But this paltry sum is the best we can hope for. 

“Most of us were on the list because our details had been passed from brushes with the law in environmental protests. It seems likely that police were involved in supplying this information, and we note that the Independent Police Complaints Commission admit blacklist files contained information that can only have come – illegally - from police or security services. They worked not to uphold the law but in order to uphold corporate profit. 

“Even if greenlisters did not suffer financial hardship from being on the list, that was not through want of trying on the part of the police and blacklisters. More than that the 3,000 construction workers suffered huge hardship over decades. This was a colossal conspiracy to invade people’s personal lives, the working class equivalent of phone hacking. We stand in solidarity with the blacklisted construction workers. We are proud to donate funds from the wrongdoers to the fightback against them. We hope it can help their court case get the truth and justice that has been denied to us.”

Blacklist Support Group Protest 
9:30am Thursday 14th May
Royal Courts of Justice
The Strand

Failure of Vision on the British Left:

Political Leadership and moral decline


THE success of the Conservative Party in last week's elections showed up the intellectual and moral bankruptcy of the British left in general.  Since the death of the former leader of the British Labour Party Michael Foot, I have been arguing that the Labour Party has for many years been a party that has outlived its mission.  Last week's election result merely confirmed what has been evident for a long time. 

But the failure is not just that of the Labour Party but that of the British left in general, including the trade union movement in this country.  Since the strikes of the miners in the 1980s, the British trade union movement has been industrially a busted flush that has politically looked to the Labour Party to usher in social change.  The unions had no plan or serious strategy of their own other than capturing influence and power through the British Labour Party in government.  That involved them in the rather vulgar prospect of buying political influence through the sponsoring of Members of Parliament.  In the eyes of some of their members this has been a case of throwing good money after bad. 

Last November, at the building worker's Rank and File Conference, I watched closely as one such Scottish Labour MP, Ian Davidson, performed as a honoured guest of the building workers.  Mr. Davidson was then introduced as the M.P. for Glasgow West, and it was he who performed so well when he recently he chaired the Scottish Affairs Select Committee enquiry into blacklisting in the British building trade:  see the books 'Blacklisted: The Secret War Between Big Business & Union Activists' by Dave Smith and Phil Chamberlain (price £9.99), and Tameside Trade Union Council's 'Boys on the Blacklist' by me and Derek Pattison (price £3).  In his speech to the building workers Mr. Davidson was careful not to offend the trade unions, some of whose paid officials disgracefully may well have been involved historically both in the enforcement, and supply of intelligence about blacklisting in the construction industry.  Last week after the elections, Ian Davidson was calling on Jim Murphy, the leader of the Scottish Labour Party, to stand down, as he and almost all of the other Scottish Labour M.Ps had lost their seats to the Scottish Nationalists.  Unlike Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband, Jim Murphy who performed worse than either is, at the time of writing this, determined to to stay in office. 

Surely it is more than a failure of leadership that has brought about the decline in the fortunes of the Labour Party, and in some respects the labour movement.  It is a systemic failure that is rooted in an underlying lack of imagination and political vision that is common, not just in the trade unions, but on the left in general.   The British left, including the anarchists, seem to fear of self criticism.  On the eve of the election Russell Brand called on his anti-establishment constituency to vote Labour but to no avail.   

Janan Ganesh in the Financial Times last Saturday wrote:

'Elections are decided by fundamentals that take shape years in advance.  The five-week flurry of campaigning at the end might actually be the least significant phase of a parliament.....  But the best campaigners understand that campaigns do not change very much:  they merely uncover what already lurks inchoately in the mind and breast of the electorate.  On that score Labour lost the election long ago.' 

I can remember at the Manchester Labour Party Conference in 2010, when Ed Miliband was anointed as leader of the Labour Party.   At that time it was seen by some, particularly in unions like Unite, as a victory for the left.  It now looks like another dose of what George Elliot in 'Felix Holt: Radical' called 'vain expectations' from which the British left periodically suffer.  As Labour faces another leadership election Janan Ganesh warns:

'Whoever they choose (as leader), there has to be the all-out argument that was dodged in 2010, when the party entered a stupor of mutual reassurance and wishful thinking.'

It is doubtful if either the the Labour Party members or their trade union paymasters understand what is required here.  Unfortunately, Mr. Ganesh doesn't help his case when he writes:

'The consolation is that it (the Labour Party) can choose a  new leader from a promising field.  Andy Burnham, from the left, will offer Milibandism without Miliband.  The more market friendly flank of the party might assemble behind Liz Kendall or Chucka Umunna, the man the Tories fear most.'


Not much sign of profound vision or any great social transformation for humanity here.

Friday, 8 May 2015

'Constitutional Coup' Protest Cancelled!

Friend --

Our proposed demonstration following warnings of a 'Tory Coup'
has been cancelled.
It was fantastic to see such overwhelming support for this action. It was
right that we were prepared to mobilise against dirty tricks.
Following our poll on the facebook event page we've agreed to cancel
tomorrow and re-focus that energy to get the biggest possible
national demonstration on Saturday 20 June. Thanks to all for your

It's been a difficult 24 hours. No one was expecting to wake up to a
Tory majority today.We know exactly what faces us over the next five
years - an even more vicious government than before.
We need to get hundreds of thousands of people out on the streets
against what this government is about to do.
Please get on social media, invite your friends and share this event page.
Get out on the high streets, leaflet, poster, sticker, put on transport, get
involved in your People's Assembly group, make sure everyone you know
is coming to that demonstration.

Lets show this government the full force of anti-austerity opinion. We've
got six weeks to make it happen...

The People's Assembly Against Austerity
The People's Assembly Against Austerity · United Kingdom
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