Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Danczuk Dumped by Cleavage!

OVER the weekend it has been reported that Karen Danczuk, who rose to 'fame' following a series of postings of her cleavage on Twitter, and later became a Rochdale councilor in the Kingsway ward, has now broken up with her husband Simon Danczuk the well known campaigning MP for Rochdale.  Mr. Danczuk declared himself in the current Rochdale Observer to be 'devastated'.

Today's Daily Mail reports that:
'Mrs. Danczuk has become famous thanks to her addiction to posting "selfie" photographs of herself - or to be more specific, her cleavage - Twitter. ... In recent weeks, the 32-year-old (Karen) has branched out and posted sefies of her bottom and pouty pictures of her mouth.  Earlier this month she tweeted:  "I'm just so proud.  Absolutely loving my bum.'

Mrs. Danczuk's departure from Simon Danczuk's dream team follows the departure last month of his closest advisor and aide, Matthew Baker.  Mr. Baker is reputed to have both researched and written the controversial book 'Smile for the Camera:  The Double Life of Cyril Smith' which has made Danczuk famous as a campaigner against child abuse.

It was suggested to Northern Voices in 2013 by a source then close the Danczuks, that Mr. Baker and Mrs. Danczuk didn't hit it off.  Matthew Baker had strong links to other journalists and is believed to have been pivotal in getting the deal with the Daily Mail to serialise their book 'Smile for the Camera'.  During the book launch in Danczuk's Deli in March 2014, Mr. Danczuk boasted how much the editor of the Daily Mail, Paul Michael Dacre, liked their book on Cyril Smith,

After their book launch in 2014, on The Walk outside Danczuk's Deli, Mr. Baker justified to me getting the Daily Mail to promote and serialise their book on Cyril by arguing that the Mail was more useful to them than The Guardian, and the Mail on Saturday sold more copies than the Sun.  At the book launch were many members of the Rochdale Labour Party including the current leader of the Labour Group on the Rochdale Council, Richard Farnell, but no one questioned the link-up between Danczuk and the right-wing editor and severe critic of the Labour Party, Paul Michael Dacre.

Today the local website Rochdale-on-line reports:
'Their marriage has long been reputed to be 'volatile' and on Friday Mr Danczuk posted a tweet saying he was researching 'Narcissistic Personality Disorder', which many took to be aimed at his wife.'

We must wait to see what more is to be revealed about this odd but endlessly fascinating political couple.

Monday, 29 June 2015

Freedom: The Phoenix Phenomenon?

AFTER over a decade and a half in the journalistic doldrums, can it be that the Freedom Press Group representing the management of Freedom, and up to last year the oldest political journal in this country if not the world, has now finally turned a corner?  Well wishers in the North, and across the country, will now be anxiously watching to see if the Phoenix, as Colin Ward once referred to British anarchism, can rise yet again from the ashes.  It is to be hope that this will be the case. 
Later this week, the Northern Voices Blog anticipates that it will be able to produce a report by one of our correspondents on developments at Freedom Press

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Tribunal Judge calls for Judicial Review of Council Tax Scheme!

A 58-year-old community campaigner against the Tory 'bedroom tax', recently won a council tax appeal at the Valuation Tribunal of England sitting in Manchester in 2014.
Steve Anthony Fisher, a self-employed man from Dukinfield, appealed against a decision of his local authority Tameside Council, to bill him full council tax under its council tax scheme. Under a previous scheme Mr. Fisher had received council tax benefit in full. However, when the council changed its scheme in 2013, he was shocked to find that the council now expected him to pay full council tax even though his circumstances had not changed. He was also hit with a double whammy, when the council demanded a further £12.50 charge for his Tory bedroom tax because he was deemed to have a spare bedroom. Both charges together amounted to 50% of his disposable income.
Mr. Fisher has lived at his two bedroom house for the last thirty years. Believing that he had suffered an injustice and had been treated harshly, he appealed to the Valuation Tribunal. After two separate hearings, the Tribunal decided to allow his appeal in part, because the 'billing authority' (Tameside Council) had incorrectly applied their own scheme in relation to Mr. Fisher. In short they did not know their arse from their elbow.  
In his promulgated decision, Mr. P. Johnson (Tribunal Chairman), made the following obiter:  
  • This case raised potential grounds for Judicial Review of the Scheme and potential for challenge under the Articles and Protocols of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
  • While Mr Fisher's primary and legitimate concern was with the principal that he should be deemed to possess more income than he actually received, he noted that the Tameside area (or at least a substantial part of it) is an area in which Universal Credit has been introduced, but does not yet apply to all persons claiming Universal Credit. He believes that The Scheme has been drafted to dovetail with the Universal Credit Scheme, copying heavily from that scheme, but has failed to ensure fair treatment to persons not in receipt of Universal Credit.
  • The tribunal could not consider those matters, but recommends that Tameside MBC give urgent reconsideration to the wording of The Scheme, in light of the hardship caused to some persons claiming under the Scheme.
Given the Chairman's comments, Mr. Fisher would be keen to pursue the matter to Judical Review if legal aid was available. Alternatively, an organisation like C.A.B. or welfare rights, might want to investigate the matter further as it seems to affect many more people living in Tameside. Mr. Fisher can be contacted on starlord@starlord-enterprises.freeserve.co.uk

Blacklisting book exposes collusion between bosses and unions in the UK building trade!

As Dave Smith and Phil Chamberlain point out in their excellent book on blacklisting, (Blacklisted: The Secret War Between Big Business And Union Activists), being a union activist who worked in the British construction industry, was the primary reason why a person was included in the blacklisting files of the Consulting Association.

The authors, however, do not accuse any union official of any illegality or deliberate collusion in blacklisting, even though the names of certain trade union officials, are identifiable as a source of information in the Consulting Association files. But as they point out, even if entries in the files can be attributed, it is often difficult to prove intent.

It is clear from these files that certain trade union officials were having conversations with construction bosses and that these conversations were being reported back to the Consulting Association, which was closed down following a raid by staff from the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) in 2009. What was reported back often had a detrimental effect on construction workers. Yet was this down to loose tongues or deliberate complicity in blacklisting? 

The authors of the book contacted a number of union officials to ask how their names arrived on the files as sources for information. Some declined to comment. Others claimed that they were unaware of blacklisting or the Consulting Association, or that their conversations with the construction bosses, were being recorded. Many of these people have now retired on generous union pensions and in some cases, are now working for the construction companies that were involved in blacklisting.

These kind of excuses hardly bare scrutiny. It is difficult to believe that experienced trade union officials could have been so naïve as not to know about blacklisting in the British construction industry or that you should be careful what you say about people to the bosses. However, it is known that certain practices existed in the British construction industry that tended to create a culture of collusion between the bosses and the trade unions.

The so-called JIB agreement between the EETPU and the Electrical Contractors Association (ECA) which was established in Britain in 1968, effectively regulated the working conditions of electricians working for JIB companies. Under this legally binding 'social partnership', imported from America, every electrician working for a JIB company was enrolled into the EETPU and the firm paid his union contributions. In return the union agreed to discipline its own members, improve productivity and eliminate strikes. In 1987, the EETPU and the ECA, even set up their own employment agency, ESCA services. 

This cosy relationship between the bosses and the union officials, effectively led to a culture where some union officials saw it as their job to police the sites to exclude trade unionists who were thought to be militant. Conversely, some employers seemed to think that the union was their union because they paid the workers' union contributions.

Moreover, as Smith and Chamberlain point out, many union officials were also happy to take advantage of corporate hospitality: free meals at hotels and gentleman's clubs, free tickets to sporting events, free piss-ups, boat trips on the Thames, were all on offer as sweeteners to union officials. George Brumwell, the General Secretary of the construction union, UCATT, told one union official that taking corporate hospitality was okay because "sometimes you got more from sugar than salt."

Entries in the files which are referred to in the book, record such damning stuff as: "EETPU says No", "Reported by local EETPU officials as militant", "AEEU describes as f.evil as far as internal union dealings are concerned", "Not recommended by Amicus."

In February 2013, Steve Acheson, an electrician from Denton, Greater Manchester, spoke at a meeting in Liverpool. During his speech he was continuously interrupted by a group of officials from UCATT, who accused him of making allegations of union complicity in blacklisting without any real evidence. He was challenged to name the names. Acheson then read out notes that had been written by Ian Kerr, who had been employed to run the Consulting Association blacklist on behalf of the 44 construction companies affiliated to it. On the note Kerr had written:

"AA (Alan Audley of Vinci) met George Guy of UCATT NW Reg Sect + 2 others - who thought a storm in a tea cup. G Guy. Would you employ St Acheson? I bloody wouldn't. We've known for years - just a question of when it would happen. AA unions will have a problem now as they will get on site and cause problems." UCATT's response was to threaten to sue Acheson for slander.

George Guy denies the allegation and claims that he never discussed  Acheson with Audley or any one else. He told the authors that he has a statement from Audley (who is implicated in the blacklisting scandal), confirming this. Alan Audley of Vinci, "was a guest at the UCATT conference in Scarborough in 2012, three years after his company's involvement in blacklisting was known."

When the Scottish Affairs Select Committee began to investigate blacklisting in June 2012, Alan Ritchie, of UCATT, was one of a number of senior trade union officials who regularly met with committee members to discuss strategy. Curiously, at these meetings it had been agreed that certain aspects of the blacklisting scandal would not be covered. It was agreed that alleged union involvement in blacklisting would not be looked into nor would the involvement of the police and security services in blacklisting. The Chairman of the committee, Ian Davidson MP, told the authors of the book, that these and others aspects of blacklisting, were not investigated because it was felt they would have diverted attention away from the consequences of blacklisting on working people.

Both UCATT and Unite the Union, carried out internal investigations into union complicity in blacklisting. The authors point out that some people refused to be interviewed or agreed to be interviewed, only under "tight preconditions" and that both investigations, relied on "fragmentary documentation." UCATT commissioned Keith Ewing to investigate blacklisting. His report, "Ruined Lives: Blacklisting in the UK construction industry", was published in August 2009.

Unite, appointed Gail Cartmail, the Assistant General Secretary of the union, to carry out an investigation which was published in September 2011. Having read her report, one cannot help but feel that she started off with a conclusion and tried to fit the facts around it. The most obvious lacunae in her report, is that she failed to interview the important whistleblower, Alan Wainwright and Derek Simpson, formerly joint-General Secretary of Unite. Mr Wainwright, who had an intimate knowledge of how the blacklist operated in the British construction industry, claims that he wrote to Simpson about blacklisting in the construction industry in 2006. In a letter to Cartmail, he wrote:

"I'm therefore now writing to you to appeal to you to investigate Simpson's lack of enthusiasm to investigate and act upon this in 2005/2006 and provide reasons behind this. To the best of my knowledge, he did nothing." Cartmail replied:

"As you point out Mr Simpson is now retired. The union has no capacity to secure Mr. Simpson's co-operation in an investigation." Wainwright replied:

"I put it to you that this evidence was deliberately withheld to protect the financial relationship between the union and these employers in the hope that it would go away."

In concluding her report, Cartmail says: "Despite considerable effort I have not discovered evidence against officers." However, she told the Blacklist Support Group (BSG) at their AGM in November 2011 that union collusion may have taken place in the past - "It shouldn't have happened" and "offered the blacklist workers present, an apology."

Brian Bamford, Secretary of Tameside TUC, and a Unite member, wrote to Cartmail about her investigation into blacklisting in September 2014, but failed to get a satisfactory reply to the questions he posed. (see Boys on the Blacklist - Derek Pattison & Brian Bamford).

The authors of the book say that despite numerous requests, both verbal and written, asking UCATT for a response to questions raised in the blacklisting files, its officials have refused to provide any substantial comment for publication.

A class action which has been brought by over 100 construction workers against Sir Robert McApline and other major construction companies, is due to go to full trial in March 2016. The issue of alleged union complicity in blacklisting, may well become a prominent feature of the court case.

Friday, 26 June 2015

TUC to organise demo at Tory Party Conference

THE TUC will organise a national demonstration in Manchester this autumn against the government’s austerity agenda and attacks on trade unions. It will take place on Sunday 4 October and will begin with a march through central Manchester, culminating in a rally close to the Conservative Party Conference.
Workers and community organisations from across the country will join the demonstration, which will be the first the TUC has organised since the Conservative government came to power.
Further details on the march route, speakers and timings will be published in the coming weeks.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:
'This October’s march and rally will allow thousands of ordinary people to show the government exactly what they think of their policies.
'The Conservatives’ planned attack on trade unions and extreme cuts are an assault on working people at a time when they should be focused on securing the UK’s fragile recovery and creating better jobs to boost productivity.'

Tameside: A Follow My Leader Council

Wednesday, 24 June 2015


LOCAL DEMOCRACY IN ACTION? Not even party members have a say when it comes to choosing the leaders of local parties!

Whilst there is much media attention and interest being generated on the forthcoming Labour Leadership contest, I cannot help but make the following observation:

Fully paid-up members of any political party can vote for the Chair, Secretary, Treasurer and other Committee officials in the local Ward; they have a vote in the selection of candidates for various local and parliamentary elections and - just as in the current Labour Leadership contest - they will also have a vote for both the Leader and the Deputy Leader of their national party.

Yet, curiously, when it came to choosing the Tameside Council Leader back in 2010, this very important local decision only involved the 46 Labour Councillors then on Tameside Council.

From behind closed doors in what may have been an e-cig vapour-filled room, these councillors chose from amongst themselves the new leader of almost a quarter of a million Tamesiders - presumably very much in the same way as the Cardinals in the Vatican elect a new Pope? The end result being that Kieran Quinn emerged as the winner with 27 votes over the ousted former leader Roy Oldham, who could only manage to get 19!


To allow any grass-roots party membership to decide on who can lead the national party, yet to only allow local councillors the right to chose a local leader - demonstrates once again the contrast between our local and national politics and shows how the lack of democracy at local level is frequently overlooked!

Carl Simmons
Denton South Independent
Wednesday 24th June 2015:  For more go to:   http://carlsimmons-independent.blogspot.co.uk/

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Does the Sunday Times stink?

GEORGE Orwell once wrote:
'I really don't know which is more stinking, the Sunday Times or The Observer. I go from one to the other like an invalid turning from side to side in bed and getting no comfort which ever way he turns.' (George Orwell, quoted, Bernard Crick, George Orwell: A Life, p. 233, Penguin Books, 1992)
The competition remains fierce, but the Sunday Times edged marginally ahead with a recent front-page exclusive that stank to truly celestial heights. As we noted in our previous alert, the Sunday Times dramatically claimed that Russia and China had 'cracked the top-secret cache of files stolen by the fugitive US whistleblower Edward Snowden'. The 'exclusive story' contained precisely no evidence for its anonymous claims, no challenges to the assertions made and no journalistic balance. In a CNN interview the same day, lead reporter Tom Harper trashed his own credibility, and that of his paper, when he blurted:
'We just publish what we believe to be the position of the British government.'
One of our readers, William Douglas, emailed a powerful criticism of Harper's claims direct to Sunday Times editor Martin Ivens, asking him to explain why anyone should take the article seriously. Douglas sent a blog piece by Craig Murray, the former British diplomat, who had offered five reasons for thinking the MI6 story was 'a lie'. Ivens' reply was astonishing:
'I think you should address your remarks to 10 Downing St. If you think they have lied to us then so be it.'
There was no attempt to respond to the challenge, or to answer Murray's serious objections; just a preposterous and insulting suggestion to contact the British government. Clearly Ivens is unaware of legendary journalist I.F. Stone's comment:
'Every government is run by liars and nothing they say should be believed.'
Ivens' response is the reality of media contempt for their supposedly valued readers, or 'partners' as the Guardian affects to call the people it deceives. The Sunday Times states heroically:
'The Sunday Times takes complaints about editorial content seriously. We aim to resolve your complaint efficiently, promptly and effectively by direct contact with you.'
Failing that, write to the government!
One might have thought that editors and journalists elsewhere would have leapt on Ivens' contemptuous response to a serious correspondent, condemning Ivens for dragging their supposedly noble 'profession' into further disrepute. But, according to our searches of the Lexis newspaper database, the email went totally unreported. 

The 'Correction'

Last Sunday, the paper printed a tiny 'correction' to their front-page story beneath an even more pressing correction about iPads not being given to babies, as had been claimed:
'The article "British spies betrayed to Russians and Chinese" (News, last week) stated that David Miranda had visited Edward Snowden in Moscow. This is incorrect and we apologise for the error.' (page 24, bottom-right)
As Glenn Greenwald had noted in his comprehensive demolition of the article, the 'outright fabrication' that David Miranda had visited Edward Snowden was the key claim underpinning the entire piece – that Snowden had files with him in Moscow. A proper 'correction' would have seen the Sunday Times withdraw the article, admit to having published government propaganda, explaining how and why it happened, and apologising for the whole sorry affair.
Alas, clearly unrepentant, the Sunday Times has since published a follow-up piece claiming that Scotland Yard had been 'urged to investigate' Snowden (behind a paywall here; full text here):
'Liam Fox, the former defence secretary, has written to Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, the Metropolitan police commissioner, asking his officers to examine the "great potential damage to the national security of the United Kingdom" caused by the former analyst.'
This is the same Liam Fox who resigned as Defence Secretary in 2011 over his close personal links to lobbyist Adam Werritty. As was reported at the time: 'detailed disclosures showed Mr Werritty's activities were funded by companies and individuals that potentially stood to benefit from Government decisions.'
Moreover, Werritty had dubious intelligence connections with Israel that went unexplored by almost the entire 'mainstream' media, the Independent being a rare exception. Craig Murray added that there had been:
'a huge government cover-up in progress over the Werritty connection to Mossad and the role of British Ambassador to Israel Matthew Gould, and their neo-con plan to start a war with Iran.'
Glenn Greenwald acerbically challenged the hapless Tom Harper, lead reporter on the Snowden piece:
'You should go back on CNN and talk about this new story of yours. You built such credibility last time.'
The Sunday Times follow-up also repeated the smear that Snowden 'fled to Moscow to seek the protection of Vladimir Putin, the Russian president'. No matter how many times the Sunday Times repeats this false claim, it does not become true. The fact is, Snowden was on his way to Latin America via Moscow when Washington revoked his passport, leaving him stranded in Russia.

 'What Would Rupert Think?'

It is worth recalling that the Sunday Times has a long, shameful history of dubious 'journalism'. In the 1960s, the Sunday Times appointed journalist and author Tony Howard as its Whitehall correspondent, announcing:
'The job of a newspaper is to bring into public information the acts and processes of power. National security alone excepted, it is the job of newspapers to publish the secret matters of politics whether the secrets are the secrets of the Cabinet, of Parliament, or of the Civil Service.'
Media analyst Phillip Knightley reported:
'The then Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, was having none of that. He quickly shut Howard down. Howard remembers: "He said he understood I was only trying to do my job but he had a job to do, too, and his was more important than mine. He made it very plain that all conventional sources of information would remain shut until I was willing to return to the cosy but essentially sham game of being a political correspondent." ' (Phillip Knightley, 'Of secrets and spies', The Independent on Sunday, August 17, 2003)
Since then, there has been little call for anyone outside the Sunday Times to shut down honest reporting.  Harold Evans, a former editor working at Rupert Murdoch's newspaper, described to the Leveson inquiry how, in 1981, Murdoch rebuked him for reporting gloomy economic news and 'not doing what he [Murdoch] wants, in political terms'. Evans said that Murdoch came to his home and the two 'almost ended up in fisticuffs over a piece on the economy.'
Evans added:
'Murdoch would also haul in senior staff for meetings to tell them to alter their coverage, including the editorial line of the leader columns and telling the foreign editor to "attack the Russians more".'
David Yelland, former editor of the Murdoch-owned Sun newspaper, described how editors 'go on a journey where they end up agreeing with everything Murdoch says ... "What would Rupert think about this?" is like a mantra inside your head'.
Andrew Neil, former editor of the Sunday Times, commented:
'If you want to know what Rupert Murdoch really thinks read the editorials in the Sun and the New York Post because he is editor-in-chief of these papers. He doesn't regard himself as editor-in-chief of the Times and the Sunday Times but he does regard himself as someone who should have more influence on these papers than anyone else.'
The record is grim indeed. Four days after Baghdad 'fell' to US tanks on April 9, 2003, the Sunday Times published these remarks by the BBC's John Humphrys, presenter of the influential Today radio programme:
'So maybe it's not being too naive to think America really does want to use its position as the world's only superpower to spread freedom and democracy. The truth is, it's a question of where. Only last week James Woolsey - who once ran the CIA and has been appointed to run the new information ministry in Iraq - claimed America had been actively promoting democracy for most of the past century.' (John Humphrys, 'Bush turns a blind eye to the wars he doesn't want to fight', Sunday Times, April 13, 2003)
The newspaper supported the subsequent phoney demonstration elections installing a vicious puppet government: 'The terrorists will do all they can to destroy democratic elections', the editors noted of Iraqis trying to rid their country of a mass-murdering foreign occupation. (Leader, 'Send more troops,' Sunday Times, October 10, 2004)
The Sunday Times, of course, supported Nato's catastrophic war on Libya in 2011:
'[T]here can be no accommodation with a man like Gadaffi or any of his family who aspire to succeed him.' (Leading article, 'Allies need a rapid victory to outwit Gadaffi,' Sunday Times, March 20, 2011)
In 2014, a Sunday Times editorial reviewed the life and career of former Israeli prime minister and general Ariel Sharon:
'His Unit 101 slaughtered 69 civilians in the Jordanian town of Qibya in 1953 and as defence minister he was blamed for the massacre of Palestinians in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps by Israel's Christian Phalange allies in 1982. He was forced to resign from his post.'   (Leading article, 'The old warrior who turned to peace,' Sunday Times, January 12, 2014)
The Sunday Times editors described these atrocities as mere 'black marks'.  Otherwise, Sharon was one of Israel's 'great nation-builders' and 'a military hero'. 'He leaves an important legacy.'
Earlier this year, investigative journalist Nafeez Ahmed reported that the Sunday Times had planned a big exposé on the HSBC consumer credit fraud. The story was 'inexplicably dropped' at the last minute. Ahmed wrote:
'HSBC happens to be the main sponsor of a series of Sunday Times league tables published for FastTrack 100 Ltd., a "networking events company." The bank is the "title sponsor" of The Sunday Times HSBC Top Track 100, has been "title sponsor of The Sunday Times HSBC International Track 200 for all 6 years" and was previously "title sponsor of The Sunday Times Top Track 250 for 7 years."'
Other ugly examples of Sunday Times journalism include its campaign against Thames Television's 'Death on the Rock' documentary exposing the murder of three unarmed IRA men in Gibraltar by the SAS, the special forces unit of the British army; a long smear campaign against the BBC and ITV because they were regarded as obstacles to Rupert Murdoch's media domination; the fake Hitler Diaries; a character assassination of the author Salman Rushdie when he went underground following a fatwa that endangered his life; the smear claiming that former Labour leader Michael Foot was an agent of Moscow; and disgraceful coverage of the 1984-85 miners' strike that depicted the miners as the violent 'enemy within', echoing government propaganda. (For details, see John Pilger, 'Hidden Agendas', Vintage, London, 1998).
As Pilger noted almost 20 years ago:
'Once acclaimed for its journalistic and political independence, the Sunday Times was quick to reflect its master's view.' ('Hidden Agendas', p. 458)
Nothing has changed.
DC and DE

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Marching Together: an anarchist view on libcom

SATURDAY 20 June saw up to 250,000 people march in London under the banner ‘End Austerity Now.’    But four years on from the first ‘March for the Alternative’ back in 2011, how far have we actually travelled?

Having brought up to 250,000 people to the streets of London on Saturday, the People’s Assembly officially confirmed itself as a mass movement. Or so said Lindsey German of Counterfire, in her capacity of one of a number of interchangeable Grand Old Dukes of York of the left.

In reality, her article confirms that the PA is actually just the latest banner for the annual round of big fixture protests. Next on the agenda, we’re told, are budget day protests and a Conservative Party Conference demo; more Big Days Out for everybody to wave their banners and let off a little steam. Although obviously using phrases like 'lay siege' and 'make a splash' makes it all sound like so much more.

Reports of the march from a variety of sources are also talking about ‘the start of the fight back.’ It sounds good: one protest isn’t enough – this is the start of the fight, not a one off but a springboard to further action and resistance. There’s only one problem: this start isn’t the first start and it won’t be the last.

Every single massive demo is couched in exactly the same terms, as a beginning, with so much more to come.  But, like a terrible Hollywood movie franchise, they never quite get it right and so we get endless reboots.  We see the same story over and over and are continually told that it’s something new.

The reason for this is straightforward enough.

The trade union bureaucracy’s position and privilege is built upon its role mediating between the workers and the bosses.  This mediation means presenting workers’ demands to the boss class, of course, but it also means being able to compromise on their behalf, and to keep the workers in line when the deal is done.  If they can’t do this, as ‘responsible’ negotiating partners, then why should the bosses listen to them?

German and others who sit at the top of the various left sects seek a similar role in the political arena. The People’s Assembly is just the latest version of any number of fronts set up to allow them to position themselves as ‘movement leaders,’ even if on the surface it’s more successful than other endeavours at not looking like a front for a tiny Trotskyist group.  It’s how they recruit, sell newspapers, and maintain their own positions of relative privilege on the coat tails of the unions.
The various celebrity leftists attached to these events have a career to build on the back of speaking at such events. It builds a fan base, keeps their newspaper columns in demand, sells their books, and generally provides more of the only sustenance that matters to a celebrity: attention.

None of these people have a material interest in breaking the formula. Not the Len McCluskeys, not the Lindsey Germans, and not Owen Joneses. So we stay trapped in the endless cycle of reboots – one beginning after another, on launch pads with no springs.
Hell, even the cynical denunciation of this cycle is part of the cycle. But it remains necessary until we break that cycle.

Demonstrations aren't in themselves a good or a bad thing. In the context of a movement led from the top down by bureaucrats concerned to maintain their own positions, they're a pressure release valve for rank-and-file workers. But it doesn't have to be that way.

A march and rally can be what it says on the tin – a way to rally people together and give them confidence. Not confidence that the people talking at them have their best interests at heart, because that kind of confidence is demobilising. But confidence that they are part of something much larger and do not stand alone.

That only works if they are genuinely built from the ground up. A bunch of leftist talking heads in London organising a demonstration and then inducing the masses to attend can use the word 'grassroots' all they like – it doesn't make it true. When there's no pre-ordained platform, but rather anyone is allowed to speak, making the demonstration a way for people to connect with one another rather than be addressed by grandees, then we can believe them. This was the case with demos organised by the community Bedroom Tax campaign Stand Up In Bootle, to give one example, but it's not something you'll ever get from those behind the People's Assembly.

Likewise, when the demonstration has real links with the community and workplace organisation on the ground, you can truly talk about a movement. But the People's Assembly only cares for class struggle when it's managed and sanitised by the bureaucrats of the TUC unions.

Organising isn't an academic speciality that only an elite few can grasp. It begins with people who share a grievance discussing it, agreeing what to do about it, and taking action. By doing this in the community and in the workplace, and by linking these struggles up, we can build a movement worthy of the name.

On the other hand, if we surrender control of our struggles to those whose goal is to maintain themselves as our leaders and representatives, we'll constantly hear talk about the grassroots and a movement that's fighting back. But it'll just be talk, and we'll be trapped in that cycle of unlimited beginnings, never taking a single step forward.

Posted By

Jun 22 2015 16:35 on Libcom

Brixton Riot Revisited

A second showing of The Brixton Tapes has been arranged, due to the
popularity of the first night:

So, another chance to see the long lost and excellent documentary on the
1981 Brixton Riots with an introduction from our very own Alex (121/ Past

Tuesday 28th July

at Whirled Cinema,
259 Hardess St,
Loughborough Junction
SE24 0HN


Doors open 7pm. Film showing 8.30pm. There is a bar there so come early...

£5 non members £3 members.

About the film:
The Brixton Tapes, (1981)
Director: Greg Lanning. Television History Workshop

Filmed by a local collective based in Brixton, and consisting of footage
from the April 1981 Brixton Riot, together with interviews with
participants, and other local residents, The Brixton Tapes was filmed in
the immediate aftermath of the uprising. It features local people’s
accounts of the widespread racist and violent policing preceding the riot,
and of the events of the days of disturbances; accounts which contrast
with mainstream media coverage.

The April 1981 riot was a seminal event – followed less than 3 months
later by rioting in inner cities across the whole country. It led to
massive changes in perceptions of policing and race relations. But the
2011 riots, together with widespread concerns about renewed Stop  and
Search powers, and current uprisings against police violence in the US,
show that what happened in Brixton, in April 1981 remains relevant  today.
Brixton today is also in the grip of another life and death struggle:
between what remains of its vibrant community and development and

Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1587774461497768/

The film will be introduced by Alex Wild from Past Tense, a long time
Brixton resident and activist, who has taken part in, and written about,
some of Brixton’s turbulent recent past.

Past Tense is a radical history project, formed around a number of South
London rebels and writers,  which produces publications, runs walks and
talks, on subversive, working class and hidden history, and relates it to
our own stories and present attempts to change the world for the better.

Check out past tense at:

Police Surveillance & Pitchford Inquiry

THE Blacklist Support Group (BSG) has made a formal submission to the Home Office with suggested Terms of Reference for the Pitchford Inquiry into undercover policing, calling for the judge led inquiry to investigate police surveillance of trade union members. The Pitchford Inquiry was set up by Teresa May before the General Election, in response to revelations that undercover police units spied on bereaved relatives of murder victims, including the Stephen Lawrence family and had long term sexual relationships with women activists they were spying on. BSG are being legally represented by the prominent human rights solicitor Imran Khan, who has supported the blacklisted construction workers since presenting an IPCC complaint about police collusion in blacklisting back in 2012. Imran Khan is also representing Doreen Lawrence in the Pitchford Inquiry. The deadline for such submission is tomorrow (Wednesday 24th June) and the final remit is expected to be published by the end of July.

Proposed Terms of Reference for the Public Inquiry into Undercover policing from the Blacklist Support Group:
"To inquire into and make recommendations as to the role, conduct and governance of the police service and her majesty’s Government in the establishment and deployment of undercover and covert operations, with specific regard to the Special Demonstration Squad, National Extremism Tactical Coordination Unit and any other similar units in the police and in particular, to consider: 
  • The surveillance of trade union activists and trade union supported campaigns;
  • The provision of information by the police, whether directly or indirectly, of information contained on databases they have access to, to businesses about prospective employees;
  • The collusion, specifically with the Economic League and the Consulting Association and any other similar organisations, in the blacklisting of trade union members;
  • The outsourcing of state surveillance operations to private contractors;
  • The level and degree of political oversight into the above operations;
  • The extent to which the police were assisted in the above operations by the security services;
  • The circumstances of, and the reasons for, the loss, destruction and /or unavailability of documentation with regard to the matters above.
The Inquiry will also consider how to fulfill the objectives set out in these Terms of Reference by considering, in particular, the:
  • Extent and degree of protection from prosecution, under the Official Secrets Act or any other relevant legislation, of any witnesses giving information / evidence including whistleblowers;
  • Extent and degree to which the police's stated position of 'Neither Confirm Nor Deny' affects a transparent and thorough investigation into the matters set out above". 
The covering letter to the Home Office from Imran Khan states:

"In 2009, following a raid by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) at premises connected to The Consulting Association (hereinafter “TCA”), it was discovered that there was a database of secret files kept on 3123 trade union activists by some of the largest multi-national building firms in the UK.  The database was used to deny trade union activists work on major projects and was a continuation of a process that had been previously conducted by the Services Group within an organisation called the Economic League. There is prima facie evidence that some of the information on the database originated from or was provided by the police. Given this, a complaint was lodged with the Independent Police Complaint Commission (hereinafter IPCC) whose initial scoping of the complaint confirmed that “every Special Branch in the country routinely provided information about prospective employees”. 

In addition to the trade union members, around 200 environmental and social justice activists also appear on the blacklist, including some of the women spied on by the undercover police that led to the inquiry to be set up. 

Dave Smith, BSG secretary commented:
"3 years ago, when the BSG started talking about the police colluding with big business to spy on trade union members, people looked at us as if we were paranoid conspiracy theorists. But we refused to let it lie and now the evidence is beyond dispute: senior police officers were actively participating with the Consulting Association blacklisting operation. Trade unions are a perfectly legal part of civil society. Why are we being infiltrated by undercover police units and why is the state sharing intelligence with big business?  

It is only because we were prepared to kick up a stink that the evidence about police collusion has slowly come to light. We now call upon the Pitchford Inquiry to carry out a thorough and transparent investigation into the out of control anti-democratic practices of these secret political police units. A first step would be for the Inquiry to be given a wide enough remit to uncover the truth, rather than being so narrowly defined that we get another establishment whitewash"  

Imran Khan commented:
“It is extremely sad to note that it often takes many years, grave injustices and tenacious individuals to uncover discreditable conduct in society. Those involved in the BSG have been bearing the brunt of severe injustices for a long time. Their hardship in doing so has not diminished their tenacity in seeking to throw light on this most murky of worlds. The Public Inquiry to be chaired by Lord Justice Pitchford will give the BSG the opportunity to not only uncover what happened to them but also ensure that the general public finally hears what went on and that the conduct complained of never happens again.”
John McDonnell MP, who has championed the cause of blacklisted workers in parliament commented:
“Thousands of innocent trade unionists and their families have suffered at the hands of blacklisting companies. They deserve a thorough and open inquiry to bring out the truth of how they were victimised and harmed by blacklisting.”

Danczuk's Diversion from Debtor's Retreat

JUST when it might have been thought that the combination of self-promotion, deliberately damaging his own party, and encouragement to “look over there” away from his own shortcomings by nominally Labour MP Simon Danczuk could not get any more bizarre and jaw-dropping, it did just that yesterday, and with the participation of Channel 4 News, whose staff one might have expected to know better.
Behold the representatives of Themselves Personally Now

The bandwagon onto which the MP for Rochdale has jumped on this occasion is the case of former MP Greville Janner, long suspected of improper behaviour with under-age males. That the CPS has decided not to prosecute Janner, on the grounds of his lack of capacity to defend himself, is well-known. Danczuk’s latest intervention makes the claim that the Labour leadership should have acted sooner to suspend him.

The Labour Party suspended Janner in April this year, “when the director of public prosecutions announced that while there was sufficient evidence to charge him with multiple counts of child abuse, a prosecution could not go ahead due to the ‘severity’ of his illness”. Danczuk has claimed “his party's leadership ‘failed to act quickly and efficiently’ to suspend Lord Janner”, despite his warning to Mil The Younger.

The Rochdale MP told Channel 4 News “he had been ‘visited by three senior officers from Leicestershire Police’ and that the alleged abuse that was disclosed to him in relation to Lord Janner's case was ‘stomach-churning’. He called on Ed Miliband to ‘suspend Lord Janner from the Labour party at the earliest opportunity’”. But what he did not tell was that a Police investigation was still going on at the time.

As the Labour Party has told, “When the Labour party received notice of the allegations against Lord Janner, we asked Leicestershire Police to confirm that they were pursuing an investigation with a view to bringing charges, but they were unable to do so … As soon as evidence was produced by the Crown Prosecution Service, Lord Janner was suspended from the Labour party”. What this means for Danczuk’s claims is therefore clear.

He is suggesting that Labour should have acted on the basis of allegations made by him - and that the Police were unable, or unwilling, to substantiate at the time. Yes, Simon Danczuk is suggesting - and Channel 4 News seems not to have challenged him on this - that Miliband should just have taken his word for it, and dispensed with any idea of seeing the actual evidence. Danczuk wants his own kangaroo court to prevail.

And what is worse is the impression is given that Danczuk has created this smokescreen to divert attention from his own problems, such as last week’s County Court Judgment against wife Karen for more than £2,000 of unpaid rent, and the revelation yesterday that his departing assistant Matt Baker was the sole author of the supposedly co-authored book on former Rochdale MP Cyril Smith.

There’s only one person the Labour Party should be expelling. Hello Simon Danczuk.

For more: http://zelo-street.blogspot.co.uk/2015/06/simon-danczuk-janner-smokescreen.html?m=0

Ethical Silence of the Grave

Trade Unions in a time of apathy
THE failure of the Unite North West Local Authority Regional Industrial Sector Committee, to seriously consider at a meeting on the 5th, March, a motion from Bury Unite Commercial Branch on a proposed Ethical Procurement Policy for local councils is something which will raise a spectre of impotence for one of Britain's largest trade unions. 
Addressing blacklisted workers in March 2013, Michael Meacher told the Blacklist Support Group:
'You have been victims of the worst conspiracy of silence and inaction that I have ever known in my parliamentary life.'
In 2013, two academics from the University of Westminster published their research into industrial relations on the Olympics' building site in London.  Six union officials were questioned as part of the project.  Their names were with-held, but one union officer went on the record to say that blacklisting on the Olympics' site was 'one of the myths of the site'.  Commenting on this Dave Smith and Phil Chamberlain in their book titled 'Blacklisted:  The secret war between big business and union activists' write:
'It would appear that some officials, at least, still prefer the assurances of the major contractors over the "anecdotal evidence" of blacklisted workers.'
When Tameside Trade Union Council pressed forward with a motion together with the Greater Manchester County Association of Trade Union Councils at the Annual Conference of the TUCs in 2005, the Trade Union Congress later told us that the Labour government had stated that the evidence for a blacklist was only 'anecdotal'. 
Dave Smith and Phil Chamberlain conclude in their book's chapter 'How much did the unions know':
'The sooner the trade unions accept that there have been failings in the past, the sooner the clean-up process can begin.'
Smith and Chamberlain, while they 'make no accusations of illegality or deliberate collusion with blacklisting against any union official', elaborate their case further:
'The virtual conveyor belt of union officials immediately taking up posts as senior industrial-relations managers or consultants with construction firms after leaving office adds to the impression of a cosy club.'
Derek Pattison and I wrote in the conclusion to our book for Tameside Trade Union Council titled 'Boys on the Blacklist'  that '[There] seems to have [been] imported a climate of collusion between some paid union officials and some building site companies in which the union officials helped to identify individual workers.' 
And we were driven to argue that:   'The historic introduction of an American style of trade unionism through the Joint Industry Board (JIB) with the Electrical Engineers & Plumbing Trades Union (EEPTU) in the 1970s, may have been responsible for promoting this situation and creating this culture.'
Since we wrote those words we have both read what Jonathan Jeffries, who like me was involved with the TGWU in Gibraltar, he joined UCATT in London in the 1990s and told Smith and Chamberlain how unions recruit companies rather than workers:
'The contractor would suddenly bring in all these membership forms filled in, in a bundle and then deduct the subs.  This isn't the usual situation where an individual worker decides to join the union or a shop steward approaches them and recruits them.  This is their employer saying you have to be in the union.'
One sub-contractor, Michael Fahey of Daf Electrical Contractors Ltd., even told the Manchester Employment Tribunal in 2004:
'Amicus [trade union] is our union... we pay the union dues for the men.' (see 'Boys on the Blacklist')
In her evidence to the Scottish Affairs Select Committee the Assistant General secretary of Unite, Gail Cartmail said:
'Sometimes employers change tactics.  We have a prominent site in London with Crossrail, and there is evidence of a contractor company suddenly having a conversion on the road to Damascus and paying the trade-union contributions for its workforce.'
Jack Winder, former director of information and research at the Economic League, told MPs on the Scottish Affairs Select Committee;
'While I was with the League we had very good relations with certain trade-union leaders, who were concerned about problems caused by the far left.'
In the light of all this evidence of possible complicity one would have thought, if only to clear the air, that a Regional Industrial Sector Committee [Risc] sitting in Liverpool, with lay members on it,  would have been keen to consider a motion on the Ethical Procurement Policies of local Councils from the Bury Unite Commercial Branch.  The idea of ethical procurement being to ensure that local authorities don't continue to give public contracts to companies that blacklist workers.  What we have here is a kind of conspiracy by a class of bosses in the British building trade, that seeks to weed out people for raising problems of pay, conditions, health and safety.  Gail Cartmail in her e-mail to me describes 'blacklisting [as] a sin of employers'!   If that is the case ought not the North West Unite Local Authority Risc., chaired by Sid Grave, to have at least discussed the motion, and not to have met the proposal with the silence of the grave?

George Orwell said somewhere that all societies suffer from the problem of apathy, and in England trade unions like Unite demonstrate a degree of apathy when they fail to tackle motions over the blacklisting of members.  Yet, if such unions should consequently go on the challenge the freedom of their members to speak out about these things then they display a weakness of spirit and robustness, which suggests that they are about to go into decline.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Danczuk's Communications Office Job Description

19 June 2015
2 July 2015
Go to website
Job Title:
Communications Officer/Constituency Communications Manager
Working For:
Simon Danczuk MP (Rochdale)
Negotiable dependent on experience
Job Details:
Simon Danczuk MP is looking for a Communications Officer or Constituency Communications Manager to work in his busy Rochdale Office.
The role is being advertised on a part-time or full-time basis, to be agreed with Simon. This role is based in Rochdale but may involve occasional travel to London.
The job role has a focus on media relations and engagement with the local community in Rochdale.
Duties include:
  • develop and maintain links with relevant local media organisations
  • pro-actively promote the work of the MP in the local area
  • keep the MP briefed on local political issues
  • develop and maintain links with key local stakeholders in Rochdale and the Greater Manchester area, including local authorities and government organisations
  • arrange and accompany the MP to local events
  • assist in running of constituency office where required
  • write press releases, articles and manage the MP's website
The successful candidate must demonstrate:
  • strong political judgement
  • experience of working with the media
  • strong written communication skills
  • good knowledge of the political landscape (knowledge of political issues in the North West is desirable)
  • good organisation and time-management skills
  • the ability to work independently and use initiative to solve problems
  • ability to build and manage a network of contacts
  • sympathy with the aims and values of the Labour Party
Upon appointment you will be required to comply with the Baseline Personnel Security Standard, undertaken by the Members’ Staff Verification Office (MSVO). See Members’ Staff Verification Office (MSVO) page for further info.
Closing Date:
2 July 2015
Interview/Start Dates:
Interviews to be held week beginning 6th July for a start-date in early August.
How to apply:
To apply please send a CV and covering letter explaining why you think you are suited to this job to tom.railton@parliament.uk.

Matthew Baker Word-Retailer Retreats

MATTHEW Baker, political aide to Simon Danczuk M.P. for Rochdale for the last eight-years, is about to leave his master.  This move follows a series of hectic events involving Simon Danczuk and his wife Karen, culminating last week in Mrs. Danczuk being taken to Court for rent arrears owed to a landlord of a property on The Walk, and a embarrassing interview with Mr. & Mrs. Danczuk for The Sunday Times.   

Yesterday, Rochdale Online described Matthew Baker as follows:
'Mr. Baker's  methods have at times been controversial, during the 2010 election campaign he was exposed as having a number of accounts on internet forums and using those accounts to support Mr. Danczuk and attack his opponents and critics.' 

There have been claims for months that he used a number of aliases together with various addresses to attack local enemies of Danczuk in letters to papers like the Rochdale Observer.  Suggestions exist that Danczuk has visited Kashmir financed by the Azad-Kashmir Government to the tune of over £3,000, and a local Bangladeshi has told Northern Voices that Mr. Danczuk visited Bangladesh to see the opposition leader before the U.K. General Election. 

Speaking this week to Rochdale Online, Baker said:
'I've worked with Simon since 2007, and am very proud of what we've achieved together.  I was delighted to have played a part in helping him gain a massively increased majority last month.  But after eight years I feel ready for a new challenge and am looking forward to doing something different.' 

Mr. Baker worked for the Channel Four Dispatches program entitled 'The Paedophile M.P.: How Cyril Smith got away with it' in 2013, and at the same time did leg-work for the book that he later published with Simon Danczuk titled 'Smile for the Camera:  The Double Life of Cyril Smith'.  In the end, according to Rochdale Online 'it was in fact Mr. Baker who researched and wrote the book'.   

And yet, both Baker and Danczuk have been incredible shy about how the research for the book was accumulated, documented and recorded.  Rochdale Online says above that 'Mr Baker's methods have at times been controversial'.  In the writing of the book the methodology has been mysterious in the extreme, and Northern Voices was told Mr. Baker was taken aback when a victim of Smith at Cambridge House, Eddie Sharrock, told him in 2014 following a BBC interview they did together, that he found aspects of the Danczuk and Baker's book on Smith somewhat incredible. 

Neither Simon Danczuk or Matthew Baker attempted to enlighten the audience, when they had the opportunity while addressing the gathering at a book reading last Autumn at the Rochdale Arts and Literature Festival.  Instead, when asked for details about their research and methodology for the book, Mr. Danczuk and Mr. Baker had Karen Danczuk usher the questioner out of the now defunct Danczuk's Deli.  (For more see  www.demotix.com/news/6093696/simon-danczuk-and-matt-baker )

Just over a week ago my son was in his car stuck at the traffic lights near Gordon Riggs' Garden Centre in Newbold, when he glimpsed in the corner of his eye a baseball-cap and beneath it a vaguely familiar plump body with his little legs jogging on the spot waiting for the lights to change to 'GO'.  Unmistakably, it was the M.P. for Rochdale, Simon Danczuk, straining at the leash to get away. 

Matthew Baker has now got away from the seeming eternally lively melodrama that envelopes and drowns the Danczuk family on a daily basis, and even, or so it seems, the endless extended family of Burkes and Taylors et al.   No one is safe in this frenzied folly of allegations and accusations.  A Labour leader of the Council falls and is replaced.  Others are defamed amid allegations of cover-ups.  A black politician is harangued in the Courts for 'homophobia'.   Trash the Trolls!  Blame your brother!  Call for an over-arching enquiry here!  Tease an apology from Theresa May there!   Sink your teeth in a bacon butty!  Take a Selfie or two of Karen's 'Ding Dongs'!  Swig some Cava by the pool on the Costa Blanca while demanding Lord Janner be disrobed in disgrace.   So much righteousness and flowery flannel in this belated demand for justice from Simon Danczuk and Matthew Baker, one wonders if it has all become too much for Mr. Baker to keep a straight face.

Malcolm Muggeridge wrote in his autobiography 'Chronicles of Wasted Time' in 1972, that the 'quest for justice continues, and the weapons of hatred pile up; but truth was an early casualty.... the lies of advertising, of news, of salesmanship, of politics!  The lies of the priest in his pulpit, the professor at his podium, the journalist at his typewriter!  The lie stuck like a fish-bone in the throat of the microphone, the hand-held lies of the prowling cameraman!'   

Ultimately, I suppose the struggle may become all too much for all of us, even for men with the thickest skins.