Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Shy Simon Saunders' Long Goodbye

ON Wednesday, the 16th, July 2014 at 15:00:27 Simon Saunders, one-time editor of Freedom newspaper which went belly-up in April 2014, wrote the following e-mail:
'I'm not interested in engaging with you further Brian.

Only this month, the same Simon Saunders wrote the following on the Northern Voices Blog 'anonymously' addressed to me, Brian Bamford:
"statements about the ‘Friends of Freedom Press’ that are inconsistent"

'There is no inconsistency. The Friends' support for the Collective is not a formal tie but an aspiration expressed in their documentation. Hence "want to." If you were "gratuitously" abused (given your rather unpleasant history in this movement I'm very sceptical it would be any such thing) that's unfortunate, but arguments you've gotten yourself into in your everyday life have no bearing on how matters arise in formal meetings. Rest assured Brian, visitors to meetings are quite safe. The "anarchist movement" is not formally defined by Freedom, but culturally we accept pretty much any view that favours non-hierarchical organising, excluding capitalists. I must say that you personally, as someone who has consistently defamed comrades, attempted to undermine the organisation and published personal details without people's consent would probably be asked to leave, as would Chris, but this is a problem related to on John Desmond Answers Anonymous:'

He addresses his comment to me personally although the post that he is commenting upon was actually drafted by one John Desmond.  Mr. Saunders, as well as being somewhat shy is clearly an aspect blind individual who wants power without responsibility being associated with Freedom for all of a decade, and he clearly thinks that this gives him great authority to patronise others who may have somewhat longer seniority in both the history of Freedom and anarchism generally.  By his own admission Saunders was what Northerners would describe as 'Three Sheets to the Wind' when he first took to selling anarchist literature not knowing the meaning of the word 'syndicalism'.  For my part I joined the Syndicalist Workers Federation (SWF) around 1960, when Ken Hawkes asked me to join following my involvement in the national strike of engineering apprentices in May of that year. 

Beyond editing Freedom for a few years and later becoming a reporter on the Morning Star, I don't know what Mr. Saunders has accomplished or done in the last decade or so as Freedom has declined in stature.  Mr. Saunders has written elsewhere that I have had no role in Freedom in his decade with the paper, but perhaps he does not recall my part in trying to negotiate with David Hoffman in 2012 over the copywrite issue which ultimately cost Freedom Press £4,000? 
It just seems to me as an outside observer in the North that the people in London at Freedom Press have not covered themselves with much glory since the turn of the century.  As I recall during my negotiations in August 2012, on behalf of Freedom and Northern Voices with the photo-journalist, David Hoffman, negotiations which Simon Saunders encouraged, Mr. Hoffman a one point declared that the individuals at Freedom around 2012 did not match quality of those of an earlier era at Freedom Press

Simon, who seemingly likes to operate as a back-seat driver, was at the time advising that to help Freedom that I engage with Mr. Hoffman in a phone call that was to be taped recorded?

In another 'anonymous' comment earlier this month the same Simon Saunders writes:

'...it might be worth noting that Chris and Brian have developed a very personal vendetta against Collective members who they feel (wrongly) are their enemies and as a result their roundups are often inaccurate, where they aren't deliberately misrepresentative. They haven't met most of the Friends or indeed most of the Collective, and do most of their writing from the other side of Britain. Other than the odd article from Brian, neither of them has had a role in the paper or the press for well over a decade.'

Simon claims 'Other than the odd article from Brian, neither of them (Chris Draper or Brian Bamford) has had a role in the paper or the press for well over a decade.'

Well, is Simon's memory now so short that he can't remember my help in 2012 and the disaster of the copywrite case with David Hoffman in that year, that cost so much, and all but destroyed Freedom then?

In another e-mail on the 19th, December 2014 Simon Saunders declares:
'Please take me off this mailout Brian, or I'll simply block the email and have nothing further to do with you. I have no interest in this vendetta you're running and have had quite enough of bilious updates dropping into my account. Honestly I hope you and Chris eventually row back a bit, get some perspective and refocus on doing something more productive, but I'll settle for not having the equivalent of green-ink letters batted at me.'
S(imon)  19th, Dec. 2014

Yet more coyness from Simon on the 21st, January 2015:
'Brian, I note that despite my request you have still not taken my real name down from comments on your blog connecting me to radical politics (comments under your "Anarchist Fed.: Under the Pavement P'            

From: Simon S (saunders.simon@gmail.com)                                          
Sent:21 January 2015 16:07:54

And again on the 24th, April 2015 Simon is at it yet again:
'I haven't bothered reading most of the above, which appears at a glance to simply be a selection of yet more tiresome self-justifications and poorly-crafted insults. Don't contact me again until you've taken my name down, and if you choose not to do so, have a good life.'

Then again on the 24th, April 2015:

Simon Saunder's response to Iain McKay's e-mail about blocking our e-mail list:
'He's already in mine, so for the most part I'm spared having to put up with it unless people reply-all. Thanks for standing up for the work Freedom's done (and the hundreds of "useful idiots" who have written for Freedom since the turn of the millennium, from all kinds of backgrounds) but yes at this point it's probably best to just ignore them rather than fuel their misdirected fury. As always, apologies to all everyone getting these tiresome missives from Chris via Brian, suffice to say they are about as far from the truth as you'd expect from someone who hadn't spoken face to face with a Freedom editor for over a decade before launching into this strange tirade against AF conspiracies and dastardly reds. '
'My apologies to everyone included in this exchange for the wasting of your time, though for those of you involved in NAN, I do wonder why you keep this man around when his actions have shamed you so often and so thoroughly isolated you from the wider anarchist left over the last while.'S

What is interesting here is that there is no word for 'shy' in the Spanish language where anarchism made its greatest impression in the last century, and the nearest word in Spanish for this state of shyness is 'timido'.  This tendency among some English anarchists to adopt a shy approach to politics and disguise their identities seems to have grown up in the mid-1960s after the decline of the peace movement and shortly after the Spies for Peace incident in that decade.  Prior to this during a period in which British anarchism was at its most influential in the Ban the Bomb movement many anarchists were actively appearing in the courts and being jailed with their identities fully in the public domain.  Career anarchism came later for some people who wanted to lead double-lives, and Comrade Saunders seemingly is the latest product of that phenomena.
The most distinguished representative of this model is, I suppose, Christopher Pallis who was a leading figure in the Solidarity group founded in 1960, had been writing as, 'Martin Granger'  but in 1961 he was exposed by the press as a Hammersmith hospital consultant in neurology.   Thereafter, Mr . Pallis rendered his political writings and translations into the anonymous or signed them 'Maurice Brinton'.  A substantial selection For Workers Power, (2004 ) was published only on the understanding that his identity was not revealed.
Simon Saunders is no Chris Pallis, but he seems to take himself very seriously, despite the lack of any evidence that he has accomplished very much during his decade of activity working his fingers to the bone at Freedom Press as it sunk, and that in order to establish his credentials as an hard-man anarchist and at the same time to advance his career he wants to keep his name out of the public domain.  I came to anarchism and learned about syndicalism in my early twenties while involve in the struggles and strikes of engineering apprentice in England, and among the activities of Spaniards in Spain and Gibraltar in the 1960s.  Comrade Saunders for his part seems to have moved rapidly from utter ignorance of what syndicalism was all about, to something of an expert based on his bookish reading of the literature and later as a pundit on the Communist Morning Star.  He has even boasted to his comrades on the Freedom Collective that he has tutored Colin Trousdale, an highly qualified blacklisted skilled electrician with a long and distinguished grasp of politics, in the finer arts and mysteries of anarchism.   I'm sure Colin was flattered by the attentions of such great intellect. 


Anonymous said...

Keep guessing Brian. And a small clarification about Hoffman, writing an unsolicited gossip blog about him and calling him a shitneck on Twitter in the middle of negotiations isn't "helping" or "being involved with the press."

Brian said...

Simon, I personally have never written anything on Twitter. My exchange with David Hoffman was by e-mail. I never accepted his offer to converse over the phone. He for his part, only shared information with me after he had examined the Northern Voices Blog. We did our best on the NV Blog at the time, but I gather that people on the Freedom Collective were very offensive to the journalist Mr Hoffman well before I or Northern Voices got involved: much of the damage seemed to have been done by Andy. I can't, of course, speak for others who may at that time have opened a Twitter account in the name of Northern Voices and are now no longer with us.

andy meinke said...

Thanks for another credit Brian. My view on Mr Hoffman was that he was able to take the pictures he did because he was protected from fascists by a number of very brave people over the years and morally he should have donated the photographs to a book recording those events. Legally of course Hoffman was perfectly within his rights, that was a fuck up by the Freedom Collective. A lesson not to trust so called comrades not to go running to the state when they think they can get their grubby paws on some money

David Hoffman said...

More of the same old Meinke wind. Nobody protests louder than someone who knows he's screwed up.

I've never had, asked for, wanted or been offered any protection by AFA, Red Action or any other group. But I've often been threatened and harassed by them, as have many friends and colleagues. My close protection, rarely needed, has been by professionals. Mostly it's tradecraft that keeps us safe, not the unwanted attention of a bunch of untrained fantasist goons.

And if Freedom had felt that they had a moral case for freebies they would just have asked me for the photos (which had my name and phone number as well as a copyright notice on the back).

Instead they took advantage of a guy with serious drink problems to steal the prints, then published them without even a credit, lied about the whole affair from start to finish and organised a character assassination spree against me to divert attention from their theft of my work, their wrecking the paper, their waste of Freedom's money and the total incompetence of the whole sad bunch of armchair anarchists.

The building's worth a million or two. I just wish they'd get off their arses, sell it, buy a place somewhere more politically fertile and get on with some real street politics.