Tuesday, 31 May 2016

On the road to nowhere: taken for a ride by Halfords!

The weekly Tameside TUC protests outside Ashton-under-Lyne  Jobcentre, frequently provide us with some really useful nuggets of information about the governments welfare-to-work training schemes and how people feel about them.

Last week, we learned from a disgruntled 19-year-old unemployed young man, from Ashton-under-Lyne, who we will call Stuart, how he had been caught- up and conned by several organisations who were ostensibly offering him what he believed, were opportunities for learning, training and future employment, with the well-known retailer, Halfords, who sell bicycles and car parts from the Snipe Retail Park on the outskirts of Ashton.

Stuart, who is interested in mechanics and has 9 GCSE's, including science, maths and German, was first approached by 'Positive Steps' who are based in the Clarence Arcade, Stamford Street, Ashton. They help people under the age of 20 to get jobs and are based in the same building which once housed, 'Connexions', who offered career advice for young people. By email, he was told about a course with Halfords, which could lead to a job as a 'sales assistant'. Ashton Jobcentre, who were supporting the course, referred him to another 'mickey-mouse' outfit called 'Qube Learning', who are based in Abingdon, Oxfordshire.

Having signed-up for the course, Stuart attended a one-month course in Manchester, at the Arora 4-star hotel on Princess Street, where he undertook Maths and English functional skills, and a retail qualification. He then commenced a one-month 'unpaid,' in-house, placement with Halfords working full-time (9-4 five days per week) where he stacked shelves and organised the warehouse. After attending an interview, he was told by Halfords that they would contact him but they never did. Stuart says that he didn't miss a single day while he'd been on the placement.

He told Northern Voices that when he phoned Halford's on the number he'd been given, he had been unable to get through to speak to anybody about the outcome of the job interview. Neither did he get much change out of Qube Learning, who claim to be "a leading training provider specialising in apprenticeships, NVQs, Traineeships, core skills, bespoke, accredited courses." They effectively told him that they knew nothing about it and had only provided the course. 

Stuart was never told if he had acquired the retail qualification, but he later discovered that of the 10 to 11 people on the course, only two people under 18-years-of-age had got all the qualifications, but those over 18-years of age had not. However, it is not known if even these two people were offered jobs. He thinks that those people under 18-years-of-age, may have been more attractive to an employer because they could be paid less. 

Although Stuart is currently unemployed, he says that he will not be claiming state benefits from the Jobcentre because of the 'restrictions' placed on Jobseeker's which makes it difficult for him to look and obtain work . He told Northern Voices that a year ago, he'd been sanctioned for one-month by Ashton Jobcentre because they claimed he'd spent too much time job searching and hadn't received enough interviews. Consequently, he had lost his accommodation and had finished up homeless on the streets. He says that he will be taking up the matter of government training schemes with his local Member of Parliament to see if he can get any redress to his grievances.

Bristol Radical History

THE 'Remembering the Real World War One history group' have announced a talk, a historical recreation, a film and a walk for their 'Summer 1916' events in Bristol:
The scale of Britain’s involvement in World War 1 changed in 1916. Any initial enthusiasm for the war was wearing off. Early recruits had been trained and sent to the front. There was no sign of imminent victory. Volunteer numbers were drying up. Those who had opposed the war in 1914 were joined by opponents of conscription when it was introduced in January 1916. After almost two years of sporadic fighting, July 1916 saw the start of the Battle Of The Somme.

Over the next two months we are putting on a number of events marking the centenary of this new stage in the war.

Monday June 20th
‘Discovering British 1914-1918 War Resisters – hoped for outcomes and challenging surprises – hear Cyril Pearce, Britain’s foremost researcher into World War 1 conscientious objectors and war resisters, talk about his research, including stories of Bristol people who opposed the war. Full details here.

Sunday June 26th
Slaughter No Remedy’ – a re-enactment of Walter Ayles’ appearance before a Military Service Tribunal, exactly one hundred years after it happened, in the same room it took place. 1916 dress optional! Full details here. This will be a popular event – you need to book (free) via the link provided.

Sunday July 3rd
‘Battle Of The Somme’ – a showing of the historic propaganda film with live piano accompaniment and panel discussion. Full details here. Note special price for Remembering The Real World War 1 supporters

Sunday July 10th
'Smoke, Gas, Strikes, Metal And Slums’ – an historical walk through St Philips and The Dings remembering Alfred Jefferies, Bristol’s Deserter and Bristol in the early 1900s. Full details here.

For more information email rememberingrealww1@gmail.com

Is it time to Breed for Britain?

by Les May

IN a recent article I made reference to the fall in the UK birth rate since 1960, and the impact this will have on my children's generation.  But the UK is not alone in this regard.  A fall in the birth rate since 1960 is a phenomenon which is common to all 28 EU countries according to William Reville,  emeritus professor of biochemistry at University College Cork.

In an article headed 'Why is Europe losing the will to breed?' in last Thursday's Irish Times Reville points out that to keep the population of a country constant it is necessary for each woman to give birth to 2.1 children on average.  He provides data which shows that the mean birthrate throughout the EU is only 1.56.  Ireland has the highest birth rate of 1.94 and Portugal the lowest at 1.23, though there are four more countries where the birth rate is less than 1.4.  For comparison the present birth rate in the UK is 1.81.

He goes on to say :

'European societies increasingly are no longer self sustaining.  For example, if current trends continue, every new generation of Spaniards will be 40% smaller than the previous one.  In Italy the percentage of the population over 65 will increase from 2.7% now to 18.8% in 2050.  By 2060 the population of Germany is projected to drop from 81 millions to 67 millions and by 2030 the UN projects that by 2030 the percentage of Germans in the work force will drop by 7% to 54%.  In order to compensate for this shortage Germany needs to absorb 533,000 immigrants per year, which puts Angela Merkel's current immigration policy into context.'

As I have argued in an earlier article this matters because the non-working section of the population, children, older people, the sick and the disabled, rely upon the surplus generated by the fraction of the population which is working.  Such a situation is only sustainable if the fraction of the working, i.e. younger, population is sufficiently high both to support themselves and generate a large enough surplus.

But as Reville points out in the longer term this immigration is not a solution because when the birth rate falls to about 1.5 even immigration will not hold the population steady over time.

Whilst I have focussed upon the fact that for the immediate future there seems little alternative to continued immigration whichever side is victorious in the upcoming referendum, the economic case is only part of the picture.  Large scale migration has an impact upon the host society.

As Reville puts i:
 'European civilisation has given the world many cherished values, freedoms and institutions, including the classical legacy of Greece and Rome; the rule of law; the separation of church and state; modern science; individual freedom; a fabulous heritage of music, painting, sculpture and architecture, and more.'

This too matters, because quoting Reville again:
'European values are not universal and there is no necessary reason to expect other civilisations to adopt these values simply because they come to Europe to partake of the technical and commercial fruits of western civilisation.'  

It is fashionable to ignore such concerns and to dismiss those who raise them as 'xenophobic' or 'racist', but there is a good moral case to be made for taking a more robust approach to immigration.  

Immigration benefits the individual migrant;  immigrants make the journey in search of a better life. 

It benefits a receiving nation like the UK by adding to the workforce and helps produce that surplus which will pay the pensions of those retiring around the year 2030.  But it impoverishes the donor nation especially when the migrant is a well qualified young person who has been trained at the expense of the donor nation.

There is nothing new in this.  After the WW2 the UK needed to produce and export as much as possible, (and build the Welfare State on the surplus).  So immigration from countries like Ireland was encouraged. An elderly friend who died a year ago came from Ireland at the age of 26 in 1948 to work in a Castleton (Rochdale) mill and did not think it an indignity that a medical check was made to make sure she was not pregnant.  Being as she put it 'a big strong farm girl' she was given better paid 'men's work' and became a mule spinner.  And very happy she was to spend the rest of her life here.

In Germany, Angela Merkel's cabinet has approved new measures to help the country to deal with the influx of more than a million new immigrants.  In return for a package providing immigrants with better access to the job market and the creation of 100,000 government funded 'job opportunities', migrants will be expected to undertake orientation and language courses.  The cabinet statement said:
'Learning the German language quickly, rapid integration in training, studies and the labour market, and an understanding of and compliance with the principles of living together in our society and compliance with our laws are essential for successful integration... The newcomers are to become good neighbours and citizens, which will enable us to strengthen social cohesion and prevent parallel structures in our country.'

This contrast sharply with what to date has been the UK approach which has sometimes generated an exceptionalism in the name of multi-culturalism.  Recently Labour MP Chuka Umunna has launched a new All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on social integration.  Whether it will 'bite the bullet' in quite the way that the German cabinet has I don't know.  Unless it argues the case for investment in integrating migrants into our way of life it may just prove to be another talking shop.

If you don't like my argument that immigration is necessary to pay the pensions of my children's generation the answer is in your own hands.  Go forth and multiply.

Saturday, 28 May 2016

Brazil & 'The Guardian'

NORTHERN Voices' takes no official position on the decision by the Brazilian parliament this month to suspend Brazil's President, Dilma Rousseff. 
As a consequence of this decision, Ms Rousseff  is facing trial after the Senate earlier this month voted to impeach and suspend her.

She is accused of illegally manipulating finances to hide a growing public deficit ahead of her re-election in 2014, which she denies.

Northern Voices does, however, note that Ms Rousseff is not accused of personally benefiting financially from any transactions.  This does contrast with some other leading Brazilian politicians and other elite figures, including the leader of the interim government and her former Vice-President, Michel Temer.

Because of this we publish below an e-mail sent to us by 'No Coup in Brazil', which includes a link to a statement published in the Guardian newspaper from 20 British politicians:

'This email is forwarded from No Coup in Brazil, which we are one of a number of organisations, publications & individuals supporting. Please direct queries to brazilsolidaritystatement@hotmail.com
Best wishes,
Please Add Your Name Here to the Statement Published in The Guardian  on Brazil

On Friday, The Guardian published a letter from 20 parliamentarians arguing that Dilma Rousseff's suspension is an insult to democracy in Brazil, which you can read here.   

You can add your name here and please share to encourage others to do the same on Twitter here and Facebook here 

Best wishes,
Matt on behalf of the No Coup in Brazil page.
PS: Remember to keep up-to-date with the latest news on Brazil on Facebook here and Twitter here.

Cyril Smith & Private Eye!

Originally published on NV Blog 15th, April 2014

Something rotten in the state of Rochdale

from Private Eye:        


Knowl View School Abuse, Issue 1363

cyril smith.jpg
AFTER 35 years in which Fleet Street ignored the fact that Sir Cyril Smith MBE was a predatory paedophile, the Daily Mail decided on its front page last Saturday that there had been a “Monstrous Cover-up”.
Private Eye’s first detailed account of Smith’s crimes appeared as long ago as May 1979 (issue 454).  That more people have not taken the crimes seriously before now is saddest of all for Smith’s youngest victims - pupils at a residential school for boys in Rochdale called Knowl View who were abused by him in the 1980s and 1990s.

After decades of denials Rochdale council began to reassess Knowl View school in 2012 after Chris Marshall alleged that he was forced to perform a sex act with Smith on school property while another “well-dressed man” looked on.  More than a dozen former pupils are also identified as abuse victims of other men in internal council reports.  They too have never received justice.
In January Rochdale council appointed Andrew Warnock QC to appraise its supervising role in the school which was home to dozens of boys aged between eight and 16.  Warnock reports next month. A parallel investigation by Greater Manchester Police (GMP) has now identified 11 suspects connected with the school.

Horrific reports

Victims can be forgiven for not feeling reassured. GMP has now been looking at Knowl View for 20 years and has secured but a single conviction.  Meanwhile Warnock’s review is confined to examining Knowl View’s history from “the late 1980s to the mid 1990s” which may mean vital truths about the preceding decades remain buried.
For example, Warnock will consider a series of horrific reports made by Phil Shepherd, a health worker who visited Knowl View in 1991, and a consultant clinical psychologist who investigated the school in 1992.  These reveal that “up to a third of the residential pupils have been involved at some stage in serious sexual incidents”.  They describe how boys in the senior dorm were sexually attacked over a period of two nights by a paedophile called Rodney Hilton in 1990.  And they reveal that pupils in their early teens were working as rent boys.

Kerb-crawling paedophiles

According to former pupils who have spoken to Private Eye, such problems began years earlier, however. For example, one former pupil alleges that Hilton abused and beat him on school property - specifically in the woods adjoining the grounds - in the early 1980s: a period outside Warnock’s remit.
Another former pupil, Michael Seed (the Franciscan friar who would later persuade Tony Blair into the Catholic faith), describes a “well-organised contingent of rent-boys, selling their bodies to kerb-crawling paedophile homosexuals” in his memoirs. He joined Knowl View in 1970.

While Warnock’s appraisal concerns events beginning in the late 80s, the real question is why problems were not addressed long before. For Knowl View’s earliest history is even darker – and Smith was not the only founder of the school to be suspected of child abuse.

From the earliest stages, Smith was assisted by a Conservative councillor called Harry Wild. In the late 1960s, Smith and Wild chaired Rochdale’s powerful education and children committees and started Knowl View together, delegating the power to appoint staff to the governing body on which they would later serve.

Operation European

Police investigations into Smith, which began in the mid-1960s and were shut down in 1970, identify Wild as his “close associate”.  The file police prepared in 1969 states:  “Councillor Harry Wild has been viewed with suspicion regarding his association with young men and boys at Rochdale.”  In the decades that followed, that suspicion only grew. By the 1990s, after Wild stood down from the council, he was targeted by Operation European, another Greater Manchester Police child abuse investigation.
In 2000, the Manchester Evening News reported the allegations after GMP’s chief constable intervened to prevent Wild’s appointment as high sheriff of Greater Manchester. Wild told the paper that his community work made him vulnerable to “mischievous claims” “Of course, one has to consider the type of boy at Knowl View - low-grade really.”  Just like Smith, he was never convicted and Wild died, aged 80, in 2001.

How much of this Warnock is prepared to acknowledge will be known next month; but even if he could examine the full length of the school’s life, some victims can never receive justice.  One council report confirmed that, aged 14, Ian Broomhead was raped by Rodney Hilton during the overnight intrusion into the senior dorm.  He fought back on the second night and continued to fight after he left Knowl View.

With the assistance of the school’s social worker, Martin Digan, and health worker Phil Shepherd, Broomhead began proceedings against Rochdale council. His case was reported by Louise Jury in the Independent. She obtained Broomhead’s only interview, anonymised on publication, in 1995.

‘Under the bedclothes’

“It was physical force,” he said of Hilton's attack.  “He threw me against the wall, threw me around the room. He threatened to kill me if I told anybody.”  Afterwards Broomhead lay in bed terrified, hearing other pupils screaming but no staff were on duty.  He raged against Hilton:  “If I saw him now I'd kill him”; against the school:   “Before I went there I had a life. I don't have one now"; and against Rochdale council:  “I want to go to the Black Box [a nickname for Rochdale's old municipal offices] and just blow the whole lot of them.”
By coincidence, Broomhead’s solicitors were Molesworths Bright Clegg, which had advised Cyril Smith when police originally investigated his abuses in the 1970s.  The senior partner at the firm, John Kay, had also known Smith since birth. Mark Walker, the junior who was passed Broomhead’s case, was never told by his client that he had also been abused by Cyril Smith while at Knowl View.
Broomhead did, however, admit it to AIDS worker Phil Shepherd:  “Ian told me that he was touched by Cyril Smith,” Shepherd told the Eye“He would go round putting his hands under the bedclothes when the lads were in bed at night. He was getting access. I said at the time that, if Cyril Smith was involved, then other councillors would be involved.”

‘Close to suicide’

At that time Rochdale council said the “necessary action” had been taken but the pupils in Broomhead’s era were horribly damaged.  Several interviewed for this article receive regular psychological treatment.  Many have criminal records.
“I’ve been close to suicide,” Ian Broomhead said in his interview with Louise Jury, “and I’m extremely lucky I haven't gone to prison.”  He died of a drug overdose ten months later. He was 20 years old.

Last week, the current leader of Rochdale council, Colin Lambert, pledged that he will “not stop until the truth is out”.  The sentiment is fine; but for Ian Broomhead is far too late.

Friday, 27 May 2016

Simon Danczuk & the Bangladesh Regime

Bangladesh government angered by Danczuk's call for sanctions

Suspended Labour MP addressed opposition supporters in Dhaka, saying government has created ‘culture of fear’
Simon Danczuk

British ministers have not broken off relations despite political violence scarring the country – and regularly visit Bangladesh. The UK remains the largest bilateral donor to Bangladesh, sending about £180m a year.
A spokesman for the Bangladeshi high commission in London said the MP allied himself with the opposition, including extremist groups, to “interfere” in democratic politics.
'Talking about Bangladesh’s internal politics is interference in the internal affairs of the country,' he said. 'Bangladesh has a flourishing democracy and the next elections are set for 2019.'
Danczuk’s comments are similar to the one of the opposition parties Bangladesh Nationalist party, which is allied to the Jamaat-e-Islami party – which has been described as a "criminal organisation" and has been identified to have links to all radical ... terrorist groups.
Danczuk’s call for sanctions to be applied to Bangladesh echoes the call by Tarique Rahman, the opposition’s leading politician and scion of a political dynasty who lives in exile in London. He faces a number of charges in Bangladesh, including one of money laundering, all of which he denies.
Wikileaks reported that the US embassy in Dhaka had recommended a ban on entry for Rahman in 2008 into the US because of 'egregious political corruption that has had a serious adverse effect on US national interests'.
Danczuk told the crowds:  'Let me start by saying Tarique Rahman is very well and in very good spirits. I met with him recently and there is no doubt he is looking forward to returning shortly'.
  Danczuk was suspended in December by the Labour party after newspaper allegations about that he exchanged explicit messages with a 17-year-old girl.  He is currently the subject of a police investigation after allegations of rape were made against him.

When contacted by the Guardian, Danczuk said that there was nothing wrong with meeting Tarique Rahman because the government had allowed “him to stay here”.
'It’s not interference,' he said. 'I did say that sanctions should be considered because of what has happened in Bangladesh. Numerous reports show the breakdown in human rights. The British government needs to pressurise Bangladesh into reason.'
A Foreign Office spokesperson said: 'The UK urges all Bangladesh’s political parties to work together to strengthen democratic and political accountability. Bangladesh is an important partner for the UK and we continue to support its people in their aspiration for a more stable, prosperous and democratic

Tolpuddle Radical Film Festival

Hi Brian
Only 60 people across the entire UK need to donate just £10 each for the Tolpuddle Radical Film Festival to survive another year!
Our list of trade union and trade council supporters continues to grow and our individual supporter numbers have doubled to 20 in under a week.
We are on our last push to raise the final £600 to run the festival this year and need every pound to make it happen. Please help if you can! All donations from £5 upwards will help us keep film at Tolpuddle.
Individuals can donate via our Kickstarter Campaign and Unions, Union Branches and Trade Councils can donate via Post, PayPal or BACS.

Please help if you can! All donations from £5 upwards will help us achieve our fundraising goal.

Our list of our current 2016 Sponsors and Supporters is here:

You can contribute via Kickstarter here.

Money can be donated by BACS to Acc: 59415010 Sc: 60-02-05

Donations can be paid directly in to our bank account via Paypal 

Cash or cheques can be sent to Chris Jury, Tolpuddle Radical Film Festival, 48 New Street, Shipston On Stour, Warwickshire CV36 4EN.

The 2015 Tolpuddle Radical Film Festival will run alongside the main Tolpuddle Festival from Friday 15th July  – Sunday 17th July 2016.

All the details can be found on our website here:

Yours Hopefully
Chris Jury & Reuben Irving
Festival Directors, Tolpuddle Radical Film Festival

Trade Unionists Against EU

Another Europe inside the EU is impossible.

There are two strange arguments in the pro EU Labour Movement campaign. Both hold no water. In one we are told that all of the EU workers' rights as well possibly as some of our own, will disappear as soon as we leave. We have dealt with this in a previous Newsletter and will return to it again.

The other is that in order to prevent World War Three the 'Left' must follow capitalist scion Yannis Varoufakis with his long track record of helping to impose misery on the Greek people on behalf of the EU and IMF and instantly transform the EU into a socialist paradise.

This might sound a nice idea, but it is actually impossible, a delusion fostered by pro EU fanatics. Forget the lurch to the right in most European countries, forget the dominance of the unelected Commission and ECB by right wingers and forget even the dominance of the toothless EU Parliament by the right wing parties, as Tony Benn consistently pointed out the EU constitution is unique in the world in that it enshrines a commitment to capitalist politics and economics.

To change this constitution the simultaneous approval of 28 member states is required. Some hope! Not even Varoufakis could write a book and give such an after dinner speech that 28 governments would agree with him and put the EU's 23 million back to work and restore collective bargaining and workers' rights. For some the idea provides book sales and the press limelight they crave.

Professor Danny Nichol, a constitutional specialist, is much closer to the truth when he writes:

"Even the dogs on the streets know that David Cameron’s EU “reforms” are pitiful.  Indeed, even he no longer mentions them.  So why assume that reforming the EU into a “real Social Europe” is any more feasible?   It’s when one examines the constitutional obstacles to reform that one realises that the whole idea just doesn’t stack up.

A Social Europe should exclude the TTIP. It is hardly necessary to repeat the arguments against the TTIP and how it will accord companies the right to sue governments to invalidate measures which harm their profitability.  Let us assume TTIP is ratified before we secure a Labour government.  The EU Treaties contain no provision for denouncing the EU’s agreements with non-EU countries. How, if at all, TTIP may be terminated will depend on TTIP’s own detailed terms. In all likelihood, remaining in the EU means having TTIP for good.

A Social Europe should respect trade unionism. EU law prohibits industrial action which “disproportionately” obstructs the free movement of goods, services, capital and workers – see the Viking and Rüffert rulings of the EU’s Court of Justice. Overriding these rulings would require Treaty amendment, needing common accord of all Member States.

A Social Europe should permit state aid.  Thankfully Labour is now an anti-austerity party. As part of its public investment programme, Labour should be able to support domestic industries in order to promote full employment and greater equality. However, EU Treaty provisions mean that the European Commission must approve all state aids for their compatibility with the single market.  This includes state aids to the public sector.  The system also allows corporations to challenge grants of state aid on competition grounds.  Reforming the state aids regime would require Treaty amendment, needing common accord of all Member States.

A Social Europe should respect public ownership.  Member States should determine the size of their own public sectors.  However, EU legislation consolidates privatisation.  Nationalising sectors such as gas, electricity, telecommunications and postal services is unequivocally forbidden by EU liberalising directives, which accord rights of market access to corporations.  New public enterprises have to compete with private firms in a capitalist market.  Similar legislation on railways is presently going through the EU institutions.  Repealing these directives would require a proposal by the Commission – the very instigators of EU “liberalisation”.

Any such Commission proposal would require unanimous approval by the EU Council and the consent of the European Parliament. Furthermore EU Treaty provisions grant companies the right of freedom of establishment – they have the right to establish branches and subsidiaries in other Member States.  The EU Court of Justice would almost certainly deem nationalisation of branches and subsidiaries of companies based in other Member States a disproportionate limitation on freedom of establishment. For good measure the Treaties also give corporations the right to sue governments whenever any public monopoly infringes EU competition rules – including within the NHS.  These Treaty provisions could only be repealed by common accord of all Member States.

A Social Europe should permit non-racist immigration policies.  The EU free movement of persons discriminates against non-whites.  EU citizens, overwhelmingly white, enjoy a constitutional right of free movement: non-EU citizens don’t. The refugee crisis shows this systemic discrimination in action.  Reform would necessitate Treaty change, requiring the common accord of all Member States.

A Social Europe should allow Labour Party democracy.  The supremacy of EU law, first proclaimed by the EEC’s Court of Justice in 1964, remains its foremost constitutional principle.   The doctrine means national courts and tribunals must give priority to EU law, setting aside any incompatible national measure however framed.   Supremacy drives a coach and horses through Labour party democracy: any policy decisions of Conference which contravene EU law (such as renationalisation for example) may as well be thrown in the bin.  To overturn supremacy would require Treaty amendment, and therefore the common accord of all Member States.

To sum up, EU Treaties provide no means of discarding the TTIP; and the other reforms would require a complete absence of neoliberal governments throughout the EU.  Sadly these policies are so heavily protected against repeal that a “Social Europe” is in practise impossible to achieve.  No doubt “another Europe is possible” – but outside the European Union."

Danny Nicol was Assistant Secretary of the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s.  He is Professor of Public Law at the University of Westminster and author of The Constitutional Protection of Capitalism (Hart, 2010).
Reply Reply to All Forward More
See our website for further information about all aspects of the EU and why we should leave.

Published by Trade Unionists Against the EU, PO Box 71625 London E17 0RJ


Green Spaces in Tameside

Hi all,

A GATHERING is taking place at the school gates outside Two Trees Playing Fields, Two Trees Lane, Haughton Green on Saturday 28th May 2016. Time: 12 noon.

All our welcome to come and show support for preserving our green spaces.

Best wishes

Carl Simmons

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Daily Mirror Campaign

by Les May
IN a world where you can speak to someone in Australia whilst walking down the street carrying a mobile phone smaller than a bar of chocolate it is hard to believe that well within living memory the daily news was sent to British ships throughout the world by hand sent morse-code at about 12 words per minute.  That's nearly five minutes for the above sentence.  (A good operator might manage 25+ words per minute, but that's still two minutes.)
Because it was such a slow process the copy had to be factual and succinct.  After what we know about Robert Maxwell's antics at the Daily Mirror it is equally hard to believe that at the time the Mirror was viewed as having both these desirable qualities.
But the Mirror has come a long way since Maxwell took his last midnight swim and has the distinction of being the only mass circulation paper that is broadly sympathetic to Labour. 
It's latest campaigning headline is 'Be part of the Daily Mirror People's Electoral Commission and help us investigate alleged Tory election fraud'.  It seems that Mirror Online wants to publish the electoral spending returns of every one of this Government's 330 MPs - so that they can be held to account on their spending.
It appears that 11 police forces are now investigating allegations that some Tory MPs broke the rules on declaring election spending.  But time is running out because the authorities have just one year from the date the spending return was filed to launch an investigation and by June 11 it will be too late.
If you are interested in helping the Mirror's campaign or would just like to know what it is about then follow the links below.
Good hunting!

Manchester Royal Exchange:

 40th Anniversary Announcement:
THIS September the Royal Exchange Theatre celebrates 40 years of a remarkable exchange with its audiences. Since 1976 the Company has produced unforgettable drama made for a unique theatre in Manchester’s city centre. In 2016 the theatre was named Regional Theatre of the Year, and under the artistic leadership of Sarah Frankcom the Exchange looks towards a dynamic future. This summer Mark Dobson joins as the new Executive Director and a new brand identity marks the next stage for the theatre. An impassioned team of directors, designers, outstanding writers and formidable performers will deliver an ambitious mix of provocative theatre and new plays for an incredibly special year. 
  • Artistic Director Sarah Frankcom and Associate Artist Maxine Peake continue their long-term collaboration as they explore the dark world of Blanche DuBois in Tennessee Williams’ unsettling drama A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE from 8 Sept – 15 Oct in The Theatre
  • Katherine Soper’s 2015 Bruntwood Prize winning play WISH LIST explores life at the bottom of the pile and the helpless uncertainty of zero-hours contracts. A collaboration with the Royal Court Theatre WISH LIST is directed by Exchange Associate Artistic Director Matthew Xia from 24 Sept – 15 Oct in The Studio.
  • A global festival of theatre and debate B!RTH takes place from 19 – 22 Oct. Seven new plays by seven female writers from across the world have been commissioned to provoke challenging debate. Developed with The Oglesby Charitable Trust and supported by the University of Manchester B!RTH is part of Manchester’s year as European City of Science.
  • The dazzling mind of logician Alan Turing is explored in the city where he worked and died. Director Robert Hastie directs BAFTA winner Daniel Rigby in a major revival of Hugh Whitemore’s BREAKING THE CODE from 28 Oct – 19 Nov in The Theatre.
  • Derek Bond returns to the Exchange this Christmas (following his smash-hit LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS) with full-scale musical SWEET CHARITY. This Broadway classic, filled with huge musical hits (Big Spender, Rhythm of Life) and incredible dance numbers choreographed by Aletta Collins, runs from 3 Dec – 21 Jan.
  • With accessibility at its heart the Exchange team up with Graeae Theatre Company for Jenny Sealey’s production of THE HOUSE OF BERNADA ALBA with a central performance from the incredible Kathryn Hunter. This translation of Federico García Lorca’s heated tale of family fragility sees Jo Clifford make a welcome return to the theatre and runs from 2 – 25 Feb 2017.
  • After talking to 1,580 people YOU, THE AUDIENCE continues with a celebratory event that shares both what audiences have said and what the theater has learnt. The YOU, THE AUDIENCE Manifesto will be launched in the Great Hall on 18 Nov shaping the theatre’s future with audiences.
  • OPEN EXCHANGE moves into its second year with 600 members signed up to this ever-growing scheme. Artists from across the North are invited to use the theatre as a networking opportunity, to develop new ideas and to share work. This years supported artists are Mighty Heart Theatre and Testament
  • Original theatre makers from across the UK present work in the Studio. This season we are joined by Rachel Mars, Action Hero, Soho Theatre & Francesca Moody, Barrel Organ with Lulu Racza, Puppet State Theatre Company, Daniel Bye, Cardboard Citizens and Project O.
Artistic Director Sarah Frankcom said:
40 years ago a group of artists were inspired to take hold of an imposing public building and build a unique theatre in the centre of it. They created a space for Manchester that would present the very best drama it could, with passion and without compromise.
Today, with these strong foundations, we make theatre for a great night out that is contemporary, thought-provoking and will spark conversations which continue long after the show has finished. As we talk to our audience we find out what they want from us and in response we’re creating a theatre that is diverse and inventive, that brings the city together and that reflects its passions as much as our own.
This season I cannot wait to get back into a rehearsal room with Maxine Peake as we explore the complexities of Blanche DuBois in A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE. Tennessee Williams paints beautiful characters but his plays also explode the notion of what theatre can be which is so exciting for our space. I’m thrilled to welcome Rob Hastie to the Exchange with his interpretation of a Manchester story in BREAKING THE CODE. Our seven new commissions for B!RTH have already started an international debate about inequality in healthcare and at Christmas SWEET CHARITY will push the boundaries of our physical space as we bring Broadway to Manchester.  In our first co-production with Graeae, THE HOUSE OF BERNADA ALBA, we create theatre in-the-round which is innovative in its accessibility; The Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting has unearthed some phenomenal voices and continues to be an invaluable platform for new playwrights to reflect the modern world, in our Studio Matthew Xia directs Katherine Soper’s debut play WISH LIST our 2015 Bruntwood Prize winner.
This season we continue to grow Open Exchange for emerging artists, we launch a new membership scheme and reinvent our volunteering programme so our audiences can be more involved. Our Young and Elders Companies continue to inspire us and the work we do in communities across Manchester is expanding as we cement relationships and develop new partnerships. 
We look forward to welcoming everyone to the Royal Exchange this season.

B!RTH at the Royal Exchange

A creative partnership between The Oglesby Charitable Trust and The Royal Exchange Theatre
Wednesday 19 October – Saturday 22 October
Childbirth is humanity’s universal experience – but why is it still a life-and-death lottery for millions of mothers and babies around the world?  And what does this tell us about the world we are born into? The Royal Exchange Theatre invites us to look through the lens of childbirth to challenge the fundamental inequalities that distort our world.’ 
Mukesh Kapila, CBE, Professor of Global Health and Humanitarian Affairs at the University of Manchester and advisor for B!RTH
B!RTH is an international theatre festival developed by the Royal Exchange Theatre and The Oglesby Charitable Trust to provoke debate on a global scale and question one of the key issues of our time: the vast inequality in healthcare across the world. The Royal Exchange has commissioned seven leading female playwrights from across the globe: Brazil, China, India, Kenya, Syria, UK, USA, to explore this issue through their country’s approach to childbirth. Part of Manchester’s year as European City of Science 2016, and supported by leading Global Health Professionals such as Professor Mukesh Kapila and Professor Dame Tina Lavender, B!RTH is a series of theatrical events and debates that will take place from 19 – 22 October. The project will bring together leading voices from the world of science, art, academia, politics and charities, at the Royal Exchange, the UK’s Regional Theatre of the Year.
Chairman of The Oglesby Charitable Trust and Founder of Bruntwood, Michael Oglesby CBE comments on his vision for the project…‘B!RTH is an innovative collaboration bringing together theatre and science to stimulate a debate on women's health in a global setting. The Oglesby Charitable Trust is proud of its involvement in such an ambitious project in this, Manchester's year as European City of Science. We believe this has the potential to have a very real impact on health inequalities, worldwide.’
Emma Callander, co-founder of the global theatre movement Theatre Uncut, is the Creative Director for B!RTH. She has been working closely with the writers to identify issues around childbirth in their local.
·          Award-winning playwright Marcia Zanelatto will explore the social and geopolitical history of Brazil through the experience of childbirth over 100 years. ‘66% of all births in Brazil are by caesarean section – the highest rate in the world. The World Health Organisation recommends 10%.’ (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-33421376)
·         Xu Nuo is an award-winning playwright from China, she will take the following statement as the starting point for her work ‘For every one woman in China, there are 37 men. Men currently outnumber women by 33 million. It has been calculated that there are 30 million women ‘missing’ from the population’. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-34666440)
·       In India, exciting new writer Swati Simha will explore the presence of sterilisation camps inspired by the shocking fact that ‘1 in 3 women in India have been sterilised. 1 in 3 of these women were sterilised without their consent.’ (Population Research Institute report 2015)
·       One of Kenya’s leading playwrights Mũmbi Kaigwa will explore the migration of medical professionals from the country and its impact on women – ‘Kenya is twice the size of the UK Kenya has 1 doctor for every 10,000 people. The UK has 27.’ (http://www.who.int/gho/health_workforce/physicians_density/en/)
·       Liwaa Yazji is a playwright, documentary filmmaker, poet, set designer and translator from Damascus, Syria who will explore birth through the migrant experience. ‘13,694 children and 8,823 women have been killed in Syria since the start of the civil war. Six million Syrian children will require some form of humanitarian assistance in 2016. (http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/dec/27/refugee-crisis-creating-stateless-generation-children-experts-warn)
·         Multi-award-winning UK playwright Stacey Gregg is exploring whether increasing choice and the perception of control within a capitalist framework is really possible with childbirth. ‘The number of women giving birth over the age of 40 in the UK has doubled in the last 10 years. It is now safer to give birth in Bosnia than in the UK’. (Save The Children)
·         From the USA Kirsten Greenidge is a recent PEN/America Award winner and Obie recipient and will explore the relationship between wealth and healthcare, ‘Despite spending more than twice as much as any other developed country on healthcare, the USA is ranked 61st in the world for maternal health.’ (International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics)
Sarah Frankcom, Royal Exchange Theatre Artistic Director, said...'B!RTH is very exciting - simultaneously we’re commissioning seven international writers to create seven new plays to be seen over four days here at the Exchange. Playwrights are uniquely placed to capture what is happening right now, and quickly and creatively reflect that back, making the plays exceptionally relevant to society today and able to act as a catalyst for debate and change. We are lucky to be able to create this project with a number of inspiring partners including The Oglesby Charitable Trust, the University of Manchester, and to be part of the European City of Science 2016. We believe that when art and science meet on stage the reaction can be incredibly powerful.'
B!RTH marks the development of the relationship between Bruntwood and the Royal Exchange Theatre, which has already seen huge success with the Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting.