Saturday, 30 July 2016

Harriet Ward on Anarchist Voices' Review

WHEN I first met Colin (Ward) in the mid-1960s I asked him what an 'ideal' anarchist society would look like, since I, like the general public, had little more than the mental picture of 'chaos' as a synonym for anarchy (though I had just about heard of historical figures such as Kropotkin who supposedly represented a more systematic version of it).  Colin suggested I should think more in terms of anarchism as 'libertarianism':  that in every social situation or problem to be solved, there is a choice between an authoritarian or a libertarian solution, and that an anarchist would always choose the latter.  After living with Colin for 45 years and proof-reading most of his writings, I still find this a useful rule of thumb to describe political events and to apply to daily life.

Harriet Ward (16th, August 2015) 

Review of Anarchist Voices by Les May

Les May
THE current issue of Anarchist Voices was published last Summer,
and the review below was published on the 16th, September 2015.
In the light of recent violent events at Freedom Press we believe it is
worth re-reading.  Particularly in view of the light Harriet Ward sheds
on the views of Colin Ward's idea of what it means to be an anarchist.
IN his forward to the 1993 reprint of  George Sturt's The Wheelright's Shop E.P. Thompson wrote that the theme of his final contribution to the Socialist League's journal Commonweal in 1889 was unlikely to commend itself to 'the excitable anarchists who were then taking over the Socialist League'.

At different times Sturt referred to himself as a 'Revolutionary Socialist', an 'Anarchist' and a 'Communist'.  He earned his living as the owner of a wheelrights workshop employing eight skilled tradesmen and apprentices.  Such is the gulf between political dreams and the daily reality of earning a living.

Few of the essays in the Summer/Autumn 2015 Anarchist Voices are likely to commend themselves to the more 'excitable' brand of anarchist.   With a sub-title of 'A Journal of Evolutionary Anarchism' this is hardly a surprise.

Most of the eight essays are by people who knew Colin Ward or have written about his ideas, so together they form a memoir of Ward who died at the age of 85 in 2010.

Harriet, Colin's wife, paints a picture of someone completely lacking in affectation and whose chosen occupation meant he had to work very hard to make a living.  No wonder her piece is titled 'Colin Ward:  A Resourceful Man'.  As their visit to Orkney was some forty years ago I'll forgive her saying that the Neolithic settlement at Skara Brae was Pictish.

A long article by David Goodway discusses some of the sources which influenced Ward's thinking and includes extracts from some of them and from Ward's own writings.  One of these dealing with the rejection of 'perfectionism, utopian fantasy, conspiratorial romanticism and revolutionary optimism' demonstrates why Ward's ideas will find a such a warm home amongst less excitable anarchists.

Jonathan Simcock's editorial notes that many people would consider anarchist ideas 'extreme, foolish, impractical and ill thought out'.  So how do you get people to listen?  Christopher Draper essay offers one possible solution to this problem and starts from a recognition that most people are not interested in politics and are likely to be put off by an 'in your face' approach. 

'The Mud Girls' is a fascinating essay by Larry Gambone about a group  of Canadian women who construct buildings and walls from 'cob', an old but entirely practical technique of mixing subsoil, straw or other fibrous organic material and water, which is then laid in courses on a high foundation wall. Fascinating it may be but it also points to some of the limitations of Ward's ideas as I shall argue later.

At this point I had better come clean and explain that I get a mention in one of the pieces because the author used an example from my own experience to draw attention to questions about some of Ward's assumptions.  Entitled 'Dig where we stand' the essay by Brian Bamford is a critique rather than outright criticism of Ward's ideas though it does take a swipe at 'excitable' anarchists!

His examples include a ban on growing raspberries on allotments or 'the billy goat problem' and are unexciting, even mundane.  He doesn't use buzz  words like collective or empowerment, but the questions he raises are nonetheless very pertinent to the question of how Ward's ideas work in practice.

By this time I was starting to mildly sympathise with the 'excitable' anarchists and their complaint of Ward's ideas 'reeking of allotments' especially when I spotted the illustrations for the late Rory Bowskill's article 'All in the mind'.  As in 'Dig where we stand' this includes a deceptively simple question 'Can you imagine and describe what you would like to see replace the nation state?'.

And that is the problem.  Having read these essays I could not discern the 'shape', or what birdwatchers would call the 'jizz', of the Wardian world.  I can picture a world full of argumentative syndicalists and a brutish individualist world, but a comprehensive understanding of the Wardian world eludes me.  Is it really just about allotments and womens' collectives?  Are we back in the world of George Sturt's wheelwrights shop?

How do Ward's ideas scale?  What would a Wardian NHS be like (please don't refer me to 'The Peckham Experiment'), a Wardian railway system or a Wardian response to global warming?

I look forward to reviewing a collection of essays attempting to answer questions like these.  If you cannot imagine it you cannot live it.
For 4 issues £8.00 regular, £5.00 concession.  USA $20. Send cash or UK
cheques payable to :
J. P. Simcock,
47 High Street, Belper,
Derby DE56 1GF.
Total Liberty & Anarchist Voices, back issues available at 50p plus
postage & packing.

Friday, 29 July 2016

The Hegemony of Horrible Hugs:

Dearnley & Danczuk!
By Brian Bamford

The Deadly Embrace of Dearnley (left) & Danczuk (right) 
AT LAST night's full Council meeting in Rochdale's Gothic Style Town Hall (which was described by Councillor Andy Kelly, the Liberal leader, as resembling 'an Oscars Ceremony'); the Labour council leader Richard Farnell waddled across the Chamber reminding me of an earlier figure who dominated the politics of Rochdale.  That is the now disgraced former politician Cyril Smith!  With his droll humour Farnell began to annunciate the history and meaning of the office of Alderman, before some past dignitaries were awarded the honorary office by the Mayor of Rochdale.  Farnell's address was seconded by the leader of the Conservative group Ashley Dearnley (pictured above with another 'disgraced Rochdale politician' Simon Danczuk).
Councillor Dearley lives at Ashley Dearnley Court, New Road, Dearnley, Littleborough.   What has been clear in recent times is the remarkable hegemony of power politics in Rochdale, particularly between the local Labour Party and the Tories.  The deadly embrace of the two blue-suited politicians in the photo above is not curious for the fact that the now suspended Rochdale Labour MP, Simon Danczuk, has is right arm around Ashley Dearnley's shoulders but it is anthropologically strange because Ashley Dearnley appears to be welcoming the embrace.
Few politicians, given Mr Danczuk's recent record of both a political and personal nature, would cheerfully have Simon Danczuk anywhere near their person.  It would certainly give me the creeps! 
And yet, both the politicians above clearly know that they are being photographed alongside the Tory Party Banner and seem to be enjoying the experience.  Indeed, at last night's council meeting Councillor Dearnley referred to Simon Danczuk as 'our independent MP for Rochdale' in almost glowing terms.
What is going on?
Well, there is no evidence that Danczuk would be embraced by the Tory Party if he attempted to join as some have suggested.  To suggest that Danczuk is a loose cannon would be an understatement. 
The critic, Malcolm Muggeridge, once suggested that all Prime Ministers fall into one of two categories – clergymen or bookies.  It is clear that Simon Danczuk would not pass muster as a clergyman; more like a bookies-runner!
My observations suggest that in some of our northern towns that the Councils are made up of self-serving gangs of politicians who establish one-party-states.  Tameside has been sited as one example of this.  Rochdale may well be becoming another.  The game of playing footsie seems to prevail between various political groups.  It is noticeable that Farnell is patronising when dealing with the Liberal Dem. leader, Andy Kelly, but respectful when he addresses the Tory leader, Dearnley.
What we have here is a kind of political and cultural Hegemony in which, as at the end of George Orwell's book 'Animal Farm', it becomes difficult to distinguish between the Pigs and the Men; if that is not a sexist observation, perhaps I should add 'women'.

Thursday, 28 July 2016

The Value of Eye-Witness Accounts

By Brian Bamford
CENTRAL to Colin Ward's critique of anarchist analysis and practice in the 1960s, was his belief that it was too obsessed with history and historical accounts.  That is too focused on the historical narrative of what had transpired in earlier times, and lacking an awareness of the here and now, and what people like me who have been brought up in anthropological study or ethnomethodology may call 'the missing what-ness'
In May 2011, I gave paper at the Bristol Anarchist Bookfair entitled:  'Pro. Preston and George Orwell: The varieties of historical investigation and experience'.  It was an attempt to access the qualitative value differing accounts such as that of the academic historian Professor Paul Preston and George Orwell's more ethnographic eye-witness studies and descriptions.  At that event a young lad asked me to define the meaning of 'ethnography' and, as I recall, at the time I fancy I gave a rather poor and unsatisfactory description.
The cultural anthropologist, ethnographer, and author Brian A. Hoey has defined the term thus:
'The term ethnography has come to be equated with virtually any qualitative research project where the intent is to provide a detailed, in-depth description of everyday life and practice. This is sometimes referred to as “thick description” — a term attributed to the anthropologist Clifford Geertz writing on the idea of an interpretive theory of culture in the early 1970s (e.g., see The Interpretation of Cultures, first published as a collection in 1973). The use of the term “qualitative” is meant to distinguish this kind of social science research from more “quantitative” or statistically oriented research.' 
That quote represents a rather overly technical explanation for what I wanted to deal with at my talk at the Bristol Anarchist Bookfair in 2011.  What I was asking was more straight forward:
'Is a modern history, written in a library by a professional historian such as that of Professor Preston's, to be preferred to a first-hand account of the conflict written almost in the heat of battle, or shortly afterwards? Will not the professional historian and scholar's account be more objective than that written by the former combatant and novelist? Is not the one clearly superior to the other? If not, how do we judge and value these differing contributions? ' 
These questions are important and not just to anarchists.  Pro. Preston himself has openly attempted to rubbish the work of George Orwell when some years ago at a gathering of the International Brigade Memorial Trust he declared George Orwell's  'Homage to Catalonia' , and said: 'It is not a bad book but the trouble is, it is the only book many people read on the Spanish Civil War' or words to that effect.
Pro. Preston suggested that 'Homage to Catalonia' was a book written about the Spanish War from the narrow perspective of someone who had only spent six or seven months involved in the conflict on a quiet front in the North of Spain - Aragon & Catalonia - and, that it left out much which the professional historian could now encompass supported, as he is, by the enriched 'body of scholarship which has been published in Spanish, Catalan, English ... since 1996' (see Preface to Preston's ‘The Spanish Civil War’ [2006]). 
Can the professional historian have a better insight into the nature of a conflict like the Spanish Civil War than a combatant who was actually there like George Orwell?  In one of his 'As I please' essays Orwell comments on Sir Walter Raleigh: 
'who when he was imprisoned in the Tower of London, occupied himself with writing a history of the world. He had finished the first volume and was at work on the second when there was a scuffle between some workmen beneath the window of his cell, and one of the men was killed. In spite of diligent enquiries, and in spite of the fact that he had actually seen the thing happen, Sir Walter was never able to discover what the quarrel was about; whereupon, so it is said -- and if the story is not true it certainly ought to be -- he burned what he had written and abandoned his project.'  
Orwell took the view that Sir Walter Raleigh was wrong to abandon the project.  I think that the two approaches to historical analysis are best described by Pro. Hoey below. 
Pro. Hoey distinguishes the two approaches:  'Ethnographers generate understandings of culture through representation of what we call an emic perspective, or what might be described as the “‘insider’s point of view.” The emphasis in this representation is thus on allowing critical categories and meanings to emerge from the ethnographic encounter rather than imposing these from existing models. An etic perspective, by contrast, refers to a more distant, analytical orientation to experience.'
and he continues: 
'While an ethnographic approach to social research is no longer purely that of the cultural anthropologist, a more precise definition must be rooted in ethnography’s disciplinary home of anthropology. Thus, ethnography may be defined as both a qualitative research process or method (one conducts an ethnography) and product (the outcome of this process is an ethnography) whose aim is cultural interpretation. The ethnographer goes beyond reporting events and details of experience. Specifically, he or she attempts to explain how these represent what we might call “webs of meaning” (Geertz again), the cultural constructions, in which we live.' 
Following another talk commemoration the anniversary of the Spanish Civil War, that I and the Anarchist Federation comrade Luis Mates gave in Newcastle at an event organised by Dave Douglass together with the International Brigade Memorial Trust up there, also in 2011,  one questioner pointed out that he had been to the spot in Barcelona where George Orwell had been confronted with the street fighting in Barcelona, and this questioner claimed that Orwell, from where he was standing, was not in a position to witness the events as he had claimed to do. 
This represents another problem.  What can the eye-witness actually see?  Is the witness on the spot claiming too much in his account? 
A recent example of this would seem to be Mr. Jason Holdway's comment on the post 'PENSIONER ATTACKED at ANARCHIST HQ!'
'I was there and frankly Brian's behavior was bizarre and completely counter productive. He caused his injuries when he tried to shoulder barge his way back in to the building, rebounding off someone half his age and fell sprawling onto the pebbled floor. I can only conclude that Brian's provocative behaviour was precisely designed to create a situation where he could make some claim to victimhood. on PENSIONER ATTACKED at ANARCHIST HQ!
This above  is an eye-witness account of the events in Angel Alley on the 22nd, June this year.  Jason Holdway was indeed there in Angel Alley at the time, as he had been nominated for a place on the Friends of Freedom Press by the Secretary Steve Sorba, who was himself at the time of the attack on me presiding over the Annual General Meeting of the Friends of Freedom Press in an upstairs room at 84B, Whitechapel High Street.  Mr. Holdway makes some preliminary observations about my behaviour before going on to claim ' He caused his injuries when he tried to shoulder barge his way back in to the building, rebounding off someone half his age and fell sprawling onto the pebbled floor'.   How can he know that?  Did he see the blood begin to flow at that moment?  Perhaps he saw a fountain of blood smeared across the 'pebbled floor' in Angel Alley?  I have been witness to number of these kind of events - in sit-in strikes and sit-downs - and afterwards it is not so easy for the actual participant or 'victim' to say precisely when the damage occurred.  But Mr Holdway goes further to make an even more remarkable conclusion: 
'I can only conclude that Brian's provocative behaviour was precisely designed to create a situation where he could make some claim to victimhood.' 
What Mr. Holdway is doing here is claiming to have solved 'the problem of other minds'!   He is claiming effectively not only that the injuries were self-inflicted because of my 'behaviour [which] was bizarre',  but also that he has the insight to know my full intentions or what the solicitor's call the mens rea.  The notion of mens rea or intention is a problem for lawyers and the courts, but it is also a problem for social scientists. 
Clearly the ethnographer has many problems no less than the professional historian, and slipshod treatment of the subject can always occur in our accounts.  But as has been pointed out it is probable that an ethnographic eye-witness account such as that of George Orwell's 'Homage to Catalonia' will probably survive better that many of the histories of the Spanish Civil War that are currently being written.  In short it possesses the 'missing what-ness'!

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Low-life scum batter Ashton mum with metal bars - police appeal for information!

Ashton mum left with fractured skull after brutal attack

Police are appealing for information following an horrifick attack that left a 65-year-old Ashton-under-Lyne, mother (unnamed) with a fractured skull.

In the early hours of last Tuesday morning, two men wearing balaclavas, broke into her home on Neal Avenue, Ashton, and battered her with metal bars after demanding money. She suffered multiple facial fractures, arm injuries and a fractured skull. She is recovering in hospital and is said to be in a stable condition.

Detective Inspector David Loughlin, of GMP's Tameside Borough, said:

"This was a vile attack on a vulnerable woman who was alone at home. She has been left in hospital  being treated for some nasty injuries which could have been much worse."

Anyone with information about the attack is asked to call police on 101 or Crime-stoppers, anonymously on 0800 555 111.

John Spencer-Davis on the Owen Smith Bid

John Spencer-Davis July 26, 2016 at 18:32

I received an e-mail from Owen Smith MP today, and I publish it and my response below.

E-mail from Owen Smith MP dated 26th July 2016 Labour’s future, radical politics


I grew up in South Wales during the miners’ strike. That’s when I came alive politically.

I saw the power of politics to change lives, for better and worse. We are seeing it again with a Tory government inflicting such damage through austerity. That’s why we need a radical, united Labour Party and why I am standing for Leader.

Jeremy Corbyn has reconnected our party with its radical principles. But it’s now time for a new generation with the energy and ideas to turn those principles in to action.

Under my leadership, we will be a powerful voice for social justice.

Together we can defeat this government.


John Spencer-Davis: 

Please be so kind as to share as widely as possible, and show to every member and supporter of the Labour Party that you can think of or reach. Many thanks, John

Reply dated 26th July 2016 to Owen Smith MP’s e-mail of the same date

Mr Smith,

No, I will not click here to watch your election video. I am not interested in your leadership challenge. You should not be running for the Labour leadership at all. The Labour Party already has a leader, elected less than a year ago with a vote so far above that of his nearest challenger, that you should be heartily ashamed of what you and your colleagues in the Parliamentary Labour Party have done. Given the ridiculous antics that you and your fellow MPs have indulged yourselves in over the past month, I am astounded that you have the temerity to e-mail the membership at all.

However, I am very glad of the opportunity to tell you exactly what I think of you and your colleagues, and why. I am also going to formally request a response to this e-mail. First of all, I would like to draw your attention to a report in the Times dated 28th November 2015, of which I am certain you will be perfectly aware, titled “Secret bid to oust Corbyn” which describes senior Labour figures and MPs as “desperate to keep Corbyn off the ballot paper” in the event of a leadership challenge, and states that the firm GRM Law has issued legal advice on the matter at the request of these senior Labour figures and MPs. Secondly, I draw your attention to a report in the Telegraph dated 3rd May 2016, titled “Revealed: plot to oust Jeremy Corbyn by using veteran Labour MP Margaret Hodge to spark leadership contest”, which includes the following: “A plot to oust Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader has emerged, with veteran MP Margaret Hodge said to have been persuaded to stand against him to spark a leadership contest…The veteran MP could be used as a stalking horse before dropping out to allow moderate MPs to remain unscathed as they launch their leadership bids”. Thirdly, I draw your attention to a report in the Telegraph dated 13th June 2016, titled “Labour rebels hope to topple Jeremy Corbyn in 24-hour blitz after EU referendum” which includes the following: “Labour rebels believe they can topple Jeremy Corbyn after the EU referendum in a 24-hour blitz by jumping on a media storm of his own making… By fanning the flames with front bench resignations and public criticism they think the signatures needed to trigger a leadership race can be gathered within a day”.

I assume that in the light of what began on 26th June 2016, you are not going to insult my intelligence by suggesting that these newspaper reports, and a number of others like them in newspapers and social media, were fantasy, and I assume that you will not likewise insult it by suggesting that you were unaware of these reports and the movements behind them. One of the two MPs who submitted a vote of no confidence to the Parliamentary Labour Party Chairman on 24th June 2016 was Margaret Hodge. A series of front bench resignations began after Hilary Benn MP deliberately invited his own dismissal in the early hours of the morning of Sunday 26th June. Among those front bench resignations was yours from the Shadow Cabinet. You participated in the vote of no confidence in Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Parliamentary Labour Party. I will be pleased to be more specific about other similar reports if necessary.

In the light of what I have stated above, it is impossible to credit that the events of the 24th to the 26th June 2016, and subsequently, did not take place in order to force the resignation of Jeremy Corbyn from the Labour leadership and thereby assure that he was not able to garner sufficient support from the PLP and MEPs to be eligible to seek re-election, as per the legal advice provided by GRM Law in November 2015, two months after his emphatic victory in the leadership election. It is also impossible to credit that an intelligent person with your political connections and experience could fail to be aware of what was going on during those days, and therefore, whether you care to admit it or you do not, it is as plain as day to any objective observer that your resignation from the Shadow Cabinet and your participation in the vote of no confidence make an utter mockery of your assertion, as reported on 13th July 2016, that you were not part of any plot or coup against Jeremy Corbyn MP. That assertion is flatly and obviously false. I also draw your attention to the tweet by Andy Burnham MP on 26th June 2016, which honourably stated: “I have never taken part in a coup against any Leader of the Labour Party and I am not going to start now.” Mr Burnham evidently knew what was going on. Do you seriously assert that you did not? You are taking all of the members and supporters of the Labour Party, including myself, for mugs, Mr Smith, and I do not like it. I also draw your attention to the tweet by John Mann MP on 13th July 2016, which stated: “I was approached six months ago to back Owen Smith to be Labour leader. I politely declined the offer”. I quote again the Telegraph from May 2016 regarding Margaret Hodge MP: “…could be used as a stalking horse before dropping out to allow moderate MPs to remain unscathed as they launch their leadership bids”.

I don’t need to know any more about your leadership bid than I have outlined above, Mr Smith. Unlike Andy Burnham MP, you have acted in the most dishonourable and disgraceful way, and have enthusiastically participated in a wholly undemocratic attempt to deny the members and supporters of the Labour Party their right to choose, again, the leader that they overwhelmingly chose in late 2015. You have also had the hypocrisy to state that you will fight a clean leadership campaign, when your campaign has been dirty and tainted from the very beginning, for the reasons I have summarised. Your subsequent actions have also been so, but that is no surprise given the way you started, and there is no need to go into that: what I have said is enough. You should be ashamed to show your face at any leadership husting, and I urge you to do the honourable thing even now, at this late stage, and say that you will have no further part in this cynical affront to Labour Party democracy and to the members and supporters.

I will be publicising your e-mail to me and my answer to it as widely as possible, so that as many members and supporters of the Labour Party I can reach can see the sources I have cited and what an ordinary member thinks of you and your e-mail and your leadership bid. I will also be copying it to my own MP.

I await your reply.

Yours sincerely,

John Spencer-Davis

Radical Women at Working Class Library



Saturday 17 September 


This one-day conference will celebrate the battles and
achievements of working-class women in the drive to
achieve a fairer and more balanced society. The decades
spanning the turn of the twentieth century saw an upsurge
in female activism as women began to organise
themselves into trade unions, take part in the socialist
debates on social and economic change, and demand the

Radical women not only battled against the gender-
conservative males within their family or community
but also those who claimed to be fighting for equality.

There will be keynote addresses by Professor Sheila
Rowbotham, University of Manchester and Professor
Karen Hunt, Keele University. Papers include the Cabin
Restaurant waitresses strike of 1908; the life of Crewe
tailoress, campaigner, activitist and author Ada Neild Chew;
the forgotten history of domestic servants in women’s suffrage;
radical women and the bicycle; suffragette Constance Lytton
# and the cause of prison reform; plus many more.

Full programme details: 

Tickets: £20 (£7.50 unwaged) including lunch and refreshments
Book in advance from

Saturday Library Opening 

Don't forget we're open on the first Saturday of most
months - the next one is Saturday 6 August 2016, 
10am to 4pm.


14th September 2pm 

Pit Props: music,

international solidarity

and the 1984/85

miners' strike

A new book from the Campaign for Press and
Broadcasting Freedom, edited by Granville Williams,
marks the end of an era in coal mining in the UK
and highlights how the year-long struggle by the
miners in defence of jobs and communities still
resonates today. Details here.

This free talk is part of our autumn Invisible
Histories series. All welcome.


Want the Earth'
28 September

- early 2017

On the centenary of the Easter Rising an exhibition
exploring the life of one of its leaders, James Connolly,
will be on display here at the Library.

No Power on Earth - Living History performance

Based on the true story of Salford man, James Hudson,
this monologue tells the story of an ordinary school teacher
at the start of the First World War who finds himself at odds
with the popular mood. The story, written by Sue Reddish,
celebrates his courage to stay true to his beliefs despite
considerable pressure, and asks the audience to consider
what they would do in such a circumstance.

This was performed at both the Library and in local schools
earlier this year. The script is now available for download
from this page on our website. Although the copyright is ours,
we would be delighted if others use it and put on their own
performances; just let us know so we can help publicise it.

 Radical Footnotes

Radical Footnotes is an independent typographic space
committed to bring forward the printed expression of the
Working Class. Call for proposals: submit a short
discourse addressing problems, analyzing developments,
points of contention, methodologies, approaches and
insights concerning:
‘DAS KAPITAL’ the one hundred and fiftieth
anniversary of its publication

Deadline: December 2016

Details here

The Women

and Girls of Crewe,

the North of England,

and Beyond 1880-2016

One Day Conference -
Wednesday 7th, December 2016
Manchester Metropolitan University, Crewe 

Proposals are invited for this free one day interdisciplinary
conference inspired by the life and works of the suffragist,
author and labour rights campaigner Ada Nield Chew and
the forthcoming centenary of the Representation of the
People Act.

Deadline: 7 August 2016

Details here:   

Copyright © 2016 Working Class Movement Library, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
Working Class Movement Library
51 The Crescent,
Salford, M5 4WX
United Kingdom

Add us to your address book

*|ELSE:|* Copyright © 2016 Working Class Movement Library, All rights reserved.
Our mailing address is:
Working Class Movement Library
51 The Crescent
Salford, M5 4WX

Blacklist Current Agenda

1. Blacklisting, Bullying & Blowing the Whistle 
Blacklist Support Group are co-hosting a major employment rights conference in September at the University of Greenwich.
Bringing together activists & academics, politicians, unions and lawyers to expose the hidden underbelly of the modern workplace. Confirmed contributors include: John McDonnell, Michelle Stanistreet, Gail Cartmail, John Hendy, Roger McKenzie, Art Against Blacklisting - many more speakers to be announced.
Come along, spread the word and be part of setting the political agenda on workers rights (plus on Friday evening there will be a Blacklisting Victory party with live music & DJs)

2. When Len McCluskey said that that MI5 could be covertly undermining the Corbyn leadership, he was condemned as a conspiracy theorist. Perhaps his critics should take a look at the evidence of legal democratic campaigns being infiltrated by undercover police and the security services.

3. Video shown at UNITE Policy Conference in Brighton 
Bill Harvey, Jessica Sparrowhawk, Sandy MacPherson, Bridgett & Darrel Crapper represent

4. Solidarity
Solidarity - Wood Street Cleaners 
Wood Street cleaners have WON the London Living Wage but have voted unanimously to stay on indefinite strike until their sacked union reps are reinstated. 
Day 50 on strike - protest - Time for our entire movement to mobilise in support of this heroic dispute.
5pm Wednesday 27th July 

Solidarity with the striking Offshore workers 

Solidarity with the Durham TAs

Solidarity with Hazards conference - this weekend

5. Davey Hopper R.I.P.
Blacklist Support Group wish to send condolences to the famioy and friends of Davy Hopper, Durham NUM. Funeral this Friday. 

6. The short film 'Apologies' by Lucy Parker about the blacklisting scandal is showing as part of an exhibition from Tuesday this week until 28th August
Jerwood Space, 171 Union Street, Bankside, London, SE1 0LN. 

7. Corbyn keeps pushing the case for blacklisted workers at Durham & Tolpuddle 

Blacklist Support Group

Monday, 25 July 2016

Appeal for Funding of a British Film Noir!

MY name is Diogo Salgado and I’m currently studying Digital Media Production at Sheffield Hallam University going into my 3rd year.   

I hope that you don’t mind my getting in touch with you but we have been talking to Cinema for All about a particular opportunity that we would like to offer up to community cinemas, film clubs and societies. 

I’m currently helping with the release of a new British Independent Film, THE INCIDENT.  In preparation for the film’s UK release in the Autumn we are working hard to raise the profile of the film, by reaching out to those we think the film maybe of interest to.

The film has very strong links to Yorkshire; the film was shot in West Yorkshire, our Director Jane Linfoot is from York, our Producer Caroline Cooper Charles is based in Sheffield, and our actress Tasha Connor is from Leeds.   

British independent films are increasingly difficult to get made, and distributed; the challenge is multiplied for female filmmakers – only 11.9% of British films are made by female directors, this is one of those rare films!   

THE INCIDENT is a modern British Noir -  a tense, atmospheric emotionally haunting, thought-provoking film.  We are reaching out to film clubs who are interested in supporting British independent films through their clubs and membership.  

We are currently in the midst of crowd funding to help us release our film in a small selection of independent cinemas and on Video on Demand in the Autumn.  The below link gives you all the details on our film, and our campaign.   

Campaign Link: -  

We are offering a specific PERK to Film clubs, whereby for a £100 donation you would be purchasing the license to screen this British film at your club (after the film’s official release), with a signed poster included, and the name of your Film Club would appear in our film credits as a SUPPORTER of this film. 

In addition, should you be interested in having the Director: Jane Linfoot attend the screening for a Q&A this could be arranged if travel / overnight costs are covered where necessary.  

The attached E-Flyer has all the relevant information - if it is at all possible for you to share some of our posts regarding our campaign they can be found on our Facebook page and Twitter feed - it would be a tremendous help to us to have these shared.   

Thank you so much for your time. 

Kindest regards, 

Diogo Salgado. 

Considering a Labour Party Split

by Les May
THE stories about an imminent split in the Labour party are brought to us by the same people who have been busy telling us that Jeremy Corbyn was half hearted in his support of the Remain campaign in the EU referendum, that Corbyn inspired thugs smashed the windows of Angela Eagle's constituency office and that found themselves accused of bias by an LSE investigation into media coverage of Corbyn in the period 1 September to 1 November 2015... need I go on?  These are the people for whom the 'story' matters more than the truth.

I've briefly dissected some of these stories in Northern Voices during the past couple of weeks and Tim Fenton dissects the latest one from Dan Hodges on the Zelo blog.

Media talk of a split pre-dates the events leading to the current leadership contest.  The same Dan Hodges had been promoting a Labour split with an article in the Mail on Sunday on 8 May.  Read this carefully and you'll spot his reference to a four week 'window of of opportunity' to challenge Corbyn between the EU referendum and the summer recess.  Notice also the reference to 'planning for Labour’s long-awaited leadership coup'.

Some of the stories implying there will be a split are more subtle.  Who 'owns' the name 'Labour' is a question which is suddenly being asked.  Why? If not to implant the idea of an imminent collapse of the party.

Whilst I think it is right to talk of a coup being planned within the Parliamentary Labour Party I think the attempts to infiltrate into the discussion the notion of a Labour party split was and is just a ploy to egg on the plotters and encourage the uncommitted to join them.  Presenting the present contest as a fight for the 'soul' of the party is an attempt to promote an apocalyptic message by people who have anything but the best interests of the Labour party at heart.  

There's one excellent reason why the Labour party will not split.  It's called 'follow the money'.

Labour receives a significant amount of funding from unions affiliated to the Labour party.  Speaking to a group of peers about the then 'Trades Union Bill', in March Labour's general secretary Iain McNicol revealed that, out of the £22m ($30m) which Labour-affiliated unions raised in political funds in 2014, £10m was handed to the party.

Now ask yourself a simple question. Will unions like Unite and Unison be more likely to spend their political funds with a party led by supporters of Corbyn or one led by supporters of those Blairites whose sense of entitlement that they, and they alone, have the right to determine party policy makes them incandescent with fury that they have been denied?  

If you object to the notion that in the end pragmatism will rule and the outcome will be decided by where the unions are prepared to put their money, ask yourself whether you prefer Labour to be funded by the pennies of a lot of ordinary people or the millions of a few of the very rich.

Interested readers might like to follow the link to the 'Labour Leaders Office Fund'.

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Is the Labour Party in its Death Throws?

Sent to Northern Voices by Trevor Hoyle:

The Stench of Death hangs over The Guardian – not Labour.

Submitted by on July 20, 2016 – 11:53 am2 Comments
The Haze was amused to read a recent slew of articles in The Guardian,  insisting that the Labour Party has been afflicted by some terrible disease and is close to death. Voters are getting involved in politics it seems and this has got The Guardian terribly upset.
In this vitriolic piece Nick Cohen smears colleague Seamus Milne as being part of a Corbyn “insurgency” and Paul Mason for “taking braggart swagger and cocksure certainties of newspaper punditry into politics”. The article drips with anger and bile – but after reading it (and many others) it strikes us that it is not The Labour Party that is in danger of expiring – but The Guardian.
Rewind to December of last year and  we see The Guardian Media Group losing money – losses so serious that GMG proposed axing 250 jobs (13% of its workforce) including 100 posts in editorial.  Look at this chart of losses since 2008.
For more go to

Friday, 22 July 2016

The New European?

by Les May
ONE of the unexpected outcomes of the vote to leave the EU has been the creation of a 'popup' newspaper, The New European.  It describes itself as the 'paper for the 48%' that being the proportion of referendum voters who voted to remain in the EU.

The lead story of the first, 8-14 July, edition featured a letter which had been sent to the Financial Times by a lecturer at Imperial College, Dr Robert Gross.

Like Dr Gross I was very unhappy with the vote to leave the EU.  But after reading his letter I concluded that we inhabit different worlds and that my world is probably nearer to that inhabited by many of the people who voted to leave the EU.

So in 'Letter to the Editor' fashion I e-mailed what appears below.

“I'm 74, my wife is 70.  We both voted 'Remain' in the EU referendum, so count us in the 48%.  Ours was the only house we saw with 'Remain' posters in the windows and it took almost a fortnight of phoning and personal visits to get these.  So much for organisational abilities of the 'Britain Stronger in Europe' campaign.  Facebook and Twitter are not good persuaders for our generation.

"Had I read the first issue of 'The New European' before I put my X I'd have been sorely tempted to vote 'Out'.

"You just don't 'get it' do you?

"Robert Gross' letter reads like one long whinge.  Small house, big mortgage:  Don't blame our generation.  My wife and I last intervened in the housing market in 1984.  For some of our immediate neighbours it's even further back.  

"There's a huge sense of entitlement here which we don't share, even though until we retired we too were part of the 'backbone of the country'.  If you've got a steady job think yourself lucky.  If it's well paid, think yourself damn lucky.  If it's got a decent pension attached you've hit the jackpot.  You're doing very nicely really and Brexit, if it happens, will just be a blip, albeit a big one.  Is an 'electable' opposition one that will maintain the status quo for you or one that will build more social housing which you and I will have to contribute to through our taxes, but which will spread the economic benefits of the EU?

"I voted 'Remain' because I think the EU is about creating a 'level playing field', even for football clubs, and preventing a 'race to the bottom' which would impinge most heavily on the poorer sections of society.  I embraced immigration because since I had my kids in the 1960s the UK birth rate has steadily fallen and for the past thirty years we have not been having enough children to replace ourselves.  So whose going to be working to pay the pensions of today's 48 year olds when they start to retire in the 2030s? The latest crop of young immigrants of course. Incidentally low birth rates are a problem throughout Europe.

"Clever idea to start the first editorial with 'Walking in London... ' and following it with 'Lambeth dweller' Miranda Saunders was the icing on the cake.  And was it really such a good idea to have a couple of venture capitalists writing articles promoting the EU? What better way to tell the world that it's just another rich man's club? We don't all view the world through the lens of how much money we have. As I said earlier, 'You just don't get it'.

"Jonathan Freedland would have done well to mention that 40% of the people who voted 'Remain' had voted Labour in the 2015 election and 40% of those who voted 'Leave' had voted Conservative.  Put another way 60% of Labour voters supported 'Remain' and 60% of Conservative voters supported 'Leave'. Dumping the blame for Brexit on a few northern towns and ignoring the great swathes of country which were solidly Conservative in the election and solidly for 'Leave' in the referendum, won't wash.  Check it out on the appropriate maps if you doubt it.

"This played to the mantra that Corbyn hadn't done enough to promote the benefits of staying in the EU, though he appeared in the media 123 times during the campaign compared with 15 appearances by Angela Eagle.

"But Corbyn's qualified support was a view I shared.  Although I knew that I would vote 'Remain' from the day that it was announced that there would be a referendum during the next Parliament I did it in full knowledge that I was choosing the least bad option.  Labour party members also seem to have accepted this as 90% of them are reported to have voted 'Remain'.

"Unsurprisingly I thought the three articles from 'foreigners' were by far the best. Presumably this is because they were free of the sort of partisanship which blights the English media.

"The basic problem, that the economic benefits of being in the EU are very unequally spread both geographically and individually, can be summed up within the experiences of our own family.  We've a son and a daughter who are both 49.  Our daughter, another 'backbone of the country', lives in the South-East of England in a house in the £500K bracket.  Our son lives in Cornwall, works every hour God sends to maintain his family and will never own a house.  Should we really be surprised if, in a scene reminiscent of 'The Life of Brian', our son asks, 'What has the EU ever done for us?'

"Nonetheless I wish your new venture well and will buy the next copy.  Drop the London bias, we see far too much of it already.  Drop the phoney attempt at, 'We're all Europeans now' and recognise that for many of us staying in the EU meant more than a boozy night out in Prague, Budapest or Amsterdam.   Spell out what the EU is really about.  Follow the 'negotiations' as the new government tries, and fails, to square the circle of having access to the single market and not having free movement of people."   

Was I surprised that the editor decided he didn't have space for my letter in today's edition? Not really.  After all it might have driven out 'Why We Need European Fashion More Than Ever' or 'WHAT'S ON IN EUROPE?'. Serious stuff eh?

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Owen Smith - Corbyn-lite?

by Les May
AT first sight it looks as if the decision by Angela Eagle to pull out of the contest for the Labour leadership is, from the 'plotters' perspective a good one, because it ensures that the anti-Corbyn vote will not be split.  But in the interval between now and the leadership vote there is enough time for things to turn sour, not because of anything Corbyn says or does, but from what Owen Smith himself says.

Now I was not an Eagle fan as I showed in some recent articles for Northern Voices.  There were two reasons for this. The first was that if she was as left wing as was proclaimed in the media, why should I settle for voting for a Labour party led by an ersatz version of Corbyn, when I could have the real thing?

The second developed more slowly.  I began to see that her supporters, and especially her supporters in the media, were going to fight her leadership campaign on the basis of 'intimidation' by Corbyn supporters, 'sexism' and 'homophobia', and that she was not going to set the record straight.

In fairness I should point out that it is possible to generate claims of 'homophobia' from the most innoccuous of statements as happened to Owen Smith after he talked about his family life as a married father with children and describing himself as 'normal' and there is no suggestion that Angela Eagle would endorse such nonsense.

But one thing I would not accuse her of is being someone who makes rash statements just to get elected.  Appearing to make vague promises and then not being able to deliver on them has a habit of coming back to haunt you.

Two days ago Owen Smith was quoted as saying 'I would renationalise our railways tomorrow'.  Sounds radical, but it's just playing to the gallery and telling Labour people what he thinks they want to here.  As I pointed out in this extract from an NV article in August 2015 ownership isn't the issue.  The problem is to make the system work for the benefit of the public.  

So why do I care?  Why do I, and people like me, find Corbyn by far the most appealing of all the leadership candidates? I'm not hung up on renationalisation of the railways.  But I do want them to work.  I want to be able to go into any station and book the cheapest ticket to anywhere in the country using any train.  I don't want to be crammed onto a train with too few coaches every day. I don't want to surcharged if I find myself paying the conductor.  If it takes nationalisation to make the system work so be it. If you object to nationalisation just make the system work.  Or would doing that not be 'business friendly'?

Yesterday, we were told that Smith has 'promised a second referendum on EU membership or a general election to influence how Brexit goes,' and 'it would be “tempting” to stop withdrawal from the EU if he became Prime Minister.'

Again this is just telling people what he thinks they want to hear.  If he really believes it then he clearly does not understand what is going to happen once a UK government triggers Article 50.

As I wrote in a NV article two weeks ago:

What is clear even now, and becomes clearer every day, is that try as it might, no UK government, whether Tory or Labour, is going to get access to the so called 'single market' unless it accepts free movement of workers, a.k.a. immigration. This is why: 'The internal market, or single market, of the European Union (EU), also known as the European single market, is a single market that seeks to guarantee the free movement of goods, capital, services, and people – the "four freedoms" – between the EU's 28 member states.'

There is not going to be any 'pre triggering' negotiation designed to give the UK a relationship with the EU more privileged than any of the remaining 27 members enjoy.  The choice is stark, leave the EU and maintain access to the single market by allowing free movement or negotiate with the rest of the world and pay the tariffs imposed by the EU on external trade. a.k.a increase the cost of British exports to the EU.

Owen Smith is a 'loose cannon' liable to say things he is not going to be able to deliver on.  The media love him at the moment because he's not Corbyn.  But if he keeps on making rash half promises it won't take long for someone to spot that he's just playing the game of being 'Corbyn lite' to garner votes for the leadership election.  How long before some wag asks if promising a second referendum isn't just a bit like the whole leadership challenge: keep them voting until they come up with the right answer!

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Jeremy Corbyn: Misrepresentaion in the Media?

by Les May
A STUDY by the Media and Communications Department at London School of Economics and Political Science analyses articles about Jeremy Corbyn that were published in eight national newspapers between 1 September and 1 November 2015, and included both right and left wing press. It found three areas where Corbyn has not been treated fairly:
through lack of voice or misrepresentation
through scorn, ridicule and personal attacks
through association
You can get the general drift of the findings from the title of the report detailing the study, 'Journalistic Representations of Jeremy Corbyn in the Mainstream Press: From Watchdog to Attackdog'
An anti-Corbyn bias is not something peculiar to papers like the Sun, Express or Mail. The so called 'quality' papers share the same approach.
The most insidious aspect of the treatment of Corbyn has been the fact that the media just do not report what he does say on important matters. This was especially apparent in the way that when Corbyn addressed packed meetings in the Referendum campaign they were not reported.  
Denying Corbyn a voice is even worse than misrepresenting what he says. Simply misrepresenting him at least allows people the opportunity to 'filter out' the most obvious bias.

Angela Eagle: the Brick & the Coup!

by Les May
I HESITATE to say that Angela Eagle lied about having a brick thrown through her constituency office window, but she is certainly guilty of of not having done anything to correct the impression given in some sections of the press that it was done by a Corbyn supporter and had been done to 'bully' her after she announced she was challenging Corbyn for Labour leader.

But as is clear from a statement made by an Eagle supporter and reported in The Guardian, Eagle's office just happens to be in the same building.  The accompanying image shows that the window was at the foot of a stairwell and not in an office.

According to a local councillor, Bernie Mooney:
'Someone put a brick through the window last night. At the side of Angela’s office there is a massive window from the floor to the top with six or seven panes and it’s broken one of them. They had come up the side of the building. There are three or four businesses in here as well as Angela’s office.'

It seems that for Angela the brick through the window has been much the same as the failed coup in Turkey for Erdogan; something to be taken advantage of.

Even his enemies agree that Corbyn is a decent man.  How about Angela showing she's a decent woman by setting the record straight?