Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Are Smith and Corbyn two sides of same coin?

Thinking the Unthinkable
by Les May

As the delegates left the Labour conference after the result of the leadership election was announced one of the people the BBC had assigned to cover the event asked an interviewee ‘How will Corbyn’s centrist MPs react’.

Now forgive me for asking but does not the whole history of the party, how it came into existence and where it derives much of its support and funding indicate that if it is anything at all it is a distinctly left of centre party?  If it isn’t and does not see its future as being just that, then why does it exist at all? 

As I have pointed out before the whole locus of British politics has moved sharply to the Right in the past thirty years.  Even Tory politicians like Ted Heath pursued policies which by contemporary standards would be viewed as dangerously left wing.  As William Keegan pointed out last year the Tory press attacks Labours policies which are ‘far less radical than those of the Attlee governments’.

One thing that even Corbyn’s fiercest internal critics cannot deny is that he has shifted the debate about what policies the Labour party should pursue sharply to the Left.  Both Angela Eagle and Owen Smith realised at once that there were no votes in promoting or advocating the Blairite policies.  Apart from Smith’s advocacy of a second referendum on leaving the EU he seems to have set out an agenda very similar to that advocated by Corbyn.

But I would urge a note of caution on both Corbyn supporters like myself and the ‘centrist’ MPs in the parliamentary Labour party. 

Re-nationalising the railways is a ‘no brainer’ to many Labour supporters but whether that would improve peoples’ daily experience of train travel depends upon whether you think that ownership is the problem or whether you think that it is more a question of how the railways are run.

Is the prime concern to run an ‘efficient’ service, i.e. an over optimised service being run at the lowest possible cost, or is it to run the railways as a public service.  By the latter I mean trains run sufficiently frequently and with sufficient seating to ensure that commuting is not a misery, and that the present over complicated ticketing arrangements will be abandoned and it will once again be possible to walk into any station and book a train to anywhere in the country at any time.

If the choice is for ‘railways as a public service’ re-nationalisation alone will not do the trick.  It needs a recognition that there will be costs to the public purse.

The MPs who voted to show that they had ‘no confidence’ in Corbyn seem to think that it his leadership which is the major obstacle to winning the 2020 election.  What they fail to recognise is that we no longer live in a predominantly two or sometimes three party political world.  Like it or not we  can no longer rely on a Scottish Labour vote and in England we now live in a five party world, Labour, Tory, Liberal, Green and UKIP.  Dividing the total vote in this way and factoring in the likely effects of the upcoming boundary changes suggests to me that there is a real danger that the Tories will win irrespective of who is Labour leader.

Preventing this may mean that Labour MPs and party members have to ‘think the unthinkable’, and both form a united front against the Tories and abandon uncritical support for the present ‘first past the post’ electoral system which it has been argued favours centrist policies designed to attract ‘swing’ voters in a few key constituencies.

I’d love to think that Labour could get the sort of electoral mandate that Attlee’s 1945 government had, but it’s just not going to happen.  Recognising this I can either ‘keep the faith’ or become a dissenter and run the risk of being called a ‘traitor to socialism’.  As I live in the real world and not a fantasy world I’ll choose the latter.

One of the claimed advantages of the ‘first past the post system’ is that it keeps the link between the individual MP and the voters, i.e. you vote for an MP first and the party second.  But think on this.  I’m likely to be moved into the Rochdale constituency under the boundary changes.  At present the MP is Simon Danczuk and if Rochdale Labour party endorses him for the 2020 election, pigs will fly before I’ll vote for him.  And I’m not alone.

Monday, 26 September 2016

Rotten Boroughs: Censoring News in Tameside?

We recently drew attention to the difficulty that some people were having in getting their letters published in Tameside's only weekly newspaper, the Tameside Reporter & Chroncile, that is owned by the registered social landlord New Charter Housing Trust, via 'Quest Media Network Ltd'. The CEO of New Charter Housing, Ian Hamilton Munro, is a Director of 'Quest' and was a Director, when it went under the name of 'Piccolo Communications Ltd', which had the same registered address as New Charter. The Trust, has very close links with the Labour controlled council in Tameside and also owns and controls Tameside Radio. 

There is evidence, that Tameside Council have been involved in censoring the local news.  In Autumn 2008, 'Private Eye', revealed that agents acting on behalf the council, had been holding regular meetings with local newspaper editors to suppress news stories.

The following (insert) was written for the document 'Guidance for local authorities on community cohesion contingency planning and tension monitoring' by the then Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) in May 2008, and was written and signed-off, by the then assistant chief executive of the council, Steven Pleasant.

We are publishing below, in full, a letter that was sent to the newspaper from the trade union body, Tameside Trades Union Council, in August 2016, which wasn't published. We would be interested to hear from anyone who has experienced similar problems in getting letters published in this newspaper, as we are investigating what could amount to a potential conflict of interest and duty and are considering making a complaint to the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO).

14th August 2016

The Editor,
Tameside Reporter,
Cavendish Mill,

Dear Sir,

In last weeks Tameside Reporter, you reported upon the weekly protest that is taking place outside Ashton Jobcentre, which has just completed its second year.

We would wish to point out that this protest, which began in August 2014, was launched to highlight how benefit sanctions are being used in what many consider to be an unfair and unjust way by Jobcentre staff. We know from speaking to many claimants who use Ashton Jobcentre that people have been sanctioned for the most petty and trivial of reasons:

For example, a young jobseeker was told by Ashton Jobcentre that he would lose his benefits if he continued to protest with us, outside Ashton Jobcentre. Another was sanctioned for three months, when he arrived 2 minutes late for an interview, and a man was given a 3-month benefit sanction, by Ashton Jobcentre, for making a spelling mistake.

A nineteen-year-old lad from Ashton, recently told us that he'd been sanctioned for one-month, because he'd applied for too many jobs and hadn't received enough interviews. As a result, this young man lost his home and finished up on the streets.

In the case of Tameside Trades Council delegate, Charlotte Hughes, her 19-year-old daughter, had her benefit stopped by Ashton Jobcentre when she told a prospective employer - who was offering her an unpaid work placement - that she was 23-weeks pregnant. This case was the catalyst that led to this weekly protest outside Ashton Jobcentre.

Although the Department of Work & Pensions (DWP), claim that they are making work pay, some 40% of Jobcentre workers, according to their own trade union the PCS, qualify for the state benefit Universal Credit, because they are "fantastically low paid." Some Jobcentre staff that are in receipt of Universal Credit, are now signing-on, and are facing possible benefit sanctions, because of the requirement to satisfy "in-work conditionality" which is currently being piloted at Ashton Jobcentre as part of the roll-out of Universal Credit.

The Government deny that Jobcentre staff set people up for sanctioning or have national targets for sanctions. But this is refuted by the PCS union that represents Jobcentre workers. They say that staff come under pressure to sanction jobseekers or face disciplinary action. Alan Davis, a former Jobcentre worker from Leicester, told a recent Channel 4 'Dispatches Programme', broadcast on 2nd March 2015 -

"The pressure was enormous. I just felt what they were asking me to do, was totally wrong - they were asking me to 'hammer people' who in their own way were doing their best to get a job."

Yours faithfully
Brian Bamford,
Secretary Tameside TUC

The Tameside 'Vision': A Library fit for the 21st Century!

Buckets collecting rainwater at Ashton Library

Have you noticed how British managers have suddenly become 'passionate' about everything they do - it's the latest buzzword. Incompetent hospital bosses are passionate about the hospitals they run and politicians and ministers are always so passionate, the word has become a standard bromide in professional circles and seems to mean almost nothing.

The Labour controlled council in Tameside, Greater Manchester, have recently conducted yet another consultation exercise aimed at reorganising its library services. In their questionnaire the council say - "We are very passionate about the much valued library service within our communities." and talk about a 'vision' of a library service fit for the 21st century.

How passionate Tameside Council are about their library service is a moot point. For the last two-years, the roof at the central library in Ashton-under-Lyne has been leaking in and nothing appears to have been done about that. Last week, there was panic in the computer room (not for the first time), when the heavens opened up and there was a torrential downpour which came in through the library roof. Staff hastily ran for buckets to collect rain water and sought to unplug computers in order to avoid electrocuting library users as the rain cascaded down the wall. 

Five years ago, Tameside Council outsourced its 'Facilities and Estate Management' to the global construction giant 'Carillion'. However, we have been informed that Carillion say that they cannot repair the library roof because they don't have a pair of ladders big enough to get up on the roof! Is this the same "major global infrastructure partner' which the Labour council in Tameside, speak so highly of? If it is, then two-years seems an awfully long time to wait for them to get a pair of ladders in order to repair a roof. So much for privatization!

Friday, 23 September 2016

Conference on Bullying & Blacklisting

by Brian Bamford
ON my way to the University of Greenwich for the conference organised by the Blacklist Support Group, I picked up a copy of the Morning Star with a leading story about an undercover policeman who had used the alias Carlo Neri, who had successfully seduced three women to infiltrate the RMT  trade union and other leftist organisations in the early years of the 21st century.  When I got to the conference a lass he targeted who used the name 'Andrea' described how he won her over with his plausible Italian personality. 
More revelations of the involvement of the security services and the police in the practice of blacklisting trade unionists and spying on radical organisations have been documented in the 2nd  edition of 'Blacklisted:  The Secret War Between Big Business & Union Activists' authored by Dave Smith and the journalist Phil Chamberlain.
The Blacklisting conference itself which lasted for two days last weekend, was attended by well over 200.  The Conference Programme was populated by many academics like Pro. Sian Moore (University of Greenwich), Dr. Jack Fawbert (Anglia Ruskin University), Pro. Keith Ewing (Kings College London) and Pro. Phil Taylor (Strathclyde University); trade union leaders like Gail Cartmail of Unite, Amanda Brown (Assistant General Secretary of the NUT), Roger McKenzie (Unison) and Matt Wrack of the FBU; legal advisers like the barrister David Renton and Shamik Dutta; and activists like Helen Steel of the 'McDonald Two' and a participant in the Pitchford Enquiry.
Issues such as bullying at work; the tragedy of modern performance management and its consequences for the workforce; Edna's Law; protection for whistle-blowers; the campaign opposing police surveillance; 'Angry Women' and the Pitchford Enquiry were all discussed at the conference.  All in all I told Dave Smith in the interval that this was another triumph for the London based Blacklist Support Group, and as a proud northerner I don't give my praise to Cockneys that easily.
www.northernvoicesmag.blogspot.comFreedom Collective Statement!  on this blog 09/08/2016

Toxteth Teacher Exposed as Anarchist!

Nellie and Jim

by Christopher Draper
(Lives of Northern Anarchists - part 9)

THERE are two versions of education.  One encourages kids to explore the world so that they may in time confidently create their own future.  The other moulds youngsters into adults able to perform predetermined roles in pre-existing society.  The latter authoritarian tradition controls State schools but, as seeds beneath the snow, there have always been individuals fighting for the liberation of learning and practising alternatives.  Jimmy Hugh Dick opened an anarchist school in Liverpool in 1908 and for almost half a century continued to preach, practice and promote “free-education”. 

Early Influences
Born on 15 November 1882 to James, a Scottish policeman, and Barbara, a Cumbrian housewife, James Hugh Dick grew up in Toxteth surrounded by a large bunch of brothers and sisters.  Although Liverpool was a political city, as a youth Jimmy wasn’t interested in politics.  Initially, perhaps influenced by his mother’s Quakerism, he was a mild, teetotal secularist employed as a grocer’s assistant.  With an undemanding job and a yearning for 'self-improvement', in his early twenties Jimmy enrolled at a local Commercial College where he befriended Lorenzo Portet, a young Spanish anarchist employed as a language teacher.

Jimmy was soon won over to Portet’s syndicalist politics and as a friend of Francisco Ferrer, and a teacher himself, Portet was keenly interested in education.  When Ferrer visited Portet in Liverpool in 1907 Jimmy was inspired to drop the groceries and take up teaching.

Anarchy in Action
Supported by enlightened parents of the Liverpool labour movement, in 1908 Jimmy started an Anarchist-Communist Sunday School in the old Toxteth Co-op hall in Smithdown Street.  As the hall was about to be rebuilt, in 1909 James and his 38 students transferred to the ILP (Independent Labour Party) rooms in Tagus Street.  

Jimmy supported Ferrer’s international approach to education and was keen for the school:  
'To break down national prejudices and that patriotic piffle which is inculcated into the children of our present-day schools.'   He believed the kids should exercise initiative in learning but he also laid on overtly political lectures.  The school’s 1909 season included, 'The Paris Commune' by Matt Kavanagh, 'Whiteway Colony' by Chas Keane and, intriguingly, 'Faeries' from local syndicalist stonemason, Fred Bower.

The school developed within a flourishing syndicalist mileu.  Industrial syndicalism appeared increasingly attractive to the labour movement as, according to one observer:
'To many it appeared that the incorporation of union officials within bargaining institutions had succeeded in defusing their earlier radicalism.'
It was time to take up direct action and Jimmy’s 1908 reports for the anarchist newspaper FREEDOM, emphasised the, 'class-conscious and anti-parliamentary viewpoint' of not just fellow syndicalists but also, increasingly, of Liverpool ILP and the SDF comrades.

Liverpool International Club
Jimmy saw learning as liberation, not just something we do to kids but a definitively political process that we’re all involved in, and inherently anarchist.  Besides the school and his labour activism he was a key member of Liverpool’s International Club in Canning Place.  Fellow club members included Fred Bower, Lorenzo Portet and the radical painter Albert Lipczinski.  Through such club contacts Lipczinski came to paint both Tom Mann and Jim Larkin and according to David Bingham the latter portrait came to a dramatic end after it was, 'held as a banner by the Irish strikers in Dublin prior to the Easter Uprising and while being held aloft in this way, it was targeted by the infamous Black and Tans with their weapons and destroyed with gunfire.'

Talkin’ About a Revolution
Jimmy attended the huge, First Conference on Industrial Syndicalism held at the Coal Exchange, Manchester, in November 1910 as one of Liverpool’s two Revolutionary Industrialist delegates, the other was Peter Larkin. Lorenzo Portet attended as a delegate of the International Club whilst Fred Bower represented the Liverpool stonemasons. Although the gathering marked a real syndicalist advance it wasn’t sufficient to satisfy Jim’s revolutionary ardour.  He detected a residual belief in Parliamentary methods amongst delegates and informed FREEDOM that while, “it was obvious that the general feeling of the meeting was to shake off the political element” he still felt most, “were like the slaves of all superstitions, who hate the chains yet cling to them madly.” This insight informed and drove both my own and Jim’s lifelong commitment to liberated learning.

Humans aren’t entirely rational beings driven to act solely by the logic of reasoned argument otherwise we’d long ago have overturned a system that provides Philip Green with a yacht and his workers with the sack.  Our underlying psychology and feelings of empathy and solidarity develop in infancy, or not, and if we’re shaped by authoritarian social structures we grow to crave authority and leadership instead of independence, autonomy and freedom.  Anarchists from Eric Fromm to Colin Ward have since sketched in the details but Jimmy Dick pioneered the liberation of learning in Liverpool in 1908.

Marching Orders
At the end of 1909 the school moved again to another ILP building at 1 Clarendon Terrace, Beaumont Street, though Jim was openly critical of the didactic moralising of the ILP’s own approach to education.  He complained to FREEDOM:
'One thing that seems to mar the socialist Sunday Schools is the repetition of the silly platitudes and a declaration known as the Socialist Ten Commandments. Who had the audacity to draw up such a series of impositions and dare to cram them down the child’s throat, I do not know…Let us have done with this ceremonial business. Stereotyped characters are not for the new era. We want to make men and women not virtuous automatons.'

Jimmy was happy to observe that even national newspapers began to appreciate the unique character of his libertarian venture, “We have it on the authority of the Fortnightly Review that our school is the pioneer school.” Unfortunately, a reactionary storm was unleashed by sensationalist reporting of the “Houndsditch Affair”, when newspaper inaccurately identified murderous robbers as anarchists. Utterly wedded to electoral politics the ILP got cold feet and pulled the plug on Jimmy’s enterprise. There were no votes in accommodating anarchists so in January 1911 Liverpool’s “Independent Labour Party” kicked them out. The school was homeless.

In February 1911 Jimmy finally managed to re-locate the school to Alexander Hall, Islington Square, Liverpool but it was a long way for the kids to travel and attendance began to decline. In May Jimmy reluctantly decided it would have to close and his thoughts began to focus on his own political educational. 

Meeting of Minds
In the autumn of 1911 Jimmy Dick moved down to London and enrolled at the Central Labour College, a syndicalist-inspired breakaway from Oxford’s Ruskin College which had proved useless to militant working class students itching to advance the class-struggle.

Back in Liverpool Jimmy had written a children’s column for The Voice of Labour and one of his devoted readers, Naomi Ploschansky, following Jimmy’s example had in 1912 started her own anarchist school in London’s East End. On May Day 1913 “Nellie” (as Naomi was familiarly known) took her school students along to join the celebrations in Hyde Park (“we carried a banner, Anarchist-Socialist School”) where she spotted the Central Labour College banner. “So I went up to ask for “Uncle Jim”. I saw a young man with grey hair who looked gentler than the rest and I asked him if James Dick was there. He bowed: “I’m James Dick” he said.” It was the beginning of a long and beautiful friendship.

Nellie and Jim
Nellie had arrived in London from Kiev as a baby in 1894 with her impoverished Russian family. Both her dad, Solomon and mum, Hanna, had since abandoned the synagogue and embraced anarchism. Attending the Jubilee Street anarchist club with her parents provided Nellie with the contacts to start her own Ferrer School, although she was only a teenager herself.

As Jim and Nellie’s friendship developed he agreed to assist her as co-director of her anarchist school and in 1914 they moved in together. As at Jim’s Liverpool school, the London students controlled their own learning but were encouraged to engage with wider political activities and demonstrations. Rudolf Rocker and his older son assisted at their London school and Rudolf jnr subsequently opened his own libertarian school in Canada.

When war was declared, Rocker was imprisoned and as the kids handed out anti-war leaflets the police were encouraged to raid the premises. After conscription was introduced Jim and Nellie, in 1916, got legally married to avoid the draft but soon that exemption was denied and the couple decided they should emigrate to assist the Free-Schooling movement in America.

Anarchist Education in America
Nellie, 22 and Jim, 34 sailed from Liverpool to New York aboard the St Paul on 30 December 1916. They were welcomed to America by anarchist comrades but Nellie was shocked and disappointed on visiting Emma Goldman to discover that she employed her own personal black maid!

Almost immediately the pair settled into an anarchist community at Stelton where they ran the school on the same libertarian lines they’d developed earlier in England. For the next forty years, including a period running a similar venture at Mohegan, Jim and Nellie pioneered anarchist education along with encouraging, visiting and corresponding with comrades around the world similarly committed to the liberation of learning. 

Eventful Visits
After the 1917 revolution, Nellie’s parents both returned to Russia whilst her sister Dora trained first as a nurse and then as a teacher in America. Nellie and Dick visited Britain together in 1919 and their only son, Jim jnr, was born here on that visit but at the same time Nellie’s brother, Samuel, was caught shop breaking by PC Clarke. He was convicted, sent to prison for a year and then deported back to Russia. 

In 1931 Jimmy came to England to attend a conference on progressive education and visited Summerhill, Britain’s flagship free school, at the invitation of A S Neill. Jimmy also took the opportunity to meet up with old comrades like Will Lawther and Tom Keell.

Having been welcomed to America by exiled Russian anarchist Bill Shatoff in 1917, when Jim, Nellie and Jim visited Russia in 1933 they were keen to meet up with him again. Shatoff had since returned to his homeland to help the Bolshevik revolution without ever abandoning his own anarchist principles. He never turned up at his apartment and was subsequently reported to have been arrested and “liquidated” by Stalin.

Jimmy continued to teach into his seventies before ill health forced retirement.  Despite their age, when the Rosenbergs were executed in 1953 it was Nellie and Jim who stepped in to look after their kids.  Their final anarchist educational venture, Lakewood Modern School which they had founded 25 years earlier, closed its doors in 1958 and Jimmy died seven years later, in 1965 aged 82.  During my own half century in education I met very few teachers in England who’d heard of Jimmy and a tragically diminishing number who practise his approach to schooling.  Hidden away in a few schools there are still anarchist “seeds beneath the snow” but there’s been a very heavy snowfall over the last couple of decades.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Review: 'STREETCAR' to Claustrophobia

A journey through sociological & sexual 'rape'
AFTER her performance as Hamlet in the play of the same name last year, I was wondering how Maxine Peak originally a lass from Bolton would manage to tackle the lead role of Blanche DuBois in Tennessee William's play 'A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE' now being performed at the Manchester Royal Exchange Theatre.  I needn't have worried Maxine rose to the job and took us down into a wounded world of which Arthur Miller described as 'STREETCAR is a cry of pain; forgetting that is to forget the play'.
But how are we to approach such a play mired as it is in the cramped space of a two room sparsely furnished apartment offering us views of a combined living-room and bedroom with a bathroom on the side?  When Blanche from Mississippi arrives to live with her sister Stella and her brother-in-law Stanley, in New Orleans she was already what we would now call 'damaged' by having experienced a marriage to a homosexual man who had just died.  Then begins the disintegration not only mentally of Blanche, but of the relationships of those who come into contact with her, not just Stanley and Stella, but Stanley's workmates, like Mitch.
Rachel Clements, lecturer in drama, theatre and performance University of Manchester, in the program's brochure writes:
'There are reports that in (Elia) Kazan's 1947 production (on Broadway), some audience members cheered as Stanley carried Blanche to the bed to rape her.  Although one hopes this kind of response is now consigned to the past, both Mitch and Stanley's reactions to and judgements about Blanche's sexuality are not so wholly remote.'
And Ms. Clements in keeping with our contemporary 'Women's Studies' addiction continues:
'How far STREETCAR recreates or critiques rape culture sits somewhere between the play, the particular production and each individual audience member.'
That last comment by the academic would worry me if she hadn't concluded:
'But STREETCAR is a social, even a political, play because it works to show us how and why Blanche becomes disbelieved.'
While the play is about an individual's mental condition, and how others relate to how Blanche breaches or disrupts the social order of a tight-knit community, it is also about how the participants can recover social order in the claustrophobic setting in which they all find themselves.
Ms Clements further argues:
'Indeed, the tragedy of the play's closing scene is desperately total:  everyone loses.'
In a real sense by excluding Blanche, everyone loses personally in order to recover social, and perhaps political, order and even sanity.  Because I believe Tennessee Williams is what I would call a grown-up homosexual he is playing-off realism against a more romantic magical approach in the theatre.  Blanche wants she calls magic rather than realism, but being romantic and dancing to music, doesn't prevent Blanche from describing Stanley as a Neanderthal and a Polack*, not to mention dreaming the day away in Stanley's bathroom, playing the radio or drinking his bourbon.  
I'm not a professional drama critic, I'm an electrician by trade, who later became an ethnomethodologist (student of people's studies) at Manchester Poly. in the 1970s, but I can see the predictable sociological destination of a claustrophobic society such as that portrayed in 'A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE'. 
This is not approve of the physical rape of Blanche in any way, but rather to draw attention to her own sociological 'rape' of the lives of the other characters in the play, especially of Stella and Stanley's private life.  One has only to be aware of the underlying cultural, ethnic and clash social-class between Blanche and Stanley in the play to grasp the politics of the play.  Having lived in Spain (Mi casa, Su casa) in part of the last half of the last century where the guest may be privileged over the host; I am also aware that in some cultures Blanche's plight may be seen in a different light than that in more Anglo-Saxon cultures such as England or the USA, and it may well be that even in the deep-south 'in the heat of the New Orleans apartment' the attitude to the 'guest' may be different from ours.
The noun Polack in the contemporary English language, is an ethnic slur and a derogatory reference to a person of Polish descent. It is an Anglicisation of the Polish language word Polak, which means a ... Look up Polack, Pollack, Pollock, or Polock in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.

Antonio Gramsci at Wakefield History Group


Antonio Gramsci was born on Sardinia to parents of Albanian origin.
When he was seven his father was imprisoned for embezzlement.  This placed great financial strain on the family and Gramsci had to take part time work until 1904 when his father was finally released.
Gramsci then completed High School and won a scholarship to the University of Turin where he studied linguistics and literature.   However illness and poverty again mean he was unable to complete his studies.
In 1914 he started writing for socialist papers as a means of supporting himself.  Indeed he would combine journalism and political activism for the next ten years, focusing in particular on organising factory workers in the industrial heartland of Turin.
Gramsci had joined the PSI (the Italian socialists) in 1913.  Then in 1919 he helped found the weekly 'L'Ordine Nuovo'.  The paper was seen by Lenin as being close to Bolshevism and in 1921 the editorial group -including Gramsci- formed the core of the new PCI (Italian Communist Party).
Gramsci was elected to Parliament as representative for the Veneto region in 1924.  Vehemently anti-Mussolini, he was arrested by the Fascist Government in 1926 under the Emergency Powers Act (and despite apparent parliamentary immunity!).
The prosecutor at his trial said it was imperative to 'stop Gramsci's brain from functioning'.  Despite this whilst in prison Gramsci wrote 3000 pages of notes that contributed greatly to the development of Marxist thought.
Gramsci died in prison half way through his 20 year sentence.  He was only 46.

*Wakefield Socialist History group are holding an event, "THE POLITICS OF ANTONIO GRAMCI", at the Red Shed, Vicarage Street, Wakefield WF1 on Saturday 3 December, 1-4pm.  If you would like to speak at the event please get in touch.

Alan Stewart
Convenor, Wakefield Socialist History Group

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Jack Straw's Cynical E-mail

'You see, Straw couldn't really give a toss about revealing the truth as exposed by the Chilcot Inquiry, all that concerns him is that the Brezit result dominated the headlines and took the heat off him and Blair.  That sums up Straw's moral and ethical beliefs -- or rather the lack of them -- in a nutshell.'                                                                         
From Trevor Hoyle

Spectator journalist queries Archer's story-line

by Clare Fox
IT's been going on for months now and I must make a confession. I secretly endure a nightly battering in the privacy of my home; it’s been relentless, torturous and psychologically damaging. But before anyone rushes to rescue me or phones a government helpline, fearing I am the victim of some dastardly wife beater — I should explain that the culprit is Radio 4’s The Archers and its relentless and addictive domestic abuse storyline.
My torment was supposed to end last Sunday night, with the conclusion of Helen Titchener’s trial for stabbing her bullying, much-hated husband Rob. When the jury foreman announced not guilty, I was with the rest of the nation, roaring ‘Yes!’ And yet, straight afterwards, I came over all queasy as Rob resumed his threats… Just as Helen has been a victim of manipulation for a whole 18 months, so have we, the listeners. When will it ever stop?
Thanks to a script that denies its audience any choice about who they should sympathise with, what they should think and, even more galling for me, what political position to take, lately The Archers has started to come across like propaganda rather than drama. It no longer ends with that jaunty theme tune but the sober caveat: ‘If you’ve been affected by any of the subjects raised in the programme, details of organisations offering information and support are available…’ Certain episodes have amounted to little more than adverts for the National Domestic Violence Helpline. Ironically, of course, this was why the series was invented: to teach men returning home how to farm after the second world war. But I am less convinced of the ethics of ramming home heavily politicised messages today.
If the BBC has rules banning product placement, it is far less squeamish about policy placement, and so we have been bludgeoned into accepting the importance of new government legislation (in particular the new 2015 law against coercive control) and instructed on how to seek help, by means of Helen. The Archers seems intent on making its listeners extra vigilant about the sinister goings on behind resolutely middle-class closed doors. Drama should ring the bell of truth: it’s when it bangs a bloody loud policy drum that I get anxious.
Initially, the Helen and Rob story had me riveted. It started out with drip-drip revelations about Rob’s true, toxic nature. Too soon, though, such subtlety dwindled. I first realised things had gone awry when I mentioned to some friends that as a character, Helen had always got on my nerves, and they promptly rounded on me and accused me of victim blaming. Never mind that I am not, and never will be, a fan of ever-suffering, holier-than-thou organic types. Never mind that Helen is fictional. I was still told it was ‘dangerous’ to focus on Helen’s faults because this could deter real women from coming forward to report real-life abuse.
My friends are not alone in blurring the boundary between fact and fiction: a #FreeHelen hashtag has been trending on Twitter, while my Facebook timeline is full of people showing ‘Solidari-tea’ with real-life Helens. The BBC employed a court artist who gave us daily pictorial images of figures in a make-believe dock. The trial has also been used as a lobbying tool by NGOs looking to score political points about how ‘17 per cent of refuges have been shut since the Tories re-entered government six years ago’, together with demands that Helen’s story proves that ‘cuts that threaten women’s lives must be reversed’. Even the usually cool-headed legal profession has treated the story as faction. Nigel Pascoe, a barrister from the New Forest, offered Mrs Titchener representation in court. ‘I know we are not allowed to tout,’ he claimed. ‘But I am more than prepared to represent Helen, along with most of the criminal bar.’ Jeannie Mackie, of Doughty Street Chambers, complained that Helen’s barrister wasn’t making ‘a very good job’ of the defence. Meanwhile Rodney Warren, chairman of the Law Society’s criminal law committee, complained that the role of Helen’s solicitor has been neglected: ‘It’s been very unfortunate that the storyline has given the wrong view of the criminal justice process [and]… is a missed opportunity to demonstrate properly how the profession works.’
 What used to be a 15-minute soap opera about how to raise pigs is now being used to ridicule the police for failing to use the new law on coercive control, which Theresa May brought in when she was Home Secretary. The legislation recently hit the headlines after a Freedom of Information request revealed that eight out of 22 police forces in England and Wales haven’t charged anyone with the offence since it came into effect in December. Joan Smith, chair of the Mayor of London’s Violence Against Women and Girls panel, concluded: ‘It seems listeners of The Archers have a more sophisticated grasp of domestic abuse than some police forces.’ And as for those of us who opposed the new law (on civil liberty grounds), we will no doubt now be accused of betraying potential Helens everywhere. That’s the problem with politics via drama: it’s unaccountable, and you can’t argue back.
The Beeb proudly boasts of the impact that The Archers has had off-air — citing a 17 per cent increase in calls to the National Domestic Violence Helpline. Louiza Patikas, the actress who plays Helen, seems to have gone from thespian to missionary, declaring that she hoped her character’s acquittal would mean that more victims will come forward for help: ‘There are people who understand what you’re experiencing and millions of members of the public who are rooting for you, as the reaction to this storyline has demonstrated.’
But why should we accept that it is a good thing to invite greater scrutiny of our personal relationships by the authorities? There is something too pat and right-on about the characterisation of St Helen and the secretly satanic Rob. It feels more like an exercise in box-ticking than in dramatic depth. I realise I am putting myself in the devil’s camp when I resist joining in campaigners’ enthusiasm for the way the story has ‘instigated cultural change’ and ‘opened people’s eyes to a form of abuse they might not have been aware of before’. But I am worried it may lead millions of listeners to become gripped by the domestic equivalent of Project Fear, starting to see abuse where none exists…
The columnist Grace Dent has already insisted that ‘we all know a Helen and Rob’ and that the soap opera has ‘nailed beautifully how love can turn, in incremental steps, into dark control’. No doubt that can and does happen, but far more rarely than this ‘everyday story of domestic abuse’ implies.
Just to declare — I love The Archers. Though I came to it late in life I listen to it religiously. But it needs now to back off before it fuels a full-scale moral panic. As a nation, do we really want to be encouraged to spy on our neighbours and families for suspicious signs of smooth talkers in seemingly blissful relationships? Do we really want to be twitching our curtains and making paranoid misanthropic judgments about the private lives of others? Rob has punished us all for long enough. Bring back the non–metaphorical pigs, I say.

Labour’s Barrow & Furness MP Attacks Corbyn

John Woodcock was 'singled out' after the Labour leader was humiliated

He commented on Jeremy Corbyn's campaign and their tactics

Mr Woodcock said it was shocking to publish a hit list of 'abusive MPs'


PUBLISHED: 01:44, 18 September 2016 | UPDATED: 08:47, 18 September 2016
(Sent to NV by Trevor Hoyle)
JUST when you think the state of the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn's regime cannot get any bleaker, his team does something so nasty it surprises you all over again.
The decision by the Corbyn campaign to publish a hit list of so-called 'abusive' MPs is shocking even by the standards of a team which has knowingly enabled a culture in which intolerance and abuse of fellow members has become the depressing norm.
Their attempts to intimidate critics and suppress dissent owe more to Russia than Britain, so much so that I am half expecting Mr Corbyn's communications chief Seumas Milne to hove into view as I type this in the lobby of a Moscow hotel.  (I am here as part of an official visit to observe today's parliamentary elections, rather than consigning myself to some early Soviet-style re-education for my thought crimes against Corbynism.)
It was deeply malicious to release the names of 13 supposed miscreants (including mine) to the 'MSM' – as Corbyn fans disparagingly badge the 'mainstream media'.
I was singled out for expressing dismay in colourful language after the Labour leader was humiliated yet again at Prime Minister's Questions.
Ironically, that particular disaster was caused by the now infamous 'core group-negative' list that grouped MPs according to the level of loyalty they showed to the leader.  It was also, surprise surprise, apparently revealed by mistake.
My response was inappropriately sweary, being intended as a private message to a colleague rather than a public tweet, but it voiced despair at Labour's sorry plight – not abuse of Mr Corbyn.
Ignore the guff about the press release being a mistake, this was calculated to divide our party further by fingering individuals as the 'enemy within'.
Why bother singling people out rather than let the Parliamentary Labour Party as a whole carry the can for this summer's leadership election?
Well, the sheer number of resignations from the Labour front bench has presented Team Corbyn with a problem – 172 Labour MPs is too large and unwieldy a bloc to ostracise.
Better to create a small band of scapegoats for Corbyn fans to vilify in earnest.
The message to MPs is clear: want to avoid being thrown to the angry mob like these guys? Then get your head down and come back into the fold.
It is an age-old tactic practised by authoritarian regimes the world over: in fractious times, attempt to unite people in common hatred of an 'enemy within'.
For French revolutionaries and, later, the Marxists, the bourgeoisie were to blame for society's ills; in modern Russia, President Putin's state-led media repeatedly drills home the message that 'the oligarchs' and agents of foreign powers are trying to ruin the country.
Similarly, in Corbyn's Labour Party, those pesky 'Blairites' are behind every reverse. It is not required to have any affinity to Tony Blair to be a Blairite: in fact increasingly, often quite the opposite is true. You just need to be named as such by any number of pumped up anonymous internet trolls sporting Corbyn ribbons on social media.
Up until now, Mr Corbyn has left it to the trolls, his Momentum groups, and occasionally his Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell, to dole out the abuse while he smiles serenely and gives out the odd platitude about things not being in his name.
Having one of his official mouthpieces fanning the flames of hatred towards named individuals – as was the case with the list of 'abusive' MPs – takes things to another level entirely. The swivel-eyed nature of the list of 13 and the fatuous and, in many cases, inaccurate examples it cites has prompted a number of my colleagues to consider suing Mr Corbyn for defamation.
But aside from the folly of libelling colleagues you are supposed to be leading, it is irresponsible to put out what will inevitably be interpreted as a roll call of 'traitors' by idiots who need only the slightest encouragement to turn up the hate towards people, most of whom have been loyal, decent Labour members far longer than they have.
It is worth reminding ourselves of some of the things that have happened since everyone pledged themselves to a kinder, gentler politics after the brutal killing of our friend and dearly missed colleague, Jo Cox.
Two MPs have had bricks thrown through their office windows, others have had death threats and scores have been subjected to a barrage of vile online abuse.
If harm comes to any of those on the list as a result of it being published, Mr Corbyn will rightly be held responsible for what is done in his name.
The excuse that this was an unauthorised act by a 'junior member of the campaign team' will not wash. If they insist on insulting the intelligence of members with this garbage, then we need to know exactly who was aware of and condoned the existence of the list, even if they did not personally sign it off.
A friend who is a Labour member contacted me earlier in the week, before the list was published, saying he had been telephone canvassed by a member of Corbyn's campaign team who claimed that John McDonnell was keeping a list of the MPs who they wanted to finger as responsible for the challenge. I ask Mr McDonnell here and now: is this true?
The leaking of the list of 'abusive' MPs highlights another depressing aspect of the failure of Corbyn's leadership, namely the huge gulf between the lofty culture he preaches and the base tactics his regime deploys.
Messrs Corbyn and McDonnell have set themselves up as the high priests of an 'honest, straight-talking politics', yet as soon as they are challenged their operation squirms, spins and distorts like the very worst of anything that came before.
They talk about transforming campaigning while relying on speaking to the converted at placard-heavy rallies which the hard-Left has been organising for decades while losing election after election to Right-wing Tory governments.
Mr Corbyn plays Jeremy the endearing old man, urging people to be kinder and gentler while his operation fans the flames of division and hate to sap the morale of many decent Labour members in the hope they will lie low or leave the party.
Mr Corbyn and his team may already be starting their victory lap before the result of the leadership contest is announced on Saturday, and planning their revenge on those they want to isolate and denigrate, but this election is not over yet.
There is still time to save our party and turn the page on this deeply divisive period if the members and affiliates who have not yet voted choose the alternative that Mr Corbyn's hard-working and decent opponent Owen Smith has slogged tirelessly over the summer to promote.
The Labour Party and the country deserve better than a man who tells his followers he is full of love while creating a party in which many do not feel welcome or even safe.
Clem Attlee would never have stood for this. We don't have to stand for it either.

Monday, 19 September 2016

Everyday Life from The Archers to Danczuks!

by Les May
I GAVE up listening to ‘The Archers’ in 2002, so I have absolutely no knowledge of the ‘Trial’.  I don’t much like fictional series which take it upon themselves to tackle ‘issues’ not least because it is difficult to present any complex and controversial issue in a sufficiently nuanced way which will not leave some listener or viewer from feeling that their ‘side’ has been misrepresented.  Far from changing minds it seems more likely that it will reinforce prejudice. 

So last Tuesday I found myself wondering was it prejudice or oversight which led the ‘i’ newspaper to devote half the space of its letters column to the fictional ‘Helen’  but could not find space for a story about a real life Helen who had been involved in a ‘domestic’ which resulted in her death.  The Metro managed just over half a page on the story and the Daily Mail almost a whole page. 

Helen Nicholl hanged herself on the June 4 last year.  Not unreasonably the police arrested her husband Stephen Nicoll on suspicion of her murder. But after two interviews the Detective Chief Inspector who led the investigation released him without charge and went on to say 'I believe that Stephen Nicoll was probably of a victim of domestic violence.' 

But the picture which emerged at the coroner’s inquest was not simply one of a wife assaulting her husband, but of a woman who also tried to control her grown up daughters, assaulting one of them leading to a police investigation and becoming estranged from the other, and of a family in which during rows with their mother, her daughters referred to her as ‘council estate scum' and 'Liverpool scum'.

A few weeks ago I wrote an article for Northern Voices, ‘Danczuk, Feminism & Family Violence’, in which I referred to the work of Erin Pizzey.  Pizzey distinguished between 'genuine battered women' and 'violence-prone women'. The former she defined as 'the unwilling and innocent victim of his or her partner's violence' and the latter she defined as 'the unwilling victim of his or her own violence.'  Helen Nicholl was such a woman and in hanging herself was the victim of her own violence. But whilst she may have been the one who used physical violence towards her daughters and her husband, what for want of a better word I will call verbal violence, does not seem to have been far below the surface. 

It appears in this case that physical abuse by the mother was reciprocated by the daughters in the form of verbal abuse;  a kind of mutuality of domestic violence such as Erin Pizzey had identified. 

Feminist campaigners seek to persuade us that because men are more likely than women to resort to violence outside the home that this is also the case within the home.  But the empirical evidence suggests that this assumption is untrue. 

About one in eight of adults, i.e. both men and women, in an intimate relationship admit to low level physical violence towards their partner.  As about 50% of inter-partner violence is reciprocal it is possible these people somehow attract each other or learn and later reciprocate the behaviour.  At higher levels of physical violence where significant injury is caused, men are about six times more likely to be the perpetrator, i.e. about one in seven cases of significant injury during a violent domestic dispute are caused by women. 

Conflict is a part of life.  We all have some desire to pursue our own self interest even in intimate relationships.  What matters Is how we resolve that conflict of interests.  Conflict becomes pathological when one or both of the parties resort to coercion, whether that coercion is applied emotionally, verbally or physically.  All too often coercion continues to be applied even after the relationship breaks down and the parties separate, though in such cases it is usually given a gloss of respectability through the courts in the form of so called ‘contact’ orders. 

As the Helen Nicholl case shows simply equating ‘domestic’ violence with ‘male’ violence is misleading and in the long run counterproductive because it offers no opportunity to think how the existing level of abuse in intimate relationships can be reduced or how conflict situations can be prevented from escalating to the point where one of the people involved suffers significant injury.  As noted above this is more likely to be the woman than the man.  Nor does it take into account that abuse can and does take place in intimate same sex relationships. 

It is perhaps understandable that feminists who see domestic violence being synonymous with male violence will ignore the empirical evidence that women are just as likely as men to resort to low level assault in conflict situations but focus entirely on escalated conflicts where the woman is injured, and ignore the work of Erin Pizzey and tragic women like Helen Nicholl who was the victim of her own violence.  To do otherwise would undermine their world view. 

But I find it inconceivable that the women who usually have so much to say about ‘male violence’ have failed to comment upon what some four weeks ago happened to Karen Danczuk as a result of the actions of her ex-husband Simon.  Are we perhaps seeing middle class snobbery at work here? 

We are already beginning to see this incident the subject of ‘spin’ seemingly intended to minimise the severity of the incident.  Whilst a month ago Karen was happy to tell the world, ‘I feared he was going to kill me’ and ‘Violent row left me paralysed with fear’ and have Simon’s behaviour described as ‘Wild MP yelled and kicked in glass door’, a recent Daily Mail article included the line that ‘Karen was taken by ambulance to a local hospital where she was treated for the cut which officers said she sustained in a fall’.  Perhaps she ‘walked into a floor’ because it must have been some fall if it required 40 stitches. 

A month ago the story was that she was standing behind a thick glass door when an enraged Simon kicked at it until it came crashing down on her knocking her to the floor. 

According to the Daily Mirror her story now is:
'What happened is, he kicked a door in and it hit me - it wasn't anything Simon physically did to me' and "I have some scars now on my hand but I didn't press charges because it wasn't an intentional act.
'Unfortunately, yes, the foot hit me but it wasn't intentional and so it doesn't seem right to press charges."  No mention here of it being a glass door or the 40 stitches for the wound in her chest and upper right breast.
And what was Danczuk’s response to all this?  He told the Sunday Times that there had been absolutely no physical violence, adding: 'Karen didn't report any violence. The police made assumptions.' 

It seems some Rochdale MPs lead charmed lives.  In 1979 Rochdale’s Alternative Paper (RAP)revealed details of then MP Cyril Smith’s antics at Cambridge House.  The lack of interest by the mainstream media meant that ‘he got away with it’.  This subtly different retelling of the story of what recently happened in Spain between the Danczuk’s and the silence of the usually very vocal feminists will lead some people once again to think ‘he got away with it’.   

I can hardly say that I am disappointed by the response of feminists to this incident between the Danczuks as I have never thought much of them anyhow. But the saddest thing about this episode is the complete lack of self-awareness on Simon Danczuk’s part. 

At the end of January this year, his website was crowing that he welcomed a £115,500 grant from Comic Relief to a local charity enabling it to run a ‘dedicated male perpetrator programme’ to tackle domestic violence in Rochdale (my emphasis). 

His exact words were:  'Domestic violence is a serious problem in every community and I have seen from my weekly surgeries what a devastating impact it can have on families’. and “I am delighted they have received this funding which will be used to tackle domestic violence by challenging the perpetrators on their behaviour giving them the support the need to reform.' 

Now contrary to Mr D.  I do consider kicking in a glass door is an act of violence and especially so if we are to believe Karen’s original story together with the need for hospital treatment.  A few inches higher and the glass which caused the injuries to Karen’s chest and upper right breast could have severed a major blood vessel.  A bit of contrition (and a quiet prayer of thanks for a narrow escape from potentially much more serious injury) would seem to be in order here. 

As a well known MP, Simon could have used this experience to draw attention to what can happen in a domestic situation when a row is allowed to escalate into violence, even when that violence is not deliberately directed at a partner, and the importance of making sure that disagreements do not reach this stage.  He failed to do so which in my view makes him doubly culpable. 

Studies in the Anatomy of the British Left

by Brian Bamford
IT is now almost 50 years since Harold Garfinkel wrote his book 'Studies in Ethnomethodology' in 1967.  Garfinkel's book was a systematic attack on the kind of sociological and ideological thinking that was prevailing in much of the social sciences at that time, and which amounted to 'cookbook analysis'.  With a  functionalist or Marxist cookbook one didn't need to think critically or empirically about social phenomena or real life events; all one needed to do was to produce a suitable recipe to deal with the world.

In his essay in The Independent on the current thinking of the 'radical left' Bailey Lamon seems to have uncovered the latest facet of the phenomena of 'cookbook thinking' among some of the current half-baked student community of scholars at the beginning of the 21st century.   Claiming to have been 'involved in activism since the Occupy Movement of 2011', Bailey Lamon makes a perceptive observation in which he contrasts the world of what he calls the 'oppressed groups,... such as the homeless, abused, addicted' with that of the half-baked students and activists, who in their wisdom claim to be able to diagnose the problems of those that suffer and to prescribe cures and generally to cleanse us all of our imperfections.  Mr. Lamon addresses the challenge to such clever-dick thinking which besets seemingly most of the British left:
'If you’ve ever worked with oppressed groups, such as people who are homeless, abused, addicted or suffering from mental health problems, there's one thing you learn straight away. They usually don't frame their worldviews in terms of academic theories students learn in gender studies classes in university. For the most part, they tend to not analyse their experiences in terms of systemic power and privilege, concepts such as “the patriarchy”, “white privilege”, or “heteronormativity”.

'While many of these folks know that they're directly impacted by class inequality, they don't sit around pondering capitalism, reading Marx, or tackling the effects of “problematic behaviours”. They are not concerned with checking their privilege.  No.  They are busy trying to survive. Getting through the next day. Meeting their basic needs. They don't bother with policing their language and worrying about how their words might unintentionally perpetuate certain stereotypes.  They are more concerned with their voices being heard.'   
Young students today are desirous of passing exams and the easiest way to accomplish this is in finding some ideological formula or recipe knowledge to spout out pretentious doctrines and slogans such as 'patriarchy'; 'white privilege' or 'heteronormativity'.  What these bumptious people lack in experience of poverty; life in the workplace; the prison yard or living on the streets, they try to compensate by pseudo-intellectual blather.
Mr Lamon writes about some of the people he encountered in the Occupy Movement: 
'Yet I witness so many “activists” who ignore the realities of oppression despite saying that they care about those at the bottom of society.  They think that being offended by something is equal to experiencing prison time or living on the streets.  They talk about listening, being humble and not having preconceptions.  Yet they ignore the lived experiences of those who don’t speak or think properly in the view of university-educated social justice warriors, regardless of how much worse off they really are.'
These people are so convinced that they, and only they, have the key to the universe and that what they believe must be self-evident that they do not accept that their views should be subject to any form of forensic examination.  Consequently as we have noticed on many occasions they believe that they have the entitlement to coerce others to swallow whatever fashionable fad that they have embraced.
God help the British Left!

Confessions of an NHS whistle-blower!

ALTHOUGH this book by Milton Peña Vásquez is not without its faults, mainly in the editing, it ought to be compulsory reading for any young person intent on embarking upon a career in the medical profession. Not only does it give a revealing and honest account of the internal workings of Tameside hospital, but it also exposes the incompetence of NHS managers and their attempts to cover up their failings by threats and intimidation.
The findings of the Keogh review team which were published in a report in July 2013, led to the resignation of Christine Green, the Chief Executive of Tameside Hospital and Tariq Mahmood, the hospital Medical Director. Among its findings, the report stated that Tameside Hospital had the 7th highest rate of infection for MRSA of 141 Trusts nationally over the three years from 2010-2012 and had the second highest infection rate in the country for Clostridium difficile, over the same period. It also found that:

'The Trust’s clinical negligence payments have significantly exceeded contributions to the ‘risk sharing scheme’ over the last three-years, by a total of £21m over this period.' 

Yet, in spite of its appalling record for mortality, cleanliness and safety, Tameside Hospital managed to obtain foundation trust status in February 2008 (“supposedly the benchmark of excellence”) when death rates were 19% above the average and safety was the “sixth-worst in England” (Daily Mail 30/11/2009). Mrs Green also managed to secure a 17% pay rise which took her salary from £120,000 to £140,000 a year.

Mr Dale's Diary

Mr Dale's Diary  sent to Northern Voices

This is the diary of a man of our times. Any resemblance to anyone living is, of course, purely coincidental.
Monday 19th September 2016
The serfs and celebrities gather in the centre of my fiefdom to unveil a statue. But what is this? The statue is not of ME ? Astonishing! My statue must still be work in progress so that it is fine tuned to represent my perfection, like Michelangelo’s David or Rodin’s The Thinker.

I hear there are also some arty things going on, might get to do some still life painting, of young ladies of course. I could strip off as well just to make them feel at home. I wonder if the models do home visits?
The amount of my office space ought to be able to be utilised. I have utilised it before, but that was not for money! Maybe I could provide space for accommodation, put in a few beds and a kettle to go with my iron.

The Big Man appears to be well on with his projects. One is involved with someone based in a foreign location. I have offered to go out to represent him, being as it’s a nice holiday location. He has declined even though I said I would not be taking my ex. Even my man seems to know more than me about what’s going on. He was gossiping excitedly about something on the telly – chicken grills and an ex of mine. All sounds very odd -this requires investigation.