Friday, 28 October 2016

Dodger Danczuk Doesn't Deliver!

by Les May
Last night, as predicted Simon Danczuk didn't deliver his evidence of historic child abuse to the meeting of the Greater Manchester Police Federation at the Renaissance Hotel as requested by Chief Inspector Ian Hanson chairman of the Joint Branch Board of the GMP Police Federation.  Instead Tony Lloyd, the Manchester Police and Crime Commissioner, turned up to explain to the serving police officers present what was going on as the disgraced Rochdale MP, Simon Danczuk, indulges himself in attacking the police for failing to dig-up enough evidence to satisfy the Crown Prosecution Service.  Below Les May questions Simon Danczuk's tactics in attacking the police. (Editor)
THE response by Rochdale MP Simon Danczuk to Chief Inspector Hanson’s challenge to him
'.... I will publicly call him out to deliver the firm evidence that he bases his criticism of GMP on to my office by 12 noon on Monday - and I will personally deliver it to the IPCC.’

He is trying to use the same tactic which was so successful when he appeared before the Home Affairs Select Committee in July 2014, when instead of being questioned about his book ‘Smile for the Camera’  he managed to get the spotlight shifted onto Leon Brittan.  Now he wants to shift the spotlight from his inability to provide the evidence asked for, onto debating what he calls the ‘poor policing around Rochdale’. 

This is just a smoke screen to hide the fact that he does not have any evidence to back up his claims about Knowl View.  He knows perfectly well that Chief Inspector Hanson is speaking for the GMP members of the Police Federation who he feels have been very unfairly criticised by Danczuk.  Chief Inspector Hanson is not, and does not represent himself as, speaking for GMP.   

To put it bluntly Danczuk’s claims:
‘Everyone knows that child abuse took place on a frightening scale at Knowl View’ and ‘We've seen shocking reports documenting this...’ are bunkum.  ‘Everyone knows...’, isn’t evidence and Danczuk continually repeating it does not make it evidence. 

And no, we have not seen ‘shocking reports’ because the two reports which might throw some light on what was happening at Knowl View, the 1991 report of Philip Shepherd and the 1992 report of Valerie Mellor, have not been published by Rochdale Council and it shows no inclination to let us see them for ourselves.   

I have seen a copy of the Shepherd report and whilst it is certainly ‘shocking’, what it refers to is sexual activity between the boys at the school and to some boys who were visited Rochdale town centre accompanied by care staff, ‘cottaging’ at the Smith Street toilets.   

In other words what it reveals is poor supervision by some care staff.  Whether the responsibility for this being allowed to happen should lie with the care staff involved. the headteacher, the governors or the Director of Education is a subject for discussion after the reports have been published in full.   

As to what Danczuk means by his comment, ‘...ensure the public understand how the police reach decisions regarding serious crimes like child abuse’, I do not understand unless he is trying to blame Chief Inspector Hanson’s colleagues for the decision that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute anyone, which was in fact taken by the CPS.   

I hope that Chief Inspector Hanson and his GMP colleagues in the Police Federation will keep the pressure on Danczuk to produce thevery specific information that backs up his comments’, not let him shift the debate onto things which suit his agenda of getting himself back in the limelight and will publicise as widely as possible his inability or unwillingness to ‘put his money where his mouth is.

If Danczuk wants to do something useful he could try putting pressure on his friends in Rochdale Council to publish the Shepherd and Mellor reports.  Until these have been published he should refrain from making any more inflammatory comments about Knowl View.

Thursday, 27 October 2016

More Grim news from Ashton Job (sanctions) Centre!

I doubt I have ever encountered people who can stoop so low as some of the people who work for Jobcentre Plus. Some of these people really are fucking scum - Podsnappian. They are are so low, that they could crawl under a snakes belly wearing a top hat. Every week that we protest outside Ashton-under-Lyne Jobcentre, we never fail to be astonished at some of the ghastly stories that we hear from Jobseeker's about the shabby and inhuman way in which, they have been treated. The Tory government and the DWP, really have taken out an insurance policy against pity.

It brings to mind a remark made by the character Lebezyatnikov, in the novel 'Crime and Punishment', by the Russian novelist, Fydor Dostoevsky, who says to the drunken civil servant Marmeladov, that "Science had declared compassion a social evil and that this notion had already been put into practice in England were they have political economy."

This absence of compassion was evident today when we spoke to Lisa, a 44-year-old lady from Ashton-under-Lyne, who has been deprived of her Disability Living Allowance (DLA),  because she missed an appointment. Earlier this year, Lisa became very ill with double pneumonia, kidney failure and sepsis. She spent over two-months in intensive care and three weeks in an induced coma.

After her discharge from hospital she was booked in for a home visit to discuss her transfer from DLA to PIP but she was later told that she would have to attend an appointment in person in Rochdale. Unable to attend the meeting because she was still unwell, the Jobcentre stopped her DLA payments, in spite of her explaining her circumstances and backing this up with evidence.

It really does make one feel ashamed to be an Englishman. This is the sort of workhouse mentality that one would expect to find in the pages of a Dickens novel and not modern England, the sixth richest nation on earth. We understand Lisa is appealing the decision and has spoken to her MP about her case.

Danczuk Ducks Out of Debate!

SIMON DANCZUK wrote an undated response on House of Common's note-paper to Inspector Ian Hanson's request for an open debate in a Manchester Hotel which we reproduced:  see below or at   Simon DanczukVerified account @SimonDanczuk Oct 21
My response to Ian Hanson, of , refusal to publicly debate poor policing around child abuse

Dear Mr Hanson,
Thank you for letter regarding a debate on the recent investigation into historic child abuse at Knowl View residential school.
Unfortunately, you have failed to grasp the sprit of my request.  This was driven by the public interest rather than satisfying your members.  We really need to move away from an inward looking, defensive and institutional approach and ensure the public understand how the police reach decisions regarding serious crimes like child abuse.  That’s why a wider debate is needed.
With that in mind, it is clearly not appropriate for me to debate simply with a lot of police officers as part of a formal police meeting.  The perpetuates the problem of a mind-set which thinks the police doesn’t have to answer to the wider public.
It is my understanding that you were asked earlier today to appear on a television news programme tonight to debate this issue with me – but you refused.
Could I ask why you reached this decision?  It would habve been an opportunity to speak to the public at large in a critically important matter where it’s acknowledged there’s low public confidence.
Simon Danczuk

Tonight, Danczuk in the Lion's Den?

THE 'calling out' of Simon Danczuk by Chief Inspector Ian Hanson with it's implication that it is time for him to 'put up or shut up' is long overdue.  But it should not have been left for a serving police officer to do it.
It should have been done a long time ago by the reviewers of his book ‘Smile for the Camera’ who failed to notice the garbled chronology, the same stories being recounted two or even three times, the absence of any clear methodology, the second or third hand accounts being passed of as ‘evidence’ and the ‘flowery flannel’ which is used in the chapters which are supposed to be the authentic voices of the men who were indecently assaulted by Cyril Smith at Cambridge House.
It should have been done by the journalists who even today are still writing that the book ‘detailed’ allegations against Smith and Knowl View school.  Anyone who actually takes the time to read the book is struck by the grandiose claims yet complete lack of detail to back them up.

It should have been done by the Home Office Select Committee who asked Danczuk to give evidence in the summer of 2014.  In the preceding weeks Danczuk trailed that he was going to be questioned about his book.  A week or so before the meeting this changed to ‘he would name names if he was asked’. In the event the Committee did not question Danczuk about the book but allowed him to change the subject to the so called ‘Dicken’s dossier’.

As a result the press began to put the spotlight on Leon Brittan and Danczuk called for ‘an over-arching inquiry to investigate all allegations of historic abuse’.  Well he got it didn’t he!  It’s on its fourth chairman, is likely to cost more than the £100 millions originally predicted, is unlikely to report until at least 2023 and no-one seems to know what to do with it.  Well done Simon!

Even after Northants police investigated Danczuk's claim that Cyril Smith was found with a boot load of child pornography, taken into custody and subsequently released by the force without charge and found it to be entirely bogus, the media have continued to treat his other claims as entirely credible.  Instead of looking more closely at these claims journalists have regaled us with lurid stories about his private life.

On page 112 of his book Danczuk says: ‘Boys were beaten and raped continually by men as far away as Sheffield who had travelled to Rochdale to take part.'  and a few lines later he has his ‘witness’ say 'These boys were sold to paedophile gangs.'

These claims were not based upon interviews with men who told him this had happened to them. They were based upon what had appeared in a 1991 report sent to Rochdale Education and Social Service departments which said nothing of the sort and a statement attributed to his ‘witness’.  In Danczuk’s own words on page 109 we read:  'For many years he was oblivious to what was happening in the school – until he was promoted to head of care and began to realise that things weren't quite right.'  This was in 1994, when he read the 1991 report.

Any reputable journalist could have asked Rochdale MBC for a copy of this report and checked Danczuk’s claims against the facts.  No doubt the police did just that during Operation Jaguar.  I’d like to have been a fly on the wall when they asked him about his claims in the book!  We do know that the police did interview the ‘witness’ and presumably asked whether he made the statement about boys being ‘sold to paedophile gangs’ attributed to him by Danczuk.

But let’s put aside my scepticism and give Danczuk the benefit of the doubt here. Let’s take his claim at face value. Let’s put the spotlight on what he did when he was approached by men claiming to have been sexually assaulted at Knowl View school.

Now we know the law firm Slater and Gordon were not backward in coming forward as soon as Danczuk’s book was published as can be seen at .  What’s not clear is whether they were interested in helping the police investigate the claims in the book or just touting for business.

When an MP is informed of a crime having been committed his or her duty is the same as that of any other citizen; to encourage the complainant to speak to the police immediately.  I have been told, but cannot independently verify, that this was the policy of the late Jim Dobbin MP in cases where allegations of sexual abuse were reported to him.

There should be no conflict of interest such as might arise if a book was contemplated.  There should no prior discussion of the details of the complaint as this serves only to contaminate the evidence making it more difficult for the police to get at the truth.  The same problems will arise if the police have to conduct interviews with people who have already been interviewed for a TV programme. Too close involvement with the complainant, before the CPS have decided whether there is sufficient evidence to prosecute, would not be the action of a responsible MP.

After the decision of the CPS that there was insufficient evidence to initiate  criminal proceedings against anyone about what had clearly been some unsavoury happenings at Knowl View, a period of silence from Mr Danczuk would have been welcome.  The major effect of his interventions in the investigation of abuse has been both negative and very expensive to the public purse.  

If tonight’s meeting ends with Mr Danczuk’s credibility severely dented then he has only himself to blame.  In my first review of Danczuk’s book I wrote:
‘The writing style adopted is to let the narrative drive the evidence not the evidence drive the narrative.’ reviews /R3A7XZP51EW0A6/ref=cm_cr_pr_rvw_ttl?ie=UTF8&ASIN=1849548757  

Police investigations have in the words of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Northampton to be ‘evidence led’.

John Gummer’s comment in January 2015:
 ‘Anybody who doesn’t have real evidence should recognise that it is a wicked thing to do to make allegations about anybody, even if you don’t like their politics.’  could have been tailor made for Danczuk.

Reviewers, journalists and politicians may be taken in by a forceful and confident narrative.  The police require evidence. And tonight that could prove to be Mr Danczuk’s undoing.

'Sweet Charity' at Manchester Royal Exchange

Book by Neil Simon / Lyrics by Dorothy Fields / Music by Cy ColemanDirected by Derek BondChoreographed by Aletta CollinsDesigned by James Perkins

Sat 3 Dec 2016 – Sat 21 Jan 2017 - The Theatre

TRANSFORMING the Royal Exchange into the hustle and bustle of New York City, Derek Bond returns to the theatre this Christmas to direct the Tony-nominated Broadway hit SWEET CHARITY. Bursting at the seams with instantly recognisable hit songs (Rhythm of Life, Big Spender, and If My Friends Could See Me Now) and stunning choreography by Aletta Collins this show, which defined a decade, is created by the team behind the 2014 sell-out success LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS. Kaisa Hammarlund takes on the role of the hapless Charity Hope Valentine, who dreams of finding luck in love in the big smoke. SWEET CHARITY runs at the Exchange from 3 December 2016 – 21 January 2017.
Charity is a dancer in New York City. With a heart tattooed on her arm and always looking for love, she has a habit of falling for the wrong man. When she meets shy tax accountant Oscar it seems as though Charity’s luck might have changed. Their romance sends them whirling and spinning through the dance halls, churches and streets of 1960s New York. But not everything’s a walk in the park and Charity soon faces a choice between Oscar and the wild existence she has chosen to hide from him.
Derek Bond’s work for the Exchange includes the hugely successful LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken which was nominated for 3 Manchester Theatre Awards. Other credits include AS YOU LIKE IT by William Shakespeare (Southwark Playhouse), MICROCOSM (Soho Theatre), SHIVER and LOST IN YONKERS (Watford Palace, 2012), MANY MOONS (Theatre503) and FLOYD COLLINS (Southwark Playhouse) which was named Best Musical at the Off West End Awards, and was nominated for the Ned Sherrin Award for Best Musical at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards. Up -coming projects include JESS AND JOE FOREVER (Orange Tree Theatre) and STIG OF THE DUMP (Storyhouse Chester). He was Associate Director of Theatre503 from 2010-2011. He is also the creator of the PLAYlist project.
Aletta Collins was born in London, studied at the London Contemporary Dance School and was a dancer and choreographer for London Contemporary Dance Theatre. She is a former Associate Artist at the Royal Opera House, where her work included choreographing and directing THE RED BALLOON, COCTEAU VOICES and MAGICAL NIGHT in the Linbury Studio Theatre. Aletta won Best Choreographer at the 2012 Music Video Awards for LOSING MYSELF by Will Young. Choreographic work includes: WIND IN THE WILLOWS (Plymouth & National Tour); THE HAIRY APE (Old Vic); BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM (Phoenix Theatre); MADE IN DAGENHAM (Adelphi Theatre); LA TRAVIATA (Glyndebourne Festival and UK Tour); ANNA NICOLE (Royal Opera House and Brooklyn Academy of Music); AWAKENINGS AND BLOOM (Rambert Dance Company); DRIFTING AND TILTING – THE SONGS OF SCOTT WALKER (Barbican); THE EFFECT AND HIS DARK MATERIALS (National Theatre) and JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR (Lyceum).
Kaisa Hammarlund trained at Mountview Academy of Theatre arts. Originally from Sweden, Kaisa’s theatre work includes BAKKHAI (Almeida Theatre); CAN I BE STRAIGHT WITH YOU? / COURTING DRAMA (The Bush Theatre); The Sculptress in THE CAPTAIN OF KOPENICK (NT, directed by Adrian Noble); JUNO IN THE TEMPEST (Theatre Royal, Bath, directed by Adrian Noble); Elle Woods in LEGALLY BLONDE (Malmo, Sweden); Petra in A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC (The Menier Chocolate / Garrick Theatre, directed by Trevor Nunn) and Crystal in DESPERATELY SEEKING SUSAN (Novello Theatre). Television credits include an upcoming 5 episode guest lead role in Holby City (BBC).
The cast is completed by Lucy Jane Adcock, Christine Allado, Michelle Andrews, Josie Benson, Olly Christopher, Michelle Cornelius, Daniel Crossley, Bob Harms, Natalie Hope, Cat Simmons, Holly Dale Spencer, Sévan Stephan and Alex Thomas-Smith.

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Banned and Gagged by Tameside Hospital!

Health Campaigner - Paul Broadhurst
A local health campaigner who is also member of the Tameside Hospital Foundation Trust, has been told by solicitors acting on behalf of Tameside Hospital that he has been banned from the premises of Tameside and Glossop Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust. 

In a solicitor’s letter that he received on 9 September, from Weightmans of Liverpool, Paul Broadhurst, from Dukinfield, was told that the hospital was intending to exclude him from the Trust’s premises and that he could now only attend the hospital, when seeking emergency or planned medical treatment. Although Mr Broadhurst, is a member of the hospital trust, the letter warned him:

“If you attend for any other purpose then you would be trespassing and action could be taken to remove you from the site and/or legal action could be brought against you.”

Tameside Hospital claim that they have banned Broadhurst from their premises, because he has campaigned to “harass and discredit the Trust’s employees and officers.” They also allege that he has emailed Trust Governors and Non-Executive Directors criticising the Chair and stating that he should resign. Moreover, that on occasions, he has been seen at the hospital with a placard around his neck and engages in conversations, with people at the hospital. They also claim that he has no legitimate reason to conduct his campaign and recently infiltrated and disrupted a staff focus group meeting, with the Care Quality Commission (CQC). The hospital also insists that Mr Broadhurst has failed to use the ‘proper channels’, but don’t explain what these are. 

Without doubt, Paul Broadhurst, is an irritant and a thorn in the side of the management at Tameside Hospital. But we do live in a free country and not Nazi Germany or Stalinist Russia, as Tameside Hospital, and their solicitors seem to think. What some people may see as quite unreasonable behaviour, is seen by others, as perfectly legitimate activity that is in the public interest. Many people applaud Paul Broadhurst, for his efforts to improve patient care at Tameside Hospital.  

When the current CEO, Karen James, took over as interim CEO in the summer of 2013, following the resignation of the then CEO, Christine Green, when the hospital was put into ‘special measures’ following the Keogh review, she promised a new era of openness and transparency. Today, walking around Tameside Hospital, you will see notices displayed, “if in doubt speak out!”  The reason for this, is because the hospital has form and a history, for harassing and bullying staff who speak out. You might say that a lack of candour was a major reason why the hospital was put into special measures.  Hospital staff knew that to raise concerns, led to reprisals being taken against them by hospital management. In its Annual Report 2014/15 (Our staff), some 21% of staff working at Tameside Hospital claimed to have experienced harassment, bullying or abuse, in the last twelve months.  Milton Peña, who worked at Tameside Hospital for seventeen years, as a consultant orthopaedic surgeon, has described in detail in his recently published memoirs, the threats and intimidation that was meted out to him by Tameside Hospital management in their quest to stop him speaking out about the lack of patient safety at the hospital.  

For Paul Broadhurst, this ban by Tameside Hospital management, is just history repeating itself and a pathetic attempt to stop him speaking out. Five years ago (2011), he was banned from the hospital premises for similar reasons when he received a solicitors letter from Hempson’s in Manchester.  When he went to the hospital in 2011, for medical help with a serious heart condition, he was treated like the American gangster, John Dillinger (public enemy number one), and escorted around the hospital by burly security staff as he attended his hospital appointments. He regards many of the allegations made by the hospital as malicious, fabricated and potentially defamatory.  While he doesn’t deny calling on the Chair of Tameside Hospital, Paul Connellan, to resign, he says that his “days of action” have always taken place off hospital property and he denies, disrupting any meetings of the Board or Governors, which are held at the hospital and which the public can attend as observers only, and are not allowed to speak. The allegation that he infiltrated and disrupted a meeting with hospital staff and the CQC on 10 August, he regards as ludicrously absurd, pointing out that he’d arranged to meet the manager of the CQC at the hospital, and when asked to wait outside the meeting, had complied immediately.
Although the hospital has been made aware of these facts, they have refused to lift the ban on Paul Broadhurst. Despite asking the solicitor for hard evidence to substantiate the allegations made against him by the hospital, this as not been forthcoming. When he sought to attend the hospital AGM on 27 September 2016, as a member of the public, Mr Broadhurst was denied access by security staff. Just over a week later, on 4 October, when he attended the hospital to accompany his seriously ill wife, Mary, he was thrown off the premises by security staff who falsely claimed that they had an ‘Anti-Social Behaviour Order’ (ASBO) against him. Karen James later apologised for the way he had been treated but refused to lift the ban. Despite the appalling and inhuman behaviour that Mr Broadhurst was subjected to, Ms James, was recently short-listed for the prestigious ‘Chief-Executive-of-the-Year’ health service journal award.
As a member of the Tameside hospital trust, Mr Broadhurst believes the hospital have no legal right to ban him from the premises. He believes that the hospital is harassing him and that their allegations are malicious, false and defamatory.  He is also adamant that the hospital has breached his human rights in denying him access to public meetings. The hospital ban has received quite a lot of media publicity with Tameside Hospital management, being held up to ridicule for their actions in trying to silence him, which seems to have had the opposite effect.  A group to support Mr Broadhurst has been set up and is demanding that the hospital apologises to Mr Broadhurst and lifts the ban.  Perhaps a more appropriate notice for display throughout the hospital run by Karen James, would be: “If in doubt, Watch out!”

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Danczuk given ultimation to cough-up by police

RESPONDING to a mauling from Inspector Ian Hanson in the  Manchester Evening News last Thursday, over what the Inspector called 'pathetic GMP bashing', Simon Danczuk the independent MP for Rochdale said on his web-site that he stood by his criticisms and added:
'Everyone knows that child abuse took place on a frightening scale at Knowl View.  We've seen
shocking reports documenting this and heard heartbreaking testimony from people who attended the school, including that from Father Michael Seed, who described what happened there as "beyond horror".'

The problem is that Danczuk's claim 'everyone knows' what took place at Knowl View is not true.  One reason is that Rochdale Council has never published the reports.  A second is that because of people like Danczuk the whole matter has been kicked into the long grass of national over-arching
What is known from the 1991 Phil Shepherd report is that Mr. Shepherd, who was a Council HIV specialist, is that there was some inappropriate behavior od a sexual nature between the lads at Knowl View.  This probably involved some bullying by the older lads against the younger ones.
What is required is a standard of evidence that will pass muster with the Crown Prosecution Service for presentation in an English Court.  Inspector Hanson reasonably requests that '(f)rom his comments I would assume Mr Danczuk is in possession of very specific information that
backs up his comments (and) if that is the case then he should refer that information to the IPCC (Independent Police Complaint's Commission) himself immediately.'

In a Facebook post, Ian Hanson said a statement released by Mr Danczuk on Thursday was 'totally lacking in detail or substance'.  
And Inspector Hanson said of Simon Danczuk: 
'.... I will publicly call him out to deliver the firm evidence that he bases his criticism of GMP
on to my office by 12 noon on Monday - and I will personally deliver it to the IPCC.'

The clock is now ticking in more ways than one for Mr. Danczuk, who has so far failed to establish his case about Knowl View.

Working-class Movement Library Events

'Sweet Responsibility' play read-through
IN April 2016, Charlotte Delaney, playwright and daughter of Shelagh Delaney (the Salford writer of A Taste of Honey, Dance with a Stranger and other plays) retraced an epic rail journey across America that her mother had first made in 1972.  She was accompanied by Selina Todd, historian and author of The People: the rise and fall of the working class, who is now writing the authorised biography of Shelagh Delaney. The journey helped shape Charlotte's latest play, Sweet Responsibility, which is having its first reading in the UK on Thursday 3 November 6pm at the Library.  Come and hear Charlotte and Selina discuss the life of one of Salford's most famous daughters - and listen to members of MaD Theatre Company read Sweet Responsibility, Charlotte's play about friendship and activism, as the ugly underbelly of a rural idyll puts a treasured friendship to the test.
Free advance tickets for the event are available via Eventbrite here.   We expect tickets to book up fast – and please note that because of limited space, people will only be able to get in to the event if they have a ticket. 

Invisible Histories talk on office workers and their unions 1914-39

On Wednesday 26 October at 2pm there will be a talk at the Library by Nicole Robertson from Sheffield Hallam University: “Organise, educate and agitate”:  trade unionism and office workers in Britain, 1914-39. The rising prominence of the clerical sector was one of the most important changes in the 20th century workplace.  As organisations grew larger and more complex the need for greater communication and documentation transformed office work.  Clerical workers became a key component of cityscapes and urban communities.  Trade unionism during the 1914-39 period is often associated with manual workers; however, office workers were engaged in trade union activity.  This talk explores how these white-collar workers challenged, resisted and negotiated their working conditions through clerical unions.
This free talk is part of our autumn Invisible Histories series.  All welcome.
Singing on the stairs as part of Museums at Night
 Come and enjoy the Library's great acoustic as two wonderful performers sing on the stairs on Thursday 27 October from 6.30 to 8.30pm. Broadside ballads from the Manchester region from the ‘Middleton Linnet’ Jennifer Reid form a counterpoint to Battle for the Ballot, in which singer-songwriter and People's History Museum songwriter in residence Quiet Loner uses original songs to tell the story of how working people came to have a vote.  The story will take in events like Peterloo, with a song Matt wrote after he read first hand accounts of the massacre here at the Library.  It goes on to focus on people – Chartists, politicians and suffragettes – who fought for the ideal of universal suffrage.  It’s all part of the nationwide Museums at Night long weekend, which is billed as ‘the UK’s ‘lates’ event for the culturally curious’.
Matt Hill says: 'When I was researching Battle for the Ballot, the Working Class Movement Library provided me with some amazing insights into the people who campaigned for our right to vote. I can't wait to perform the show at the Library.'
Jennifer Reid adds: ‘I'm really looking forward to singing at the WCML again. It's always a pleasure, and where better to debut some new material?’.
Admission is free, and all are welcome.  Pop along any time as the Library will stay open ‘after hours’ from 5pm, with light refreshments served.

Friday, 21 October 2016

Tory majority cut in Cameron’s old seat

Sam Coates, Deputy Political Editor (October 21 2016, 9:00am), The Times: 
THE Tory majority was slashed by four fifths in David Cameron’s former seat last night as the Liberal Democrats put a resurgent performance down to fears of a hard Brexit.
In Theresa May’s first electoral test since becoming prime minister, the Conservatives’ winning margin was cut by 20,000 in Witney, Oxfordshire. Robert Courts won by 5,702 votes in what was his party’s 10th safest seat.
Voters in Yorkshire elected a Coronation Street actress to replace Jo Cox, marking an end to a divisive campaign in which the far right tried to capitalise on the first killing of a sitting MP…

Danczuk wants new Communication's Officer!


The contents of the post below was sent to N.V. by a source in the Rochdale Liberal-Democrat Party:
IN what must be the most difficult job in politics, disgraced Rochdale MP Simon Danczuk is advertising for a new Communication's Officer role - under the Labour Party banner.  The advert appears on the website - a site that is an MP's favourite for employing staff.  It is advertised as a Labour MP's appointment.  This is despite currently being suspended by the Labour Party. 
Local Lib Dem Leader Councillor Andy Kelly said:
'Yet again - Mr Danczuk is 'masquerading' as a Labour MP despite being suspended over lewd, lurid texts to a teenage girl.  Unless Jeremy Corbyn has made a decision on his future and not telling anybody - this is deliberate misrepresentation.  I wrote to Ian McNichol, General Secretary of the Labour Party months ago - pointing out that Danczuk was still using Labour Party branding on his website. Nothing happened and to this day - his internet presence still remains the same.  If Labour have made a decision on Danczuk's future then Jeremy Corbyn must come clean and say so.  It will send a clear message that under Jeremy Corbyn's Leadership - Simon Danczuk's behaviour is acceptable.'
Danczuk's staffing arrangements have long been controversial.  Questions remain whether he still employs his ex-wife Karen part-time in his office.  Recently his former caseworker Elsie Wraight caused controversy when she became Council Leader Richard Farnell's taxpayer funded PA - despite the job not being advertised.  He was also criticised at Christmas for employing a 'crisis management' adviser on the taxpayer at a time when his bad behaviour was splashed on the front of all the tabloids.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Tameside Hospital to cut 246 beds. Surgeon condemns the plan!

Milton Pena - NHS Whistle-blower
A former consultant surgeon who retired from Tameside Hospital in October 2014, after working for forty-years in the NHS and specializing in orthopaedic surgery, has slammed Tameside Hospital for its plan to close 246 beds by 2020, which he says will put patients at serious risk.

At a public meeting held in Stalybridge last week, Milton Pena, who worked for seventeen-years at Tameside Hospital as a consultant orthopaedic surgeon, told the meeting that such a massive reduction in bed capacity would lead to a drastic deterioration in the quality of care offered to patients at Tameside Hospital. “Safety, effectiveness, and patient experience, will be significantly affected”, he declared.

Mr Pena told the meeting that with a population in Tameside & Glossop of 250,000, the proposed cut in bed capacity from 449 to 203 beds in acute care, would mean that there would only be 80 beds per 100,000 people. He added: “When I arrived at Tameside Hospital in 1997, it had more than 600 beds for in-patients.”

In a letter that he wrote to the ‘Care Quality Commission’ (CQC), in August, Mr Pena said that the idea that losing 246 beds at the hospital could be compensated for by the creation of five multi-disciplinary care teams, is misguided and not based on evidence. He also says in the letter that there were 531 incident reports by nurses regarding lack of nursing staff at the hospital in the year from May 2015 to 2016 and yet,

“No one at the Board meeting (which he attended) questioned the Financial Director on how the Trust efficiency program savings can be delivered in full without affecting quality of care, clinical effectiveness, patient experience and safety.”

Speaking of the Board at Tameside Hospital, Mr Pena told the CQC:

“I attended two Board meetings as a member of the public, the latest on Thursday 28 July. With few exceptions, I did not observe challenging questions from the Chair, executive and non-executive directors, when reports were presented to the Board. The approval of the Board of the ‘Contingency Planning Team Report’ by PwC, without any reservations, regarding the plan to close 246 beds by 2020, shows the Board has not fully considered the impact of decisions being taken…There was not a single medically qualified director at the Board meeting on 28 July."

In September 2013, Tameside Hospital Foundation Trust, was declared financially unsustainable by ‘Monitor’ the regulator, three-months after the resignation of former CEO, Christine Green, who left following the review by Sir Bruce Keogh, NHS England Medical Director. Recently the hospital has come under fire for poor standards of cleanliness and for its high mortality ratio.

Mr Pena is calling on people to write to their MPs requesting that the planned bed cuts be rejected and he says that the integration of care, does not have to incorporate such massive bed cuts. Since retiring in 2014, he has published his memoirs entitled, ‘The Flight of the Black Necked Swans’, which details his effort to improve standards of patient care at Tameside Hospital.

How Danczuk Judges Others by own standards!

by Les May
DANCZUK's response to the story which appears in today's Rochdale Observer about a toilet block being named after him: 
'The publisher paid John Walker £250 in error,  it should never have been paid to him.  He contributed nothing to the book written about Cyril Smith.  It's not for me to pay for his flights to Gambia.'
is typical Danczuk bluster, displays a total ignorance of why the money was paid and is libellous by implication.  Clearly Danczuk judges others by his own casual approach to entitlement to expenses. 

When I put this to John Walker he replied:  
'And, of course the charity does not pay my flights to The Gambia.  I have never drawn a penny from it and it costs me, at a conservative estimate c £2k per year.' 

If you don’t know who to believe in this exchange you might remember that Danczuk has never told us how many men he interviewed before writing his book.  I wrote to him in 2014 asking him this very question and he has never replied.  When a Northern Voices editor put the same question to Danczuk and Baker at the Rochdale Literary and Ideas Festival in the same year he was summarily ejected by the ‘fragrant’ Karen Danczuk. 

When Danczuk and Baker’s book appeared in 2014 reviewers fell over themselves to denounce Smith and praise the book.  Almost the only sceptical note was sounded by Nicholas Blincoe in review in the Telegraph.  But Blincoe was from Rochdale and knew all about Smith from the story which appeared in May 1979 in Rochdale’s Alternative Paper (RAP).  Walker was one of the two co-editors of RAP.   As Blincoe said in his review. ‘Everyone in Rochdale read the RAP story.  I pored over it as a 13-year-old.’.  Which means of course that everyone in Rochdale over about 55 knows the just how big is the debt Danczuk and Baker owes to the dogged efforts of Walker and co-editor David Bartlett. 

Now I’ve ‘got form’ in attacking Danczuk’s claims about his book, but if you want an independent view check out the articles on the Zelo blog using the link I have provided below. 








"I don't understand why he has never written a book about this himself.

He's had plenty of opportunities to do so."


I consider the statement " It's not for me to pay for his flights to

Gambia." a libel by implication.



Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Unite Assistant General Secretary Responds

FOR purposes of balance on behalf of Northern Voices, I wrote an e-mail to the Assistance General Secretary of Unite the Union, requesting the union's response to the statement from the Alec McFadden Defence Campaign.   See below for the details which are self-explanatory: 
Dear Gail, 
I'm sorry to send this to you but Mick Whittley (North West regional officer) is not available at present.  The Northern Voices Blog has already published a post defending Alec McFadden from Liz Epps without comment:  see below.  Can you please give me the Unite position on this case?  We want to be balanced in our reporting of this case.
Brian Bamford:  Joint-Editor of Northern Voices 
In response to your email, Unite does not comment on its internal disciplinary proceedings at all, beyond saying that we believe all the correct procedures were followed in the case highlighted.

Gail Cartmail,  Assistant General Secretary , Unite the Union,
128 Theobalds Road, 
London. WC1X 8TN

Trade Unionist Disciplined: Alec McFadden case

Below is a campaign statement that has been sent to Northern Voices
by the Campaign to defend Alec McFadden.  Though we have made some
investigations about this problem, Northern Voices does not have enough
information to justify us taking sides at this stage.  In the light of this it has
been decided to publish the statement below in full without comment, which
was sent to us by Liz Epps on behalf of the campaign to defend Alec McFadden.
ALEC McFadden, a stalwart of the trade union movement for over 50 years, has been the victim of a miscarriage of justice which is having terrible repercussions. He needs your support. Alec is known and respected throughout the country for his work as a union organiser, and for his role since 1996 in running the Salford Unemployed and Community Resource Centre which has provided help and assistance to thousands of people. He is a committed campaigner against sexism, racism, fascism and opposition to benefits sanctions. He suffered a serious facial wound when a fascist attacked him with a knife at his home on the Wirral.

Alec organised a very successful Anti- Austerity March in October 2015. At the end of the protest, on 3rd October 2015, the marchers had a meal at Smith’s restaurant in Eccles, Salford where Alec was the compere for the evening with a number of speakers including Rebecca Long Bailey MP for Salford, Steve North Unison branch secretary and the then Mayor of Salford Ian Stewart. Also present were other local councillors and the press.  Five weeks later Alec was informed by Unite (13 November) that it ‘had received a formal complaint from one of our members about your actions during the March against Austerity from Thursday 1st October to Sunday 4th October.’ It was alleged he had breached Unite’s Dignity and Harassment Policy. No further details were divulged. Two weeks later Alec had received a further letter from Unite (25 November) which told him no more than the identity of the complainant and that she had made a complaint which ‘relates to alleged incidents which took place between 1st and 4th October 2015 towards another Unite member’.


Unknown to Alec, witness statements were made by the complainant and two supportive witnesses.  On 6 January 2016he complainant and one witness were interviewed by a Unite Investigation panel on 6 January 2016, again without the knowledge of Alec. So Alec had no opportunity to challenge them, nor was the panel able to put any response from Alec to the witnesses, since the panel had not disclosed the witness statements or even the nature of the allegation to Alec.  It had certainly not asked him for his side of the story.

Alec was then called to attend before the Investigation Panel on 22nd January.  By then all Alec knew was what was in the two letters he had received. He had no idea what was alleged against him.  The Investigation Panel chose not to share with him the statements it had obtained from the complainant and her witness or the notes made of their interviews by the panel. So Alec had no idea of the case against him and no chance to prepare a defence.   When the interview with Alec commenced he was still in complete ignorance of the date, time, place and nature of the alleged ‘incidents’.  It was not until half way through the interview that he was shocked to be told that he was alleged to have slapped the complainant on the bottom at the dinner in the middle of the restaurant.  He was not told that the complainant’s witness had added ‘the lights were quite bright and we were very visible to our fellow marchers and other guests’.  Alec denied the allegation.  The panel asked no further questions about it.  Neither the complainant nor her witnesses were present when Alec was interviewed, and since he had not been provided with their witness statements or notes of the interview, he had no opportunity to point out inconsistencies or contradictions in their evidence.  Nevertheless, the investigation panel found that there was a case for him to answer.


Next Alec was called to a formal Unite disciplinary hearing on 15th April 2016. Before hearing Alec’s defence or his witnesses, he was startled to be told by the Chair of the Disciplinary Panel: ‘From what has been presented to us, in all probability, some misconduct has taken place.’ This conclusion was based on solely on their reading of the report of the Investigation Panel.

The Disciplinary Panel refused a request that the complainant and her witnesses should attend and give evidence to the Panel because it would be ‘inappropriate.’ So Alec and his representative were denied the chance to question them, put his case to them or explore the serious inconsistencies in their account of the alleged incident. Likewise, the Panel denied itself the opportunity to hear the complainant and her witness in person so as to weigh up the credibility of their account. Even Alec’s offer that the complainant be questioned without Alec being present was refused.

Perhaps, not surprisingly, the Disciplinary Panel reached the same conclusion at the end of the hearing that it had before the case began: ‘that in all probability, Mr McFadden did commit the offence of slapping [the complainant] on the bottom.’ The conclusion was expressed to be based solely on the evidence of the Complainant’s witness, since it said that to disbelieve her statement ‘would be tantamount to an accusation of lying.’ How the Panel could determine whether she was lying or not without hearing and seeing her give her evidence and being questioned about it was not explained. Nor was it explained on what basis the Panel were able to disregard the evidence of Alec and his witnesses (that they had neither seen anything untoward nor heard anyone speak of such a thing during the course of a long evening during which both Alec and the Complainant were present, at one stage sitting next to each other.) The Disciplinary Panel decided that Alec must be banned from office in Unite and attend Unite’s Dignity and Respect Training Course.


Alec appealed to an Appeal Panel of Unite’s EC. Again Alec’s rep asked that the complainant and her witness attend, give their evidence orally and be subject to questions from him and the Panel. He emphasised that inconsistent and contradictory evidence of the Complainant and her witnesses should be subject to at least some questioning and scrutiny as no such questioning or scrutiny had occurred at the Investigation or Disciplinary stages. This request was dismissed out of hand and the Panel refused to hear for themselves the evidence against Alec or allow it to be questioned.

Alec provided the panel with even more witness statements of those present in the restaurant including the MP and even the Restaurant manager and staff, all of whom clearly stated they saw or heard nothing of the alleged incident which according to the complainant took place in view of everyone.

Particularly significant was that Alec’s rep also sought to introduce the evidence of a Mr S who had, in August 2016, been told by the complainant that she had not been assaulted by Alec and that she had been pressurised into making the complaint.  The Appeal Panel refused to entertain this evidence on the ground that ‘it was an unsubstantiated account of an alleged conversation with the complainant that had been compellingly and comprehensively rebutted by her.’   This appears to be false.  There was no evidence that Mr S’s account had ever been put to the complainant - let alone that she rebutted it.  As noted, Alec’s request for her attendance had been refused. It was not suggested that she had made a further, undisclosed statement rebutting Mr S – such a statement would surely have been produced had it been made.

The Appeal Panel’s refusal to entertain this crucial exonerating piece of defence evidence can only have been because it fundamentally undermined the prosecution case. That is a travesty of justice.

In the light of that it was no surprise that the Appeal panel upheld the decision of the Disciplinary Panel. When his rep asked how long Alec would be suspended from Office he was told it was for at least 5 years! That is until Alec is 75.

Breach of Confidentiality + Media Smears

If that were not bad enough, what followed will shock and concern every trade union activist. Confidential details of the case, including a statement by the complainant were leaked to the media. This could have only come from someone within Unite.  The angle the media took was to attack Alec and link him to Jeremy Corbyn so as to undermine him.  Alec had been one of Corbyn’s biggest supporters and articles in the Telegraph, Times, Liverpool Echo and Guardian were spun to try to damage Corbyn and denigrate Alec.


In September 2016, the TUC informed Alec that in addition to the sanctions imposed by Unite, the TUC also banned him from holding his elected position representative to and as chair of the TUCJCC. That is not an ‘office’; it is certainly not an office in Unite and besides Alec’s position on the TUCJCC is also because he is a member of Unison.  More significantly still, the TUC has no power to prevent Trades Union Councils nominating who they wish to represent them on the TUCJCC, the TUC has no disciplinary powers over members of affiliated unions and had held no hearing to allow Alec to present a case before imposing such a penalty.  But the penalty imposed by the TUC went yet further than that imposed by Unite: Alec was barred from unofficial pre-meetings of the TUCJCC and from attending any TUC event, including those open to the public!

Questions have even been raised about Alec’s employment.

Facebook Lies

Now new evidence has emerged from the Facebook postings of the complainant.  She has changed her mind again and decided to revert to claiming that the incident did take place and she has broadcast details of the allegation along with grossly offensive comments about Alec.  Even more disturbingly, having linked to an article about an (unrelated) Employment Tribunal case against UNITE for sexual harassment she made the following comment in relation to her own case:

‘In my experience the equalities officer was invisible, the questioning that I was subject to would not be out of place among rape apologists, the concern for the person making the complaint was non–existent’.

This is a quite remarkable claim since one of the most unjust features of this drawn out disciplinary process is that the complainant was never questioned about her allegation - let alone in the manner she describes.  She was never present to face any questions put to her by Alec, his rep or the Disciplinary or Appeal Panels which took the decisions.  Before the Investigatory Panel the notes show that she was never asked even to describe the alleged incident; her prepared statement was simply accepted as fact. The sole questions about the alleged incident were: ‘…you had to ask him to move is this when the incident happened? And if so what kind of a slap was it?’  To which the answer was ‘Yes.  It was a hard slap; I was shocked and carried on walking…’  The allegation that the Unite Investigation Panel were behaving like ‘rape apologists’ is both a very serious allegation and one that is totally refuted by the notes.

This Facebook posting casts further serious doubt on the credibility of the complainant.

Unfortunately there is no further appeal under Unite rules and Alec appears to have no alternative but to take his case to the Certification Officer, given the appalling consequences that he is facing.

Every trade unionist should fight to root sexual harassment out of our movement and ensure our events are safe places for all members. But there is also no place in our movement for those who make false accusations against individuals and the union, then broadcast false and wholly misleading details of the matter on social media. More than that, no-one should be convicted without a fair trial.

Defend Alec

Alec has a long and proud record of promoting and encouraging women to get active in the union movement, he has never been subject to these kind of accusations in over 50 years of service in the movement.  Natural justice is a requirement of Unite’s disciplinary rules (rule 27.2) but Alec has been denied it.  Here, that denial was in refusing Alec the right to question those who made allegations against him and in refusing to hear a witness who had vital evidence for his defence.  The witness statements of many respected people present at the restaurant where the alleged incident took place have been simply ignored or discounted.  He has had confidential details of an internal union matters leaked to the press where it was spun to attack Jeremy Corbyn.  He has now discovered that his accuser has put on social media claims which are clearly both untrue and bring the union into disrepute.

He has been removed and suspended from office for over 5 years and the TUC has tried to remove him from elected positions that are completely unconnected to his membership of Unite.

Questions for Unite

We call on the Executive Committee of UNITE and the General Secretary to review this case as a matter of urgency.  As trade unionists we fight on a daily basis against injustice; we cannot allow this to happen to Alec.  Please support our call for a review of this decision and an investigation into the scandalous claims made by the complainant and the manner in which confidential information was leaked to the Tory media to be used to attack both Alec and Jeremy Corbyn.

Email:   10th October 2016

Printed and Published by defend Alec McFadden campaign

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Danczuk says 'John Walker contributed nothing'!

IN a vicious attack in tomorrow's Rochdale Observer on the former editor of the former respected local publication 'RAP' (Rochdale Alternative Paper') Simon Danczuk, the disgraced MP for Rochdale, said:  'He (John Walker) contributed nothing to the book written about Cyril Smith'
Mr Danczuk claimed that his 'publisher (Biteback) paid John Walker £250 in error, it should never have been paid to him'
This claim follows reports in the Mail on Saturday last Saturday, that Biteback Mr. Danczuk's publisher had paid £250 to settle a copyright row following the publication of Danczuk's Cyril Smith biography. 
The £250 has now been used to refurbish and dedicate a toilet block at a school in a Gambian village to Simon Danczuk MP. 
John Walker told the Rochdale Observer that he had an understanding with Danczuk that any monies due to him would go to the charity called 'Sohm Schools Support', and a facility at the school such as a science block, would be named after the Rochdale MP.
But after the publication of his book 'Smile for the Camera' Mr. Danczuk became very parsimonious, and in the end Mr. Danczuk's publishers paid-up £250 after drawn out negotiations over a copyright issue. 
Commenting on the matter in the Observer John Walker said:  'I wanted no glory or financial gain but I thought these kids in Gambia could benefit from it.'
To which Mr. Danczuk has now typically responded:  'It's not for me to pay for his (John Walker's) flights to Gambia.'

Monday, 17 October 2016

'Doing A Danczuk' in Africa!

IN a post titled 'More Crappy Conduct by Danczuk' on the 11th, June 2016, Northern Voices described how Simon Danczuk had admitted to copyright violations and his publisher paid £250 to John Walker, the former co-editor of the 'Rochdale Alternative Paper'. At the time we promised that the money would go towards the construction of a toilet block in The Gambia. Below is a recent item from the October 2016 newsletter Big changes at Sohm:
DOING a Danczuk! Some readers/site visitors to this site may know that John has been in dispute with Rochdale MP,  Simon Danczuk, for the last three years over copyright/plagiarism issues around his book, Smile for the Camera,  which claimed to expose his predecessor as MP,  Cyril Smith's, sexual abuse of young men in and around Rochdale.
John always made it clear to Danczuk that any payments made to him for his work on the highly successful book would be donated to this charity - and find its way to Sohm. We said that if the donation were significant enough that we could ensure that a facility at one of the schools would be named after him: say the 'Simon Danczuk ICT suite', or 'Simon Danczuk science laboratory'.
Danczuk consistently refused to make a donation.
Eventually we challenged his publisher, Backbite, over copyright issues. They, reluctantly, made a donation of £250 - which is now with this charity.

True to our word, we will put the money towards refurbishing a toilet block at one of the schools, and have the facility named 'The Simon Danczuk toilet'.  In all the circumstances, we feel that this is an appropriate name.  It will, after all, give an appropriate meaning in The Gambia, at least to the notion of 'Going for a Danczuk'. We will post a photo of the suitably named facility, when we next visit the country.

In keeping with the Danczuks predilection for selling photos of themselves, we will happily send photos of pupils 'on their way to doing a Danczuk', for an appropriate donation.  Just let us know!

Alan Turing story at the Royal Exchange

The Royal Exchange Theatre presents
By Hugh Whitemore
Directed by Robert Hastie
Friday 28 October - Saturday 19 November – The Theatre
Press Night: Wednesday 2 November, 7.30pm
IN a major revival of Hugh Whitemore’s Tony-nominated play BREAKING THE CODE BAFTA award-winning actor Daniel Rigby takes on the role of the mathematical genius Alan Turing. Manchester born Rigby leads a cast of eight in the Royal Exchange’s new production of this compelling play which brings Turing’s story back to Manchester, the city in which he lived, worked and died. Robert Hastie’s new production celebrates the mind of this incredible man revealing the infinite wonder of Turing’s mathematical world and the brutal constraints set against sexual freedom in post-war Britain. The production runs from 28 October – 19 November.
In the leafy surroundings of Bletchley Park at the height of the Second World War, a brilliant young mathematician called Alan Turing was working away at a problem. The creation of a machine. A machine that would crack the German Enigma code and win Britain the war. In the aftermath of victory, Turing arrived in Manchester with an even bigger task in mind – the development of the modern computer. It would be a task he left unfinished, publicly humiliated and destroyed by the revelation of his sexuality and prosecution for indecency.
Daniel Rigby, who makes his Royal Exchange debut, is a BAFTA Award-winning actor, comedian and writer who works across theatre, television and film. Daniel’s theatre credits include Alan Dangle in the original cast of ONE MAN, TWO GUVNORS (National Theatre/West End/Broadway), THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO (West Yorkshire Playhouse) HAMLET (Barbican and tour) and BURIAL AT THEBES (UK premiere Nottingham playhouse). Daniel’s television credits include FLOWERS and BLACK MIRROR: THE WALDO MOMENT (Channel 4), JERICHO (ITV), THAT DAY WE SANG (BBC) and UNDERCOVER (UKTV). In 2011, he won the Leading Actor BAFTA for his portrayal of Eric Morecambe in BBC2’s ERIC AND ERNIE.
This year Robert Hastie will take over as the new Artistic Director of Sheffield Theatres. Recent work includes HENRY V (Regents Park Open Air Theatre), CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF (Theatr Clywd) for which he was nominated for Best Director at the UK Theatre Awards. As Associate Director of the Donmar Warehouse he directed SPLENDOUR by Abi Morgan, and MY NIGHT WITH REG by Kevin Elyot, which also ran at the Apollo Theatre, West End. Other productions include: A BREAKFAST OF EELS (Print Room), CARTHAGE and EVENTS WHILE GUARDING THE BOFORS GUN (Finborough Theatre) and SUNBURST by Tennessee Williams (UK Premiere, Holborn Grange Hotel).
The cast of BREAKING THE CODE is completed by Geraldine Alexander, Phil Cheadle, Natalie Dew, Harry Egan, Dimitri Gripari, Mark Oosterveen and Raad Rawi.
This Manchester story is supported by local business the King Street Townhouse