Friday, 14 October 2016

Ukip Scrap & Political Violence at Freedom

Donald Rooum Ruminates on Trotsky's violent death & 'Scuffles' in politics
MR. Hookem, the Ukip MEP, who is alleged to have been involved in an altercation with another Ukip MEP, Steven Woolfe, in the European Parliament last week described it as a mere 'scuffle'.  Donald Rooum, a Friend of Freedom Press (anarchist), similarly told Northern Voices in last month that the scrap at Freedom Press, the anarchist HQ, at the time of the Friends of Freedom Press Annual General Meeting on the 22nd, June (the day before the referendum vote), was 'only a scuffle', and he added that the police should not have involved.

Violence seems to be becoming more common in politics in the UK these days!

The Ukip  'punch-up' at the European Parliament had something to do with the struggle for control of Ukip; likewise the problems at Freedom are about who influences the management of the administration of Freedom Press and the sale of the building on Whitechapel High Street. 

Some people describing themselves as 'The Freedom Collective' wanted to prevent the directors on the Friends of Freedom of Press from considering proposals presented by a group from the North of England who describe themselves as 'Our Friends in the North'..

Donald Rooum, is an octogenarian veteran of English anarchism, who has been associated with Freedom since the 1940s, despite that it is only relatively recently become a Friend or director on the board of the Friends of Freedom Press.  Last month, he engaged in a correspondence in Private Eye's Pedantry Corner discussing Trotsky's death:

'... Robert Thomson's cartoon (p5, Eye 1425) depicts a man with a mountaineer's ice axe in his head.  'Could this be a misunderstanding of a historical account of Trotsky's death?

'Trotsky was killed with an ice pick, a stiletto used by bartenders in the 1930s, when refrigerators houses supplied ice in big blocks, for picking out bits of ice to put in drinks.  Nothing to do with mountaineers.'

Donald Rooum, who is a supporter of the 'Freedom Collective' group occupying the premises and has recently taken on the role of their sugar-daddy even financing them out of his pension, told Northern Voices that 'I am not interested in any suggestions from you!'

Presumably he was referring here to our practical program for the sale of the building being presented by a group calling itself 'Our Friends in the North', and he wants to protect his own babies on the so-called Freedom Collective.

Mr. Rooum, excusing the attack on me at the Friends of Freedom Press AGM, said: 

'You shouldn't go getting the police in, it gets people in trouble, it may sometimes be necessary to bring in the police but not just for a scuffle.'

Rooum's reputation and legacy now rests upon the survival of the 'Freedom Collective' as his baby. When the long-term owner of Freedom, Vernon Richards, withdrew from direct active involvement in Freedom newspaper in the late 1990s shortly before the Millennium, he had apprenticed Charles Crute to takeover as editor.  It now seems that Donald had been doing much to undermine Charles' position at one point trying to stir things up over a joking remark I made about Vernon Richards going off the cultivate tomatoes at his home in East Anglia.  That attempt misfired, perhaps because Donald wouldn't know a 'Gardener's Delight' from a  'Super Marmande' beefsteak tomato, but then Donald's opportunity to overthrow Charles came later when a dispute broke out over our attempt to produce an issue of The Raven on Noam Chomsky's politics and linguistics.  Harold Sculthorpe (an old Friend of Freedom Press) and myself had arranged with a group of Manchester academics involved in the Manchester Ethnography Group to help produce an issue on Chomsky ultimately entitled 'Chomsky & his Critics' (2001), but when I sent Chomsky an article and a covering letter to the MIT, the great man Professor Chomsky took exception to one of the articles by Rupert Read now in the Green Party, and his former 'political secretary' intervened to stop this publication of The Raven after Charles Crute had given it the go-ahead.   Because Charles had OK'd the original article by Rupert in a letter and said it would be published, Donald Rooum was then able to install his own man, Toby Crowe*, a 'lapsed' Marxist from the Socialist Party of Great Britain, who was to ultimately become  the editor of Freedom newspaper when Charles Crute was forced out.  Mr. Rooum later referred to Toby as 'a big' strapping lad who quickly got rid of  what Donald called the 'wasteful practices' such as paying Charles Crute a small salary and then forcing him out of Freedom to seek work at a supermarket.  Toby Crowe failed to benefit Freedom, and has now been identified as the start of the decline which ultimately resulted in its closure in 2014

*  Mr. Crowe left his job as Freedom editor and after a period of study was later to be appointed as the now Revd Toby Crowe a Rector of Elmdon Church in 2012.  In that capacity according to a website he seems to have been more successful than he was at Freedom Press.  Donald Rooum has told me that he is still in contact with the Revd. Crowe, but he does not seem to have kept up any contact with poor Charles Crute.

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