Saturday, 29 April 2017

Election Expenses in Greater Manchester

ON the 17th March 2017, the MEN reported a probe into 2015 election expenses - with the police handing files to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), and involving three Greater Manchester MPs, according to the Manchester Evening News [MEN].
Detectives are now investigating whether three Conservative MPs breached strict spending limits at the last General Election.
It has recently been revealed a file has been handed to the CPS following an issue over spending on a ‘battle bus’ tour of marginal constituencies.
Complaints have been made that the costs - of the buses to transport activists and put them up in hotels - should have been recorded as counting towards individual candidates’ spending limits, rather than to the Conservatives’ national expenses return.
Bury North MP David Nuttall - who denies any wrongdoing - was initially confirmed to be involved in the GMP probe, with details of his election expenses handed to the CPS.  An additional problem for Mr. Nuttall and the constituents in Bury North, is that this week Karen Danczu told the Rochdale Observer that she fancied standing as the Labour candidate in Bury North.  Ms. Danczuk is the ex-wife of the disgraced Rochdale MP, Simon Danczuk, who has had expenses scandals of his own, and she was a undistinguished local councilor in Rochdale for a while.
The M.E.N. has now learned Hazel Grove MP William Wragg and Cheadle MP Mary Robinson have also been investigated - and that their cases will be reviewed by prosecutors.
Battle buses visited both constituencies in the run up to the election.
Former Stockport councillor Mr Wragg snatched Hazel Grove from the Lib Dems in 2015.
He told the M.E.N: 'I was assured, at the time and now, that the battle bus was a national expense and my election agent was instructed by Conservative Campaign Headquarters (CCHQ) to treat it as such.
'Accordingly it was not declared locally, but was left for the party to declare nationally.'

Friday, 28 April 2017

Taking Working Class Toryism seriously

by Andrew Wallace  (24/04/17)
 IN just a few weeks’ time the British working class will turn out in unprecedented numbers in order to support a right wing Conservative government, marking an apotheosis of trends in which working people of modest means have enthusiastically endorsed a party pursuing an historical agenda which would seem on the surface at least to be hostile to their interests.
However I would say that as a leftist because I have already accepted it as self-evident that a Conservative agenda is not commensurate with the interests of those at the bottom of our socio-economic hierarchy.  I have imbibed sufficient life experiences and also by way of exposure to arguments in books and articles over the years to convince me of the malevolence of their brand of free market fundamentalism.
So like many lefties I feel irked to say the least with that most heretical act of political deviancy, the perverse irrationalism of working class Toryism.  Social networks are presently going into overdrive as Corbynistas are confronted with the rude reality as many of their friends and family have the temerity to circulate a number of pugnacious right wing memes.  The echo chambers are being systemically punctured and we are being cumulatively disabused of the progressive habitats of alternative media.
And thereby hangs a dilemma for us to collectively confront, the left’s deep denial and impotence to comprehend, let alone combat, the reality of the great ‘heresy’.
Working class Toryism has a long standing history. Marx thought that the advent of universal suffrage equated with the ‘political supremacy of the working class’. 19th century parliamentarians fretted that the Reform Acts would destroy their dominance. This of course never happened and Conservatives like Disraeli were canny in cultivating blue collar Tories.
As maverick social thinkers like Michael Collins (labelled a bête noir of the liberal left’ for his ‘destructive nostalgia') have argued with increasing plausibility, the instincts and sentiments of certain traditional working class communities are often far removed from the left liberal worldview. His discussion of the costermongers of old delineates their Tory and royalist sympathies and their antipathy to anything that might constitute a bohemian socialist import.
Collins also breaks rank with liberal niceties when he talks of culture and the salience of race and the white working class. For Collins, multiculturalism has been used as a tool by a metropolitan elite to censor and marginalise the indigenous white left behind, inviting a backlash that further strengthens forces on the far right.
Enoch Powell’s controversial Rivers of Blood speech from 1968 (described aptly by Stuart Hall’ essay as ‘A torpedo aimed at the boiler room of consensus’), was a powerful reminder of the traction and mass appeal of a right wing doyen.  Socialists of the day had no choice but to acknowledge Powell’s formidable appeal to many workers at this time, particularly when organised labour in the form of the dockers and building workers marched in his support.  As the International Socialists (forerunners of the Socialist Workers Party) conceded: The ready response to his speech has revealed the prevalence of racialist ideas among workers, inculcated by centuries of capitalism and imperialism
From Ragged Trousered bankruptcy to Vanguardism
Robert Tressell’s famous novel, The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists, is essentially an extended Socratic dialogue in the form of a novel, as the main protagonist, Frank Owen, engages with the congenital working class conservatism of his work colleagues.  The novel is actually a useful reminder as to socialism’s problematic nature with its ostensible working class base.  Owen has to go to great lengths to proselytise for the superior virtues and rationalism of socialism.  Owen’s fellow workers are highly resistant to left wing ideas and generally happy to acquiesce in the status quo.  This is surely a salutary reminder that such ideas are far from having a privileged locus and position in working class communities, there is no spontaneity or easy populist reception for socialism.  
On the contrary, socialism is now seen as a didactic radical import.  Without the hoped for organic growth of working class left wing movements, this would have to be remedied by vanguardism, thereby negating one of the original premises of socialist thought, that working class emancipation had to be the work of the working class themselves. Unfortunately as the unfolding of history goes, that innovation didn’t work out particularly world.
Acknowledging the reality of a rightist working class
We urgently need to understand the limitations of conventional leftism and the elephant in the room – how the working classes have defected on mass to the right.  There will be lots of heads banging against walls come June 9th, but as I have argued here, this is not a new problem.   Each generation have to partake of this bitter fruit.  However we are still compounded by our collective delusions and failure to understand the reality on the ground.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Guido Fawkes & Jewish News gang-up on David Ward

David Ward and Baroness Jenny Tonge

 ON the 25th, April 2017, the Tory commentator Guido Fawkes wrote on his Blog:
'You’d have hoped David “The Jews” Ward’s career was over when he lost his seat at the last election. Alas not.  The LibDems, shamelessly even by their low standards, refused to boot him out of the party.  Knowing Ward’s views on ‘Zionists’ are popular among sections of the Bradford electorate, the LibDems – while criticising Labour over their anti-Semitism scandal – quietly appointed him as their parliamentary spokesman for the city.  Now they have selected him as their candidate there.  If Labour get completely creamed it is not impossible that Ward could make it back to parliament. Remember this the next time the LibDems ever take a stand on discrimination… '

On April 26th, 2017, the Jewish News publishesd the following story:
'Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron has barred controversial former MP David Ward from running for his old seat in Bradford East, after he was selected as the local party’s candidate.'
It went on to trumpet:
'The dramatic move came just hours after a high-profile backlash from the prime minister, the Jewish community and senior figures within party, who were left appalled at the prospect of him once again becoming an MP.'

After his dismissal, David Ward said he believed he was being targeted because of his criticism of Israel.  'The antisemitic thing is a nonsense,' he said. 'It is just used, it’s a well-known tactic.  How do you avoid conversation or any criticism about Israel?  Just say people are antisemitic.  I am certainly not antisemitic.' 
Asked why he believed Tim Farron, the Lib Dem leader, had axed him, he said: 
'Just the pressure that they come under, all the party’s come under, and it works. The pressure works. It’s the fear of the electoral damage that can be done by being seen to oppose Israel.  It’s contaminating and infecting our own political system.'

Mr. Ward’s reselection appeared to take Lib Dem headquarters by surprise when news of it emerged on Tuesday night.  The party had selected the vast majority of its candidates over the past year in preparation for a snap election, but Bradford East was not among them.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Tetrosyl Campaign in Rochdale

Residents who strongly object to Tetrosyl’s application to store and distribute hazardous chemicals in the refurbished...

ON 8th March, 2017 some residents went to view Tetrosyl’s application for hazardous substance consent. These are available for viewing in the Lodge on the Tetrosyl warehouse site, Royle Barn Road, Castleton. OL11 3DT

Hazardous substances, for which Tetrosyl are applying for consent to store on the site include:

2,000 Kg Petroleum ( Hazardous and Explosive ) least of your worries.

300 Kg LPG ( Hazardous and Explosive ) Already stored on site in greater quantity than stated ---->     (DESPITE NO LICENCE HELD !!! ) <--------- div="">
If the above exploded it would produce equivalent blast and carnage to the IRA bombing of the Manchester Arndale Centre June 1996
add to that
2,000,000 Kg of aerosols ( Hazardous and Explosive ) stored on site
6,000,000 Kg of household, car cleaning and maintenance products; ( Hazardous and possibly flammable & explosive ) stored on site
1,500,000 Kg of oils, fragrances and maintenance sprays ( Hazardous & possibly Explosive ) stored on site
150,000 Kg Peroxide hardeners ( highly explosive oxidisers , unstable and produce poisonous gases. ) stored on site
4,000,000 Kg of Hazardous substances to be moved by 50 lorries in/out each day, i.e. 28,000,000 Kg Hazardous substance moved/week
If ALL the above exploded at once it would produce a greater blast and carnage than the atomic bomb droped on Hiroshima in August 1945
By comparisson, it is estimated the largest explosion in modern times that destroyed parts of Tianjin in China and killed 173 people and injured hundreds more was caused by the explosion of only 800,000Kg of combustible material, yet had the devastation power 25% greater than the atomic bomb droped on Hiroshima in August 1945
Highly flammable and hazardous products like these should not be stored near residential housing. ( IN ANY QUANTITY )
public buildings and facilities should be AT LEAST 1 kilometre away from a site storing dangerous and hazardous, flammable and explosive substances.
The Ex-Woolworths site ( now owned by Tetrosyl ) has already been involved in 2 major catastrophic fires the second being on May 1971 where the entire complex was destroyed by fire.
Woolworths had 2,500,000 Kg of water stored on site in case of Fire, it failed to stop both fires.
Tetrosyl are proposing a 9000Kg Water Deluge tank for their sprinkler system.
Don't tempt fate again, this time any accident would be far far worse, Woolworths was NOT a warehouse of primarily Hazardous, dangerous & Explosive goods.
and Tetrosyl have already demonstrated they are prepared to break the rules, by already storing Dangerous & Hazardous goods on site WITHOUT having obtained a licence for doing so. CAN YOU TRUST TETROSYL WITH YOUR LIVES, HOMES, LIVELIHOOD, CHILDREN and FAMILIES ?
If the Answer is NO then you need to say something NOW, before it is too late !
It is important that residents write to Rochdale Borough Council to make representation against this. The deadline for letters is the 21st March,2017.
If you are worried about a warehouse full of flammable, hazardous and oxidising agents in your town then It is important that residents write to Rochdale Borough Council to make representation against the application to store the dangerous goods. The deadline for letters is the 21st March,2017. If they don't get permission then the dangerous goods will not be stored in Castleton.

The address to write to is

Rochdale Borough Council,

Number One Riverside,

Smith Street,


OL16 1XU

Deadline for objections is 9th April, 2017

European Court: Defeat for Worker's Rights

FOLLOWING a decision in the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg released this week, campaigners are challenging politicians to provide legal protection to agency workers. The ruling in the case of Smith v. the United Kingdom (Application Number 54357/15) was handed down by ECHR President, Kristina Pardalos, relates to Dave Smith, an engineer from Maldon in Essex, who was one of thousands of construction workers who appeared on the notorious Consulting Association blacklist operated on behalf of the UK's major building contractors.  Smith was blacklisted after he being elected as a safety representative for the construction UCATT (now part of UNITE).

His Employment Tribunal against various companies in the Carillon Group became a test-case for blacklisted workers but the Strasbourg decision has implications far beyond just the construction industry.  At the original Employment Tribunal, the company admitted that their senior managers had provided information to the blacklist because Smith was a union member who had raised concerns about safety issues on their projects.  But the ET found against Smith because as an agency worker he was not covered by UK employment law.  Millions of agency workers are currently excluded from basic employment rights such as unfair dismissal, redundancy and protection from victimization for raising safety issues.    

Smith's legal team appealed the case all the way to the Court of Appeal before it was finally rejected at the Supreme Court.  A submission was made to the European Court of Human Rights arguing that the Consulting Association blacklist conspiracy was a violation of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which are supposed to apply to everyone not just direct employees.  

Paragraph 36 of the ECHR judgement reads: 
"At the outset, the Court considers that in light of the criminal proceedings pursued against the Chief Officer of the Consulting Association by the Information Commissioner for failing to register as a data controller under the Data Protection Act and the admissions made by the defendant companies in the High Court proceedings, it is clear that the retention of personal data by the CA interfered with the applicant’s Article 8 rights". 
However, because of the campaign led by the Blacklist Support Group alongside the UNITE and GMB trade unions, which resulted in a Select Committee investigation and a multi-million pound settlement in High Court litigation, the ECHR ruled that Smith's case had been 'duly considered' by the British legal system and was therefore declared 'inadmissible'. 

While Smith was paid compensation during the High Court settlement, the ECHR ruling leaves the issue of the second class treatment of agency workers by UK employment law completely unresolved.  If even a blacklisted worker whose human rights have been infringed cannot win legal redress in either the UK Employment Tribunal system or the highest court in Europe, what chance do care workers, teachers or nurses engaged via employment agencies stand?  The current differential treatment of agency workers amounts to a EU sized loophole by which unscrupulous bosses can exploit agency workers with absolute impunity.  

John Hendy QC represented Smith in his test-case and commented on the ECHR decision:
"The use of agency workers and false self employment now deprive several million workers from full employment rights. The use of employment tribunal fees defeats the rights of those workers who do have them. As Dave Smith's case shows these problems cannot be left to the courts: they require urgent and fundamental legislation. The election provides the opportunity to vote on this issue".

After receiving the decision, Dave Smith commented:
"This ECHR decision is a green light to bad employers.  If UK and EU judges either can't or won't protect agency workers. I challenge all political parties in the General Election to commit themselves to extending full employment rights to the millions of workers engaged via employment agencies. In an era of zero hours contracts and casualisation, this is a defining issue for any politician claiming to stand up for workers rights". 

Gail Cartmail, UNITE Assistant General Secretary stated: 
“As this disappointing decision is being digested we know the paucity of legal protection from blacklisting means that third parties are instructing “do not engage” or if an activist slips through the net, dismiss.  Tomorrow is International Worker’s Memorial Day when we will mark 43 construction workers death from April 2015 to April 2016. In the past and today major players in construction have singled out trade union activists for raising legitimate safety concerns.  We need a full Public Inquiry and it is good to know this is a Labour pledge.  Remember the dead and fight for the living.”

UNITE member, Terry Brough, was the only other blacklisted worker to have a case submitted to the ECHR.  His case was ruled 'inadmissible' in September 2016. Brough commented:
"I extend my solidarity, respect and best wishes to Dave and his team in this, his latest involvement in the fight for justice. Blacklisted workers have not achieved justice through the courts: Corbyn should pledge a full public inquiry on the blacklisting scandal".  

Blacklist Support Group

Jane Austin's 'Persuasion' at Royal Exchange


The Royal Exchange Theatre presents the World Premiere of


By Jane Austen
Adapted by Jeff James with James Yeatman
Directed by Jeff James
25 May- 24 June
Press Night: Thursday 1 June, 7.30pm - The Theatre
Jeff James, one of the UK’s most original young theatre makers, adapts and directs a bold retelling of Jane Austen’s final masterpiece PERSUASION at the Royal Exchange Theatre. James creates an emotionally powerful love story for grown-ups for the Exchange’s intimate in-the-round stage, revealing how startlingly relevant Austen’s story remains today. Designed by Alex Lowde this contemporary production of Austen’s beautifully crafted novel discards the bonnets and trappings of formal life for a startlingly modern vision of Austen. Developed in collaboration with dramaturg James Yeatman and with sound design from the award-winning Ben and Max Ringham, PERSUASION runs from 25 May to the 24 June.
When Captain Wentworth proposed to Anne eight years ago, he had only love and ambition to offer. Talked out of accepting his proposal by her family, Anne’s never quite got over her first love. But now Wentworth is back. Rich, successful and single, the handsome Captain has been transformed into a serious catch. When circumstances bring the two face to face again, Anne Elliot is forced to confront the past. As old wounds reopen, will Wentworth’s resentment keep him away, and will Anne finally decide what she really wants?
Director Jeff James has worked regularly with the Young Vic, most recently on his production of LA MUSICA, and extensively as Associate Director with international and multi award-winning director Ivo van Hove. His directing credits also include STINK FOOT (The Yard), and ONE FOR THE ROAD & VICTORIA STATION (Young Vic and the Print Room). He is Associate Director on Ivo van Hove's English language productions, including A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE (London, Paris, Broadway & Los Angeles), OBSESSION (Barbican, Amsterdam and international tour), HEDDA GABLER (National Theatre), LAZARUS by David Bowie and Enda Walsh (New York & London), and THE CRUCIBLE (Broadway).
Designer Alex Lowde has worked extensively in Scotland for Scottish Opera, Dundee Rep, The Lyceum, The Citizens and The Traverse. Receiving the Critics Award for Theatre Design in Scotland in 2009 and 2010 with a nomination in the Best Design Category at the 2010 TMA Awards. Other design credits include the National Theatre, Young Vic, Lyric Hammersmith, Opera North, The Royal Court, Almeida, West Yorkshire Playhouse and Sheffield Theatres.
Lara Rossi takes on the role of Austen’s heroine Anne alongside Samuel Edward-Cook as Captain Wentworth. The cast is completed by Geraldine Alexander, Antony Bunsee, Helen Cripps, Cassie Layton, Caroline Moroney, Dorian Simpson and Arthur Wilson.
Music and sound designers Ben and Max Ringham have produced scores and sound designs for more than 40 major productions and have worked extensively in the West End, at the National Theatre and the RSC. The creative team also includes Lighting Designer Lucy Carter and movement from Morgann Runacre-Temple.
For further information, images or interviews please contact Paula Rabbitt, Communications Manager 0161 615 6783 /

Monday, 24 April 2017

Sohm School Support Project

PROBABLY our most successful project to date. We hope it gives you as much pleasure in reading this as it did us in helping make the story happen.

We are proud to have championed and facilitated a transformation in the First Aid provision in Sohm Lower Basic school over the last two years.

This article sets out how it has been undertaken and the spectacular results achieved.

Each year we sit down with the heads of the two schools in Sohm to determine their priorities for our funding them for the next twelve months. Last January a key project for the Lower Basic school was to reconstruct the dilapidated and non-functioning sick bay (see photos).

The way the sick bay was
... and from the outside
We got the head to provide costings for a complete refit that would: re-plaster and paint the walls, re-floor, provide a new door, two beds, a medicines cupboard and some limited other furniture - and curtains. The overall cost was out of our budget, but we found a funding formula that worked - see footnote for details.

So, we were able to give the project the go-ahead and ensure that the money was available for the refurb. Political uncertainties in the country held the project up for a while, but the work was complete by the time we revisited in February this year.

The school was able to proudly show us the results then.

We then worked with a local pharmacist and the first aider at the school to stock a secure medicine cupboard with necessary items (see photos).

.. and is now
A First Aid room/Sick Bay is vital at the school, where children can experience bouts of malaria, debilitating hunger pangs and the older girls experience menstruation for the first time. The medical facilities in the village are almost non-existent, apart from a couple of visiting clinics held every month or so.

Lamin - deputy head (far left), first aider,
 Malamin, head (blue shirt) with teacher and
 three pupils displaying early first aid kit,
 in refurbed sick bay/first aid room
For some time we have been following a UK charity First Aid 4 Gambia on Twitter (@FirstAid4Gambia -, and have been impressed with their work in the local education sector. So we contacted them to see if they could help take the Sohm project on to the next level.

They could - and responded remarkably quickly. For a small annual charge (well within our budget)they have undertaken to completely restock the medicine cabinet each year with appropriate provisions and to provide first aid training every two years for a dozen or so people nominated by the school's head.

The first training session took place within a month of us making the connection, and the results were spectacular - as the photos and comments show.

Head, Malamin Gibba opening the training session

Staff and community members at
 FirstAid4Gambia training session
The head and deputy head, together with the nominated first aider took part, as well as the head boy and head girls (a great move in our opinion), two parents/members of the community and seven teachers.

Community members dressing wounds
First Aid 4 Gambia declared the day a great success and the school was more than delighted with the outcome.

Head boy learning 
respiratory techniques
This small initiative has not only up-skilled members of the school staff, but provided a huge boost to health provision within the whole community - all for £150!!

New first aid kit - courtesy of FirstAid4Gambia
The school head wrote to us:
So pleased with your effort in bringing this wonderful initiative to our school. We have all benefited from the training. Every teacher in the school is now a first aider.

Deputy head practices wound dressing,
 with head as the patient
The First Aid 4 Gambia trainer reported back to his charity that the training went well:
Monday 10 April 2017, New training course with supplies to the Sohm Lower Basic School at the Sohm Village West Coast Region.

Staff practising respiratory techniques
 14 participants received the training including the School Head Boy and The Head Girl respectively attended the training .The school is running a first aid centre which is well organised and clean, two beds in for temporal admission in case of any emergency.
The School First aider was also part of the workshop, along with 2 community members also joined the training. All the topics were briefly discussed which to my understanding was well received and their practicals were perfect too.

Head girl hard at work, using
 some of the training equipment
 FirstAid4Gambia brought to the day
All the participants were certified and the school was fully supplied. Though it was a long day, everything went successful.
On behalf of the School Mr Malamin Gibba the school Head  thanked the Charity for the gesture, as First Aid 4 Gambia have boosted them to a higher level in terms of first aid.

Some of the other equipment used on the day
 He said the community will also benefit from the supplies.
We would like to thank all of our supporters for helping us achieve this. It is quite an extraordinary achievement, made possible by goodwill, and partnership working across charities, with the fullest enthusiasm from the host community.

Deputy head, Lamin, practisng revival techniques

Footnote: The funding formula

The cost of the building work and refurbing the old sick room was in the region of £2,000. This is considerably out of our price range, but our Jersey partners in Sohm were able to persuade the Jersey Overseas Aid Commission to "match fund" our contribution to the cost. So, suddenly tour commitment was halved to £1,000.

The happy, first aid-certified training 
attendees show their certificates
Bearing in mind that we are able to get 25% Gift Aid funding from the UK government for most of the money we raise from UK taxpayers in donations, it meant that we only needed to raise £800 from our donor/sponsors to fund our contribution and kick start this remarkable achievement.
John Walker 07954 153 305 Gambia stuff: @GambiaSchools Forest Gate stuff:, @E7_NowAndThen