Thursday, 29 June 2017

Report warns of 'Wages Theft' in Tory Britain!

During the eleven years that Margaret Thatcher served as the British Prime Minister of a Conservative government (1979-1990), many people bought into the idea that trade unions were an irrelevance and an anachronism in a modern society. Thatcher told voters that if they bought their council house and a few shares in ‘British Gas’, they could become middle-class and a capitalist overnight. She called it “popular capitalism.”

Since Thatcher’s ‘conservative revolution’, we have seen trade union membership fall from 13m in the late 1970s to around 6m today. Part-time and temporary work, self-employment (up by a quarter), and zero hours contracts, have flourished, and today account for 43% of the UK workforce. Pay in these areas also lags behind the pay of those in full-time occupations. Changes in employment law have also made it more difficult for workers to take industrial action and have eroded the bargaining power of labour. Despite the fact that the unemployment rate is said to be at its lowest since 1975, real incomes are falling and inequality is growing.   

 Although the Bank of England estimates that the wage premium associated with trade union membership, adds between 10 to 15% to pay, most people in Britain today, are likely to be paid by the task or the hour and will not be members of a trade union.  

The decline of trade unions in the UK over the last 30 years has coincided with a giant leap in inequality. A recent United Nations report revealed that the UK has some of the highest levels of hunger and deprivation among the world’s richest nations. UNICEF have stated that one in three children in this country, suffer ‘multi-dimensional poverty’ in housing, social activities, and food. It shouldn’t require a doctorate in economics, to realise that if workers don’t or can’t exercise their industrial clout to squeeze employers, then there is little incentive for employers to improve pay and conditions. It is generally recognised even by the IMF that union members tend to be better paid and that collective bargaining yields better results for workers.

A recent report ‘Unpaid Britain’, published by Middlesex University Business School, spells out our prevalent ‘wages theft’ has become within many sectors of the British economy, which tend to be non-unionised. The research based on data from ‘employment tribunals’, the ‘insolvency service’, the ‘Labour Force Survey’, ‘ACAS’ and the ‘CAB’,  was  used to estimate the scale of deliberately unpaid work in Britain today. The report found that UK workers were cheated out of at least £1.5bn a year in holiday pay, (there is no penalty on an employer for failing to pay) in spite of being entitled to 28 days holiday a year under the ‘European Working Time Directive’ (which they’re often unaware of) for full-time workers, or the equivalent of 12.o7% of average pay, for those who work variable hours. One-in-12 doesn’t get a pay slip as required by law and £1.2bn in wages is unpaid annually.

The Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB), say they have experienced a doubling of cases of wages theft between 2014 and 2017, with about 9,000 workers asking for help to recover unpaid wages and 75,000, having problems with pay and entitlements in the last year. The report says that many employers simply pockets workers wages because they can do so with impunity, due to a lack of enforcement by the authorities, or because workers who undertake variable hours, often do not get a pay slip or find it difficult, to keep track of the hours worked to prove what they are owed. Researchers found that other employers known as ‘phoenix businesses’, are going into administration owing debts and then reappearing shortly after, using a different name.

The report says that the cost incurred by workers to go to an Employment Tribunal, often prevents workers from seeking to recover unpaid wages. Since Employment Tribunal fees were introduced by Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrat minister in the Cameron coalition government in 2013, individual workers taking employers to a tribunal has fallen by 67%.  Clearly, having rights and being able to exercise them are two completely different things in Britain.

The neo-liberal capitalist model of business, as espoused by Thatcher and Regan in the late 1970s, sought to smash the trade unions and the collective bargaining power of labour, so as to turn British workers into doormats for billionaires, and to introduce ‘flexible working’ like zero hour contracts and the ‘gig’ economy. Likewise, Thatcher’s anti-union laws were also used to place legal hurdles in the way of workers in order to make it more difficult for them to take industrial action, in order to get better pay and conditions from their employers.

In his book ‘POSTCAPITALISM’, the author and journalist, Paul Mason, says that many people fail to grasp the true meaning behind ‘austerity’, believing it to be seven years of spending cuts or what occurred in Greece. He asserts that the real austerity project is about driving down wages and living standards in the west for decades, until they meet those of the middle-classes in China and India on the way up. To make his point, Mason, refers to a speech given by Tidjan Thiam, the CEO of Prudential, at the Davos Forum in 2012, who said that unions were the “enemy of young people” and that the minimum wage, was “a machine to destroy jobs”, along with workers’ rights and decent wages, which stood in the way of capitalism’s revival and had to go.
The recent General Election which resulted in a hung parliament and a Conservative minority government showed that many British voters are getting sick of Tory one-sided austerity and they desire a change. Rather than spend another five years in the dungeons, they want to see investment in Britain’s infrastructure, services, education, housing and decent jobs. Labour’s left-wing socialist manifesto was popular and offered many voters hope and the prospects of something better for themselves and their children. According to pollsters, nearly 13 million people voted Labour including 52% of middle-class professionals under 35 and 70% of younger people in the “DE” social category, classed as “most working class.” This is encouraging, but it seems highly unlikely, that Jeremy Corbyn, will be in Downing Street by Christmas even after securing 40 percent of the popular vote. This week, Labour lost an amendment which called on MPs to lift the cap on public sector pay of 1% which has been in place since 2010. While austerity is imposed on public sectors workers, to cap their pay, it isn’t when it comes to the pay of MPs. Two years ago (2015), MPs were given a 10% rise followed by a 1.4% deal in 2016. When you hear the phrase ‘national interest’, always ask whose interest we are talking about.

Monday, 19 June 2017

When is a product banned?

Tim Clark, acting news editor, Construction News (Monday 19 June):

When is a product banned and when is it not banned? 
Responding to a question on The Andrew Marr Show yesterday, chancellor Philip Hammond said it was “his understanding” that the cladding used on the refurbishment of Grenfell Tower was “banned” in the UK.  Hammond’s assertion was clarified by a Treasury official who said the chancellor was commenting on buildings “above a certain height”.
Mr Hammond’s comments have been rejected by the boss of CEP Architectural Facades, which fabricated the rainscreen panels and windows for Harley Facades, the subcontractor appointed to install the cladding on the tower block.
CEP Architectural Facades’ MD John Cowley said that the product in question, Reynobond PE, is actually not banned in the UK.
So which is it, and why is the chancellor becoming involved in a story which is a long way from his brief at the Treasury?
Industry expert and chief executive of Cast Consulting Mark Farmer told CN that he was “astonished” by Mr Hammond’s remarks.
Mr Farmer said: “How can a senior member of government misrepresent the position like this at such a sensitive time? The inquiry will shine a public spotlight on the construction industry as perhaps never before.
“It is bound to identify many of the systemic failings that we suffer from in the industry but there are some simple regulatory facts that should be identified quickly – ie whether the cladding was indeed banned in the UK or not under Building Regulations when used as part of a refurbishment.”
As far as Construction News understands the chancellor may be correct – if the terms of his comments are applied to the narrow view of how the particular materials were used on Grenfell Tower itself.
The chancellor’s views can be backed up by technical requirements for tall buildings which are found in the depths of Part B of the building regulations code.
To explain we need to take a short history lesson.
In the aftermath of the great fire of London in 1666, the capital drew up some of the most stringent fire regulations anywhere in the world.
However, after being in force for around three centuries, the London Building Regulations were superseded in the mid-1980s when national building regulations came into force.
According to former chief fire officer Ronnie King, the cladding used at Grenfell “may” not have been allowed if the previous London building regs were still in force today.
Mr King, who now acts as group secretariat for the Parliament’s all-party parliamentary fire safety and rescue group said that, the current rules – which were probed in depth during the coroner’s report into the Lakanal incident in 2009 – were however “ambiguous”.
Par 12.7 of part B2 of the building regs says that “in a building with a story 18m or more above ground level any insulation product, filler material (not including gaskets, sealants and similar) etc. used in the external wall construction construction should be of limited combustibility”.
Mr King says that, if the core of a building has a combustible material contained within it, then the cladding of the building has to be non-flammable for buildings above 18 m.
Mr King says: “The proviso that Hammond went to, is that one table in the Approved Documents relating to dwellings said that when the core is combustible – the cladding would not have been compliant if the building was above 18 m.
“It would seem that those officials who confirmed that were right.
“However it is complicated as the coroner from Lakanal said was that the building regs themselves were too confusing, the lawyers can’t interpret them.
“After Lakanal, we had all these QCs at the inquest and they were all confused over what was applicable and what wasn’t.” 
A key issue here however is to establish whether the core of the tower at Grenfell did have a combustible material, and whether this meant that using the type of cladding would be banned.
However these issues are usually established through forensic investigation, either by an inquiry or through a London Fire Brigade report into the causes of the fire.
Having these facts established from a senior minister on national TV on a Sunday morning within days of the national tragedy has understandably raised eyebrows.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Grenfell Fire Sheds Light on Unfair Society

& the British Building Trade
LAST month, the National Rank & File construction workers held a conference in Manchester at which a booklet. which formed part of the theme of the conference, was promoted entitled 'BUILDING WORKERS INTO BEGGARS'.
This week the Grenfell fire illuminated some of the most telling problems of modern society not just in Britain but throughout the world.
Yesterday, the Financial Times ran an editorial, which one former communist told me was better than anything in the Morning Star; the FT leader writer wrote:
'The tower's  blackened silhouette looming above London's most affluent enclaves, is rapidly becoming a symbol of the divisions in British society.  The tragedy is fuelling resentment over inequality over the inequality and impact of austerity on the poorest.  It represents a serious political threat to a prime minister struggling to assert her authority.... Yet the disaster is also causing disquiet across the world in cities where high rise housing is an essential part of contemporary urban living.'
Pre-fabricated construction & low pay
Meanwhile, in their book at the building worker's Manchester Rank & File conference Dr. Brian Parker and Peter Shaw, a Technical Member of  the Institute of Technology wrote in their introduction to their booklet 'BUILDING WORKERS INTO BEGGARS' :
'The UK construction industry has a long-established, and rarely broken history of low basic wages, employment casualisation, bonus and incentive pay reliance, low trade union density as well as persistently high serious injury and fatality rates.'
The Parkin and Shaw report continues:
''.... over the last four decades {construction) has been in many ways transformed by increased mechanisation, modular and pre-fabricated systems of construction methods and pre-site assembly of many electrical and mechanical services systems.... Over the same period the employers have consistently attempted to further deregulate the construction industry's labour market by an outright assault on skilled (mainly) electrician's pay grades...'
This brief report explains how it arose from discussions at the National Construction Rank & File executive 'concerning the plight of younger construction workers, who due to [the] low entry level ...of in-course training pay, find themselves excluded from an already out of control housing market.'
What this report is outlining is that the lads (and it is mainly lads) that build the houses in this country can't afford to live in them, and that on the technical aspect the book is highlighting that today 'pre-fabricated systems of construction.. and pre-site assembly (methods)' are being used.
The Devil of Deregulation
The National Rank & File construction worker's booklet report is naturally concerned about the 'deregulation' of skills, pay and conditions.  The Financial Times editor is worried about the deregulation applied generally to the building industry.
The FT warns the government that this (Grenfell Tower's Fire) 'should serve as a warning to anyone in government who still believes in deregulation measured on an absurd "one in three out" numerical basis, as an ideological goal.'
Yesterday's FT editorial concludes:
'The fire that swept through King's Cross underground station in 1987 prompted tougher regulation, a huge progamme of works to make the tube network safer and a fundamental rethink of approaches to fire safety.  The towering inferno in North Kensington was a tragedy that could almost certainly have been prevented and demands a similar response.'

At the time on the Lisbon earthquake on November 1, 1755, the greater part of the city of Lisbon, Portugal, was destroyed, sixty thousand were said to have lost their lives, and the property damage, although it cannot be estimated accurately, was of course enormous.  But the Lisbon earthquake was what some call an 'Act of God', the Grenfell fire is not.  Because of the sociological circumstances of the time the Lisbon earthquake caused tremendous theological disputes over the nature of God and the responsibility of the Pope, not least between the French philosophers Rousseau and Voltaire. 
A leading letter in the FT yesterday from Prof. Christopher Hall writing about the Grenfell fire said:  'The fact of this fire is a regulatory failure of government.  It is particularly damning that this failure occurred in public housing, where government must be the guarantor of safety for tenants who may have little choice where they live.' 
Pro. Hall then claims that with regard to the 'lethal danger of combustible materials and unimpeded cavities on the exterior of buildings' that '[i]t is elementary to avoid such features, but it requires alert and expert regulators to keep abreast of changes in construction methods and materials.'
Alternatively, we could always adopt Jean-Jacques Rousseau's recommendation provided following the Lisbon earthquake:
'(That) if men had abandoned city life and returned to nature rather than congregating in Lisbon, the result would have been different. "Admit," wrote Rousseau, "that it was not nature's way to crowd together 20,000 houses with 6 or 7 stories each, and if all the inhabitants of this large city had been dispersed more equally, the damage would have been much less, maybe nil."

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Data points to fall in UK adult life expectancy under the Tories!

Listening to Theresa May and her Tory cohorts, is like living on 'fantasy island'. One would never believe that real incomes for many in the UK are falling, inequality is rising, and the economy is barely rising despite more than eight years of unprecedented stimulus from the Bank of England. There has been a lost decade of living standards and dismal productivity growth. Real wages have grown more slowly since 2007 than in any decade since the 19th century and British households are piling up debt.  Although the official unemployment rate is at its lowest since 1975,  job growth has been in low-paid insecure employment - zero hour contracts, part-time and self-employment, which has increased by 23%. This explains, in part, why there is weakness in earnings despite the percentage of people in work being close to 75%.

Although we are told by the UK Tory prime minister that we are all living longer and are better off, recent data suggests that there has been an alarming rise in mortality among the white working-class in the U.S., the UK, and in other parts of Europe. Data released in the UK, shows that life expectancy for UK adults has declined for the second consecutive year in 2016. A Financial Times report says that - "The vast improvements in life expectancy witnessed in the first decade of this century have stalled." The paper says that it is difficult to say whether this data represents a trend or what is causing it.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Grenfell Tower - THEY WERE WARNED

Wednesday, 14 June 2017
LONDONERS awoke this morning to find that the Grenfell Tower, a 24-story block located near the Westway and Latimer Road Underground, had suffered a major fire during the night.   As many as 40 fire appliances and 200 firefighters attended the blaze, which broke out just before 0100 hours.  At least six people are known to have died, with the grim knowledge that “the death toll is likely to rise”.

Grenfell Tower - still ablaze this morning

And while residents, many still in shock, are comforted by their fellow locals, charities and places of worship representing many faiths, the speed at which today’s news media operates means that the questions have begun to be asked.  Why did the fire spread so rapidly in a building that had been recently refurbished?   And if, as has been suggested, the Grenfell Tower was compartmentalised, why was staying put not a good thing?

That refurbishment is already coming under scrutiny, and for good reason. The external cladding applied to the building we know all too well: it was specified as “Rayondbond”, but this is a mis-spelling. The cladding is called Raynobond (the use of the term “Raynolux”, another trade mark of the same company, gives the game away).*
 For more go to:   
* The nature of Reynobond aluminium composite panels according to their own blub.  It seems that the aluminium sheets are the thickness of aluminium foil and that it melts when exposed to heat as would be experienced in a fire:
  Discover the many features of Reynobond aluminium composite panels.   Reynobond aluminium composite panels is a aluminium panel consisting of two coil-coated aluminium sheets that are fusion bonded to both sides of a polyethylene core.
Almost unlimited diversity of surfaces:
Reynobond aluminium composite panels offer many advantages:

  • A broad palette of dimensions:Reynobond aluminium composite panels can be delivered in five standard widths up to 2,000 mm. Other dimensions can be supplied, on request.

  • Comprehensive service:Short delivery times, even for small quantities and advice, before and during your project.

  • Convincing product benefits:Lightweight, high bending stiffness and flatness, little expansion, highly resistant to corrosion, weathering and warping, can be used in a variety of ways and is easy to install.

Reynobond aluminium composite panels are perfectly adapted to inside as well as outside applications thanks to their excellent weather protection. The fields of applications for aluminium composite panels are Architecture, Corporate ID, Sign & Display, Industry and Transport.

Other benefits can be achieved by combining Reynobond aluminium composite panels with our prepainted aluminium Reynolux. This unique one-stop product range allows our partners to acquire aluminium composite panels and coil-coated aluminium in identical colour, yet with similar quality. Combinations of both products, such as in facades or roofs, make for a simple, attractive—and high quality solution.

Comment on Austerity!

  from Clive Jones

Austerity (definition):  A situation in which there is not much money and it is spent only on things that are necessary.
It is not sustainable and leads to a Catch22 situation if a sustained practice of austerity is attempted. 
i.e. if sustained cuts in policing are attempted, the control of crime is compromised and crime rises, societies' costs rise, quality of life falls and public apathy and intolerence rise.  Resulting in changed political views which affect voting results locally and nationally. In a nutshell society is poorer which is resented.
This dilemma cascades across all public services, NHS, local government, all public and private services.
Government then tends to become more remote by slowing democratic processes by using political instruments and parliamentary acts, to move partial or complete responsibility and introduce more cost or delay public access.
So much energy and economic growth is wasted in this process it damages the economic outlook and public enthusiasm for the real need which is economic growth and social progress. 
This is of course caused by people in authority not being team players at all or having anything but self-worth as their prime consideration or target.  Also having too much reliance on spin doctors to provide scripts for things not necessarily understood but make the right noises or sound bites.
A skill check across the House of Commons might indeed be revealing.


Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Roots of Theresa May's Flawed Character

by Brian Bamford
THERESA May has been recently attacked for being 'weak and wobbly' despite her claim to be a 'safe and stable' pair of hands.  The most recent signs of her weakness being this weekend's departure of her closest advisers Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill.after criticisms from senor MPs.

Another sign of her enfeebled state according to today's Financial Times is 'her weakness, [by her leaving] her most senior ministers in their jobs rather than risk making new enemies, amid speculation she might face a leadership challenge later this year.'

Philip Hammond, the chancellor, in whom she was clearly unhappy with over the forced reversal of his 'white van tax' after the budget, Boris Johnson, the current foreign secretary, Amber Rudd, the Home Secretary, and David Davis, the Brexit secretary, are all still in place.

This flaw in her character can be traced back to when she was Home Secretary in July 2014, when following publication of the now disgraced Rochdale MP, Simon Danczuk's book 'Smile for the Camera' in April 2014.  On Monday the 28th, April 2014, the then leader of Rochdale Council, Colin Lambert extended its enquiry into child sex abuse.  Following this Theresa May was stampeded into setting up what was to become an overarching enquiry for which she appointed Baroness Butler-Sloss as its first chair in July 2014, more were to follow, and by December 2014 it was reported that Theresa May was reconsidering arrangements for the enquiry.

Most of us who trouble ourselves about this matter have by now lost count of the seemingly endless chops and changes with what became of this overarching enquiry into child sex abuse. 
The first two chairs appointed to the original panel enquiry were Baroness Butler-Sloss (appointed 8 July 2014, stepped down 14 July 2014) and Fiona Woolf (appointed 5 September 2014, stepped down 31 October 2014).   The reasons for their withdrawal in each case were objections related to their perceived closeness to individuals and establishments which would be investigated.  There were also objections to the shape of the enquiry itself, concerning testimony, the scope of enquiry, and lack of ability to compel witnesses to testify.  In December 2014 it was reported that Theresa May was reconsidering arrangements for the enquiry.

As long ago as  Monday 7 July 2014, The Independent reported:
'An expert panel will also have the power to scrutinise the behaviour of political parties, the security services and private companies amid allegations that paedophile networks operated with impunity in the 1970s and 1980s.'

At the time The Independent reported:
'A "Hillsborough-style" investigation into historic child sex abuse claims will take place.
Home Secretary Theresa May said the wide-ranging review would look into how authorities dealt with allegations paedophiles abused children.  She said the independent inquiry, which is likely to take years, could become a full public inquiry if needed.'

The same newspaper bravely reported:
'The panel will report on its interim findings ahead of the general election next May in a move to reassure critics that its findings are not being kicked into the long grass.'

This whole inquiry, which was devised by Theresa May when she was Home Secretary, now looks like the House that Jack Built,   All of this was triggered by a book 'Smile for the Camera' which some now regard as less decent than ordinary bullshit, written by a man who is now generally recognised as the squalid former Rochdale MP, Simon Danczuk, 

Monday, 12 June 2017

Corbyn and a Pyrrhic Victory

by Les May

IT's déjà vu all over again.   No sooner has Theresa May reached for the phone book and started to look up the number of the nearest removal company, than the media pundits are telling us just why last Thursday upset all their previous predictions.  Apparently it was the ‘youth vote’ which overturned the apple cart even though they had been telling us for two weeks previously that it was we oldies who were becoming disenchanted with the Tory manifesto’s plans for social care.  Or perhaps it was we oldies after all and whoever coined the term ‘dementia tax’ deserves a medal.

They are making the same mistake that they made after last year’s Referendum: constructing a narrative which suits their prejudices. Having first constructed that narrative they then came to believe it themselves and it would seem, convinced Theresa May to believe it was true.

After the Referendum it suited the media pundits to construct a narrative that it was all Corbyn’s fault that the Remain campaign had lost.  The story was that Corbyn had campaigned half-heartedly and that Labour voters had turned their back on the party and voted in their droves for Brexit.

This suited both the pro-Brexit, anti-Labour Tory press and the plotters within the Labour party who used it as an excuse for getting rid of Corbyn.

But as I pointed out on the Northern Voices blog in July last year this narrative did have the slight disadvantage that it wasn’t actually true. This is what I wrote with reference to Angela Eagle’s leadership bid:

According to an analysis of media coverage by Loughborough University for the period 6 May to 22 June, Corbyn scored 123 media appearances.   Eagle scored 15, one less than Angela Merkel who is Chancellor of Germany!  Alan Johnson who was supposed to be running the Labour party's Referendum campaign scored slightly better with 19.’

‘… 60% of Labour voters supported 'Remain' and 60% of Conservative voters supported 'Leave.  Dumping the blame for Brexit on a few northern towns where Labour had performed well in past elections and ignoring the vast swathes of the country which were solidly Conservative in the election and solidly for 'Leave' in the referendum, won't wash. Check it out on the appropriate maps if you doubt it.’

Political journalists who promoted this narrative live in a different world to the rest of us. Like media pundits and political nerds, they read the party manifestos, we don’t. So they ‘simplify’ things for us by producing catchy phrases:  ‘Comrade Corbyn’, ‘Dementia Tax’ and ‘Millionaire Pensioners’ are just three.  Even the elusive floating voters, vote on impressions. Means testing my winter fuel allowance and my bus pass are what I expect Tories to do. I didn’t read either manifesto.  I vote Labour because I know that in general it will favour the less well off and I know the Tories will favour the wealthy.  And increasingly the very wealthy. Or at least that’s the impression they give.

If as I suggest people do vote on impressions rather than a deep knowledge of policies, Labour would do well not to feel too self congratulatory. Yes, Labour has shown that putting ‘clear blue water’ between it and the Tories is not a recipe for electoral disaster.

But it is equally true that the Tories did what I suggested could happen in my August 2015 NV article ‘Why Burnham, Cooper and Kendall Deserve to Lose’. They ‘fell over their own feet’. I had seen this happen on two previous occasions; in 1964 when Harold Wilson was the beneficiary and in 1997 when Tony Blair was the beneficiary. Macmillan, Major and now May looked shambolic and generated the wrong sort of headlines for just long enough for it to sink into people’s consciousness.

That Blair’s 1997 and later victories were not entirely due to him having ‘made the Labour party electable’ as he and his acolytes would like us to believe was noted in 2015 by Kenan Malik a contributing editor of the New York Times who wrote His election victories were as much the product of the exhaustion of the Conservative Party after 18 years in power as they were of his political acumen’. Essentially his diagnosis was that Labour's 1997 victory was as much to do with the internal squabbles of the Tories as with Blair making the party 'electable'. His critique was that the Blair years failed to provide a long term solution to Labour's need 'to find a new constituency and a new role'.

In response to Malik’s article in I wrote in September 2015:

Although Malik attributes Blair's strategy of 'triangulation', or stealing policies from one's opponents, as being borrowed from Clinton's 1996 re-election campaign it has a much longer and more informative history. The 'post war' consensus which he identifies with Keynesian policies and the use of the state as a lever for social change was based upon 'triangulation' between a 'One Nation' Tory party and Labour. In fact the consensus was also built around a mixed economy, full employment, strong but not overweening trades unions, the welfare state, decolonisation and the Atlantic alliance. Speaking recently on the Parliament Channel Kenneth Clark described the final two years of the Heath government of the early 1970s as 'like a poor man's social democracy'.

So strongly was this the case that
The Economist invented a fictitious figure 'Mr Butskell' when a moderate Tory, R. A. Butler (Rab), succeeded Labour's Hugh Gaitskell as chancellor in 1951. Today the equivalent figure would be 'Mr Camonblair', who may well turn out to be a hermaphrodite.

Butskell and Camonblair are where the two main parties have reached a kind of equilibrium. But those equilibria are poles apart and whether Mr Butskell and Mr Camonblair would be on speaking terms I rather doubt, with Butskell far to the left in present day terms and Camonblair far to the right from a post war perspective. The emergence of Mr Camonblair may be what Malik means when he argues that the division between social democracy and conservatism has gone. If indeed this were the case then the Labour party has indeed outlived its usefulness.

An alternative view is that these two fictitious figures simply illustrate the futility of arguing about where the centre ground in politics lies. The effect of the Thatcher years was to shift 'the centre' far to the right around a new equilibrium. But it was the unravelling of the post war consensus which allowed Thatcherism to emerge. If, as argued earlier, part of that consensus was 'strong but not overweening trades unions', then union militancy in the late 1970s was as much a factor as changes within the Tory party.

Before Blair came to power in 1997 Labour still called itself a ‘left of centre party’. By 2015 his comment on Ed Milliband’s failure to win the election is that his policies were ‘too left wing’.

It is only from a perspective in which the ‘centre ground of politics’ has been shifted grotesquely to the right during the Blair years that Corbyn’s policies are judged as ‘extreme’ by political journalists, media pundits and the ‘Bitterite’ (John Prescott’s delightful term) faction of the Labour party.

Just as the Labour MPs like Roy Hattersley who entered Parliament in the 1960s and John Prescott in 1970, absorbed the milieu of the ‘post war consensus’ and now look like ‘Old Labour’, the Labour MPs who entered Parliament in the Blair years came to believe that his ‘third way’ was the only way to win over the electorate. In spite of the evidence no doubt some still do.

What Corbyn has done in the past few weeks is to show that the division between social democracy and conservatism isn’t yet dead. It appears that a significant fraction of the electorate is willing to vote for a party which promises to implement the sort of policies which the actor Roger Allam described as ‘our brief social democratic blip’. Perhaps Labour has found that ‘new constituency and new role' that Malik thought it did not have.

But let’s not fall into the trap of inventing our own narrative. Corbyn did wondrously well and has shown his policies can win votes, but a Labour led government means doing even better next time. And that may not be too far off.

Tory Spending on Black Propaganda

sent to NV by Trevor Hoyle
THE Conservatives spent more than £1m on negative Facebook campaign adverts attacking Jeremy Corbyn, reports suggest.
A series of videos and graphics showing the Labour leader’s past comments on debt, anti-terror laws and the IRA were promoted by the official Tory account.

Sometimes Our Nightmares Don’t Come True the Tories Lose Their Majority

sent to NV by Trevor Hoyle
WHEN Theresa May called a snap election a few weeks ago, she enjoyed a 20-point lead in the opinion polls. Translated into votes, this lead would create a huge Tory margin of victory of around 100 seats in parliament.  The Tory working majority after winning the 2015 election was 12 seats.
At the same time, Labour’s prospects looked dire.  The unceasing sprays of venom directed at him by the billionaire tax-dodgers who own the right-wing media, and by the supposedly neutral BBC and the supposedly “liberal” Guardian, were compounded by the Blairite backstabbers in his own party, who made desperate attempts to unseat him as party leader.  Corbyn has long said that Blair should stand trial at The Hague for war crimes, so it is just as well that Labour did not beat the Tories, even if it prevented them from having an absolute majority.

Read more at link ---

Thugs get life sentences for attack on disabled pensioner!

Stephen Mortin (centre) and Nathan Lee Clark (far right)

Two thugs who brutally assaulted a 63-year-old disabled pensioner from Ashton-under-Lyne, have been sent to prison for conspiracy to rob and GBH with intent. Nathan Lee Clark, 24, of no fixed abode, was sentenced to 19 years imprisonment and Stephen Mortin, 23, of Rutland Street, was given a sentence of 18 years imprisonment.

Ashton pensioner, Barbara Dransfied, aged 63, was left with horrific injuries after being attacked by Mortin and Clark in her home in July last year, when she was beaten with a baseball bat while she sat helplessly in her wheelchair. Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court, heard that the pair forced their way into Barbara's home on Neal Avenue, armed with a knife and baseball bat and demanded money. Every bone in Barbara's face was broken and her jaw was broken in eight places. She spent two-weeks in a coma.

Detective Chief Inspector Richard Ennis, of Greater Manchester Police, said:

"This was a sickening attack on a vulnerable woman that left her with some horrific injuries. Not only did Clark and Mortin inflict terrible physical suffering but they left this woman feeling unsafe in her own home. She displayed immense bravery throughout the trial and also to overcome this cowardly attack."

Home Secretary says she doesn't know how many Brits have returned to UK after fighting with ISIS!

 Manchester Bomber - Salman Abedi

IT seems quite extraordinary that when the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, was recently questioned about the Manchester suicide bomber, Salman Abedi, she admitted that the authorities didn’t know how many Britons had returned from fighting with ‘Islamic State’ or other extremist groups, and declined to say, how many times ‘exclusion orders’ had been used; “We have started to use them”, she said. Such an admission, is astonishing, from a government that claims that Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, is ‘soft on terrorism’.

What many British people will find bewildering, is how a 22-year-old Manchester man of Libyan origin, who grew up in the Whalley Range area, could have carried out such a cowardly attack. After fleeing Libya, Abadi’s family, had been given political asylum in the UK. They were given housing, state benefits and their children were educated. Salman Abedi, had been a former student of Salford University.

Described as the “worse terror attack to hit northern England”, many of his victims who were injured in the bombing, were innocent young girls who had gone to the M.E.N. arena in Manchester to watch the American pop idol, Ariana Grande. Of the 22 people killed, his youngest victim, Saffie Roussos, was only eight-years-old. Another 120 people were injured, some, suffering serious life-threatening injuries.

Friends have described Salman Abedi, as:

A young man quick to anger, who was involved in drink and drugs and supported Manchester United. A young man who found it difficult to fit in and cut a contradictory figure, who reacted violently to western sexual norms – once punching a woman for wearing a short skirt – and got into random fights.”

Investigators believe that Abedi, may have had help in making the explosive device, storing the materials, and buying the chemicals. People who knew Abedi, have claimed that they do not believe that he had the acumen’ to “formulate the terrible plan he enacted on Monday,” (22nd May 2017).

Yet, it is known, that teachers and religious figures in Manchester, who knew Salman Abedi, had raised concerns about his extremist views with the authorities on multiple occasions over several years using the Terror Hotline’ and the ‘PREVENT’ strategy, introduced by the government. US intelligence sources also told NBC News, that some members of his family had alerted officials and told them he was ‘dangerous’. It is also known that five years ago, students at Salford University, had called the terrorism hotline after claiming that Abedi had allegedly said being a suicide bomber was OK’.

Before his arrest, Ramadan Abedi (a.k.a. Abu Ismail), the father of Abedi, who has been in Libya since 2011, protested his son’s innocence. He told the press: We don’t believe in killing innocents. This is not us.” However, another son, Hashem Abadi, who was arrested in Tripoli while waiting to receive a transfer of cash from is brother Salman, is reported to have told Libyan anti-terror forces that he Was aware of all the details of the terrorist attack,” and that he and Salman, were members of ‘Daesh’ (ISIS). Following the attack, ISIS claimed responsibility for the Manchester bombing.

Ramadan Abedi, fought with the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group’ (LIFG) in Libya. The group was opposed to Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi, and sought to replace him with an Islamic state. It also proclaimed allegiance to Osama bin Laden. In 2004, LIFG, was classified as a terrorist organisation, when the U.S. sought to break-up ‘al-Qa'ida's network of sympathisers. On 28 May 2017, it was reported in the Guardian’ newspaper, that “Abedi senior’s Facebook page shows that he supported the ‘Shura’ Council, a bitter enemy of ISIS in Libya’. The same article also claimed that earlier this year, Ramadan Abedi, had summoned Salman Abedi to Libya, because of concern about his son’s “erratic behaviour” and had confiscated his passport.

Given the reports about Abedi, and the ease with which, he shuttled back and forth between Manchester and Tripoli over many years, it is extremely surprising that the security services didn’t have him under closer scrutiny. He was known to the security services, but was “not one of the 3,000 people under active investigation’. Some reports have suggested that he was in Libya for the uprising in 2011 and “was injured in Ajdabiya in eastern Libya while fighting for an Islamic faction.” French intelligence sources have also claimed that Salman Abedi, was one of 3,500 Libyans who went to Syria to fight, an allegation that “has been played down by British intelligence.” Moreover, Abedi, had travelled back to England from Libya via Turkey and Düsseldorf, just four days before the attack.

In spite of his background, Ian Hopkins, the chief constable of Greater Manchester Police (GMP), told BBC Radio Manchester that the local authorities had been unaware Abedi’s ‘radicalisation’ and he was not known to the PREVENT anti-radicalisation programme. He was only known to GMP because of a conviction for theft, receiving stolen goods and minor assault in 2012.

Since the bombing in Manchester, people have rightly sought explanations for why Salman Abedi, carried out the attack at the M.E.N. Arena. His sister, Jomana, told the Wall Street Journal’ that her brother had been angered by what was happening in Syria:

I think he saw children – Muslim children – dying everywhere, and wanted revenge. He saw explosives America drops on children in Syria and he wanted revenge. Whether he got that is between him and God.”

If this was the motive that drove Salman Abedi to carry out his cowardly attack, then it seems to have been driven by a most twisted and perverted kind of ‘Jihadi’ logic. Few of us, cannot help but feel appalled at the suffering we have seen meted out to innocent children and Syrian civilians, by various factions fighting in the Syrian conflict. But it isn’t just American and English bombs that kill Muslim children! Russian bombs and the barrel bombs of the Syrian ‘Shia’ Muslim leader, Bashar al-Assad, also kill Muslim children. And how many of us, would feel, that the way to avenge the deaths of Muslim children, is by murdering other people’s children in the west?

Jihad's, like Abedi, may well feel outrage at western intervention in Muslim countries, but turn a convenient blind eye, when ISIS bomb schools, mosques and markets in those very same countries. This week, an Islamic State car bomb targeted families eating ice cream, after breaking their Ramadan fast, in the Karrada district of Baghdad, killing 17 people and wounding 32 more. This month, a bus carrying Egyptian Coptic Christians’ was attacked leaving 29 dead and 20 more injured. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack, declaring Christians in Egypt, Our first target and favourite prey.” It is a fact, that ISIS regularly target civilians, including children, Shia shrines and Christian churches.

Many on the British left, are loathe to condemn the atrocities carried out by ISIS and their adherents, and to do so, runs the risk of one being accused of ‘Islamophobia’. Like the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, and the journalist John Pilger, they feel that it’s all the fault of western foreign policy and that if we didn’t involve ourselves in foreign wars, these things would be less likely to happen. No doubt, groups like ISIS have benefited from the campaigns waged by western governments to overthrow the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria and have taken advantage, of the chaos, brought about by the collapse of the State of Iraq. But this, it’s all the fault of the west’ attitude, has seen some on the left, defending radical Islamist movements like ISIS, who decapitate apostates and unbelievers, enslave women, murder homosexuals and Jews, and are prepared to wipe out whole communities that will not submit to their ultra-fundamentalist and twisted interpretation of Islam. Notwithstanding, western foreign policy, it should be clear to most people who are not deluded, that groups like ISIS are anti-western, anti-democratic, and anti-human rights’.

Professor Gareth Stansfield, professor of Middle East politics at Exeter University, believes that Abedi is typical of many second generation migrants drawn to Islamist groups -

It’s the classic thing of being dispossessed, of having no roots. They see the perceived immorality of the west around them and these seeds are planted and become extremely toxic and poisonous.”

Since the bombing, thousands of people across Greater Manchester have attended vigils to remember the victims of this terror attack by the suicide bomber Salman Abedi. Far from spreading fear, hatred and division, as he intended, we have seen people of all communities and faiths in Greater Manchester coming together to show solidarity with everyone affected by the events in Manchester. A JustGiving’ page set up to support the victims and their families, has so far surpassed £1.5 million. The We Love Manchester Emergency Fund” has raised £6 million for people who have been injured or bereaved following the bombing. And this Sunday, Ariana Grande, is to perform a benefit concert for victims of the bombing at ‘Old Trafford cricket ground’. The ‘One Love Manchester’ concert includes Justin Bieber, Coldplay, Katey Perry and Miley Cyrus.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Danczuk: Exit stage Right

by Les May

SO the ‘Danczuk Saga’ has finally come to an end. In just two years he has managed to convert a 12,400 majority in 2015 into a total vote of just 883. Clearly people vote for the party not the man because Labour’s Tony Lloyd has a majority of more than 14,000.  What went wrong for Danczuk?

I have been chronicling Danczuk antics on the Northern Voices blog since he published his book about Cyril Smith, Smile for the Camera’, in April 2014.  But the Danczuk story goes back much further than that. In fact I could push it back to 1992 which is when I believe Danczuk found out about Cyril’s spanking of young men at Cambridge House hostel after reading the story published in a copy of the May 1979 edition of the Rochdale Alternative Paper (RAP) which is archived in Rochdale Reference Library.  It is a reasonable assumption that he would have come across copies of RAP whilst undertaking sociological research about the town.

In November 2006, the Labour magazine Tribune published the results of an investigation into what it called allegations of irregularities, which point to a concerted effort to oust non-Blairites from standing’ which it said raise serious questions over whether the choice of prospective MPs is being conducted in a free and fair manner.’  And who was one of those prospective MPs?  Surprise, surprise, it was none other than Simon Danczuk!

This is what Tribune went on to say about the shenanigans:  The selection for the Rochdale constituency, due end on January 22, has been described by one NEC member as "a debacle".  Before the selection began, a regional officer was accused of assisting Simon Danzcuk by allowing his company Vision 21 to conduct a survey of the attitudes of Rochdale members.  The shortlisting meeting was halted when a vote of no confidence was passed in the selection process.  Several branch nomination meetings had to be re-held after irregularities were discovered.  At the reconvened shortlisting meeting, an all-male shortlist of eight was agreed, despite this being contrary to party rules. All members were issued with a postal ballot, after it was discovered that the original postal votes had been opened prematurely.

(The www link which carried the Tribune article is now dead. If you wish to check it out for yourself I will send you a copy I downloaded earlier this year if you contact an NV editor.)

Then there was the strange storyWould-be MP victim of death threats’
which appeared in the Lancashire Telegraph in January 2007.  The would be MP was Simon Danczuk who was of course the source for the story. Caveat emptor!

Or how about the story which appeared on Rochdale Online in May 2008, ‘Danczuk linked to developer threatening legal action against Council!’  The link was via the company Vision 21 set up by Danczuk with Anna McNamara and Ruth Turner, founders of the Big Issue in the North magazine for the homeless.  It is surely just coincidence that the name Ruth Turner figures prominently in the Tribune article and she went on to work in Blair’s office.

Now at this point Simon isn’t an MP. But there’s more to come before we get to the election in May 2010.  There’s the little matter of the Spanish Holiday which went wrong.  That’s the first one in 2006 not the second one in 2016 which went even more wrong.

What all these stories amount to is that nothing to do with the public image of Simon Danczuk is straightforward.  The RAP story about Smith from 1979 was about the abuse of power and was based on affidavits by the young men concerned. (I know this is true, I have copies.)  The really interesting question is why the media ignored it back then.

The Danczuk version in the book involves Smith the repeatedly offending sexual predator, the Security Services protecting him, a false story about Northamptonshire police stopping him and finding a boot load of child porn, then letting him free after a ‘phone call to London’, tries to implicate him in the murky happenings at Knowl View special school because he was a Governor, and has a supposed ‘whistleblower’ who saw absolutely nothing and whose story when published in 1995 made no mention of Smith.

What amazes me is that so many people were taken in by this book.  All you have to do to spot the problem is to note the absence of sources in the bibliography then ask Danczuk how many men he interviewed who claim to have been assaulted by Smith.   I have tried on several occasions and he has never replied.  So as an editor of N.V. I drew my own conclusions

Once Danczuk had set his hares running, the police were duty bound to investigate.   If you add up the cost of all the police investigations which resulted from Danczuk’s claims it runs into the millions of pounds.  And when the police found insufficient evidence for the CPS to prosecute, according to Danczuk it was their fault!  But that does not excuse Leicestershire police discussing aspects of the investigation into Greville Janner with Danczuk.  Aspects which later appeared in a national newspaper. (See Appendix).

Since the last day of December 2015, Danczuk has been the political equivalent of ‘dead meat’The proximate cause of his undoing was the so called ‘sexting’ incident involving a 17 years old ‘financial dominatrix’.   From then on it was a bad year for him. But as I said earlier nothing is straightforward with Danczuk and his own antics ensured that things went from bad to worse.

We may not have heard the last of Simon.  I don’t think that a decision has yet been made on whether the overpayment of £11,000 in accommodation expenses for the two of his children constituted fraud.

Now that Rochdale is bidding adieu to Mr D. what sort of reputation will he leave behind?  With the best will in the world I find it difficult to see him as anything other than a man who milked his position as an MP for his own ends and who even in adversity never missed an opportunity to line his own pockets.  All perfectly legally of course.  But that does not take away the smell.


25 August 2015
Chief Constable
Leicestershire Police
Force Headquarters
St Johns
LE19 2BX
Dear Sir,

I refer to statements made by Simon Danczuk MP in the House of Commons on 23 June 2015 and recorded in Hansard Column 214WH.  I have extracted below the portion of his statement which I believe raises matters of concern about the actions of your force.

Quotation starts:

'I know the police are furious about this, and rightly so.  Anyone who has heard the accusations would be similarly outraged.  I have met Leicestershire police and discussed the allegations in some detail: children being violated, raped and tortured, some in the very building in which we now sit.  The official charges are: 14 indecent assaults on a male under 16 between 1969 and 1988; two indecent assaults between ’84 and ’88; four counts of buggery of a male under 16 between ’72 and ’87; and two counts of buggery between 1977 and 1988.  My office has spoken to a number of the alleged victims and heard their stories.'

Quotation ends.

Taken at its face value this suggests that Leicestershire police discussed with a third party, who though an MP, does not represent a constituency within the Leicestershire police area, matters of a confidential nature relating to a police investigation.  I draw attention to the fact that Mr Danczuk specifically used the word 'discussed' suggesting that information was passed to him by the police service rather than that he was simply questioned about information which he might hold which was relevant to the police investigation.  The detailed information regarding the nature of the charges in the remainder of the statement suggests that this interpretation is correct.

Even if it is considered appropriate to discuss these matters with Mr Danczuk the question arises as to why he was apparently not instructed that these matters were confidential.  Mr Danczuk's choice of words in the first two sentences of the above extract could leave the impression that by not instructing him that the matter was confidential the police service was attempting to use an extra-judicial method to bring pressure to bear upon the Director of Public Prosecutions. I stress that I am not making such an allegation.

The apparent failure to instruct Mr Danczuk that the discussions were confidential extends to an article in the Sun newspaper of 24 June 2015 headed 'Lord Janner "Raped kids in Parliament" claims Labour MP Simon Danczuk', and in which the matters discussed with him by Leicestershire police were repeated. As Mr Danczuk had made his claims under Parliamentary privilege he gave himself, and the Sun, protection against being sued for libel.

On 24 July 2015 Mr Danczuk received a payment of £10,000 from the owners of the Sun for an article he had contributed to.  He declined to say which article the cash related to.

If this payment does relate to the Sun article I believe it raises further questions about the wisdom of discussing material relating to the Janner case with Mr Danczuk without instructing him that the matter was confidential.

I am arranging for a copy of this letter to be sent to the Home Office because I think the concerns raised are applicable to similar discussions between other police forces and MPs who may use parliamentary privilege to make the discussions public.

Yours sincerely,

Dr Les May