Sunday, 29 October 2017

Richard Farnell: Something to hide?

WHEN in June 2014 Rochdale MBC had begun a council-commissioned inquiry is into whether there was a town hall cover-up relating to possible sex abuse at Knowl View, the late Jim Dobbin,  then Labour MP for Heywood & Middleton, said it was the ‘wrong time’ for Richard Farnell to take power as leader of the Rochdale Council.  Mr Dobbin then reminded us that it was Richard Farnell, who had just taken over was also leader in the early 1990s when the Knowl View sex abuse scandal was first being investigated.

At that time Mr Dobbin told the Manchester Evening News:  
I don’t think it’s very wise at this particular time, particularly with the inquiry going on into Knowl View.
Richard was leader at the time these accusations were being made, so I don’t think it’s a very clever thing for Richard to do and if he had spoken to me about it I would have said so.”

This week, before the Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse, Councillor Richard Farnell blamed senior officers for the scandal, which he said had only come to his attention in 2014.

Councillor Farnell had also been leader between 1986 and 1992, when boys in the council-run Knowl View school were being subjected to horrendous sexual abuse, including rape.

He went on to tell the inquiry - which is investigating institutionalised abuse across the country - repeatedly that he had never heard of any allegations relating to the school until recently, adding:
 'I am not prepared to accept personal responsibility for failing to take action in this matter.'

In a remarkable testimony to the national child abuse inquiry, Councillor Richard Farnell blamed senior officers for not having brief him of the scandal.

Coun Farnell was continually asked about his knowledge of the events by Brian Altman QC, who went on to point out that his own director of education, the director of social services, the chair of education and opposition members were all on record as all having been aware of the allegations.
Yet, Councillor Farnell has still insisted he had never been briefed.

This was a week in which an ex-Labour group chief whip councillor Peter Joinson accused the Rochdale council leader Richard Farnell of 'not telling the truth' to the child abuse inquiry, and of giving 'conflicting accounts' over the reports about sexual abuse at the Knowl View residential school in Norden, Rochdale.  And in turn Councillor Farnell went on to accuse Mr Joinson of faking a note, claiming it was an attempt to smear him owing to internal disputes within the local Labour Party in Rochdale.

In these circumstances of internal warfare in the local Labour Party ought the national Labour Party to be considering if it should suspend the local party?

Letter: Rochdale's Political Establishment

THE letter below first appear earlier this month on the Rochdale On-line website:
Dear Editor,
Rochdale's political establishment

It must be time for a change of Rochdale's political rulers. Time has moved on for the political establishment. Councillors from the largest parties have run the town over a considerable number of years and are no longer serving the best interest of residents and voters. Too many seem to think that they are so self important that they are entitled to a (34%) pay rise when their employees suffer..The Labour Party nationally may have moved on with fresh policies but the local Labour Party is rooted in the past and bears little resemblance to it. The local party, it should be remembered; promoted, supported and continually excused and defended a person who, as MP, brought this town into disrepute. They have also turned on the one Labour councillor who vocally objected to the 34% rise and stopped him from standing in next May's local election. There appears to be little tolerance for an alternative view,
It is time to replace greed, self interest and intolerance with positive actions and policies.
The councillors rise of 34% should betaken away with them making sacrifices like everyone else.We need positive policies for this town, not greed and self interest and intolerance. The councillors' should be making sacrifices like everyone else. For most councillors, an additional 10% cut in their pay would not be a great hardship.
The way in which the council allows builders to get out of legally binding agreements to provide community improvements is a scandal. If a figure is agreed when a planning application is made, the council should insist on full payment.Other issues are also worrying, the ongoing secrecy over the Turner Brothers site with the council being run ragged by the foreign based owners and the destruction of the Green Belt.
The local elections are a good time for independents and smaller parties, such as the Greens, who are concerned with promoting policies for the benefit of all of us. Remember, the May elections are about local issues and I would encourage people to vote for the best candidates with the will to improve the town.


Saturday, 28 October 2017

Justice For The Blacklisted Workers

by Alan Wainwright

First published on his Blog: Friday, 6th, October 2017


"Vicarious liability refers to a situation where someone is held responsible for the actions or omissions of another person. In a workplace context, an employer can be liable for the acts or omissions of its employees, provided it can be shown that they took place in the course of their employment".

The Current Excuse

Mr McCluskey states the following in his correspondence to members dated 24 August 2017.

"Presently Unite have a further 70 plus cases being taken for victims of Blacklisting. It is vitally important that any review of documentation does not disrupt that litigation"

This can be downloaded HERE.

That may be, but I have raised a number of significant facts, complete with the evidence to support them that fall outside of this scope, which Mr McCluskey has completely disregarded.

                                                         Internal Documents

Further, I have been handed internal documents that provide an insight into the current status of these claims. They read:

"Legal Services represent 41 new Claimants in High Court proceedings against the same construction companies, and individual directors, as in the successful group litigation concluded last year. The claims are for conspiracy, breach of Data Protection Act, breach of privacy and confidence rights and, in may cases, defamation. Individual Particulars of Loss have been calculated and the claims are currently due to be served on the companies by 1 August. Legal Services is coordinating a further 17 new claims on behalf of former Ucatt members".

A Claimant in these proceedings has informed me that five figure offers have already been made by the construction companies and that they have been advised by the union to reject these.

These new claims have absolutely nothing to do with the matters raised by me to Mr McCluskey in MY REPORT dated 29 May 2017 and therefore should not hamper any investigation into such.

Legal Advice

Over the next few weeks I will be meeting blacklisted workers who feel they had a gun held to their head to discuss their experiences of the High Court settlements and hear their concerns. 

With their permission, I will be relaying this information to a team of solicitors who are assisting me with this matter.

The discussions will be held in complete confidence and on an individual basis. No information will be passed onto the solicitors or other blacklisted workers without the consent of the individual.

If you would like to discuss this with me you can email me direct at

Alternatively, you can call me on 07399 530323

It has now been eight years since we got our Consulting Association files. Eight years in which blacklisted workers have been raising their concerns about the involvement of trade union officials in the blacklisting. The unions could have launched an independent inquiry into all this over the last eight years.

They have not done so and have no intention of doing so. 

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Sohm Schools Support: A big thank you!

   "Below is the latest newsletter from Sohm Schools Support, the African educational charity run by Northern Voices contributor and former co-editor of Rochdale's Alternative Paper, John Walker and his wife, Sandra.  Full details of the charity can be found here:"

Most significant among the donations has been one we have received from Redbridge Rotary Club, for £250. The Club has been good friends of this charity, and we are always delighted to return, each year, to give them an update on life in the schools in Sohm, and to be able to show, quite explicitly, what their donations have funded.

Redbridge Rotary, significant 
donors to SSS. Thank you!
  Progress this year with the Lower Basic school
As far as the Lower Basic (primary) school is concerned, this year we have been delighted - with our partners from Jersey - to fund the complete renovation of the outside toilet blocks of the school. We will publish photos of the completed project when we receive them, but understand from the school that the work has been satisfactorily completed.

Broken outdoor toilets at Sohm LBS
 - now refurbished - thanks to SSS!
We also funded an internet router for the school.  MaLamin Gibba, the school's deputy head wrote to say:
We are learning to use it and in time, we will come to know much about it and be able to use it in the best interest of the school and the pupils.
We provided a much needed new printer scanner for the school. This enables them to print their own materials rather than having to travel the 15 miles to the regional office in Brikama to get it done. MaLamin, again:    

Having it eases all the hitches we were encountering in the previous years. This year we not only prepared and printed examination questions but we are also able to prepare materials we use in our administrative works as well as print schemes of work and lesson plans.
Perhaps our largest, on-going commitment to the school has been to fund a "homework club" for what we thought would be two hours a week, after school, for pupils who struggle to get space or quietness at home to study.  So popular has this become, that it is now running three nights a week, and is always packed!

Homework club, in SSS-funded
 refurbished library
Most of the staff live in the village, and they continued to operate the scheme, on a voluntary basis, over the summer holidays, so that the scheme did not lose momentum.  We are obviously delighted by this!

In conclusion, MaLamin says a big than you to all our supporters: 
"Can you just imagine how much you are doing for the school? The great work you are doing for the school cannot easily be forgotten. They are visible more so, everything you do is put in our records and filed. Therefore, the amount spent on cash power (electricity supply, which we also fund - having wired the school up two years ago) is all receipted and filed. At this juncture we have nothing but to say thank you to you and all those who supporting us through you."

Deputy head MaLamin acting as "patient"
 in recent SSS-funded First Aid training day
  Secondary school progress
The school has benefitted from a major classroom extension building this year - financed by our Jersey partners. And, splendid it looks too.

New Jersey-funded teaching 
block in Senior Secondary school
Our major contribution to the school - apart from our annual stationery donation and the sponsorship of a number of poorer pupils - has been the funding of "additional classes" available for ALL students, of one hour per week in each of the core subjects of English and Maths, at the end of the school day.
As we have previously mentioned, progress in improving public examination results for the school since our involvement, five years ago, has been quite remarkable.  The school has shot up regional league tables and from being very much at the foot of these tables, it is now in the top two or three of performers.
The subjects where least progress has been made, however, has been in English and Maths - arguably the two most important - certainly when it comes to the jobs market.
Eighteen months ago we set out ambitious plans to address this, but funding (jointly with our Jersey partners) the "remedial" classes as they were originally dubbed. They proved very difficult to get off the ground, initially. Then, when they were up and running, the school - like all others in The Gambia - was hit by the country's political instability last December, and effectively closed for a month.

75% attendance at voluntary, extra-curricular,
 SSS-funded additional classes in English and Maths
So, a second start was made this new year, and we are delighted to report on progress. We are provided with monthly attendance sheets and progress records - as part of our conditions for funding the scheme. These are subject to spot checks and independent verification by our Jersey partner's local agent in The Gambia.
The results have been most pleasing. Although the scheme is entirely voluntary and extra-curricular, average attendance at the classes has exceed over 75% in both subjects in every month, bar one, since its re-introduction.
The subject teachers and the school's principal review overall progress with the scheme each month and re-tweak it and set targets to be reached.  Regular reports go to the schools governors, who are delighted with the scheme's effectiveness.
This scheme has taken a while to come to fruition, but perseverance is showing pleasing signs of success.  The acid test, of course, will be in next year's public examination results.  We are crossing our fingers!
John Walker 07954 153 305 Gambia stuff: @GambiaSchools Forest Gate stuff:, @E7_NowAndThen

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

See For Yourself!

by Les May
FOR about a year after the publication of Simon Danczuk’s book in April 2014 the print and broadcast media were rarely free of stories about child sexual abuse and the need for an ‘overarching inquiry’.  The real and imagined stories about the goings on in Rochdale were rarely out of the news.

 Once the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) got going interest wained as reporting it properly involved analysing hundreds of pages of transcript.  So in general the media have ignored what the various Rochdale witnesses had to say or just given us a few of the ‘juicy bits’.

If you want to make your own mind up download and read the transcripts for yourself.  You can find them at[38]=38&interval=&date[min]=&date[max]= 
see also:
 iicsa transcript 24 october 2017

If you find it difficult to access the website from this page move the cursor to the end of the above line, hold down the left mouse button and drag the cursor left along the line.  Once the whole line is marked press the right mouse button and select copy from the ‘drop down’ menu.  You can put this into your browser (Firefox, Internet Explorer etc) by pressing the right mouse button and selecting paste.

Monday, 23 October 2017

Half Baked Harriet

by Les May
FROM 1978 until 1982 Harriet Harman was the legal officer at the National Council for Civil Liberties (NCCL), which later took the name Liberty. From 2001 to 2005 she was Solicitor General for England and Wales, the second highest-ranking member of the Supreme Court after the Attorney-General.  So you might think that she would have some respect for the due process of law.
But judging by Harriet’s recent comment, ‘I think that the absolute key to this, when I think about my own experience and think about the Harvey Weinstein thing, is we need a system of whistle-blowing, anonymous whistle-blowing’, one might begin to doubt it.
Once you introduce the term ‘whistle-blowing’ you imply some kind of immunity.  Coupled with anonymity it’s a recipe for ruining the lives of innocent men with no possibility of redress.  The kindest thing you can say about it is that it’s a half baked idea and would not have been out of place in the armoury of the East German Stasi.
If you think someone is breaking the law tell the police.  That protects both you and the person being accused. If the accusation has substance the police will investigate and prosecute.  If the accusation is malicious the police will prosecute you.  That is how it should be.
You can see the rest of Harriet’s comments at:

Saturday, 21 October 2017

Fire & Petrol at the Royal Exchange

ON entering the Manchester Royal Exchange yesterday, for the first time ever my plastic M&S shopping bag was perused for explosives.  I've been going to the Royal Exchange since it opened in the 1970s with 'The Prince of Homburg' by Heinrich von Kleist, and I've never experienced a bag search before.  The performance was to be 'Parliament Square' written by James Fritz and directed by Jude Christian.

If we'd been visiting some show be it film or theatre, that had been put on by the politically-correct softies on the British left we might have been cautioned and pre-armed with trigger warnings before the kick-off.  Perhaps the Manchester bourgeoisie are bolder and made of sterner stuff than the local loco-lefties?

The blurb on the Box Office publicity flier says:  'How far would you go for what you believe in?'

Given that the Manchester Arena bombing only occurred on 22 May 2017, it may have been considered a bit risque to put this play on.  Although, the main character Kat is more in the style of a Buddhist Monk self-harming by dousing herself in petrol than Islamic extremist.

Raw, disturbing and compassionate, James Fritz’s searingly powerful play forces a confrontation with some of the most urgent questions we face.  What can one individual do to effect change?  And where do we choose to draw the line between absolute commitment and dangerous obsession? 

It's not that we come up here against the Kantian idea of a moral law* - The Categorical Imperative.  It's more about what we can we do to have impact on events and still stay sane?

*  The Kantian idea of a moral law:
For an action to be morally valid, you must only carry out that action if you believe all people should act in the same way.  If society acted exactly as you do, would this be morally acceptable?’

Income and Wealth. It’s a Carve Up

by Les May

THERE are estimated to be about 50 million adults, i.e. persons aged 18 or over, in the UK.   Based upon a sample 13,000 people the Financial Conduct Authority has identified a half of all adults, 25 million people, as potentially vulnerable to a change in circumstances.  About 13 million adults are considered to be just ‘surviving’ and at high risk of falling into financial difficulties. A similar number have been overdrawn in the past year and about 3 million have used an unauthorised overdraft.  For about the same number of adults expensive ‘pay day loans’ are the only way to make ends meet.  Seven million homeowners say they would struggle to pay if their mortgage rose by £100 a month.  A half of people who rent say they would struggle if their rent rose by less than £100 a month.

This is the bleak picture which emerges when one looks at the balance between income and expenditure.  A report by the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) has shown a similarly bleak picture with regard to the distribution of wealth in this country.

A quarter of adults have less than a £1000 in savings and one in eight adults have no cash savings whatsoever.  The wealthiest 10% of households own 45% of the country’s wealth and the least wealthy 50% own just 9%.  In cash equivalent terms that’s an average of £1,320,000 owned by each of the wealthiest 10% and an average of £3,200 by the bottom 50%. So much for the Tory vision of a ‘property owning democracy’ and of wealth ‘cascading down the generations’.

The picture all these numbers paint is that the UK is a country of vast inequality.  But if you are reeling at the onslaught of the numbers from these two reports don’t worry, you are unlikely to see much said about them in the press, even by those columnists and who like to style themselves a being ‘of the left’.  And of course some Labour politicians have far too much to worry about to bother their pretty little heads about something so mundane as inequality.

In the past ten days my paper has contained something about Harvey Weinstein on nine of them. Even the Radio Times got in on the act with a story about how an actress I had never heard of had been asked to audition in a bikini. Shock horror! There was me thinking that these women were all shrinking violets who shunned publicity.

Now I don’t doubt that there are men in the film business who think that ‘get your kit off’ is a chat up line. But if it offends you there is always the option of walking away.  And if think that will damage your career, then it’s decision time; career or virtue.  Yes it’s about power, but as Shakespeare didn’t quite put it, ‘Caesar would not be a wolf if the Romans were not sheep’.  As I said, it’s decision time ladies.

When I read stories like this the question I ask myself is ‘am I bovered’. The answer is ‘No!’.  Why should I concern myself with the goings on of a privileged few when I live in a country where 10% of the population each have 400 times the individual wealth of more than half of the rest of us?  Or when 3 million people have to take out ‘pay day loans’ at outrageous interest rates because they haven’t got a few hundred pounds in savings when a minor crisis arises.  What ‘power’ do these people have? What power has someone on a zero hours contract?

Yet the outrage is all about the dodgy goings on in Hollywood.  It’s certainly not about inequality. How many actresses have been propositioned in the US and UK I don’t know, but I can say with some certainty it won’t be in the millions.

Why is it that the Left is so unwilling to show its outrage at the inequity of British society?  Why is it that Harriet Harman, one time Deputy Leader of the Labour party, can seriously think that the biggest problem faced by society is that there aren’t any ‘whistle blowing hotlines’, so that women can complain about the Harvey Weinsteins of this world?  And just to remind you; Harman is the woman who urged Labour MPs not to oppose a Tory bill to cut benefits.

I’m still waiting for an answer to the question I posed in a recent NV article.

‘Why is it that people, and not just young people with their demands for ‘safe spaces’ and the like, cannot resist sniffing out and condemning anything they think smells of racism, sexism or homophobia, yet don’t show the same enthusiasm for combatting the rise in vast inequalities in both income and in wealth, the growth of zero hours contracts, the receding possibility that they will be able to live a dignified and not poverty filled old age, the demonisation of the poor as work shy scroungers, the lack of social housing and the increasing proportion of household income that is going to a new rentier class?’

I’m not looking to Harriet for an answer or to any of those columnists who style themselves as ‘of the Left’.

Free North Campaign


Bulletin of the Free North Campaign

The Free North Campaign is a socialist, republican campaign group that
calls for ever-greater autonomy and self-government for the North of England. We do not support any single political party but stand in solidarity with progressive independence and regionalist movements around the world. We believe in the radical devolution of political and economic power away from
the London-centric elites to localcommunities and municipalities.


The Free North Campaign sends its support and solidarity to the people of Catalonia in their historic struggle for freedom and independence from the Spanish state.Irrespective of
whether the October 1st referendum was legal or not (in the eyes of the Spanish government and courts), the violent response of the Madrid government must be condemned as a criminal act
The European Union must also be condemned for its predictably inadequate response to the oppressive Francoist tactics of the Rajoy government and the national police force.
The EU has demonstrated that its main concern is protecting the interest of Europe’s ruling elite, rather than defending the citizens of Europe.  During the Scottish referendum,  the British establishment used a combination of fear and insincere sycophancy to encourage Scots to vote No.  In contrast, the Spanish state broke bones, smashed heads open, stole ballot boxes and closed polling stations.  Anyone who was undecided about Catalan independence before the referendum can surely no longer be ambivalent about the issue now.
Catalan Nationalism contains liberal, conservative and left-wing shades of opinion. Our political sympathies naturally lie with those on the left; in the Catalan Parliament this is represented by the Republican Left of Cataloniaand the anti-capitalist Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP).
Fundamentally any region which seeks to separate itself from a repressive and reactionary state deserves the support of progressives. Independence alone will not inevitably lead to social and economic justice, but it can significantly speed up the pace of radical change and deal a decisive blow to the ruling class.
The Free North Campaignwelcomes all supporters who broadly
agree with our principles. 
Email us at:
and followthe twitter account @Free_North.
For a ‘Council of the North'
Political leaders from Leeds, Merseyside, Manchester Newcastle and West Yorkshire
met recently to discuss forming a body to speak on behalf of Northern interests.
Andy Burnham, the metro mayor of Greater Manchester said:
“If the North is to get the investment it has been promised, and fulfil its vast potential, we must come together, work together, and speak with one voice. “Today’s meeting was an important step
towards achieving that. The North of England is getting organised and can no longer be ignored.”
Steve Rotheram, the metro mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said:  
“The UK is simply too London-centric and we need to be inventive and determined if we are goingto off-set its disproportionate influence andshare of national resources.”

Friday, 20 October 2017

'Jubilee' at the Royal Exchange


The Royal Exchange Theatre presents


Adapted for the stage by Chris Goode
From the origianal screenplay by Derek Jarman and James Whaley 
Directed by Chris Goode
2 November - 18 November
Press Night: Tuesday 7 November, 7.30pm - The Theatre

A free-spirited, gloriously rude, take-no-prisoners blast of a show with a soundtrack to die for. Marking the 40th anniversary of Derek Jarman’s iconic film, the Royal Exchange’s world premiere of Chris Goode’s stage adaptation of JUBILEE is sure to appeal to young punks, old punks, and anyone who’s ever wanted to set the world on fire.
A marauding girl gang are on a killing spree and a time-travelling Queen Elizabeth I, played by original film cast member and legendary punk warrior Toyah Willcox, observes it all. An electrifying ensemble cast, including Lucy Ellinson as Ariel and Travis Alabanza as Amyl reimagine JUBILEE for a 2017 audience. A co-production with Chris Goode & Company this riot of a show will run from 2 – 18 November.
Chris Goode is a writer, director, performer and musician. Since 2011 Chris has been lead artist of Chris Goode & Company, with whom his work has included two (of his four) Fringe First award-winning shows: MEN IN THE CITIES and MONKEY BARS. Other projects with the company include WANTED, EVERY ONE, WEAKLINGS, and THE ADVENTURES OF WOUND MAN AND SHIRLEY. Outside of CG&Co he has made work for and with National Theatre of Scotland, Theatre Uncut, the Royal Court, Headlong, Tate Modern, Royal Opera House Covent Garden and Sydney International Festival among many others. Chris currently directs the all-male performance ensemble Ponyboy Curtis.
Toyah Willcox has avoided categorisation for 41 years. She is an award-winning singer/ songwriter/ actress with multiple silver/gold/platinum albums under her belt. Toyah's career started at the National Theatre when she was 18, where she formed her first band named TOYAH and took the punk scene by storm, even managing to avoid categorisation within the movement, and successfully pushed out the boundaries for women in music. She met Derek Jarman in 1977 and they became loyal friends. In the original film JUBILEE Toyah played Mad the Pyromaniac, a role she created with Jarman's blessing. Toyah continues to sing to sell out audiences and has a passion for British Film, acting in recent films such as AAAAAAAAH!, EXTREMIS, HOUND, SWIPERIGHT, and TO BE SOMEONE.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Spain to suspend Catalan autonomy

Holly EllyattCorrespondent,
SPAIN's central government has said it will move to suspend Catalonia's autonomy after the regional leader failed to drop a bid for independence.
In a statement on Spain's government website Thursday morning, Madrid said that the Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont had refused to comply with a request to confirm whether the region had declared independence.
Consequently, it said it would "continue with the procedures provided for in Article 155 of the constitution to restore legality in the self-government of Catalonia." Meaning, the government is set to meet Saturday to propose measures to strip Catalonia of some powers and officially trigger Article 155 of the Constitution.
Puigdemont was given until 10 a.m. local time Thursday (4 a.m. ET) to withdraw the declaration of independence he made — albeit ambiguously — last week.
Before the deadline passed Puigdemont said the regional parliament could vote on a formal declaration of independence from Spain if no talks were held between Catalonia and Madrid. He again failed to clarify whether the region had declared independence.

Equivocal response

Puigdemont refused to clarify his government's intentions at an earlier deadline on Monday, at which point the Spanish government gave him one last chance to retract his equivocal response.
With no last-minute change of heart, Rajoy has said he will invoke Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution — its "nuclear option" that would allow Madrid to take control of the region, following approval from the Spanish Senate.
The effects of Article 155 are not likely to be felt for several days due to it requiring approval from the upper house of parliament. The unprecedented triggering of Article 155 is a constitutional crisis for Spain, however, and is likely to spook financial markets. There could also be more social unrest in the wealthy northeastern region.

Crisis a long-time coming

The current political crisis facing Catalonia and Spain has been long-coming. There has been a strong sense of separatism and regional identity in Catalonia, a wealthy region in the northeast of Spain, for decades. There have also been several unrecognized and unofficial referenda on independence in recent years.
The latest vote took place October 1 — 90 percent of 2.26 million regional voters opted for independence. Turnout was low at around 43 percent, however, and thousands of Catalans also took to the streets to protest against independence.
Puigdemont caused confusion following the vote by appearing to declare independence and then immediately suspend it, calling for dialogue with Spain, a request so far denied. His request for the European Union to mediate in the dispute has also fallen on deaf ears with the EU supporting the Rajoy government and saying it would not recognize an independent Catalonia.

Holly EllyattCorrespondent,

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Freedom Press Cartoons at Bradford*

Freedom Press cartoons on exhibition in Bradford
from Donald Rooum (former Friend of Freedom Press)
THE Peace Museum in Bradford is currently hosting an exhibition ‘Cartoons For Peace’ including at least two Freedom Press books.
The March to Death, a book of anti-war cartoons was first published by Freedom Press in defiance of war-time censorship in 1943. The drawings are by John Olday illustrating quotations chosen anonymous by Marie-Louise Berneri. The edition on display, with an introduction and notes, was published in 1995.
Wildcat Anarchists Against Bombs, by Donald Rooum, was published by Freedom Press in 2003 for the Defence and Security Exhibition International (arms trade) fair.
Anti-war and anarchist cartoons, by many artists from around the world include original drawings of Donald Rooum’s cartoons for Peace News in the 1960s.
The Peace Museum is at 10 Piece Hall Yard, Bradford BD1 1PJ,           
telephone 01274 770 241,
open Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, 10am to 4pm, admission free.
‘Cartoons For Peace’, a temporary exhibition, opened on 18 October 2017.
No closing date has yet been announced. 

*   The cartoonist and former Friend of Freedom Press, Donald Rooum, who sent us the above e-mail may not be aware that his colleagues on the Freedom Press Collective  issued the statement below on the 23th, June 2016.  This statement apparently drafted by Simon Saunders, the one-time East Anglian privately educated schoolboy, who now juggles his job as part-time Freedom Editor with his real career as a Morning Star hired hack,  attempts to blacklist the 'Northern Four', Martin Gilbert, Barry Woodling, Brian Bamford and Chris Draper, who are all heavily associated with Northern Voices.
This doesn't say much for the ability of Freedom Press and Simon Saunders to influence 'progressive outlets' yo ban us, or for the coherence of the comrade anarchists in carrying out Simon Saunder's wishes.

Freedom Collective Statement on Brian Bamford | Freedom Press Their brand of disruptive, bullying, self-aggrandising tantrum-throwing is unacceptable and should not be given any support by anarchist or progressive organisations. In our view they should not be welcome in anarchist spaces nor published in the anarchist outlets – they are persona non grata in our eyes. We hope other organisations will support us in rejecting their toxic approach.

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Appeal to support jobs at Bombardier

                  We have lunched a Petition That calls on government must act to defend Jobs & Skills at Bombardier, Northern Ireland

·       As the UK is the second biggest Boeing client globally. We call on the government to follow-through on their words and use their leverage to defend UK jobs from US protectionism; to compel Boeing to withdraw their meritless case and lift the threat hanging over thousands of Northern Ireland workers.

Our Target is over 100,000 signatures, Link to the Petition is below, please sign and share with as many family and friends as you can. Current signatures at 3,621 after great work from our Unite workplace representatives over the weekend, but this will take all our support.
The UK is the second biggest Boeing client globally. We call on the government to follow-through on their words and use their leverage to defend UK jobs from US ...

Also colleagues we are trying to keep our workforces concerns in the public domain, so can you all please use your social media follow and retweet etc Unite the Union NI is on both Facebook and Twitter @UniteunionNI . If we could manage over 1000 retweets / likes etc it would keep the focus on our issues.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Protests at Arrest of Catalan Separatists

TENs of thousands have gathered in Barcelona for a candlelit protest after two leaders of the Catalan separatist movement were jailed.
Jordi Sánchez and Jordi Cuixart are being held without bail while they are under investigation for sedition.
The men were leading figures in the disputed 1 October independence vote, which Madrid has branded illegal.
Spain's Constitutional Court appeared to back central government's position on Tuesday, ruling the vote void.
It had initially suspended the law used by Catalan authorities to call the referendum.
However, Catalan government spokesman Jordi Turull suggested neither the court decision nor the imprisonment of Mr Sánchez and Mr Cuixart was going to stop the drive for independence, telling reporters "surrender is not something this government is considering".

Fake News or What?

By Les May

‘EX-MP set up deal to keep sex abuse secret’ screams the half page headline on the front page of today’s Rochdale Observer. Look inside and it’s just a claim made by Martin Digan to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse.   A claim for which by his own admission he has absolutely no evidence.

Digan claims that a deal was struck between Cyril Smith, the late Jim Dobbin and Colin Lambert, in which Smith would ‘keep quiet’ about ‘a serious offence against a child in a public toilet’ supposedly perpetrated by an un-named Rochdale Council leader, in return for Dobbin and Lambert keeping quiet about sexual abuse at Knowl View.  He also claims to have given a ‘dossier’ about the abuse to Dobbin.  As is all too frequent when claims are made about Smith and Knowl View we are kept in the dark about when these events are supposed to have taken place.  And ‘when’ is critical in evaluating the likelihood that any of this might be true.

We’ll return to the ‘dossier’ later, but just to clarify, Jim Dobbin was Labour MP for Heywood and Middleton from 1997 to his untimely death in 2014.  He had previously been a Rochdale councillor from 1984, Labour leader from 1994 and Leader of the Council from 1996.  Colin Lambert was a Labour councillor and worked in Jim Dobbin’s constituency office.  He later became leader of the Labour group and delivered a stunning electoral result in 2014 before finding himself displaced by the present incumbent.

Now we’ve met Mr Digan before. In the section of Simon Danczuk’s 2014 book where he claims that Smith was sexually abusing the pupils at Knowl View Special School, Digan is the prime witness. I say ‘witness’, but in fact Danczuk writes that although he had been at the school since the late 1970’s he ‘was oblivious to what was happening at the school’ ‘Oblivious’ or not, it didn’t stop him claiming in Danczuk’s book that ‘boys were sold to paedophile gangs’.  Nor can we consider him to be the most reliable of witnesses.   The story about an event at Knowl View he told in a Radio 4 programme was subtly different from the same story which appears in Danczuk’s book.

As for the ‘dossier’, it’s a favourite term in the Cyril Smith/Knowl View saga, which seems to cover everything from a handwritten note of a short telephone conversation twenty years earlier, upwards. It consisted of copies of two reports one made by Aids worker Philip Shepherd and the other by psychologist Valerie Mellor, which Digan found in the Headmaster’s office and which had previously been submitted to Rochdale Council in 1991 and 1992.

So how likely is it that Digan’s claim about a ‘deal’ has any merit?   In cases like this it helps to ask who stood to gain? Certainly not Labour. From 1986 to 1992 Labour was running the council.  Any revelations about sexual abuse at Knowl View would have have had to be answered by them.  So why would they need any deal as an inducement to keep quiet?  I have seen the Shepherd report and can state categorically that it makes no reference to Smith.  Though I know the contents of the Mellor report I have not seen it in full, but I have been assured by someone who sees themselves as fighting for ‘justice’ for the ex-pupils of Knowl View that it makes no reference to Smith.

Digan likes to be seen as a ‘whistleblower’. Had he confined himself to trying to get the Shepherd and Mellor reports published and in the public domain so that we could see for ourselves what had been happening at Knowl View I would have felt that such a label was justified as that is what I want to see myself because these reports contain information about some very unsavoury goings on between some of the pupils at Knowl View. But, as his present claims show, he hasn’t.

In Danczuk’s book he lets himself be used as a tool for Danczuk to fashion his claims about Cyril Smith and Knowl View school. Now he’s gone freelance.   But apart from the story of ‘a deal’, the best he can come up with at the inquiry is that he had often seen Smith bouncing young boys on his knee during parties held on the premises to coincide with governors meetings.  So no ‘smoking gun‘ then?

No doubt he told the police all this when he was interviewed as part of the ‘Operation Clifton’ investigation.   The fact that the police concluded there was no evidence of a ‘cover up’ at Knowl View suggests in the absence of evidence of ‘a deal’ they did not take take the claim seriously. Claims like this just make the inquiry look like an amateurish shambles.