Sunday, 7 January 2018


by Martin Gilbert (31.12.2017)
 Editorial Note:
SINCE Martin Gilbert wrote this report on the Manchester Anarchist Bookfair at the end of December, the Anarchist Federation [AF] in London has fallen apart, and issued a statement on New Year's Day critical of many in its former leadership who have now left the AF party.  The Trans' faction having taken over the party are now denouncing these skedaddlers.  This curious coup by an exotic tendency has thrown into relief the serious intellectual and moral bankrupcy of affiliated anarchism.
BRIAN Bamford has asked me to recall, to the best of my ability, the first five minutes or so of events around a Manchester anarchist book fair. That event was on Saturday 2nd December 2017, held at 'The Partisan' Cheetham Hill Road.  I have added some back-ground information to that event, for clarity and to show that the incident was not unique or isolated.  I was in the company of Barry Woodling, Brian Bamford and Bob Crane.

Owing to past hate-filled incidents against Barry, and Brian we were all very uncertain about our reception at that book fair.  We all four met the previous evening to discuss our main purposes of that visit.  It was agreed that we were not looking for trouble of any kind.  We wanted to see the books and pamphlets on offer.  My suggestion was readily agreed to that we should try to negotiate with the book fair organisers about a better relationship between us.

Some years previously Brian had published (in my opinion) a highly insensitive obituary of Bob Miller [in Northern Voices No.12].  No apology was given in any form.   Bob’s widow Sally responded violently.  Soon after, at a London anarchist book fair Sally wrecked Brian’s stall, causing costly damaged.    Mr. Ilyan Thomas, a man in his 70’s was pushed to the ground by Sally’s supporters when he tried to intervene.   
For contemporaneous eye-witness report see:  

Subsequently, a book fair was organised in Manchester by the same anarchist faction that had supported Bob Miller and Sally.  They are now very small in number, calling themselves 'the anarchist federation'.   
Barry Woodling has long been a critic of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians on the West Bank and in Gaza.  On attending the Manchester book fair Barry was accused of being 'anti-Semitic' and man-handled out of the room at the People's History Museum.  The accusation was foolish, there being a vast difference between sympathy for victims of Israeli colonization and being anti-jewish.  It was merely an excuse to eject one who was and is a friend of Brian Bamford.  Also, Barry Woodling and I are of Jewish extraction. 
As we entered 'The Partisan', I was stood a little apart from my three other companions.   In that first five minutes Brian and Barry were not recognised immediately.  Peter Good, a long time opponent of 'Northern Voices' had his stall close to the entrance.  I believe that Peter Good signalled for Barry and Brian to be removed.  Barry called out that those who were pushing him were following orders.  Brian was then seized by young men half his age, as was Barry.  Bob Crane and I were untouched at that point.   

I immediately began explaining the vast difference between anti-Semitism and being critical of Israeli colonisation.  I am a public speaker with a loud voice.  I was then also similarly assaulted.  In this turmoil I glanced that Brian had been pushed close to Peter Good’s stall and happened to touch it.  Brian was pushed to the floor where he went limp as they carried him outside.  

A young man known as 'Veg' spoke at length with Brian and I, we were not provoked by his violently insulting language.  'Veg' seemed to know nothing about the long standing dispute between the handful of 'class war' supporters and those who are closer to our blog / 'Northern Voices'.  A main organiser of that event (who I only know as 'David-under-the-pavement') then wanted to talk with me.  He apologised for delay in contacting me about a matter of mutual political interest.  'David' then angrily asked why we had come 'where we knew we were not welcome'.  His tone gave no room for attempted negotiation.  It was all 'I will talk and you will listen'.  Days before this book fair I spoke with Chris Draper who is a long time supporter and contributor to our blog/ magazine 'Northern Voices'.  Chris complained that 'David-under-the-pavement' had accused him of threatening violence against him, a charge utterly without substance.

Eventually, Bob Crane was allowed to look at the book fair.  Later that evening he returned to 'The Partisan', where he got on quite well with other anarchists who were present earlier at the book fair.
On 4th December, after the above events I received a phone call from 'David-under-the-pavement'.  He again asked 'why had we come…'   I argued that we had come to see a book fair and try to
negotiate/ explain past misunderstandings.   But this was a waste of time with him and his associates.  Abruptly I ended this conversation.
For more go to: Northern Voices: Alice-in-Wonderland 'Anti-semitism' Charge Against ... 



barry woodling said...

This is a remarkably detailed account of the events at the Manchester Anarchist Book fair where 3 citizen journalists from the Magazine Northern Voices were assaulted and forcibly ejected. What is deeply concerning is the endorsement of the actions of the book air organisers by the Partisan collective who provided the venue. The Safer Spaces policy is a sham if it is used to ban and evict people from the book fair on the spurious and bizarre grounds of ant-Semitism!

N.V. Editor said...

Northern Voices has learned that this confrontation at the Partisan has now come to the notice of the Greater Manchester Police, and has been logged with a crime number.

Anonymous said...

So many snowflakes here.

skedaddler said...

If Barry Woodling has been accused of 'anti-Semitism'. Well perhaps he should be pleased to know that Pro. Noam Chomsky, another Jew, has also been accused of being an 'anti-Semite' by the Zionists.