Thursday, 24 December 2015

Tameside Closing Swimming Pools?

IN a report on his Blog Carl Simmons, standing as an independent candidate in the Denton constituency of Tameside, argues that legally 'All schools must provide swimming instruction'.

Yet, it seems that all three local swimming pools in Ashton, Dukinfield and Denton are at risk of closure, to be replaced by what Mr. Simmons' calls 'one state of the art swimming pool' yet to be built in Tameside.  More centralization of facilities, more building, more disruption, more demolition of what is already serving the community.  More pomp and glory for the local Labour Party administration.

On his Blog Carl Simmons' lists 35 Tameside schools that now need to use these swimming pools in order to teach pupils to swim competently up to the standard required.  This does not include the 'Little Ducklings', toddler groups, as well as swimming clubs in the Ashton, Dukinfield and Denton areas who if the proposal to shut down the three pools goes ahead, would soon be served only with a single pool.

Mr. Simmons' asks: 
'How will Tameside Council accomodate all these schools and clubs with the necessary swimming lessons?'

Below he urges the people of Tameside to read and sign this petition - calling upon Tameside MBC to rethink their proposals to close Denton, Dukinfield & Ashton Pools - by clicking on the link below:

Or go to his latest article on his blog at:

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Another care home in crisis! Should spivs and speculators be running care homes?

Guy Hands owner of Four Season care homes

The announced closure of seven care homes in Northern Ireland by Britain's biggest care provider 'Four Seasons', has once again raised the question about the suitability of capitalist spivs and speculators to provide essential social services and health care for the elderly.

For some months now, Four Seasons have been warning the government that the care sector is in difficulty as care fees fall and staff costs rise. However, it is also known that Four Seasons, controlled by 'Terra Firma' a private equity company owned by Guy Hands (pictured) is paying more than £50m a year in interest on debts of £500m. Four Seasons say that the seven homes facing closure are "not viable".

Only four years ago, Southern Cross, another care home provider, was also calling on the government to step in after the company claimed that they had insufficient funds to stay in business. At that time, Southern Cross had 750 homes and 31,000 residents. It was claimed at the time that cuts in fees that local authorities were paying towards the cost of some elderly people in care, had led to the company sustaining losses of £311m in 2010. Yet, a major cause of the company's inherent financial problems lay in the decision by the U.S. owned private equity group, Blackstone, who owned Southern Cross, to sell off all the freeholds to their properties to raise cash. This move, made Blackstone Chief, Stephen Schwarzman, almost £500m when the company sold its interest in Southern Cross in 2006. However, it also meant that Southern Cross had to rent back their properties from 80 different landlords. 

Guernsey based, Guy Hands, fomerly of the Japanese bank Nomura, is a legendary dealmaker. Along with the financier Hugh Osmond, Hands is considered one of the main architects of the debt-fuelled pub boom which saddled pub companies with high levels of debt in the years running up to the credit crunch. Both of them bought the large tenanted pub estates of the major brewers, using borrowed money, and then hiked up the rents and the beer prices paid by the tenants. As a result of the increased income which they generated, they were able to remortgage the pubs, extracting tens of millions of pounds of profit for themselves, after they sold out. Many of the tenanted estates ended up as Enterprise Inns and Puch Taverns. When the credit crunch hit in 2008, many publicans went bankrupt. Terra Firma is also known for its disasterous take over of EMI Records, that embroiled the company in litigation on both sides of the Atlantic.

Relatives of the resident in the care homes in Northern Ireland, have called on Guy Hands to discuss with them the human costs of his speculative deals and shenanigans. However, Hands prefers the seclusion of life in the tax haven of Guernsey, where he has lived for the last six years. Hands insists that living in Guernsey has nothing to do with money and is more about lifestyle.

Since the privatisation of care for the elderly under Thatcher, we have seen one crises after another when it comes to the running of elderly care homes. With monotonous regularity, the people running these care homes have asked the government to bail them out or to intervene to help them. Likewise, people continue to ask whether it is right and proper that profit should be put before people and that care homes should be owned by speculators like Hands and Schwarzman.

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Julie Hesmondhalgh in 'WIT' at Royal Exchange

The Manchester Royal Exchange Theatre present
By Margaret Edson
Director Raz Shaw
Designer Hannah Clark
Thursday 21 January – Saturday 13 February - The Theatre
PRESS NIGHT: Tuesday 26 January 2016, 7.30pm
Rarely performed in the UK Margaret Edson’s powerful Pulitzer Prize winning play WIT comes to the Royal Exchange Theatre in January.  Returning to the Exchange award-winning actor Julie Hesmondhalgh takes on the lead role of the brilliant Vivian Bearing, an exacting English Professor of outstanding merit. Directed by Raz Shaw this arresting and uplifting play asks what aspects of our lives make life truly worth living?  An elegant exploration of humanity, Edson’s sharply funny play explores the fragility of life and the power of redemption. WIT will be performed in the Theatre from 21 January – 13 February.
When Vivian Bearing, a demanding Professor of metaphysical poetry, an expert in the complex Holy Sonnets of John Donne, is diagnosed with a hard-hitting form of cancer she is determined to stay in control.  Approaching this aggressive illness with the same painstaking rationalism with which she has conducted her career she becomes caught between metaphysics, medicine and her own mettle. Accepting of a new and experimental treatment Vivian is drawn to the discipline of medical research, but as the cancer takes an unbreakable hold Vivian begins to realise that it is never too late for kindness, compassion and grace.
Julie Hesmondhalgh who returns to the Exchange saidAt its most simple Wit is about life, love, sickness and death, something we can all relate to. But it’s so much more intricate than that, it is a beautiful play that is full of grace and redemption
JULIE HESMONDHALGH has previously performed at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Simon Stephens’ BLINDSIDED and BLACK ROSES: THE KILLING OF SOPHIE LANCASTER (for which she won a Manchester Theatre Award for Best Performance in a Studio Production), the BRUNTWOOD PRIZE CEREMONY 2015 and MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING.  Television credits include: CORONATION STREET (series regular from 1997-2012, for which she won National TV Award for Best Performance in a Continuing Drama and Best Actress & Best Screen Partnership at Soap Awards and Royal Television Award for Best Performance in a Soap), CUCUMBER/BANANA/TOFU (Channel 4/Red Productions), BLACK ROSES: THE KILLING OF SOPHIE LANCASTER (BBC Learning/BBC4: RTS Award for Best Female Performance 2015). Julie is a member of The Gap collective and a founder of Take Back Theatre, Manchester.
Raz Shaw’s directing credits include THE GOD OF SOHO, A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM and ROMEO AND JULIET (Shakespeare’s Globe), ALL’S WILL THAT ENDS WILL (Bremer Shakespeare Company), CYMBELINE (South Sudan National Theatre at Shakespeare’s Globe), JENNY FAWCETT (Soho Theatre/Pleasance),EDGAR AND ANNABEL (AracaWorks Festival NYC), TERRA NOVA (Old Laundry Theatre), GAMBLING (Royal Court Rough Cuts and Soho Theatre). In 2006 he won the Jerwood Award at The Young Vic. He is currently developing a new musical – JOYBUBBLES - with Carl Grose and Alex Silverman. 
Jenny Platt, former Coronation Street regular, takes on the role of nurse Susie Monahan, smart and intuitively benevolent, Susie helps to unlock Vivian’s ability to find peace with herself. The cast is completed by Esh Alladi, Niki Angus Campbell, Okorie Chukwu, Tom Hodgkins, Haruka Kuroda and Julie Legrand.
The creative team includes Designer Hannah Clark who returns following her designs for THE CRACKS IN MY SKIN and WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF?, Lighting Designer Jack Knowles and Sound Designer Mark Melville.
The Royal Exchange
The Royal Exchange Theatre is a leading producing theatre situated in the heart of Manchester. We showcase an ambitious programme inspired by the world’s greatest stories: stories that have the power to change the way we see the world. To us, that means taking artistic risks, working as part of exciting partnerships, championing new talent and seeking out bold collaborations. A record number of people have experienced our work in the last year, and we’re continuing to broaden our output on and off our stages to speak to the most diverse audiences in Manchester and beyond. 
Our Spring/Summer 2016 season includes the co-production with the National Theatre HUSBANDS & SONS,  adapted from the trilogy of dramas by DH Lawrence, and directed by Marianne Elliott; KING LEAR, a co-production with Talawa Theatre Company; THE NIGHT WATCH a new adaptation of Sarah Waters’ novel by Hattie Naylor; Howard Jacobson’s THE MIGHTY WALZER adapted by Simon Bent and Katherine Chandler’s BIRD, a 2013 Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting winner; LITTLE SISTER created in collaboration with Mark Storor and NOTHING an adaption of Janne Teller’s novel by Amanda Dalton.  

Julie Hesmondhalgh
Other theatre work includes: GOD BLESS THE CHILD (Royal Court Jerwood Theatre Upstairs), BRIDGING THE GAP (The Gap Theatre at Halle St Peters), OUTINGS (The Lowry Quays) and THESE I LOVE (her own play performed at Gullivers), THE PLAY WHAT I WROTE (David Pugh Ltd); THE LIZZIE PLAY (Arts Threshold/Jackson’s Lane Community Theatre/Theatre Clwyd Studio/National Tour); WONDERLAND (RNCM). Television credits include: CORONATION STREET (series regular from 1997-2012, for which she won National TV Award for Best Performance in a Continuing Drama and Best Actress & Best Screen Partnership at Soap Awards and Royal Television Award for Best Performance in a Soap), CUCUMBER/BANANA/TOFU (Channel 4/Red Productions), BLACK ROSES: THE KILLING OF SOPHIE LANCASTER (BBC Learning/BBC4: RTS Award for Best Female Performance 2015), MOVING ON:TAXI FOR LINDA (BBC/ LA Productions), HAPPY VALLEY 2 (BBC1/Red), INSIDE NO 9: LA COUCHETTE (BBC);  DALZIEL AND PASCOE, THE BILL, PAT AND MARGARET and CATHERINE COOKSON’S ‘THE DWELLING PLACE’. Film credits include: CLOSETS (LEM Productions) Radio credits include: ZOLA BLOOD AND SEX (DRINK), FAT LITTLE THING, DEADHEADING, DEAD CLEVER, CLEANING UP, QUEENS OF THE COAL AGE, ALAN AND JEAN'S INCREDIBLE JOURNEY, PICK OF THE WEEK (all for BBC RADIO 4) and Torchbearers (BBC Radio 3).
Raz Shaw
Other theatre credits include TORN (The Arcola), THINGS OF DRY HOURS  (The Gate and The Royal Exchange), OTHELLO (Salisbury Playhouse), THE GLASS MENAGERIE PROJECT (Jerwood & Young Vic), FACTORY GIRLS (The Arcola), WOMAN IN MIND (Salisbury Playhouse), A STATE OF INNOCENCE/PHOTOS OF RELIGION (Theatre 503), BE MY BABY (Salisbury Playhouse) ,THE TRESTLE AT POPE LICK CREEK (Southwark Playhouse and The Royal Exchange), WE’RE GONNA B***ER YOU (BAC and the Pleasance Edinburgh), THE BEAUTY QUEEN OF LEENANE (Brentwood Theatre), BELLY (Old Red Lion), 5:01 (Unity Theatre). Two years ago he started writing his first book, DEATH AND THE ELEPHANT: HOW CANCER SAVED MY LIFE which is about his experiences as a 28 year old with Stage 4 Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 1995 and reflections on the illness since being given the all clear in 1996. He also has just made the first of what he hopes will be a series of podcasts called Cancer Talk which takes a heartfelt but irreverent look at all things Cancer.

Rochdale Campaign Against Trident

Dear All,
If you can get to St Chads in Rochdale on Tuesday 9 February 2016, please reserve this date.

The meeting is supported by Rochdale and Littleborough Peace Group, Rochdale Green Party and Momentum (Rochdale, Heywood and Middleton).

Natalie Bennett (leader of the Green Party) and others will be speaking and we want a big turn-out to build support  both for the ongoing campaign against Trident and for the national demonstration on Saturday 27 February 2016.
Please, also:
1. Spread the word
2. Whether you are likely to want tickets for the Rochdale coach on 27 February 2016.
Best wishes,

William Morris: Revolutionary or Dreamer?

I am forwarding latest e-Bulletin below from William Morris Society.
On Saturday 27 February 2016 Wakefield Socialist History Group are holding a meeting, WILLIAM MORRIS: REVOLUTIONARY SOCIALIST OR UTOPIAN DREAMER? at the Red Shed, Vicarage Street, Wakefield WF1.  Meeting starts at 1pm.  Admission is free.   Colin Waugh (IWCE) and Brian Else (Wakefield Green Party) have kindly agreed to speak.  If anyone else is also interested in speaking please get in touch.
Alan Stewart
Convenor, Wakefield Socialist History Group

 "Fellowship is Heaven": Sixty Years of the William Morris Society 
Part 1 - until May 31 2016

Our current exhibition exploring the history of the William Morris Society continues until the end of January, after which Part 2 will commence exploring different areas of society activity.

If you have not yet had a chance to come over to Hammersmith we encourage you too! The historic Dove Pub across from the Society has undergone a refurbishment leaving it better than ever and the Thames is beautiful in the Winter sun. If that isn't enough, then we also have...

Xmas Shopping!
As the Festive period is upon us once more, our museum shop is full of Christmas cards, 2016 calendars, and unique handmade items made by our talented volunteers that our found nowhere else. If you are after something really unique, useful and beautiful this year do pop into the museum shop!

We are open to the public Thursday and Saturday 2-5 and now have a contactless card machine so we are able to take all types of payment.

Morris Elsewhere

We are very happy to say that the Folio Society has just published a new Fine Edition of William Morris’s utopian novel News from Nowhere. The copy held in the William Morris Gallery was newly photographed for this Folio Society facsimile. Its fine leather binding is blocked in gold with a design by Neil Gower inspired by Morris’s style and is made of 320 pages printed on Korolla Laid Ivory paper in two colours throughout. Together with gilded edges, this edition epitomises Morris’s passion for fine aesthetics, craftsmanship and tradition.

You can purchase the edition fof £100 via the Folio Society's website.

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

The Secret of Hunt's success: The HUNT - BOTTOMLEY Link!

Hunt calls on English workers to graft like the Chinese

I doubt there is anything that is more guaranteed to get the backs up of English workers than hearing some upper middle-class Tory bastard telling them that they need to work harder.

Earlier this year at the Tory Party conference in Manchester, the multi-millionaire Health Secretary, Jeremy Richard Streynsham Hunt, claimed in a conference speech that low-paid workers lacked dignity and self respect and ought to graft like the Chinese "Who put in punishing hours" in a sweatshop. Needless to say, having been borne into a life of privilege, this former head boy of Charterhouse and student of Magdalen College Oxford, would know all about hard graft.

Jeremy Hunt's own career and  advancement in life, is something that seems to have been shrouded in mystery. At the Tory Party conference, Hunt claimed that his father "worked as a manager" for the NHS. Given that his father, Sir Nicholas John Streynsham Hunt, was Admiral of the Fleet in his main career, this is something of an exaggeration. After retirement, Sir Nicholas like a lot of well-connected establishment figures, became a 'quangoista', joining various hospital boards. He then became Chairman of the South West Surrey District Health Authority during 1990 to 1995 and then Chairman of Nuffield Hospitals from 1996 to 2001. For most of this time, his niece, Virginia Bottomley, was the Secretary of State for Health in a Conservative government.

Until her retirement from open politics, Virginia Bottomley, had been the Conservative MP for South West Surrey. In 2005, her cousin Jeremy Hunt inherited her constituency (not quite Queen's Crawley) and stepped into her shoes becoming the new MP. Virginia was then ennobled and became Baroness Bottomley of Nettlestone. She now lobbies on behalf of the private health sector and was a director of BUPA between 2007-2013.

During 1998-2001, Virginia Bottomley became Vice Chair of the British Council, a body that is linked to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and which promotes British cultural interests overseas. While she was at the British Council, Jeremy Hunt, became the monopoly supplier obtaining the catering contract for his company 'Hotcourses'. As the monopoly catering supplier for the British Council, Jeremy amassed the fortune that he is so proud of today.

After being elected to Parliament, Jeremy was appointed Minister for Media and Culture and was put in charge of adjudicating the News Corp bid for BSkyB. Jeremy had previously partnered News Corp in his educational supplies business. After being an MP for just seven years, Jeremy Hunt became Secretary of State for Health, a position that had been previously held by his cousin Virginia Bottomley.

Although he owes much of his success in life to the social class that he was born into and his social connections, the Prime Minister, David Cameron, says that it's not where you come from that really matters but where you are going. But career progress of this type, "the leg up", or some would say 'nepotism,' is something that is admired by Cameron in spite of his assertions about merit. Cameron's only job outside of politics, was when he worked for Carlton TV, a job he got by being given a leg up by his mother-in-law, Lady Annabel Astor.

We do not mean to throw any odious imputation upon the general character of either Virginia Bottomley or Jeremy Hunt, nor do we suggest that they have acted in any way illegally. However, it is intriguing how both their lives and careers have been so closely intertwined as Jeremy as followed in the footsteps of his older cousin in becoming Health Secretary and in inheriting her Surrey constituency. Nor should we be surprised at the antics of a nepotistic English ruling elite, the Tory Party, who work to defend established privilege and work for anyone with money or power.

As for working like the Chinese, Jeremy Hunt failed to mention in his speech to the Tory Party that in 2010, Apple's Foxconn plants in China issued contracts forcing workers to sign a pledge stating that they would not commit suicide due to workplace stress. Another cousin, is Tristam Hunt MP, the son of Lord Hunt.

Freedom Board Fiddling While Freedom burns?

THE 'anarchist' Establishment, or Board of Friends of Freedom Press, were so taken aback by the recent reports in Private Eye that they were going to put their foot-down with the self-proclaimed 'anarcho-hangout' mob, led by the likes of Simon Saunders and Andy 'M' - the man who polices the Freedom bookshop, that according to reports they have now lost their nerve and are having second thoughts about evicting the interlopers who are sub-letting parts of the property.  Meanwhile, in a letter in a more recent November issue of Private Eye, veteran Manchester anarchist Barry Woodling complains about the apparent complacency of the Freedom Board, who seem unwilling to act to resolve the situation and ensure that the occupants of their building fulfill their obligations to produce a paper:


   Myk Zeitlin misses the point (Eye 1405, 1404). He might be happy to occupy the "Freedom” building but it was bought to print Britain’s only anarchist newspaper and was closed down by a self-selected clique who boasted in the 2014 final edition, “We fucking finished it” and admitted, “Within the Freedom Collective only a small minority were involved in producing the paper. Not so much lack of commitment as not seeing it as central to what the building was for”.  

Unfortunately for the “collective” as a legally constituted Company the function of the Freedom building is not for them to determine but legally prescribed.  The Board of Directors are legally obliged to ensure the Company’s assets are devoted to publishing a newspaper and although they are apparently unhappy about the current state of affairs they are yet to act decisively.  

Despite the firebombing it seems the Freedom Board is content to fiddle whilst Rome burns.


Barry Woodling

via email

My Party 'Left' or 'Right'?

by Les May
IN his 1987 book 'Choose Freedom: Future of Democratic Socialism', the one time Deputy Leader of the Labour Party Roy Hattersley made the point that in the perennial battles between different factions of the party, what it meant to be 'Left Wing' was always defined made the claim to be of that ilk.  By default it meant that anyone who happened to disagree with them was automatically defined as 'Right Wing'.

In recent months we have seen a similar tactic employed by that group of Labour MPs determined to get rid of Jeremy Corbyn who have self defined themselves the 'Moderates' of the Labour Party which of course means that any one else is an 'Extremist'.

Now John Prescott Labour's Deputy Leader from 1994 to 2007, has described this bunch of opportunists as 'Bitterites' determined to continue 'the war that they lost'.

I like it!

Blacklist Firms Oppose Expert Witness!

1. High Court blacklisting litigation saw a 2 day hearing on Mon-Tues last week (7-8 Dec), with an additional evening session on Tuesday.  As the blacklisting firms have already admitted their guilt to the court, the entire 2 days was taken up with legal argument over the use of expert witnesses for calculating loss of earnings.

John Hendy QC told the court that the estimated total damages for the 600 claimants is in the region of £60-70million, made up of £40m in loss of earnings and £20-30m in general damages (defamation, human rights, hurt to feelings etc..).  Lawyers on behalf of blacklisted workers had applied to use the expertise of Dr Victoria Wass from Cardiff Business School, one of the leading labour market economists in the UK who has acted as an expert witness in numerous high profile cases in the past. 

The firms argued against the use of Dr. Wass, arguing that the 'regression analysis' that she was using was 'too complicated' and could not be fully understood by the court (even though virtually every university student in the world is taught regression analysis as a standard statistical tool nowadays).  Dr Wass is able to provide a high level of precision in her estimates of loss because she has restricted access to micro data from the Office of National Statistics labour market database. Without an ounce of irony, lawyers for the blacklisting companies, told the court that having access to the ONS personal sensitive information could potentially be a breach of human rights and data protection!  

In the end, Lord Supperstone and Master Leslie refused the claimants submission - once again, judges make findings in favour of big business and against the interests of blacklisted workers.  This may be a minor setback in a small skirmish but we are still going to win the war.  

The next provisional hearing date is 1st February 2016.  Full trial is set to start in May 2016 and will last 10 weeks. 

Blacklist Support Group would like to publicly thank the various legal teams for all the hard work they have carried out on our behalf over many years - its appreciated.  Special mention to Liam Dunne, who as the lead solicitor for Guney Clark & Ryan has been representing us since 2009, who has recently got married: Congratulations!  
2. John McDonnell, Shadow Chancellor was the keynote speaker at a packed Blacklist Support Group parliamentary meeting in Westminster on Monday 7th.  McDonnell raised a number of issues during his speech which will have major impact even before the election of a Corbyn government.  A few of John McDonnell's quotes from the meeting: 
'Blacklisting was a deliberate attempt to undermine trade unions by victimising a layer of activists they could not buy off Tony Benn, Jeremy Corbyn and myself put in amendments to legislation on the issue of blacklisting over a period of decades - no government took any notice.  We are currently drawing up advice for Labour councils over public procurement regarding blacklisting, human rights and environmental issues.  Company directors who orchestrated blacklisting conspiracy should have been sent to prison. Blacklisting should be made a criminal offence.  If we can have the Leveson inquiry into celebrities phones being hacked, then why can't there be a pubic inquiry into blacklisting?' 

These remarks could have immense significance for companies involved in blacklisting.  

John McDonnell was a founder member of the Blacklist Support Group who has stood with blacklisted workers on picket lines, in parliament and at our meetings ever since. We stand shoulder to shoulder with him against all the attacks from the mainstream media and are proud to call him a comrade.  

Also in attendance at the BSG meeting was Sir Bill Morris and speakers including Chris Stephens MP and blacklisted activist Helen Steel.  

The BSG parliamentary meeting voted unanimously that the apology given to the women activists by the Met Police should be used as a template for any future apology that blacklisted workers should expect from the blacklisting construction firms and that a representative of the BSG should be present at any ongoing talks where such matters are being discussed. 

3. Scotland 
Another speaker at the BSG parliamentary meeting was Chris Stephens MP for Glasgow South West (SNP trade union coordinator at Westminster). Stephens was questioned by many in the audience including UNITE EC member Frank Morris, over why blacklisting firms were still being awarded public contracts such as Dundee Riverside and ScotRail in Scotland, despite a Scottish government procurement note on the issue. Stephens gave positive assurances that behind the scenes, this were moving in the right direction and asked the audience to wait for a Scottish government announcement very soon. 

There have also been massive developments in Scotland over the past few weeks regarding the role of undercover police spying on trade unions and social justice activists.  The Pitchford inquiry into undercover policing has a strict remit which only allows investigation into the activities of the political policing units in England and Wales.  But following a UNITE the Union, meeting in the Scottish parliament 3 weeks ago, there have been a number of articles in the Scottish press calling for an inquiry into the role of the undercover police in Scotland. 

Blacklisted environmental activist Helen Steel was another speaker at the BSG meeting and she told how she was spied on by the undercover police officer John Dines when a member of London Greenpeace during the McLibel trial in the 1980s and how she had visited Scotland with the police spy.  Steel also called for the activities of the undercover police in Scotland to be fully investigated by Pitchford. 

Chris Stephens MP told the BSG meeting that he fully supported the call by BSG, Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance (COPS) for there to be a public inquiry into the activities of undercover police in Scotland. 

4. Shrewsbury Pickets 
Previously undisclosed documents have been discovered proving that the former Conservative Prime Minister Ted Heath directly intervened in the Shrewsbury trial by supporting the role of the secret services in a hostile TV documentary be shown the night before the trial. 'This is the real conspiracy' as Des warren famously said from the dock on the day he was sent to prison.  The Shandow Home Secretary Andy Burnham raised the issue in parliament and demanded the release of all the undisclosed government documents relating to the Shrewsbury Pickets trial.  Great research work by Eileen Turnbull on behalf of the Shrewsbury 24.  The government still refuse to publish the papers: 42 years after the miscarriage of justice.    

5. Carillion 
Carillion have dropped their claim for £3500 worth of legal costs against blacklisted engineer Dave Smith - great investigative journalism by Mark Metcalf who knew before we did! Despite an apology to the High Court, Carillion continue to bad mouth Smith on their corporate website viewed by millions globally. Some apology! 

6. MUA 
Dave Smith report: 'It was my honour to represent the Blacklist Support Group at the inaugural conference of the Maritime Union of Australia Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. Many BSG supporters will remember Bob Carnegie​ who toured the UK this summer, who has just been elected as MUA secretary in Queensland and made the very generous offer.  The MUA are one of the most leftwing unions, alongside CFMEU and ETU provide the blue collar militancy that Australian unions are famous for worldwide. Activists from the ITF and the rank & file IDC were present and told stories of solidarity, heroism against police racism and internationalism.  I spoke about blacklisting, safety and had the privilege to join Brisbane River Ferry workers on protected industrial action.  I also met the crew of Fijian seafarers who had been knocked for wages who were occupying a ship who face being deported and a detention centre for standing up for their rights.  Solidarity to Bob Carnegie and all the comrades at MUA.' 

7. Orgreave 
See below video in support of the Orgreave Truth & Justice Campaign calling for a full public inquiry into the events at Orgreave during the Miners Strike - another disgraceful example of the British state attack on working people prepared to stand p for their rights. 

7. Glen Hart
RMT rep Glen Hart is being victimised by London Underground Limited - support his fight for union rights 

8. Merry Xmas and festive greetings to all our friends and supporters around the world from the Blacklist Support Group. 
We are in touching distance of a famous victory for the trade union movement - we could not have achieved it on our own. 
Thank You for all your support over the years.   

by Time Served Jib Electrician
I stood up for my rights,
My workmates and my brothers,
On bleak construction sites,
I always shone a light,
For safety, and for others,
All these working men,
Have sisters, have mothers,
No work, my back a knife,
What will I tell the missus,
I'm blacklisted for life,
And not just for Christmas.

Ricky Tomlinson & Northern Voices

Ricky Tomlinson at Baker's Union Conf. in Southport in June


NORTHERN VOICES 15 above is now on sale its usual outlets.  This issue of Northern Voices has an interview with the anti-establishment painter from Buxton, Jeff Perks.  He is a radical artist who has done exhibitions at Stockport Art Gallery, the Whitechapel Gallery, an exhibition titled 'Race Against Time' - Trades Union Congress House, and was Winner of the Friends of Buxton Museum Sculpture Award (3 times).  His art aims to make people feel uncomfortable.  Sales of Northern Voices in Ashton town centre shot up during a Green Party demo a couple of weeks ago when street sellers started shouting: 
'Kieran Quinn - Kieran Quinn - Look at the Rat in the Wheelie Bin!' 

Other articles include a piece on 'Who Owns the North' by the writer Chris Draper; a report on Fracking at Barton Moss Salford by the activist Barry Woodling; an account on the consequences of the Scottish referendum by the Labour councillor, Paul Salverson; a feature on Northern Bus Journeys; a story on Northern Canals by Les May; a historical item 'Shoot the Conchies' also by Chris Draper; reviews on the radical touring play UNITED WE STAND and Dave Douglass's new book on 'A history of the Liverpool Waterfront 1850-1890'; a searching review on the book on Cyril Smith by Simon Danczuk M.P. by Les May entitled 'Cyril's Lucrative Smile'Tameside Eye, and 'Six O' the Best Northern Bus Journeys'.

The printed version of NORTHERN VOICES 15, with all sorts of stuff others won't touch and may be obtained as follows:
Postal subscription: £5 for the next two issues (post included)
Cheques payable to 'Brian Bamford' at
c/o 46, Kingsland Road,
Rochdale, Lancs. OL11 3HQ.
Tel.: 0161 793 5122.

Sunday, 6 December 2015

John McDonnell to speak at Blacklist Support Group (BSG) meeting!

Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, John McDonnell MP is the confirmed speaker at the Blacklist Support Group parliamentary meeting
6pm Monday 7th December
Boothroyd Room
Portcullis House
(turn left outside Westminster tube)

This parliamentary meeting takes place on the same day as the blacklisting group litigation involving around 700 blacklisted workers against 40 of the UK's largest construction firms returns to the High Court in the first hearing since the companies admitted their guilt and apologised. This is also the first public event since the Blacklist Support Group and a number of blacklisted union activists were granted 'core participant' status in the Pitchford public inquiry into undercover policing.
John McDonnell was a founder member of the Blacklist Support Group and has spoken at numerous events organised by the justice campaign since 2009, this will be his first appearance on a blacklisting platform since his appointment as Shadow Chancellor by Jeremy Corbyn.

Also speaking at the event are:

Helen Steel - blacklisted environmental activist and one of the women activists who has recently won an apology from the Met Police for the abuse they suffered by undercover police officers.

Chris Stephens MP - SNP trade union coordinator in Westminster - will be speaking at the same time as the Scottish government is under pressure to call a public inquiry into undercover police spying on unions and social justice campaigns in Scotland.

John Hendy QC - the human rights lawyer who has been representing blacklisted workers for decades with cases lodged at the European Court of Human Rights

Scores of blacklisted workers will be present at the meeting for media photos and interviews.

Early morning photo opportunity:
9am - assemble outside the Royal Courts of Justice in The Strand

Monday, 30 November 2015

Women activists win major breakthrough in undercover policing scandal!

We are publishing below a recent briefing from the Blacklist Support Group (B.S.G):

"The Met Police have apologised publicly to the women activists who were deceived into long term relationships with undercover police officers. Until now, the police would 'Neither Confirm Nor Deny' whether the men involved were even police officers. 

The apology is a major breakthrough and should be read by everybody on the 'Spies Out of Lives' website. The apology from the Met Police to the women activists should set the tone for the kind of apology blacklisted workers should expect from the construction employers. 

The institutional sexism of the police and the detail of the abuse will be investigated fully by the Pitchford Inquiry into Undercover policing of which the women are all 'core participants'. The fight by these women activists against the might of the British secret state is heroic. They are an inspiration to our movement and the Blacklist Support Group are honoured to have worked alongside the campaign. Helen Steel and other women activists also appear on the construction industry blacklist. We are immensely proud of you all.

2. Day of Action on Blacklisting - Monday 7th December 2015 
9am - High Court blacklisting group litigation (meet outside the Royal Courts of Justice for photo-opportunity)
6pm - Westminster Parliament - with John McDonnell MP 
9pm - Xmas celebration drinks 
This is the first legal hearing since the employers admitted their guilt and apologised for their role in the Economic League and Consulting Association blacklisting scandal. Bring your banners and your 'Blacklisted' t-shirts 

3. Scotland 
Following our recent meeting in the Scottish parliament - there have been major articles in the quality press: 

4. Corporate & state spying on union activists in USA

5. Construction industry 

5. Victimisation of CWU union reps Clive Walder and John Vasey
Support them on social media via #ReinstateCliveandJohn #SupportCWU2 

6. Don't forget that 'Blacklisted' book makes a great Xmas prezzie for all the family (apparently)."

BBC 2 'True Spies'. Ex-Special Branch Officers, talk openly about spying on trade unionists!

Operation Herne, is a police inquiry that is looking into allegations of undercover policing. Although the inquiry is still ongoing, public statements have already been made by the police denying any police involvement in the blacklisting of workers.

In August 2013, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), acting on a complaint from the Blacklist Support Group (BSG), admitted that Special Branch had routinely provided information about prospective employees. This was categorically denied by the police at the time. A further inquiry into undercover policing, is being carried out by Lord Justice Pitchford. The Blacklist Support Group have been given core participant status in the inquiry. 

Operation Herne,  is viewed by some with scepticism and by others, as the police preparing their defence for the Pitchford public inquiry. It manages to pretty much rubbish everything that the whistle-blower Peter Francis says including any police involvement with blacklisting. It was published on the very same day as the Ellison report which pretty much said that Peter Francis was credible and that there should be further investigation. Teresa May ignored the Operation Herne report and announced the public inquiry the same day.  But it gives a date at which Herne dismisses police collusion with blacklisting, so might be useful.

A BBC 2 documentary, 'True Spies',  (see above) broadcast in 2002, focused on how Special Branch had helped to blacklist what was termed 'potentially troublesome employees' at Fords and had pressed the BBC not to hire 'left wingers'. In the documentary, ex-Special Branch officers openly talk about spying on trade unions and assisting in the blacklisting of perceived trouble makers by providing a vetting service to major employers.

2. BBC TV documentary True Spies 

This link is episode 2 of 3 

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

MSP calls for Scottish inquiry into blacklisting and undercover policing!

1. Blacklisting Day of Action - Monday 7th December 2015
Bring your banners & wear your Blacklisted t-shirts
9m - photo opportunity outside Royal Courts of Justice, The Strand
10am - 4pm - High Court blacklisting litigation (open to the public)
6pm - Blacklist Support Group parliamentary meeting - speakers: John McDonnell MP, Chris Stephens MP, John Hendy QC & blacklisted workers
8pm - Pre-Xmas celebration drinks (in a pub near Westminster)

2. High Court latest
The construction firms who have admitted their guilt in the blacklisting High Court litigation are now sending out a revised set of compensation offers to workers that they have blacklisted. This is a blatant attempt to buy-off workers and make them settle in order to avoid going to court. Blacklist Support Group are not qualified to give legal advice and individuals should therefore take the advice from their legal teams. It is essential that all the claimants and their legal teams stay united, as the employers will attempt to use a divide and rule tactic if they can get away with it. 
However, BSG position remains 100% in favour of a full trial in May 2016. A few pounds compensation is not justice - we want to see the directors of the multinational firms who orchestrated the human rights scandal forced to give evidence under oath. BSG want full public disclosure of the documentary evidence that the companies have kept hidden for decades.  

3. MSP calls for Scottish inquiry into blacklisting and undercover policing.

4. Outrage over blacklist firm Carillion working at Anfield 

5. Blacklist by Lucy Parker
Film & Art exhibition runs til 6th December
Rhubaba Gallery,  Edinburgh

6. Art Against Blacklisting - new facebook page set up to bring together artists and film makers covering blacklisting and workers rights in their work. Created by the Blacklist Support Group Artist in Residence.

7. Blacklisting Special on radio 

8. Construction Safety

9. Public Contracts
BSG has consistently argued that blacklisting firms should not be awarded public contracts. Now that the companies have admitted their guilt in open court, it is entirely possible to remove them from approved tender lists under ethical procurement policies. Islington Council has already removed Kier from a £16m a year contacts because of their involvement in blacklisting. In Southampton, Cllr Andrew Pope has tabled the following question to the full council. These initiatives should be taken up across the UK.
"On 7th October 2015, in the Consulting Association blacklisting cases at the High Court, construction firms admitted that they had infringed workers’ rights to confidentiality, privacy, reputation and data protection, plus admitting defamation. Plus, they... were ordered by the High Court in July 2015 to conduct comprehensive searches for evidence of blacklisting. Several of these firms have operated in Southampton, including on the Sea City Museum, the former Ordnance Survey site, and on Watermark West Quay. What will this Council do to ensure that blacklisting was not and will not be conducted on the City’s construction sites? Will this include planning conditions and conditions in Employment and Skills Plans and S106 Agreements?"

10. Teesside #PayTheRate dispute
The High Court has granted an injunction against the rank & file activists committees that have been organising the early morning protests in Teeside against construction companies undercutting the national agreements - the injunction prevents them from holding protests on private land at one of the plants where the protests are taking place. This won't stop the protests.
Fri 20th Nov (12 noon) - Merseyside Waste & Recycling Authority - 1 Mann Island, Liverpool, L3 1BP

11. Dates for the diary 
Wed 18 Nov (7pm) - Blacklisted book event with Hazards, PCS office, 16 Waterloo Street, Birmingham, B2 5UG