Sunday, 31 January 2016

Mrs Wrigley’s Coffee Tavern in Oldham

by Chris Draper
NEVER mind Leningrad, Havana or Peking, the revolution might have started in Mrs Wrigley’s Coffee Tavern, Oldham. Every Monday night, at 7pm, Victorian socialists and anarchists gathered at Mrs Wrigley’s, in the Old Market Place, to foment social revolution.  Anarchist, John Oldman, of 57, Lansdowne Road, Chadderton, was the group’s leading light and his story, like that of most other activists outside London has never before been told.
John announced his intention of forming the group by speaking out and leafleting in Oldham’s Market Square on Sunday 14th June, 1885.  The following evening, Oldman, supported by comrade Bourne of Cheetham, founded Oldham’s 'Socialist League (SL)' group, although John didn’t need much encouragement as his activism stretched back a long way. 

Born in Norfolk in 1842, following in his father’s footsteps he worked on the land and was employed for a while on the Earl of Leicester’s Holkham Hall Estate.  Incensed by the injustice and inequality of rural life he later claimed to have, 'been an anarchist from boyhood and rejoiced to think that all his life he had been a notorious poacher'.  In 1870, Oldman upset the vicar and squirearchy when he publicly campaigned for Tittleshall Parish Reading Rooms to provide more than its narrow range of Tory newspapers.  He was rewarded with notice to quit from his landlord, the Earl of Leicester. 

When Joseph Arch, in 1872, started the 'National Agricultural Labourers’ Union (NALU)' Oldman rushed to assist and was immediately engaged as a union organiser although the press preferred to describe him as a 'a professional agitator', no doubt realising this was no 'old-school', time-serving compromiser.  The Ipswich Journal, spotted the revolutionary implications:
'If Mr John Oldman of Norwich tramps the county with his peculiar logic and teaches the labourers that the classes above them are their natural enemies, we must expect a strange and unpleasant change.'

Following a NALU recruitment meeting at Hollesley in August 1872, a report in the Journal showed Oldman’s politics went far beyond adding a few pence to labourers’ wages.  He insisted, 'it was the struggle of labour with capital…the labourers had been stuffed too much with Christian tracts…the law was not equal…the Earl of Leicester put on his wagons The Right Honourable The Earl of Leicester but it should be DISHONOURABLE for he had in one part of the county enclosed a piece of common land.'
On a more personal note, 'Mr Oldman related an anecdote of his father, 72 years of age being refused relief by the Board of the Guardians of the Poor.'   John’s impoverished father died the following year. 

The Ipswich Journal described John as, 'an active-looking man, 30 years of age, about middle height and of spare wiry build, he looks as if tramping the country would be of little or no trouble to him. He was respectably dressed in a long summer overcoat of dark material with light summer billy-cock hat…Mr Oldman has a great command of language and a stentorian voice.' 

Oldman went down well with the labourers but upset the landholders and a few days after the Hollesley meeting a letter was published in the Journal from a George Ling urging his fellow farmers to organise themselves, 'for the purpose of stamping out the Union Epidemic as they would the Cattle Plague and treat all Unionists as infected persons.'  Subsequent public meetings turned nasty. Despite Oldman’s appeals for calm the police were called to restore order at Braintree Corn Exchange in October 1872.  In November, a speaker was set upon and attacked at a meeting in Coggeshall but labourers continued to join the union which claimed 70,000 members within the year.

In May 1873, despite rumours that farmers had recruited London thugs to rough-up the crowd and the Volunteers had been instructed to ride them down, Peterloo-style, a meeting of over 2,000 agricultural labourers on Market Hill, Sudbury passed without serious incident.  Addressed by NLA President Joseph Arch and John Oldman, there was a minor sensation when a union representative revealed injuries he’d received the previous day after falling
mid-speech from a cart from which farmers had maliciously removed the linch-pin from a wheel.

Tramping the country as a labour organiser and journalist John Oldman sometimes described himself as a 'commercial traveller'.  In truth he combined any activity he could to finance his political mission, at one stage pawning his watch to raise a pound to keep body and soul together. Fortunately his partner, Rebecca Culling/ Oldman was a widow with money and employment of her own so the pair could afford to raise a family.  Whilst John continued agitating around the country his family moved north, first to Cheshire, in 1874, before settling in Chadderton, near Oldham, a couple of years later.

After John started the Oldham Socialist League, besides indoor meetings at Mrs Wrigley’s the group also organised outdoor events at the Curzon Ground and in July 1885 at the Old Market Place where William Morris was the advertised speaker.  After the police repeatedly cleared waiting crowds from the advertised venue, Oldman led Morris to Tommy Fields (the later market place) where a most successful meeting was held. As the SL newspaper Commonweal  reported:
 'Oldman  wound up proposing a resolution condemning the authorities for their interference with the right of public meeting.'
 But, just as his rural masters had earlier responded to Oldman’s activism with eviction, now the urban authorities prosecuted him for having the impudence to organise public meetings and imposed fines and costs of £1 16s 9d. 

An article in the local paper in September 1885 shows he wasn’t intimidated, 'The Oldham Watch Committee having prohibited public meetings on the old Market Place, various sections of the community are resenting the decision. John Oldman, who, being a Socialist, declines to use the word Sir, Mr or Esquire, has informed the mayor that he will invite the public to meet in thousands and he asked that the police be kept away'!

Besides local activism over the next few years Oldman also contributed articles to Henry Seymour’s 'ANARCHIST' journal which in 1887 observed:
'Our brave and indefatigable comrade Oldman of Oldham is spreading the light of liberty in the north.  He has recently engaged in several debates upon anarchism with large and intellectual audiences in Manchester and contributes weekly to the Oldham Chronicle in exposition of anarchist philosophy.'

In 1890 John and his partner Rebecca combined a nostalgic family visit to their old Norfolk stamping ground with an extended propaganda tour.  In December Yarmouth SL recorded:
'Comrade John Oldman and his wife have been with us for several weeks doing splendid propaganda for the advancement of Revolutionary Socialism and our local comrades have been considerably enlightened in revolutionary ideas.' 
Commonweal detailed their activities, including:                       
'October 24th comrade John Oldman, Apostle of Anarchy, from Manchester, delivered a stirring address in the morning on Priory plain on The Voting Swindle…in the afternoon on the Fish Wharf comrade Oldman lectured on The Wage Swindle …on November 2nd on Hall Quay comrade Oldman lectured on The Morality of Force.” On Saturday 8th November both Oldmans addressed several Norwich meetings commemorating the judicial murder of five Chicago anarchists. The following day they repeated this in Great Yarmouth, where on 23rd November “a discussion on Anarchy was opened by John Oldman who gave a good explanation.'

Despite the gradual disintegration of the SL, the Oldmans kept the faith.  On May Day 1892 John Oldman spoke alongside a host of eminent comrades to a crowd of over a thousand assembled around the Reformer’s Tree in London’s Hyde Park.  As The Times reported, 'Behind the speakers were two large banners, one containing the words, "Anarchist Communism and Revolution and Anarchy", and the other, "If the people when oppressed are silent such is stupidity, the forerunner of the downfall of public liberty".  Immediately following  Louise Michel’s proclamation, 'Vive la Comune', John Oldman (inaccurately reported as “Oldham”) said 'what was wanted was revolution pure and simple (Cheers). The eight hour demonstration that day was simply boy’s play and babyism. They should strike at the root of that pernicious system of capitalism (Hear, hear).'

After that the trail goes cold.  Rebecca Oldman passed away in Oldham in 1904, John followed five years later and memory of their lives almost died with them.  Can you help?  Northern Voices is keen to discover more about Oldham’s first anarchists and the lives of similarly inspiring political pioneers.  We’re currently researching the lives of scores more neglected Northern anarchists and we’d love to hear from anyone who shares our enthusiasm. 

For Peace, Love and Anarchism
Christopher Draper

Saturday, 30 January 2016

What does Joe Public think about the MPs?

YESTERDAY, at a bus stop up Castleton I bumped into a retired painter that I use to work with at Holcroft Castings & Forgings in Rochdale, and he began moaning about the Rochdale MP, Simon Danczuk, he said:  'I thought he was alright and was willing to speak up, but now I've no faith in him at all!'  The day before another passenger had asked if I'd read about the local MP and said that 'there may be one or two down there who are OK, but most of them (the MPs) are bigger robbers that we are!'

Meanwhile, it seems that local people are sending letters the Ipsa (Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority) about the lavish way Mr. Danczuk has been claiming his expenses over the years.  Making him one of the most expensive MPs in the country.

Last October, the website Rochdaleonline reported that: 
'Councillors were said to be "queuing up" to criticise Rochdale MP Simon Danczuk for using the Tory press to "undermine" the national Labour leadership at the latest Labour Group meeting on Monday night.'

Richard Farnell, the leader of the Rochdale Labour Borough Council, at the time it was claimed had 'warned Labour councillors not to criticise Mr Danczuk on social media.' 

Later, in an update, it was said:
'Councillor Farnell has denied he was attempting to stifle criticism of Mr Danczuk, he said he never mentioned Mr Danczuk by name and wasn't referring to any individual when "asking" councillors not to criticise "party colleagues" on social media.'

More recently at the last Rochdale Council meeting Richard Farnell appeared to give his support to Simon Danczuk in response to a question from the Liberal Democrat councillor, Andy Kelly.

Blacklist High Court Case Delayed

1. High Court hearing set for Monday 1st February has now been cancelled. Its very last minute but the firms only agreed the issues very late. 

There is now an extension of time for any individual to join the group litigation - 28th Feb 2016 is the new deadline.
If anyone with information on the Consulting Association blacklist that has received their file from the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) is not part of the High Court claim yet - HURRY UP!! Because once 29th Feb is passed, it will almost certainly be too late.  

2. #spycops - Undercover police spying on activists 
Government witness statement submitted to the Pitchford inquiry defending the use of 'Neither Confirm Nor Deny' response by the police in relation to covert spying on peaceful democratic campaigns, including the Blacklist Support Group.

More spycops revelations coming out almost by the day: 

3. Elaine Smith MSP, deputy speaker of the Scottish parliament is hosting a viewing of the film “Blacklist” by long time friend of the Blacklist Support Group, Lucy Parker
Wednesday 10th February at 6pm 
Committee Room 1.

Speakers: Neil Findlay MSP and Lucy Parker, artist filmmaker.
3. Qatar

4. Other bits 
Video of the Anfield protest has had over 7,000 views on facebook in less than 48 hour - please circulate widely:

Blacklist Support Group

Mr. Dale's Diary

EXTRACTS from a diary that have been sent to Northern Voices
This is the diary of a man of our times. 
Any resemblance to anyone living is, of course, purely coincidental.

Friday 29th January 2016

Looking forward to a good feed (and drink!) at a charity ‘do’. The charity is for M E. Would you believe it, actually a do for me, I would believe it, at last recognition that I am so important that people should fete me. I expect my man, the big man, and his sidekick have organised it for me. Looking forward to free drinks and plenty of food, wonder if a date has been thrown in? That would be an excellent prize for a young ‘un. All legal of course, as befits an honourable man like me. Right Honourable no doubt one day. Haven’t had a good do since the splendid muffins at the cafe.
Think I might go to church on Sunday. The visitors I’ve paid for won’t be turning up again so I’ll have time for God to pay his respects to me instead. Looks good for a man of my status, a pillar of society, to be seen at such a place. You even get a drop of wine thrown in. They should have a first class section reserved for such an important man as what I am. Have not got time to confess though, I’d be there well into next week!
Might get my man to start work on another book for me. I’ll call it the Ex Files. They give me plenty of material to work with!

Steve Platt on Colin Ward & John Rety

In the 2010 April / May issue of Red Pepper
Steve Platt wrote in his column 'PLATTITUDES'
a feature on the deaths of Colin Ward, aged 85, and
John Rety, 79.  He said that this 'had deprived the
British anarchist movement of two of its most
original and influential thinkers.' 
He added:

'I first came across them through squatting campaigns in the 1970s, by which time they were already veterans of the pre-1960s generation of political activists who kept a left libertarian flag flying before it became fashionable to do so.
'Both men helped with Squatting-the Real story (Bay Leaf Books, 1980), a book for which I was the main writer.  Colin wrote a chapter on the post-war seizure of army camps, hotels and other buildings, when tens of thousands od ex-servicemen and their families laid down a challenge to the 1945 Labour government to deliver on its promise of decent homes for all. 
'John, who was a key squatting activist in Camden Town, gave generously of his time, knowledge and activist energy in helping me to assemble the history of the later squatting movement that emerged in Britain from the late 1960s.
'Indeed, the survival of Camden Town as we know it today owes much to the resistance initiated by John and his partner Susan Johns in 1973 to their eviction by a property developer from the shop they ran at 220, Camden High Street.  At the time, companies associated with Cromdale Holdings owned a quarter of the properties in the area;  50 shops were empty pending redevelopment.
John and Susan's squatting of their old shp acted as a catalyst for the fight to save the high street, which was eventually won...
'For me, Colin and John were key communicators of the message that there was life on the left beyond state socialism.  From housing cooperatives to allotments, from holiday chalets to garden sheds, Colin's approach to "anarchy" in action ( the title he chose for what is still the best - and certainly most readable - book on the subject around) was rooted in the practice and everyday in a manner that made his most utopian of visions seem no more than ordinary common sense. 
John's anarchism sparkled most fully in his love of poetry and commitment to live performance, notably at Torriano Meeting House.  First squatted as a arts centre, which provided early platforms for artists as diverse as Emma Thompson and John Hegley.  There was delicious irony, that one-time bastion of the British Communist Party.
'I was too young to enjoy Colin's editorship of the journal Anarchy and John's of the paper  Freedom at the time they were published.  But the back issues I saw later helped to inspire in me a belief in the potential of small-circulation publications with often esoteric interests to have an influence way beyond their immediate readerships.  That's one reason why I'm associated with the magazine I'm writing for here.'

Friday, 29 January 2016

John Rety the anarchist poet by Harry Eyres

John Rety, a former anarchist editor of
Freedom newspaper died in February 2010
and Harry Eyres wrote this
essay about him in the Financial Times:
THE last time I saw John Rety, in a café at the Royal Festival Hall in London, three floors beneath the Poetry Library, he told me he didn’t feel old. He was off to play in a British Senior Masters chess tournament in Austria, close to the border with Hungary, the land of his birth.
'I don’t really believe in old age,' he said, as if this was another of those myths, like the overriding importance of money, that needed puncturing.  I had no idea how old he was and didn’t think much about it.  He looked exactly the same as he had always done: hair and beard thick, trousers and jersey rumpled, deep brown eyes peering out from under bushy brows with what I thought was an inextinguishable mischief and contrariness. 
But John, poet and publisher – of my poems and those of others, some well-known and others not – died suddenly at home last month.  It turned out he was coming up to his 80th birthday.  For the past 30 years he’d been publishing poetry at his small press, Hearing Eye, and hosting weekly poetry readings at Torriano Meeting House in north London.  He kept going, as small grants came and went, as the publishing and bookselling climate became more and more inhospitable to small press poetry.
John refused to publish my work while I was poetry editor of the Daily Express, as he disapproved so strongly of that paper’s politics. But he did show interest in the Daily Poem column that I ran there for nearly five years in which, more by accident than design, I ended up featuring a number of poets from his stable. One day he said to me, 'Why don’t you print your commentary on the Daily Poem upside down, like the solution to a chess puzzle?'
As the poet Julia Casterton rightly remarked, quoting Gerard Manley Hopkins, John 'had an eye for all things counter, original, spare and strange'.
Politics was something that might have come between us.  I came to voting age just as Margaret Thatcher came to power, in what seemed a post-socialist world.  But John was a lifelong anarchist and peace activist who never renounced the political commitment and principles forged in the fight against fascism.  During the Vietnam war, he chained himself to the railings of the Imperial War Museum.
He was once asked when he had become an anarchist.  'During the war in Budapest,' he replied.  'I think I was part of the resistance.'  Maybe he was not quite sure because he was only nine when the war began.  On the day the war ended, in Budapest, his grandmother, who had looked after him when his Jewish parents went into hiding, approached a guard who had a Swastika armband and a rifle. 'You can put those away now,' she said.  He shot her dead.
Later, living in England, John became editor of the anarchist paper Freedom and more recently the poetry editor of the communist daily the Morning Star (presumably old rifts between anarchists and communists had been healed).  His anthology of poems from the Morning Star, entitled Well Versed, with an introduction by the veteran socialist politician Tony Benn, recently went into a second printing.
The reasons for this are more poetic than political. It is, in fact, an excellent and enjoyable anthology (I must declare an interest: it contains one short poem of mine) and not at all what you might expect. The best poems in it are not tub-thumping but intelligent, funny and human. Paul Birtill is a poet John supported and published for many years and time and again his dark humour hits the mark; I love his poem 'Global Warming', which ends like this:
'I’ve also/ noticed those old guys with/ "The End Is Nigh" signboards/ seem a lot more confident/ these days – have a certain/ spring in their step.'
There is also fine work by Jeremy Kingston – even better as a poet than as a theatre critic for The Times.  Well-known names include Dannie Abse and John Heath-Stubbs.
Open-mindedness and catholic taste do not always go with intense political commitment, but in John’s case they did. His short introduction to Well Versed is one of the wisest short statements you could find about the place of poetry in our time: “A choice of poems cannot be divorced from one’s view of life ... There is real love, there is real anger, there is biting satire, and there is also celebration when it is called for ... [These] poems hint at a new age when the ethics which exist behind closed doors might suddenly, as by quantum leap, take over the public domain.”
What John represented, battled for and supported all his life, was well described as a 'bizarre old-fashioned decency'.  Poetry readings at Torriano Meeting House were the least glamorous occasions you could imagine but they had something that the glitzy, vacuous gatherings more characteristic of this age are completely lacking; call it humanity.  And then you could ask why decency, and the expression of real human emotions, should have come to seem bizarre and old-fashioned

Cecil Parkinson & Simon Danczuk's Indiscretions

by Les May
THE best description of Simon Danczuk's antics I have come across is that he is 'like a man who goes to a cocktail party and insists on drinking lager'.  A bit cruel perhaps, but even in the Labour party he gives every impression of being a 'square peg in a round hole'.

No one could possibly make such a jibe against the recently deceased Cecil Parkinson.  A favourite of Margaret Thatcher he fitted into the Tory party of the 1980s like a man born to it.  Which he wasn't.  Like Simon Danczuk his family origins were in the working class.  His father was a 'platelayer', which is essentially someone responsible for maintaining a section of the track of a railway. 

Whilst we can peruse at our leisure the history of Parkinson's fall from grace over a sexual indiscretion, the final chapter of Danczuk's sudden tumble into the realms of being referred to in the papers which once lauded him, as a 'shamed' or 'disgraced' MP, still has to be written.

Parkinson was forced to resign on 14 October 1983 after it was revealed that his former secretary, Sara Keays was carrying his child.  He decided to remain with his wife rather than divorce and keep his promise to marry Sarah.

As Allison Pearson put it in the Telegraph, 'In the moral climate of 30 years ago, Parkinson had to resign because of sex. His position was considered untenable due to his adultery and the embarrassment of his secretary being openly with-child.'  But the judgement of history is rather different.  But as Pearson noted with reference to his decision not to acknowledge the daughter Sara produced, 'What ruined his reputation was not that he was too much of a shagger, but too little of a father'.

If as Pearson suggests the moral climate has changed with regard to adultery by our leaders, then Simon Danczuk has been one of the beneficiaries.  Today we recognise that Simon's extra-marital behaviour isn't our business.  And whilst a teacher in a religious school might still struggle to keep their job if they committed adultery and got another woman pregnant, that wouldn't be the situation in a state school.

But if a teacher were found to have been sending suggestive texts to a 17 years old young woman with a nice sideline in marketing toe nail clippings and used underwear, he (and probably she) would be suspended pending an investigation. And this goes of a number of other jobs too.  It's the sleaze factor which is at work here.

The fact that Simon has been suspended from the Labour party and no one seems in a big hurry to get the investigation under way is in sharp contrast with what happened to Cecil Parkinson.  Although he had to resign his ministerial post after Sara Keays' pregnancy became known he did not fall out of favour with Thatcher or the Tory party. He had two more periods as a minister from 1987 to
1990 and was Chairman of the party 1997-1998. Not a bad record for a man who once said he wanted to remove the prefix “the disgraced” from his name.

Cecil was loyal to his party which reciprocated that loyalty, Simon isn't.  He may well have friends in the Labour party who like him style themselves as 'moderates', but even they must be wondering if he can be trusted.

Simon's problem is that from day one of his election he has been in too much of a hurry to become a man of influence within the party and hence have a role in shaping policy.  The traditional way of doing this was to make oneself known by writing Fabian pamphlets and taking up invitations to visit other constituencies to give talks to Labour groups.  Simon's preferred method was to adopt a populist stance on some aspect of policy and then have his name attached to articles about it in the Daily Mail or the Sun newspapers.

Instead of taking time to produce a well documented book about Cyril Smith he established himself as 'Nonce Finder General' by rushing into print a book which is repetitive, lacking in any systematic methodology, largely based on gossip and supposition, with substantial parts very doubtfully true and with at least one important section now known to be completely untrue.

Whether Simon will ever be able to get away from having 'the shamed' or 'the disgraced' being prefixed to his name I don't know.  Since the story of the suggestive texts with its connotations of sleaze broke on New Years Eve we've had the revelations about Simon's thoughts on politics from a former girlfriend, allegations of rape by a former wife, stories about claiming expenses for accommodation in London for children he has hardly seen, stories about the purchase of children's rail tickets and stories about his penchant for first class rail travel.

No doubt Simon will claim that some of the complaints about his expenses are politically motivated.  But given that instead of debating policy with the Lib-Dems during 2014 Labours main strategy in Rochdale was to demand that they 'apologise for Cyril Smith' that will be a bit like the pan calling the kettle 'sooty bottom'.

Thursday, 28 January 2016

John McDonnell Backs Protest Against Carillion!

Blacklist Support Group join forces with Hillsborough, Shrewsbury Pickets and Orgreave campaigners to fight against Carillion at Anfield stadium. 
Great work by Roy Bentham - Great video by Reel News has just gone over 2,000 views on Facebook within 2 hours of being posted.

Football is a working class game. Big business and the police have conspired against football fans at Hillsborough, miners at Orgreave and construction workers at Shrewsbury. That is why all these campaigners have all come together to throw the blacklist firm, Carillion out of Liverpool Football Club. Let's kick all the blacklisting firms out of football, starting with Carillion at Anfield.
Support the justice campaigns - circulate this to all your contacts and post on Twitter & Facebook  

Mr. Dale's Diary

EXTRACTS from a diary that have been sent to Northern Voices
This is the diary of a man of our times. 
Any resemblance to anyone living is, of course, purely coincidental.

Thursday 28th January 2016

Apparently I’m going to be probed over something I’m far far too busy to deal with. One of the papers printed a resumé of other times I’ve been probed. Never came to anything because I’m so industrious and their rules are vague to a man of my supreme intelligence. A few ne’er do well’s, unable to match my rise to prominence and glory persist in whining about things that are not of their concern. I’ll ride it out as always.
Only when I spot failures in others is action taken. This merited by my importance and standing in the World, and because I’m always right. Grass? No. “Man of the people” ? Oh yes!!
Still, they want their bits of bureaucracy. It will waste more of my valuable time, but I do need to look through the paperwork to find my receipt for my missing £33million lottery ticket – The ex’s Data allowance requires much money to cover all those uploads. Anyway, the lottery is bound to believe me if I can’t find it. Everyone else does.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Rochdale Online Report: Danczuk 'Dependants'

ROCHDALE MP Simon Danczuk has claimed thousands of pounds in 'dependants' expenses for the two eldest of his children despite not seeing them for years.
Parliamentary rules allow MPs a basic annual allowance of £20,600 for accommodation in London, plus £2,425 per year for each dependant.
Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) records show that in 2014-15 Mr Danczuk claimed £28,466.58 and declared four dependants. He claimed £27,587.46 in 2013-14 and £29,261.62 in 2012-13.
IPSA states dependants are people for whom MPs have caring responsibilities. The money is paid if “the dependant routinely resides at the rented accommodation”.

Sonia Rossington, the mother of Mr Danczuk's two eldest children, confirmed to Rochdale Online that they have never stayed at Mr Danczuk's London flat in Pimlico, she said: "The kids have never stayed with their father in London. I don't know when he last saw them it's been that long - many years."

The Mirror reports 'he admitted he 'never read the rules' relating to the parliamentary allowance'.

Councillor Andy Kelly, leader of the Liberal Democrats in Rochdale, said:
'I am shocked but not surprised, it's just another typical example of how morally bankrupt this man is. He's been an MP for six years now, he should know the rules. Ignorance is in any case no defence, but even if you don't know the letter of the law, who would think you can claim for children you never even see? IPSA should investigate and use the full weight of their powers.'                                                                                         

Simon Danczuk the 'Anything Goes' MP

'Ipsa Rules Are Too Vaguely Worded,' says Rochdale MP
HARD-WORKING Rochdale MP, Simon Danczuk, among other things studied sociology and politics at Lancaster University.  Some years before Simon commenced his studies at Lancaster
the philosopher Paul Feyerabend had written his book 'Against Method:  Outline of an Anarchist Theory of Knowledge' published in 1975, about the philosophy of knowledge.  Some of the academics in the sociology department at Lancaster University such as the ethnomethodologist, John Hughes, and the post-modernist, Scot Lash, were influenced by Feyerabend's writings.  Feyerabend proposed an 'Anything Goes' approach to the sociological and scientific method which amounted to a 'rough-arsed' approach to the accepted rules for doing research and breached Karl Popper's recommendations of the methodology of 'falsification'.
Thus, it may be that Simon Danczuk's case that the 'Ipsa rules are too vaguely worded' with regard to his lavish expenses claims may have its roots in his own intellectual upbringing at Lancaster University: the Rochdale Observer this week states:
'An initial analysis of the accommodation claims for the parliament suggests Mr Danczuk had the highest total claim in the country between 2010 and 2015.'
Purists may complain about this, but it well be that Simon Danczuk the politician in filling -in his expenses claim forms is merely following the intellectual requirements and recommendations put forward by Paul Feyerabend - 'Anything Goes'.
The rules of Ipsa state that the allowance for dependent children for accommodation is only available to MPs whose children are 'routinely' living with them and being cared for in London.  Mr. Danczuk MP seems to have put in a claim on the off-chance that his children of which he has four by two different mothers may come down to live with him:  as Danczuk says - 'I have always made it clear that my children are welcome to come and live with me at any time and I have made sure I was able to support them properly when that would happen.'   But did it happen?  Well, Mr Danczuk also claimed for 34 train tickets - many of them first class - for his children to travel to London since 2013.
Mr. Danczuk has said:  'My Ipsa claim was made4 properly and at a time when it was expected all four of my children would regularly come and stay with me at the same time.'
So there you have it!  The rules are 'vague' and a busy hardworking MP living a modern family life like Simon Danczuk schooled in an 'anything goes' methodology and philosophy at Lancaster University, may assume that this would give the right to put his expenses claims in a similar spirit of what Feyerabend himself called 'epistemological anarchy'.

Road From Wigan Pier!

CONFERENCE: "The Road From Wigan Pier - How can we Shape our Northern Local Economies"   
Donna Hall is Wigan Council's highly regarded Chief Executive and architect of a new compact between the council, residents and businesses, known locally as 'The Deal'.  
Join her at this regional conference on February 6th to learn what's in it for local economies like yours.
View this email in your browser
What is The Wigan Deal? And why should we care?

Like many other northern towns, Wigan has its problems.
  • £60million worth of 'efficiencies' still to find by 2019
  • An increase in life expectancy and age related illnesses
  • Dependent adults with 'chaotic' lifestyles
  • Children not prepared for school life
  • A higher level of deprivation compared to England as a whole
Can Wigan's community-based organisations put aside old differences to work as a team, and help the Council reshape the way it delivers its services? Are the two sectors willing to cooperate in a joint effort to stimulate the local economy, for mutual and collective benefit? Do they have the co-operative vision, mindset and skills now needed to solve Wigan's problems? 

The Council has a grand vision that combines self-reliance and social enterprise to develop a new and sustainable revenue model for local economies. But is the voluntary sector up for it? Are Donna's staff behind her on this? How might the model benefit community-based organisations and local social enterprises? Should The Deal be structured to scale and if so, how? Will it reward pioneers and early adopters?

These and other questions will be addressed by Wigan Council's Chief Executive on Saturday 6th February.  

"The most important local regeneration event of the last 20 years".
Event: REconomy North 2016 - "The road from Wigan Pier"
When: Saturday 6th Feb, 2016
Where: ALRA, The Mill at the Pier, Wigan, Greater Manchester
Time: 9:30 - 4:30pm
Cost: £10 waged, £5 unwaged - free places available
Booking: via Eventbrite

Our speakers:
  • David Fernadez-Arias - Spokesman for the Greater Manchester Referendum Campaign for Democratic Devolution
  • Pam Warhurst - Author, public speaker and founder of the Incredible Edible Network 
  • Kath Godfrey - Positive Money expert and environmental campaigner
  • Mark Burton - Activist, scholar and part of the Steady State Manchester collective
  • Ainslie Beattie - consultant and change agent for the REconomy Project 
  • Donna Hall - Chief Exec Wigan Borough Council and "The Deal"
On the day
Of course we'll be gathering views from around the room so we anticipate some lively and insightful discussions. Our day is an opportunity for you to take a bit of time out to connect and have fun with other people who want to discover solutions to real problems that their communities face. We hope you can make it. 

The Wigan Transition Group Team

Wakefield History Group & Working Class Library

Forwarding information regarding a course on Radical Manchester and Salford starting at the WCML on 1 March.
Our next meeting is on Saturday 13 February at 1pm at Red Shed, Vicarage Street, Wakefield WF1 when we will be discussing THE LEVELLERS AND THE DIGGERS.
All welcome; free admission; free light snacks plus an excellent bar with real ale.
Alan Stewart
Convenor, Wakefield Socialist History Group

Date: Tue, 26 Jan 2016 14:44:27 +0000
Subject: my course on Radical Manchester and Salford starting on 1 March 2016

Peterloo1819Peterloo 1819
I am delighted to let you know that I  will be teaching a course on the history of Radical  Manchester and Salford at the Working Class Movement Library,. This  will  begin by outlining  the story of  Industrial Revolution in this area and then go on to look at  the radical  politics of the late 18th century and the  19th century. This  will include the influence of Thomas  Paine, author of “The Rights of Man”, radical groups in Manchester in the 1790s, the Luddites, Peterloo, Owenite Socialism, Chartism, Karl Marx and Frederick Engels,  black American radicals in Manchester, and the Socialist movement  of the 1890s.
There will be an opportunity to look at some of the original historical material held in the archives of the Working Class Movement Library.
The course will begin on Tuesday 1 March 2016, 11am to 1pm,  and will last 10 weeks
The cost will be £80 (waged) or  £60 (unwaged).
For more information or to book a place, please email me:

Michael Herbert

Poaching in the South West: The Berkeley Case

    Date: Thursday 28th January, 2016
Time: 7:00 pm
Venue: The Hydra Bookshop, 34 Old Market St, Bristol, BS2 0EZ
Price: Donation
With: Steve Mills

Steve Mills will give a talk on the contents of his recent BRHG pamphlet 'Poaching in the South West' which considers the poaching wars in rural areas in the 18th and 19th Centuries and the arms race conducted between the poaching gangs, landowners and game keepers. He will also look at the development of the 'poaching' laws in the period and the famous Berkeley Case.

More information here.

Syria, The Kurds, ISIS and the West: Revolution in Rojava: Strengths and Challenges

Date: Tuesday 9th February, 2016
Time: 7:30-9:30 pm
Venue: The Conference Room, Hamilton House, 80 Stokes Croft, BS1 3QY
Price: Donation
With: Dr. Jeff Miley (Dept. of Sociology, Uni. Of Cambridge)

Since the descent into civil war in Syria, revolutionary forces have seized control of the Kurdish region of Rojava.  This talk aims to assess the strengths, challenges and vulnerabilities of the revolutionary project under way there. In terms of strengths, I will focus principally on four:
(1) revolutionary discipline and the power of ideology
(2) consciousness-raising, collective mobilization, and assembly democracy
(3) gender emancipation
(4) attempts to accommodate ethnic and religious diversity
In terms of challenges and vulnerabilities, I will focus on questions of isolation and embargo, the alliance with the U.S., and especially the threat from Turkey.

_______________________________________________ Brhmob mailing list

Mr Dale's Diary

EXTRACTS from a diary that have been sent to Northern Voices
This is the diary of a man of our times. 
Any resemblance to anyone living is, of course, purely coincidental.

Wednesday 27th January 2016

My man informs me of rumours about the little Red room near the bridge. They adore me there. I shall tell you how much…
One evening recently, whilst downing my sixth pint of 1976 Petrus Pomerol ( a legitimate expense of course), that wildlife chappie was having one of his TV programmes repeated. It went on about Cicada’s and how they stay in the ground for several years before emerging, all at once, to do their loving. The people in the little Red room do this to show their love for me. Every few years , they surface in an act of love to deliver leaflets of my pictures and words to the people of my fiefdom. A fine collective act of worship of me.
My man infers that some atheistic types in the little Red room , bizzarely, don’t like me and could refuse to take part in this gloryfying of me. It matters not – the big man is in my pocket and he’ll get them back on track. You may say “that must be a very large pocket”. Indeed it is – it needs to be to contain my considerable expens… erm… earnings.
Where’s all those receipts gone? I am owed much.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Mr. Dale's Diary

EXTRACTS from a diary that have been sent to Northern Voices
This is the diary of a man of our times. 
Any resemblance to anyone living is, of course, purely coincidental.

Tuesday 26th January 2016

It was great to see a picture and article about me in a Sunday paper. These organs love me so much they will publish any sort of tittle tattle about me. Or tittle about the ex. Some of the Monday’s mentioned me too. Marvellous.
The latest bit of trivia is about the minuscule expenses I claim for my important work. As an in-demand lover I’ve got a few kids knocking about, forget how many. A modern family you might say. I asked expenses HQ could I claim for the kids, they said “yes but read the small print”. Who does that eh? That is my man’s job, but at the time he’d disappeared somewhere.
I was sat at the kitchen table filling some tiresome forms in, whilst the ex was trying out her new selfie phone – a special event which required special attire on her part. My eyes were naturally averted from the small print, so I missed a few tiny details. Ill-considered, non-serious complaints regarding this by jealous people are a waste of time. You’ll never catch me doing anything wrong. In fact I might get my paparazzi out to capture my innocence when I next call round to see our wonderful Police. Photo’s in the papers – kerching!! I’m a winner.
I almost put in a reasonable and understandable expenses claim for maintenance of the puppies, but I did not as they seem to be generously supported by various sources. No-one can call me selfish or greedy, oh no.
I’ve got a new iron. Must get some more expenses forms.

Monday, 25 January 2016

Mr. Dale's Diary

EXTRACTS from a diary that have been sent to Northern Voices
This is the diary of a man of our times. 
Any resemblance to anyone living is, of course, purely coincidental.

Monday 25th January 2016

Not much to write, the weekend is for the social life. An important man like myself needs a social life in order to keep my good looks and impressive physique.
In the morning I had to listen to people moaning about insignificant things, don’t they realise I am an important man with better things to do. At midday I went to the pub, but had a little snifter first.
Even next door that got flooded by our burst pipe are asking what we are going to do to stop it happening. Felt like saying f*** all, but left it to my man to sort out. He’ll give them some bullshit. At least we pay the rent, on this place anyway. Mind I know of a previous person in my position who got away with not paying rent for her office. Another bleeding ex student, fit for only one thing!
My man has been (a has been! Good joke, as is he. Can’t seem to stop the jokes coming!) Of course he doesn’t use his real name, but is always good to have a go at some woolly liberal.
Went to a charity do but couldn’t find any charity from any young lady. They really don’t know what they’re missing. It’s their loss. Looking forward to the week, should get the all clear. Now. let’s have a peep at the Sunday papers…

'Danish Girl' for Decorative Dazzle

'DON'T be dazzled,' the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein told one of his students.  'The Danish Girl' is the much promoted film of the latest fashionable addiction (yet, the fashion changes so quickly that as you read this it may already by then be dated).  Architecturally the film is a divine distraction which one critic has called 'a period drama... all period and no drama'.


It's is all about the scenery, and there's little sign of any inner life in the life of the painter and pioneer transsexual.  Eddie Redmayne moves the eyes quivering to the right and and we're urged to believe that a bleeding nose and stomach cramps are symptoms of transsexual in transformation. 


It's not got the psychological power of something like Hitchcock's 'Vertigo'.  I have just seen a local

performance in Little Hulton, Salford of 'Ali Baba & the Forty Thieves', and the cross-dressing

there was for me more enthralling than that in 'The Danish Girl'.

Blacklisting Cost of Disclosure

1. HIGH Court orders blacklist firms to disclose further evidence and issues costs of £100k against them.

Last Friday (22 Jan), the High Court made judgements against blacklisting firms; Balfour Beatty, Carillion, Costain, Kier, Laing O’Rourke, Sir Robert McAlpine, Skanska UK and Vinci PLC ordering them to disclose further evidence from back up computer tapes of emails that despite previous court orders, they had failed to provide. 

The 2 day hearing before Lord Justice Supperstone and Master Leslie, heard revelation after revelation about the extent of destruction of documents by the firms relating to their involvement with the Consulting Association blacklisting body. The final decision of the hearing resulted in costs being awarded against the companies to cover the full 2 day hearing, estimated to be in excess of £100,000. 

Dinah Rose QC, representing the 600 blacklisted workers in the litigation told the court that household names such as "Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd, Balfour Beatty and Carillion had destroyed the lives of thousands of working men and women" and that their continued conduct was designed to "cover their tracks". 

The role of Cullum McAlpine, director of Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd (SRM) and founding Chairman of the Consulting Association blacklisting body came in for particular criticism. Despite a court order requiring full disclosure, not a single email or document to or from Cullum McAlpine, his personal assistant or from David Cochrane final chairman of TCA have been disclosed. The court was even told how in 2011 all hard copies of correspondence between Cullum McAlpine and the Consulting Association had been destroyed. Dinah Rose QC told the court that "Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd has been evasive with conduct intended to conceal the central role of Cullum McAlpine. Cullum McAlpine is a very important man, for the sake of retaining trust in the British legal system, he must not allowed to get away with a cover up."

The court was also shown evidence that David Cochrane (SRM) chairman of the Consulting Association at the time of its discovery had contacted the blacklisting organisation's cheif executive Ian Kerr instructing him to "ring everyone - destroy all the data". It was revealed that Cochrane had told Kerr to keep Cullum McAlpine's name out of the press and large sus of money were transferred to the bank account of Ian Kerr's daughters in the summer of 2009.   

Balfour Beatty were also highlighted when it was revealed that despite instructions to the contrary, the PC and laptop of Elaine Gallagher, main contact for the company with TCA had both been wiped in April 2013. Trevor Watcham from balfour baetty was chairman of the Consulting Association from 2004-5 but his entire email history was deleted in 2011 and not a single document from him has been disclosed. It was also disclosed to the court that an internal Balfour Beatty database containing the names of construction workers who had been involved in union activities had been discovered on the laptop of Gerry Harvey, director of Human Resources, still employed by the company at their Glasgow head office. The comments "not required" and "do not re-employ" appeared next to the names of the union members and the document was found after the discovery of the Consulting Association blacklist was exposed in March 2009.  Lord Justice Supperstone commented "If the firms were professional enough to cover up their actions, did they also cover up more internal databases?"

Edmund Nourse QC representing the McFarlanes defendants said that "no impropriety whatsoever" could be implied over the destruction of the documents, which were merely "unfortunate mistakes".

Dinah Rose described the McFarlanes position on non disclosure and destruction of evidence as "bonkers" and described an expert witness statement provided by the firms as "disgraceful and intended to mislead". 

Dave Smith from the Blacklist Support Group commented afterwards:
"All of the platitudes and half apologies, all their crocodile tears and claims of rogue managers from the companies over the past six or seven years are clearly nonsense. Documents have been destroyed and Directors of multinational companies are hiding stuff on their laptops. It calls into question all of the promises made to Parliament and the High Court. I am not a lawyer but I would have thought that destroying evidence that would almost certainly have been used in a court case might be considered perverting the course of justice.

The lawyers seemed particularly keen to keep any evidence about Cullum McAlpine being disclosed -  this wretch set up and was the funding chairman of the Consulting association. He was intimately involved in its operation over many years. What could he possibly have to hide?”

2. Undercover police targeting activists
More revelations have come out this week about undercover police spying on activists in court admissions by the Met Police and press articles exposing newly discovered spycops who targeted trade unions, grieving families of murder victims, community justice campaigns, environmental activists, socialist political parties and animal rights groups. The Pitchford public inquiry into undercover policing has been set up to investigate the abuses carried out by these secret police political spying units. All of the information that has so far been discovered is due to activists, dedicated researchers and investigative journalists. The police continue to use the strategy of 'Neither Confirm Nor Deny' as a way of thwarting the truth. The Blacklist Support Group working alongside other core participants and the Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance (COPS) is calling for Lord Justice Pitchford to demand that the police release the cover names of all the undercover officers who have operated since 1968. Only then, will we know the full extent of the peaceful campaigns infiltrated and undemocractic practices carried out by the secret state.  

3. Labour plan to ban blacklist firms from public contracts? 

4. Dave Smith's magistrates court case has been POSTPONED - and will not now be taking place this week. He has now been on police bail for nearly 12 months since his arrest for protesting about blacklisting on the Crossrail project. 

5. 'Blacklisted' book makes the Bread & Roses award longlist 
Phil Chamberlain & Dave Smith issued the following statement: "WOOP WOOP" 

6. Dates for the diary

1st Feb - High Court - pre-hearings continue

5th Feb - Trumbo - film about the Hollywood blacklist during the McCarthy era starring Brian Cranston (Breaking Bad) is released in UK cinemas. This is a great opportunity for supporters locally to write to local newspapers saying that blacklisting is not something that only happened 50-60 years ago in the USA. Its still going on today in the UK.  

6th Feb - National construction rank & file meeting in Glasgow
Blacklist Support Group