Thursday, 31 August 2017

Ricky Tomlinson asks are you on the blacklist?

 Ricky Tomlinson in 2015 with an issue of Northern Voices in front of a Shrewsbury 24 banner
IN an electrifying moment on Channel 4 News, actor Ricky Tomlinson brandished a copy of the Economic League‘s North West blacklist, which blacklisted thousands of workers from industry jobs over several decades.  Now, The Canary can exclusively reveal an excerpt from that blacklist, along with other previously undisclosed documents from the company that produced it.
Only a handful of people possess copies of the entire Economic League’s North West blacklist.  The original was handed to the two founding members of League Watch – a campaigning group that monitored the Economic League (EL) – by an EL regional director turned whistleblower.  That was some 30 years back.
But on 8 August, Tomlinson – who appeared in a Ken Loach film, in the TV soap Brookside and in the TV series The Royle Family – produced a printed copy of that list with a flourish on Channel 4 News, inviting anyone who believes they are on it to contact him.  It was an electrifying moment that the Channel 4 News team failed to fully appreciate.
In the Channel 4 News interview, Tomlinson referred to his own entry on the list.  An abridged version is shown below.  He also made it clear that he is determined that the Pitchford Inquiry into undercover policing examines the Special Branch surveillance he believes he suffered for merely taking part in lawful industrial action.
 Tomlinson explained that the Pitchford Inquiry into undercover policing would not allow him to be a core participant because, while the existence of a Special Branch file is known, he had no evidence he was a target of such undercover policing by the Special Demonstration Squad. According to Pitchford:
'There is no mention of the Special Demonstration Squad in connection with Mr Tomlinson that I have been able to find. Special Branch files may be created from a variety of sources including the uniformed police, detectives, informers, police records and public knowledge.'
However, to quote Mr Tomlinson: 'My arse!'

Catch 22

Basically, Pitchford is saying is that Tomlinson, or anyone else for that matter, cannot be a core participant in the inquiry unless they can produce evidence that they have been victims of undercover policing – though the only way many victims can refer to such evidence is if the police are forced to hand it over.

Presently, Pitchford has not ruled on how much information he is going to compel the police to hand over. But, in refusing core participant status to those who have reasonable belief they have been monitored or infiltrated, he is creating a situation where there is a risk the inquiry will only focus on undercover officers who have already been exposed.
 Read more:

Debbie Abrahams MP debates state pensions!

Debbie Abrahams - Shadow Pensions Minister

THE UK state retirement age will probably be increased to 70 before many millennials - young people who are 18 to 35 today - retire and there won't be a pot left for  them  to piss in, because all the baby boomers born after WW11 will have gorged themselves on welfare benefits and left them with sweet FA.  Many of these baby boomers with their triple-lock pensions, have been Conservative Party voters and hard-line 'Brexiteers'.

I'm just at the back end of the baby boomers, born in the early 1950's.  No free bus pass for me at 60, but 66, assuming there are still free bus passes by 2020.  By then, I'll probably have a long white beard and a walking stick and possibly riddled with arthritis, and too ill to get on a bus.  However, if I lived in Wales, Scotland or NI, or an area of Greater London, I'd get a free bus pass at 60 but not in Labour controlled Greater Manchester, the home of the NORTHERN POORHOUSE.   And Labour are as much to blame for this, as the Tories.

While successive governments have increased the UK state retirement age, arguing that we're all living longer, we now know that since 2010, rises in life expectancy have stalled.  Researchers at the University of Manchester and York have found that while the rate of premature death in people under 45 was falling in the south, it was stagnating in the north.  In 2015, the number of premature deaths of people aged 35 to 44 was 50% higher in the north than the south.

It is argued that deindustrialisation in many parts of northern Britain, has led to precarious employment, unemployment, and increasing poverty.  Economic recession, along with the austerity programme and cuts to public spending, have resulted in an increase in deaths by suicide, - now the biggest cause of deaths of British men under 50 - substance abuse, and chronic health conditions among young people whose life chances and quality of life have worsened.  The university researchers also point out that the regional death gap has widened since the banking crisis and financial crash in 2008.

In his book 'The Health Gap 2015', Michael Marmot, professor of epidemiology at University college London, argues that while we have the medical knowledge to improve public health, life expectancy and quality of life, good health, is far too important to be left solely to doctors.  He points out that good health is not just related to access to technical solutions but to the nature of society - "the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age, have a profound influence on health and inequalities in childhood, working age and older age.  In short, levels of education, the social class we are born into, our income and wealth, and the region where we live, are all  factors which have a bearing on how long we will live. If you increase the age at which people can retire, then it is well known, that people who do heavy work in manual occupations are those ones who are most likely to die before reaching the state retirement age.

Shadow Work and Pensions Minister, Debbie Abrahams MP, has launched a national conversation with communities across the country to discuss State Pensions as part of the Labour Party’s commitment to ensure dignity and security in older age. She wants to hear your views and is inviting people to attend an event hosted by herself as part of a nation tour on:-

Date: Saturday 9th September
Time: 2pm
Venue: John Holt Centre, Birch Avenue, Westhoughton, Bolton, BL5 2NR

In a circular to Labour Party members Debbie Abrahams says:

"Older people have been badly let down by the Tories. During this year’s General Election they failed to provide transitional protection to women born in the 1950s who have had the increase in their State Pension Age accelerated; in addition, they failed to guarantee they would protect the State Pension ‘triple lock’ and Winter Fuel Allowance.

Most recently the Government announced that they will be accelerating the increase in the State Pension Age to 68 at the same time it was announced that increases in life expectancy had ‘ground to a halt’.

This contrasts to the Labour Party’s manifesto pledge to retain the triple lock and winter fuel allowance, as well as provide support for 1950s born women through pensions credit and further transitional protections.

Labour has also rejected the accelerated increase in the State Pension Age to 68 and are examining options for a flexible retirement age.
Please RSVP here.

If you have any additional access needs please email

Please pass this invitation on to others in your area who may be interested in attending.
See you there


Debbie Abrahams
Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

War on the Home Front (part two)

 by Christopher Draper

PART one of this story explained that 13 anarchists in the North-West region were active conscientious objectors to WWI.  As soon as conscription was introduced in February 1916 two comrades, Arthur Helsby and William Greaves, applied for absolute exemption but to no avail.  A third anarchist, Walter Barlow was arrested for ignoring the draft and fined before disappearing for the duration of hostilities.  Herbert Holt, William Hopkins, William Jackson and Charles Warwick were nabbed as “absentees” at Stockport anarchist club, along with Helsby (again!).  The police then rounded up and arrested a further 4 Stockport Anarcho-Conchies (A-C’s) and by the end of the year all but 2 of our 13 (one was still under age and the other elusive) had been collared but that didn’t end their protests.

Happy Christmas Conchies!
Christmas 1916 found 10 of our 13 anarchist conchies in captivity, 7 incarcerated in Wormwood Scrubs, 1 in Leeds Prison and 2 (Greaves and Holt) teetering on the edge of imprisonment. William Greaves hadn’t yet exhausted his escalating appeals for absolute exemption after he’d been automatically enlisted in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers whilst Herbert Holt initially accepted alternative work on a Wakefield “Home Office Scheme” (HOS). Soon both attracted the wrath of the authorities and they were reunited with their imprisoned comrades.

Predictably Pointless Appeals
Herbert Holt was the man who’d argued in court for return of the pamphlets the police seized on their first raid on the Stockport anarchist club only to be arrested as an absentee on their second visit. Holt’s appeal ended with “alternative work” at a new HOS at Platt Hall Fields, Manchester. The scheme aimed to cultivate unused land to increase home food production. Twenty-five or so conchies were billeted in Platt Hall whilst they worked the adjacent fields. As usual, the authorities started taking liberties and when Herbert was ordered to maintain Manchester’s other parks and cemeteries he objected and spent the rest of the war in Strangeways. William Greaves’ sequence of appeals concluded with a court-martial at Oswestry followed by serial imprisonment; Shrewsbury, Wormwood Scrubs and finally Walton.

'Lion Taming'
Arrested at the Stockport 'Workers’ Freedom Group' (WFG) Club both William Jackson and William Hopkins were compulsorily enlisted in the Third Cheshire Regiment and posted to Birkenhead Barracks whose infamous unofficial motto was 'We tame lions here!'  The regiment systematically brutalised and humiliated conchies at their Birkenhead HQ but Jackson and Hopkins remained resolute even after the shit hit the fan.  Slapped, kicked and thrown over eight foot high walls in full public view at Birkenhead Park, along with 3 fellow conchies they were then court-martialled for non-compliance.  Their case became a cause celebre after the national press learned of their outrageous mistreatment.  Despite the officers’ brutality it was the conchies who were subsequently sentenced to two years imprisonment (with Hard Labour) in Wormwood Scrubs.

Protest & Survive
Anarchist club comrades Robert Seaton and Charles Bradlaugh Warwick adopted a contrasting approach to conscientious objection. Seaton confronted conscription head-on whereas Warwick preferred ducking and diving. Initially arrested as an absentee and compulsorily enlisted in the Yorkshire Regiment, Charles Warwick refused to sign his army papers and immediately went AWOL. Posted as a deserter in the Police Gazette he was eventually captured, court-martialled at Blackpool and imprisoned. Subsequently sent to Dartmoor Work Camp he escaped and was again proscribed by the authorities. Arrested inSalford on 24 October 1917 Warwick was charged with forgery, having 'creatively amended' his call-up papers to facilitate his freedom.  Pronounced guilty he was sent back to prison.
Robert Seaton’s straightforward approach was to simply say no to everything, no conscription, no tribunal, no alternative work.  He was the absolutist’s absolutist.  Consequently Seaton is amongst the conchie elite (anarchists form a solid chunk of this group) who endured three courts-martial and three consequent prison sentences; in Wandsworth, Walton and Carlisle.  In July 1917, whilst imprisoned at Walton, Seaton engaged in a mass hunger strike along with around 20 other conchies and Irish Republicans in a solidarity protest against force feeding.  Subsequently transferred to Carlisle Prison, he was incarcerated long after the war ended.  On one occasion, when the authorities feared he might die in gaol, he was “temporarily” allowed out for 28 days under the 'cat and mouse act' but it wasn’t until August 1919 that Robert and the last of Britain’s imprisoned conchies were finally and officially released.
The conchie career of Samuel Brooks, another Stockport comrade, was remarkably similar to Seaton’s.  On occasions they even were court-martialled together and Samuel starved alongside Robert in the 1917 Walton mass hunger strike.
Stockport cotton piercer Alfred Toft endured an extra level of suffering when he went on hunger strike at Lincoln Prison August 1917 in protest against enduring arbitrary punishment.  Twice force-fed through a tube shoved down his throat into his stomach he spent the rest of the war inside Lincoln gaol.
In the inimitable words of Monty Python, 'he was lucky!' - Stockport iron moulder Robert Stuart Williams was force fed more than fifty times in Preston Prison.   Arrested as an absentee in 1916, routinely conscripted into a fighting unit, Robert refused to obey orders and so initiated the usual absurdist cycle of courts-martial, prison, disobedience and then round again.  After joining the A-C elite with 3 CM’s, 3 prison sentences and over 2 years inside to his credit he decided to hunger strike against his continued imprisonment after the 1918 armistice.  As the prison authorities recorded, he was systematically force fed 'to finish or release him'.

Knutsford Welcomes Burnley’s Bakunin
Arthur Riley was a Burnley cotton weaver living at home and supporting his crippled brother and aged mother, who was afflicted with chronic rheumatism. Arthur’s father was already dead, as were four of Arthur’s siblings. It was an impoverished family and the local tribunal initially cut him some slack but in 1917 they demanded his enlistment so Arthur tried to avoid them by sleeping at different addresses. Riley’s opinions on the war were already well known around town as he was an activist who, the previous year, had a long letter published in the local paper defending conchies.  Arrested and tried in September 1917 Arthur informed the court, 'Politically he was an anarchist absolutely and he was an atheist in religious matters. He believed it was morally wrong to take human life or assist in doing so.'  After a spell of imprisonment in Preston Gaol, just before Xmas 1917 Riley was sent to Knutsford Work Camp where, along with 800 other conchies he was housed in the disused prison.  As if that wasn’t bad enough the good townsfolk of Knutsford conducted an unrelenting campaign of violent hostility to the conchies billeted on their doorstep.  An endless stream of stories published in the local press stoked up resentment; 'Milk for Objectors but Not Enough for Babies', 'Proposed Exclusion from Library', 'Freeholders Ban Conchies from Playing Football on Heath' and the cruellest blow of all, 'The Ladies tennis club at Knutsford have decided that any member who associates with a Conchie must resign at once!'
From 7am until 5.30pm Arthur and his comrades were set to work repairing the dilapidated prison building but were then allowed into town as long as they returned by 9pm.  This wasn’t as attractive as it might appear as townsfolk generally refused to serve the conchies in shops and even the local medic, Dr Fennell, boasted, 'He hated them and would like to drown every last one of them…  One was brought to his surgery and he had shown him the door.'   Most nights a hostile reception committee was gathered at the gates awaiting any conchie brave enough to leave the camp.  Violence erupted on numerous occasions and whilst Arthur was at Knutsford one attack was so outrageous that the local authorities were obliged to intervene and prosecute 10 local jingoes.
In Court Superintendant Sutherland explained, 'The attack on the conchies began in Canute Place and ended in front of the prison in something which approached a riot.” Despite damning evidence the culprits were merely bound over and the magistrates expressed their hope that their victims (the conchies) would be removed from the town as soon as possible, and so they were. In the New Year (1918) Arthur and the rest of the Knutsford conchies were transferred to Dartmoor Work camp and as the local paper reported, “There were great rejoicings in the town on their leaving.'

Cheeky Boy!
Conscription continued into 1918 and in March, as the Manchester papers reported, 'An impudent and very empty appeal was made by an 18-year-old conscientious objector at the Salford Appeals Tribunal…the youth said in his application that the British war aims were all wrong.  He did not believe in war'.  The Tribunal merely expressed amusement when the young man, 'admitted he was an anarchist' and most reasonably argued, 'that he did not think it was right that Mesopotamia when captured by the British should go to Lever Bros. the soap manufacturers, as one Cabinet Minister had intimated in a recent speech.'  Our anonymous comrade was ordered to report when called upon but appears to have evaded conscription.

As our comrades claimed, this was no war to end wars, on the contrary. Sadly the war’s deadly toll included the British anarchist movement which never regained its pre-war working class vitality. None of our 13 North-Western anarcho-conchies were anything above skilled workers.  Lithographer Arthur Helsby was probably the most elevated and none typified the middle class intellectuals that now characterise our vestigial movement.  Many of the most politically active workers that survived the war fell under the spell of Bolshevism and joined the Communist Party. Burnley’s Arthur Riley was a founder member but now Communism’s also collapsed.  The lessons of history aren’t obvious but our local anarcho-conchies were motivated by an anarchism that hadn’t yet grown world weary, cynical and sectarian.  Their stories are an inspiration.
(Llandudno, August 2017

War on the Home Front (part one)

by Chris Draper
WHILST British workers concentrated on killing German workers at Passchendaele back home loyal servants of the State used every trick in the book to frighten and torture 16,000 conscientious objectors into uniform. The Church of England assisted as recruiting sergeant and despite their hallowed reputation, a third of Quakers signed up to exterminate their fellow man.

The organised labour movement colluded with the killing but rebel socialists and anarchists refused to bang the jingo drum and here in the North West thirteen brave anarchists confronted the rabid State and refused to bear arms.

Atheists go to Hell Conscription started in 1916 and the only individuals the State considered fit for ‘conscientious objection' (CO) were pacifists obeying orders from GOD. Political objections were derided and dismissed so anarchists were on a hiding to nothing appealing to the authorities.  Once conscription began everyone was deemed to have enlisted so if you didn’t turn yourself in you would be arrested, fined and handed over to the military.  Any refusal to follow orders then led to court martial and imprisonment with hard labour, usually for 112 days for a first offence.

On completion of this sentence you were handed back to the military and the whole cycle recommenced with subsequent sentences extended up to two years and continuing even after hostilities Workers’ Playtime Thirteen anarchists from the North -West of England defied the draft and refused to fight. This was a pretty good contribution, comprising more than a third of the total AC’s (Anarcho-Conchies) from the whole of England. This comparative strength
derived from the influence of the Stockport Workers Freedom Group (WFG)
The group started up in 1913 and the following February opened their own clubrooms at 18 Park Street, Hazel Grove, with funds provided by millionaire anarchist and Kodak director, George Davison.  WFG proved a powerhouse of anarchist propaganda and in September 1913 under the auspices of the group, Guy Aldred delivered a series of eight open-air lectures in Stockport’s ‘Armoury & Mersey Squares” on revolutionary topics from, ‘Capitalism and the Child’ to ‘Direct Action, Legislation and the Social War’ .

Once conscription started Aldred was himself imprisoned as a conchie but the Stockport comrades were ready primed to resist
Gone Fishing

Legislation enacting Conscription received Royal Assent on 27 January 1916 In Stockport magistrates Court, ‘Inspector Billinge said that on February 1 the Chief Constable took out a warrant under the Defence of the Realm Act to search the premises, 18 Park Street occupied by the Workers Freedom Group or Anarchist Club’. The police failed to arrest anyone on that occasion but seized, ‘a number of documents and pamphlets, many of which were of a revolutionary nature and, no doubt, cry prejudicial to recruiting’
The Chief Constable wanted to destroy everything but Herbert Holt , a leading member of WFG, argued their literature should be returned. Although magistrates agreed Holt could retain a few titles for some inexplicable reason they incinerated:  ‘Down With Conscription’, ‘The International Anarchist Manifesto on the War’ and ‘Apes and Patriotism!’ Patriotic Apes.

Hazel Grove police had already removed thousands of similar pamphlets from Langley Cottage, the Hazel Street home of another WFG club member, commercial traveller WilliamJackson. Jackson was grassed up by patriotic member of the local community, John James Warren after William gave him a publication entitled, ‘Unite Against the British Prussians’. Warren testified that in January he’d been a passenger on a train from Manchester to Hazel Grove when Jackson was handing out these pamphlets to passengers. Warren claimed he’d previously seen him giving them out in London Road, Hazel Grove. As a God-fearing jingo he obeyed his patriotic duty and took a copy down to Hazel Grove police station who’d responded with a raid on Jackson’s home. In court, William argued for return of the haul removedfrom his house, which included, “2,000 pamphlets headed, Unite Against the British Prussians–500 pamphlets headed, Fight Against Conscription–100 pamphlets headed, ‘An Appeal to Socialists–and 36 pamphlets headed, A General Strike’.

Unfortunately magistrates ordered the destruction of all these classics but on the plus side, they
did return, ‘Tariff Reform Monthly Notes’!

Hard Won Lessons
Anyone intending to claim “Conscientious Objection” was permitted until 24 June 1916 to appeal to a local ‘Military Service Tribunal (MST)’ but ten of our conchies just ignored their call-up papers and waited to be arrested as “absentees”. Of the remaining three, one lad was yet under-age and the two that applied to have their conscience adjudged by MST soon found their trust was misplaced.

Twenty-six year old lithographer Arthur Helsby applied to St Helen’s MST as soon as conscription began, requesting exemption but offering to serve in the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC). Instead he was conscripted into the army’s ‘Non-Combat Corps (NCC)’ and on 25, March 1916carted off to Kinmel army camp in North Wales for military training.

Helsby soon learned ‘non-combatant’ didn’t exempt him from the war machine. The NCC were obliged to wear khaki, obey military orders, dig trenches, load munitions– ‘soldiers without guns' constantly the butt of insults and abuse from regular troops.  When Arthur objected, on Monday 29 May 1916 he was covertly ‘rendered’ over to the killing fields of France for the army’s cunning plan was to transport CO’s over to the battlefield and terrify them into submission..

Refusing orders under fire would then invite court -martial and death by firing squad . Thirty-four of Arthur’s fellow CO’s in France were formally condemned to death be fore their sentences were commuted to 10 years imprisonment after details of this army deception became public.  So Helsby wasn’t shot but for refusing to go on parade was subjected to 28 days of the notorious 'Field Punishment Number One', which involved being spread -eagled and chained to a field gun wheel, or fixed posts, and was routinely described as 'crucifixion'.

On 10 June Arthur was court martialled at Calais and sentenced to two years imprisonment with hard labour, Initially incarcerated in a military prison at Rouen, on 4 July 1916 Helsby was conveyed, in irons, back to England to serve his time at Winchester civil prison. Public outcry over the army’s ‘extraordinary rendition’ prompted the authorities to commute Arthur’s sentence and he was released from Winchester on the 29 August 1916, having served barely two months of a two year sentence. He was bloodied but unbowed Manchester MST.

Thirty-two year old shipping clerk William Greaves made his application for absolute exemption to Manchester MST on 20 September 1916. Like Helsby, he was nevertheless conscripted into the NCC.  He avoided being sent to France but didn’t accept this NCC role and pressed his absolutist claim through both County and Central Tribunals to no good effect. Formally consigned to the Royal Welsh Fusiliers he was first court-martialled at Oswestry and sentenced to serve 6 months in Shrewsbury Prison.   On his release from Shrewsbury he was returned to Oswestry, court-martialled again and then sentenced to a two-year stretch at Liverpool’s Walton Gaol.

I am an Anarchist!’

Oldham-born Walter Barlow, a twenty-one year old “hat leather cutter”, of 2 Stream Terrace, Victoria Road, Stockport put his call-up papers in the bin and was arrested as an absentee. 
Unintimidated, on Tuesday 13 June 1916 he told magistrates, ‘I am an anarchist and do not believe in the government of men by men’. Walter went on to expose the cynical function of MST’s in dividing and defusing the peace movement, explaining ‘tribunals were used to smash opposition to the Military Services Act’. Predictably, the magistrates were unpersuaded, fined him 40s. and decreed he be handed over to the military but the military never got their man.

For the duration of WWI Walter Barlow went AWOL.

Collar the Lot

With gaping holes apparent in the conscription net and the last opportunity past to appeal for exemption, the Stockport authorities planned a return to 18 Park Street and this time seize more than just pamphlets.

Anarchist Club Raid–Capture of Absentees at Stockport’ yelled the Manchester Evening News of 22 September 1916’.
Herbert Holt, William Hopkins, William Jackson and Charles Warwick arrested for dodging the draft.
These four were hauled up before magistrates along with a character the authorities couldn’t then identify but we already know as our recently returned hero from France and Winchester comrade Arthur Helsby!

The Stockport constabulary informed the press that this mysterious character was ‘evidently a man of foreign extraction’, which seems a harsh judgement on a man born in Liverpool.
During ongoing enquiries the other four anarchists were each fined 40s. and handed on to the military.
Once the police resolved Arthur’s identity he was carted of to Leeds Prison before being restored to the farcical conscription treadmill and returned to “his regiment” at Kinmel Camp. Four further anarchists were rapidly rounded up in raids in and in and around the WFG clubrooms but I’ll identify them (a long with the two further AC’s) and unravel the rest of this fascinating tale in part two (coming soon on the NV website).
Peace & Love
Christopher Draper

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Police demand costs from seduced campaigner

An environmental campaigner who was deceived into forming a long-term intimate relationship with a police spy is refusing to pay Scotland Yard a £7,000 legal bill incurred during her quest for the truth.
Helen Steel fought a four-year legal battle against police chiefs who were eventually compelled to apologise unreservedly for the abuse and emotional trauma she suffered from the deception.
As part of the battle, she pursued a legal challenge to force the Metropolitan police to disclose that her former boyfriend, John Dines, had been an undercover officer.
She incurred the bill for the police’s legal costs after she withdrew the appeal. She says she was forced to withdraw to avoid the possibility of being landed with a much larger bill.
The Met has employed a firm of lawyers to chase the outstanding bill and is threatening to take “enforcement action” against her if she does not pay by Wednesday (TODAY)....
Read more:

Roy Bentham says 'Blacklist never went away!'

Blacklisting debate in parliament 

5th September 2017 - 1:30pm 

Westminster Hall

Houses of Parliament
Blacklisting will be debated again by MPs in parliament in September after Chuka Umunna secured a Westminster Hall debate. This parliamentary procedure will last around 90 minutes and allows Chuka and other MPs who attend to ask questions of the government minister. This is an excellent opportunity to contact your own MP to ask them to attend the debate and raise issues such as ongoing contemporary blacklisting, a public inquiry or why public sector contracts are still being awarded to blacklist firms.
Roy Bentham, the Blacklist Support Group joint secretary, and a blacklisted carpenter from Merseyside commented:
"Despite the human rights conspiracy being exposed in the High Court, blacklisting has never gone away. Many union members continue to be barred from major construction projects right now in 2017. As someone who fell foul of contemporary blacklisting recently by Carillion on the Liverpool Royal Hospital, this parliamentary debate is most welcome. But the time for talking is over, what we need is action".

Blacklist Support Group will be attending - assemble 12:30pm outside the public entrance to parliament for any press photos etc.
Please Note: Westminster Hall debates take place in the Grand Committee Room off of Westminster Hall, NOT the chamber of the House of Commons.

Blacklisting & Construction Union Collusion Claim?

BELOW is the full text of the original Open Letter dated December 20, 2016, which may have forced the hand of Len McCluskey, the Unite general secretary, to agree to commission a barrister to examine allegations that union officials colluded with a covert blacklisting operation financed by major firms(with more names added):

WE the undersigned, are writing this open letter in the spirit of fraternal debate amongst members of the newly merged UCATT / UNITE construction union.
The upsurge in industrial militancy in the last few years demonstrates that when the official union works alongside rank and file activists, it is possible to mobilise workers even in a hostile environment. The merger offers an opportunity to start anew the fight against the appallingly high fatality rates and casualization of the construction industry by combining the best traditions of the two unions.
However, one issue threatens to cause internal friction: possible union collusion in blacklisting.
Some years ago, both UCATT and UNITE carried out internal investigations into possible union involvement in blacklisting. But that was at a time when barely any of the documentation was available.
Since the High Court, all that has changed. The employers were forced to provide witness statements and disclose 40 years worth of documentary evidence. It is now in the public domain that officials in both unions were recorded as the source of information on Economic League and Consulting Association blacklist files. Some of those named, remain senior officials in UNITE and UCATT to this day. Every union activist in construction knows who the named officials are, as does every major employer.
The leadership of both unions have now seen the evidence: discussions about those officials potentially implicated in blacklisting or with overly cosy relationships with industrial relations managers has been part of the behind the scenes discussions in the run up to the merger.
The High Court litigation won a multi-million pound settlement for blacklisted workers. We fully acknowledge and recognise the tremendous legal, political and industrial campaigns that the unions have undertook.
But compensation is not the same as justice: there has still been no-one held accountable for their actions. We remain resolute in calling for a public inquiry into blacklisting. But that is for a future Corbyn government. Now is the time to put our own house in order.
We the undersigned call upon the new UNITE construction section to engage an independent legal expert to carry out a thorough investigation of the allegations relating to union collusion in blacklisting, with a remit drawn up in conjunction with the blacklisted workers. If the implicated officials are completely innocent, then this is their opportunity to clear their name once and for all.  But if the independent investigation concludes that there is a case to answer, then the union should take the appropriate disciplinary action. We are not looking for a witch-hunt, we simply want answers into possible union collusion in order to avoid repeating mistakes of the past.
This issue has haunted the union for years and until it is prepared to act, it will continue to be a running sore that hinders building unity in the newly merged union. We need to unite in order to fight against unscrupulous employers and the Tories, but the newly merged union needs to start with a clean slate.
We urge members to please attend your branch or regional meetings, and send a motion in support of an independent investigation to the UNITE EC.
Yours fraternally:
Blacklist Support Group
Construction Rank and File (national)
(plus in a personal capacity)
Steve Acheson – ex-UNITE branch secretary & safety rep
Dave Ayre – ex-Crook UCATT branch secretary
Royston Bentham – ex-UCATT steward & secretary UNITE Liverpool construction
Graham Bowker – treasurer UNITE Manchester contracting branch
Graeme Boxall – branch secretary UNITE London construction branch
Ian Bradley – UNITE London contracting branch
Terry Brough – ex-UCATT North West Regional Council
John Bryan – retired Bermondsey UCATT
Daniel Collins – UNITE London construction branch
John Connolly – UNITE Liverpool
Paul Crimmins – ex-UCATT branch secretary & steward
Dan Dobson – ex-UNITE SE construction branch secretary
Stewart Emms – ex UCATT full time officials
Peter Farrell – UCATT, Construction Safety Campaign
John Flannaghan – ex-UCATT, now UNITE
Jack Fawbert – ex-UCATT convener
Lee James Fowler – ex-offshore safety rep, UNITE
George Fuller – ex-UCATT safety rep
Jim Grey – Jubilee Line steward, UNITE London contracting
Jim Harte – chair UNITE Combine Committee
Brian Higgins – ex-UCATT Eastern Regional Council & branch secretary
Kev Holmes – chair, UNITE Manchester construction branch
Stewart Hume – UNITE construction NISC
John Jones – ex-UCATT London Regional Council
Tony Jones – UNITE Manchester construction branch
Bill Kaye – UNITE Eastern Region
Steve Kelly – Jubilee Line steward, ex-UNITE branch secretary
Stephen Kennedy – Jubilee Line steward, UNITE
Greig McArthur – UNITE construction NISC
Frank Morris –UNITE EC member for construction
Tony O’Brien – ex-UCATT Southwark convenor & branch secretary
Jason Poulter – secretary UNITE Manchester construction branch
Jim Ryan –Crossrail steward, UNITE London contracting
Tony Seaman – UNITE construction NISC
Pete Shaw – UNITE construction RISC, Combine committee
Dave Smith – ex-UCATT branch secretary & London Regional Council
Frank Smith – ex-UCATT branch secretary & steward
Billy Spiers – chair UNITE construction NISC, ex-AMICUS EC member
Tony Sweeney- ex-UCATT Liverpool convener
Colin Trousdale – ex-UNITE NW Region RISC
Victor Williams – Unite construction

Unite & union collusion claims on blacklisting

Britain’s biggest trade union has commissioned a barrister to examine allegations that union officials colluded with a covert blacklisting operation financed by major firms to prevent certain workers from being employed.
The move has been ordered by the head of Unite, Len McCluskey, and follows calls by blacklisted workers to set up an independent inquiry into the claims of collusion, which is alleged to have spanned at least 20 years to 2009.
The barrister is to scrutinise documents that were disclosed in a high court lawsuit that led to construction firms apologising and paying compensation amounting to around £75m to 771 blacklisted workers.
Some documents appeared to show that trade union officials had passed information to the blacklisters, including private warnings not to hire specific workers they deemed to be politically awkward. Individual workers were labelled “militant” or a “troublemaker” by union officials, according to the files.
In signed statements, managers who ran the blacklist alleged that union officials wanted to prevent disruption on industrial sites and helped to deny jobs to some of their own members.

For more go to › Politics › Unite

Scottish Labour Leader Resigns

SPECULATION over the departure of Kezia Dugdale, the leader of the Scottish Labour Party is rife throughout the British media.  Some are suggesting that she jumped before she was pushed, having previously criticised Jeremy Corbyn. Others suggest it is for personal reasons, which is what she says in her long letter of resignation.
Meanwhile,Harriet Harman has already called on Jeremy Corbyn to appoint a female replacement for Kezia Dugdale amid claims the Labour leader has a problem with women.
There are other difficulties and constitutionally the Scottish Labour party is registered with the Electoral Commission as an Accounting Unit (AU) of the UK Labour party, and is therefore not a registered political party under the terms of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000. 
Consequently when Johann Lamont resigned as the Scottish Labour Party leader after the referendum in 2014, she angrily suggested that London persisted in treating Scotland 'like a branch office'.

'Scottish Labour membership has increased in the Corbyn period, but not by the phenomenal degree it has elsewhere in the UK. The scope for a Momentum-style surge in Scotland is limited. The left is a crowded marketplace in Scotland, with competition from the SNP but also the wider yes movement, including the Radical Independence Campaign, to say nothing of a Scottish Green party that can claim more MSPs than the Lib Dems.'
Only last weekend the Sunday Herald newspaper in Scotland devoted two pages last weekend to speculating that Momentum were keen to get rid of Dugdale, along with Brian Roy, the Scottish party secretary, and, indeed, Iain McNicol, the UK general secretary – to make way for Corbyn’s true believers. The Herald quoted extensively from the upcoming edition of the Scottish Left Review, which backs the UK leader and seems to think elements of Scottish Labour are holding back the red Corbyn tide.
In a recent issue of the Scottish Left Review (issue 100) Carolyn Leckie in an article titled 'INDEPENDENCE IS STILL A GAME CHANGER' has written:
'In 2017, radical and progressive ideas are more popular in Scotland than for many decades.  Yet the left is more diffuse and fragmented than ever before.  There are radical leftists in the Scottish Green Party, RISE, the SSP, the Labour Party, the Communist Party and in groups like Common Weal and Women for Independence.  And, there are more socialists in and around the SNP than in all of these organisations combined.'
While there is voter fatigue in Scotland it seems the independence debate informs almost every aspect of Scottish political elections.

Monday, 28 August 2017

What Len McCluskey said about Blacklist Probe

GIVEN that the Unite general secretary Len McCluskey's recent letter outlining his proposal to review 'any evidence of officer collusion in Blacklisting', is now in the public domain we think, in fairness to McCluskey, it is worth recalling what Mr. McCluskey actually promised during his election campaign last December.  On Monday, 19th, December 2016, we on Northern Voices' published the following post based at that time on reports in the Morning Star and on the unite4len website:
Len McCluskey:
"I undertake to ensure an independent review of this new evidence when I am re-elected General Secretary of Unite and after the new High Court proceedings have concluded".

Full story and quote:

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Blacklisting Documents Review & Mr. McCluskey

 Editor of Northern Voices:
THE letter below was sent last Thursday by Len McCluskey, the leader of Unite, to the blacklist whistle-blower, Alan Wainwright, and to members of the Construction NISC (National Industrial Sector Committee) and to Unite Construction members of the Executive Council.  We publish Mr. McCluskey's letter in full.  This letter comes now following an earlier promise from Mr. McCluskey that he would set up an independent inquiry into alleged collusion by paid trade union officers in Blacklisting: 
24 August 2017 
To: All Unite Construction NISC members and Unite Construction Executive Council members

Dear Colleague,
Blacklisting Documents Review

As you are aware Unite have, since I have been General Secretary, put the full resources of the union behind supporting victims of Blacklisting. We have successfully litigated against those companies that engaged in Blacklisting, run a successful Leverage campaign and are now gathering evidence to tackle contemporary blacklisting.
There have recently been calls for us to consider all documents that have been disclosed in the High Court litigation to see if there is any evidence of officer collusion in Blacklisting. I have committed to undertaking that review.
Presently Unite have a further 70 plus cases being taken for victims of Blacklisting.  It is vitally important that any review of documentation does not disrupt that litigation. As such I have given instructions that a Counsel from Doughty Street Chambers be instructed to review all of the disclosure documents from the litigation and to provide a report for use in the current litigation that deals with general issues as well as the specific issue as to whether there is any evidence of officer collusion. This report will remain confidential whilst there is ongoing litigation but when that litigation is concluded it will be available. If there is any evidence arising from the documents it will be acted upon.
I have asked Howard Beckett to attend the next construction NISC to update the NISC as to the current litigation and the intended strategy of trying to get those individuals responsible for the Blacklist into Court.

  Yours sincerely,
   General Secretary


Friday, 25 August 2017


from Alan Wainwright's Blog

 Friday, 25 August 2017

IT is common knowledge to everyone involved in the blacklisting over the last twelve years that the current Unite area official, Mick Tuff and the then General Secretary, Derek Simpson buried all my blacklisting evidence in 2005/2006, leaving me (a current member of the Amicus union at the time) isolated and alone with this, and allowing Ian Kerr and The Consulting Association to continue functioning.
The evidence presented to them was the exact same evidence, no more or less than eventually enabled David Clancy from the ICO to trace and close down the Consulting Association some four years later.

I have raised this with many Unite officials over the years and many senior Labour politicians (funded by Unite), who have all turned a blind eye to this.  

On learning about Mr McCluskeys' election pledge (to hold an independent inquiry into trade union official complicity in the blacklisting),  I presented an extensive report to him on the evidence I’d collated on the cover up, trade union official collusion and other very important and relevant facts.  I put it to him that the scope of this inquiry needed to be widened much further than just officer collusion. 

The report can be downloaded here: REPORT

The appendices can be downloaded here: APPENDICES

Mr McCluskeys' email response dated 24 August 2017 simply states:  
“Please find enclosed a letter which has gone out to all of our construction NISC”.

"I am advised that you are not a member of Unite and this is just to advise that my dealings on this matter will be solely through the official organ of the union, i.e. the Construction NISC and the Executive Council”.

The letter referred to can be downloaded here: LETTER

My report had clearly stated that I am a member of Unite. It also detailed my membership and branch number at the top of the page. 

Mr McCluskeys’ comment therefore strongly suggests that he had not even read the report, let alone considered the very important facts contained.

alan wainwright & the construction industry blacklist - blogger 

Building industry blacklist whistleblower sues for victimisation ... › Business › Construction industry 

Bin strike victory protects ‘vital’ safety role

sent from former council worker & Unite member, Joe Bailey
UNITE has said last week’s victory in the long running Birmingham bins dispute has protected a vital safety role.  The union said that the city council had accepted the refuse workers’ case and restored the grade 3 jobs, which are responsible for safety at the rear of the refuse vehicles, leading to the suspension of the industrial action.  Unite said the union and the city council would hold further talks at the conciliation service Acas to resolve outstanding issues. 
Unite assistant general secretary Howard Beckett said: “We are very pleased that we have reached the stage where we can suspend the industrial action while we hold further talks about the future of the refuse service.”  He added: “The council has addressed our members’ concerns, including the safeguarding of the grade 3 post that is vital to the safety at the rear of the refuse vehicles. Unite also welcomes the fact that our suspended rep is now returning to work.” 
The vehicle safety risks to the public and refuse workers has led to the introduction of specific new laws in in the US.  Last year, New York State become the latest in the US to introduce a ‘slow down’ law to protect garbage workers.  Slow down laws had already been introduced in 11 other states over the last decade in response to distracted driving that has led to sometimes fatal incidents for refuse collection workers.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Doncaster Bin-men's Strike called-off!

 Report from Rotherham Advertiser  
by Michael Upton | 22/08/2017
PLANNED strikes by dustmen in Doncaster which were due to begin tomorrow have been called off after a last minute pay offer was agreed.

But officials from trade union Unite warned that further industrial action was likely if an agreement is not reached with the private contractor 'Suez' over proposals to make over 100 of the 250 strong workforce redundant.

The workforce will receive a two per cent increase backdated to April 2017 and a further 2.7 per cent increase from September 2017.
Workers will see their pay further boosted with an additional 2.7 per cent increase earmarked for March 2018 brought forward and paid from September 2017.

The overall pay increase means that workers will be on average £1 an hour better off.
It was further agreed that during the lifetime of the contract the workforce will receive an annual pay increase equal to RPIx.

The redundancies are linked to a new refuse and recycling contract tendered by Doncaster Council, which is due to begin in April 2018.
Unite said it was determined to minimise job losses and an “absolute red line” for the union was that Suez removed the threat to make workers compulsorily redundant.
Strike action had been scheduled to begin tomorrow and run until Sunday, with another walkout planned from September 2 to 6.

Talks will begin at arbitration service Acas on Friday to allow for detailed negotiations to take place to discuss the new Doncaster refuse contract which will include “different collection methodologies, frequencies and collection crews”.

Unite regional officer, Shane Sweeting, said: “This deal has dramatically improved the wages of our members and means many of them are being paid above poverty pay rates for the first time.

“Residents of Doncaster will be relieved that their refuse collection will not be seriously disrupted by strike action this week.

“However until Suez withdraws the threat to make over 100 refuse workers compulsorily redundant the possibility of industrial action this autumn remains very much on the table.”

Nick Browning, of Suez, said: “In addition to securing a pay award for 2017, the long-term deal also sets in place a sustainable pay mechanism for up to ten years — linked to the cost of living.
“We would like to thank the residents of Doncaster for their patience and understanding while these negotiations have been ongoing.”,bin-strikes-averted-as-union-strikes-deal-with-waste-firm_23565.htm

Monday, 21 August 2017

Birmingham Bin Strike: Council Back Down!

BIN collections in Birmingham are to resume after weeks of mounting rubbish caused misery for the city's residents.  Industrial action has been suspended as progress was made in a long-running dispute involving refuse collection workers, conciliation service Acas said.

Before the latest development the Unite union had warned that the dispute could last until Christmas, with workers campaigning against plans to cut more than 100 waste collection jobs.

What we know so far says the Birmingham Mail:  The bin strike which has crippled Birmingham for almost two months has been suspended.
The breakthrough came after the city council and the Unite union held talks via the Acas conciliation service.
The news means the mountains of rubbish left festering on the city's streets since the dispute began in June will finally be cleared, although there was no immediate timescale for the clean-up.
The resolution will bring joy to residents who have had to cope with packed bin bags piled high, while flies, maggots and rats were widely reported.
Acas has said in a statement:
'Birmingham City Council and Unite the Union have today made sufficient progress in their talks for the Shop Stewards to pause industrial action.
'Birmingham City Council cabinet members have agreed in principle that the grade 3 posts will be maintained.
'Consequently there are no redundancy steps in place.
'In addition the parties will now look to discuss, through ACAS, how the service can be improved, with the intention of improving efficiencies in performance of the bin collection service generally, including what savings can be made, and specifically how best the current Grade 3 roles can now be maintained and developed so that they take forward the ambition to deliver cleaner streets and align to wider Total Place principles.
 'Unite have also agreed in principle to recommend to their members work pattern changes, including consideration of a five-day working week.
'Both parties agree the working week should be designed to maximise service delivery.
'To assist in the resolution of outstanding issues both parties will go to ACAS.
'These discussions will be with the intention of incorporating any agreement as an amendment to the Waste Management Service Cabinet Report in September 2017.
'Both parties are pleased to be recommencing industrial relations and pleased that the bin collection can resume without disruption.'
Acas said the parties had made 'sufficient' progress in their talks for industrial action to be paused, with council cabinet members agreeing in principle that Grade 3 posts will be maintained, and consequently there are no redundancy steps in place.
Unite has also agreed in principle to recommend to its members work pattern changes, including consideration of a five-day working week, Acas said, with both parties agreeing that the working week should be designed to maximise service delivery.
Discussions are set to continue on how the service can be improved, with the intention of improving efficiencies in performance of the bin collection service generally, including what savings can be made.
To assist in the resolution of outstanding issues both parties will go to Acas.
Unite said the Grade 3 jobs are responsible for the safety at the rear of the refuse vehicles.
There are now expectation that similar conflicts will occur across the country, and Doncaster has been mentioned as an area of conflict in the near future.

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Justice for Grenfell

Public Meeting:

Justice for Grenfell
We need answers!


6 pm on Tuesday 22nd of August
Salford Arts Theatre, Kemsing Walk (off Liverpool St), Salford M5 4BS.

Speakers from:
Justice4Grenfell Campaign
Mark Rowe, FBU North West Regional Secretary
Hilda Palmer, GM Hazards Campaign
Salford City Unison

All Welcome

For more information contact Salford City Unison Branch Office on 0161794 7425 or got to

Monday, 14 August 2017

Comrade Corbyn in Southport on Friday.

Comrade Corbyn

Labour Party leader, comrade Jeremy Corbyn, has been on a tour of marginal constituencies trying to whip up support for Labour. This Friday, 18th August, he will be holding a rally on the beach in Southport and he's calling on Labour Party supporters, to bring friends and family to support him.

Labour came close to winning Southport at the last election and hopes to win this marginal at the next election. Organisers are asking people to arrive at 5.15pm for a 6.00pm start. The rally is a 20 minute walk from the train station.

Since losing the last election, Labour have acted like a prospective government in waiting. Although an exuberant Corbyn, told revellers at this years Glastonbury Festival, that he expected to be in Downing Street by Christmas and would scrap the Trident nuclear deterrent, this now seems unlikely.

Conservative reactionaries and the Ulster Orangemen of the Democratic Unionists Party(DUP) have rallied round the hapless lame-duck prime minister Theresa May, shit scared at the prospects of a Corbyn government and spurred on by a £1 billion bung to the DWP, picked from the magic money tree.

Friday, 11 August 2017

Homeless Squat Eviction in Bristol

by Kevin 'B'
AT 2.30pm today (Friday 11th, August 2017),. I was on my way to Bristol Central Library and noticed a large crowd of people watching an Eviction.
The Police where there in Riot  Gear and lots of private Bailiffs with battering rams, night goggles to examine dark areas of the building etc..
'The Music Shop' on College Green closed a good while ago and has been discretely squatted.
The crowd which was mainly young students did not protest they just passively watched from the other side of the road.
I said to one group of students that don't you think its wrong to treat evicting homeless people as a public spectacle?
Homelessness is getting worse in Bristol because accommodation is expensive to rent. Social Housing is scarce.
Its not unusual for me to see 3 or 4 people sleeping on College Green during the daytime as its safer for them to do so. Safer than rough sleeping at night. 

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Grenfell Towers: Consequences for Manchester

 excerpt from analysis by Eimear McCartan and Sam Blewitt, Campaign Volunteers at the 
Greater Manchester Law Centre
REACTIONS of grief and anger have been voiced by not only the affected community, but also by the wider community as residents in similarly constructed housing all around Britain justifiably raise concerns about their safety.
Lucy Powell, Labour’s MP for Manchester Central has expressed concerns about housing safety in Manchester and has called for tighter safety regulations in an interview with the Manchester Evening News. She amongst others, have raised concerns that all high-rise buildings should be reviewed, and not just council flats.
“We shouldn’t just be focusing on former council blocks, because in Manchester – particularly in the city centre – we have had a huge increase in the number of high rise blocks,” she said. [2]
However, steps have already been taken in Greater Manchester to assuage the community’s unrest. Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham has set up a scheme headed by Paul Dennett (Mayor of Salford) in which every high-rise building above 6 stories will be reviewed, providing residents reassurance about fire safety standards.
On 23rd June, the Mayor of Salford also announced that cladding used on nine different high-rise blocks in Salford that were a similar material to the ones used to insulate Grenfell Tower would be removed.

For more:

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Anti Fracking Action:

 Report from its front line

by Martin S. Gilbert

PLEASE will you actively support the anti-fracking action at Little Plumpton, 
Preston New Road, near Blackpool Lancs. This action began in January this year. I was there recently with friends from our local Green Party.  A hundred or so were present that day from different parts of Britain.  But at night the numbers are much less sometimes. All ages were present.  I chatted with protesters from many political perspectives.  Some wore Anarchist symbols.

Basic organization is impressive.  You arrive at a neat encampment with easy parking, to be welcomed with tea or coffee.  A separate tent is available for the media. The actual protest site is half a mile away, transport no problem if you cannot walk that far.  

Large professional signage shows what we are doing and why. 

All this helped the cheerful atmosphere like a big family gathering. 

Who says that protests cannot be fun?  But this one is a matter that should concern us all.

Hydraulic fracturing or Fracking pollutes fresh water, contaminates ground water and can release methane a powerful green house gas. Toxic chemicals are used to extract  natural gas. 

Storage of that gas could be very dangerous.  So far, two American states have banned Fracking.

Lancashire County Council voted with a big majority to refuse Caudrilla, the company concerned planning permission for that drilling. Westminster over ruled that Council’s decision.  Meaning that Fracking can now take place anywhere: your back garden or ours!! Among the many arrests was a woman who is a member of Lancs County Council. There is no bad feeling between those who plan to get arrested and those who only want to convey our messages to the public legally.  Lancashire Daily T.V. news 2
thoroughly covers this story, giving time to the Police who claim to be neutral, 
Caudrilla and the protesters.   Our active support is needed here.  I have not seen anything as inpirational as this for a long time.