Friday, 31 August 2018

Whose Afraid of Jonathan Sacks?

by Les May

CARVED into the wall at Broadcasting House are the words of George Orwell, ‘If liberty means anything at all it means the right to tell people what they so not want to hear’, which makes the juxtaposition of articles in the most recent copy of the Radio Times all the more interesting.

The ‘Pick of the week’ on Radio 4 is ‘Morality in the 21st Century’ presented by ex-Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks.  We are told that his aim is to ‘provoke thought and discussion never to proselytise or preach’ and that ‘Morality is what lifts us above the pursuit of self interest and self esteemAnd in case you are wondering, yes that’s the same Jonathan Sacks who are few days ago was denouncing Jeremy Corbyn as an antisemite and a racist because he did not like what Corbyn had said.  Or more correctly he did not like his interpretation of what Corbyn had said.  This in turn became his justification for his absurd comparison of Corbyn words with Enoch Powell’s speech.

The other article is by the BBC’s world affairs editor John Simpson.  In it he comments ‘People have allowed themselves to be persuaded that there’s something wrong with being given open and unbiased information from BBC journalists’.  I think that Simpson is over egging the pudding a bit here because all media outlets select what is news’, who they are going to quote or interview, and how much space or air time they are to be given, so reports are never going to be quite so unbiased as he suggests.  But that does not mean it is not worth making the effort.  He goes on to say Well, I’m sorry, but I don’t think any subject is too important to keep our minds closed to it’.  I agree and the fact that someone might be ‘offended’ by some subjects cuts no ice with me.  You are never going to change anyone’s mind unless you can talk to them.

Simon Kelner, who writes think pieces for thei newspaper, i.e. he’s a columnist not a journalist in the mould of Simpson, wrote last week that Sack’s used his Instagram account to tell the world that he was ‘a religious leader, philosopher, award-winning author and a respected moral voice’.   Clearly Sack’s is not a man over endowed with modesty or self doubt.  Kelner says that he is definably, a Zionist, which suggests to me that he, Kelner, has not actually spent much time trying to figure out what a Zionist is.  Seeking enlightenment I found that the explanation on Wikipedia runs to some 11,000 words which is 28 A4 pages.   Here is the link, I’ll let you figure it out for yourself.

In a remarkable bit of inventiveness Kelner writes, Not all Jews are Zionists, but (mostly) all Zionists are Jews, and I, as a liberal-minded British Jew (rather than a Zionist) am offended by Mr Corbyn’s pronouncements. The flaw in this bit of twisted logic is that one chooses to be a Zionist, you are born a Jew.   To my mind that means that you can criticise a Jew for being a Zionist, but not for being a Jew.   (I would add that I feel uncomfortable using Kelner’s form of wording because in my own speech I prefer to say someone is a Jewish person rather thana Jew, and Jewish people rather than the Jews).
As for Kelner’s complaint that he is offended by what Corbyn said, all I can say is So what’?   Since when did Kelner, or indeed anyone else, have a right never to be offended?  No one seems to be too concerned about not offending me in matters just as close to my heart as Sack’s and Kelner’s hobby horse.

(Andrea Dworkin was once quoted in the The Observer as saying All men are Nazis.  After it was published there was no rush to defend men or censure Dworkin, so I am unlikely to feel I have to avoid making comparisons between some of Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians and the behaviour of the Nazis.)

One of the curious things about the claims that Corbyn is presiding over a Labour party riddled with antisemitism is that I have not yet met anyone who has actually witnessed it.  And it’s not just my Labour friends who say this.  A friend who never misses an opportunity to denigrate Labour has made exactly the same point on more than one occasion.   Nor is antisemitic crime running riot in this country. About 15,000 prosecutions for hate crime are launched annually.  Annual prosecutions for anti-semitism have yet to top two dozen. In spite of Margaret Hodge’s silly musings no one is being threatened by a new Holocaust.

So I think we can reasonably ask who is behind the repeated complaints against Corbyn.  On the photographic evidence published in the newspapers there seem to be two culprits, the Jewish Chronicle and the Campaign Against Antisemitism.   We also know from the films on the Al Jazeera TV channel which were shown in 2017 that the state of Israel has been interfering in UK politics and has tried to destabilise the Labour party.

Why? That’s easy. Corbyn is unashamedly on the side of the Palestinians.  It is to discredit any charges he makes against the state of Israel by claiming that he is an anti-Semite.  It's to turn Jewish people into victims, and by implication, Israel into a nation of victims.   It's no longer Israel that needs to leave the Occupied Territories; it's Corbyn and the rest of us who need to free ourselves of antisemitism.

I’m sure Corbyn has plenty of advisers and does not need my advice, but I’m going to give it all the same.  Fight these people on the basis of freedom of speech. Put them on the defensive for a change.  Remind people what Orwell said.   Remind them that the first thing the Nazis did was to suppress dissent, so remind people about how many British lives were lost in defence of that liberty

Troubled Ward With Curious Carryings-On

Saturday, 25 August 2018

Fraudulent Faisal & Charlotte, the Single Mother

by Brain Bamford
Labour Shuns Single Mother & Embraces Election Fraudster
Charlotte Hughes - Dumped by Labour for Council Tax Arrears

WHILE in Rochdale the Labour Party appears to be only too willing to excuse Councillor Faisal Rana, a vulgar fraud who voted twice in the local elections last May, breaching the Representation of the People Act 1983; in nearby Tameside the local Labour Party has blocked a single mother, Charlotte Hughes, from standing in a by-election in Ashton Waterloo ward because she had fallen into debt with her council tax.

On the 3rd, August, an excited local Tameside MP, Angela Rayner wrote:  
'Congratulations to anti poverty campaigner @charlotteh71 who has tonight been selected as our Labour Party candidate for Ashton Waterloo Ward in my constituency in the upcoming council by election. I look forward to campaigning hard with Charlotte and our Labour Party team.'
Alas, it was not to be for on August 8th, Charlotte wrote on Twitter that she had been deselected owing to an unpaid council tax bill: :   
'However I owe council tax, a big NO NO. I’m not ashamed of being poor. It’s a fact. I’m working class and proud of it. However to cut along story short I have been deselected because of this.'

What distinguishes the single mother Charlotte Hughes in Tameside from Councillor Faisal Rana in Rochdale, is that the Rochdale Councillor is a rich director, who also has a portfolio of some 32 houses in central Rochdale, while Ms. Hughes who lives in a council house is poor, and has been driven by misfortune into debt.

The cunning swindler and manipulator of the election register is acceptable in today's Labour Party, while a person down on her luck becomes a persona non grata  in the eyes of the great and the good in today's Labour Party in the Greater Manchester area.


Friday, 24 August 2018

How Often did Councillor Rana Vote Twice?

He only lacks a knowledge of English Law! 
by Brian Bamford
LAST night at Spotland Methodist Church in Rochdale during a meeting of a local Forum, a boisterous Councillor Cecille Biant vigorously defended the notorious Rochdale Councillor 'Two Votes' Rana and rounded on his critics.  She insisted that he was totally innocent politically, and why on earth should he be expected to understand that he shouldn't vote twice.  She said that the press had been harsh it its treatment of Councillor Rana, who had simply been supplied with two ballot papers because he was registered at two addresses - one in Norden and one in the Spotland and Falinge ward, and thought he could vote twice.

We were further told by a character witness sitting next to Councillor Biant, that Councillor Rana was a 'honest man' and a 'kind man',

The chairman (Phil Massey: Councillor Rana's Agent) urging the meeting to accept that the police had dealt with the matter and drawn a line under it, said:  'The police have decided that there was "no guilty intent" and that's why they have given him a caution'.  

Others present at the meeting argued that this was not the case, and that by accepting a police caution meant that Councillor Faisal Rana had accepted his own guilt, and had been forced to give an apology for his actions.

Faisal Rana was not available last night to give an account for himself.  Last Saturday, he sent an e-mail to Northern Voices which reads as follows:  '

'Thank you very much for your email. I will not be available from 16/8/2018 to 30/8/2018. I will reply to your email on my return.'

Faisal Rana's Twitter account now reads:
This account's Tweets are protected.’

Only confirmed followers have access to @FaisalRana48's Tweets and complete profile. 

It's extraordinary how the Labour Party establishment in Rochdale thinks it can hold to a spirit of moral minimalism when it comes to governance of the town.  A few years ago with the former Rochdale MP, Simon Danczuk, the citizens of the town felt themselves to be knee-deep in degradation and filth, and that things couldn't possibly get any worse.  Then we were blessed with a council leader, Richard Farnell, who couldn't recall untoward events under his rule alleged to have taken place at Knowl View School for Boys, and has since been accused of perjury..  Then there was Council leader Allen Brett threatening the gerrymandering of funds against those areas of the town opposed to his rule and that of the Labour Party.  

In each of these cases the culprits have held onto their positions for as long as possible, thus ultimately compounding the damage to themselves and their party and in doing so continuing to undermine the image of the town itself.  So it shouldn't surprise us that now the self confessed election fraud Councillor Rana is a chip off the old block, and at present is hiding from the spotlight of publicity.

Thursday, 23 August 2018

Councillor Faisal 'Two Votes' Rana Rehabilitated?

by Brian Bamford

Councillor Rana's Agent Remembering a Postal Vote

ROCHDALE is a town that doesn't have a good name.  It's seen as a kind of dynasty of dirt.  In a letter in today's Rochdale Observer* a former leader of Rochdale Council, Colin Lambert writes:
'Here we go again,  Rochdale Council have another leader putting the reputation of the entire borough on the front page.... So what we do we have now, a disposed leader suspended by the Labour Party at a national level and being investigated by the Metropolitan Police..
'A current leader found to have brought the council and his position into disrepute. One Labour area which elected a Labour councillor in May, being investigated for election fraud.'

Mr Lambert in the same letter calls on the national Labour Party 'to intervene and suspend the Rochdale Borough Labour Group', and fearing that may not suffice he says 'It is time for the Government to send in the inspectors and run the council.'

Just above Mr Lambert's letter is another letter in rhe Rochdale Ob. bearing the Monika of none other than Councillor Faisal 'Two Votes' Rana, the councillor mentioned by him in his letter, who only last week admitted to election fraud by breaching the Representation of the People Act 1983'

The same letter appeared on ROCHDALE ONLINE  minus Councillor 'Two Votes' Rana on the 16th, August.  The letter itself is signed by five local councillors including the discredited Rana himself; a local green campaigner;  the Vicar of Rochdale, the Reverend  Coleman, and it calls for 'unity' declaring the 'racists will not win'.

Councillor 'Two Votes' Rana has distinguished himself in this respect, in so far as while living among the Great and the Good up Norden in his minor mansion on Bronte Close, he has delicated himself to housing poor whites among the working-class in his vast portfollio of many rented properties in down-town Falinge and elsewhere in central Rochdale.
*  The same letter from Colin Lambert appeared on Rochdale Online on the 10 August:

Monday, 20 August 2018

Rochdale’s Collective Passion to Get Vote Out

Faisal ‘Two Votes’ Rana shows civic spirit

by Brian Bamford

Councillor Rana’s Poster Calls for Honesty & Integrity

MOST people in Rochdale didn’t even bother to vote in the local elections on the 3rd, May this year.  But not so Labour Councillor Faisal Rana, a resident of Bronte Close in Norden, and until recently also at an address in the Spotland & Falinge ward, who was so keen to cast his vote that he managed to contrive to vote more than once. 
Councillor Rana told Sky News last Tuesday that‘I have accepted a police caution for an electoral offence, which relates to me casting separate votes for two different wards in two different 
Constituencies (Spotland and Falinge, and Norden Ward) in the local elections earlier this year.
I legally registered my votes by providing my genuine national insurance number, date of birth and addresses and when I received these through the post I thought it would have been OK and that is why they issued me two ballots for two constituencies.

I did not realise this was an offence and misinterpreted the rule that says it is possible to vote in two different electoral areas.

As soon as this was brought to my attention I went for a voluntary interview at local police station and co-operated with police fully in this regard.’

Voting 'Often' to Uphold Confidence in the Ballot
Northern Voices was tipped-off about a pending complaint to the authorities of possible unorthodox multiple voting in the Rochdale election on the 3rd, May.  Since then the local police having first hesitated about pursuing the case, have discovered that Councillor Rana had entered into the election spirit by voting more than once.
Last Tuesday, the complainant Carl Faulkner, who stood as an independent candidate against Councillor Rana in Spotland and Falinge, gave the following statement to Northern Voices:
‘This is what we have with Labour councillor Faisal Rana, who actually expects people to believe his laughable claim that he mistakenly obtained two votes due to his ignorance of basic electoral law.
Labour councillor Faisal Rana did not innocently obtain his fraudulent second vote by “mistake”. Firstly, he purposely selected an address of convenience, where he did not live.  He then wilfully completed the registration process, which if answered honestly, is designed to prevent someone obtaining two votes. He then went on to apply for a postal vote.  At the subsequent election he carefully completed and returned that unlawfully obtained postal vote.
I informed the police of my suspicions on the day of the election. At the time, it was made clear to me that it was not something that would be investigated.  It was only because of my persistence that an investigation actually did commence some weeks later.’
Leader of Rochdale council, Labour's Allen Brett, addressing the issue of Councillor Rana told Sky TV:  'It is vital that councillors do all that they can to uphold the integrity of the democratic process.'

Well yes, indeed, and so Councillor Rana ran for Council on a conscientious platform of 'HONESTY, INTEGRITY and VISION', with the forethought, and creative vision to get in early; balloting from different addresses to place his postal votes.

And Labour's imaginative public spirited Councillor Rana is really spoilt for choice when it comes to addresses to claim a vote from, with rows of houses in the Rochdale Borough at his disposal to choose to claim his vote from; as anyone who seeks to cast their eyes over vast list of properties in his Register of Members Interests can see for themselves.

Council Leader Allen Brett is naturally disappointed 'in Councillor Rana's error because [as he says] he is a very talented and hardworking individual who shares our collective passion to improve our borough.'

Kill-joys & Representation of the People Act
The sad thing is that there are kill-joys in our midst who insist on side-constraints of the kind of creative passion promoted by Councillor Rana's inventiveness in spreading the voting habit.  As a consequence Greater Manchester Police gave statement:

'On Monday 13 August 2018 a 51-year-man was cautioned with engaging in an act at an election intending to deprive another of a vote contrary to sections 62A(1) and 168(1) of the Representations of the People Act 1983.'

Alas, the talented Councillor Rana's spirit of expanding the franchise falls foul of the Representations of the People Act 1983', and despite the general war cry of both Councillors Brett and Rana that it was all a dreadful mistake; in law it amounts to 'engaging in an act at an election intending to deprive another of a vote', and this is  'contrary to .... the Representation of the People Act 1983'.  

We politicians can waffle on as much as we want about voting 'often' or even twice 'by error' or 'by mistake', but the key words in the Act are the mens rea of 'intending to deprive'.

Northern Voices approached both Councillor Brett and Councillor Rana on Thursday (16th, August) before publication, Councillor Brett we were told is 'not in the office till Monday', and someone called 'Vicky' in the Council Leader's Office promised somebody called 'Dan' would get back to us, but we're still waiting for enlightenment, and Councillor Rana had a message put on his answer-phone, but 'Reply Came There None!'.


Orwell's letters and papers

Re the cache of letters recently found, I once took a cycling trip and called in at the cottage Orwell used to live in at Wallington near Baldock.  This was about 1974.  The lady then resident was a retired schoolmistress (headmistress I think) and she showed my round the tiny cottage – “The Stores” as it was called in Orwell’s time.  She had bought it from the people who bought it from Orwell, and they had told her that when they moved in there were several cardboard boxes in the back room, filled with old papers, letters, manuscripts and all sorts of stuff.  She asked what had happened to them and they said they made a bonfire of them in the back garden.  This was long before Orwell became famous through Animal Farm.  To them he was just a jobbing journalist and the boxes were no more than rubbish.  Today those boxes would have fetched millions from the University of Texas of wherever Orwell’s archive is located.
Regards ~ 


by Brian Bamford
George Orwell and son Richard Blair

DAVID J. TAYLOR, sheltering from the blazing sun in the patio of The Garden House Studio at the Holt Festival on the 24th, July, addressed the logistics of George Orwell’s love life.  At one point he reminded us that Orwell had once asked a friend if he had ever had a woman in a park?  When the reply that came was ‘No!’; Orwell said ‘I have; no where else to go’.

Malcolm Muggeridge in his essay on Orwell entitled ‘A Knight of the Woeful Countenance’ writes:

Orwell characteristically held forth on the logistic difficulties which dogged the penurious amorist.  Where was he to go if he could not afford a hotel room and had no private accommodation at his disposal?  He himself, he said, had been forced through poverty to avail himself of public parks and recreation grounds.’

In The Garden House Studio

The occasion of this talk in Holt, Norfolk by Orwell’s award winning biographer David Taylor was an exhibition of the hitherto unpublished love letters from George Orwell to Eleanor Jacques in Southwold.  The letters involved a correspondence between them which began in mid-1931, and continued until the 13th, January 1936, after he had married Eileen. According to Taylor their sexual relationship concluded around the end of 1932.

In one earlier letter already published and written in October 1932, Orwell recalled old times:

'It was so nice of you to say that you looked back to your days with me with pleasure. I hope you will let me make love to you again sometime, but if you don't it doesn't matter. I shall always be grateful to your kindness to me.'

Another reminisces about ‘that day in the wood along past Blythbugh Lodge – you remember, where the deep beds of moss were – I shall always remember that, & your nice white body in the dark green moss.’

'The Blyth Estuary-A Creative Haven'

The title of the Holt event in the pictureses patio of the Garden Studio was 'The Blyth Estuary-A Creative Haven' stems from an area called Blythburgh located on the main A12, about 4 miles west of Southwold in Suffolk. It was a place where Orwell and Eleanor used to go bird nesting, and he was later to refer to these trips together in his letters.

Mr. Taylor said 'Orwell's novels reveal a fondness for plein air frolics: they probably had their origin here.' The situation between Eleanor and Orwell was immensely complicated because she was also involved with Dennis Collings, who she later married, and who was a close friend of Orwell. Taylor describes their situation in Southwold as a classic 'Jules et Jim' kind of ménage à trois.

Bernard Crick in his own biography 'George Orwell: A Life' wrote:

'Eric (Blair or George Orwell) was soon to enjoy what may have been his first serious affaire. It is not without its difficulties, geographical and economic as well as the need to avoid hurting his friend Dennis Collings.'

Another aspect of Orwell, not dwelled upon by Taylor, is that he had an obsessive sense of being physically unattractive, and according to Malcolm Muggeridge 'Orwell did not find relations with the opposite sex easy (who, by the way does?)'

In a sense his early life was spent in a matriarchal pit smothered by the women around him.  An isolated passage from a notebook, quoted by Crick (page 55), shows this:

'The conversations he overheard as a small boy, between his Mother, his aunt, his elder sister and their feminist friends. The way in which, without ever hearing any direct statement to that effect, and without more than a very dim idea of the relationship between the sexes, he derived a firm impression that women did not like men, that they looked upon them as a sort of large ugly, smelly and ridiculous animal, who maltreated women in every way, above all by forcing their attentions on them.
Questions of Copyright

Introducing the topic Mr. Taylor pointed to Richard Blair (the adopted son of George Orwell and Eileen Blair) sitting near the back, and members of Eleanor Jacques' family.  It's not clear who will have the copyright to the letters, as Richard is Orwell's beneficiary, but the letters are presently in the possession of the Jacques family.

On July 10th, 2018, The Sunday Times ran a story by D.J. Taylor no less, reporting that:
'Major literary finds rarely come more dramatic than the one uncovered at 23 Station Road, Southwold, Suffolk.  While the relatives of the late owner were clearing the house of her effects, they decided to explore the garden shed.  Here, amid piles of detritus going back half a century, they turned up a stout, buff envelope bearing the pencilled message “Letters to be destroyed EC”. Stuffed inside, and clearly extant, were 19 letters dating from the 1930s, some handwritten, a few carefully typed, each addressed to “Dearest Eleanor” and signed “Eric”.  “Eric”, it instantly became clear, was George Orwell.'

Mr. Taylor concluded his talk by justifying his role as a biographer, the search for details like the love letters. He said biographers have no hesitation in grabbing every morsel of information about their subject.

After the talk by Mr. Taylor, we chatted with Richard Blair about the event and Tameside Trade Union Council's decision to take out corporate affiliation to THE ORWELL SOCIETY. The Tameside Trades Council had had its eyes wide-open when it took the decision to identify with Orwell and common decency at a time when politics is at a low ebb.

A few days before we were in Holt the Daily Mail had reported that students at Manchester University had painted over Rudyard Kipling's venerated poem 'If'.   Bernard Crick claims Orwell drew upon Kipling's work when he wrote '1984'.  We mentioned the relevance of Orwell to the reports about the attacks on Kipling by the Manchester students as we bought a copy of David Taylor's biography.

In the exhibition of Orwell's letters to Eleanor we noted one that was typed that talked about him tutoring 'an imbecile', reading a book on poisonings in the USA which he said was psychologically interesting and Plutarch*, who he recommends to her. Curiously, Plutarch born Greek and later became a Roman citizen was also a biographer, and among his quotes is this one which is vintage Orwell:

Plutarch wrote:  'I don't need a friend who changes when I change and who nods when I nod; my shadow does that much better.'  Which is of course vintage Orwell, and something these politically- correct students in Manchester could do well to consider.

* Plutarch, later named, upon becoming a Roman citizen, Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus, was a Greek biographer and essayist, known primarily for his Parallel Lives and Moralia. He is classified as a Middle Platonist. 

Sunday, 19 August 2018

Traffic survey on Rooley Mooor Road – why?

by Mick Coats

AT the recent Spotland and Falinge Forum there was a report , as usual, from the police. As part of the report the police asked residents for their priorities.  The problem of speeding was identified as of considerable concern for the vast majority of local residents with people giving examples of cars speeding.  One of the main concerns related to Rooley Moor Road.

Later in the meeting a proposed traffic survey on Rooley Moor Road was discussed.  One of the Councillors (the only one present) had asked for a survey as she believed there was a problem with 'the flow of traffic and visibility at bends and junctions'.and claimed that this had been raised with her.  No evidence of who raised this issue or if they even lived along, or next to Rooley Moor Road  or even in Rochdale was provided.  However it was clear from the discussion that there was no evidence of anyone being held up for more than a few seconds.  There have also been few accidents and no serious ones.

So why the survey? Some residents questioned the intention of the survey and again commented that the real issue was cars speeding. According to the council the study was to be undertaken 'to identify locations for new waiting restrictions.' Also, following consultation 'a scheme will be drafted to formally promote any restrictions proposed'. It seems that residents will have no choice as to whether we want waiting and parking restrictions, but just a say in where they might be.
Talking to people in the area and those attending the meeting, the feeling was, and is that the problem is speeding, not parked cars.

Indeed parked cars reduce the opportunity of vehicles to speed and the speed they can achieve!

In addition cars will be forced to park on the side roads and emerging from side streets has been identified as where accidents are more likely to occur. It will be more difficult as well, as cars on the main road will probably be going faster.

In a traffic survey undertaken with regard to the speed of traffic on Rooley Moor Road in 2017 (March), it was found that over 600 cars were travelling at over 40 mph. This survey was conducted over one week. Removing parked and waiting cars will allow these drivers to go even faster.

Who will benefit from the intended outcomes of the survey? Not people driving in from Bury and Ramsbottom as they will use Edenfield Road. Not local people faced with speeding cars and more difficulty parking. Possibly people living in Caldershaw, but Edenfield Road is probably their best route into town. People living in Mountain Ash and Lane Head may be able to come into the town one or two minutes quicker. So why did Councillor Biant commission the survey, costing thousands of pounds?

This illustrates the problem we have with Councillors. They are unaccountable and lack respect or consideration for the views of residents and this is but one example. I suppose that given the political affiliation of our Councillors, at least we will have our pot holes filled in!!


Saturday, 18 August 2018

Jamie Oliver Accused of 'Cultural Appropriation'

by Brian Bamford
JAMIE Oliver has been today accused of cultural appropriation for describing a new product as  'punchy jerk rice'..

A decision to label the microwavable rice 'jerk' has been criticised, because the product doesn't contain many of the ingredients traditionally used in a Jamaican jerk marinade.

'I'm just wondering do you know what Jamaican jerk actually is?', Labour MP Dawn Butler asked the celebrity chef.

Jamie claimed he used the name 'punchy jerk rice' show where he drew his culinary inspiration from. 

Jerk seasoning is usually used on chicken or fish.  The dish is often barbecued, and Jerk Rice is not an item for barbecuing.  The spice mix contains allspice and Scotch bonnet peppers - neither of which are on the ingredients list for Jamie's jerk rice product.

In October 2016, Jamie Oliver offended some Spaniards when he posted a link to a unorthodox paella recipe on his Twitter account which included chorizo: 

'Good Spanish food doesn’t get much better than paella,' the innocuous-seeming tweet read. 'My version combines chicken thighs & chorizo.' 

Furious replies came thick and fast:  'Come to Valencia to try the real paella and stop making ‘rice with whatever’, wrote Spanish journalist Vicent Marco.  'Your dish is everything but paella.'.  Other critics were less restrained.  'Your paella is an abomination,' wrote one.   'An insult not only to our gastronomy but to our culture,' said another.

When I lived in the fishing village of Denia, Alicante, in the days of General Franco, we used to go to Senora Lola's villa on the coast and after Salvador had dived to catch some sea urchins we would build a fire for the paella pan, which we would then eat a portion direct from the pan; as it was divided up equally.  When in 1919, Gerald Brenan, fresh from England where he was a member of the Bloomsbury Group,shared a meal of this kind with some local peasants he says he was immediately won over to the Spanish way of life.  Besides the sea urchin mussels and chicken, which was then cheaper than rabbit, we would include some of the chicken.giblets such as the heart.

Anna MacMiadhachain in her book 'Spanish Regional Cookery' wrote:
'The ingredients for a paella are fairly elastic and may include all kinds of seafood, including squid, prawns, lobster, mussels, clams, snail and pieces of white fish.  Chicken, rabbit and pork are the meats used,,, The methods of preparation differ too...'

Meanwhile, Francis Bissell in 'The REAL MEAT Cookbook' writes that 'According to Tinuca Lasala, a Spanish cookery teacher .... an authentic paella is not a multi-coloured mixture of fish, shellfish, chicken and sausage, decorated with stripes of pimento to look like the Spanish flag.  It is a rather plain dish, with a main ingredient of rabbit or chicken, to which in season might be added a handful of snails.'

Both the Spaniards in 2016, and the Jamaicans now, seem to be questioning the claims to authenticity of the brands now being promoted by Jamie Oliver.  Scotch bonnet chillies, de-seeded and finely chopped and 2 tsp ground allspice, seem to be the vital ingredients Jerk to go with chicken or fish.

In response to Jamie's concoction David Llewellyn wrote online: "On what planet can "garlic, ginger and jalapenos" be described as "Jerk"?

Although I must confess to using chorizo and tinned artichokes in my paella I haven't witnessed it used in dishes in Spain.  As for Jerk, my Jamaican relatives have made it for me, but I don't care for fierce Scotch bonnet chillies, and generally prefer jalapeño.

Cultural appropriation is defined as 'the unacknowledged or inappropriate adoption of the customs, practices, ideas, of one people or society by members of a typically more dominant people or society'.

Probably the most important ingredient in paella, I don't know about Jerk, but I suspect it is the variety of rice used that is vital.   Francis Bissell suggests Valencia or Arborio rice to get an authenticity paella, but I often use Carnaroli.  Alas, Carnaroli is a medium-grained rice grown in the Pavia, Novara and Vercelli provinces of northern Italy.

I don't know what the Senora Lola would have said.


Friday, 17 August 2018

Our Wonderful Media

by Les May
TODAY in Geneva, Jeremy Corbyn was awarded a highly prestigious International peace prize.  But of course you knew that already because it has been plastered over the TV news and the press.  Or perhaps you blinked and missed it.
Corbyn was awarded the Sean MacBride Peace Prize – an award dedicated to the memory of peace campaigner Sean MacBride, a Nobel Peace Prize winner in 1974.  As well as winning the Nobel Peace Prize, the namesake of the award, Sean MacBride, was a founding member of Amnesty International, a charity set up by ordinary people from across the world standing up for humanity and human rights.
Corbyn was handed the prestigious award for his ‘sustained and powerful political work for disarmament and peace’, and, unlike almost all other mainstream Western politicians, for looking for ‘alternatives to war’.
The press release from the International Peace Bureau says:
'Jeremy Corbyn – for his sustained and powerful political work for disarmament and peace. As an active member, vice-chair and now vice-president of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in the UK he has for many years worked to further the political message of nuclear disarmament. As the past chair of the Stop the War Campaign in the UK he has worked for peace and alternatives to war. As a member of parliament in the UK he has, for 34 years continually taken that work for justice, peace and disarmament to the political arena both in and outside of Parliament. He has ceaselessly stood by the principles, which he has held for so long, to ensure true security and well-being for all – for his constituents, for the citizens of the UK and for the people of the world. Now, as leader of the Labour Party and Leader of the Opposition he continues to carry his personal principles into his political life – stating openly that he could not press the nuclear button and arguing strongly for a re-orientation of priorities – to cut military spending and spend instead on health, welfare and education.'

You can download the full press release here:

Carillion's liquidators PwC charge a lot!

PRICE WATERHOUSE COOPER (PwC), the accountants dealing with the failed construction company Carillion affairs, have been claiming an average of £356 an hour for their services following Carillion’s collapse in January.

These figures were exposed in a letter to the Parliamentary enquiry into the firm’s demise.  It was revealed that the PwC accountants billed for £20.4m in fees during the first eight weeks of the insolvency.

Its total bill for this work is now expected to reach £50m.

Worst of all 'Pension specialist' partners from PwC were charging the highest rate at £1,156 an hour.

 Unite's assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail told the trade paper the Construction Enquirer: 'Unite is passionate about ensuring that all workers are paid the correct rate for the job, however for the thousands of workers who have lost their jobs due to Carillion’s collapse, these figures will be viewed as both eye watering and excessive.
'On average PwC staff will be earning in an hour what many of the workers who have had their lives turned upside down earned in a week.
'The government needs to introduce a realistic cap on what can be charged when accountants are brought in to mop up similar messes in the future.'