Wednesday, 27 February 2019

10th anniversary meeting of BLACKIST GROUP

One week to go until our 10th anniversary meeting in parliament... we've got new revelations that are gonna make the news:
5pm Wed 6th March 2019
Committee Room 10
Houses of Parliament, Westminster
Confirmed speakers (so far): 
John McDonnell MP - founder member of the Blacklist Support Group (and Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer)
Imran Khan QC - BSG lawyer at undercover policing public inquiry
Gail Carmail - UNITE the union, Assistant General Secretary
Chris Stephens MP - SNP employment spokesperson 
More to be confirmed  

Tuesday, 26 February 2019


YOU TUBE has suspended adverts on the account of former English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson.
Mr Robinson had broken the site's advertising rules, said YouTube, adding that his channel covered 'controversial issues and sensitive events'.
The decision means the channel, which has 270,000 subscribers, will not earn revenue when people watch the videos.
Mr Robinson denied they contained any 'hateful' content and said he was the victim of 'continued censorship'.

Corporate Censorship

YouTube said it believed in freedom of expression but also had a duty to protect viewers from "derogatory and disparaging" content.
The decision comes a day after YouTube removed adverts for anti-Islamic group Britain First from its site, saying they breached its advertising rules prohibiting "hatred, intolerance or discrimination".
A Britain First representative said: "Britain First is at present suing Facebook in Belfast for political discrimination. Once that case is resolved, in February, we will launch proceedings against YouTube for their politically motivated censorship."

Campaign group Hope Not Hate said social media companies had been "too slow" when responding to reports of hate speech.
"Lennon and others in the far right are utterly reliant on social media and crowdfunding platforms to keep their coffers plump," it said.
In November, PayPal announced it would no longer process payments for Mr Robinson, saying he had broken its policy on acceptable use.
In May, Mr Robinson, 35, was jailed for contempt of court.  The 13-month sentence sparked a series of #freetommy protests.  The conviction was later quashed after procedural concerns.
The case has now been referred to the attorney general.
In March 2018, Mr Robinson was banned from Twitter. It is understood that his account was suspended for breaking its "hateful conduct policy".


Sunday, 24 February 2019


Editorial note:  At last Saturday's Tommy Robinson event reported below. an editor from Northern Voices and an editor from 'The Word' went into the Tommy Robinson enclosure to cover the story as presented by the Robinson contingent.   Our view was that based on the material released prior to this event by Robinson in his You Tube excerpts neither the BBC or the Panorama presenter, John Sweeney, had covered themselves with glory in their approach  in producing a proposed Panorama program entitled 'Tommy Takedown'.  As such the screening of the Robinson film purporting to document the BBC's research methods used was a newsworthy story.

YESTERDAY up to 5,000 people supported the former English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson in a protest against the BBC's allegedly unethical methods of producing a forthcoming program entitled 'Tommy Takedown'.

The theme of the event was to criticise the Panorama journalist John Sweeney's conduct and alleged use of fake news to discredit Mr. Robinson.  The demonstration took place in Media City in front of the BBC's Salford offices.  Only some 500 people attended a counter-protest by anti-fascists.

The BBC has insisted that the proposed episode will follow its 'strict editorial guidelines'.

Mr Robinson said the aim of the protest was to make a stand 'against the corrupt media' and effectively called for people to withhold the BBC licence fee.

During the protest, undercover filming of BBC Panorama journalist John Sweeney, carried out by 'a mole' and a supporter of Mr Robinson, was broadcast on a large screen.  This all presented Mr. Sweeney in an unflattering light.

At one point Sweeney is heard saying 'one of my political heroes is the former head of the IRA Martin McGuinness', which the BBC says was taken out of context as Mr Sweeney was referencing Mr McGuinness's role in the peace process.

Mr McGuinness, who, as a prominent Sinn Fein politician, became Northern Ireland's deputy first minister, had acknowledged he was a member of the IRA. He died in 2017.

Mr Sweeney was also recorded making remarks which Tommy Robinson has described as racist, homophobic and anti-working class.

In response, a BBC spokeswoman said:
'The BBC strongly rejects any suggestion that our journalism is "faked" or biased.
'Any programme we broadcast will adhere to the BBC's strict editorial guidelines.
'Some of the footage which has been released was recorded without our knowledge during this investigation and John Sweeney made some offensive and inappropriate remarks, for which he apologises.  BBC Panorama's investigation will continue.'

At yesterday's event the UKIP leader Gerard Batten told demonstrators that Mr Robinson 'speaks up for things that are right, he tells the truth and he can mobilise lots of people like you, and that's what they fear'

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) has said they 'roundly condemn Tommy Robinson... and his fellow, far-right thugs who intend to intimidate staff at the corporation, particularly those working on Panorama.'

The case of Tommy Robinson has been a long running affair, and in October 2018, the judge retrying Robinson for contempt of court referred the case to the government's top legal adviser.  Mr Robinson faced an allegation that he had committed contempt by filming people before a criminal trial.  But now Judge Nicholas Hilliard QC has ruled that the case needed to be referred up to the attorney general to decide and that is the current position.  Robinson is still awaiting his decision.


Friday, 22 February 2019

Tommy Robinson & Anthropological strangeness in the Green Room

  Panorama’s John Sweeney puts his foot in it!

BILLY Holiday sang 'Strange Fruit on the Poplar Trees' about the hangings by the Ku Klux Klan of negros in the Deep South in the USA.  Similarly, Panorama journalist John Sweeney in an moment of gay abandon described how he encountered a proletarian in the Green Room while he was working on 'some film on Newnight'.  And it was so rare, he says, 'to meet a white working class male in the newsnight green room' that he and one of his mates 'went down there to have a drink with him'.

Pity Mr. Sweeney didn't realise that curiousity killed the cat.  For the tedious Tommy Robinson, who fancies himself as an investigative  journalist, was then able to entrap poor John by the short and curlies.  Somehow Tommy Robinson caught him out as saying 'it was so the way that you would do with somebody, from the, you know a CANNIBAL from the Amazonian, erm Amazonia or maybe a CREATURE from OUTER SPACE'.

The footage was posted to Robinson’s social media accounts on both Facebook and Instagram over the weekend and shows the former English Defence League leader confronting Sweeney over his comments.

As a consequence of  this the The Unity News Network now reports that 'over the last few weeks the internet has been ablaze with chatter as to how Tommy Robinson managed to snare the senior Panorama reporter John Sweeney.  In a further teaser trailer Tommy posted tonight it reveals that his ex-employee Lucy Brown was playing a double bluff with Panorama.'

Mr. Sweeney on these social media videos, cuts a Rumpole of the Bailey figure, treating a young woman to a largely liquid lunch of champange rather than red burgundy and flaming Sambuca as a digestive with the desert course.  All for £220 with or withour service charge, pressumeably all on BBC expenses.
Robinson has also said that the full footage will be compiled into a documentary that will be shown in Manchester on February 23rd outside of the BBC’s offices in the city. He has also revealed that he will post further footage from the documentary every 72 hours, starting on Tuesday evening.
So far, neither Sweeney, the BBC, nor HOPE Not Hate have addressed Robinson’s released footage or claims of further revelations, although HOPE not HATE senior researcher Joe Mulhall briefly locked his Twitter account following the release of the footage.


Library users give big Thumbs Down to OPEN+

Historic Ashton Central Library - Closed February 2019

NORTHERN VOICES has learned that the findings of a survey, 'Open Libraries Plus, Evolution And Review', which  closed on 5th February 2018, was not made public by Tameside Council despite the council having a policy of 'Engagement' - "the continuous conversation with and involvement of stakeholders and residents" and its 'Big Conversation'.

The survey which was undertaken over a four week period from 9 January 2018  to 5 February 2018, by Tameside Libraries into 'Open +' - their unstaffed, do-it-yourself library system - was intended to assess how the system was working and public attitudes towards it. The new library system was rolled out across eight libraries in 2018.  Although Tameside Libraries have stated:

"The purpose of collecting the information was to assist officers in understanding people's views of using Open+, it was not necessary to put this in the public realm", it is clear from reading the survey, and the comments made by those  who participated in it,  that the vast majority of people have expressed dissatisfaction with unstaffed libraries in Tameside, and are highly critical of it.  Despite what the library service say, they seem to have just buried bad news.

Some 145 people responded to the survey, but when asked how many questionnaires had been distributed, Tameside Libraries were unable to answer the question. When asked which library people used most often, Stalybridge was the most used library in Tameside, followed by Hyde, Dukinfield, Droylsden, Denton and central library in Ashton-under-Lyne. 

When asked during which hours do you normally use the library, only 19 people (13.38%), out of 142 responses, said they used the library during Open+ hours.  57 said they used it during staffed hours and 66 during both staffed and Open+ hours. 

Tameside Libraries were keen to stress that the responses to the survey did not represent the total users of Open+ only the ones that completed the survey, adding:  "66 survey responders also indicated that they used the library in both staffed and Open+ mode."

A question about how helpful the induction by library staff to Open+ was, elicited 79 responses with 66 skipping the question. 42 (53.16%) thought it very helpful and 10 (12.66%), unhelpful.  When asked why they found the induction helpful and how it could be made better, only 9 answered and 136 skipped the question.  Some of the comments left by respondents, were as follows:

"As always staff at Stalybridge brilliant."  "I feel that older generation was not informed.  They were told it was 'online and Facebook', but not many people that age access Facebook.  The older people have followed us into the library, they have been very confused.  I have spent more time explaining Open+ than doing my job teaching."  "Don't want unstaffed libraries."  "Libraries without people are merely shells."

When asked which library service people mainly used during Open+ hours, 71 answered and 74 skipped the question. 60 (84.51%), said they borrowed, returned or renewed items, paid charges and used self-service machines during Open + hours. 31 (43.66%), said they picked up or borrowed or reserved items and 14 (19.72%), said they used Open+ hours to use public computers and the scanner. Only 8 (11.27%), said they used Open+ hours to access Wifi. One respondent left the following comment:

"I cannot access Wifi. The computers have gone down on numerous occasions which has had a huge impact on my student who has (SE MS) needs."

The question "How easy have you found it to access the library during Open+ hours?" was answered by 73 and skipped by 72. 33 (45.21%) said very easy and 11 (15.07%) said it was difficult with ten (13.70%), saying very difficult. 29 (40.28%) said they had found the extended Open+ hours very useful and 13 (18.06%), not useful at all. 

When asked to say why they had found using Open+ useful, 47 answered the question and 98 skipped answering it. 21 (44.68%) said the library was quieter in Open+ hours. 34 (72.34%), thought there was more opportunity to use the library due to longer opening hours, and 20 (42.55%) thought the new times worked better around their lives. One respondent said:

"We have had numerous problems being locked out, being tailgated, being followed, being verbally abused. No internet. The only good thing about it are the staff, They are lovely and helpful." 

Another respondent said: "I do not like Open+, I much prefer to deal with human beings. When library users were asked (Question 9), "Are there any other comments you would like to make about Open+ or any suggestions for improvement, 53 answered and 92 skipped answering. Of the 53 responses the vast majority of responses (50), were negative. There are comments about personal safety: 

"We do not feel safe!",  "There has been no thought for personal safety, it's a crazy idea."  "I don't use the library much at all now.  Don't feel safe.  Thanks for excluding us from libraries now.  Not happy!" "Stalybridge library is only open till 7.00 because of gates, not good for me.  The library is ghostly when it is empty of customers. You should have at least one person here.  I feel vulnerable..." "I don't want to go into an empty building with no life.  Not to mention the safety aspect too."  "I was tailgated despite challenging person." "Takes some getting used to, to be alone in a public space in the evening.  I do not linger like I would during staffed hours..."  "I am very concerned about personal safety when using the library when it is unstaffed."   "As a female I feel uncomfortable attending the library during unmanned hours."

Although Tameside libraries have said that they don't consider female library users to be at risk during Open+ hours they have also said that they consider children under 16 to be at risk, even with live CCTV monitoring.  Therefore, they have to be accompanied by an adult during Open+ hours. Tameside libraries also say: "Men are more likely to use an unsupervised library building than females" (Report to Executive Cabinet 14/12/2016) but they don't say why they feel this is the case. However, there is recognition that some people may feel unsafe during Open+ hours. Tameside's active library users are predominately female (59.8%), and it is likely that many of the above comments about fears for safety, reflect the views of female library users.

Though several respondents expressed positive views about Open+ "The new hours work brilliant for me. I visited last week during Open+ hours and found the library empty and quiet..." others wanted to see more staff in libraries and felt that libraries should be an opportunity for human contact and interaction, "It is far better to deal with humans (librarians) rather than machines", said one respondent. Some respondents expressed dissatisfaction with the technology that was sometimes faulty. 

The survey findings which are consistent with other previous surveys, show that library users are predominately from a white background with (90.9%) identifying as such. They are also largely female - 16,193 active library users. Overall, there are 27,079 active library users. Tameside's  population is predominately white. The largest BME group  in Tameside are Asian/Asian British (8.94%). As of 30/11/2018, 3,074 female library users had registered for Open+ and 1,784 male library users. Tameside Libraries also pointed out that 79 library users had declined to indicate whether they were male or female. 

The former leader of Tameside Council, Kieran Quinn, when launching the 'Big Conversation', said: "It's not about withdrawing services, its about redesigning services." The council closed fived libraries in 2012, following a comprehensive review. Staff were cut and hours were reduced at the remaining eight libraries. There were originally 22 libraries in Tameside ( a reduction of 64%) and most of these were closed well before the CONDEM government in 2010, introduced austerity measures. Not only have hours and staff been cut, but also publications. In 1983, Ashton reference library had 130 magazine publications and this was down to about 30 in 2016. I recently visited Ashton reference library and asked to see a copy of the reference book 'Who's Who'. I was told it was in the cellar and that the library hadn't updated it since 2015. This is what Tameside Council call libraries fit for the 21st century. What we're witnessing with Open+ is the dissolution of the Libraries in Tameside by a Labour council that doesn't read books and is as thick as a book end.

Thursday, 21 February 2019

Rochdale & 'Fair Do's' in selection process

NV Editor:   Below is a description coming from Labour sources of how the Spotland & Falinge ward Labour Party in Rochdale went about setting out to select their candidate for the forthcoming local elections next May.  Clearly some people in the Labour Party think it is slightly skewed, and see it unfair to allow Rachel Massey's husband to have insider knowledge, which should he may be tempted to divulge  to his 'nearest and dearest' would give her an unfair advantage in the selection interview.

To show you how bad the Spotland & Falinge selection was. Here is the post they have put on Twitter after the vote. As you can see they had already had posters printed out with Rachel’s name on it as the candidate before a vote had been cast.

At the Spotland & Falinge short listing meeting the week before, Rachel Massey’s husband, Phillip Massey – who is also on the panel of Labour candidates - was allowed to remain in the meeting when the questions to the candidates were being formulated.

Despite objections from the meeting Cllr. Liam O’Rourke who was chairing the meeting on behalf of Rochdale LCF ruled that he could stay. Commenting: “I’m sure that Mr. Massey will not divulge the questions to his wife”.
The response came back that this would not happen.

A week later at the selection meeting, it was commented upon that Rachel Massey’s presentation was very smooth, and seamless. Reading and barely lifting her eyes from an iPad containing prepared statements for each of the eight questions asked. Could it be that she had knowledge beforehand of the questions put to her?



Rochdale Labour Party must have moved with the speed 
of Zeus to get the posters printed for the selection of 
Rachel Massey on Monday 11th, February.  
The selection meeting with the candidates 
took place at 7.30pm, yet by 11.53pm 
the same evening Rachel the victorious one was 
posing with her supporters on Twitter.  At least her 
husband had the grace to wait until the next day: