Tuesday, 30 July 2019

Councillor Cooney cops-out of climate change

by changing the subject!

Councillor Ged Cooney

IN a sickly outburst at a Council meeting last Tuesday, Tameside Cllr. Ged Cooney, who represents Droylsden West and is vice-chair of the Greater Manchester Pension Fund, chose to use the fact that an ugly building on Manchester Road, Droylsden, that is being now used as a venue for the Pension Fund, had been dedicated in 2015 to a guardsman who died in a landmine blast in Afghanistan in 2007, to dodge his own responsibility for the fund's long-term investments in dirty carbon fuels.

When the new headquarters in Droyslden of the Greater Manchester Pension Fund was dedicated in 2015, Councillor Kieran Quinn said:  'By honouring Tony in this way as a member of our armed forces I believe we are honouring all our fallen heroes.'

What is disgusting is why the bosses of the Greater Manchester Pension Fund should now be using a fallen hero to excuse their own climate abuse and to distract attention from their unsavoury dirty investments.  At the same Council meeting Cllr. Cooney, Cabinet member for housing, planning and employment, had to defend Tameside Council's outsourcing partnership with the now disgraced outfit Carillion PLC.    

At last week's meeting, Tory Cllr. Liam Billington put an awkward question of Cllr. Cooney about Tameside Labour Council's historic partnership with Carillion with the previous council leader, Cllr. Quinn bragging about his close relationship with the dedicated blacklister almost to the point of the company's final collapse.  

In reply Cllr. Cooney blustered-on about it being difficult of finding an outsourcing company which hadn't been implicated in blacklisting, and he mentioned Laing O'Rourke, which in May 2016, together with Carillion were among eight companies that apologised for blacklisting building workers.  Labour Cllr. Quinn knew about this at the time, because I as Secretary of Tameside TUC wrote to him about it in August 2011.   Of course I didn't get a reply then or later, because Quinn and the then Labour council were happy to continue doing business despite the squalid existence of the unsavoury blacklist.

The real issue now is will Cllr. Cooney, his councillor leader Brenda Warrington, and his other Labour colleagues now turnover a new leaf?


Burnham's stealth taxes pay for bus reform. What's next?

Andy Burnham - Mayor of Greater Manchester

THE Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, has announced that elderly people who live in Greater Manchester who are entitled to a concessionary free bus pass, are to be charged an annual  £10 'administrative charge' to pay for the overhaul of the region's bus network and to defend any legal challenges from operators opposing bus reform.

Currently those people who qualify for a free bus and live in Greater Manchester, are entitled to use the bus, tram and train, free of charge within the 'Greater Manchester Rail and Metrolink' without having to pay any admin fee. Transport officials believe that the admin charge which they hope to introduce next January at the earliest, will raise around £1.25m. The plan to introduce the admin charge was given the go-ahead at a recent meeting of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA).

Burnham says that the admin charge is necessary to raise money to overhaul the region's bus network and to create 'parity' with 16-18-year-old's who were recently given free bus passes by the Mayor but have to pay a one-off annual £10 fee. He also says that the admin fee will only have to be paid by those people who want to receive rail and tram access and does not apply to people who only use bus services. 

Unlike people who live in Greater London, Scotland, Wales and Norther Ireland, who are entitled to a free bus pass when they reach the age of 60, in Greater Manchester, the qualifying age for many people is now 66-years-old. Before 2010, most people in Greater Manchester qualified for a free bus at 60-years-old, but the qualifying age for entitlement was increased incrementally in line with the state retirement age.

The Mayor of Greater Manchester says that the region does not get the level of public transport subsidy that London gets and that if the people of Greater Manchester want the type of public transport they have in London, people will have to pay for it. Already, a two-year market study into bus reform in Greater Manchester has cost the taxpayer an estimated £20m.

One suspects that Burnham's 'administrative charge' is just the thin end of the wedge, a foot-in-the-door, a kind of salami tax, which will lead to further taxes increases to fund services in Greater Manchester. Just how much money Greater Manchester have saved in not providing free bus passes for 60-year-olds, the Mayor doesn't say nor does he seem keen on fighting for the same level of transport subsidy for Greater Manchester that London enjoys. 

Justifying Reviews on the NV Blog

We have taken the unusual step of publishing two reviews of the controversial booklet 'Shit Wigs and Steroids: Anarchism's (and the left's) Tolerance of Delusion'.  We have done this because in the current climate we believe this publication, whatever its flaws, offers a valuable insight into developments on the strange shores of the British political left and beyond.  It needs to be read, because too many people are what we would call 'skedaddlers', ducking and dodging all requirements for moral compass in a social context like the current trends and fashions encouraged by the Gender Recognition Act.

The authors of the two reviews on this Blog offer different perspectives in their approach to the text.  Both are experienced reviewers; Les May reviewed 'Smile for the Camera: The Double Life of Cyril Smith'* and Chris Draper wrote 'Who Killed Freedom?: an unauthorised history'**.  

In the past Freedom newspaper would have had the courage to run alternative assessments together with follow-up correspondence, always encouraging controversy.  Nowadays, Freedom in all its forms offers a less challenging body of work both intellectually and in propaganda terms.  One might have thought that Milan Rai, the editor of Peace News, who was at the Liverpool Bookfair when the incident described in the book occured, and its author was accosted, detained and roughly expelled, would be willing to review it, and certainly it might be expected that it would be a worthy subject of debate on a thread on Libcom?

Any problems in the contents ought to be left to the readers to access its value.  Whatever it shouldn't be censored by the supercillious southern anarchists who think they can decide what is suitable for us northerners to consume.



a critical review by Christopher Draper

THIS shocking booklet should be read and acted upon by everyone claiming allegiance to anarchism for there are no innocent bystanders.  I was intimately involved when the author was thrown out of last year’s 'Liverpool Anarchist Bookfair' and I witnessed the appallingly authoritarian behaviour of the organisers.  As he observes this was but a single incident in a growing catalogue of oppressive, exclusionary and often violent acts perpetrated by bigots claiming to be anarchists.  The author fairly concludes that, 'Anarchism has pretty much become a Wendy house for children to play in'.

The central argument is that the key role of class in the everyday oppression of millions of people has been displaced by the adolescent politics of personal identity and doctrinaire opinion is imposed and enforced by censorious authoritarians.  'The massive attention paid to identity politics has utterly distracted from attention to real problems and issues in the world – capitalist greed, poverty, injustice, war etc. In this respect, identity politics is the ultimate counter-revolutionary ideology and has utterly divided the left.  Much worse, people are now afraid to say what they think and are being turned off politics for good by this laughable charade.'

The author accurately identifies the takeover of anarchism by poseurs exploiting gender issues to gain a dominant role that enables them to define the limits of permitted opinion, dictate what’s labelled 'hate speech' and who’s excluded for imperilling their self-declared 'safe spaces'.  A determined, dominating minority has been allowed to take over as pusillanimous comrades refuse to challenge bullying behaviour.  I witnessed this lack of solidarity at Liverpool and previously saw the same cowardice at a 'Manchester Anarchist Bookfair' from which other comrades were unjustly excluded.

At the Liverpool workshop from which the author was expelled, as the 'Inquisition' burst in I requested that they circulate amongst comrades present the leaflet the 'excluders' claimed comprised 'hate speech' so vile that their 'victim' be immediately thrown out.  It seemed to me that those attending the workshop should judge whether he needed to be excluded or not but the 'Witchfinders' insisted that he go and the rest of us passively defer to their authority. I objected that this was hardly, 'anarchism in action' and managed to retrieve a copy of the banned leaflet from our 'blasphemous' author before he was led away.

The author accurately observes, 'Anarchist bookfairs have become social occasions for marginalised reality shy people.  They are not progressive or libertarian and are isolated from the real world by maintaining "door policies".  This keeps them and their delusional self-importance safe from most of us outside their social scene.'

And it’s certainly true that, 'This publication is in sharp contrast to the jokers patting themselves on their back in London, who remain – as ever – isolated from the real world but hope to be seen as a credible mouthpiece for current anarchist thinking.'

But the shocking contents of this pamphlet are not entirely warranted or welcome.  Like the author, I am also a 'northern working class anarchist', and can claim even longer allegiance to the cause (approx 50 years) yet I don’t like his language.  Authoritarian behaviour comes in different guises and labelling people, 'ponces', 'idiots' and 'creepy-looking fucked up men' is intimidatory and undermines the persuasiveness of his argument.  I don’t think people should be excluded for not conforming to middle class modes of expression but I do believe anarchists should empathise with others and not needlessly offend. Instead, this pamphlet rejoices in the use of aggressive, macho language; 'cocks in frocks', 'confused fuckers', 'couldn’t give a shit', 'What a fuckin’ joke'!  I personally challenged Pablo, one of the 'excluders' at the Liverpool Bookfair and found him utterly robotic in his narrow-minded bigotry but I don’t think it’s fair, funny or clever for the pamphlet to depict Pablo with, 'I love Franco' and a swastika added to his photograph.

The author is wrong to insist that, 'When people politicise irrelevant lifestyle choices the bigger picture of dealing with class oppression as an argument is just pushed to one side by them as they politicise their insignificant individual decisions as radical positions – such as veganism…' Unpicking the myriad authoritarian, exploitative threads that bind together our oppressive society is an essential, complex, ongoing task that would need to continue even beyond any successful revolution.  I fully acknowledge the political importance of class but I also believe that 'the personal is political' and it is wrong to dismiss other people’s experience of oppression as trivial, irrelevant or less important than our own perception of class.  After all, Russia destroyed Capitalism but maintained authoritarian control.

Anarchism requires more than turning the other cheek or looking the other way and though hundreds signed a petition supporting Helen Steel many more (including some of the signatories to Helen’s petition) looked the other way when less well-known or popular comrades were victimised. Anarchists must take personal responsibility and I regret that the author (or authors) of this publication choose to remain as anonymous as most of the exclusionary 'Witchfinders' they deplore. There’s much of interest and importance in this pamphlet and I would urge comrades to read it and respond by intervening everywhere and on every occasion that you witness authoritarian, exclusionary behaviour.  As this publication never said, for evil to triumph it only takes good men, women and those of gender-fluid identity to do nothing.

 "Shit Wigs and Steroids: Anarchism's (and the left's) Tolerance of Delusion" 
This booklet is an A5 size 24-page critique of identity politics which challenges what it sees as the dominant politics of a 'wannabe' London based elite who are setting themselves up as a mouthpiece for current anarchist thought in the UK.  It claims to be rooted in a northern working-class perspective based on anti-authoritatianism.  It is a collective project that questions what it sees as the 'bogus claims of the transgender headcases' ; it entitles itself under the e-mail address:  newoffensive01@gmail.com
 Price £2 including postage & packing.



Trivial Pursuits!

by Les May

MY wife and I live a gendered life.  The rubric in my head which I work to is, I’m a man, so when shit needs shovelling, I shovel it’.  Occasionally that crude way of expressing it is literally true, as on Christmas Day 2003 when the drain blocked downstream of us and sewage backed up on our garden path.  I wasn’t alone, the husbands from the other houses affected got stuck in and we eventually cleared the drainOur wives left us too it. Usually it just means my wife is better at ironing than I am and I’m better at hanging wallpaper, putting up shelves etc.

My wife wasn’t born good at ironing or folding newly ironed clothes; I wasn’t born with the ability to put up shelves or wield a shovel.  They are skills we learned.  Why did we learn them?  Because we were gently pushed in those directions by the society in which we lived and the expectations it placed upon us.

My grandfather’s generation of men were expected to be ready to ‘go over the top’, cross a few hundred yards of open ground festooned with barbed wire and raked with machine gun fire, and kill any Boche they found in the trenches if they got there.  My father’s generation of men were expected to be ready to be ready to storm the Normandy beaches, fly the bombers to Berlin or man the merchant ships in the Atlantic.  I am happy to record that I just missed the dubious pleasure of National Service and that I’m extremely glad I did. I certainly did not want to have to accept the soldiering role even though it is what society would have expected of me.  Was I suffering from ‘gender dysphoria’ or was it just a personal preference of not wanting to be stuck in a uniform and bullied?

Before you rush to complain that I am poking fun at gender dysphoria, as I shall show later,  I am not.  What I am trying to point out is that the notion of ‘gender’ is to do with Society’s expectations of what it means to be ‘masculine’ or ‘feminine’ and that these expectations are likely to change through time.  In other words our notion of gender is temporally fluid.

But to build an identity around that notion of temporal fluidity by saying you are ‘non-binary’ is trivial.  To demand that others in society abandon the rule of thumb of, ‘if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck’, which we operate when choosing the pronoun to address you with, is arrogant.  Would you be happy with ‘it’Putting on a frock, a wig and some lipstick, and trying to insist we call you ‘she’, won’t work either.  You may delude yourself that you’ve ‘transgendered’ yourself into a woman, but the rest of us aren’t so gullible.  If dressing up like a woman is what floats your boat’ go ahead with my blessing. Just don’t think you are making a political statement by doing so or try to impose upon me how I should regard you. Telling you so isn’t ‘hate speech’.

And don’t think that your personal preferences merit your being given special protection under the law.  They are just that, personal preferences, and are about as important as having a punk hair style, carrying a Gucci bag or wearing Clarks shoes.

The argument against making people who claim to be ‘transgender’ a protected category or suggesting they should have ‘safe spaces’ or even taking them very seriously, is perhaps best made by looking at what transgender advocates actually say.

A transgender person can be anyone who feels some incongruence with the gender identity they are socially (or culturally) expected to conform to’.

On that definition my own reluctance to go soldiering would qualify me as transgender in 1960.  It also covers men who like to wear their wife’s knickers under their business suit.   Using this same definition just how many people fall into this category in the UK?  This is what the same source has to say.

Based on all the information we have, combined, the observations of 25 years, I personally felt a starting point should be 10% of the population. This would equate to 6 million.  This was quickly debated-out based on simply being unrealistic.  We had the starting point of 2 million, we have agreed to take this number to over 3 million people who are transgender to some degree in the UK’. (my emphasis)
So there you are.   A figure of 3,000,000 transgender individuals has been plucked out of the air, presumably to inflate their significance, and it seems you can be ‘transgender’ just a little bit.   You couldn’t make it up!
(You’ll find the quotations above and a lot more at the link below.)

A group of people who I think have a much greater claim to be a ‘protected category’ are those who are transsexual.  In a recent review I accepted the figure of 5,000 for the number of transsexual people in the UK.  I have not been able to check this figure, but I am going to take it as correct. By transsexual I mean people who feel that they belong to the other sex, they want to be and function as members of the opposite sex, not only to appear as such.  

Functioning as the opposite sex means in the case of men surgically losing their primary (testes) and secondary (penis) sex organs.   Speaking as a man I consider this suggests a very high level of commitment indeed.  Such people have my full support and I am happy to treat them as women, though biologically they are not.

I recognise that there is a degree of inconsistency in the view expressed above.  I accept the ‘gender’ argument for transsexual women, but pour scorn on it when the ‘cocks-in-frocks’ brigade try to use it.  That’s because real life is messy. For me the over riding argument is my shared humanity with transsexual women.  Even an atheist understands ‘There but for the grace of God go I’.

My attitude to transsexual women is not shared by everyone, Germaine Greer being one person who does not share it. In 1997, she unsuccessfully opposed the offer of a Newnham College fellowship to physicist Rachael Padman, arguing that, because Padman had been "born male", she should not be admitted to a women-only college.

Apart from occasional murmurings of dissent from people like Greer it seems to be true to say that in the past transsexual people have been allowed to lives their lives ‘under the radar’.   The purpose of the Gender Recognition Act 2004 seems to have been to clarify their legal status.   Amongst other things at that time women received their State Retirement Pension at the age of 60.  The activities of the ‘cocks in frocks’ brigade and their noisy supporters, the failure of the media to distinguish between transsexual people and those who sail under the flag of ‘transgender’, and above all the use of the word ‘trans’ as an all purpose label, seems likely to have a negative impact on the lives of transsexual people.

To give but one example. I am not aware that natal women have raised objections to transsexual women using female toilets, changing rooms etc.  The demands of those who claim to be women because they are ‘transgender’ a.k.a ‘cocks in frocks’ to access to facilities normally reserved for women may cause consternation from those who are natal women, some of whom may suddenly become aware of transsexual women sharing the facility and react against this.

Had the ‘transgender’ brigade not been taken under the wing of an organisation like Stonewall which promotes the interests of people who choose sexual partners from the same sex, it is unlikely that they would have made much progress.  The shallowness of the arguments presented at the link below may be enough to convince thoughtful people that the claims of the ‘transgender’ brigade are rather trivial and need not be taken too seriously.

The opinions in this article are entirely my own and should not be attributed to any other person.

Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Review: Transsexuals vs Cocks in Frocks?

 by Les May
 "Shit Wigs and Steroids: Anarchism's (and the left's) Tolerance of Delusion" 
This booklet is an A5 size 24-page critique of identity politics which challenges what it sees as the dominant politics of a 'wannabe' London based elite who are setting themselves up as a mouthpiece for current anarchist thought in the UK.  It claims to be rooted in a northern working-class perspective based on anti-authoritatianism.  It is a collective project that questions what it sees as the 'bogus claims of the transgender headcases' ; it entitles itself under the e-mail address:  newoffensive01@gmail.com
 Price £2 including postage & packing.


I WAS asked to review this booklet by someone who had erroneously been identified as the author.  When this came to the attention of the real author he initiated contact with the supposed author, which led to me receiving a review copy.  Any opinions in this review are entirely my own and should not be attributed to anyone else.

Reviewing this booklet is not easy.  It is difficult to discern a linear sequence and it can be read in a number of different ways.  At one level it is one episode of an anarchist soap opera in which the horny handed sons of toil from the gritty north take on the effete, never done a proper day’s work in their lives, London scribblers and their acolytes.  The title says it all ‘Shit Wigs and Steroids. Anarchism’s and the left’s Tolerance of Delusion.  Bookfairs & Bullshit’.

Eager to wash anarchism’s dirty washing in public we get three pages, or should that be six pages, I said it was difficult to discern a linear sequence, of ‘What Happened at the Liverpool ‘Anarchist’ Bookfair 2018’.  Certainly nothing for the bookfair organisers to be proud of.  At this point you realise that the author’s way of expressing things is, shall we say, OTT.  Here’s a sample … his gang of ponces have supported violence against women through attempting to stop free speech in a public environment’.  So far as I am concerned their ‘crime’ is nothing to do with violence against women, it is attempting to stifle debate on transgender issues.  At this point I began to wonder if the author had swallowed the whole of the feminist lexiconHere’s another sample which is the title of a booklet the author encourages us to read, ‘Gender is not an Identity, it is a Tool of Patriarchy a Feminist View of Gender Identity Politics’.  Patriarchy, Feminist, Gender all in one sentence, pass me the sick bag please!

Usually when I read this sort of stuff I assume the writer is what I call one of ‘The Leg Over Brigade’, i.e. a man who spouts feminist pleasing language in the hope of being viewed favourably in the amorous stakes.  I don’t think this is the case here, the author seems to genuinely believe what he is writing and I doubt that his overuse of the slang terms for female genetalia as descriptions for people who views he disagrees with, will endear him to many feminists.

Anarchism he says ‘has pretty much become a wendy house for children to play in’.  He means of course the ‘London effete’ version of anarchism and lays at its door authoritarian behaviour, censorship, bullying and (yawn) misogyny’.  These charges are not unique to anarchism, ‘the Left’ is riddled with similar exponents.  ‘The transgender arguments are at best nonsense, at worst (yawn) misogynistic, indulgent and delusional’, he tells usWell that’s a point of view, an opinion, an assertion.  This is anger talking.

But if you first strip away the anger, then all of the feminist rhetoric, you realise he has a point, you’ve just got to unearth it.

What this booklet is all about is the proposed changes to the 2004 Gender Recognition Act (GRA) which could move away from medical assessment to ‘self certifying’, and about the people who refuse to engage in discussion about the implications of such a change and want to bully the rest of society into accepting it without question.

I’ve written previously about what I see as the absurdity of a man with a full set of wedding tackle being allowed to claim he is a woman and be housed in a women’s prison, the ‘Cocks in Frocks’ syndrome as the author rather nicely puts it.

What I had not considered is how the 5000 transexual women for whom the 2004 GRA was created, might view self certifying.  It’s an interesting perspective.  The rational, understanding, empathetic way the 14 contributors to this piece have structured their argument and their recognition that whilst it is women who will be most affected, changes to the GRA will affect the whole of society, is an example of how this debate should be conducted.

I found this so striking that I was initially tempted to quote it in full.  I won’t; you’ll have to get hold of a copy of the booklet and read it for yourself. Significantly some of the contributors to this are older women who ‘transitioned’ up to 50 years ago.  Almost all the noise comes from those of university age,

Much of the author’s anger is directed at the politicisation of identity, of irrelevant lifestyle choices, of ‘Look at me, me, me I’m non-binaryor the way that some people portray individual decisions as somehow taking a radical stance, and think we should all take notice. I’m inclined to agree.  My wife, my sister, my sisters-in-law, my daughters, my granddaughters, couldn’t care less. 


Friday, 19 July 2019

Tameside MBC Dirty Dancing with Fossil Fuels

Four Arrested At Anti-Fracking Demo in Droyslden!
by Brian Bamford (Sec. Tameside TUC)

TODAY four objectors to Tameside Council's dirty dance promotion of fossil fuel investments through the Greater Manchester Pension Fund (GMPF) were detained in a protest of about 100 activists from FOSSIL FREE GM protesting outside Guardsman Tony Downes House in Droyslden, in Tameside and were taken away to police stations in Ashton-under-Lyne and elsewhere in Greater Manchester.   The three men and a young lass were arrested after they had super-glued and locked themselves to the railings.  

Environmental activists, Green Party members including Tameside Cllr. Lee Huntbach, and trade unionists were present at the event.

 Exclusive Bosses Secret Concordat as Pensioners Banned

The occasion today was what should have been the AGM of the Greater Manchester Pension Fund, but in a remarkable piece of Orwellian linguistics has now been re-christened the 'Annual Employers yearly update'!  The protesters were supporters of 'FOSSIL FREE GM'.

This cunning change of title was created so as to justify excluding the pensioners who are members of the Pension Fund, and public from meeting. Consequently, the event today chaired by Tameside Council boss, Brenda Warrington, became a glorified Councillor's Concordat from which the membership, the pensioners and the public were locked-out.   

 As the FOSSIL FREE GM campaigners super-glued their limbs to the railings of the Pension Fund's building and set about their business-like endeavours of spray painting the windows of the Manchester Road building urging the council bosses of Greater Manchester to quit their dirty investments in oil companies like Shell and Fossil Fuels generally, nervous councillors furtively fled round to the rear entrance to gain access to their 'BOSSES ONLY' secretive Concordat.  

In the past these Greater Manchester council bosses have tried to assure the public that they are clean and responsible in their investment decisions.  Last year in their Annual Statement these Pension Fund bigwigs declared:

'Although we will listen to special interest groups that oppose some of GMPF’s investments, for example in alcohol, gambling or pharmaceuticals, we cannot let this detract from our duty.  Considerations such as these have led us to decide not to have or develop a detailed generalised ethical investment policy.  We prefer to concentrate on developing a policy that involves using voting and other contacts to positively influence company behaviour.  In our view, simply disinvesting from particular companies is a denial of responsibility.'

Perhaps the Manchester supporters of 'FOSSIL FREE GM' can be excused for seeing this as yet more hypocrisy from their local councillors.


Councillor Richard Farnell quits Labour Party

'EL GORDO' - Richard Farnell - Suspended by Labour

COUNCILOR Richard Farnell, a former leader of Rochdale MBC, has quit the Labour Party saying he had 'no confidence he would receive a fair hearing' over his suspension in April 2018 for allegedly lying to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse, over historical abuse allegations at Knowl View School.  Cllr. Farnell also added that after 44 years as a Labour member, he could no longer 'support a party led by Jeremy Corbyn'.

Councillor Farnell has always insisted he told the truth to the Inquiry, and following a long investigation by the Metropolitan Police it was found that there was 'insufficient evidence' to prosecute him for perjury.

Former Rochdale council leader Richard Farnell confirmed on Thursday (18 July) that he has resigned from the Labour Party.
The Balderstone and Kirkholt councillor said he had resigned 'some time ago' because he had 'no confidence he would receive a fair hearing' over his suspension, and that after 44 years as a Labour member, he could no longer 'support a party led by Jeremy Corbyn'.

In a series of parting shots at his old party Cllr. Farnell issued a statement to the press:
'We have the most inept and unpopular Tory government in living memory, yet Labour came a miserable fourth in the European elections and our support is down to just 18 percent in recent polls – the lowest in our history. Any decent opposition would today be polling over 50 per cent and on course for a landslide victory.
'I fear for the future as Labour is being destroyed as a credible party capable of winning power. Our country and millions of people need a mainstream Labour government. They are being betrayed by a toxic leadership making the party unelectable and in danger of extinction.
'I have no quarrel with the local party and our MP.  I will continue to support the hardworking members of the Labour Group on the council who are doing an excellent job in maintaining public services in the face of swingeing cuts from the Tory government. I will not be joining any other party.
'The second reason is that I have no confidence that I will receive a fair hearing in dealing with my suspension. The party’s disputes unit has been proved to be chaotic, incompetent and politically biased.
'My 15-month suspension is unjust and has gone on far too long. I have on three occasions asked for progress to be made only to be completely ignored. Only after a complaint was lodged by my local party did they eventually write to me. Too little, too late.
'I have 16 pages of evidence that proves beyond any doubt that I could not have been told about events at Knowl View. I told the truth to the Independent Inquiry; and the Metropolitan Police’s decision to clear me of allegations of perjury vindicates this.
'I am grateful for the support I have received from scores of party members over recent months.  In many ways, I feel I am letting them down by resigning, but for me, I have reached the end.
'Enough is enough.  Like thousands of others right across the Labour Party, I cannot remain a member of an intolerant and hard left party led by an incompetent leader.'

Councillor John Blundell, a spokesman for the Rochdale Constituency Labour Party, said: 'I am sad to see Councillor Farnell resign.  We wish him well.'

Others in the local party and elsewhere were unhappy about his staggeringly poor performance at the Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse, and thought he may have departed sooner.  But Cllr. Farnell has followed in a recent tradition of local politicians like the notorious former MP Simon Danczuk, who hang on well past their sell-by date.


Steve Bell's cartoons now being censored by the Guardian!

Cartoon by Steve Bell - Is This Anti-Semitic?

C. P. Scott who served almost 50-years as the editor of the Manchester Guardian newspaper, wrote an essay in 1921 in which he expressed his opinion on the role of a newspaper. He said the "primary office" of a newspaper is accurate news reporting, saying "Comment is free, but facts are sacred." In recent weeks, under the editorship of Kathryn Viner, the Guardian has been criticized for having published a letter from over 100 prominent Jews including Noam Chomsky, supporting the Labour MP Chris Williamson and then withdrawing it, after receiving a letter of complaint from the British Board of Jewish Deputies. We are publishing below an email that was sent from the Guardian Cartoonist Steve Bell to Kathryn Viner after one of his cartoons was recently censored by the newspaper on Thursday 18th July. The cartoon featured Israel's racist prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In his email, Steve Bell also refers to the spiked letter sent by supporters of Chris Williamson and the letter that was published in the Guardian from over 60 Labour peers calling on Jeremy Corbyn to resign. We understand that the £18,000 that was paid to the Guardian to publish the letter, may have come from the Jewish entrepreneur, Alan Sugar.

Tuesday, 16 July 2019

Blessed Be the Bigots!

How Northern Voices gives space to opposing views

by Brian Bamford (Joint Editor)

IN a recent critical comment on this Blogg Tony Greenstein, a blogger who is a descendant of Jewish immigrants, proclaims that 'it is a pity that the Northern Voices Blog does not have an anti-racist or anti-fascist politics.'

Let's be clear, Northern Voices doesn't have a party-line or what might be called a politically correct platform

Let me offer some personal history; in February 1963, I met with members of the FIJL (Iberian Federation of Young Libertarians) in the Belleville working-class area of Paris: the refugees from the Spanish Civil War had begun arriving there in 1938.  In 1963, we were keen to involve ourselves in the struggle against the dictatorship of General Franco and were about to be dispatched for the shanty towns of Barcelona.  So if we consider Franco to be a 'Fascist', I suppose I was an anti-Fsscist over 50-years ago.  But what does Mr. Greenstein really mean when he accuses Northern Voices not having 'anti-racist or anti-fascist politics'?

It is not so easy to answer this question because even in 1944, in the journal Tribune, George Orwell struggled to tackle this puzzle in an essay 'What is Fascism' thus:
"Of all the unanswered questions of our time, perhaps the most important is: ‘What is Fascism?’
One of the social survey organizations in America recently asked this question of a hundred different people, and got answers ranging from ‘pure democracy’ to ‘pure diabolism’. In this country if you ask the average thinking person to define Fascism, he usually answers by pointing to the German and Italian régimes. But this is very unsatisfactory, because even the major Fascist states differ from one another a good deal in structure and ideology."

Finally Orwell concluded that:
 "Except for the relatively small number of Fascist sympathizers, almost any English person would accept ‘bully’ as a synonym for ‘Fascist’.  That is about as near to a definition as this much-abused word has come.  ....All one can do for the moment is to use the word with a certain amount of circumspection and not, as is usually done, degrade it to the level of a swearword."

Mr. Greenstein makes free use of the word 'fascist' describing Greenswiper thus:  "The little fascist Greenswipe tells us that Robinson or Yaxley-Lennon is ‘a beacon of light.'  And goes on to tell us:
'Here you see the bigot and racist in all his glory. It may be gloomy for this poundshop bigot but not for most people.  Whether it is food or music multi culturalism has triumphed over British marching bands!  Or maybe what he means is that he doesn’t like mixing with Black people but doesn’t like to put it in those words."

But perhaps Greenstein forgets that we had our own 'Bigotgate' in Rochdale in the General Election campaign in 2010.  The then Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, on the election campaign trail, was faced with a disastrous turn of events after a Labour supporter, Gillian Duffy, confronted him about his party’s plans to cut the deficit and its stance on immigration as he was interviewed live on TV in Rochdale. 

Later Gordon Brown went on to regret calling Mrs. Gillian Duffy a 'bigoted woman' when he was recorded calling her in such disparaging tones.  To a Northerner this language all comes over as being a bit snobbish about people who take a different view like Tommy Robinson and Greenswiper himself.  Greenswiper is clearly wrong when he claims 'Tommy Robinson represents about 90% of people', but the instincts of Greenswiper and Mrs. Duffy can't be ignored because they do represent a certain tendency, call it an impatience, among white working people.  Some are arguing that the phenomena of political correctness and identity politics is fueling the rise of people like Trump, Tommy Robinson and the Brexit Party.

No amount of smug sneers about 'racism' and 'fascism' from Tony Greenstein will change what is the deeply embeded xenophobia in our culture.  Nor will implying that because English people like to eat Indian food or aren't still fond of brass bands must therefore mean that they have accepted the triumph of multi-culturalism as a political entity.

One can still enjoy a jitterbug dance, and the same person could delight in 'traditions' on a local scale, like the annual Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols at the chapel of King's College, Cambridge on Christmas eve.    

Fascism is often identified with nationalism and tradition, but this is not always the case.  In the book 'The Inventon of Tradition',  edited by the Marxist Eric Hobsbawn and Terence Ranger, HUGH TREVOR-ROPER wrote:

"It is ironical that if the Highland dress had been banned after 'the Fifteen' instead of after 'the Forty Five', the kilt, which is now regarded as one of the ancient traditions of Scotland, would probably never have come into existence. It came into existence a few years after Burt wrote, and very close to the area in which he wrote. Unknown in 1726, it suddenly appeared a few years later; and by 1746 it was sufficiently well established to be explicitly named in the act of parliament which then forbade the Highland dress. The actual inventor, I understand was an English Quaker from Lancashire, Thomas Rawlinson. The Rawlinsons were a long-established family of Quaker iron-masters in Furness."

So even the iconic Highland kilt so central to the Scottish nationalists was originally made in Lancashire by an English Quaker?
Meanwhile, Mr. Greenstein rages on about Greenswiper's complaints of an England in the 21st century shrouded in an ‘Alien multicultural gloom’; to whichTony Greenstein is nothing if not pompous:   'Here you see the bigot and racist in all his glory. It may be gloomy for this poundshop bigot but not for most people. Whether it is food or music multi culturalism has triumphed over British marching bands! Or maybe what he means is that he doesn’t like mixing with Black people but doesn’t like to put it in those words.'

Here we may be experiencing bigotry from both Greenstein and Greenswiper, yet in some ways it  is the canary in the coal mine that warns us of approaching disaster.