Saturday, 13 February 2016

Kate Middleton’s Anarchist Ancestor


The second in a continuing series by Chris Draper of, 'Lives of Northern Anarchists'.
Thanks to everyone who responded to the story of John Oldman and
feel free to add comments, info or criticism below.
THE Royal Family are parasites but Kate Middleton had one admirable ancestor; Edith Lupton, an anarchist. 
The paternal ancestors of the Duchess of Cambridge, were a prominent Leeds family and 'Luptons' attended Kate and Will’s wedding.  Curiously, Edith’s activism is always omitted from published accounts of the Lupton lineage (eg. Wikipaedia, Daily Mail, Daily Express etc).

Edith Lupton would certainly have livened up Kate’s wedding reception. In 1898 Edith was imprisoned for a month for disorderly conduct and assaulting a police officer.  Described in court as, 'well-educated, 56, an artist and social reformer', Edith denied spitting in the policeman’s face but explained 'that it was her custom to show her contempt for the force by going into the middle of the road and expectorating on the ground whenever she met a policeman.'

Born in Leeds in 1843 into a wealthy household, Edith’s father was a Unitarian Minister who chose not to practice his religious calling but instead rely on dividends from property and railway shares. When Edith was growing up, the family lived for a while in Whitby and then Chesterfield before returning to Leeds.  Edith was educated at home, initially by a governess and then by her father before training as an artist at the Slade in London.  In 1872 she was one of the first women awarded a silver medal for drawing by the University of London and went on to exhibit at the Royal Academy before returning north.

Edith was a feminist with an abiding commitment to children.  In 1882 she campaigned as the sole “Independent” amongst eighteen other assorted 'Church' or 'Liberal' candidates for the Bradford School Board.  Bradford’s MP, William Forster, had introduced the national system of compulsory state-education before assuming responsibility for the policy of coercion in Ireland. Edith’s libertarian instincts identified the continuity of this authoritarian approach.  She campaigned against state imposition and for local education and was duly elected with the second highest vote, beaten only by the Rev. Simpson who stood as the 'Catholic' candidate.  Supported by both male and female workers of Bradford, the local paper reported an interesting crisis of conscience experienced by one group of citizens fearing for their souls if they voted with their hearts, 'In Caledonia Street, some of the Catholic women, feeling an inkling to vote for Miss Lupton and not liking to openly support that body affected ignorance or illiteracy. When the returning-officer directed them to vote they declined to make a cross on the paper, saying they were forbidden to do so except for religious purposes and they went away without voting.'

Edith threw her heart and soul into community politics, intent on humanising the Bradford school system.  In February 1883, she organised a School Board Concert at the Mechanics Institute with songs, recitations and performances by the Bowling Brass Band.  In September she began a campaign to end compulsory homework for primary school children.  The following year she persuaded over fifty eminent physicians to sign a petition published in the Yorkshire Post that stated;

 'We, the undersigned medical men of Bradford, believing that evening brain-work is undesirable and frequently injurious to young children, most earnestly beg the board to give effect to the resolution passed at the recent meeting in St George’s Hall, to the effect that, Home lessons should not be enforced on children under ten years of age.'

In November 1884 Edith wrote a lengthy essay excoriating the state-school system that was widely reported by the press:
'She begins by saying that…a gross and ignorant tyranny has in the name of education risen up amongst us and it is time the nation opened its eyes to what is going on…She considers that not only are delicate children treated with what are at times barbarous cruelty but that the vitality of strong children is often seriously depressed by antiquated and ignorant modes of instruction.'

In the summer of 1887 Edith garnered the support of a dozen Women’s Suffrage Societies for a formal appeal to Queen Victoria, to support their campaign for political parity with men but to no avail.  Edith had come to recognise the limitations of local politics and polite petitioning and the undesirability of state-socialism.  Whilst she fervently opposed state schooling most of the labour movement celebrated it as a welcome advance.   

By November 1887, Edith had come to identify herself as an anarchist and spoke at Leeds alongside colourful local libertarian Greevz Fisher (the subject of a future essay in this series) at a public meeting presided over by Auberon Herbert.  'The Chairman said that on the subject they had met to consider that night they all had a great mistrust of State direction… First of all they were struck by the very remarkable thing they were doing in allowing a few gentlemen to sit in an office in Whitehall from which they shaped and directed the education of the whole people of this country.'

Edith didn’t stand for re-election to the School Board in 1888.  She did attend the annual conference of the 'National Society for Women’s Suffrage', at Manchester Town Hall and was duly appointed to the Executive Committee but she wasn’t impressed. Edith’s exasperation with the constitutional tactics of the Victorian suffrage campaigners finally erupted at the 1891 National Conference at Westminster Town Hall where it was widely reported that 'Miss Edith Lupton, rising in the body of the hall, moved an amendment practically taking the form of a vote of censure on the Parliamentary Committee.'  Why should women thank them when they had achieved nothing!  'The amendment was seconded but ruled out of order by Lady Sandhurst.'

In 1890 Edith moved down to London to agitate full-time for William Morris’s Socialist League (SL).  She initially joined the 'North London SL', which met every Wednesday evening off Tottenham Court Road, and she spoke at Hyde Park alongside anarchist heavyweights Sam Mainwaring and Tom Cantwell.  Over the summer of 1890 Edith lectured at a variety of SL pitches in both central and east London before settling in south London, where her favourite pitch was New Cut, Southwark, which the SL’s newspaper Commonweal assured readers 'is as bad as any slum in the East-end”. From the outset at New Cut, as Commonweal  reported, Edith was at home with the slum-dwellers, “Great enthusiasm shown by the people at both meetings.'

In August, Lupton attended a, 'Revolutionary, Anti-Parliamentary Conference' held at the Autonomie Club but her ideas didn’t go down too well.  'Miss Lupton believed in assembling the people in the streets; only by teaching them together could we infuse courage into them.  Revolt, too was generated in this way, as fire by the sharpening of flint against flint.  There must be leaders – (some cries of “No!”) – but they must arise when the time came.  Leadership was necessary – (renewed dissent) – but we must not plan it. We must not make a trade of it; only we must be ready to utilise it when necessary.'  The dissent was ominous, Edith’s pragmatism would have been welcomed in previous years but by the autumn of 1890 the SL had been taken over by an intolerant “anarchist” faction, carried away by their own fiery rhetoric and determined to exclude all but true believers. William Morris had already been squeezed out of the editorial chair and was soon to leave altogether and Edith’s card was marked.

Edith stuck to her guns and at the end of the month addressed a meeting of the SL at the Commonweal Hall in Holborn on the topic of, 'Woman'.  The result was pithily reported by the paper as, 'Animated discussion'!  A week later, Edith was arrested whilst speaking for the cause in Southwark. On that occasion, Commonweal offered encouraging support and ridiculed the officers who accused her of being drunk and disorderly. 'Our uniformed friends had relied upon the loyalty of their divisional surgeon – perhaps thinking that an unprotected female would never dream of demanding to see him. Both expectations were disappointed. Miss Lupton insisted upon her right and the very police doctor was compelled to certify that she was perfectly sober.'  Her case was dismissed.

The following Sunday the SL organised a demonstration in Southwark to protest at Edith’s arrest and, 'A large and enthusiastic crowd assembled encouraged the speakers and showed every sympathy with the meeting.'

In September, Edith, then living at 59 Selhurst Road, Thornton Heath, took over as Secretary of the South London branch of the SL and extended her range of regular speaking pitches to include Streatham and Battersea.  She teamed up for some of these talks with an especially appealing character called Robert Harding, the 'Peaceful Anarchist', who employed a range of innovative strategies to attract a crowd that often involved him being extravagantly chained to railings, lamp-posts and park benches to the anger and frustration of the police and further amusement of the audience. 

In early October Edith was advertised to speak alongside William Morris, Kitz, Nicoll, Mowbray, Louise Michel and other stars of the movement at a forthcoming commemoration of the judicial murder of the Chicago Anarchists but politics intervened.  Besides lecturing for the SL, Edith had been organising to liberate women from the dreadful working conditions of commercial laundries and with several other feminists had devised a scheme for creating Co-operative Laundries.  At the end of October a prospectus was unveiled in the pages of Commonweal:
'Our object is to put a stop to the “sweating” which so largely and increasingly exists in the laundry industry, to pay proper wages, to shorten the hours of labour, to provide comfortable and well-ventilated work-rooms and to raise the workers at the same time from the position of wage-slaves to that of owners of their own earnings.  We also make a special appeal to our comrades as women, for not only do women suffer as wage-slaves but as chattel-slaves also.'

Instead of supporting the plan, the paper’s new editors appended a critical footnote to Edith’s Co-op article, denouncing the scheme’s facility for raising capital by offering interest to subscribers.  This undermining of Edith’s efforts exemplified the narrow sexist approach of the editors rather than the practicality of Lupton’s scheme.  When Edith and her trio of co-workers defended their ideas in the Commonweal of 1st November 1890 the editors couldn’t resist having the last word but in doing so revealed their millenarian prejudice:
 'We have quite as much sympathy with the sweated laundry women as Miss Lupton, only we are not sure that co-operation, or even trade unionism will sweep their slavery away…nothing but the Social Revolution will raise the mass from the horrible misery from which most working-women suffer at the present time.' 

As 1890’s, workers were increasingly lured away from anarchism by electoral opportunism many comrades responded, not by patiently seeking to re-establish links but instead by retreating onto an ever diminishing island of revolutionary fundamentalism.  Nothing but an immediate destruction of capitalism deserved contemplation, all else was worthless palliative. Edith’s name was removed from posters advertising the Chicago commemoration and the South London SL dissolved.  William Morris spoke at the event but left the League soon after, yet Edith persevered.  The following spring, Edith recorded her occupation on the official census as, 'Lecturer for a Socialist League (Agitatress)'.  The feminisation of 'Agitator' was certainly significant and it’s likely the substitution of 'a Socialist League' for 'The Socialist League' indicated Edith’s distancing from the much diminished official SL organisation. 

Edith continued campaigning for laundry workers and by July 1891 twenty-seven trades councils were demanding action but to Lupton’s consternation it seemed the State intended to pre-empt the laundresses’ efforts to organise co-operative control of their industry.  Ironically, having already been rebuffed by the anarchist editors of the SL, Edith was in May 1892 derided by arch-statist, Eleanor Marx with similar prejudice. When it appeared the State was about to control laundries, (as reported by Eleanor Marx):
 'immediately Mrs Fawcett the reactionary bourgeois advocate of women’s rights…who has never worked a day in her life, along with Miss Lupton, an anarchist (likewise a woman of the middle class), sent a counter delegation to protest against this intervention in woman’s labour.' 

Continuing her campaign for laundry co-operatives brought her into court several times in 1892 with fines imposed and two weeks in prison served.  Before the County Court in October Edith drew feminist conclusions:
 'Men are a miserable lot of curs, brought into the world to run down and denounce women and prevent them from obtaining their rights.  I have fought for women’s rights before and I will fight for them again.  I represent the poor washerwomen.'

In September 1893 under the heading, 'EDITH’S PRANKS', the Leeds Times reported:
'At the Marlborough-street Police Court, London on Monday, Miss Edith Lupton, a shabbily dressed woman, well known in London parks as a speaker was charged with being drunk and disorderly.'  Perhaps she was, for on that occasion Edith didn’t insist on a second opinion but neither did she give Mr Hannay, the magistrate, an easy time. When Hannay asked if she had anything to say she replied, “Nothing. I have had the honour of appearing before you three times and the last time I was here you punished me because I defended myself. – Mr Hannay: “Surely you must be mistaken.”- Miss Lupton: “Oh no. Would you like to hear your own words?” – Mr Hannay: “Not particularly”. – Miss Lupton: “You told me that you would have let me off if I had not accused the policeman of telling lies and I made up my mind that when I next was brought here I would not say a word.”- Mr Hannay: “Pay 10s.”

Edith kept on campaigning, and getting arrested, and as late as February 1898 she had a most erudite letter on 'Woman’s Suffrage' published in the Pall Mall Gazette but she was increasingly isolated, impoverished, ill-dressed and inebriated. In the indictment that opened this essay Edith was once again in Southwark Police-court charged with disorderly conduct and assault.  'Police Constable Reylance stated that he found the prisoner very drunk in Long Lane and she deliberately came up to him and spat twice in his face.  The defendant delivered an oration from the dock, quite in the Hyde Park manner. She had devoted her life to the poor and lowly.'  It was Edith Lupton’s last recorded act of rebellion.  In 1904, she died in Marylebone, impoverished and un-mourned.

For Peace, Love & Anarchy
Christopher Draper


Now for the Cost of Blacklisting

CONSTRUCTION firms have paid out nearly £6m in compensation to just 71 blacklisted workers. The UCATT members were all claimants in the High Court group litigation and on average received £80,000 with some individuals receiving £200,000 for the years of hardship caused by the illegal Consulting Association blacklist. The companies involved in the legal action are: Balfour Beatty, Carillion, Costain, Kier, Laing O’Rourke, Sir Robert McAlpine, Skanska UK and Vinci PLC. A number of cases have now settled with a total payout so far by the firms in excess of £15m. Acceptance of the compensation offers for many was not their preferred option but was forced upon them because of the financial implications associated with a Part 36 offer. There remain around 340 blacklisted workers whose claims are still live, with the trial still scheduled for 10 weeks and set to start in May.

Public authorities across the UK and Europe have passed resolutions and issued procurement guidelines that would mean that if found guilty at a High Court trial they could be banned from future publicly funded contracts.  

Dave Smith, blacklisted engineer and Blacklist Support Group secretary commented:
"The offers of compensation are a cynical attempt by the companies to buy themselves out of a High Court trial. The blacklisting firms know they are guilty as sin and are desperate to protect their corporate brand. But the millions they will be ordered to pay by the High Court will be dwarfed by the potential billions they could lose out on if banned from government and local authority contracts across Europe
A large number of workers were put on the illegal Consulting Association database because they raised concerns about safety on building sites. By covertly targeting union safety reps, these companies appear to have given themselves a competitive advantage, as implementing proper health & safety measures on major projects has obvious financial consequences. Blacklisting is a human rights scandal but it might also be viewed as a secret cartel. I'm looking forward to the trail in May". 


Postman Reinstated in Bridgewater

AFTER a two-year 'David and Goliath' battle with the country's second largest employer, culminating with a 24-hour wildcat walkout on November 11th; the 113 CWU members at Bridgwater Royal Mail Delivery Office in Somerset have secured the reinstatement of Andrew Mootoo, a profoundly deaf postman stricken with MS.

Andrew starts back to work on a part-time desk-based computer job, scanning in undelivered packets, on Monday February 15th.

On Thursday, the day after his reinstatement was confirmed, a gate meeting was held, with Andrew and his wife present, to celebrate a remarkable victory for the Communication Workers' Union/CWU.

After the gate meeting, the British Sign Language/BSL interpreter for Andrew, said she had never experienced anything like it, the speeches had given her goose bumps!

Dave Chapple, with Darren Granter one of two Bridgwater CWU Reps still under threat of dismissal for their part in the November illegal walkout, said:

'Monday will finalise a victory that should be celebrated, not just as part of the TUC HeartUnions week, not just as the latest in an amazing series of strike victories at the Bridgwater Delivery Office, not just as a truly-even for Bridgwater-remarkable act of working-class solidarity, but,perhaps most of all, as a victory for disabled workers everywhere.

'How many other workplaces would have held a near-unanimous walkout to support someone who hadn't been at work for nearly two years? 

'The unavoidable fact is that Royal Mail's preferred option was always compulsory transfer out of Bridgwater, or Ill Health Retirement. The most ignorant and prejudiced Royal Mail managers we met, genuinely felt that the dole was the only long-term option. In any other workplace that could or would not risk a lightening strike as a shock tactic, the dole it would have been.'

Andrew Mootoo said: 

'After all this time I didn't expect, suddenly, to find Royal Mail positive about my return to work. I want to say a big thank you to all Bridgwater CWU members who went on strike for me: that was crucial. I cannot believe I have been waiting for 2 years and 1 month to return to work.

I call it "The Longest Road to CWU Victory":  I am so proud of our militant history here at Bridgwater!'

Andrew is available for interviews with the media, disabled, black and ethnic organisations, and other trade union branches."

Dave Chapple

07707 869 144

Friday, 12 February 2016

Mr. Dale's Diary

Friday 12th February 2016

Had a thought about the punters rewarding a man of my esteem. Why not a charity box by the door? I can think of who might be most worthy to receive due acknowledgment for my kindly help. Still rumblings about contributions made to my holiday fund. Well I have to use the car when there is no first class travel available for a man of my esteem. I deserve it for my good works, as they say, I’m worth it; and I am getting a bit short of funds. Maybe give that lass another text, see if she fancies some more media work, that’s a payer, or perhaps I should take a lodger in somewhere amongst one’s estate?
On the subject of going a bit short, I’ve heard that there is a massage parlour just opened down the road. Might give it a try, when they see a my physique and realise my importance I’m sure there will be no cost involved. I could fit it in (as they say) between a couple of charity do’s. Handily one should be OK for some drinks and the later one includes a good feed.
As “the man of the people”, I’ve had a go at a mega-corporation this week and made sure everyone knows about it. Hopefully my old mate (who happens to own a multi-national) will have seen this and can fix me up with another opportunity to offer my ‘musings for money’ to the world.
Quite a breakthrough those scientists made this week. For all their theories, they still haven’t realised the Universe revolves around me. When they have a moment, I’d like them to investigate the mysterious black hole (or two) my vast earnings are disappearing into. The numbers are not in agreement with the symmetry of Einstein’s equations. That little chap in the wheelchair could motor round and do the sums for me. How come he is in the papers more than me? He’s even had a film made about him. Hmmm, a film about me, that would be good. Must get my man to ring Hollywood….
hand-holding-50notes_69762Mr Dale
*******

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Mr. Dale's Diary

Thursday 11th February 2016

Came into my office and was met with ‘Good Morning’ from one of my serfs (employees). As I always converse with my staff I said ‘No it isn’t, get on with your f*****g work’
And it isn’t a good day, the media work, and pay, is thin. I have got one of the papers to talk about my forthcoming book. Thought about doing an autobiography, (provisional title, “ME”) but my man needs to finish the ‘exposĂ©’ before he writes that one.
poundwalk
There’s been a fuss about parking. More bitterness from the vanquished I’d wager. I do think (not very often) that a man of my standing and importance should be given his own car park, with a nice young lady parking warden to police it. Or be given free parking at least, saves on all that paperwork for the pay and displays. As a major figure in this town people come to me with their unimportant and tedious problems. If I am not allowed to charge them for my valuable time, I should at least be free (not a word I’m usually associated with) to charge them for parking, something I know a lot about. On second thoughts, those who see me should really pay a consultancy fee commensurate with my brilliance. I’ll have a word with someone, maybe the rules on this are too vague.
poundwalk
At least the ex has hung up her crayon for a while. Who is going to colour in those pictures?
Lacking female company, need to do something about that. What’s wrong with them?
******
https://mrdalesite.wordpress.com/2016/02/11/thursday-11th-february-2016/

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Blacklisting firms paying out compensation to avoid May trial!

We are publishing below a recent briefing from the Blacklist Support Group:

"Construction firms have paid out nearly £6m in compensation to just 71 blacklisted workers. The UCATT members were all claimants in the High Court group litigation and on average received £80,000 with some individuals receiving £200,000 for the years of hardship caused by the illegal Consulting Association blacklist. 

The companies involved in the legal action are: Balfour Beatty, Carillion, Costain, Kier, Laing O’Rourke, Sir Robert McAlpine, Skanska UK and Vinci PLC. A number of cases have now settled with a total payout so far by the firms in excess of £15m. Acceptance of the compensation offers for many was not their preferred option but was forced upon them because of the financial implications associated with a Part 36 offer. There remain around 340 blacklisted workers whose claims are still live, with the trial still scheduled for 10 weeks and set to start in May.

Public authorities across the UK and Europe have passed resolutions and issued procurement guidelines that would mean that if found guilty at a High Court trial they could be banned from future publicly funded contracts.  

Dave Smith, blacklisted engineer and Blacklist Support Group secretary commented:

"The offers of compensation are a cynical attempt by the companies to buy themselves out of a High Court trial. The blacklisting firms know they are guilty as sin and are desperate to protect their corporate brand. But the millions they will be ordered to pay by the High Court will be dwarfed by the potential billions they could lose out on if banned from government and local authority contracts across Europe
A large number of workers were put on the illegal Consulting Association database because they raised concerns about safety on building sites. By covertly targeting union safety reps, these companies appear to have given themselves a competitive advantage, as implementing proper health & safety measures on major projects has obvious financial consequences. Blacklisting is a human rights scandal but it might also be viewed as a secret cartel. I'm looking forward to the trail in May". 


Monday, 8 February 2016

Tameside Belly Flop - Keep Pools Local!


Tameside belly flop
by Paul Broadhurst.




We’re told three pools in Tameside cost too much to run
Need a new one building; 14 million to be done
Make for easy access for everyone to use
But having to travel further, community will lose
Top chiefs and the council, already have a plan
Is this opposition; just a load of spam?
‘Cause the towns this is affecting, councillors raise their voice
“We want to keep the pool round here” as if there is a choice
Suppose the May election is rattling the cage
Or are they truly listening to the people and their rage
But ha! its Tameside council consultation on deaf ears
End up doing what they want, as they have for years
So here’s one Tameside Council, Manchester do invest
On keeping amenities local, revamp is the best



Keep our pools local


Mr. Dale's Diary



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

Monday 8th February 2016

What’s all this stuff about Europe? Lot of waffle but no one is answering the real question – what’s in it for me? The jobs in Europe seem well paid and the expenses are to die for! Free Eurostar and parking fees on top! Yes, a highly esteemed person like my good self would seem to be a perfect fit, I’ve even got a place over there. I’ll get my man to explain things to me. Or maybe a well deserved place in the House of Lords – £300 a day for turning up, sleep on the job, expenses, subsidised food and drink plus more funded visits for the progeny. Sounds perfect, as does the title Lord Me.
I’m not getting much company at present, certainly nothing like when I had the old business. I did enjoy the recruitment process, young ladies are so grateful for an introduction to the world of work although a recent one has been a little awkward.
This lack of attention as recommended by my menials is most unpleasant. My finances are beginning to suffer, and no ones printed my thoughts (as written by my man of course!) in over a week. Even the soppy paper who won’t pay me. Still they accept everything I say because I am a man of the people. Speak in a Northern accent and they think everything you say is what everybody thinks. You can tell them any old b*****is and they believe it! Just a pity they won’t pay me!
******
https://mrdalesite.wordpress.com/2016/02/08/monday-8th-february-2016/

Review: Captivating Chaotic Cancer of WIT


'I will never forget', says Vivian Bearing played by Julie Hesmondhalgh in the current Royal Exchange play 'WIT', 'the time I found out I had cancer'.  The chaos is situated in the drama and brutish efforts of medical science to do research on Vivian, which in the last scene leads to energetic efforts by the staff to revive Vivian against he wishes. 

Up to then, throughout the play the members of medical profession on hand keep mouthing the repetitious cliques at Vivian  'How are you feeling today?', and 'Keep pushing the fluids!' as the chemotherapy kicks in.  The American accents of the doctors sound about as convincingly caring as the assistants on the tills at Tesco. 

Vivian goes on to ask the audience's forgiveness for the play's conclusion:  'I apologise in advance for what this palliative treatment modality does to the dramatic coherence of my play's last scene,' she says, 'It can't be helped.'  

 The play which is a kind of comedy in that it has the audience laughing, perhaps nervously, throughout, gains intellectual strength from Vivian's life as a devoted scholar and student of the 17th century poet John Donne (1572-1631).  The poem quoted and pondered upon is what Donne had to say about death:

'This is my playes last scene; here heavens appoint

My pilgrimages last mile; and my race,

Idly, yet quickly runne, hath this last pace,

My spans last inch, my minutes latest point;

And gluttonous death will instantly unjoynt

My body, and soule.' 

Death; when er it comes it comes too soon! 

After the play ended it got a standing ovation on the press night.

Who Will Speak for England? Beware the seller!

John Amery shortly after his arrest by Italian partisans in Milan

I couldn't help but be struck with an headline I saw on the front page of the Daily (Malice) Mail, last Thursday: "Who Will Speak for England?" Although the article is a thinly disguised piece of anti-European shite aimed at giving people a nudge towards voting for a Brexit - Britain leaving the EU - it did get me thinking about what it actually means to be English?

While most people today do have a sense of a national identity, in reality, many of us see ourselves as belonging to many different groups based on religion, region, culture, background and social class. In the words of Benedict Anderson, nations are 'imagined communities' - socially constructed communities imagined by people. We might consider ourselves 'English', but we cannot know everybody in the nation only our immediate friends, neighbours and family and the people we meet, even online.

Although a great deal has been said about the breakdown of the 'Schengen Agreement', Europe's borderless area, and European nations regaining control of their borders, an article in the New Scientist magazine (6-9-2014), points out that before the late 18th century, there were no real nation states at all: "If you travelled across Europe, no one asked for your passports at borders as neither passports or borders as we know them, existed."  In 1800, almost nobody in France thought of themselves as French - half the residents of France didn't speak French - by 1900 they all did. At the time of Italian unification in 1860, only 2.5% of residents spoke standard Italian and its leaders spoke French to each other. It was said at the time that having created Italy, it was now necessary to create Italians. Even late into the 19th century, many eastern European immigrants arriving in America, could only say what village they came from and not what country, as it didn't matter to them.

Similarly, do we all share the same interests - politically, socially, culturally, economically, simply because we are English, British, or any other nationality? As an Englishman, I don't agree with  former Sun columnist, 'cockroach' Katie Hopkins, who likened immigrants to cockroaches and wants to use gun boats to sink migrant boats. An online petition calling on the Sun to sack her, attracted 200,000 signatures. Nor do I believe like some English people that English people should go hungry, or become homeless, because they can't pay the Tories bedroom tax, while the government gives tax breaks to billionaires and pursues pro-rich policies. In truth, when we are called upon to support the 'national interest' or 'the general interest', very often we are being duped by vested interests into believing that we are supporting the entire population, when in actual fact, we are rallying behind the interests of a small dominant corporate elite. What we should always ask, when we hear the 'national interest', is whose interest are we really talking about? As Cicero says - "cui bono" (to whose profit?) or caveat emptor - "let the buyer beware".

It's curious that the Daily Mail should have based its headline "Who Will Speak for England", from a remark made by the Conservative Politician, Leo Amery, who feeling annoyed with Neville Chamberlain over his statement to the House of Commons in September 1939, following Hitler's invasion of Poland, shouted to him across the floor of the House - "Speak for England!" Chamberlain declared war on Hitler the following day.

Although the half-Jewish Leo Amery, was an anti-appeaser, his eldest son, John Amery, brother of Julian Amery, was hanged for treason at Wandsworth prison in London in December 1945. A fascist blackshirt,  Amery made propaganda broadcasts for Nazi Germany. The Daily Mail itself, that bastion of the English middle-classes, was also rather taken with the blackshirts. Viscount Rothermere, the proprietor of the Daily Mail, supported Oswald Mossley's Nazi loving British Union of Fascists. An infamous article that appeared in the Daily Mail in January 1934, was entiltled "Hurrah for the Blackshirts." Neville Chamerberlain's own sister-in-law, Lady Austin Chamberlain, was also a known fascist sympathiser. So much for Englishness, when it comes from the mouths of the rich and powerful! But as the renowned Dr Samuel Johnson once said - "Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel."

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Simon Danczuk's Parking Charges

THE local website ROCHDALE ONLINE has revealed that Simon Danczuk, the MP for Rochdale who is presently suspended from the Labour Party, faces more probes into his parliamentary expenses.  It has come to light that over a four month period from April to August 2015, Mr. Danczuk has claimed parking charges of £672.50, including a single bill of £178.50 on the 1st, August 2015 for parking in Manchester.


The leader of the Rochdale Liberal democrats, Andy Kelly has said:
'Yet again our MP's expenses are in the spotlight.  To claim this amount of money is crazy.  Let's not forget that this is the man who recently spoke in support of Rochdale commuters.  He could have avoided this hefty bill by getting the train to Manchester with everyone else - it's only 20 minutes for God's sake.  Metrolink is longer, but would drop him off at Piccadilly for his "first class" train to London.  Questions must be asked why he claimed £178 for parking in August.  Parliament wasn't even sitting, he should have been in Rochdale doing his day job...  These claims are systematic of the attitude that Mr. Danczuk has to tax payer's money.  I'd be very interested in his response.'


ROCHDALE ONLINE reports that Mr. Danczuk did not reply to a request for a comment.  But his parking charge claims are as follows:


Parking 07/04/2015
£25.50

04/05/2015
£9.00

04/06/2015
£59.50

10/06/2015
£51.00

19/06/2015
£68.00

24/06/2015
£46.00

03/07/2015
£68.00

09/07/2015
£68.00

16/07/2015
£77.00

16/07/2015
£4.50

19/07/2015
£17.50

01/08/2015
£178.50

N.V. Review of 'Smile for the Camera'


by Les May
Editors Note:  Les May wrote this review exclusively for our current edition of Northern Voices No.15, which was published in April of this year.   He had in 2014 also written a review on Amazon.  The interesting thing about these reviews is that, with the exception of a review by Nicholas Blincoe* in the Daily Telegraph also in 2014, they are so far as we know the only critical reviews of the book 'Smile for the Camera: The Double Life of Cyril Smith' by Simon Danczuk and Matthew Baker. 
Since the book by the Rochdale M.P. Simon Danczuk was publish there has been much acclaim for what Mr. Danvczuk has had to say from pundits in the media and politicians of all complexions.  The effect of Mr. Danczuk's book when it was first published by Biteback publishers was massive and almost unbelievable given its patently poor quality in research terms.  John Walker who was the former co-editor of the Rochdale Alternative Paper (RAP), which in May 1979 first exposed the ultra vires conduct of Cyril Smith at Cambridge House, described the prose of Danczuk and Baker as 'flowery flannel'.    
I must declare an interest here because the idea to produce a biography of Cyril Smith was mine which I disclosed to my friend John Walker and he then suggested we get Simon Danczuk to write an introduction and to help us find a publisher.  I am an anarchist and ought to have logically exercise prudence whe deal with any party politician, but John has been a lifelong supporter of the Labour Party and has already published one book, I therefore left it to him to negotiate with Mr.Danczuk.  Neither of us had had any previous dealings with Simon Danczuk, but it quickly became apparent that Simon Danczuk was interested in making money out of the Cyril Smith book and this appalled John Walker, when he later at my house in Castleton, Rochdale, told me of it how Simon would mimic Cyril's gate rolling across the screen for a docu-drama.  In January 2013, as we ate our paella a la valenciana at my house following John's meeting with Simon and Matthew Baker, we struggled to come to terms Simon Danczuk's idea of turning the whole child abuse scandal into a melodrama for television.  Up to that time John had met with Danczuk about six times in London, on at least one time in the House of Commons Bar.  John told me that during their meeting, that Matthew Baker had seemed to be mainly interested in trying to squeeze information out of him, and that judging by Karen’s body language there seemed to be some animosity between Karen Burke (Danczuk’s wife) and Matthew Baker.
The visit to Danczuk’s office had not been successful, and sometime later in London, John Walker was approached by Mr. Baker and asked if he still intended to produce a book on Cyril Smith, to which he said that he wasn’t.  Then we waited to see how they would handle the material, especially with regard to the fact that when he was at Cambridge House he was a prominent member of the Labour Party in Rochdale, and that when in the later 1960s Cyril had been investigated by the police Jack McCann the then M.P. for Rochdale had intervened on his behalf with the DPP.  There is also even speculation that perhaps the then Labour Home Secretary, James Callaghan, got involved, as Mr. McCann was close to him.
Brian Bamford (October 2015)
*  Nicholas Blincoe is an English author, critic and screenwriter.  He is the author of six novels, Acid Casuals (1995), Jello Salad (1997), Manchester Slingback (1998), The Dope Priest (1999), White Mice (2002), Burning Paris (2004).  Blincoe was born in Rochdale, Lancashire in 1965. After briefly studying art at Middlesex Polytechnic he attended the University of Warwick where he studied Philosophy, gaining a PhD in 1993. The thesis was entitled Depression and Economics. The thesis explored the relationship between political sciences and economic theories, with particular reference to the philosophy of Jacques Derrida.
___________________________________________________
'Reviewing Cyril Smith's Lucrative Smile' by Les May (First published in print in Northern Voices No.15):
A half a century ago an overweight Labour councillor in his mid thirties took it upon himself to act as disciplinarian and medical inspector at a hostel for young men.  The man's name was Cyril Smith and the hostel was Cambridge House in Rochdale.  The consequences of this decision took some sixteen years to emerge in the form of a detailed and well researched article in Rochdale Alternative Paper (RAP), one of those non-mainstream newspapers which emerged in the 1970s.

In the 1979 pre-election issue of RAP the story of Cyril's penchant for looking at young men's genitals and spanking their bare backsides was revealed to anyone in Rochdale who could afford a few new pence for the paper. Cyril threatened to sue, then quietly backed down, Private Eye and New Statesman ran pieces, and the rest of the press ignored it.  At the election, Cyril, who by now had defected to the Liberal party, was returned to Parliament.

I bought 'Smile for the Camera' by Simon Danczuk and Matthew Baker having been taken in by the hype surrounding it.  So confidently did Mr Danczuk present his story of 'Cyril Smith the paedophile' at book readings, at press conferences and to any media outlet that would listen, that I assumed it was filled with solid evidence that Cyril continued and extended his sordid activities after the closure of Cambridge House in the mid 1960s. It isn't.

Instead what we have are a series of assertions and opinions by the authors, gossip, second and third hand stories which originated in pub bars, supposedly verbatim accounts of conversations which took place thirty odd years ago, accounts which we are led to believe are the authentic voices of men who had unpleasant encounters with Cyril yet which have a strange sameness about them, few definite dates and a garbled chronology, the same story apparently told more than once, misquotation of documents, a seeming absence of proper methodology and no indication of how many men they interviewed who claimed to have been abused by Cyril.

Feeling somewhat peeved at having wasted my money on such dross, I twice challenged the authors in a local newspaper about the apparent lack of methodology and how many men had been interviewed before this book was written, who claimed to have been abused by Cyril after the closure of Cambridge House.  Having received no answer on either occasion I wrote to Mr Danczuk on 9 October 2014 asking him the same question.  Again he declined to answer.  On 24 October at one of his book readings he was asked the same question.  Still Mr Danczuk  refused to answer.  Why the coyness?   Perhaps the answer would be embarrassingly small.

The question of 'how many' comes to mind repeatedly, because some of the stories about Cyril's activities appear to be recycled.  For example the same story about one resident fleeing the hostel after being beaten by Cyril appears on pages 51 and 93, leaving the impression that they are separate incidents.  Another example, complete with garbled chronology, appears on pages 50 and 109.

We now know Lancashire Police investigated Smith's activities at Cambridge House in 1969 and that in March 1970 a file was submitted to the DPP containing complaints from eight young people about indecent assaults by him.  The GMP update containing this information does not detail any other group of complainants. But similar stories about 'police files' appear in the book on pages 45, 47 and 51, again leaving the impression that they refer to separate complaints.  But do they?

Some of the strangest passages in the book appear in the three chapters headed 'Silent Voices'. Ostensibly these are accounts in their own words of the experiences of three men at the hands of Cyril Smith.

Here are a few samples ostensibly from two men assaulted in the 1960s;

It was said that Leonardo da Vinci would gaze at the stains on walls and imagine vivid battles and landscapes.  That day cheap exuberant motifs gave way to a swarm of angry locusts bringing a load of plague and pestilence. p87

The all-nighters at the Twisted Wheel club in Manchester were legendary.  Hard rhythm and blues, rare soul and American imports:  it was the best music you'd hear anywhere in the north of England. p119

You may wonder whether, if you were reporting having your backside wacked by a bully when you were a teenager half a century ago, you would include passages like these in your account.   

It doesn't stop there.  Contrast this description by the first of these men describing the assault by Smith;

Above his heavy breathing I could smell his rancid body odour.  It was like cabbage boiled in vinegar. As his heavy breathing slowed, a continuous low sound rose in his chest like a purr of contentment. p92 and a few lines later

His humming was louder now, broken every now and then by strange squeals of pleasure. p92

with an account which does not appear in the book but was sent to me in June 2014 by a man who was also assaulted at Cambridge House;

During the time I was a resident, (from late ‘61/early ‘62 to late ‘63/possibly early ‘64), on two occasions I was subjected to Smith’s bogus ‘medicals’.  During one of these I was asked to take down my trousers and underpants, turn round with my back to him, bend over, then hold my buttocks apart, while he ‘inspected’ me.  On another I had to, again, lower my trousers and underpants and Smith started poking and prodding and I was then told to cough while Smith held my genitals.

These two men may even have met each other at Cambridge House and are describing similar events. But whilst the account in the book is dramatic, 'white knuckle' or even vaguely pornographic, the second is hesitant and matter of fact.  

Now I do not doubt the two men at the centre of the accounts given in the book were spanked by Smith just as they say they were.  But I don't think that we are reading their own unvarnished words on the subject. One of them says;

Cyril couldn't have abused all these boys on his own.  He had a team of people behind him.  They were all in on it. p131

How convenient for the authors that he volunteered his opinion in this way!  How nicely
it 'corroborates' the opinion of another of their informants;

Digan, like others, is of the view they (paedophile gangs that is) were encouraged and protected by Cyril Smith.  p115.

We'll meet Mr Digan later.  But for the moment we'll note that these are opinions not facts.

The third 'Silent Voice' is perhaps the strangest.  Essentially it is a 'kiss and tell story', though it is not presented that way. 

In 1979 a young man of 16 meets Cyril and becomes involved in Liberal politics.  The RAP article spilling the beans on Cyril's antics at Cambridge House appears just before the election, but he is happy to join Cyril's election campaign and soon becomes 'a close member of his team'.  Payback time comes when Cyril starts to grope him.  So what does he do, walk away immediately?   No!   He continues to work with Cyril until 1982.  Now he feels a sense of shame for letting it happen, but to his great credit refuses to let his life be taken over by hate.  

This is a sad story.  Cyril does not emerge as a very nice man, even in the dirty world of party politics.  But not being very nice isn't a crime.  At a personal level he is exploitative and clearly takes advantage of this young man.  Yet, like the two earlier stories, it's not paedophilia.

So why do the authors use it to treat us to passages like this? 

In the years that followed, Cyril repeatedly used me to satisfy his perverse cravings.  He treated me like a sex object. p153

As we read this would our feelings be the same if it was about a fifty plus Celia Smith with her 'toy boy'? Are we being subtly invited to a bit of 'queer bashing'?

If you find such an idea offensive how about this?

Cyril, he said, liked them young with tight sphincter muscles. When their sphincter became looser as they got older, he would ditch them. p210

'I can't forget the graphic detail,' Foulston tells me, 'I was disgusted.' p210

Was the intention to leave the reader 'disgusted'?

Knowl View was a residential school which opened in 1969 and had a troubled history.  In the years following its closure in 1994 it was the subject of claims of a 'cover up' going back to an Independent on Sunday (IoS) article in 1995.  Strenuous attempts are made in 'Smile for the Camera' to associate Smith with sexual abuse of boys at the school.  But they largely rely upon the suppositions and opinions of a single individual, social worker Martin Digan, and it is difficult to find any independent evidence for them.  Again there is no chronology.

According to the authors Mr Digan started work at the school in the late 1970s p109.  In what must surely be one of the most remarkable statements in the book they tell us, 'For many years he was oblivious to what was happening in the school – until he was promoted to head of care and began to realise that things weren't quite right.' p109

The authors don't think it necessary to tell us when this was. But a Manchester Evening News (MEN) article from 2 December 2012 indicates Mr Digan became head of care in 1994.

So what had been happening in the school?  What no one disputes is that in 1991 an Aids worker, Philip Shepherd, spent a day in the school talking to staff and then wrote a report, (of which more later) which was sent to the Director of Education, Diana Cavanagh.  In response to what he wrote a clinical psychologist, Valerie Mellor, was commissioned in late 1991 to investigate the reported sexual activity involving the boys at the school.  Mellor's report presented in February 1992 confirmed and expanded upon the Shepherd report.  It included the comment, 'It is very difficult to believe that this behaviour had not come to the attention of at least some members of staff.'   Also in 1991, Rodney Hilton, who lived nearby was convicted of sexually abusing boys at the school.

Responding to a letter sent to her by the Knowl View staff in April 1992 Diana Cavanagh was strongly critical of care staff.  With reference to boys aged 11 to 13 at one unit of the school being involved in homosexual activities at the Smith Street toilets in the centre of Rochdale, she is reported to have said, 'Those supervising the boys in the evenings appeared either not to notice that they were missing, or not to communicate their observations.' and, 'There is insufficient evidence to prove culpable neglect, fraud or incompetence by any single member of staff.' 

If, as the authors tell us, Mr Digan had been at the school since the late 1970s, this seems to be a lot for anyone to be oblivious of.  As for how Mr Digan had the scales lifted from his eyes you can choose between the prosaic versions from the MEN of 2 December 2012 and 30 November 2013, that he was given access to the reports when he became head of care or the melodramatic version from 'Smile for the Camera' in which he slipped into the headteacher's office at night, 'Then, just as he was leaving, he caught sight of a file of papers spread out on the desk under an adjustable lamp.' p112

This is what Mr Shepherd had actually written in 1991:

'One boy who is homosexual has contact with an adult outside the school. Several of the senior boys indulge in oral sex with one another.

Reputedly five of the junior boys have been or are involved in 'cottaging' in and around public toilets. Men as far away as Sheffield are believed to be aware of this activity and travel to Rochdale to take part.
'One eight-year-old is thought to have been involved. The police are aware of the problem. What action has been taken is not known.
'One rent boy has been removed from the school. The suggestion that he may return soon has angered the staff.
'Some boys have been "forced" to have sex with others.'
and this is what Danczuk and Baker claim it says:
'In matter of fact language, the report described the extreme sexual abuse that young boys had been subjected to. Boys were beaten and raped continually by men as far away as Sheffield who had travelled to Rochdale to take part.' p112
A few lines later they quote Mr Digan as saying, 'These boys were sold to paedophile gangs.'  Of course neither they nor Mr Digan provide any evidence for this. 
A page further on they imply that Cyril Smith's and Harry Wild's names appeared; when in the Shepherd report when they did not; 'This file was eventually made public by Digan but Cyril Smith and Harry Wild's names were not mentioned.'  
This was the IoS article in 1995.
When the authors resort to misquoting documents in this way, presenting opinions as facts and implying that something is true when it isn't, then it casts doubt on much of their book.  Being named as Sunday Times politics book of the year and being listed as one of The Telegraph's best politics books to read in 2014, does not make it a reliable document if you want to know about Cyril Smith. My dad used to say, 'You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time, but you can't fool all the people all the time.'
I hope he was right!

Friday, 5 February 2016

Judge sends anarchist activist to police cells for refusing to take off his hat!

                Anti-fracking activist - Adam Whelan

English history is replete with examples of political radicals who have refused to doff their cap to those in authority. Refusal of what was called "hat honour", was seen as a badge of English radicalism. The early Quakers refused to doff their caps because it was their belief that all people were equal in the eyes of God. When the digger, Gerrard Winstanley, appeared before the lord general of the army, General Fairfax, in 1649, he refused to take off his hat saying that Fairfax was "but their fellow creature." Nearly two-hundred years later, when the chartist, Joseph Rayner Stephens, refused to take off his hat to a visiting magistrate in Chester Castle in 1838, where he was serving an eighteen-months prison sentence, the magistrate knocked it off his head in spite of him being an English gentleman. Although most folk nowadays, rarely wear hats, it seems that refusing to take your hat off today, is still guaranteed to rile some people in certain quarters.

On Monday, District Judge Mark Hadfield, sitting at the Manchester and Salford District Magistrates Court, ordered that 25-year-old anarchist activist, Adam Whelan, of no fixed address, be taken to the court police cells after he refused to take his hat off as he was leaving court. Mr Whelan had attended court to support two anti-fracking activists from Barton Moss, who were later convicted of 'aggravated trespass'. Although Mr Whelan had been sat in the public gallery, hatless, for over an hour, Judge Hatfield demanded that he take off his hat as he was leaving the court. When he refused to do so, the Judge called for security and he was told that if he didn't return to court, he would be arrested for contempt of court. 

In court, the Judge asked why he'd refused to take off his hat. Whelan replied: "that it was blatantly obvious to him that the Judge had more respect for corporations than he did for land, air, or water, and that he didn't respect that."  The Judge then ordered that Mr Whelan be taken to the police cells while he decided whether to charge him with contempt of court. After four hours in custody, Mr Whelan was brought back to court and asked once again why he'd refused to take off his hat. He told the Judge that he had been annoyed with his judgement and had been leaving the court, when he'd been asked to remove his hat. Judge Hadfield then told him that he had three options available to him: to impose a fixed penalty; to sentence him to one-months imprisonment or to take no further action. He then told Whelan that in this instance, he would be taking no further action as he was of the view, that four hours in the police cells was sufficient time for Whelan to reflect on his actions.

We understand that the learned Judge Hadfield, as something of a reputation for being rather severe on defendents in fracking cases and on a previous occasion, did remand one activist to prison, who was subsequently found not guilty. Although the Judge told Mr Whelan that he was merely upholding court etiquette and that it wasn't personal, one cannot help but feel that this is nothing but supercilious nonsense, from a Judge, who one suspects, was simply throwing his legal weight about in order to intimidate and pull rank, on a principled young man, with long hair. 

Mr Whelan told Northern Voices that he wouldn't be making a complaint about the Judge. We gather that when he was asked by the custody officer why the Judge had sent him to the police cells and had replied because he wouldn't take his hat off, the coppers found this so hilarious that they fell about laughing.

Mr. Dale's Diary



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

Friday 5th February 2016

Apologies for my recent absence. Meetings meetings meetings, they all want me. The big man’s sidekick did tell me to keep my head down, what a cheek, a grubby little man who looks more like a knackered ferret after a night out telling someone of my importance what to do. I was hoping a fact finding trip to somewhere in Asia (not the restaurant, a country) was going to come off. Organised by Trans World Arms Traders, it would have been lavish, just right for an immense man of status. But there have been floods there so I opted to stay here in the warm.
My man woke me with tea but no crumpet this morning. 'It’s parky out' he said. I stayed in bed, completing more expenses forms and flipping channels to see if the ex was on the chicken grills show yet.
Oh what a week of investigation this has been. So many meetings. So many parking fees to pay. I hear that someone who scurrilously claimed expenses is having a pop at your lord and master. And some quizzical type is jumping on the bandwagon. Pah. I am the man of power and influence in my fiefdom and have consequential earnings. And, it must be said, innocence and perfection.
These parking fees are a nightmare aren’t they, but what can one do ? The local transport system has no First Class sections, so how is it even possible for ME to use them? One must drive therefore, and pay the price of extortionate parking. Not my fault, as always. Therefore the people have to pay, and they know I am deserving.
******

Spanker Danczuk Demands Fair Crack!

SIMON Danczuk, the Labour MP for Rochdale, is determined to get a fair crack of the whip from Labour's national executive committee (NEC) investigation into the case of his 'sexting' to a 17-year-old lass, in which he asked her about 'spanking' and said that he was getting 'horny'.
Last week Rochdale constituency Labour Party sent a 'letter of support' for Danczuk to the Labour NEC, in which it called for a 'fair' investigation into the sexting scandal which led to the MP's suspension in December.
This week's Private Eye reports that '[a] number of complaints have now been received by the  NEC stating that the letter was only signed off by a handful of Danczuk's cronies, including council leader Richard Farnell, and does not represent the views of the local party at all.'
Northern Voices' has seen the e-mails leading up to the letter to the NEC, and while we do not object to its request that he should get what we would call a fair hearing, it is troubling if the leadership of the local party rushed off a letter to the NEC without proper consultation.

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Tameside libraries to go self-service. Paid staff to be replaced by volunteers!

Library Jobs Under Threat

A Tameside Council report (Strategic Planning and Capital Monitoring Panel - 30 November 2015), sets out Tameside Council's 'vision' for a "modern, progressive library service." The report says that although the closure of fives libraries in September 2012 and cuts in  opening hours led to savings of £1 million, the council now wants to achieve further savings of £15o,000 a year.

It may surprise some people to learn that not so long ago, Tameside had at least 22 libraries (see below). Many of these libraries were closed by the council long before the so-called financial crisis in 2008. It now runs eight libraries with 45.2 full-time library staff and 59 officers (more chiefs than Indians) and recently closed both the Hyde and Denton library buildings. Alternative library facilities on a much reduced scale, have been squeezed into rooms at both Hyde and Denton Town Halls.

Central to the council's 'vision' of a "modern, progressive library service", is to have 'self- service' unstaffed libraries and to replace remunerated library staff, with unpaid volunteers. The report says:

"Self service (via Radio Frequency Identification - R.F.I.D. ) should be promoted as the channel of choice both within libraries and digitally." It is envisaged that the majority of library transactions will be undertaken independently by customers, including self-booking of library PC's, either in person or via a mobile device.  The report also says:

"Customers who wish to use the library independently will be able to visit during advertised unstaffed hours by using their library card and pin number to gain access...Investment in a technical system will allow use of libraries by customers when no staff are present." It is the introduction of a new Library Management System at a cost of £77,415 and R.F.I.D. technology which is seen as the key to self service libraries in Tameside.

Although the report points out that theft of library materials is 'considerable', it says that better security technology could prevent this happening. However, one glaring and obvious omission, in this report, is that it does not deal with the health and safety implications of running unstaffed public libraries in Tameside. For example, who would be responsible for dealing with a tipsy miscreant hell-bent on annoying library users or a library user, who racially abuses a library customer, or a male library user annoying a female library user? Who would be responsible for dealing with incidents like this in unstaffed public libraries?

The report also seems to assume that most people have access to mobile technological devices and internet access. A cause for further concern, is the way in which Tameside seems to want to replace paid library staff, with unpaid library volunteers. While volunteering can be beneficial to some people, isn't voluntary work just being used by the council to get rid of staff by displacement and substitution using volunteers? No doubt the town hall unions will have something to say about this.