Thursday, 21 May 2015

Ken Loach presents 'It's a Free World'


“It’s a Free World”
Thursday June 11th: Ken Loach to visit Burnham-on-Sea for film screening.
 
ACCLAIMED British film director Ken Loach will present a special screening of his film ‘It’s a Free World’ at the Princess Theatre, Burnham-on-Sea on Thursday June 11th 2015.  Doors open 6pm for 6.30pm start.  The screening will be followed by a question and answer session with the director.
Ken Loach is a prolific and world-renowned filmmaker, noted for his social realism style and for ground breaking films such as ‘Kes’ and ‘Cathy Come Home’ and more recently 'The Wind that Shakes the Barley', ‘Spirit of ’45’  and ‘Jimmy’s Hall’

‘It’s a Free World’ (cert 15, 2007) won Best Screenplay at the 2007 Venice Film Festival.
The film follows Angie, played by Kirsten Wareing and nominated for a BAFTA for this role, who having been unjustly sacked from her job in an employment agency, sets up on her own. But this is no conventional tale of plucky entrepreneurs building their business through sheer determination to win well-earned prosperity.  While Angie and her partner see their new business as a way out of economic hardship, it soon becomes clear that it will shape them more than they shape it.

'The result is a reminder that the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and is a layered and complex character study of Angie, with Wareing on career-making form.'   Empire Magazine

The film screening has been organized by Somerset Film and Bridgwater & District Trades Union Council.  Organiser Phil Shepherd said 'Ken Loach has always been at the forefront of socially-engaging cinema, not afraid to put his political arguments at the heart of his films.'   With 'It's A Free World' he does much more than highlight the scandal of how migrant workers are exploited, he challenges the prevailing wisdom that  'ruthless entrepreneurship is the way that this society should develop – that everything is a deal, everything is competitive, acquisitive, market-orientated and that’s the way we should live.' 

Tickets cost £5 or £3 for those receiving jobseekers allowance. These are available from the Princess Theatre box office on 01278 784464.

For further information please contact Deb Richardson on 01278 433187.
Somerset Film
is a registered charity dedicated to empowering individuals and communities through film and creative technology.
Bridgwater and District Trades Union Council works and campaigns around issues affecting working people in their local workplaces and communities: bringing together activists at a grassroots level, it represents the trade union movement to the broader community. 

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Media Lens on the Election

THE famous physicist Albert Einstein was fond of Gedankenexperimenten – thought experiments – which tested his understanding of physics problems and stimulated solutions to them. For example, when he was a teenager, Einstein asked himself, 'What would the world look like if I rode on a beam of light?' Pursuing this question, he eventually came up with the Special Theory of Relativity and the most famous equation in science, E=mc2.
Imagine, then, this thought experiment. Consider how a general election might turn out if the media spectrum ran the whole gamut from the right - the BBC, Guardian and Independent, for example - to the hard right (the Mail, Sun, Express and so on). Some readers might object that the BBC, Guardian and the Independent are not right-wing at all, but centre or even left-liberal. But, as we have shown in numerous books and media alerts, these media organisations are embedded in powerful networks of big business, finance and establishment elites. Naturally, these are the one per cent - or even narrower - interests that corporate media largely serve and support. Such media do not even deserve to be called 'centre', if the term is to retain any meaning.
In this case, of course, a thought experiment is not required because reality carried out the experiment for us, with the results being all too obvious last Friday. The Tories were returned to Westminster with a 12-seat majority. Notably, they only had 37% support from a turnout of 66%. That means only 24% of the eligible electorate actually voted for a Tory government. Such is the undemocratic nature of the electoral system in the UK. The establishment wins every time.
As Neil Clark observes in an article for RT, there is a long history of British press scaremongering to prevent any threat to corporate and financial interests come election time. As usual, the Murdoch press led the way, with the Sun warning on April 30:
'A week today, Britain could be plunged into the abyss. A fragile left-wing Labour minority, led by Ed Miliband and his union paymasters and supported by the wreckers of the Scottish National Party, could take power... You can stop this. But only by voting Tory.'

The ludicrous warning about 'left-wing' Labour - a pro-business, pro-austerity party that has cut its roots from working people - was repeated across much of the press. Even the ostensible 'liberal' Independent, owned by the Russian billionaire Alexander Lebedev, came out in support of the Tories.
After weeks of debate about the likelihood of a hung Parliament and permutations of possible coalitions, opinion pollsters and professional pundits expressed surprise at the relatively comfortable Tory win. But for investigative reporter Nafeez Ahmed, the outcome was predictable. In a piece titled 'How Big Money and Big Brother won the British Elections', published the day after the election, Ahmed noted:
'The ultimate determinant of which party won the elections was the money behind their political campaigns.'

The Tory party was the biggest recipient of donations, 'the bulk of which came from financiers associated with banks, the hedge fund industry, and big business.'
In summary:
'the most important precondition for victory in Britain's broken democracy is the party's subservience to corporate power.'

Steve Barley Sacked!


STEVE Barley - one of the leading figures in the Blacklist Support Group and the construction rank and file has been sacked along with 5 other workers for refusing to work weekends at basic rate plus £1. The national collective agreement states that workers should be paid time & a half for the first 4 hours and then double time, the workers were all told this would be paid but the companies involved, on a Wates, Briggs & Forrester and employment agency Pier  withdrew the offer on Wednesday. For standing up for their rights, these workers have now been sacked!

Picket
7am Monday 18th May 
Unit 4 
Vantage Point Business Village, 
Micheldean, 
Gloucester
GL17 0DD


Spread the word - lets make this a big one 

Message from Steve Barley: 
SACKED !! SACKED !! SACKED !! SACKED !! SACKED !! SACKED !!

This week, Tuesday I started with Pier Agency of Cardiff, Working on a site in Micheldean, Glos. Main Contractor Wates, Briggs&Forrester M+E. After the induction, we were informed, Weekends are on, Time and a half first 4 hours on Saturday, Double time after that, though you're not expected to work all hours, its your choice. At 11 hours a day Monday to Friday ( though no overtime premium) and the reduced rate of £15, even through the crooked Umbrella seemed ok. Wednesday Pier Agency, states the premiums they pay are only £1 and £2 on the weekends. On site are 2 cardies Blue book rates, and 6 of us, 2 sparks, 2 mates, 2 plumbers, under cut, supplying our services on the cheap. We responded to the offer by rejecting to work weekends as the original offer has been withdrawn, though we would work Mon to Friday as normal, was our choice. SACKED !!
Today around 10 the agency calls and states if you dont work the weekend, you ain't wanted on site, take it or leave it. This instruction passed by Wates and Briggs to Piers. SACKED !! I cannot express my feelings to this, surely even Temporary Workers have rights ?? I have left voice messages hoping to gather support, to arrange a protest at the gates. I am washed out, my emphasis on this is weak, as is my faith in my trade and industry. This cannot be allowed to happen, or continue and some sort of action is required to show this to those pursuing the erosion of employment rights.
As I say, I feel demoralised, losing belief. and deserted these days. HELP !!

Under the Black Flag!


IN an e-mail extract below Iain McKay questions the concern of some of us on the Northern Voices Blog have about the plight of Freedom Press in particular and the left press in general, saying:

'All in all, I'm not sure why you are doing this Brian – all you seem to be doing is alienating people. ....  Given what you have written about me all I can say is that I would suggest your readers take everything you write with a very large pinch of salt.  All in all, I really do have better things to do that (sic) to reply to obvious distortions and insults.  If you want to help build the anarchist movement in the UK, well, that would be good but, to be honest, it does not look like you want to do that – if you did, you would not be writing such nonsense....  if you want to do something constructive then please consider getting involved with Black Flag – like the “Freedom” Kropotkin helped create, it is a communist-anarchist journal...' 

Comrade McKay then patronises me suggesting:

'If that (Black Flag) is not your version of anarchism, get involved with something more suitable for you (apparently “Anarchist Voices” is still going).' 

The fact is that, as I have already pointed out, I have never to my mind ever written anything about Iain McKay.  So far as I know I have never set eyes on him, and though I know the name I cannot recall having read anything he has written much beyond his recent e-mails to me.  Other people have remarked upon him and what he has written, but I have no pre-conceived ideas about him. 

As an alternative to the historic publication Freedom (first published 1886), which was put to death last year, Mr. McKay proffers Black Flag (circa 1970).  It is hard to take Iain McKay seriously here if only because, it seems to me, that Black Flag had its historical origins in a failed projected that I was involved in, in the 1960s.  Black Flag evolved out of a charitable venture called Black Cross which was set-up by Albert Meltzer and Stuart Christie.  In the early 1960s, both Stuart Christie and I took part in a campaign organised by the young Spanish anarchists of the F.I.J.L. to discourage tourism in Spain as part of the general struggle against the Franco regime. In the end, we clearly failed to discourage tourism to Spain; and in August 1964, Stuart Christie was arrested in Spain and served three years of a 20-year sentence.  For my part and that of my then wife, we were involved in research and propaganda, which involved us in providing photographs of shanty towns around Barcelona and Barcelonetta.  We sent reports of working and living conditions in Spain and later Gibraltar to our contacts in Paris for publication in the F.I.J.L. the Spanish underground periodical Nueva Senda as well as providing reports for 'World Labour News', 'Worker's Voice' and 'Direct Action' in the UK.  

When he came out of prison, Stuart Christie was taken care of by Albert Meltzer and, as I understand it, they first formed the Black Cross and later the journal Black Flag.  It may well be that the Black Cross did its job in providing assistance for prisoners held in the jails of General Franco,  but Black Flag was never a publication which had any significant status in the British labour movement.  I joined a trade union in 1957 – the ETU as an apprentice electrician; but, in all my years on the shop-floor I have never known a working man or woman who had ever heard of a publication called Black Flag.  Certainly none of the blacklisted electricians that I'm involved campaigning with today will have heard of such an obscure journal.   Its exotic and melodramatic contents and title may well appeal to young students but not to the working people and trade unionists, I know.   

Stuart Christie knows my views on what happened in the 1960s, and he knows that I am critical of his historic aloofness with regard to the British labour movement to which I belong as a lay trade union official, and his literary failure to seriously re-examine what transpired at the time of our involvement with the Spanish resistance to Franco.  However, having said all that, when Tameside Trade Union Council published its tribute to the 70th anniversary of the Spanish Civil War in 2006, Stuart had no hesitation, when at my request, it came to him writing an introduction in our booklet (see 'Other publications' on this Blog).    
If Iain McKay had owt about him he would know that I already edit the regional political and cultural publication Northern Voices, perhaps he unaware of this because he lives in London and works at a University.  Because it is so well publicised he ought, however, to be aware of my involvement in the campaign against the blacklist in the British building trade if only because since 2009, when the Blacklist Support Group was set up, there has been a London aspect to this struggle.

Destruction is a Creative Urge?


THERE was stunned silence followed by audible gasps in the High Court when Matthew Nicklin QC read out documentary evidence indicating that the blacklisting firms had deliberately set out to destroy evidence of their illegal conspiracy. The unions UNITE, UCATT & GMB plus solicitors Guney, Clark & Ryan (working in association with the Blacklist Support Group) are representing 581 blacklisted union members in 'group litigation' against 40 of the UK's largest construction firms, including Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd, Balfour Beatty, Carillion, Kier, Costain, Laing O'Rourke, Vinci, Skanska, Bam.

The procedural hearing yesterday was deciding on case management issues to be put in place before the full trial which is now confirmed to take place on 16th May 2016 and set to last 10 weeks. With directors of multinational firms and former undercover police officers set to give evidence, this will turn into a show trial for the construction industry. 

The major issue to be decided in this week's hearing was one of disclosure of documents to be used in the trial. The firms have repeatedly denied holding documents relating to the illegal Consulting association blacklist, despite invoices proving that directors of the companies attending quarterly meetings from 1993-2009. The firms told the court that to search for the relevant documentation would cost them £27million and that they had already provided a list of documents that they have found on their computers. 

But Matthew Nicklin QC, representing the blacklisted workers from UCATT, told the court that the pitiful disclosure by the firms was "worse than useless" and that the firms were being deliberately obstructive. Nickiln QC then read out documentary evidence that showed that David Cochrane, director of Human Resources at Sir Robert McAlpine & chairman of The Consulting Association (TCA) when it was raided in 2009 instructed Ian Kerr (chief executive of TCA) to destroy blacklisting documents and to ring round others to tell them to do the same. The document was a hand written record made by Ian Kerr of a series of conversations he had with various industry grandees immediately after the Information Commissioners Office served its warrant. The relevant part of the note read to the High Court states that David Cochrane told Ian Kerr: 

"Ring everyone – Cease trading – Close down – We don’t exist anymore – Destroy data – Stop Processing" 
Later sections of the same note record conversations with other senior managers who say they have already destroyed the documents they held. 
(full note attached)

Roy Bentham, blacklisted joiner from Liverpool & Blacklist Support Group said:
"The wheels of justice turn painfully slow but we now have a date for the full trial. In 12 months from today, I look forward to seeing those captains of industry being questioned about their illegal blacklist with ruined so many lives".

Dave Smith, BSG secretary added,
"We have repeatedly called for jail sentences for these wretches who violated our human rights. If the destruction of documentary evidence is proved in court, those responsible should be prosecuted for perverting the course of justice and be sent to prison. That would be real justice".


Other issues decided by Judge Supperstone

20 lead cases decided upon. Application by defendants for further information regarding DWP and  HMRC records for lead cases regarding schedules of loss. 
Length of trial - 10 weeks
2 further hearings scheduled. Next on the 14th July and two to be set in October including a costs hearing. 
Expert evidence. Professor to give overview and detailed analysis of earnings and specifically loss of earnings of the claimants. 
Defamation, data protection, libel, slander, conspiracy cases are all in the mix for which criteria that will be selected.
Blacklist Support Group

Thursday, 14 May 2015

"FIVE MORE YEARS OF TYRANNY!"

Charlotte Hughes stood for the  Green Party as their Parliamentary candidate for the seat of Ashton-under-Lyne, in the May 2015 General Election. A local community campaigner and social activist, Charlotte runs a blog called 'The Poor Side of  Life'. The following article which we are publishing in full, is taken from her blog:




"Shocked could be a word that I could use, but I won’t. Thatcher got voted in for a second and third term in Parliament despite much opposition. So then the Tory party got re elected it wasn’t so much of a shock, it felt like something had died in our country. Yes the Tories have regained their power and will no doubt use this power, unopposed by anyone to inflict the worst damage that has ever been known to the poorest in society. 

I was interviewed by a local paper whilst at the election count and the reporter said to me “How would you feel if the conservatives won the election?” I said that I would feel sick, I would cry. I would not be crying for myself  I would be crying for the people of this country. A country that will be systematicically destroyed and taken apart by the Tory party for the benefit of the rich. I don’t use the name that the Tory party have rebranded themselves with. The very name conservative does not suit them. The definition of the word conservative is to not like change, to be quiet. Well they are going to do exactly the opposite. We know this. They plan to dismantle this country as we know it bit by bit, piece by piece. Every single safety net that we have relied on will soon be gone. If it doesn’t benefit the rich then it will no longer exist. Make no mistake they don’t care for anyone who isn’t one of them.

My first experience of the Tory party began when Mrs thatcher came into power. Even as a child I knew that this would be bad. For the first time in my life I felt what it was like to be poor. We had holes in our shoes, filled by cardboard and had no money for anything other than to exist. If it wasn’t for my grandparents we wouldn’t have had new clothes. My father was an engineer, a trade he didn’t really like but it was a job and we depended on it. Back then we had local industry, and we depended on that industry. I was told that the Tory party were bad, they only looked out for themselves and he was right. As a result there was strikes, but as a child I knew that what they were fighting for was right. I remember arguing with my parents about this. But I always had this belief that we must stand up for what is right.

So what now? Do the people who have voted in this government again realise exactly what they have voted for? I doubt that they do. Many I suspect have read and believed the mainstream news and voted as a result of the innacurate stories in the newspapers. Here’s a list of what will most likely happen, now there is no one to stand in their way.

The snoopers charter will be passed. Say goodbye to your privacy.
The NHS will be sold. There is opposition to this and Caroline Lucas is the head of this opposition. I hope that she gets enough backing to prevent the sale of our precious NHS.
TTIP will happen. This will have vast implications on our country as a whole.
Zero hour contracts will increase. More likely they will become the norm.
The benfit sanctioning regime will become worse, if it possibly can.
Homelessness will increase massively.
No social housing will be built. 
The human rights act will be scrapped.
Climate change investments will be slashed.
The BBC TV license will be scrapped and a subscription based service introduced.
Employment regulations will be slashed, they will merge regulators and cut costs.
The Tory party want to reduce seats in parliament to 600 from 650. This will be pushed through as a priority, making it difficult for another party to get into power in 2020.
There will be a referendum in Europe.
Fracking plans will go ahead. 

Cameron’s majority is wafer thin and he now only has a majority of 10 very rebellious back benchers to whip. Maybe this will work in our favour….
What can we do now? 

All anti austerity parties need to now join together in solidarity. We need to put aside any differences and work together. By doing this we will form a very powerful opposition indeed. We didn’t quite get it right before the election but we can do now. And the Labour Party needs to become the left wing party that it used to be. They will gain more support if they stop cosying up to austerity ideas and plans. They need to start saying no. By supporting all people again not just working people. We also need to look at the SNP and learn from them. They started as a small minority party but have grown massively. 

We can survive this, and we will by joining together. If you work join a union, if you don’t join unite in the community. The Tory party will try and attack the unions as much as possible now. And whilst they haven’t acted as strongly as they should have done in the past I feel that they will start to act more strongly now. There’s strength in numbers and we need to remember that. 

Always remember that a compliant society is easy to control, a non compliant society isn’t easy to control. So let’s not make this easy for them. "






Dave Smith Concerned About Council Contracts

LAST night, Dave Smith, at a book launch fringe meeting at the Fire Brigades Union Conference in Blackpool, expressed his concern about the way local authorities continue to award public contract to companies that were affiliated to the Consulting Association.  In 2009, the Consulting Association was discovered to be operating an illegal data-base following a raid by the Information Commissioner and its manager Ian Kerr was fined.  The illegal data or 'blacklist' included a list of 3,213 names of workers who had been employed in the British building trade.


At present many local councils are still awarding contracts to the companies who were affiliated to the Consulting Association without requiring serious safeguards that they are no-longer blacklisting workers.  Tameside Trade Union Council and the Blacklist Support Group which Dave Smith leads are seeking to get local authorities to enforce ethical procurement policies when they award public contracts.

Monday, 11 May 2015

Letter to the Rochdale Observer:

Dear Editor of the Rochdale Observer,


The now delayed report by Dame Janet Smith was compiled after the
investigation interviewed 375 witnesses in connection with the activities of Jimmy Savile and more than a 100 in connection with Stuart Hall. And how many men who claimed to have been abused by Cyril Smith after the closure of Cambridge House did Matthew Baker and Simon Danczuk
interview before publishing their book 'Smile for the Camera'? We don't know, because Mr Danczuk refuses to tell us.

If Dame Janet Smith had chosen to adopt the same tactic how much faith would the press and public have in the impartiality and accuracy of her report? Is it not time that we held Mr Baker and Mr Danczuk to the same standard?



Les May

The Green Blacklist!


ENVIRONMENTAL activists who were on a construction industry blacklist have spoken out in support of a High Court case against companies involved. 

This coming Thursday 14th May 2015, the blacklisting group litigation (equivalent to a US style class-action) returns to the High Court with 500 blacklisted workers taking on over 40 of the UK's largest construction companies. 

The illegal system run by the Consulting Association was used by most of the big names in construction until it was exposed in 2009. More than 3,200 people had files detailing their instances of political activity, raising of health and safety concerns or trade union involvement. Information in the files was provided by the companies themselves as well as police. Whilst most were actual construction workers, with some having dossiers running to nearly 50 pages of personal details, over 200 environmental activists – known as the ‘greenlist’ – also had files. 

When the Information Commissioners Office raided the Consulting Association in 2009 they only seized an index list of greenlist files, the files themselves were destroyed. This meant there is no evidence of what was in the files or which ones had been used to deny work to any individual, and so greenlisters’ lawyers advised against continuing the legal case. 

Recently several of the companies who used the list set up a compensation scheme. It gives £4,000 to anyone who was on the list, more if they can show their files were used. It is capped at £100,000. With some workers denied a living for a decade or more, the maximum payout doesn’t even cover loss of earnings for many, let alone any interest of damages. Many of them, co-ordinated by the Blacklist Support Group, are boycotting the derisory compensation offer and are fighting on in the courts. 

But for the greenlisters, the legal fight seems over. A number of them are accepting the money and made donations to the Blacklist Support Group’s cause. 

Greenlist activists statement said: 
“Thanks to the incompetence of the Information Commissioners Office, only a fraction of the files were seized. Greenlisters only have a list of whose files existed. Had ours not been among those lost, we would have the chance to fight our legal case properly and to seek more answers. It was a breach of our right to privacy, to freedom of association, and our right to a unionised, safe workplace. But this paltry sum is the best we can hope for. 

“Most of us were on the list because our details had been passed from brushes with the law in environmental protests. It seems likely that police were involved in supplying this information, and we note that the Independent Police Complaints Commission admit blacklist files contained information that can only have come – illegally - from police or security services. They worked not to uphold the law but in order to uphold corporate profit. 

“Even if greenlisters did not suffer financial hardship from being on the list, that was not through want of trying on the part of the police and blacklisters. More than that the 3,000 construction workers suffered huge hardship over decades. This was a colossal conspiracy to invade people’s personal lives, the working class equivalent of phone hacking. We stand in solidarity with the blacklisted construction workers. We are proud to donate funds from the wrongdoers to the fightback against them. We hope it can help their court case get the truth and justice that has been denied to us.”

Blacklist Support Group Protest 
9:30am Thursday 14th May
Royal Courts of Justice
The Strand
London 

Failure of Vision on the British Left:


Political Leadership and moral decline


 

THE success of the Conservative Party in last week's elections showed up the intellectual and moral bankruptcy of the British left in general.  Since the death of the former leader of the British Labour Party Michael Foot, I have been arguing that the Labour Party has for many years been a party that has outlived its mission.  Last week's election result merely confirmed what has been evident for a long time. 

But the failure is not just that of the Labour Party but that of the British left in general, including the trade union movement in this country.  Since the strikes of the miners in the 1980s, the British trade union movement has been industrially a busted flush that has politically looked to the Labour Party to usher in social change.  The unions had no plan or serious strategy of their own other than capturing influence and power through the British Labour Party in government.  That involved them in the rather vulgar prospect of buying political influence through the sponsoring of Members of Parliament.  In the eyes of some of their members this has been a case of throwing good money after bad. 

Last November, at the building worker's Rank and File Conference, I watched closely as one such Scottish Labour MP, Ian Davidson, performed as a honoured guest of the building workers.  Mr. Davidson was then introduced as the M.P. for Glasgow West, and it was he who performed so well when he recently he chaired the Scottish Affairs Select Committee enquiry into blacklisting in the British building trade:  see the books 'Blacklisted: The Secret War Between Big Business & Union Activists' by Dave Smith and Phil Chamberlain (price £9.99), and Tameside Trade Union Council's 'Boys on the Blacklist' by me and Derek Pattison (price £3).  In his speech to the building workers Mr. Davidson was careful not to offend the trade unions, some of whose paid officials disgracefully may well have been involved historically both in the enforcement, and supply of intelligence about blacklisting in the construction industry.  Last week after the elections, Ian Davidson was calling on Jim Murphy, the leader of the Scottish Labour Party, to stand down, as he and almost all of the other Scottish Labour M.Ps had lost their seats to the Scottish Nationalists.  Unlike Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband, Jim Murphy who performed worse than either is, at the time of writing this, determined to to stay in office. 

Surely it is more than a failure of leadership that has brought about the decline in the fortunes of the Labour Party, and in some respects the labour movement.  It is a systemic failure that is rooted in an underlying lack of imagination and political vision that is common, not just in the trade unions, but on the left in general.   The British left, including the anarchists, seem to fear of self criticism.  On the eve of the election Russell Brand called on his anti-establishment constituency to vote Labour but to no avail.   

Janan Ganesh in the Financial Times last Saturday wrote:

'Elections are decided by fundamentals that take shape years in advance.  The five-week flurry of campaigning at the end might actually be the least significant phase of a parliament.....  But the best campaigners understand that campaigns do not change very much:  they merely uncover what already lurks inchoately in the mind and breast of the electorate.  On that score Labour lost the election long ago.' 

I can remember at the Manchester Labour Party Conference in 2010, when Ed Miliband was anointed as leader of the Labour Party.   At that time it was seen by some, particularly in unions like Unite, as a victory for the left.  It now looks like another dose of what George Elliot in 'Felix Holt: Radical' called 'vain expectations' from which the British left periodically suffer.  As Labour faces another leadership election Janan Ganesh warns:

'Whoever they choose (as leader), there has to be the all-out argument that was dodged in 2010, when the party entered a stupor of mutual reassurance and wishful thinking.'

It is doubtful if either the the Labour Party members or their trade union paymasters understand what is required here.  Unfortunately, Mr. Ganesh doesn't help his case when he writes:

'The consolation is that it (the Labour Party) can choose a  new leader from a promising field.  Andy Burnham, from the left, will offer Milibandism without Miliband.  The more market friendly flank of the party might assemble behind Liz Kendall or Chucka Umunna, the man the Tories fear most.'

 

Not much sign of profound vision or any great social transformation for humanity here.

Friday, 8 May 2015

'Constitutional Coup' Protest Cancelled!

Friend --

Our proposed demonstration following warnings of a 'Tory Coup'
has been cancelled.
It was fantastic to see such overwhelming support for this action. It was
right that we were prepared to mobilise against dirty tricks.
Following our poll on the facebook event page we've agreed to cancel
tomorrow and re-focus that energy to get the biggest possible
national demonstration on Saturday 20 June. Thanks to all for your
support. 



It's been a difficult 24 hours. No one was expecting to wake up to a
Tory majority today.We know exactly what faces us over the next five
years - an even more vicious government than before.
We need to get hundreds of thousands of people out on the streets
against what this government is about to do.
Please get on social media, invite your friends and share this event page.
Get out on the high streets, leaflet, poster, sticker, put on transport, get
involved in your People's Assembly group, make sure everyone you know
is coming to that demonstration.


Lets show this government the full force of anti-austerity opinion. We've
got six weeks to make it happen...
20Jun_web.jpg

The People's Assembly Against Austerity
http://www.thepeoplesassembly.org.uk/
The People's Assembly Against Austerity · United Kingdom
This email was sent to northernvoices@hotmail.com. To stop receiving emails, click here.
You can also keep up with The People's Assembly Against Austerity on Twitter or Facebook.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Russell Brand, Ed Miliband & Critical Thinking


From an e-mail from Trevor Hoyle
RUSSELL Brand urges voters to vote Labour.  This is what Brand said:
“One thing I agree very sincerely with Ed on is that politics doesn’t rain down on us, it comes from below… movements putting pressure on governments. We don’t know what the limitations of a Labour Administration are going to be but we have just heard the leader of the Labour Party saying that he welcomes and wants pressure from below… what I heard Ed Miliband say is ‘If we speak, he will listen’…. what’s important is this bloke will be in parliament and I think this bloke will listen to us.”
 
However, when it comes to Ed Miliband and the Labour Party, Brand throws any critical thinking out the window. With this in mind it is worth recalling Miliband’s actions on some issues that are of concern to millions of people across Britain, issues that campaigners have been pressing the Labour Party – trying to apply “pressure from below” in Miliband’s parlance – to act the right, humane way on.
 
  • --- In January 2015 Miliband voted for the Government’s Charter for Budget Responsibility, which included plans to slash public spending by a further £30 billion.
  • --- In November 2014 The Guardian reported “The Labour front bench has accepted over £600,000 of research help from the multinational accountancy company PricewaterhouseCoopers to help form policy on tax, business and welfare… The support to shadow ministers including Ed Balls, Chuka Umunna and Tristram Hunt comes after the Guardian revealed PwC’s role in establishing potentially favourable tax structures for hundreds of companies around the world – including many British businesses – in Luxembourg.”
  • --- In March 2014 Miliband supported a national cap on benefit spending which limited each household to a maximum of £26,000 in benefits, a policy Save the Children said would push 345,000 children into poverty in four years.
  • --- In March 2013 Miliband abstained from a parliamentary vote on a bill that would prevent 250,000 “exploited” jobseekers from receiving £130m in rebates.
  • --- Miliband backed the 13-year war in Afghanistan, the disastrous 2011 intervention in Libya and the on-going bombing of ISIS in Iraq.
  • --- Miliband supports the retention of Trident nuclear weapons, which the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament estimates will cost around £100 billion over its 40 year lifetime.
On these issues Miliband did not welcome, listen to or act on pressure from below. Rather he ignored the voices of protest and concern.
As Brand has been influenced by Noam Chomsky, let’s leave the American dissident thinker with the final word. Speaking about Obama in 2009 Chomsky reiterated Galeano’s truism, explaining“It is wise to attend to deeds, not rhetoric” because “deeds commonly tell a different story.”

'Constitutional Coup' Claim by People's Assembly

Dear Friend,

The Tories and their supporters in the press are preparing a post election plan to stay in office even if Labour and the SNP have more seats in Parliament.

cameron_2177239b_copy.jpgThey are planning to declare that they are the legitimate government and have the right to form an administration.

This was the meaning of the recent Times editorial which urged Cameron to 'Occupy Downing Street'. This will be a 'constitutional coup' against the wishes of the electorate.

That's why we are calling for an immediate protest if this happens:
Assemble: Saturday 9 May 1pm, Downing Street.

We cannot allow the Tories to get away with using a flagrant abuse of power to impose the most severe austerity this country has seen since the Second World War.

We will use this facebook event page to keep you updated about any changes to the time of the demonstration depending on the outcome of the election. Watch this space and, please, invite your friends and share the facebook event page.

More info:


Whatever happens, the People's Assembly 'End Austerity Now' national demonstration on Saturday 20 June is more important than ever.

Please keep spreading the word and lets make sure the new government feels the full force of the anti-austerity majority in Britain out on the streets in just six weeks time.

Tell the new government: End Austerity Now
National demonstration, Saturday 20 June
Assemble: 12pm, Bank of England
Invite your friends

20Jun_web.jpg


The People's Assembly Against Austerity
http://www.thepeoplesassembly.org.uk/
The People's Assembly Against Austerity · United Kingdom

'Love in the Garden' at the Cervantes

TSF Lorca


Théâtre Sans Frontières presenta el espectáculo 'Lorca: Amor en el Jardín',
una producción original de 'El amor de Don Perlimplín con Belisa en su Jardín' de
Federico García Lorca.
Théâtre Sans Frontières presents the performance 'Lorca: Amor en
el Jardín (Love In The Garden)', an original production of 'El amor
de Don Perlimplín con Belisa en su Jardín' by Federico García Lorca.

DP and Belisa








11/05/2015 & 12/05/2015Lunes/Martes - Monday/Tuesday, 7:30 pmZ-arts (M15 5ZA, Hulme, Manchester)
£14/£12/£7 Tickets: 0161 2261 912 /
Z-arts
 

Una exquisita velada de espectáculo, poesía y música
Imagine un jardín en Andalucía, impregnado en fragancia, engaño y deseo... Con una evocadora música en directo, personajes inmortales y la poesía de Lorca, déjese seducir por esta surrealista historia de engaño y obsesión. La obra se desarrollará en español por un reparto internacional y estará subtitulada al inglés. (+) 

A luscious evening of performance, poetry and music Dream of a garden in Andalucía, drenched in fragrance, deceit and desire... With evocative live music, larger-than-life characters and Lorca's poetry, you'll be seduced by this surreal tale of deceit, disguise and obsession. Performed in Spanish by an international cast with English subtitles.

















Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Internal Report Showed Up Ukip Danger

AN internal report written by Alison Spencer-Scragg, the Regional Political Officer for Unite the Union in the North West of England last October, argued that in last year's by-election in Heywood and Middleton  '(Ukip) managed to poll over 11,000 votes with very little activity on the ground.'  Ms. Spencer-Scragg wrote that:  'Apart from initial leafleting and flying visits from Nigel Farage, actual campaigning on behalf of UKIP activists was minimal.'


This finding suggests that the threat to the Labour Party from John Bickley, the UKIP candidate in Heywood and Middleton, may be significant tomorrow.  Some Labour supporters have even privately admitted to me that they wished that Mr. Bickley was standing for the Labour Party. 


After their close result in the by-election last year Alison Spencer-Scragg wrote:
'The 36-point increase in UKIP support is itself one of the biggest surges ever recorded in a by-election.  Only in six previous contests in Great Britain has a party enjoyed a larger increase in vote share than UKIP managed in Heywood and Middleton.'


It will be interesting to see how Mr. Bickley  and UKIP performs tomorrow in Heywood and Middleton, and whether he can close the gap on the current Labour MP for the constituency, Liz McInnes.  Ms. McInnes is a member of the Unite union.
 

Brother of Karen Danczuk has his bail extended


LAST week Michael Burke, who earlier this year was accused of historic sex abuse by his sister Karen Danczuk the wife of the Rochdale MP Simon Danczuk, has had his bail extended until the 4th, June 2015.  As yet, Mr.Burke has not been charge with any offence!  Yesterday, a  spokesperson for the Greater Manchester Police told Northern Voices that Mr.Burke had been bailed pending further investigations. 

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Boycott Workfare Action Weeks. Keep volunteering, VOLUNTARY!

We are publishing below recent briefings from 'Boycott Workfare':

"Saturday 2nd May, 12noon – 1.30pm, Salvation Army International HQ by Millennium Bridge, London
Praised by the government for “holding the line” on workfare, the Salvation Army is one of the few national charities still to use compulsory unpaid work placements.
Being involved in workfare means being responsible for sanctions – benefit stoppages which leave people with nothing to live on. Sanctions are driving food poverty in the UK. So it’s a mystery how Salvation Army – which also runs foodbanks – can justify its involvement in the sanctions regime.
On Saturday 2nd May, come and shame Salvation Army into joining the tens of charities to pull out of workfare. Take part in a visual action outside their international headquarters by millennium bridge near St Paul’s between 12 noon and 1.30pm.
Bring a placard or poster with a sanctions story, fact or example. Show just what a grotesque system the Salvation Army is supporting!
Please help spread the word and invite people to the Facebook event!

This week’s the Week of Action vs Sanctions and Workfare with daily online actions. If you haven’t had a chance to do so yet, please take a minute to:
Today we’re supporting the Keep Volunteering Voluntary campaign’s call for people to contact the charities and voluntary organisations you support to invite them to pledge to shun workfare too. Read on for more info, and follow Keep Volunteering Voluntary on twitter and facebook.
There are a lot of organisations who have said they won’t take workfare, but still a lot who do. We want all voluntary work to be freely chosen, not a means for private companies to make profits or Jobcentres to force people off benefits. Keep Volunteering Voluntary (KVV) have set up a pledge and already over 450 organisations have signed!
You can help to encourage organisations to sign up to Keep Volunteering Voluntary in several ways. Firstly check whether they are already on the list of sign-ups.
  • If you use or support a charity, try to find out whether they use workfare, and in any case ask them to sign up to KVV.
  • If there is a local charity shop, go in and talk to the people there: find out whether there is anyone there on workfare, and ask the organisation to sign up to KVV.
  • If you work or volunteer at a voluntary organisation, try to get them to sign up.
  • If a place you work or volunteer at has any links with a voluntary organisation, try to contact them too.
Download or order leaflets from Keep Volunteering Voluntary to take into charity shops, or adapt this template letter as an email to send to a voluntary organisation.
Some responses you may get and some tips on how to reply:
“We’ve already signed up.” – great, well done!
“We don’t have anyone on workfare.” – so you won’t mind signing up to KVV then.
“We’re helping the unemployed gain experience.” – that’s not of much value if they don’t want to be there.
“What’s wrong with (unpaid) volunteers.” – there’s no objection to genuine volunteers, but to compulsory schemes and coercion.
“The people on placement want to be here.” – that’s fine, but they shouldn’t be threatened with sanctions.
If you can get any kind of statement from an organisation, that’s always useful – a way in to further dialogue, or good publicity for the campaign. Let Boycott Workfare know and we’ll pass it on to KVV as well.
Some charities – such as Age UK – have a national office but each local area branch is ‘independent’ and may sign up separately. So if you see a local branch signed up but not your area, that’s an added incentive for your local to sign up too.
Without charities’ support, workfare schemes will collapse. That’s why every extra new organisation to sign up is so important – helping build consensus in the voluntary sector that workfare is completely at odds with its aims and values.
Perhaps you’d like to take the opportunity to contact some persistent workfare-using charities with your concerns too?
And don’t forget to check out the list of actions taking place across the UK today and tomorrow as part of the Week of Action vs Workfare and Sanctions.