Thursday, 2 October 2014

Manchester Literature Festival at the Cervantes


Andrés Neuman: Talking to Ourselves

ExhibitionThe Faces of Masculinity in Cuba

Friday 10th October, 6.30pm
Instituto Cervantes

Sooner or later, we all face loss. Spanish writer Andrés Neuman comes to Manchester to promote his new novel, Talking to Ourselves. Told in alternating narratives, it's the story of a family transformed by grief, journeying along the fringes of the Spanish speaking world and beyond the borders of their own moral comfort zone. The son of Argentine musicians who emigrated to Spain, Neuman has published numerous short stories, essays and poetry collections. His book Traveller of the Century was awarded the Alfaguara and national Critics Prizes, and was described in The Guardian as 'a beautiful, accomplished novel: as ambitious as it is generous, as moving as it is smart'. more info...

Free event: Bookings on: and 0161 6614206


This exhibition is the personal work of photographer Javier Pinto Grajera and is a graphic representation of the different realities of Cuba in relation to masculinity. The images play with the ideas mentioned in some of the interviews the photographer did while he was there and the validated realities on the streets of Cuba, showing in a personal way the typical masculine-feminine stereotypes that appear in the island.more info...
The opening of the exhibition will be on the 10th of October at 20.00, after the presentation of writer Andrés Neuman. A food and drink reception will be served.

Please book in advanced on and 0161 6614206.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

5 ways we’re winning against workfare. And a few ways to get rid of it altogether.

We are publishing below the latest briefing from Boycott Workfare:

"With the week of action against workfare coming up on 4-12 October, we wanted to share some of the things your action and active support has already achieved. With so much impact already, the week of action is the next step where you can help put an end to workfare altogether.

We have helped each other to defend our rights
The job centre and workfare providers rely on misinformation, lies and bullying to push people around. That’s why finding out and claiming our rights is so important. We find out our rights, spread the word and have helped cancel workfare placements for many who have contacted us. The Welfare Action Gathering in February brought together tens of groups of people from around the country who take action against workfare and who support each other to get their rights on workfare, rights at the job centre and in navigating Atos’ tests.
Over 20,000 people support this campaign. The more people who know their rights the more people can say no to workfare – or help expose who is using workfare…

Our actions make workfare exploiters pull out
Workfare relies on placement providers – every time we get them to pull out is another step to ending workfare. Many big names including Argos, Holland & Barrett and PDSA have pulled out.
A highlight this year: George Osborne was publicly humiliated after a visit to promote his new 6-month brand of workfare (CWP) backfired when Byteback IT pulled out just a week later, following a backlash against workfare from the public.
The list goes on, and we’ve been keeping track of it here (where you’ll also find the crowd-sourced list of the organisations still exploiting people on workfare).

We have shrunk the number of workfare placements

We know that Workfare providers like A4E regularly complain how hard it is to find placements now that so many places are boycotting them. A DWP report into Mandatory Work Activity complained that it was unable to find placements for everyone because: “The high profile withdrawal of placements from a number of larger charities meant a sharp reduction in placements” (Dec 2012). There has since been a significant decrease in Mandatory Work Activity referrals: December 2013 had the lowest number since the summer of 2011. This is because together we are all…

Turning the tide: hundreds of charities won’t touch workfare…
Since the Keep Volunteering Voluntary campaign launched in April this year, 420 voluntary sector organisations have pledged to defend the values of volunteering and steer clear of workfare. Charities like Shelter, Oxfam and Crisis which tackle poverty in the UK were among the first to sign up, and have been joined by major charity umbrella bodies and tens of local organisations. In the week of action, why not contact the charities you support and ask them to sign up too?

… councils are also coming out against workfare…
Councils are beginning to take a stand against workfare too: 24 are now boycotting the schemes. Scarborough Council pulled out after we exposed them as one of the worst workfare using councils in the UK. You can ask your council to join them here. Little wonder that…

The DWP is scared the schemes will “collapse” when the public know who is exploiting workfare…
When the DWP tries to find yet another way not to reveal the list of the businesses and charities exploiting people on workfare schemes, we know we’ve got them running scared. They’ve said they’re worried the schemes will “collapse” when the public discovers which brands are exploiting people on the schemes. There’s good reason for it too: we are succeeding in pushing back workfare.

That’s why your action is so important…
Take part in the week of action on 4-12 October in whatever way you can:
  • Take part in one of the actions already called in Edinburgh, Brighton, London, Amsterdam or Bristol or check out the list of workfare exploiters and plan your own action!
  • Visit the website Mon-Fri in the week of action and get involved in mass online actions!
  • Help spread the word: Invite your friends to the Facebook event.
Work without pay is a threat to everyone. Whether you’re in paid work or not, you need to know that these schemes replace paid work, undermine the welfare state, and undermine wages and working conditions for everyone. Workfare is enforced with sanctions. If we don’t stop it now, the government has part-time and low paid workers in its sights for workfare and sanctions – that could be you. So support us to support you. Say no to workfare, join the rebellion and take part in the week of action!"

Child Sexual Exploitation for 'Political Gain' or 'Personal Profit'?

Who is exploiting sexual grooming?
LAST Friday The Guardian reported that 'the father of the main prosecution witness in Britain's biggest child grooming scandal' had accused Nigel Farage of exploiting the issue for 'political gain' in his party's attempt to 'unseat Labour' in the Heywood and Middleton by-election.  In The Guardian piece the father was given the name 'Tom' to protect his daughter

Heywood in Greater Manchester was the centre of yet another Rochdale scandal in which a sexual trafficing gang of men of mostly Pakistani origin were found to have exploited at least 47 young white girls.  Mr. Farage in a leaflet distributed around the  constituency blamed the Labour Party for its 'love affair' with 'immigration, political correctness and multiculturalism' for betraying the 'white working-class girls'.

It is known that Simon Danczuk, Labour MP for the neighbouring constituency of Rochdale, has had contact with one of the fathers of one of the victims of the earlier sexual abuse grooming scandal which led to the prosecution of nine Asian men in 2012.  Mr. Danczuk has also claimed that a culture existed in Rochdale which allowed these activities to florish.  Judging from the contents of his book 'Smile for the Camrera: The Double Life of Cyril Smith' that he and his fellow author Mat. Baker are pushing at the Rochdale Literature & Ideas Festival, he still believes in this narative.

This book by Danzcuk shows that Mr. Danzcuk has some skills not only in the realm of Victorian melodrama, but in the ability to get other people to utter statements that fit his own narative. 

The Guardian report states:  'Tom was moved to speak to the Guardian about Ukip’s tactics after receiving the leaflets through this door.'  [and] 'To heap blame on “political correctness” did not fully explain the many reasons why the abuse was allowed to continue, he said.'

'Tom' the father of the girl, concluded:  'Its a complex issue about the police, the Crown Prosecution Service and social services, all turning a blind eye.  It’s not all about political correctness, although it was a factor.'

The Guardian story notes:  'Simon Danczuk, the Labour MP for Rochdale who has campaigned for greater transparency around child sex abuse, has been drafted in to help.'

Mr. Danczuk declares:  'Ukip are a genuine threat and people across the party are working hard to fight them street by street...'

The problem here is that Simon Danczuk, with all the money he has made from the serialisation of his book by of all newspapers the Daily Mail, could also be accused of making hay out of exploiting child sexual grooming for both political gain and personal profit.  Certainly when I spoke to the former Labour MP for Heywood and Middleton, Jim Dobbin, some weeks before he died he told me that the whole thing 'had become a money making exercise', and he wasn't refering just to the book that had been published but to the serialisation in the Daily Mail by Danczuk and Baker.

Tory Bedroom Tax eviction widow forced to sleep with COWS!

We are publishing below an article by Nick Dorman, which appeared in the Sunday People on 27 September 2014:

"A widow who is going blind was forced to live in a field with cattle after she was evicted from her home of 30 years ­because she couldn’t ­pay a £210 Bedroom Tax bill.

Carol Sutherland, 56, covered herself with a plastic sheet and hay in a ­desperate bid to keep dry and warm, writes Nick Dorman in the Sunday People. She had to dig a hole under a hedge to use as a toilet.
And her weight plunged to 6½st as she struggled to survive after being kicked out of her two-bed council flat.

The scandal is yet another example of the misery caused by a tax the Sunday People has been campaigning to have scrapped since it became law in 2012. Its latest victim Carol said: “I’d lived in my lovely flat for 30 years and even though I didn’t have much, I had a roof over my head and my dignity.

“When I was in the field I could not believe it had come to that. I cried so much I didn’t have any tears left.”
Bailiffs booted Carol out after she told a housing officer she couldn’t ­afford the £11.35-a-week spare-room penalty imposed as part of Tory Iain Duncan Smith’s welfare shake-up.

Carol had been struggling to get by on a widow’s pension of just £90 a month since a heart attack killed her husband Peter in 2001. Her rent and council tax were covered for her by public money.
But everything else – including power bills – was funded from her pitiful £3-a-day pension.

Carol’s plight meant she was eligible for further housing ­benefits and employment ­support allowance.
But she insisted she didn’t know about them because no one had ever mentioned them to her.
Carol (pictured) who gave up trying to have children after a string of miscarriages – said: “Things went pear-shaped after my husband died and I started losing my sight with cataracts.
“I just about managed on his pension without claiming ­anything else.
“When I started getting letters from the council I couldn’t read them. I asked them to send the details in bigger print – but they never did.

“So I ignored them until a housing officer turned up and told me I was in arrears with bedroom tax payments.
“I told him I couldn’t afford it and the next thing I knew the bailiffs were at the door.”
Carol, who has depression, claimed she was given an hour to pack up her possessions as the flat in Waddington, Lincs, was cleared in April.
She said: “I was in such a state I couldn’t find the only picture I have of my mum and dad.

“I had to tell the bailiffs I couldn’t afford to pay for any of my stuff to go into storage so they might as well take it all – which they did.”

She gave a neighbour her pet canary and went to stay with a friend, having lost touch with her own family.
But a week later she moved out, spent a night in a bus-shelter, then built her rudimentary camp in a cow-field. Carol said: “My friend would have lost her housing benefits if I’d carried on staying with her so I decided the field was my only solution.”

The decision was not as bizarre as it sounds because as the daughter of an agricultural labourer she had grown up on a farm helping with animals as well as planting and picking crops.
Recalling her time living rough, Carol said: “I’d walk round the village by day and at night I’d go to the field and bed down under the plastic.

“When I needed the loo I’d dig a hole in a hedgerow and I didn’t bother combing my hair or washing.” She added: “You don’t think it’s mad when you’re as low as I was then.”

Carol was finally rescued by worried Waddington friends who took her to the church of St Mary-le-Wigford in nearby Lincoln, the base of a charity helping the vulnerable.

City councillor Jackie Kirk, who helps to run the project, found Carol a bed at a shelter for the homeless.
Jackie said: “Carol is a remarkably brave woman. She worked all her life and after her husband died she was eligible for Employment Support Allowance and Discretionary Housing Payments. “

But as many vulnerable people discover too late, if you don’t know you’re entitled and don’t ­apply you end up as a victim of the system.”

And Carol said: “I’d like David Cameron to spend a day with me so he could see the impact his government’s Bedroom Tax has on people like me who already live below the poverty line."

Rochdale Labour Party: Danczuk's Reselection

LAST night we learned that our earlier posting 'Danczuk's D-Day' was in error, and that the actual re-selection of Simon Danczuk MP for Rochdale will be held as reported below:


Notice to the members of the executive committee of the Rochdale Constituency labour party.
I would like to invite you to a special meeting of the executive committee of Rochdale CLP on Tuesday 14 October 2014 at Labour HQ Oldham Road Rochdale at 7.30pm.
The business of the meeeting is as follows  
1. Apologies for absence.
2. Declaration of the designated representative of the Regional Director who will act on behalf of the National Executive Committee in liaison with Rochdale CLP.
3. Declaration of the freeze date as 14 October 2014.
4. Declaration of the organisations entitled to make an affirmative declaration.
5. Timetable for the reselection.
6. Appointment of nominated member of the executive committee to oversee proceedings at each branch or forum meeting.
7. Any other business solely connected with the reselection if permitted by the designated representative.
I look forward with pleasure to seeing you on 14 October 2014.
Phillip Bethell   Procedures Secretary  01706 674812
Anna Hutchinson for information  
Simon Danczuk as courtesy.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Crocodiles at Royal Exchange



By Lee Mattinson  
Directed by Ng Choon Ping and designed by Sarah Beaton  
The Studio at the Royal Exchange Theatre
St Ann’s Square, Manchester
Wednesday 1 October – Saturday 18 October

PRESS NIGHT: Friday 3 October at 7.30pm

Lee Mattinson’s dark new play receives its world premiere at the Royal Exchange, running from Wednesday 1 October to Saturday 18 October.   

A ferocious Northern fable, it unveils a world where strange things are normal, and normal things are very strange.   

In a sleepy seaside town, Cornelia Glass is busy spinning yarn.  Witches are burning in the town centre. Crocodiles lurk in the shallows.  Boys who go to the big city are skinned alive by tramps.   

The production is directed by Ng Choon Ping who was the winner of the inaugural Royal Exchange Theatre Hodgkiss Award. This new award is the only scheme of its kind in the north that celebrates the unique collaboration between a writer and director. It offers a theatre maker of outstanding promise the chance to direct a new piece of work – by a writer of their choice – in a production fully supported by the Royal Exchange Theatre.   

The cast includes James Atherton (best known for his TV role as Will Savage in HOLLYOAKS); Sarah Gordy (whose TV credits include playing Pamela Holland in two series of UPSTAIRS DOWNSTAIRS); Melanie Hill (whose recent TV work includes WATERLOO ROAD and who is best known as Avaline in BBC comedy BREAD) and Kevin Wathen (whose recent theatre work includes a West End production of BILLY ELLIOT and whose TV credits include INSPECTOR GEORGE GENTLY). 

The production is designed by Sarah Beaton and will feature video projections designed by Gillian Tan. The creative team is completed by Dominic Kennedy (sound) and Matthew Haskins (lighting).  

Liz McInnes wants to make a difference

JIM Murphy, Shadow Secretary of State for International Development, who has just got back from campaigning for a 'Better Together' Union in the Scottish referendum was confronted by hecklers during his visit to Middleton to help Liz McInnes the Labour candidate.  Mr. Murphy was told to 'go back to Scotland', but he said that when he was in Scotland they told him to go to England he said 'I can't win'

Murphy said:
'People are angry and frustrated.  The world has changed and a lot of people didn't have  a say on that change.  Traditional Labour voters have been affected.  But a vote for Ukip is vote for the Tories and the same old politics.'

Liz McInnes, a trade unionist and President of Oldham Trade Union Council, has said that she isn't worried by Ukip and says she wants to keep the seat in honour of Jim Dobbin's memory.  She was on her soapbox in Middleton Gardens, along with Mr. Muphy.
She says:  'I want to make a difference.  I worked for the NHS, I'm not a professional politician.' 

Labour seems to be playing on the NHS as an issue in this election.

Mr. Murphy said:  'If people don’t fancy the Tories, how can they flirt with Ukip? People here are good, common sense people - they don’t want anything to do with Ukip’s ideology. This by-election is about the issues facing people - not Ukip. They’re super-charged Tories.'

Some Thoughts on the Scottish Referendum

by Paul Saveson
SCOTLAND is changing dramatically – and it will drag the rest of the UK along with it, one way or another.  The outcome of the Scottish referendum is that Britain will have changed, and changed quite utterly.

As a northern Englishman who spends some time in Scotland, it’s impossible not to be amazed by the political ferment north of the border. Scotland is buzzing with ideas and radical thinking, and most of that – all of it to be honest – is coming from the ‘yes’ campaigners.

In contrast, the ‘Better Together’ parties have relied on fear rather than any positive argument for Scotland remaining part of a reformed United Kingdom. The panic reaction of the last few days are more about politicians saving their skins than any meaningful commitment to change. But even then, it’s just more of the same 'we know what's good for you' politics.

Scotland will make its mind up this week. But what of radicals and democrats in England, and for that matter Wales: should we welcome an independent Scotland or see it as a slightly discourteous goodbye, consigning us to decades of Tory rule?

There’s no doubt that Scotland leaving the UK would result in a boost to the Tories, giving them an ill deserved boostal based on current arrangements. Wales has a degree of protection through its own (Labour-administered) Welsh Government and further powers are likely to be devolved.

The huge democratic deficit is in the English regions, particularly the North and Midlands which have remained staunchly anti-Tory.

An independent Scotland could, you may argue, mean that the Tory-voting South will consign the Labour-inclined North and Midlands to permanent political exclusion.  That’s the conventional ‘Labourist’ view which sees politics as being about seats and 'majorities' in Westminster.

But there is a broader issue for the radical democratic left. Scottish independence will send shock waves through the British political system resulting in consequences which we can only speculate upon. It would potentially open the way for an independent Wales – a nation which, if anything, is even more anti-Tory than Scotland. It would certainly strengthen the position of Plaid Cymru, whose politics are way to the left of Labour's.

A re-constituted Labour/Plaid coalition government which edges towards independence based on radical left of centre politics would further isolate England. And England is the big issue. It is not
comparable in size or power to either Scotland or Wales. It has a population of over 53 million, compared to Scotland’s 5.3m and Wales’ 3.1m.

Its economic and political power, increasingly concentrated in the south-east, is enormous. It’s laughable when the pro-English parliament lobby complains about ‘poor little England’ being bossed
around by the horrid Scots and Welsh. We’ve been bossing them around – and much of the rest of the world – for centuries.

Perhaps we are seeing the beginning of the end of John Bull’s Great Britain. This is something that radical socialists, be they English, Welsh or Scots, should welcome.

A ‘yes’ vote for Scottish independence would have forced the pace of change south of the border. We are already seeing it start to happen. The current centralised governance, with power concentrated on London and the South-East, would not continue indefinitely.  Change will come, and quicker than we imagined only a few months ago.

And that change, potentially, could lead to a democratic, federal British Isles in which not only England, Wales and Northern Ireland form part, but possibly Scotland and – who knows? - the Irish
Republic. And London would no longer rule the roost.

Fundamental change must come to England, based on directly-elected regional assembles and a reformed and re-energised local government.  The two are closely related and the last three decades have seen the withering of local democracy across the UK. 

Monday, 29 September 2014

Heywood & Middleton: 'Too Big a Mountain!'

NIGEL Farage, according to The Spectator journalist Isabel Hardman, last Thursday conceded:
‘I think it’s too big a mountain to climb in that short a space of time, and I think the Labour party is saying that because they’ve got a very divided local party, they’re not happy with the candidate, they can’t get anyone out to canvass, and when they put the coaches on to go from the hall in Manchester to the office in Heywood, only 23 people got on one… they were expecting hundreds. So I think that Labour have talked it up to try to scare their own party machine into getting… I could be wrong, but the one thing about Heywood that is different is in South Shields there were 23,000 postal votes, in Heywood and Middleton it’s about nine three or nine four I think it is, and that obviously makes a fundamental difference to our chances.'

Ms. Hardman had earlier reported:
'I hear that there is a fierce debate going on in Ukip between those who want to divert resources from Clacton to Heywood in order to give the fight a real go, and those who think it best to focus efforts on Carswell’s seat. Currently Heywood is not getting anything like the attention Clacton is, and party high command has not been convinced that it’s worth changing things. They also claim there is more of an effort in Clacton from the Tories than Carswell’s former party lets on, and don’t want to take anything for granted.'

Could it be that the Labour Party is trying to scare their supporters to turn out as Farage is saying?  Or is there a serious threat to the Labour Party candidate? 

I spoke to a member of the Green Party in Rochdale over the weekend, and he'd just been out on a stall in Heywood, he told me that the feeling in Heywood among the public was one of general apathy.  He suggested that the Labour candidate was 'thick with Danczuk', and that some members and supporters of the Labour Party in Heywood were disillusioned.  He further claimed that Jim Dobbin had regarded Danczuk as a rather poor MP.

It ought to be remembered that some people were either excluded or defected from the Labour Party some years ago in around 2010 because of allegations about Mr. Danczuk's behaviour on a holiday in Alicante, Spain.  At that time there was an acrimonious dispute within the local Labour Party which was both personal and political, and some of those people who left Labour then are now believed to have joined the Green Party.  Hence, it is understandable that they may be critical of Simon Danczuk.

Meanwhile, Simon Danczuk in an article in the Rochdale Observer on Saturday the 13th, September launched an attack on the number of asylum seekers coming to Rochdale.  A report had just stated that Greater Manchester is handling one in six of all Britain's asylum seekers, and Simon Danczuk MP for Rocdale told The Observer:
'This is a cause for concern.  What we need is for Rochdale to take fewer asylum seekers, not more.'

Clearly Mr. Danczuk is determined to take the ground of public concern over asylum seekers before Ukip occupies it. 

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Asbestos Deaths in Greater Manchester

TOWN hall bosses throughout Greater Manchester are facing a ‘ticking timebomb’ of mounting claims from people struck down with conditions linked to deadly asbestos.
Manchester council paid out almost £600,000 in damages to victims in the last year alone, an M.E.N. investigation has found.
The 2013/14 claims had to be settled using taxpayers’ money, rather than through insurance as the cases predated the 1980s when the council did not have asbestos cover.
Figures obtained under Freedom of Information requests reveal victims of asbestos-related diseases have won a total of £1.8m in damages from councils in Greater Manchester in recent years.
Campaigners believe payments are likely to soar over the coming decade as more people fall ill and die after being exposed to the material.

Mesothelioma in numbers

Number of mesothelioma deaths in GM in last 30 years
Number of deaths in 2011
What our councils have paid out in damages
The compensation claims came from victims who breathed in asbestos fibres in buildings like schools, offices and community centres.
It can cause mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer, which attacks the lining of organs and is always fatal.
The number of people killed by the disease has soared by 500 per cent in the last 30 years – with new cases expected to peak in 2020.
The number of people killed by the asbestos-related cancer has soared by 500 per cent between 1982 and 2011.
Figures, released by the Health and Safety Executive, show that 90 people died of mesothelioma in Greater Manchester in 2011 – compared to 15 in 1982.
Deaths from the asbestos-related cancer, which is always fatal, peaked at 100 in 2010, according to the statistics.
Graham Dring, coordinator of Greater Manchester Asbestos Victims Support Group, said: “Compensation payouts will probably rise as new mesothelioma cases continue to increase.
“The dangers of asbestos have been known about for decades but too often ignored.
“The epidemic we see now was a man-made disaster and avoidable. Profits were put before the health and safety of working men and women who are the ones paying the price for employer and political negligence.”

Mesothelioma in figures

700: Number of schools which still contain asbestos
£150k:  Amount Bury council paid to a fireman exposed to asbestos
500%:  Rise in cases since 1982
At least 1,600 of the region’s local authority buildings – including 700 schools – still contain asbestos, which was widely-used in the construction industry from the 1950s until the 1990s.
It is thought the majority of asbestos victims to date will have been construction workers - although Mr Dring said he expected professions like teachers, office workers and caretakers to be increasingly affected in the future.
Between them, the region’s councils have spent millions managing asbestos over the last five years – including carrying out repair work on buildings and surveys in schools.
But Mr Dring said: “The risks will continue if the dangers of asbestos in our public buildings is not taken seriously.
"In an ideal world, asbestos should be stripped from all public buildings, especially schools, where there is risk of children being exposed. In an era of financial restraints, this may not be realistic in the short term.
“However, we think local authorities should have a programme and targets for removing asbestos where and when they can.”
The Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum UK organised a lobby at this week’s Labour conference in Manchester - calling for guaranteed research funding, paid for by a levy on insurers and matched by Government funding, to find a cure for mesothelioma.
They are also demanding full compensation for victims who cannot find an employer or insurer under the ‘Diffuse Mesothelioma Payments Scheme’ - rather than the current 80 per cent paid out.

My husband was pleased to see the town hall accept blame before he died 

  A retired heating engineer who contracted mesothelioma through work found out he had won damages from Manchester council just three weeks before he died.
William Berisford was exposed to asbestos while fitting and repairing boilers during his 30 years at the town hall’s direct works department.
He was diagnosed with mesothelioma in May last year and doctors at Wythenshawe Hospital gave him 12 months to live.
The 75-year-old survived for only eight months - just long enough to see the council agree to pay him compensation.
His widow Joan Berisford, from Heald Green, Stockport, described the sum as ‘reasonable’ and said her husband was pleased to see the town hall accept blame before he died.
But she added his death had left her angry because their retirement together had been ‘snatched away’.
Mrs Berisford said: “He could have had another 10 years. We were at the stage where we were going on holiday often and going out often, just generally enjoying our retirement. That has been snatched away from us now.”
Grandmother-of-two Mrs Berisford, 74, told how the cancer diagnosis ‘devastated’ the couple, who would have been married 55 years this year.
She added: “That first day we found out we both cried all day. But after that, Bill took it on the chin.
“The last two to three months were awful. He was on oxygen and every time he stood up he fell over. In the end, we were just glad to see him not suffer any more.”
Mrs Berisford said she had ‘strong views’ about asbestos and believed it should be stripped from public buildings, especially schools, to prevent more people suffering like her husband did.
Pauline Chandler, a specialist in asbestos disease cases at Manchester law firm Slater & Gordon, which represented Mrs Berisford, said: “We have successfully concluded a number of cases against the council for asbestos-related claims, many of them like Mrs Berisford’s are sadly fatal.
“The widespread use of asbestos, in and on council premises in the 1950s right through to the 1980s, mean we expect to see even more people coming forward with claims.
"It is hoped the council faces up to its responsibilities regarding such cases and settles them as quickly as possible for the sake of those affected.”

Mesothelioma: Deaths in 2011

  1. WIGAN: 16
  2. TAMESIDE: 15
  3. STOCKPORT: 14
  4. TRAFFORD: 12
  6. BOLTON: 7
  7. BURY: 7
  9. OLDHAM: 5
  10. ROCHDALE: 4
  11. SALFORD: 1
Total: 90

How much has been paid to victims so far

Bolton council: £440,000 for exposure to asbestos dating back to 1960.
Bury council: £150,000 in 2013 to a fireman exposed to asbestos between 1958 and 1974.
Salford council: £118,000 in compensation for exposure going back to 1959.
Tameside council: £165,000 on two claims – one in 2012 and one in 2014.
Trafford council: £50,000 in 2013/2014 following a claim of exposure to asbestos at a community centre in Sale around 1949.
Wigan council: The council and its insurers paid out £295,000 since 2001 on six claims relating to exposure between the 1950s and 1980s in local authority offices, schools and sites.
Oldham, Rochdale and Stockport councils have not paid any damages relating to asbestos-related diseases.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Smears in Rotherham & Rochdale

LABOUR in Rotherham has condemned the remarks of the Ukip candidate, Nathan Garbutt, as an 'unfounded smears'.  Mr Garbutt had accused Labour of protecting 'paedophiles in Rotherham' and of homophobia.

Garbutt in a statement in wrote;
'I have been called homophoic [sic] by the Labour party simply for being part of UKIP, imagine how twisted a mindset has to be to accuse gay man of homophobia? The good news is the public are seeing past Labour lies and I am delighted to be the first UKIP candidate to oppose Yvette Cooper in my home town at next years general election.'

Garbutt also wrote:
'...according to the Sun, senior officials in the Labour Party have been left ‘stunned’ by the recent surge in the popularity of UKIP.The decision to hold our annual gathering in Doncaster is a direct challenge to Ed Miliband on his home turf, and Labour should be worried the public are angry at Labours [sic] protection of paedophiles in Rotherham.'

In Rochdale it is the Labour Party brothers and sisters who issue the smears against each other.  Last weekend, at a trade union meeting another unsupported story was circulated suggesting that the former leader of the Rochdale Council, Colin Lambert, had fallen-out with Jim Dobbin, MP for Heywood and Middleton, shortly before Jim died.  The editor of Northern Voices spoke to Mr Dobbin shortly before his death earlier this month and there was no suggestion that there was any animosity between him and Colin Lambert.  After this story was put out last weekend we have approached others both inside the Labour Party and beyond, and can find no evidence to support it. 

It is yet more evidence of what Private Eye has called the fratricide that exists between the members of the constituency of Heywood and Middleton, and the Simon Danczuk's neighboring constituency  of Rochdale.  In the Rochdale Labour Party there is a kind of never ending in-house smear campaign.  It's a right old Punch and Judy show up here. 

Danczuk's D-Day?

TONIGHT's the night for Simon Danczuk MP for Rochdale!  Will he or won't he get re-selected or adopted again at a special meeting tonight as the candidate for Rochdale?  Rumour is that he will be re-adopted; what with all the publicity and press coverage he got over Cyril Smith scandal, and especially now that he is fast recreating himself as the principle pundit on child abuse in all the world.

He's got an eye like a shithouse rat for publicity, or even, dare one say it? a Cyril Smith. 

Only this week he has turned on his leader Ed Milibore, and declared that the Labour leader has been far too dilatory in tackling the constitutional issues raised by the Scottish referendum. 

Mr. Danczuk told the media:
'I'm surprised the Labour leadership didn't steel the march on the Conservatives and it would have been helpful to have come out early, straight after the Scottish referendum results, and set out proposals for England.  We have now allowed the Conservatives to set the terms of the debate and David Cameron is desparately trying to control the debate as to whether English MPs can vote on English legistlation.  I genuinely agree there should not be Scottish MPs voting on English legislation.'

The problem then arises as if a Labour government would ever be able to get legislation through the House of Commons, without its Scottish MPs?

Simon Danczuk Promotions in Rochdale


Simon Danczuk & Matt Baker

Book reading: Smile for the Camera: The Double Life of Cyril Smith

  • Friday 24 October 2014
  • Venue: Danczuk's Deli
    Price: FREE
No booking required
Suitable for: Age 14+
There are few debut books that make quite the political impact of Smile for the Camera: The Double Life of Cyril Smith.
Hailed by Michael Crick as “the best political book of 2014”, it was serialised in The Daily Mail with four front pages and subsequently saw Greater Manchester Police launch a criminal investigation into whether child abuse was covered up.
Tonight’s reading with authors Simon Danczuk MP and Matt Baker will explain how they came to write the book and include new material from a forthcoming paperback edition

Thursday, 25 September 2014


*7.30pm, Thursday 2 October 2014*

*Torriano Meeting House,
99 Torriano Avenue,
(tube: Kentish Town)


An evening celebrating the anti-war activists of 1914-1918 with pictures,
poetry, song and talks.

Featuring *Chloe Mason* - the great granddaughter of socialist, pacifist,
suffragist and second-hand clothes dealer Alice Wheeldon, an opponent of
World War 1, imprisoned in 1917 for the alleged attempted murder of Lloyd
George, who will be joining
us to talk about the campaign to clear Alice's name, as well as that of
Alice's daughter Winnie and son-in-law Alfred Mason (who were convicted
alongside her).

Free event. All welcome.

A Peace News project:

Northernradicalhistory mailing list

Strikes in October & NSSN

THE next phase of the strikes to break the ConDem pay freeze will start in under 3 weeks’ time.

The decision of yesterday’s PCS NEC ensures that up to a million and half public sector workers from Unison, PCS, Unite, GMB, UCU and NIPSA will be striking in 3 consecutive days of action. The health unions had already
decided to strike for four hours on October 13. The day after, council workers and FE lecturers will be out followed by civil servants on October 15.

The National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) gives full support to these workers, which can be a step up from the million-strong July 10 strike. We call on everyone to support the action – visit the picket lines and join in any strike rallies. But at the end of that week on Saturday October 18, get on the TUC’s ‘Britain Needs a Pay Rise’ demonstration in London.

The pay strikes are back on…this fight can be won!

Read from the following union websites:-

Unison -



Middleton's Age of Enlightenment Film

AN Age of the Enlightenment film is to be première on Tuesday, September 30th, at Long Street Methodist Church in Middleton.  It has sprung from an idea by local film-maker Anthony Dolan, and is funded with a grant of £1,975,800 from the local Council and the Edgar Wood and Middleton Townscape Initiative.

Mr. Dolan got together with other volunteers to examine Middleton's Enlightenment past in the 18th and early 19th Centuries.  Middleton is fortunate in its local architecture especially some of its Churches.

Besides the botanist, George Caley (1770-1829) the film examines the life of local hero Samuel Bamford (1788-1972), poet, writer, and social campaigner who took part in what became known as the Peterloo Massacre in August 1919.

The public's imagination was stired by Shelley's Mask of Anarchy poem about the Massacre.

Jim Dobbin's Funeral

LABOUR leader Ed Miliband, the House of Commons' Speaker, John Bercow, the Deputy Speaker, Lindsay Hoyle, John Prescott, shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham and shadow Chancellor Ed Balls, all attended the funeral service at Salford Cathedral of Jim Dobbin, the MP for Heywood and Middleton, last weekend.  There was no sign however of the Labour MP for the neighbouring constituency of Rochdale Simon Danczuk, who was said to be on holiday.

Jim Dobbin, whose constituency includes Castleton, Norden and Bamford as well as Heywood and Middleton, had been in the Commons since 1997.  He died aged 73 on a Council of Europe trip to Slupsk in Poland at the beginning on this month. 

Andy Burnham, Labour's shadow Health Secretary said of Jim Dobbin that he had 'always pledged to do more to protect the NHS'.

The by-election for Mr. Dobbin's constituency seat will take place on October 9th.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Labour, Ukip & Jim Dobbin's old consituency!

WHEN soon after Jim Dobbin, MP for Heywood and Middleton, died in Poland the Labour Party made an early announcement of the date of the by-election, Ukip accused them of running scared.  Yesterday Jennifer Williams of the Manchester Evening News tweeted that:
'One Labour source said to me earlier re anti-politics Ukip vote: 'Middleton don't even like Rochdale. Why would they like Westminster?'

Down South they wouldn't understand that places like Middleton and Heywood on the south and west side of Rochdale have clear and distinct identities of their own:  in Middleton the people are known as the Moonrakers suggesting a taste for booze; Heywood is nick-named Monkey Town because they are supposed to have holes in their stools to accomodate their tails.

Last week, Nigel Farage sent out a carefully crafted letter to constituents argueing that the people up North and the working-class had been betrayed by the Labour Party. 

Now Michael Crick is asking:
'Is Labour in serious trouble in the north west seat of Heywood and Middleton, where the party faces a by-election on 9 October?'

Reports in the Rochdale Observer suggest that things were not smooth in the run up the selection of Liz McInnes as the candidate for Labour in the constituency.  Liz McInnes is a councillor in Rossendale, works as a healthcare scientist and is a Unite union rep.

However, while Rochdale councillor Karen Danczuk originally tweeted her dissatisfaction that 'not one local person has been short listed for Midd & Heywood', she has now retracted her comment to give support to the 'fab local candidate' Liz McInnes.

Mr. Crick claims local a Labour source told him:  'Shadow cabinet members are sh****** themselves about losing.'

Local trade union sources told me last weekend that the fratricide within the local Labour Party in the Rochdale area has not healed up yet.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014


We are publishing below the latest briefing from Boycott Workfare:

The week of action is very soon now.Following on from our call out, we've heard rumours of assorted local actions but are keen to hear definite stuff that people want to announce,
who we know are both doing actions. 
And Occupy Wakefield are reported to be planning...

If you're struggling for places to talk to check out the list at

TUC Young Workers Month

November 2014 is the TUC Young Workers Month. We are asking union branches and trades union councils to focus on taking out the message to the community that there is a place for young people in the union movement and that the place for young workers is in the Union. A highlight of the month is the Big TUC Youth Debate to be held at Congress House on 15 November and we are asking you to bring this to the attention of your affiliated unions and your local community. A leaflet advertising the event is attached and here is the link to the TUC page giving lots more information on young people and .
Tom Mellish
TUCJCC Secretary
Trades Union Congress
Congress House
Great Russell Street
London WC1B 3LS

Text from TUC Leaflet on young people:


The TUC believes that halfway through the second decade of the 21st Century a decent job, access to quality housing and a voice and representation at work, and beyond, are things that young people are entitled to expect rather than just hope for.
Current government policies on jobs and housing are failing young people. We are concerned about the crisis of representation of young people both at work and in the wider political debate. Turnout at the 2010 general election amongst 18- to 24-year-olds was just 43 per cent and less than 1 in 10 of workers aged 16–24 are members of a union.
At the BIG TUC YOUTH DEBATE on 15 November the TUC, supported by NUS, will be discussing progressive and radical solutions to these issues. We’ll be bringing together young people, experts and campaigners (and some who are all three!) to discuss JOBS, HOMES and VOICE.

Bury Council Leader & Zero Waste

Reply to Brian Bamford, Bury Branch Secretary for Unite, from Councillor Mike Connolly, Leader of Bury MBC, who writes:

'Mr Bamford is not correct in all of his assumptions.
'This is not a recent instruction. It has always been the case that waste operatives should not take side waste left by the grey bins. This message is also consistent on literature that is sent out to residents and information that is on the web-site.
'We are asking operatives to take cardboard side waste or occasional blue bin waste that is left by the side of green bins and only when it is safe to do so.
'The crews are requested to use their judgement when collecting bins that have the lids slightly raised, and only when safe to do so. The information that is provided to the public is that bin lids should be closed. (which also reduces the risk of odours, vermin and flies).
'It has always been the case that the operatives use their judgement not to take bins which are too heavy. In such cases the bin will be stickered to explain why the bin has been left. The crews also receive support from the recycling awareness and enforcement team
'Waste management has a team of recycling and enforcement officers who support the waste operatives on a daily basis. Side waste, heavy bins and fly tipping can be reported through the on-board computer which is then followed up by visits to households to provide help and advice to residents.
'The back up service provided by the recycling and enforcement team is also to be enhanced by providing each crew with a direct contact to a support offices for improved communication and follow up.
'There is no evidence to suggest that there should be an increase in side waste or fly tipping (which is the case in Falkirk). What we are asking residents to do is place all recyclable materials in the blue, green or brown bins.
'Therefore the grey bin should only contain the lighter materials such as food containers, yogurt pots and plastic bags. The heavier materials such as food waste should be in the brown bin (which will stay at 2 weekly collection) and blue bin materials such as glass (which will increase to 3 weekly collection)
The Council is already aware of areas where there may be a higher risk of fly tipping such as some of the back streets. These are currently being tackled jointly between waste management, cleansing and Environmental Health
'In terms of over full grey bins, where households are recycling everything they can and there is a genuine need for extra space e.g. larger families, an application can be made for an extra grey bin. Extra green and blue bins can also be provided free of charge.
'The Council is fully committed to supporting its in-house workforce. The new waste management system is about increasing recycling and making sure that the right stuff goes in the right bin. A 10% increase in recycling could save going on for £1 million per year and help protect other services.
'I am sure Mr Bamford as representative for Unite the Union is aware that the aim of the new system is to achieve efficiency savings through increased recycling and not a cut to the existing workforce. No jobs will be lost in the waste service as a result of these changes.'

Questions for Bury Council Leader

Questions for the full Council Meeting of Bury MBC relevant to the proposed change to three weekly collections of Grey Bins:
Given that in anticipation of what Bury MBC may regard as 'teething problems' in relation to the proposed change to the collection of 'grey waste', Waste Management has recently issued an instruction for bin operatives:
1     i)     Not to collect side-waste left beside bins.
2     ii)    To only to remove bins with raised lids if if it is deemed safe to do so at the discretion of the operative.
3     iii)   To only remove over-weight bins at the discretion of the operative.
The question then arises as to who will remove the 'side-waste' and bins that are left stranded in the streets?
If the answer in the case of 'side-waste' is that the 'side-waste'left behind will be removed later by other operatives from the Streets Cleansing Department, doesn't this mean that the whole procedure is simply a conjuring trick that is transferring the collection of the waste from one department (Waste Removal) to another (Street Cleansing)? Thus, the cost of removal of the waste is merely shifted from one department to another by a bureaucratic slight-of-hand.
Please will you also enlighten me as to what happens regarding the over-weight bins and those with raised bin lids, and as how this represents a saving?
Please can you acknowledge these questions.
Brian Bamford (Secretary of Bury Unite Commercial Branch),

Media Policy - Press & Broadcast Freedom

LAST night, at a Labour Party Conference fringe meeting on 'Making the media an election issue' in Manchester the Chairman of the NUJ, Chis Rea, jokingly introduced the editor of Northern Voices Brian Bamford, who was asking a question, as the proprietor of a local publication: 

'I'm from Rochdale and I edit a small publication called Northern Voices,  which in November 2012 was involved together with the Westminster blogger, Paul Waugh and the Rochdale MP, Simon Danczuk, in the outing of Cyril Smith.   A lot has been published recently about historic child sexual exploitation, but in the case of Cyril Smith last April, the Daily Mail serialised some stories by the Rochdale MP, Mr. Danczuk about the sexual abuse of some young boys by Cyril Smith:  The story then became one in which Simon and the Daily Mail had outed Sir Cyril Smith.

'This was twaddle!  As long ago as May 1979, another small journal – the Rochdale Alternative Paper (RAP) – ran a report in which they presented the case of six lads at Cambridge House Rochdale in the 1960s, who had been spanked and had suffered false medicals.  These lads all made sworn statements, under oath before a solicitor, that they had been abused by Cyril Smith.

'Now the troubling thing about this is that none of the main-stream national media at the time followed up this story in 1979.  Other that is than Private Eye!  The reason being that Cyril Smith took out an injunction – what the solicitors call a gagging measure.  How would more new laws or the greater media diversity proposed by the Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom help here, when, it seems, the mainstream media is so spineless?'

Granville Williams CPBF:  'This is an important question.  I knew the people at RAP and had a lot of respect for them, but though the case of RAP and Cyril Smith was important it was not the only case at that time in 1979 (the Campaign for Press & Broadcasting Freedom was ironically founded in 1979).  There were many other cases around that time.  The problem relates to the libel laws in this country, and the need for and the difficulties of corroboration.' 

Had I then had the courage to ask a further question, I would have raised the worry of Private Eye that 'Hack-off' and Leveson were potentially leading the way to less press freedom, and may yet,  through a passion for more legistlation and regulation, pose a danger to small publications like Northern Voices and even larger ones like Private Eye

Monday, 22 September 2014

Manchester Royal Exchange Open Day




Royal Exchange Theatre

St Ann’s Square, Manchester

Sunday 5 October - 11am to 5pm



Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre is to throw open its doors to the public at a free Open Day as part of the national FUN PALACES weekend at the beginning of October.


The Royal Exchange event – which takes place on Sunday 5 October from 11am to 5pm – offers visitors the chance to get behind the scenes of a working theatre. It will also include Family Friendly activities, workshops for all ages, the chance to dress up in the Theatre's costumes and free entertainment in the Great Hall.


Backstage tours will also allow people to reach the parts of the Royal Exchange normally hidden away behind doors marked ‘staff only’ and discover the secrets of the theatre’s sound, lighting and wardrobe departments.


On the same weekend, venues across the UK will be hosting FUN PALACES * events - bringing together arts and sciences, children and adults. 

More information on the Exchange’s Open Day is available from



For further information, images, or for interview / press review ticket requests, please contact JOHN GOODFELLOW (Press & Communications Manager) on 0161 615 6783 /


* In 1961, Joan Littlewood and architect Cedric Price conceived the Fun Palace as a ‘laboratory of fun’, ‘a university of the streets’. It was to be a temporary and moveable home to the arts and sciences that would welcome children and adults alike, based on Joan Littlewood’s motto of “Everyone an artist, everyone a scientist.”