Wednesday, 18 November 2015

MSP calls for Scottish inquiry into blacklisting and undercover policing!

1. Blacklisting Day of Action - Monday 7th December 2015
Bring your banners & wear your Blacklisted t-shirts
9m - photo opportunity outside Royal Courts of Justice, The Strand
10am - 4pm - High Court blacklisting litigation (open to the public)
6pm - Blacklist Support Group parliamentary meeting - speakers: John McDonnell MP, Chris Stephens MP, John Hendy QC & blacklisted workers
8pm - Pre-Xmas celebration drinks (in a pub near Westminster)

2. High Court latest
The construction firms who have admitted their guilt in the blacklisting High Court litigation are now sending out a revised set of compensation offers to workers that they have blacklisted. This is a blatant attempt to buy-off workers and make them settle in order to avoid going to court. Blacklist Support Group are not qualified to give legal advice and individuals should therefore take the advice from their legal teams. It is essential that all the claimants and their legal teams stay united, as the employers will attempt to use a divide and rule tactic if they can get away with it. 
However, BSG position remains 100% in favour of a full trial in May 2016. A few pounds compensation is not justice - we want to see the directors of the multinational firms who orchestrated the human rights scandal forced to give evidence under oath. BSG want full public disclosure of the documentary evidence that the companies have kept hidden for decades.  

3. MSP calls for Scottish inquiry into blacklisting and undercover policing.

4. Outrage over blacklist firm Carillion working at Anfield 

5. Blacklist by Lucy Parker
Film & Art exhibition runs til 6th December
Rhubaba Gallery,  Edinburgh

6. Art Against Blacklisting - new facebook page set up to bring together artists and film makers covering blacklisting and workers rights in their work. Created by the Blacklist Support Group Artist in Residence.

7. Blacklisting Special on radio 

8. Construction Safety

9. Public Contracts
BSG has consistently argued that blacklisting firms should not be awarded public contracts. Now that the companies have admitted their guilt in open court, it is entirely possible to remove them from approved tender lists under ethical procurement policies. Islington Council has already removed Kier from a £16m a year contacts because of their involvement in blacklisting. In Southampton, Cllr Andrew Pope has tabled the following question to the full council. These initiatives should be taken up across the UK.
"On 7th October 2015, in the Consulting Association blacklisting cases at the High Court, construction firms admitted that they had infringed workers’ rights to confidentiality, privacy, reputation and data protection, plus admitting defamation. Plus, they... were ordered by the High Court in July 2015 to conduct comprehensive searches for evidence of blacklisting. Several of these firms have operated in Southampton, including on the Sea City Museum, the former Ordnance Survey site, and on Watermark West Quay. What will this Council do to ensure that blacklisting was not and will not be conducted on the City’s construction sites? Will this include planning conditions and conditions in Employment and Skills Plans and S106 Agreements?"

10. Teesside #PayTheRate dispute
The High Court has granted an injunction against the rank & file activists committees that have been organising the early morning protests in Teeside against construction companies undercutting the national agreements - the injunction prevents them from holding protests on private land at one of the plants where the protests are taking place. This won't stop the protests.
Fri 20th Nov (12 noon) - Merseyside Waste & Recycling Authority - 1 Mann Island, Liverpool, L3 1BP

11. Dates for the diary 
Wed 18 Nov (7pm) - Blacklisted book event with Hazards, PCS office, 16 Waterloo Street, Birmingham, B2 5UG

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Fables for Anarchists!

by Mier ben Label

"In a north west market town there was a large underused public building.  It was referred to as “the joke shop” because it was once an unemployment / benefits office. It adjoined a large parking area which was much needed in that town centre. A community minibus was parked there, available to local groups. This vehicle was surrounded by many “no-parking-clamping-warning” signs, far more than were needed.  They remained in place, threatening people after the minibus had been moved elsewhere but only a small part of the parking area was needed by the employees of the building.  Local anarchists then began gradually to remove the signs.  “Freed spaces” were soon used by shop workers and their customers.  They were so well used that months later the anarchists concerned had nowhere to park in the town centre.

Moral:-  If you do the right thing and others follow do not expect any kind of credit or recognition. 

Selfish motorists then began blocking the entrance to the building to the inconvenience of people whom it employed.  A large army of Police traffic cones then appeared, prohibiting parking over a much larger area than was needed.  A local anarchist then began to gradually dispose of the Police cones, which were soon replaced with others.
But week-end visitors, when the building was closed, followed the example of their unknown benefactor and also dumped the cop-cones. Eventually, the cop-cones only covered the area needed to give access to the building’s employees. A happy truce. 

Moral:- Be satisfied that others have followed your examples, credit should go to the group or community who do the right thing.  One day they may see the value of anarchism and our forms of action."

Monday, 16 November 2015

Rent-a-quote MP should be attacking terrorists not Corbyn!

by Les May

"Complete with a photograph captioned 'Simon Danczuk, the rent-a-quote MP for Rochdale', The Guardian recently ran a piece by Roy Greenslade which asked,  'What is with the Sun and “Labour” MP Simon Danczuk? One minute the paper is quoting him approvingly because he criticised Jeremy Corbyn’s Cenotaph nod and the next it is deriding him as a “Labour big-mouth” for his own remembrance day faux pas.'

Today Simon was at it again with a Sun piece headed 'Time for Corbyn to get in tune with people on terrorism.' What seems to be upsetting Simon is that Jeremy isn't indulging in grandstanding, Danczuk style, about the killing of Mohammed Enwazi. Helpfully Simon puts him on the right track with:

“Jeremy also needs to show moral indignation towards the terrorists.”

“There’s no room for hand-wringing pieties or academic chin-stroking.”

“Unfortunately, Jeremy got it wrong in his response to Jihadi John’s death. There was no way he could have been arrested without sending British soldiers to Syria.”

Now I don't know who Simon thinks he's speaking for here but it certainly isn't for all the friends and relative of those murdered by the Isis executioner, who were more thoughtful in their response.

Bethany Haines, daughter of the first Briton murdered by this man is quoted as saying 'Much as I wanted him dead, I also wanted answers as to why he did it.' The brother of Alan Hemmings has been quoted as saying he was glad Emwazi was dead but would have preferred him to face justice. Diane Foley the mother of James Foley, Emwazi's first known victim, said she was saddened that Americans were celebrating the killing of this “deranged, pathetic young man” and that she felt no sense of justice. Adding “It's just so sad that our precious resources have been concentrated to seek revenge or kill this man.”

If Simon really wants to do something to break the grip of Isis he should be pressuring the British government to work with other nations to halt the sale of oil by Isis which has enabled it to become the richest terrorist 'brand' the world has ever known."

Local boy makes good. Is material success, all it's cracked-up to be?

David Pott's - CEO Morrisons

In my youth, school masters often told their pupils when they were about to leave school, that the world was their oyster. But as D.H. Lawrence once said in his naughty novel, 'Lady Chatterley's Lover', "The world is supposed to be full of possibilities, but they narrow down to pretty few in most personal experience."

There are many reasons why success in English society tends to favour members of a social elite. Upper class twits, like Boris Johnson, David Cameron and George Osborne, owe much of their success, not to having "sharp elbows" or merit, but to the elite social class into which they were born. In Cameron's case, it helps if your mother-in-law is Lady Astor, who got him his first job at Carlton TV, his only venture into employment outside of the political world. Other reasons, include inherited wealth, attendance at an elite public school and where you live.

In countries like Britain, where there are now extreme levels of inequality of income and wealth, a child's success is now more linked to parental status than intellect or merit. As they say, "To Him That Hath Shall Be Given." Never the less, though few in number, some people do succeed in spite of the many obstacles.

One such case, is that of local Ashton lad, David Potts (58), a former pupil of Hartshead Secondary Modern School, in Ashton-under-Lyne. Despite leaving school in 1973 without any qualifications whatsoever, earlier this year, he was appointed C.E.O. of Morrisons supermarkets on a reported salary of £850,000. After leaving school, he started working for Tesco supermarkets, in Ashton, as a shelf stacker, and became the youngest store manager at the age of 23. Before quitting Tesco in 2011, after 38-years, with a reported pension pot of £7.73m and shares worth £6.5m, he had been group manager at Tesco, in charge of 250 stores. Had Mr. Pott's been leaving school today, he would probably have found himself doing the same work for nowt, under the government's state sponsored slavery scheme, otherwise known as the 'Work Programme'.

In the Autumn edition of 'The Tameside Citizen', a propaganda rag published by Tameside Council, David Potts, is hailed as one of six examples of business success stories.

That well-known local scourge of New Charter Housing, Steve (Starlord) Fisher, well remembers his fellow school friend David Potts, when he also attended Harstshead school at the same time, 1968-1973. While David Pott's rose to the dizzy heights of business success, and was awarded a CBE, after leaving school without any qualifications, "Starlord", left school with 7 'O' Levels and obtained 4 'A' Levels at Ashton Grammar school, before attending Manchester University, to pursue an academic career as an entomologist (the study of insects). Apart from four jobs in two years and having been reborn in 1983, following a spritual experience with LSD, he was unemployed for 25-years and for the last 10-years, has been a self-employed astrological consultant.

Steve (Starlord) Fisher
Anti-Bedroom Tax Campaigner

While David Pott's found a pearl in his oyster, Steve (Starlord) Fisher, chose instead, a life of dignified otiosity. It just goes to show that education and qualifications aren't everything. As the old English proverb says, "It's not what you know, but who you know", that really counts, coupled  with an acute ability to suck-up. And there is no better example of this maxim, than our very own nepotistic Tameside Council, where one-third of all councillors, are either married couples, couples or related to one another.

Friday, 13 November 2015

MP could face reprimand from parliamentary authorities over use of Commons headed notepaper!

Imelda Marcos and her shoe collection

According to a report that appeared in the Daily Express on Tuesday, Angela Rayner, the Member of Parliament for Ashton-under-Lyne, could be facing a reprimand for the use of commons headed notepaper to make a complaint to a shoe shop. The article claims, that like Imelda Marcos, wife of Philippine dictator President Ferdinand Marcos, Ms. Rayner, is an avid collector of shoes. We are publishing below the article that appeared in the William Hickey column:

"LABOUR MP Angela Rayner faces a reprimand from parliamentary authorities after using House of Commons headed notepaper to complain to a shoe shop that failed to reserve her a £195 pair of shoes with novelty four-inch Star War heels. She claims she ordered them in advance but when she called at the shop found they had sold out.

The MP for the Lancashire constituency of Ashton-under-Lyne, 35, wanted the shoes, which  boasts heels in the shape of Star Wars robot R2-D2, for an extensive collection which has earned her the nickname "Shoebacca".

Rayner a supporter of Jeremy Corbyn and recently promoted by him despite only being elected in May, should use commons notepaper only for official business.

A spokesman for the MP said: "There appears to have been a breakdown in communication between Angela and the shop, which is regrettable." What she means is she didn't expect to have to explain her actions in public.

The Sun & Police Horses

by Martin S. Gilbert
THE   SUN  Saturday 7th Nov., front page reporting vile anti-capitalist anarchists injure police and horses.  Photo of them masked about to throw stuff.  Inside page more of the same with names of (alleged) police horses injured.   This event had all the marks of cop-infiltrators. Our widespread anger continues.  But no national discussion among anarchists about complimentary actions in different places.  Nothing  to make the impact of short term alliances with  broad based coalitions and specific aims.  Best example of that in recent years have been our contributions to the OCCUPY
movement in different places around the world.  

Preparation for arrest is only part of planning needed to make maximum effect.  Having a thought about how our actions will be interpreted by millions is more important.  It may be noble to lay yourself on the State’s sacrificial alter but only when time and place are right for us.  Thought must also be given to 'first-timers' of any age who may be deterred from ever doing stuff with us again.   In non violent direct actions those wanting arrest must be kept separate from those who do not want such outcome.  

Newcomers need to listen to 'old-hands' about what is likely to happen.  Lancaster OCCUPY showed a good example of that process.  Less chance then of ignorance about well-reported cops embedded with eco groups.  Anti-Frackers found such provoking agents hard to spot.  These police-plants on occasions make themselves visible to old-hands.  Give-away signs: contempt for the cautious or those like my friends.  

I describe 'my friends', as Derek, Brian, Laurens, Barry, Chris and others as 'gentle old anarchists'.  We are the dangerous ones who have some grasp of strategy and tactics to subvert the State.   We encourage our working methods with friends and neighbours:- non hierarchical discussion, horizontal organization and non exploitative relationships. 

Expect no such critique from those misusing our resources  in London.  Those in our book shop and its building will condemn me as a cowardly middle class pacifist.  
martin  s.  gilbert   11.11.’15   

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Ashton MP puts her foot in it, over 'Star Wars' shoes!

Angela Rayner MP

Although it might be more accurate to describe many parts of Greater Manchester as akin to a Northern Poor House rather than a 'Northern Power House', by no means, are all people who live within the Greater Manchester conurbation, affected by the government's austerity policies. Take, as an example, Angela Rayner. 

Unlike many of her constituents, who are struggling to make ends meet and are being driven to food banks by benefit sanctions and debt, and are being evicted from their homes because of the bedroom tax, Ms. Rayner, (35), the Labour MP who represents Ashton-under-Lyne, recently vented her anger after being unable to purchase a coveted pair of 'Star War Shoes' with R2-D2 heels, for the princely sum of £195 (see below).

Frustrated at her inability to obtain the shoes, the former home-help, wrote a strongly-worded letter on House of Commons notepaper to Brighton-based retailer 'Irregular Choice' and their head office. The fiery read-head, wrote:

"I have only ever bought your shoes and I am loathe to do so again, or recommend your shoes to others. I am writing to let you know that treating customers in that way will only cost you more in the long term."

If the Ashton MP, believed that writing to the company on House of Commons notepaper, might secure her an advantage, she was soon put right. Daniel Theophanides, 32, head of retail at Irregular Choice, told the press that he was -

"personally very shocked by the complaint" adding: "It was the wording of the complaint on House of Commons headed paper. One was addressed to head office and the other was sent to the shop in Brighton. The store manager saw it and that wasn't nice, it was cruel. I wouldn't  dream of writing a letter of complaint on company headed paper."

Mr. Theophanides, insists that the tyro MP, who was elected in May 2015, mistakenly believed she was on a pre-order list but the shoes were only available to people who turned up at their shops. He said: "There was a queue outside every single one of our five stores in the UK on Carnaby Street and Camden in London and in Brighton, Leicester and Norwich." adding, that he called Rayner to say he was "sorry she missed out", but did not get a chance to offer her a pair he'd sourced from China, as she "hung up."

The Ashton MP told the press - "There appears to have been a breakdown in communications with the company, which is regrettable...My complaint was about the poor level of customer service and the atttitude of a member of staff, who appears to be seeking headlines in tabloid newspapers rather than concentrating on providing a decent service to customers. Her constituency office stated that rules permit " modest use" of House of Commons stationery for personal correspondence.

Before being elected an MP in May 2015,  Ms. Rayner, was selected from an all women's short-list that was imposed on the Ashton constituency Labour Party. She started her working life as an home help and didn't go to university.  In an interview with the Guardian in February 2012, which she gave when she was a full-time Unison Branch Secretary, working at Stockport Council, she told the newspaper that she grew up on a council estate and was pregnant at 16, and was "only able to afford clothes from a charity shop."  

It's the sort of rags to riches story that we all like. The young lass from Stockport who was told that she'd never amount to anything and "would be living in a council house, on benefits with loads of kids by the time I was 30." You might say that this former home-help, has landed on her feet since she was elected the MP for Ashton-under-Lyne. But with her tacky Star Wars shoes and R2-D2 heels, - which she wont be wearing to climb Kinder Scout - she ought to be careful that she doesn't fall over on her next girls' night out.

Despite her professed working-class roots and trade union background, Rayner abstained on the government's recent welfare bill allowing them to cut £12bn from social security spending, including cutting child tax credits paid to hard working families. Deputy Labour leader, Harriet Harman, who called on MPs to abstain, said at the time of the vote that she'd been desperate to show that Labour had listened to the voters who had said the party was soft on benefits.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Blacklisted activists demand action from MSPs over blacklisting and undercover police in Scotland.!

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

"Blacklisted activists Dave Smith and Ellenor Hutson spoke at a meeting inside the Holyrood parliament calling on MSPs to take action over the issue of blacklisting and the activities of undercover police officers in Scotland. A large number of MSPs were present including Elaine Smith, deputy speaker of the Scottish parliament. 

Ellenor Hutson, an environmental activist from Glasgow who was blacklisted by the notorious Consulting Association told the MSPs that she had been spied on by a number of undercover police officers over many years. She relayed the story of those other women activists who had been deceived into having long term sexual relationships with the officers who cynically used the relationships as a way of ingratiating themselves within campaigns. Ellenor told how some of the women activists have described this as "being raped by the state". 

Ellenor explained how during the G8 Gleneagles summit in 2005, she had worked alongside the undercover police officer Mark Kennedy who while a serving officer was one of the central organisers of the anti-globalisation protests, being the Transport Coordinator, which involved hiring flatbed lorries and minibuses to transport materials and people - a key logistical role during the summit protests. 

Dave Smith, secretary of Blacklist Support Group (BSG) and co-author of the book 'Blacklisted' also spoke at the meeting and told how undercover police officers had posed as construction workers even infiltrating trade unions. Smith alongside other blacklisted workers and the Blacklist Support Group have been granted 'core participant' status in the Pitchford public inquiry into undercover policing that has just opened. However, the remit for the public inquiry set up by the Home Secretary, Teresa May specifically limits the inquiry to the activities of undercover policing in "England and Wales", so the activities of the police officers who played leading roles in the protests at Gleneagles and who may have spied on trade unions in Scotland would be excluded from the investigation.  

Smith & Hutson both called for a full public inquiry into the role of undercover police operating in Scotland - either by the Scottish government writing to Lord Pitchford and asking him to extend the geographical scope of his inquiry or else by setting up a separate inquiry.   

Dave Smith also called on the Scottish government and other public authorities across not just Scotland but the whole UK to implement the proposal of the Scottish Affairs Select Committee investigation into blacklisting and to ban blacklisting firms from publicly funded contracts. Smith explained how the major construction firms have now fully admitted their guilt and made a public apology in the High Court. Smith told MSPs, "Blacklisted workers don't want sympathy from politicians: we're drowning in sympathy. What we need is action, not just fine words" 

The meeting was hosted by UNITE the Union with Neil Findlay MSP for the Lothians also speaking. Neil Findlay MSP commented after the meeting:

‘This was an excellent and shocking event at the Scottish Parliament. The meeting heard from two people whose lives have been directly affected by being put on a blacklist. To hear how Dave Smith was prevented from earning a living because of his trade union activity and for questioning health and safety practices and welfare on construction sites was truly scandalous. Likewise to hear from Ellenor how she was placed on a blacklist for the ‘heinous crime’ of caring about our environment, despite having never worked on a construction site, was remarkable.’
 ‘What compounded the shocking nature of Dave and Ellenor’s testimonies was their description of the role played by undercover Police. This speakers explained the central role played by the police in compiling names and passing them on construction companies. Ellenor described how she was an activist alongside Mark Kennedy, who it is now known was an undercover policeman pretending to be an activist. This collusion needs investigating and I and others will be calling for an inquiry."    

This is the 3 minute video that was shown to the MSPs at the meeting:
Video (5 mins) from the start of the Pitchford inquiry:

Information about undercover police who operated outside England and Wales:

Blacklist Support Group

Rochdale's United Party or Labour Party Gulag?

by Les May
'WE are a very united party in Rochdale and have been for a number of years now … ', were Simon Danczuk's words in an article by Paul Waugh carried by the Huffington Post a few days ago.  So how was this marvellous unity achieved then Simon?  And if the local party is so united why did council leader Richard Farnell have to warn Labour councillors in October not to criticise Mr Danczuk on social media.

Private Eye's HP Sauce column recently carried an article reminding the world that while Simon Danczuk likes to posture as a 'Labour Rebel' ever in danger of being booted out of the party, his own record in accepting dissenting voices in the Rochdale Constituency Labour party leaves rather a lot to be desired.

As the Eye pointed out in 2009 he complained that seven members of Rochdale Labour Party had undermined him in seeking an investigation into his conduct towards his then partner Karen Burke during a holiday in Spain. Of these five were expelled and two suspended.

But the quest to get rid of dissenter's didn't stop there.  In December 2011, Danczuk wrote to the then Labour Leader Colin Lambert, who was himself later ousted after delivering a stunning Labour victory at the council elections in 2014, and himself the victim of a smear campaign in 2012, complaining about Councillor Farooq Ahmed the cabinet member for finance.

Danczuk is reported to have said:
'I supplied a letter to the council leader on December 19 about a variety of issues relating to Councillor Ahmed's behaviour.
'When serious concerns about a councillor's conduct are brought to my attention, no matter what party they belong to, it is my duty to ensure that action is taken.
'I am disappointed the council leader has dithered and has been indecisive but I am pleased the group nationally has acted.'
Note the word 'dithered' here. Danczuk clearly expects everyone to immediately dance to his tune. When Colin Lambert did not do what Danczuk expected he took his complaint to the national party claiming he 'had a duty' to ensure action was taken.  Note also the similarity between this and Danczuk's attack on Ed Milliband for failing to suspend Janner on his say so.
In an interview reported in the Manchester Evening News Councillor Ahmed said:
'I have decided to step down from council due to continuous attacks, false allegations targeted to my professional and private life channelled by Mr Danczuk.'
Councillor Ahmed seems to have had the overwhelming support of Labour group and later reversed his decision.
In the subsequent investigation Councillor Ahmed was completely exonerated, but the damage to his reputation and standing in the community had already been done.
Now the interesting thing about the media reports of this spat is that they start to appear on or after 10 January 2012.  This was the day a commercial media company, CavendishPressAgency uploaded a video to YouTube with the title 'Pot-ted! Labour boss quits over "cannabis film". '
How this video clip came into the hands of CavendishPressAgency we do not know but Farooq Ahmed is on record as saying that the sudden emergence of the video was part of a 'smear campaign orchestrated by Simon Danczuk.'
Interviewed by New Statesman Chris Mullins said:
'Now collaborating with the nastier elements of the Murdoch press to do down the party is quite a high crime in my book, and if I was in Simon Danczuk’s CLP, I would certainly be sharpening my sword. He might well go away to Ukip or somewhere in the end, but good riddance to him, I say.'
Richard Farnell's writ runs only so far.  He may be able to control any anti-Danczuk stirrings in the hearts of Labour councillors.  But there are some party members who are wondering if Danczuk
should be in the Labour party at all.  They may well be emboldened by the fact that Danczuk's record of bringing the party into disrepute is being added to by every article he writes for the Mail on Sunday, so he would look like a hypocrite if he claimed that any dissenting voices were doing just that.

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Bury Times & Bin Collections

ON Thursday, a letter in the Bury Times was critical
of a claim made by Bury Council in the previous issue
that claimed that the Council had only had '18 formal
complaints' from the public, and that this suggested that
there was customer satisfaction with the local bin collections.

THE Manchester Evening News (MEN) on the 20th, October, ran a story entitled 'More than 10,000 complaints made about missed bin collection since start of year'.  The article referred to bins left unemptied owing to refuse collectors discovering overflowing or overweight bins or simply incorrectly used bins.  But while showing an increase in complaints the article warned that the data applied  'only to Manchester, Salford, Wigan, Trafford, Stockport and Tameside councils.  Bolton, Bury, Oldham and Rochdale said they couldn’t collate their figures to respond.'

Yet, somehow Bury Council managed to rustle up some figures shortly afterwards because Sarah Yates was able to report days later in the Bury Times on the 25th, Oct. 2015, that 'Bury Council chiefs have received more positive feedback about its three-weekly bin collections than complaints.'
Thus Bury Council, the first council in England to collect rubbish bins once every three weeks, is now able to announce according to the Bury Times that 'whilst it received 18 formal complaints, there were 65 compliments registered since the grey bin collection regime began a year ago'.
Consequently, those Jeremiah's like NV, some binmen and local residents, who voiced their concerns of overflowing bins, rat revivals and insect infestations have now seemingly been proved wrong.  Indeed, now councils like Rochdale and elsewhere have eagerly followed in the footsteps of Bury MBC.
The question remains as to why Bury couldn't collate their figures in time to respond to the MEN Freedom of Information request a few days earlier?  Especially given that the number of negative complaints at merely 18, were so tiny compared with almost everywhere else?  Surely they can count up to 18?
In the current Bury Times, Ian Coates from Radcliffe, declares:
'FOLLOWING the story in last week's paper about the three-weekly collections and the council claiming to have had only 18 formal complaints, they are in cloud cuckoo land.  If they actually think people want the three-weekly collections they are deluded.  They are seeing whet they want to see.  Why do they not go on to Facebook and look what the people of Bury and Radcliffe are really saying.'
Only a week ago an ex-policeman was voted into the Tottington Ward of Bury as a conservative councillor, and he fought on the platform of restoring more regular collections of grey bins.

Friday, 6 November 2015

Ricky Tomlinson & Northern Voices

Ricky Tomlinson at Baker's Union Conf. in Southport in June


NORTHERN VOICES 15 above is now on sale its usual outlets.  This issue of Northern Voices has an interview with the anti-establishment painter from Buxton, Jeff Perks.  He is a radical artist who has done exhibitions at Stockport Art Gallery, the Whitechapel Gallery, an exhibition titled 'Race Against Time' - Trades Union Congress House, and was Winner of the Friends of Buxton Museum Sculpture Award (3 times).  His art aims to make people feel uncomfortable.  Sales of Northern Voices in Ashton town centre shot up during a Green Party demo a couple of weeks ago when street sellers started shouting: 
'Kieran Quinn - Kieran Quinn - Look at the Rat in the Wheelie Bin!' 

Other articles include a piece on 'Who Owns the North' by the writer Chris Draper; a report on Fracking at Barton Moss Salford by the activist Barry Woodling; an account on the consequences of the Scottish referendum by the Labour councillor, Paul Salverson; a feature on Northern Bus Journeys; a story on Northern Canals by Les May; a historical item 'Shoot the Conchies' also by Chris Draper; reviews on the radical touring play UNITED WE STAND and Dave Douglass's new book on 'A history of the Liverpool Waterfront 1850-1890'; a searching review on the book on Cyril Smith by Simon Danczuk M.P. by Les May entitled 'Cyril's Lucrative Smile'Tameside Eye, and 'Six O' the Best Northern Bus Journeys'.

The printed version of NORTHERN VOICES 15, with all sorts of stuff others won't touch and may be obtained as follows:
Postal subscription: £5 for the next two issues (post included)
Cheques payable to 'Brian Bamford' at
c/o 46, Kingsland Road,
Rochdale, Lancs. OL11 3HQ.
Tel.: 0161 793 5122.

Review of 'UNITED WE STAND' play

AMAZING ★★★★ REVIEW LONDON THEATRE 1 - 'UNITED WE STAND'‏ The story of Des Warren, Ricky Tomlinson & The Shrewsbury Pickets ON NOW at THE BUSSEY BUILDING, PECKHAM until 14 NOV.
AMAZING ★★★★ REVIEW from LONDON THEATRE 1 - 'UNITED WE STAND'‏ The story of Des Warren, Ricky Tomlinson & The Shrewsbury Pickets ON NOW AT THE BUSSEY BUILDING, PECKHAM
United We Stand at CLF Theatre Peckham
November 3, 2015 By Peter Yates
Williams Fox and Neil Gore in United We Stand
From L-R Williams Fox and Neil Gore in United We Stand – Photo by Amy Yardley
MORIBUND politics: with the Tories courting unpopularity virtually unopposed, the Liberal Democrats finding that downsizing principles means downsizing their Parliamentary footprint and the Labour Party apparently intent on devouring its own entrails in some kind of Corbynastic sacrifice, it is very good for soul and sanity to discover that Political Theatre is alive and kicking and energising audiences in Peckham.
Louise Townsend’s sparky, edgy and intelligently reflective production is the kind of theatre that political activists crave and wider audiences need. In essence United We Stand is, like Journey’s End, a historical document that I’m certain will be referenced down the ages. Performed with remarkable gusto by just its writer, Neil Gore, and fellow performer, William Fox, the pair take on a myriad of roles in re-creating the story, making this a
spectacular Two de Force.
The original Shrewsbury 24 became, in 1973, the Shrewsbury Three when John McKinsie Jones, Des Warren and one Eric (AKA Ricky) Tomlinson were jailed under the 1875 act (yes, that old standby) for “conspiracy”. It is great credit to the show that it resists all temptation to play on Ricky’s subsequent fame and the words “Brookside” and “Royle Family” are never mentioned.
The “conspiracy” was that the Three organised strikes and flying pickets in a building industry dispute against “the Lump” – the way casual builders were paid with a lump sum – a system that was universally seen as unfair and a way to keep wages down to a minimum. The fact that the dispute had been settled and work had resumed on all building sites for five months before conspiracy charges were brought with the Shrewsbury Three dragged into court and jailed, leads to the suspicion that the real conspiracy was between the powerful building lobby, the government and the police. This is a point made effectively by the show which incorporates music, puppets, pantomime, projection, a TV game-show format and fast costume changes in developing its theme: this is Agit Prop theatre at its most agitated, at its most uncompromising.
To do this as effectively as the Townsend Productions show does you need accomplished and highly effective performers. The modern phenomenon is that actors are not just actors but need to be singers, dancers and good musicians as well. Gore and Fox played their guitars, ukuleles, snares, cymbals and that good old Ringo Starr standby – the packing case – as second nature. Musical Director John Kirkpatrick of Steeleye Span fame provided a hard-folk edge with new (to me) songs and a rousing rendition of that seminal Strawbs classic Part of the Union which had the whole audience foot-stomping and singing along.
The interwoven musical thread of the piece added a Brechtian flavour to the vibrant political drama. But the comparison ended there: far from wishing to alienate the audience Townsend and her cast wanted to draw the audience in, use us as part of the action, get us to be workers at a union meeting reacting to the latest diktats of the oppressive construction industry bosses: this was Ultimate Audience Participation exemplified by the reaction of Len McClusckey, next to whom I was seated, who instinctively and loudly exclaimed “Sell out!” when a mealy-mouthed Union convenor refused to wholeheartedly back the pickets’ actions. A contemporary Union Boss shouting at a dramatic representation of an authentic historical figure? This was Metatheatre writ large and full testament to the power of this extraordinary production.
Fox’s constant dialogue with the audience, in asides, ad-libs, jokes and unscripted commentary also helped us to feel we were “there”. “We hate the police” he intoned, hurriedly adding “unless there are any in”. Followed by: “We hate the press – and we don’t care if you’re in”.
The show is fully supported by the Shrewsbury 24 Campaign which is still actively demanding justice 42 years on. The most remarkable fact to come out of the evening is that there are still documents of interest being withheld by successive governments – yes, including, as Mr McCluskey acerbically pointed out after the show – 13 years of a Labour government, despite the fact that the 30 year rule has passed. The reason? National Security.
This powerful drama might, perhaps, remind Theresa May that her government promised to be the most transparent UK government ever.
4 stars
Information:T. 020 7732 5275 E: The CLF Art Cafe Block A, Bussey Building, 133 Rye Lane, Peckham, SE15 4ST.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Private Eye, Simon Saunders & Gloomy Lefties

I respond to  Myk   Zytlin’s letter in PRIVATE  EYE, 30th Oct., p.22 complaining about our piece in the Eye’s previous issue.  Chris Draper had helped expose what had happened to Freedom Press and its building in London.  First thought:- we have to think about the  Advisory Service For Squatters (ASFS) based there.  Second thought:- they are the best agency for that client group in Britain with contacts and resources to make that claim.  Moving home can be hard at times.  But should be no problem for ASFS to re locate themselves and the other 'active organisations' mentioned by Myk.  
 Soon after Myk’s complaint I got an e mail from Simon Saunders about my recent contribution to the Northern Voices blog.  saying '……….what problems do (I) think need addressing……………'.

If we cannot make fun of each other Simon we are just a bunch of gloomy lefties.  Meanwhile anarchist throughout Britain, their friends and neighbours need dialogue with those now in FREEDOM’s building in London.  Recently a house came into your possession.   A first step in sensible dialogue will be for you to make it available to those groups mentioned above.    
martin  s.  gilbert (4th, Nov. 2015) 

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Corbyn and Trident Renewal

JEREMY Corbyn Vice President of CND is facing a circle which he cannot square.    He wears a red poppy at PMQs in the House of Commons and his apparent reluctance to wear a white poppy is inconsistent with his continuing role in CND.    What is even worse is his failure to take on the nuclearphiles at the Labour Party Conference.    It now transpires that a National Policy Forum       Report Agenda 2015. Britains Global Role  passed.    Hidden away on page 122 of a report of over 200 pages was the following:
'We are committed to a minimum,credible, independent nuclear deterrent delivered through a continuous At-Sea Deterrent.'    I
n another section Enhancing NATO (sic)  it states:
'NATO remains the cornerstone of our defence policy and Labour will continue to press for financial investment in NATO.'

In the past Jeremy Corbyn has campaigned for British Withdrawal from NATO which is a nuclear alliance with a 'first strike' policy.   What is his position now?   He is conspicuous by his silence on this issue.  Pledges not to press the nuclear button are fatuous if Britain remains in NATO.

All those socialists and peace campaigners who voted for Corbyn for the labour leadership need to address these issues. In all conscience can he continue to lead a party in which the great majority of Labour Shadow Ministers and MPS are likely to vote for Trident renewal?

La Pasionaria and the Spanish Civil War

ALL those communists who hero worshipped La Pasionaria (Dolores Ibarruri) would do well to read the biography of her written by Robert Low titled 'La Pasionaria: The Spanish Firebrand'.   La Pasionaria, the grand dame of international communism, makes no mention of the anti-Poum purge in her memoirs.  Her antipathy to the anarchists and the POUM in made patently clear in her partisan account of the May  Days in Barcelona (1937) and the events which preceded it.   'The Anarcho-Trotskyist putsch of May...has been in the making for months.   The time of the outbreak was not chosen in Catalonia but in the General Staff offices of Franco' (Ibarruri).  
George Orwell in his remarkable eye witness account in 'Homage to Catalonia' contemptuously dismissed this communist propaganda.  'The Communistic thesis of a POUM rising under fascist orders rests on less than no evidence.'  Furthermore he added:
'I believe that libels and press campaigns of this kind and the habits of mind they indicate, are capable of doing the most deadly damage to the anti-fascist cause.'
The International Brigades Memorial Trust would do well to heed the prophetic words of Orwell, and cease to glorify Ibarruris role in the Spanish Civil War.

Monday, 2 November 2015

Danczuk's Frolics with the 4th International

WHEN Simon Danczuk launched his book 'Smile for the Camera' (co-authored by Matthew Baker)  at Danczuk's Deli in April 2014, one of the people he quickly praised was Stefan Cholewka.  He said that he had known of Cyril's shortcomings for a quite a while through talking 'to Stefan'.  When the matter of the book by Simon and Matthew Baker was later discussed after I brought it up at a meeting of the Greater Manchester County Association of TUCs (GMCA TUCs) in 2014, the Secretary of the GMCA TUCs Stefan quickly praised the book saying that he had read it, and that it showed that  Cyril Smith had been 'cottaging', that is picking up young boys in Gent's urinals.  Neither Stefan or Simon Danczuk at these events gave any credit to the editors of the Rochdale Alternative Paper (RAP), David Bartlett or John Walker who originally outed Cyril in May 1979; or the Westminster Blogger, Paul Waugh of the Politics Home Website who supplied information for Mr. Danczuk to make his speech to the House of Commons on the 13th, November 2012; or Northern Voices, which with John Walker made contact with two of the victims at Cambridge House - Edward Shorrock in Nelson, Lancashire, and Barry Fitton now in Amsterdam:  Danczuk though did acknowledge John Walker and David Bartlett in the book.

Yesterday, there was an article on Rochdale Online commenting on a paid column from Simon Danczuk in the Daily Mail complained of Mr. Danczuk 'Doing the Tories dirty work for them, undermining the Labour leader' and pointed to what seems to be the hypocrisy of Mr. Danczuk:                                                                        
'Danczuk rants about the 'hard left', conveniently forgetting a member of his campaign team in the 2010 general election was Stefan Chowleka, a Trotskyist "hard left" Labour member.'  
In what appeared to be an editorial the writer continues:
'Danczuks smear tactics are very familiar to those who have disagreed with him in Rochdale, his "modus operandi" is to ruthlessly assassinate their characters.  Not for nothing is he known locally as "Slyman" Danczuk.'
The case of Stefan Cholewka is interesting in a post on the Rochdale Alternative Website [RAW]  (not to be confused with the Rochdale Alternative Paper [RAP] that ceased Publication in the early 1980s) on the 26th, October 2009, someone called 'Stiff One Cholewka' wrote:  'If they're his friends I'm a Danczukite.'
Mr. Cholewka is listed on Wikipedia as being part of what George Orwell may have called a 'smelly little orthodoxy', which seeks to penetrate and influence the Labour Party from within, Wikipedia says:
'Today, this grouping is led by Stefan Cholewka [29], a Labour Party member in Rochdale. The British Section of the International Liaison Committee for a Workers' International[30] [31] is a small group which occasionally publishes Workers' Unity and The Link.'
No doubt this group is so small and ineffectual that it has never warranted exclusion from the party, yet all this is in the public domain and Simon Danczuk must know about the kind of company he is keeping in the Rochdale Labour Party.
When Stefan, editor of The Link, proudly proclaimed on RAW'I'm a Danczukite' in October 2009, the Rochdale Labour Party was about to experience a purge of the membership as a consequence of a complaint from Simon Danczuk.  The outline to the case is given below, and Northern Voices understands that Mr. Stefan Cholewka was a witness against the defendants, and Anna Hutchingson, Regional Director of the Labour Party based in Warrington, was prosecuting the case. 
On the 22nd, October 2015, ROCHDALE ONLINE reported:'It is over six years since Rochdale Labour Party suspended two and expelled five of its members. In the light of the recent actions, comments and newspaper articles by Rochdale's MP Simon Danczuk, we feel that it is the appropriate time to speak out on events then and now.
'In September 2009 seven members of Rochdale Labour Party (RLP) were brought before the Labour Party National Constitutional Committee (NCC) to be disciplined for breaking party rules. The seven longstanding active members were asked to attend a hearing at the Broadfield Hotel.
'The main charge against all but one member was that they wrote a letter to the Rochdale Observer asking for the Party to investigate a domestic incident in Spain between Simon Danczuk and his then girlfriend Karen Burke. The matter was exposed in two angry emails sent by Karen Burke's brother, Steven.
'The North West Region of the Labour Party presented the case even though Simon Danczuk was the subject of the incident, which members asked to be properly investigated. At the time Simon Danczuk was on the ruling body of the North West Regional Labour Party.
'The investigation was reported on by Rochdale Online, who had access to the emails and other information from the hearing.'
A national newspaper (Mail on Sunday) has since published details of the holiday incident.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If you find such an idea offensive how about this?

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

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

Was the intention to leave the reader 'disgusted'?

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is what Mr Shepherd had actually written in 1991:

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

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